Time To Be Heard

Over the past few months, TV, radio and social media have been littered with controversial topics and charged discussions. Though such controversy isn’t exactly uncommon, a contentious speech, discussion or argument, when publicized on social media, has the potential to quickly make a profound impact. It hasn’t always been the case that politicians and citizens alike are able to voice their opinion quickly and easily on the World Wide Web.

Let’s take a look at how social media helped controversy spread recently. Last week, online discussion surrounded Victoria’s Secret Fashion show when an online debate started about plus-sized models (and whether they should be called “plus-size” at all). The conversation grew from a few tweets into a dominating online discussion, and the idea of changing “plus-sized models” to “curve models” gained enormous popularity and support. The conversation was picked up by media outlets the next day, resulting in segments on national news programs and creating headlines around the country.

It’s interesting to consider what would have happened in this situation without social media. Social media allowed the Victoria Secret controversy to reach across the United States and world, prompting global conversation.

What’s the takeaway here? Social media is an incredibly powerful tool, both for starting conversations and for listening to them. As your brand starts to build fans and followers online, it’s important to know who your audience is, what they respond to, and what could cause controversy.

Read More

Human head with brain which consists of social networks

Facebook Updates

Facebook is continually making adjustments, and things will be forever changing, but I wanted to share with you some of the recent updates I find exciting. So what are the changes, you ask?

  1. Instagram Ads
  2. A Fundraising Tool

Let’s start with the Instagram Ads. As most of you know, Instagram is a visual platform that has completely captured the millennial generation. Everyone has heard the phrase “an image is worth a thousand words,” and truly this app makes that statement hold more value than ever.

From fashion to travel to food, this platform has really taken off and will continue to grow in 2016. With that said, Facebook is getting in the game at the perfect time. The recent launch of Instagram Ads on Facebook allows business pages to connect their Instagram accounts directly to the platform.

What does that mean exactly?! It means that when creating an ad driving people to your website, you can now have the option to also have that ad shown on Instagram. The ads will feature the same call-to-action: Shop Now, Donate, etc. Plus, when linking accounts, the Instagram ad will show your Instagrams account (not your Facebook image/account) so people can click on your Instagram handle or icon and go directly to your business’s account which will hopefully result in more followers. Pretty neat, right?!

Landscape/Square Formating:

Untitled Untitled1

*Images via Facebook

One of Facebook’s newest features to roll out is the Fundraising Tool. As this is the season of bell ringing, think goodwill outside of your grocery stores, being asked to donate to charities is a hot topic at the moment. This tool has rolled out just in-time for “giving” season and allows charitable and nonprofit organizations the ability to visibly create a donation campaign that tracks the amount donated towards the goal and the number of people who have donated. The direct link to ROI, or “return on investment,” will hopefully ensure that organizations use this tool effectively to help with special projects.

You may have seen a “Donate” button before, as it’s been around for quite some time, but these new additions and features will now make the process more straightforward and allow you to donate with only a few clicks. After clicking “Donate,” you will be taken to a single form fill out that allows you to donate via paypal, debit or credit card.

Untitled2 Untitled3

You’ll be seeing a lot more of both of these tools in the near future. Whether your business will adapt them into their marketing plan, well, that’s up to you.

Read More


Take Your LinkedIn Profile To The Next Level

Let’s face it, updating your LinkedIn profile sounds about as fun as going to the dentist. But once you’ve taken the plunge and invested in your online persona, LinkedIn can prove to be a natural resource for industry best practices, trending updates and of course, connecting with likeminded business professionals.

Take a look at these steps if you don’t already have a LinkedIn (LI) profile, or are interested in what will take your profile to the next level.

Step 1: Create a LinkedIn profile

It’s a simple step, but daunting nonetheless. Go to and follow their simple new member instructions.

I applaud you in taking the plunge to create a profile, but that’s the easy part. It’s what you do with your LI profile that’s important.

First question to ask yourself is, “how do I want others to view me?”

I’m sure we all fall under the same umbrella of wanting others to think and see that we’re accomplished and have something great and unique to offer. After all, would you be interested in profile that only listed where they currently are, their job and a photo? Probably not.

Things to make sure your profile has:
Current and previous employers all linked to the organization if they have a company LI page
Your current title
Educational and vocational achievements
A professional headshot of yourself (There are some interesting profile pictures out there, make sure you’re not one of them!)
A background photo (This is a newer feature of LI but it allows you to add a little personality to the page. Don’t go to crazy, but something that subtly tells us a little bit about you.)
Add a summary about yourself using keywords (I have a blog about best practices for LI summaries coming out soon. Check back if you would like a little extra advice.)
Skills and Endorsements – Add skills you know you have. Once they’re on your profile people can endorse you for those exact skills or others if they feel inclined.

So, if you’ve done all of the above, your profile has the professional touch. The next few steps are what’s going to take it from good to great! These take a little work, but what you need to do is: have colleagues endorse you, start following companies and influencers and join a few groups.

On LinkedIn, you’re able to ask colleagues to endorse some of your skills. Ask a previous boss or fellow colleague for a professional review. These reviews will show up under their respective jobs, and in “Reviews” section that will populate on your page once you start receiving them. With these two steps alone you went from saying, “I’m great,” to others actually vouching for you.

Groups are a little different. Groups are related to specific industry topics, and are a place for processional discussion. “Social Media News” is an example of a LinkedIn group. That group would be populated with fellow peers that are also interested in the topic and want to learn more. You can post articles, ask questions and engage with others. Note: any group you join or company/influencer you follow will show up on your LI profile.

The last step is to start following and interacting with companies or individuals you’re interested in or are key to your industry. The information they publish will then show on your newsfeed so you can stay aware of what’s happening on a daily or weekly basis.

Don’t feel the need to have to follow and join as many groups as possible right away – feel it out! Start by following a few a week and maybe joining one group until you really know what it’s about. The important thing is that you start and are willing to learn.

Good luck! Check back for more LI blogs and how-to’s in the upcoming months.

Read More


All Day Breakfast: An Example in Listening to Your Target Market

On October 6, 2015, after years of injustice for those who are not ‘morning people’ and can’t summon the energy to get out of bed before 10:30 a.m. to hit the nearby drive-thru, McDonald’s started serving its version of All-Day Breakfast.

Once the inevitable malaise of the McGriddle not being available passes, we will have a better understanding of just how successful the All-Day Breakfast campaign has been for McDonald’s.

A giant in the fast food industry, McDonald’s has been suffering from an array of what can be best described as identity problems as they tried to look toward the present and future and the fact that they’re losing younger customers who see them as more of a last resort option and not a destination.

Listening to your customers is crucial, and never before than in the age of social media have customers provided so readily almost instant feedback for you to use to improve your position. Social media platforms provide the perfect arena for you to engage with your customers on a meaningful level.

The move to All-Day Breakfast wasn’t a sudden development for the brand, and the collaboration between management and marketing teams in launching the campaign has been quite strong. They went back as far as 2006 to uncover social posts of customers who were blatantly telling McDonald’s exactly what they wanted: All-Day Breakfast.

And McDonald’s listened, creating GIFs and other social elements to let those customers know their voice was being heard. The impact of the social element on this campaign is even evident in the corresponding television commercials, as McDonald’s has taken to showing the Tweets and Facebook posts of customers along with their branded response to promote their new All-Day Breakfast offerings.

It really is a savvy attempt by a globally recognized brand to embrace the crowd-sourcing mentality that social media provides. So many social posts have been written over the years by customers disappointed they were not able to buy breakfast after the old 10:30 cutoff that McDonald’s actually decided to change the game in hopes of bolstering sales.

The move is bold for a variety of reasons, at its impact could trickle down to other similar fast food chains like Burger King and Carl’s Jr. who, like McDonald’s, have a cutoff time between their breakfast and all-day menus. In addition, Taco Bell, who earlier this year jumped into the fast food breakfast game for the first time, might even be compelled to extend the availability of its breakfast offerings, or get out of the breakfast game all together–

If you listen to what your customers say, they will tell you what they want.

Read More


A Lesson in Audience Segmentation, with the help of Mean Girls

In the film Mean Girls, lead character Cady comes upon her first day at a new high school with aplomb but soon runs into a defining dilemma at lunch: who does she sit with?

Her decision is made easy for her in a couple of ways. First, she’s invited to join a table. And second, it just so happens to be the table for a new student seeking acceptance.

This decision of who to sit with at lunch is of such paramount importance because it not only will define Cady’s identity to everyone else, but subconsciously it requires her to be honest with how she sees herself. Does she fit in with the jocks, the nerds, the cheerleaders or any of the other groups who have systemically divided themselves?

Now, imagine each table as its own distinct target audience, for advertising purposes.

If you think back to your own time in school, how did you determine whom you sat with during lunch? If things were as segmented as they were at North Shore High School (the fictional school from the film) or were things a little less black and white and more grey at your school?

Whatever your personal experience, if you reflect on the way groups naturally divide, you can begin to explore the vast similarities and differences in self-identity. Then, use that as a basis for building target audiences for your company’s digital advertising strategy. In digital, it’s almost always best to view your targets in shades of grey rather than black & white.

Of course, your ideal audience(s) will depend almost entirely upon what your goals are. For Cady, immediate acceptance was at the top of the list. For your company’s digital presence, you may want to be accepted by the masses, but it’s also important to get the best bang for your buck.

Imagine Cady is a potential customer at your business. She’s standing in the center of the lunchroom trying to figure out where to sit. As a brand, you could leave the decision up to chance, or you can boost your odds of conversion by simply offering an invitation. And all it took to help her decide to sit with “The Plastics” that first day was an invitation.

Your digital advertising campaigns are the invitation. Invite your audience to join in the conversation throughout your media strategy—the easiest way to extend your invitation, social media my friends!

Read More

Apple Siri

Apple: King of Brands

Fewer brands have the global brand presence of Apple. At last week’s #AppleEvent, the tech innovator debuted some evolutions on current products, including the iPad Pro. But perhaps the most buzz-worthy thing to come out of the iPad Pro is the inclusion of a stylus, dubbed the ‘Apple Pencil’.

The Apple Watch was the first major Apple product in recent memory not to carry along the “i” branding (instead of the iWatch, it was the Apple Watch). And while the Apple Pencil continues that branding trend it also completely reverses course from the Steve Jobs era at the company. Jobs himself claimed that nobody wanted a stylus and thought the finger was the preeminent pointing device.

But even though Jobs was so ahead of the curve in relation to so many of Apple’s most iconic products, perhaps he hadn’t considered the place of the stylus in the future as it relates to content creation. As it can detect position, force and tilt, it poses immense benefit for tasks such as photo-editing, graphic design and so many other creative based content creation applications.

During their event and unveiling of the Apple Pencil, Microsoft and Adobe were invited on stage to demo uses with their suite of products. Among them, you can use the Apple Pencil to annotate documents, to circle items in documents, and draw shapes on PowerPoint slides among other things.

It’s such a simple evolution of the Apple product line but yet so smart for the company to convert a simple idea into on that is potentially ground-breaking for many who not only own iPads, but are using their technology to create high-quality imagery and branded messages on their own.

Even though your brand will likely never gain the global recognition Apple has gained since its creation, staying innovative in your industry can help your business retain an amazing level of trust with your customers that can almost never be besmirched.

One of the things your business can do to foster that level of trust is to align your digital marketing suite with your long-term business goals. Social media is one area where you can make your brand stand out and feel free to be innovative in order to elevate your brand messaging for your audience.

If you need a hand thinking about how to be innovative with digital in your industry, there are teams of experts eager to help improve your company’s social presence. Contact Smart Reach Digital for a free analysis or sign up to attend our next free webinar that will be packed with insights on social media for your business!

Read More

You Are Your Business in the Digital Forum

Every so often on social media, a story will start trending that follows this basic narrative: Patron doesn’t tip their waiter, waiter snaps a photo of the blank tip line and posts it online and people console the person for having to deal with such a callous and ungenerous person or group. It’s an understandable reaction to a disappointing night at work, but I would guess that the disappointed waiter isn’t thinking about the potential impact their actions might have on their employer’s digital reputation.

In a world where your digital persona is paramount, doing something individually can have a much wider impact. Protecting the digital reputation of your business is extremely important in today’s world – it’s important for business owners to learn to recognize personal behavior can also drastically impact a brand.

71% of customers say online reviews make them more comfortable purchasing a product or service. For your business, the individual behavior of one employee can lead to a massive upheaval with your brand’s digital reputation.

There are steps every business owner can take to protect their online reputation. Ensuring all your online listings are updated and accurate is a great first step and has far reaching benefits to your online and search presence. Next, subscribing to new review alerts will help you take action immediately when a new review pops up.  Look—not everyone is going to have a 5 star experience with your business, every time.  Recognizing reviews where customers may have visited your business when not at its best is critical—then do what you can to rectify the experience with the client and respond, professionally (aka without emotion)!   Finally, encouraging new (and existing) customers to write reviews and promoting positive reviews is a great way to further your digital persona.  Who doesn’t like to read good news about their business? Let your customers be your online megaphone!

Proactively taking control and managing your online reputation can not only maintain current business – it can also help you grow new business through a strategic, integrated approach. Find out what your customers are saying about your brand by signing up for an analysis with a team of professionals today.

Read More