Amanda Tessier

Marketer & More

Author: Amanda Tessier (page 1 of 2)

Digital Culture & Emerging Technology

Recently, good friend and creative human Joslyn Yeager and I were discussing Everybody at Once (EA1) and Molly Templeton’s theory of delete culture.

Molly Templeton, a wildly successful YouTuber at the dawn of the platform is now a part of EA1, and still has the same pulse as online trends. Joslyn brought Templeton’s exploration of delete culture to my attention. Here’s the definition for your convenience:

The act of removing social media posts from the Internet that are no longer relevant to the exact moment you are in.”

This is shown by Instagram accounts that only keep 9 photos at a time. Tweets are deleted shortly after they’re posted. It further emphasizes Snapchat’s relevance. I’ll admit I originally thought the app was a passing fad, and I’m glad to be wrong.

Thanks to Growthhackers, I found the slide deck for Snapchat’s pitches back in 2014 (oh so long ago in the startup world). Please browse! What’s most interesting is this slide in particular:

Snapchat technical difference

“DELETE IS OUR DEFAULT”

That is so powerful to me because it explains why Snapchat hasn’t faded away. The company realized this trend (even if by accident or personal need) and capitalized on it.

People are pushing back and trying to take control of their information. Snapchat is certainly collecting information–no question about that–but it’s part of a larger trend to keep what’s in the moment and not more. I realize the implications for data analysis–I’m a data geek and I love taking all the information I can and making sense of it. It’s going to change the way metrics are calculated and goals are achieved, but truthfully, there are plenty of ways to capitalize on the now and the software exists to keep pace with it.

Let’s look at this from a personal perspective: I joined Facebook when I was a sophomore in high school; I’ve since removed dozens of photos of teenage awkwardness. The now-teenager I once babysat already has Facebook and Instagram–all before the eighth grade. If you’re a child growing up with technology, think of that backlog you’ll have to remove once you’re entering college. Your embarrassing childhood photos are no longer tucked away in our family’s photo albums; they’re digitally available and indexed.  Facebook is no longer the fun yearbook we believed it to be; it’s unwanted record of our past selves.

Snapchat’s service is unlike anything previously offered in the social, let alone mobile, space. We can share those same moments with friends, without the documentation. Perhaps it’s also a sidestep around cyberbullying (although certainly not a cure): the content doesn’t live on for hours for continued ridicule, judgement, or evaluation (I know that would’ve solved some of the issues I encountered). I’m admittedly ignoring the loopholes in the system: Snapchat’s database and the screenshot feature. For the purpose of this piece, I’m focusing singularly on the value proposition this platform offers in relation to the growing need to share the now, not save the past and present for future review.

Snapchat, probably unknowingly, took a page out of the biggest startup in the world’s book–Google. Snapchat can pride itself on its technical difference of ephemeral communication. There are few to none services that provide the same benefit; its service is growing so rapidly and providing so much value, it would take another platforms months to get to this level (although I’m sure some are trying). In How Google Works, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg that Google’s best products have a technical difference that no one can match. Google Search is relevant and fast. YouTube makes video sharable and accessible anywhere. Gmail is free, intuitive email that travels with you. The products that haven’t faired as well (cough cough, Google+) lacked that technical difference users would find valuable. There were too many other competitors with similar offerings in the space. Snapchat developed a product that hit at a core issue–sharing the present in the present–and built around that.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this resistance to corporate control and data aggregation. A few years ago, an NYU graduate student recorded all his own information. He tracked his travels, his browsing history, everything he could using his own methods. He explored the idea that the individual user could collect, and sell, their own data. Rather than the company mine it (even if it is with our permission when we sign up)  and profit off of it, we collect our own information and profit ourselves. Individually it might not amount to useful information for a company, but the aggregation of many people doing this could provide vast amounts of information that directly pays the user for sacrificing some privacy.

There’s something to be said for secrecy–it gives a sense of exclusivity. Even Everybody at Once seems to adopt this mentality. The website is structured so that they’re only discoverable by familiarity with internet culture–which is what they both specialize in and thrive off of. This firm, in their own words, does “audience development and social strategy for media, entertainment, and sports.” Their work–including the “Clone Club” for Orphan Black– works not to interrupt the social space, but operate within it. It’s the pinnacle of content marketing, uniting community and encouraging real-time viewing in a space that is accessible 24/7–an understanding we can all learn to operate within.

5 Pieces of Gratitude

Thanksgiving has to be one of my favorite days of the year; it’s a holiday with minimal hype where families come together to express gratitude and eat. Who doesn’t love a little thanks and food?

It’s a moment to reflect on the blessings we have, especially when we’re constantly given aspiration messages that jump on our insecurities. I’m venturing from my usual marketing discussion because this is far more meaningful than any Facebook algorithm change.

1. A Roof Over My Head

Living in a city juxtaposes the immeasurably wealthy with the unfathomably impoverished. Seeing the bright lights from the skyscrapers of the sparkling Financial District glimpse upon the homeless on the streets tugs at my heart everyday. It reminds me that as miserable the weather may be outside, I have a shelter to call my own. Here are a few charities that do a great deal of good for this cause.

St. Francis House

Pine Street Inn

2. A Meal On My Table

On my first trip to Brooklyn, I photographed all the delicious meals. Why not document the food adventure?

On my first trip to Brooklyn, I photographed all the delicious meals. Why not document the food adventure?

My Italian family made sure I never went hungry and this holds true on Thanksgiving. We usually struggle to fit all the dishes on the table. Not everyone is quite as fortunate. I was raised to view food as love, so I encourage you to share some of your wealth with these admirable organizations.

The Greater Boston Food Bank

Pie in the Sky (bookmark for next year!)

3. Friends of the Past, Present, and Future

If you haven't already, I highly recommend the tree lighting at Faneuil Hall in November every year. Get a hot apple cider afterwards!

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend the tree lighting at Faneuil Hall in November every year. Get a hot apple cider afterwards!

I have a strong group of friends that form a tremendous support system. Along the way, I’ve met many people I consider “bridge friends.” He or she comes into my life for a period of time so we can learn certain lessons from each other and although the friendship laters dissolves (often peacefully), it was an important relationship for both of us. These individuals have taught me who to surround myself with and how to maintain healthy connections. They are people I’m grateful to have known.

My father has an expression: “Strangers are friends waiting to be met.” I’m happy to know that there are many more people I will cross paths with and hopefully learn from. If I’m not celebrating Thanksgiving with them now, maybe I will be next year!

No causes for this one…should I add some? Suggest them in the comments!

4. Work

Wakefly office westborough

I was surprised my first day to find my name on a cubicle of my own.

In an economy that is just beginning the upswing from a recession, I am so grateful to have a job that contributes to my personal capital. My current workplace took the chance of hiring me and gave me such a warm welcome. I have since become fascinated by corporate culture and how to create an innovative and efficient environment. If you’re looking for the same, I recommend reading Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod and How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg. PS: Use smile.amazon.com. It donates to important causes!

Are you in the Boston area and looking to network? Sign up for BostonTweetUp‘s newsletter to learn about local networking events and conferences. It’s easy to familiarize yourself with people in Boston; I’ve been attending the conference circuit for barely 3 years and already see many familiar faces.

5. Health

There have been too many headlines in the news recently relating to people in compromised states both physically and mentally. We’ve all had that moment in the worst phase of a head cold when we can’t even imagine what it feels like to be healthy; a few days later we’re better. I have great respect for individuals combating an illness that doesn’t fade with time. If you or a loved one are going through a tough time and need someone to talk to, the Samaritans are here to listen, give meaningful words of encouragement, and suggest additional resources.

Those are my top 5 things to be grateful for! What are some of yours?

Dear Blackberry, from a devoted iPhone user

Holding the coveted iPhone 6 that technology reviewers are hailing as innovative and intuitive, I went to the website of the device most people consider terribly outdated: the BlackBerry. It was time for some window shopping.

Pursuing the iPhone 6 

I’m the proud owner of an iPhone 4S and upgrading to the iPhone 6 seemed the natural progression, until the aggravation of obtaining it caught up with me. It involved:

  1. One trip to AT&T to look at the physical device
  2. A call to AT&T to review the rebate policy
  3. A call to AT&T to verify the phone options and upgrade availability
  4. A call to AT&T to change (uhhhh-emmmmm, increase) the data plan*

*Note: Increasing the data plan was only done because my “out-of-contract discount” is now unavailable. Needless to say, I was less than pleased about this.

This device wasn’t worth that effort. It is nearly identical to my beloved 4S. In fact, it is worse than my 4S. This iPhone 6 requires a purse just to transport it. It is costing my family more in monthly data fees. The taxes on it are absurd. I need AppleCare for fear of bending the device or shattering this screen. Not to mention all the new connectors and chargers I would need. $199 price tag? This device is going to run me that with a rebate.

New Pursuit: Blackberry

A friend recently pulled out his Blackberry and I was taken by surprise. I thought the company was focusing all its efforts on B2B ventures, not B2C transactions. Back in 2011, this was the smartphone I dreamed of, but with the company’s plummeting value and spotty service, the iPhone was the safer bet. Who knew if Blackberry would be doing business in a year?

Well, it’s been 3 years, and according to company specs and many tech bloggers, BlackBerry’s quality is on-par with Apple. What’s more impressive is the loyalty of Blackberry’s users, the Crackberry fanatics. A simple tweet one morning launched into a day-long conversation with the fans and the company itself.

Apple, and its millions of fans, never showed up in this conversation. It was enough for me to do some further research.

Concerns

There are a handful of features with the iPhone that make me hesitate when considering switching to another brand. They are concerns you likely have as well. The Blackberries, specifically the Q10, resolved many of my worries:

  • iCal: My entire schedule for work, classes, and even lunch dates relies on this notification system
    • SolutioniCal can be imported into Blackberry’s calendar
  • Apps: I’m a social media manager. Without my phone, I’m not doing my clients justice.
    • SolutionApps from Google Play and the Amazon Appstore work on Blackberry, and the majority of my favorites are available
  • Battery Life: My 80+ apps wear my phone down pretty quickly. I charge it daily, if not twice a day.
    • SolutionAlmost 15 days of standby time, compared to the iPhone’s 10 days
  • Size: My biggest gripe with the iPhone is its enlarged screen
    • SolutionBlackberries are roughly the size of the iPhone 4s
  • Memory: Minimum 16GB is required to hold everything
    • Solution: Blackberry Q10 is available in 16GB.

In my research, I did discover some unforeseen issues with upgrading now. Among them:

  • I will be charged a $25 restocking fee by AT&T for returning my iPhone 6
  • The Blackberry Q10, although only $50, is already a year and a half old. I’m upgrading to get the newest, not the soon to be old-model
  • The BlackberryQ20, aka the Blackberry Classic, is rumored to be released in November or early 2015
    • I will receive $200 for my iPhone 4s through the end of October. The amount will drop after that date.
    • The Q20 will likely be priced at $200
    • Now I have a decision
      1. Return my phone now for full value and be phoneless until the Q20 is released
      2. Keep my phone and get less money for it, thus forking over more cash for the Q20
  • I cannot try the Q20 even if it were out; Blackberries are only available online. I do not enjoy gambling on a 2-year commitment

Time to Switch…in 2 years

Too little, too late, Blackberry. I love your devices and I see the tremendous potential. The lack of synchronicity with my upgrade and the release of the iPhone 6 makes it a difficult to change devices. I adore the QWERTY keyboard and the durability. I would be joining a very loyal and enthusiastic user base. The price tag and the inability to try the phone prior to purchase are enough for me to say, “I’m sticking with the iPhone for now.

In 2 years, I’ll likely be reconsidering all my devices. My college laptop may be coming to an end. My next phone contract will expire. I’m aware enough to know that much of Apple’s value lies in its brand, not its products. Therefore, even though your company has suffered tremendous blows (every person I told my story to–with the exception of the friend who owns a Blackberry–looked at me with skeptically raised eyebrows), I recognize that your products have many benefits. In 2016, I’ll be selecting the devices that best suit my lifestyle and career demands, not the ones with the prettiest light-up logo.

Live and Learn

AT&T, should you ever read this, please streamline your communications about upgrades to customers. I’m not someone usually befuddled by technology, but you stumped me.

Blackberry, please establish a showcase somewhere. I really wanted to try your devices, and I can’t commit to a phone without testing it in the store first.

Special Thanks

Blackberry owners, I hope to join you in a few years. Thanks for the many pieces of advice via Twitter; perhaps I’ll be the one responding to a prospective Crackberry aficionado one day.

Alternatives to Our Favorite Shopping App, Hukkster

The recent announcement that Hukkster will be closing its doors left me desperate for a new tool to assist in bargain hunting. If you aren’t already familiar, Hukkster was an browser extension, website, and application that allowed you to bookmark potential purchases and it would alert you via email or text message (your choice) when those items went on sale. It garnered attention when  the Winklevoss twins, famous for their supposed contributions to Facebook and well-known lawsuit of Zuckerberg, invested in the company.

I’m a skilled bargain hunter and Hukkster became a necessary tool for buying coveted items that were usually above my budget. I struggled to find a replacement until I tweeted my dismay and two companies replied me (thank goodness for businesses using Twitter wisely). I’ve tried each of them out, and here’s my review of them.

Covvet

This website is nearly identical to Hukkster without some of the bugs that the now closed company had (such as not being able to properly load). Once you’ve downloaded their browser extension, click it whenever you find a product you like and a price you don’t. You can select how much the product much be discounted by before you’re alerted to its reduced price. In comparison, Hukkster had presets you had to select from.

Covvet, Hukkster, bargain hunting

Use Covvet to save favorite items and get alerts when products go on sale.

My few complaints: it divides popular products by gender lines. This is bothersome because (1) I often shop menswear due to its lower prices, higher quality, and unisex style, and (2) I have friends who are transgender and struggle to find apparel within the boundaries that society has set for them. Additionally, it doesn’t allow you to add products to lists to keep items organized and there are no options to send alerts via text or email.

ShopTagr

This is also nearly identical to Hukkster. Its only options for price change alerts are when the cost is reduced at any amount or at 25% (even Hukkster had more options than that). A great option is that you can earn gift cards to popular stores (Amazon and ASOS are among them) by inviting your friends to use ShopTagr. (Here’s my code: http://shopt.me/yscic)

ShopTagr, an alternative to Hukkster

ShopTagr saves your favorite products and sends you an alert when they go on sale

Much like Hukkster, ShopTgr allows lists (which Covvet doesn’t). I used these in Hukkster to determine what I wanted for myself versus a family member, friend, or significant other.

This service also divides popular items by gender lines and asks you to specify your gender upon sign-up. Therefore, the complaint above still applies. The alert options do not involve emails or texts either. Boo-hoo.

The Winner Is…

Undecided. I know that’s not the answer you want to hear, but it will be determined by which service is connected to more websites. I have yet to use either one extensively enough to decide, so once the winner is clear, there will be an updated post.

Another Valuable Service: BuyHappy

This company alerts you when another retailer is offering the same product at a better price. A slightly different service that grew in the same incubator as Covvet. I just began using it and haven’t seen the full results yet, but it’s worth a try.

My initial complaint: It isn’t available for Safari (I realize I’m the minority here but it would still be nice). If you’re a Chrome or Firefox fanatic, you’re all set!

What’s your vote?

Tell me in the comments below and feel free to tweet me anytime!

21st Century Music

A survey was completed by a professor in a marketing class regarding the students’ media habits. Much of the data was to be expected; twenty-somethings receive a vast majority of news via the Internet or social media. Television viewing has moved online, particularly to platforms such as Hulu or Netflix. The most surprising category to me was the fragmented radio section; most people had completely abandoned traditional radio. Additionally, college students in a city are rarely driving cars–an activity they said involved more traditional radio. The fastest ways to get around Boston are by foot and by MBTA, and most travelers have earbuds on and iPhones on. Pandora, Spotify, Songza, and iTunes have taken combined control, but each one individually owns only a small portion of the audience.

The complaints about traditional radio included excessive advertising, repetition of songs, and lack of choice in music selection. All the applications mentioned solve those problems; a paid version eliminates advertisements, the songs rarely repeat, and there is the ability to thumbs up or thumbs down a track. Additionally, as hard as traditional radio has tried to venture into this platform, these other applications are far more accessible on mobile.

This isn’t the first time I have heard about grievances with traditional radio. The Wall Street Journal wrote this article describing the tactic of playing the same few songs frequently, and some might say, excessively. Listeners are more likely to stay on a station when they hear a familiar song; therefore, new ones are introduced with great care. It greatly relates to Blockbusters, a book by Harvard professor Anita Elberse about how the heavy investment and promotion of a few entertainment products is far more profitable than a consistent investment and promotion of many. Rather than disperse the radio waves with a multitude of diverse songs, it has become more profitable to transition stations over to pop music and homogenize the available content.

From personal experience, the ten minutes I listen to the radio in the morning is enough for me to hear all the songs the stations are currently playing thousands of times a day. It wakes me up, keeps me up to date with current music, and gives me a few of the day’s trending topics before I’m able to read Twitter. I heavily rely on iTunes, use Spotify for songs I like but am not ready to commit to, and regularly explore Soundcloud for new music.

Traditional radio still has its advantages: there is talk integrated in with music. Radio personalities are an asset to this medium. Boston’s AMP 103.3 has capitalized on this; Loren Raye and TJ Taormina‘s program “The TJ Show” has kept the station head-to-head with Boston’s long-running “Matty in the Morning” by Kiss 108. Loren and TJ break up the music with commentary on current events (let’s use the term “current events” loosely here) and different packages that usually involve pranks. AMP 103.3 is creating promotional events in new ways; they’re offering more meet and greets with artists (you can view Flo Rida’s here) and interviews with artists than I’ve seen on most stations. The Birthday Bash thrown by AMP Radio in City Hall Plaza to celebrate their first year in the Boston market attracted over 35,000 people for a lineup that include Cambridge-native Sam Adams, Selena Gomez, and Jason Derulo.

Traditional radio is still one of the few channels that can directly catapult an artist to superstardom. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis went from a modest following to a tremendous one in under a year thanks to “Thrift Shop” being played on radio stations across the country. This leaves open the question of music discovery; if the same songs are being played across all platforms, how do those quieter artists crack onto the scene and how do fans learn about them?

As with most trends, there’s always a new movement against the old ways. Mergers and conglomerates are creating larger and larger entities, leaving more room at the bottom for small initiatives to take off. As I write, Soundcloud is playing East of Ely, a group I discovered this morning thanks to The Kollection. 8tracks has long been a favorite for its innumerable playlists. These platforms are also highly sharable; they can often be linked to Last.fm to record which songs have played and easily connect to social networks.

What does it mean for musicians? An internet presence is important; the chances of joining the ranks of mainstream radio are far slimmer than gaining a following on Soundcloud. Concerts are a great moment to expand your fan base; after seeing Down with Webster at a Radical Something show and being impressed by the their performance, I began to follow their music online. Connecting with fans will always win support; Watsky makes a point of meeting people after shows and replying their tweets.

Music is about the experience; it’s something that innately connects with people. If traditional radio ignores the highly personal aspect of this art, it will greatly suffer as other platforms capitalize on its weakness. Musicians are getting more savvy at taking control of their tours, promotions, and branding, and fans are ready for new content. It’s a transforming marketing and i’m excited to see where to 21st century will take it.

#ECHoops

The Emerson College men’s basketball team had a tremendous season in 2013 and 2014. As an unranked team entering the NEWMAC conference, they had a lot to prove and definitely surprised a lot of people. I was in attendance for each and every home game as the Associate Marketing Director for Emerson Channel Sports in order to provide social media coverage. Watching the team grow and adapt as a unit not only showed their camaraderie and dedication to the sport, but helped me provide better coverage of a department that gets little attention in the Emerson community.

I’ve learned a lot about social media engagement from them. It’s partially because there is such a small audience; I can fairly easily track basic measurements. I can tell you how many people we reached on social platform and how much activity our posts received. I used software to calculate the optimum time of the day to post. During this time I also built a modest marketing team to cover more games and increase our growth. There were shifts in strategy that greatly influenced the success of our online campaigns and carried over into the physical Emerson community.

Content is King

Before the days of Instagram video and Vine, our visual content was strictly blurry pictures. There were a handful of video applications at the time but none had a large enough audience to be useful for our organization. The launch of these prominent applications made our content much more interactive. People could begin viewing the material and reviewing various plays from the games.

Photography with a DSLR has now replaced our blurry Instagram images (all thanks to our fabulous photographer, Sam Nipatnantaporn). Each basketball game consists of at least twenty-five images that include each player who sets foot on the court, some pictures of the coaching staff, and a few shots of the fans in attendance. We have learned to watermark these photos so when they are shared across the Internet we can claim credit. Earlier in the process we made the mistake of not including a watermark; we quickly learned our lesson when athletes began downloading the images and posting them on other platforms or using them as profile pictures (which we couldn’t have been more thrilled about!).

A single photo album gets far more views and activity than our dozens of score updates used to; we’re emphasizing quality images and videos in order to be a resource for the audience and the athletes. Not only have we changed the tools we’re using, we’ve also shifted the focus of what we are including in our coverage.

Successes, Not Scores

We used to post scores heavily; with every score we would try to have an accompanying photo or video (once Vine was around). However, this turned out to be a bit repetitive because ECS provides a live stream of the game and Emerson Athletics updates statistics live online. I wasn’t entirely sure how to shift our focus and what we would highlight instead.

I kept this tactic largely the same until the men’s basketball team competed against Amherst, the defending national champions. We were expected to lose by a landslide, yet we won. The phrase “social media blew up” perfectly applied here. There were constant notifications across all platforms for hours after the game ended; responses were still trickling in for days. It was one of the early games that we used a DSLR camera to get high-resolution photos (as seen below) and I was stunned by the response. The images became people’s profile pictures, Instagram re-grams, cover photos, and the list goes on and on.

Emerson v Amherst

Emerson v Amherst

We learned athletes weren’t as apt to share score updates (even if a great photo accompanied it) or posts about them dominating their rivals. People shared their success stories; they retweeted the video of them making the three-pointer nobody saw coming or making a great block to defend their basket. The win was important, but not as important as what they accomplished during their time off the bench.

We shifted our approach to report the score separately from plays and it decreased the massive gap of engagement we saw between when the team won or lost. In a few weeks, months, or years, everybody will forget who won that game, but they’ll likely talk about the incredible play that was made by so-and-so in the second half with three minutes left on the clock. We want to focus on those memorable moments, not the final numbers on the scoreboard.

The focus to accomplishments diminished the huge disparity in engagement between when the team won versus when they lost. Even at a game that’s a large loss, we still see relatively interactive engagement with our content. This consistency has allowed us to keep growing our reach and our audience.

Engagement

We’re looking to connect with the athletes and their friends and family and sometimes, they don’t know we exist. To address this issue, we started tagging them in posts (which meant we had to be a little creeperish–it’s a word–and find their usernames on Instagram and handles on Twitter). The effectiveness exceed my expectations; the people we mentioned followed us if they weren’t already and showed more engagement with the content. It also drove traffic to the other material we published and our social media influence kept rising. Therefore conversations kept rising; on a few occasions the men’s basketball team would be debating a play and would refer to an Instagram video to review it. They would be chatter about the photographs. The content was reaching our audience via the Internet but was discussed in the physical community.

Video Promotions

It took us a while to begin to develop these, but I’m so glad we’re producing them more consistently now. With the help of the marketing team, we created a whole list of potential promotional ideas based off of famous sports movies. We selected “Like Mike” as the first concept which was especially fitting with four Mikes on the men’s basketball team. Four promos were created–one for each of them–with one of the regular hosts of ECS’s broadcast, Matt Searle. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome and the audience seems to like it based on the view count and the feedback we’ve received. Take a peek at our creations below!

Events

Event planning isn’t my favorite activity; it is a lot of preparation for a comparably short occasion. However, it was time to transfer the success we had online and create a physical event. At the suggestion of my boss, we threw a SuperBowl party (and I couldn’t have been more nervous for it). With an abundance of food, a big screen television for viewing, and a beautiful Skybox in the heart of our athletics center, we had just under fifty people in attendance. We received positive feedback and helpful suggestions through a survey distributed online afterwords. The people who stopped by were diverse–some were friends we had persuaded to go, some were members of ECS, and many were those who heard about the party and wanted the free food.

ECS Superbowl Viewing Party

The success isn’t enough for me to pursue event planning as a career, but it reassured me that ECS could organize an event and build its brand through them. I’m also realizing how difficult it is to book room on Emerson’s campus, so I’ll likely be planning future events months, if not a year, in advance.

Thank You

A tremendous “Thank You” to the men’s basketball team for sharing these videos, participating in our promotions, and having an awesome season for us to promote. If it wasn’t for your dedication to the game, there wouldn’t be anything to report on or broadcast. An ENORMOUS “THANK YOU” to my marketing team who put all hands on deck every step of the way. I know that everybody’s already looking forward to the 2014-2015 basketball season.

Buffer versus Sprout Social

If you follow my Twitter feed, you know my love for Buffer. I follow every single employee and I mention them relentlessly (they’re probably tired of hearing from me). I love that their system can queue posts and perform custom scheduling. There is a growing list in my nightstand drawer detailing all the things I love about this company, ranging from their product to their culture.

All things considered, I’ve come to a bit of a crossroads. I need more analysis on my data; I’m working with more clients and I’m nearly at the maximum of 12 accounts on my Awesome Plan. In order to calculate reach, I’ve begun researching and trying tools that can offer me greater insight in the data I receive. All of which are free versions: Fllwrs, Friend or Follow, Retweet Lab, Tweriod, Klout, Kred, and my favorite, SumAll.

I’m at the tipping point where I may need to invest in a more advanced program. After using the free-trials of several platforms, participating in Twitter chats, and asking other social media professionals, Buffer and SproutSocial are the top choices. There are very distinct reasons why I like each and they are accompanied by equally strong shortcomings.

Buffer’s layout is beautiful. The clean, white design makes it very user-friendly. The iPhone app is easy to use, the queuing feature is wonderful, and its integration with a number of platforms is awesome. The company is constantly developing; recently, Google+ has been added as an available account to connect. There’s a “Live Chat” button added within the last week. They just released Buffer for Business and I couldn’t have been more excited.

After trying the least expensive of the premium plans ($50/month), I was a little disappointed. Jumping from $8.50/month to $50/month is quiet a leap and I didn’t feel it was worth it. The data analysis was not as detailed as I would have hoped; Sumall, a tool that is currently free in beta form, outpaces Buffer. I wasn’t yet persuaded to type in my credit card digits.

I gave SproutSocial a 30-day trial and loved the analytics. It told me where leads were coming from, compiled more detailed reports, and gave me a level of insight no other platform offered. However, the design was slightly confusing. It was an odd combination of Buffer and HootSuite with a black background. I have heard wonderful reviews about SproutSocial, but I was uncertain of the platform’s design. There may be nothing wrong with it at all–it is just unfamiliar to me–but I did not continue use after the trial period ended.

Sprout Social costs $40/month; that $10 difference compared to Buffer could save me $120 a year. For full-time social media agencies and freelancers, that’s nothing. For someone just starting out, that’s enough to make me hesitate.

My hope is that Buffer will improve its data analysis portion of the website. If this is up to par with SproutSocial and SumAll, they have my money. At this moment, neither company is getting anything more from me. Please leave your suggestions in the comments–especially if you know of another service I have yet to use.

M&RL Mania

“What are some current artists?” asked my business professor, standing nervously at the front of the room as he attempted to connect with this silent class.

After several moments of silence, I replied, “Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.” It took several repetitions of the names for him to vaguely understand what I said. He shortened it to “M&RL.” He was oblivious to the power and influence of this charismatic duo.

Later that day, Ryan Lewis made two announcements via Twitter that involved some major brands.

Up until now, M&RL have appeared to be an independent entity of money-hungry businesses. They refused to join forces with record labels; their lyrical content even discusses the influences of major brands (take a listen to Wing$). Now cellular and fashion companies are jumping onto this brand of the creative DJ and energetic performer.

Ryan Lewis isn’t alone in these deals. Dr. Pepper’s campaign focuses on being one of a kind–just like Macklemore–and depicts how the now wildly successful Seattle native worked on his dream to become a rapper from a young age.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go71sJlav-8&w=560&h=315]

I saw all three promotions within a short timespan of about twelve hours and cared enough to write about them here. I am a Macklemore and Ryan Lewis fan with enough interest to have found Macklemore’s high school mixtape, but not soon enough to have beaten everyone else to the discovery of The Heist. Regardless, the promotions got my attention solely from the people featured. These partnerships were surprising to me; as I said, M&RL seem to take pride in their lack of affiliations with powerhouses. They are a self-made success story with some help along the way from their band of loyal tour managers, videographers, and musicians. To become involved with these companies feels like they’re messing with the magic that made them so popular.

Additionally, notice the song selection in the Dr. Pepper advertisement. It is “Ten Thousand Hours“, the first track off the The Heist and potentially a new single (although I’m still hoping they’ll create a music video for ““Jimmy Iovine”). The song describes the tremendous amount of work it took for M&RL to arrive at this album (let alone this level of success). I make a guess at a new single because the other songs are waning on the charts and the duo may want to reach listeners through this promotion (rather than pushing another song to radio, especially if radio won’t play it).

For the general public who recognizes these names (unlike my professor), these ads should resonate. Individualism, attractiveness, and authenticity are communicated with M&RL as the endorsers. However, if you haven’t heard the story of Macklemore’s rise to fame (spoiler: addiction is a key component), a lot of hard work was involved. It took dedication that isn’t necessarily depicted in these advertisements. There are hardships that the teenage Macklemore in the commercial never faced. Although not every detail can be included in a short television spot, this is no standard “rags to riches” fairytale.

If M&RL are going to commit to working with companies, I hope they use their full creative capacities to leverage the influence for themselves as well. When incorporating a music brand with a product brand, I would love to see the production that went into the photography, the video shoots and the creative concepts. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis produced and shot many–if not all–of their existing music videos with a small team that contributed to the process; I wouldn’t be surprised if they wanted some degree of control in these projects. Ryan Lewis’ tweet also suggests an ongoing or existing relationship with Buffalo Jeans; I’m curious to see how it progresses from here.

As powerful as these two men are, they are unable to reach every audience. My professor lacked all name recognition for the group, but I think Dr. Pepper and T-Mobile would be okay with that. These promotional pieces are meant to reach the young, connect with teenage and young-adult culture, and the give the companies the infectious likability that made Macklemore and Ryan Lewis so famous.

Humble Pie at FutureM

Purple moleskin in hand and business cards in my purse, I manage to get myself out the door by quarter of eight and join the street with the professionals, commuters, dog walkers, and college students with eight AM classes. Usually I’d be like one of them–sleepy-eyed (okay, I might be a tad drowsy), mildly grumpy, and wishing to plop myself back into bed. This day is different.

I looked a lot more like everyone else on Boylston Street last year when I hesitantly ventured in the Financial District to see 20/20, a presentation of twenty professional twenty-somethings discuss their recent work. I had been told to download a free ticket and see what had been recommended as Boston’s marketing conference, FutureM. This was the only session I would have time to see (and arguably the only session I knew how to get to–many events were being held in Cambridge) so I walked amongst the skyscrapers and into an eye-opening presentation.

Over the next four hours, I listened to people discuss the marketing of Lady Gaga, the potential of Google Glass, and the emerging field of Neuromarketing. As a freshman in college, I was unaware that marketing encompassed so many areas or had so many possibilities. FutureM not only expanded on what I did know, but it showed me what I had left to learn. It taught me who to follow on Twitter, how to network at events, and how to get involved in the marketing community of Boston. When I saw tickets go on sale for FutureM 2013 this summer, I purchased mine immediately.

On this morning (one year after that groggy day in the Financial District), I’ve got a slightly better grasp on the professional community and a sense of what areas I have an interest in. I’m doing social media and small marketing and advertising projects for local businesses and organizations. My skill set is growing and I’m learning what areas I’m not interested in. I also realize the shortcomings of my education; I’m encountering challenges professionally that I have yet to discuss in classes for another year or two. FutureM fills in those gaps.

This year’s conference was an incredibly humbling experience. Listening to executives speak about their work and research shows me how much I’m unfamiliar with; I love that feeling. College provides a great deal of support and guidance–sometimes too much–and can cause me to overestimate my abilities. I’ll easily grasp a business concept or ace a case study. Those are great feelings (why would I reject a good grade that I worked hard for?) but it gives a false sense of empowerment that doesn’t translate to the working world. I also lack an understanding of what areas I could use improvement in; when everything comes back with a comment of “good,” what can I do to make it great?

Every panel or speaker provides me with greater insights into my work and the creations of others. Hearing the social strategist of Walmart speak provided verification that the way I think about social media–as a reputation building platform and a brand reinforcement tool–isn’t far-fetched. He also elaborated on the technology and the data used to select the best posts; I had never previously considered that. Discussions on the power of big data revealed how calculated everything in marketing from consumer behavior to social media analytics has become. The rise of the mobile platform strengthens the argument that we need fully integrated campaigns across many mediums, not just isolated channels. Finally, the consumers are now part of the conversation everywhere and it’s time businesses learn how to respond.

I keep all of these experiences in my head as I go about my work in the classroom and in the office. I apply them to every situation I see fit and try to learn from the work of others. Most importantly, I aim to observe the emerging trends so when I arrive at FutureM the following year, I’m prepared to engage in conversations and learn from the best all over again.

Radical Marketing

A few months ago (after becoming annoyed with myself for learning about Macklemore just late enough to jump on the bandwagon), I set out to discover new music. I began exploring the Internet and learned that finding talent isn’t so easy.

There’s no single source for finding up-and-coming artists. They’re sprinkled around the Internet, typically on sites such as YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, ReverbNation, and the like. In all honesty, many of the people I found were (in my humble opinion) mediocre at best. Their music videos were more like bad pornography. The rapping was predictable and the auto-tune was overused. Making unidentifiable grunts isn’t artistic, it just doesn’t resonate well from my earbuds. I finally stumbled upon a few acts I liked, one of them being Radical Something.

I sifted through their SoundCloud and found dozens of songs–a dream for anyone who is frustrated by Myspace’s and Spotify’s relentless advertisements. The more I listened, the more I liked it. It combined a beachy vibe with rap that had a positive message and choruses that were sung by a real voice rather than a machine. As much as I love hip-hop/rap music, I grow weary of lyrics that objectify women, glorify violence, and focus on nothing but sex.  This is a Jason Mraz feel crossed with Sam Adams circa 2010 mixed with a little bit of The Script and John Mayer. Essentially, they’re unique.

In my experience, one of the shortcomings of the music industry is creating a true community between the artists and the fans. It’s understandable; if Justin Bieber is pushing forty million Twitter followers, he can’t send personal messages to every single one of them. However, Radical Something has about fifteen thousand accounts that have opted-in to their feed on Twitter alone. They’re able to create far more meaningful experiences via the Internet and they’re utilizing it well.

I received a Ticketmaster alert when they concert was booked for Boston, but many people wouldn’t have set up that feature. Fortunately, the band has repeatedly sent social media blasts with their concert dates. This is smart for two reasons: (1) by tweeting the same message multiple times, they’re more likely that a larger portion of the followers will see it and (2) seeing the same message multiple times can persuade an individual to act. Radical Something then put a phone number out so fans could text and receive information about upcoming albums and tour dates. How do I know it’s legit? I received the picture below from the group’s rapper, Alex Lagemann (also known as Loggy), along with album information upon texting the given number. I’ve since texted with questions regarding the concert and received answers within 24 hours.

Loggy

All this is important because within a community, there needs to be some reciprocity. People who put in the effort to be supportive want something in return; in regards to musicians, it’s usually some form of recognition. Not only does Radical Something respond to their fans via text message (which is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard of), but they also respond regularly to tweets. I’ve posted information numerous times and received favorites and courteous replies. As a listener, I feel like my interest is of importance to them.

They have also coordinated their efforts well regarding their recent album release. Prior work has been available for free legal download from Soundcloud, encouraging people to put the music on iPods. They established a fan base before releasing the latest work, Ride It Out, which was only available for purchase, not legal download. Ride It Out is a thirteen-track compilation that picks up where their previous work, We Are Nothing, left off. It has a similar sound but expands on their capabilities and further develops the group. They put the album up for pre-order on iTunes, but allowed listeners to access it via SoundCloud. In recent weeks, they’ve created music videos for many of the songs. In a visual society, this is particularly valuable. It’s quite easy to share a music video via social media and visual content gets as much as twice the activity as a textual post. Additionally, I like the music videos; it’s a pleasant surprise when it doesn’t ruin my perception of the song (cough cough “We Can’t Stop” cough cough).

They’ve continued creating music even after the album release (it’s like the cherry on top). One of the opening acts for some of their shows–Outasight is featured on a single called “Ghost Town”, along with Kinetics (the author of the hook for B.o.B and Hayley Williams’ “Airplanes”), which was released on September 17th, about two weeks after Ride It Out became available. They’re generating buzz for themselves and their fellow musicians, mixing fan bases and raising awareness for all groups.

The next challenge will be reaching audiences that may be appropriate but are unfamiliar with Radical Something–such as Jason Mraz or Sammy Adams fans. Radical Something is currently using Jamplify to incentivize fan  for promoting their concert through social media; those who post are entered in a contest to win VIP tickets. By encouraging existing fans to post this content and broadcast it to their followers, Radical Something is increasing the chances of gaining new listeners. However, that reach may not be broad enough.

This is the challenge with music and its promotions–it largely stays in within the same, self-selected audience. The musicians post on Twitter; perhaps they get a few dozen retweets from followers, but even that extended circle only goes so far. It’s breaking through to new groups of interest that can deliver significant results and increase their number of loyal listeners. Translating online activity into physical sales and personal engagement is the meaningful and financially powerful component.

I’m happy to see the success the group has had so far and I’m interested to see how they will promote their music in the future. I hope they’ll continue to be great listeners to their fans by responding to tweets, text messages, and giving us the information about their creative process. Most of all, I can’t wait to see them perform in Boston on Sunday!

My Favorite Apps

I’m an avid iPhone user (if you even call this device a phone with all it’s capable of) and I’ve tried more apps that I can count. Social media applications, mapping services, reservations, anything and everything. I’ve found a few favorites and I’m hoping you’d enjoy them as well!

As a disclaimer, if you have an Android phone, I apologize, I don’t know how many of these applications are available for those devices. I can only guarantee that they are used for the iPhone.

Snapseed: Google owns this photo editing app and it’s immensely helpful! You slide up and down to select how you want to edit the image, then left to ride to choose how strong you want the effect to be. It also has preset filters (similar to Instagram) but you change how powerful the effects are here too. It does your standard cropping, rotating, and tilting as well. This is really helpful if you have that awkwardly taken picture where the background consumes 75% and you’re in the corner. You can adjust the image right on your phone before making it your profile picture.

Embark: This application helps you plan your route via public transportation in many of the world’s larger cities such as Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC. It gives you a multitude of travel times around the one you’ve selected and provides maps of the subway systems. As anything in Boston knows, our system is rather temperamental, and the alerts are often up-to-date and accurate. It makes planning for trips immensely easier, especially if you already know the stations you’ll be traveling to and from.

Ness: Don’t know where to go for dinner and the burger place on the corner looks a little sketchy? Ness to the rescue! Based on your previous ratings of restaurants (it uses a five-star system), it will suggest restaurants in your area that you will probably like. You can filter places based on type of cuisine, time of day, price point, and location. It’s perfect when you’re in the mood for desert and need to find the nearest ice cream place!

OpenTable: Another app associated with food, it is more useful if you already have an idea of where to dine. If you need to make a dinner reservation but can’t get to a computer, OpenTable is your buddy. Put in your location, what time you’re looking to dine, and how many people will be attending to make a date. If you know your restaurant, you can search it right from the beginning; otherwise, OpenTable with provide you with a selection of options that you can filter through based on price, cuisine, and a few other selections.

Mailbox: This is a nifty little app that could very easily replace your Gmail application. You can add all your Gmail addresses to it and it has features the provider’s app doesn’t, like setting a reminder to answer an email later. It can combine all inboxes into one so you aren’t logging into multiple accounts constantly. All typical features are included, such as being able to archive a message and create lists, but it adds some really helpful organization tools that make email much more manageable.

Ticketmaster: You can set up alerts that go off when your favorite bands and musicians are at nearby locations. I personally enjoy the badge icons that let me know when tickets are going on sale. You can sign up for emails as well, but since my inbox gets clogged as it is, I choose notifications to get quick results I’m sure to see!

Charity Miles: As you walk, run, or bike, this app not only tracks how far you’ve traveled, but donates to a charity of your choosing with every mile. Not only does it motivate you to go that extra mile (literally), you are able to give those miles to Feeding America, the Wounded Warrior project, and many other organizations thanks to some generous sponsors of the project.

Google Voice: If you dislike your phone number like I do or simply want a second number to give out in case it gets in the wrong hands, sign up for Google Voice. You can select your number from dozens of options for that new number, and you can select what phone will ring when it’s called. Additionally, it transcribes any voicemail into a text and/or an email for you (depending on your settings) in case you can’t listen to the call but can read the message.

Hopefully these applications make your daily routine a little easier. Any suggestions for me? I’d love to hear them (even though my iPhone is nearly at capacity)!

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