IMC Plan for Florida Kids & Family Expo

Disclaimer: This blog post analyzing My Central Florida Family is for educational purposes and my final project for MMC5006: Introduction to Multimedia Communication.


My Central Florida Family strives to be the go-to resource for families located in the area by providing them with a comprehensive database of the latest news, upcoming events, school and summer camp information, and businesses. The website was launched in 2014 by three women — Brandi, Jo and Lisa — to make a parent’s or guardian’s job much easier when looking for something to do with the family or various services. In addition to these goals, now the founders are focused on raising awareness for their soon-to-be annual Florida Kids and Family Expo. Throughout this paper, MyCFF will be used interchangeably for My Central Florida Family and FKFE will be used for the Florida Kids and Family Expo.

The expo will take place in Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center on Saturday, August 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, August 30 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It promises attendees “approximately 150 kid and family friendly companies with ideas, savings, fun and entertainment waiting for you and your family” (My Central Florida Family). The event is meant to be informative for parents as well as a “fun and interactive experience for the kids … (who) can come out and really have fun and make some memories” (B. Zrallack, Adobe Connect, March 17, 2015). Some of the exhibits include a mommy massage and pampering station, dad pampering zone, art area, fashion shows and live animal station. So far, as of Friday, April 3, the event’s Facebook page has 117 guests going.   Yet it is confusing because there seem to be two event pages, one created by Brandi and another by My Central Florida Family (along with two others that created by the Eventful website).  The company should consolidate these pages into one.

Facebook events

Brandi indicated that the company’s goal is 15,000 attendees over the two days, which hopes to make this an annual — potentially biannual — event. Few people have bought tickets already as the date is a few months out, but ticket sales are anticipated to come in within a month of the expo. There are a number of sponsors such as McDonald’s, Walgreens, Toys“R”Us and Space Walk in addition to media partners WFTV, XL1067, Magic 107.7 and The Mom’s Magazine.  A portion of the proceeds will be donated to New Hope for Kids, a nonprofit organization in Central Florida for kids who have lost a parent or loved one.

According to Brandi, the Florida Kids and Family Expo’s target audience is “anyone with a family” located in Central Florida (Zrallack, 2015).  In sum, females and males in this area who are generally between 35 and 54 years old with young kids.  At the expo, there will be things to do for kids of all ages, from newborns up until 17-year-olds.  The founders have tried to have activities and bring in vendors for everyone to enjoy.  Fifteen percent of MyCFF users are 55 and over; therefore although grandparents aren’t the company’s main audience, they are still consumers.

The company’s strengths are its:
1. website, which hosts a wealth of informative content, ranging from the latest news to events happening that weekend;
2. clear, specific goals and mission to be the “ultimate resource” for families in Central Florida;
3. founders’ previous experiences, e.g., Brandi planned national bridal events for more than 14 years and knows what it takes to produce an epic expo;
4. founders’ similarities to their audience in that they’re all moms from Central Florida who are looking for things to do with their families too;
5. and use of social media, especially Facebook, which is updated several times a day with upcoming events.

My Central Florida Family’s opportunities are:
1. focusing on Central Florida and filling the market for this area.  Then they will be seen as the experts, and therefore the go-to resource, for all things related to kids in Central Florida;
2. since the founders have so much experience planning events, planning and hosting other local events, not just the expo.  Once word gets out about FKFE and MyCFF, other events could be quite successful, such as a fundraiser or carnival;
3. and the company isn’t doing a lot of marketing yet, but it’s a great time to start sharing more information about the expo.

Integrated marketing communication is defined as “a cross-functional process for creating and nourishing profitable relationships with customers and other stakeholders by strategically controlling or influencing all messages sent to these groups and encouraging data-driven, purposeful dialogue with them” (Duncan, 2002, p. 17). In other words, IMC is when a company strategically utilizes multiple platforms to cross-promote content and build meaningful relationships with consumers. It is important for My Central Florida Family to create an integrated marketing communications strategy to spread the word about the event on as many platforms as possible, thus increasing the number of interactions a consumer can have with the company. According to Duncan (2002), it takes seven touches for a consumer to act upon a brand; therefore, being on multiple channels decreases the time it takes for this to happen. For MyCFF, this means promoting the expo on all channels, while maintaining synergy — a cohesive, consistent message. The company can do this on its website, social media and blog, in the email newsletter and using other traditional media such as print and broadcast.


Florida Kids & Family Expo


Family Daily Dish Newsletter

Family Daily Dish Newsletter


My Central Florida Family has two email newsletters, one for families and one for businesses. This is a great way to specialize content for its audience. The Family Daily Dish Newsletter keeps people updated on events, businesses and other opportunities for Central Florida residents. I signed up for the email, but have only received one so far this week (right). The “daily” is a little misleading; weekly emails at first may be best. The company should always include information about the Florida Family and Kids Expo as well as links to recent blog posts and other social media (check!).

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 12.41.16 PM

Also on the website, Instagram is not listed as a platform where users can connect with the company (above), but it does have an Instagram account that I found out about in this email. The website should reflect this and this is probably why there are only 90 followers. Email and the Facebook event page are where I would tell attendees to download the app (see next paragraph). Post-event, I would send out a survey through email asking the attendees what they thought about the event, what they enjoyed and what could be improved upon for the following year. This feedback is invaluable because it gives the company insights into what consumers want, if the event met their needs and expectations, and how the expo could be better. Email marketing is incredibly effective and has been shown to produce a big return on investment for companies that Express Pigeon puts it at 4,300% (Jorgensen, 2014). Email marketing has the potential to be more effective than the pay-per-click method, social media, offline marketing, online ads and mobile marketing. For My Central Florida Family, social media may arguably be the best platform to communicate with families, but the Weekly Business Newsletter is undoubtedly the best way to reach businesses.

Mobile App

MyCFF should create an app for attendees to use at the expo, which would allow them to view a map of the different exhibits, keep track of which ones they have visited, save information that they learned or from the businesses, and direct attendees to their website and social media. Alerts could be pushed to users when they’re near an exhibit that will be having a special event at a specific time that day, which could be saved to a phone’s calendar. The app would be promoted pre- and during the event. A promotion could also be run with the app the day of, if attendees review an exhibit or the event as a whole, they’ll get a gift certificate or other prize.

Traditional Media

Although MyCFF’s target audience of parents and guardians might be on social media, I think using print and/or broadcast would help to get the word out to these people along with grandparents about the expo.  The company is running ads in local newspapers and magazines — Orlando Weekly, Central Florida Education Guide and Occasions —as well as a spot on the local radio station in the weeks leading up to the event, which would be perfect to catch people, who aren’t plugged in, during their commutes. Many newspapers’ websites also have a list where companies can submit their events to be featured (e.g., Gainesville’s arts and entertainment section called Scene). This would get more eyes on the event for those who like to read the news online. And since this is a local event, I think even posters or other visual materials that could displayed at the cash stands in local stores that parents would shop in like Toys“R”Us are a great way to promote the expo.


MyCFF call-to-action Facebook post

MyCFF call-to-action Facebook post

Looking at MyCFF’s Facebook Insights page, the company would be able to see what posts are (not) working. It seemed that posts with the most interaction had a call to action for users. The company should be posting more of these on both Facebook and Twitter! Brandi said MyCFF would be putting “several thousand dollars into Facebook marketing,” which I believe would help reach more families in Central Florida. Most of the marketing will begin about a month out of the event, but the company should run an ad at least once a month to generate awareness.

Once the company grows, I think My Central Florida may need to hire a social media manager. It’s unclear how the work is divided amongst the founders, but there are a ton of platforms to keep track of — email, website and social media— that it is probably overwhelming. The company may already be using some, if not all, of the following tools, but it should be monitoring analytics on these platforms to better understand and serve its audience. To manage email marketing, the company should use a program like MailChimp (free!) or Constant Contact. Rashid (2015) of PCMag tested most of the software out there and came up with an easy to read table showing where programs excelled or fell short. Google Analytics can be used to analyze so the company can see where the audience is coming from, how long users spend on the site and what pages are they visiting. For social media, Hootsuite is a great tool that we came across a lot during our class. This program, along with others of its kind, helps companies manage their various social media accounts, plan posts and measure ROI. Facebook and Twitter also have their own built-in analytics software.

Overall, there is much promise for My Central Florida Family and the Florida Kids and Family Expo. The founders are very passionate and providing a great service to the community through the website and soon-to-be annual expo. The company aims to be a one-stop shop for families or guardians looking for things to do with the kids, information on local businesses and services, and the latest news related to Central Florida and kids. Using email, the website, social media and traditional methods, the company is getting the word out about the event in August.

I would love to see My Central Florida Family reach its goal of 15,000 attendees for the two days and sell out all booth space. The potential is there for this to be an annual and even biannual event. After this first go around, the company will know how to improve to make the event bigger and better every year.  Best of luck!

Analysis of XYZ Company

Since it is still relatively new, XYZ Company obviously doesn’t have a lot of Facebook followers and interaction going on.  As of March 17, the page had 167 likes, which has been steadily increasing since January.  A majority of the likes were paid and came from ads.  Interestingly, around March 10, some likes came from “uncategorized mobile.”  Based on the data, very few people reach the posts organically; mostly as a result of the paid ads.  In March, the posts were starting to see a bit more interaction than previously.  Likes, comments and shares all increased, especially around March 12.  XYZ’s timeline has had the most eyes on it.  Very few people have looked at the info and photo tabs and there are only two instances during this year that viewers looked at the page’s reviews, which probably only has a few.  On February 6, one person was referred to XYZ’s Facebook page from Google.

It seems that most people are likely to read the posts on the weekends and at night, after dinner.  But who’s the audience? Fifty-eight percent of page likes are from women and 42 percent are from males; however, males are engaging more often with the page’s content.  In the ads, 73 percent of the people reached are males, while only 26 percent are females.  Many of the followers are in the Chicopee/Springfield, Massachusetts, area, which seems to be this company’s location.  The ads are successful in targeting these people, but many aren’t liking the page.  In short, the company needs to gain more followers, reach more people with its posts and craft posts that will generate more engagement.

For the five most recent posts, the average number of post clicks was 18 and the average number of combined likes, comments and shares was 29.  The post on Feb. 27 was XYZ’s most successful one yet: It reached 3,500 people, mostly paid, as well as received 44 post clicks and 71 combined likes, comments and shares.  From what I can see, it looks like XYZ was running a promotion, “March mini split madness … For the month of March get a 22 seer Fujitsu heat pump installed at…”  It seems that the Facebook ads are definitely working in reaching more people, especially if there is a promotion involved.  March 12 is a good example as it seems to be a magic day for a lot of the variables — increased post likes, comments and shares, page likes, post reach and engagement — and this was because XYZ Company ran an ad on that day.  This was also the first time the page saw likes coming from mobile.

Post frequency and content could be improved upon.  Up until now, there has been one post every week, but sometimes it has been longer than that between posts.  The social media manager should come up with a set schedule as to how often and what time of day to post so followers can learn to expect them.  Based on the data, people are more likely to see them on the weekends and toward the end of the day.  Promotional posts get the most engagement as expected, but there should also be some informational posts in the mix so that followers can view XYZ as a reliable source of information about heating and cooling.  Posts should also remind users to like its page and direct them to the website along with other social media.  Including images, videos and hashtags are important too.  All of the posts except one have an image, which is good, but other media should be used as well if relevant.

Only one user this year came from Google, so all the other visitors are coming from Facebook — mostly from the ads.  This means XYZ Company has low SEO.  Users are not being directed to the Facebook from its website, Twitter, YouTube, or Google+ either; little cross-promotion is going on.  I don’t know if it has this already, but if not, putting social buttons on XYZ’s website would generate more traffic to the Facebook page.  XYZ should make sure to put the company website and other social media links in the info page as well.  In the mailers sent out to residents within a 30-mile radius, reminding consumers to visit the website and connect with the company on social media is another way to boost Facebook results.  Emails can be collected from Facebook, the website and mailers.  Once the email database is up-and-running, emails could direct readers to the Facebook page and other channels.  Especially since this is a local company, I think advertising in the local newspaper or renting a billboard would increase awareness.  They might see the ad and go to the Facebook page to read reviews and find out more information.  These are more expensive, but worthwhile channels if the budget is there.  For now though, gaining awareness through Facebook ads is relatively successful so the company should continue social media marketing.

A future campaign XYZ Company can do when the weather starts to warm up is to run a promotional campaign, maybe something like refer-a-friend.  Consumers who refer the company to a friend for installation of a HVAC system, maintenance, or repair will get a free maintenance call or money off their next service.  It could run posts on Facebook, promote on other social media, create a Facebook ad, send out a mailer as well send out an email with the promotion (once the email database is established).

Some sample posts XYZ Company could use are:

Facebook post: Keep yourself and your friends cool this summer with our refer-a-friend offer! Throughout May, tell your friends about XYZ and receive half off your next service.  Make sure they mention your name when booking. #XYZ #referafriend #keepitcool
*include image*

Twitter post: Don’t miss this HOT offer: May is refer-a-friend month.  When you spread the word about XYZ, we’ll give you half off your next service! #XYZ #referafriend #keepitcool

Facebook Ad: AC broken? Call XYZ Company to install a silent, sleek and energy-saving mini split.

How to Handle the Haters on Social

In her book The Zen of Social Media Marketing, author Shama Kabani wrote, “Even if you do get negative feedback, you can turn it into a positive by engaging in a constructive way and showing that you’re a genuine business.”  Negative reviews don’t have to make or break a company if it knows how to respond properly.

For this week, I will be responding to negative and positive comments from two patrons of two different hotels.  NOTE: This is for educational purposes and these are sample posts as if I were the social media manager for these organizations.  It is important to reply to both positive and negative comments to show customers and potentials that your company is listening and cares about them.  These can also be good opportunities to turn detractors into supporters.

Here is the first post I will be replying to for reference.  It is from a customer of the Hyatt Regency Orlando:


And here is the sample text for my reply:

Thank you for taking the time to write a review of our hotel, Travelwith3kiddos! The Hyatt Regency Orlando always appreciates and welcomes feedback from our customers.  I am so glad you enjoyed both of your experiences with us, for business and pleasure.  For your next stay, we will do our best to accommodate you on an upper floor overlooking the pool.  It is wonderful that you were able to relax at our spa (our masseuses are amazing so the time just seems to fly by), while your kids enjoyed our pool and slides.  When you come back to our spa, be sure to take advantage of our complimentary gift when you reserve a spa experience in advance and check-in at The Spa at Hyatt Regency Orlando on Facebook.  And if you didn’t do so, try the blue velvet cheesecake at the B-Line Diner — berry good.  Thanks again, and we look forward to your next visit! – Kristin, social media manager.

The second post I’ll be responding to is from a customer of Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina:


Negative posts are naturally a little more difficult to respond to.  As we learned in lecture (Rhoads, 2015) and according to Linda Doell of OpenForum (2013), there are a few ways to handle these:

1. Respond in a timely manner, if the comment seems to come from a legitimate customer.
2. Don’t be defensive or make excuses.
3. Never create a fake account to come to your company’s defense or delete comments.
3. Own up to mistakes.
4. Take the conversation off of the public forum.
5. Then you can provide an incentive.

This information is a bit outdated, but a survey by The Retail Consumer Report in 2011 found that 34 percent of people who received a reply to their negative review deleted it and 33 percent ended up posting a positive review afterward.  So responding CAN change the person’s opinion.

To the second comment, I would reply with:

Luv2travelwithhubby, we are so sorry about your disappointing experience during your stay and hope it didn’t ruin your high school reunion.  Our hotel was fully booked this weekend due to several events in the area.  The staff was overwhelmed, but the service you received was unacceptable — we want you to know this is not how we operate.  Please email me at or call me at 954-555-5555 so we can make this right.  I will also contact our on-site maintenance crew to see what we can do about the gate box because that is very troubling.  Regards, Kristin, social media manager

I would take the conversation off of the public forum so that the hotel could offer the customer an incentive to come back, perhaps a free night’s stay, or offer an upgrade to a suite at no extra charge, and free parking during their visit.

This assignment was quite challenging.  It is hard to respond to criticism, but looks worse for a company if there’s no response at all.  A few things I learned: Be apologetic, if it’s warranted; be sympathetic; and be personal.  I give social media managers a lot of credit.

Did Catersource Cater to its Audience?

Catersource Conference & Tradeshow

Catersource Conference & Tradeshow

The Catersource and Event Solutions Conference & Tradeshow took place from March 8 to 11, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Its purpose is for catering and event planning companies to learn new ideas and skills and connect with their peers in the industry.  This year, Catersource says it “assembled another outstanding educational program focusing on the latest trends, and the best business practices, combined with exciting events, networking opportunities, and the most comprehensive Tradeshow in the industry.”  Impressively, last year, Catersource won the publication with the Best Overall Event: Business to Business, according to the Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association.

For this week’s assignment, I will be assessing the company’s IMC plan and analyzing how it used social media, along with other channels, to promote the tradeshow.

Catersource uses email, its magazine and social media to get the word out about #CSES2015.  The company has Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram accounts.  Yet it hasn’t updated its YouTube and Google+ pages in almost a year; therefore, clearly it will not be using these platforms for the event.  In the months leading up to the event, Catersource posted on its Facebook page at least once every day with information on ticket promotions, how to become a participant, where to stay during the tradeshow and more.  I think the company should have created a Facebook Event page though to keep track of attendance and directly update attendees that way.

Catersource Facebook post

Catersource Facebook post

During the event, there were just a few posts, which included single photos/albums and let people know some of the presentations that day (below).  Two of the days, the company promoted its show guide and mobile app that would help people plan their day and keep track of all the different activities and presentations going on — in my opinion, this should have been every day though.  Catersource hasn’t posted since March 10, the day before the event ended; it is not using this network as much as it could be.  The company should have at least posted once afterward, thanking attendees for coming and telling them to look out for pictures/other information from the event.  However, it did update its cover photo to a picture from the event, while previously it was a picture that said “less than 1 month away” for the tradeshow.

On Twitter, Catersource tweeted at least once a day leading up to the event and retweeted other users’ posts when it was about #CSES2015.  You can see this below:

Catersource Twitter page

Catersource Twitter page

Most of the online action during the tradeshow took place on Twitter.  There were about 25 tweets on March 8, the first day of the event, excluding retweets.  Most were about the upcoming events for that day and some thanked sponsors or highlighted them during the day.  Few posts included pictures.  Catersource is taking advantage of Twitter and used this site throughout its four-day tradeshow.  It tweeted frequently throughout each day and retweeted a few attendees’ tweets about the event.  On the last day, Catersource thanked everyone for their participation and hopes to see them next year:

This was the company’s last post and hasn’t tweeted since.  Both its Facebook and Twitter pages really aren’t up to date.  Despite the frequent posts during #CSES2015, there was not a lot of interaction going on as tweets received only a handful of retweets and favorites.  The mobile app was promoted only twice on Twitter throughout the whole event — I’m thinking the app was pushed mostly at the event, or else people probably wouldn’t have known about it.  Also, its Twitter cover photo hasn’t been changed; it still says “less than 1 month away.”

Catersource Twitter

Catersource Twitter

Instagram was another network used frequently throughout the tradeshow.  The pre-event posting was quite interesting.  In December, Catersource had “12 Days of Holiday Giving” leading up to Christmas — except it missed Day 7 — when it had giveaways for people who registered for #CSES2015 by midnight that day.  Dec. 23 was the last giveaway and then there wasn’t another post until March 4 about Catersource’s cookbook that was going to be released at the tradeshow.  The company did not hype up the tradeshow on Instagram.  During the show, the company posted frequently on Instagram with pictures of the different booths, products, presentations and speakers.

At the end of the tradeshow, Catersource thanked sponsors “for helping to put on a wonderful evening.”  Instagram is getting more interaction than Twitter, as the average number of favorites for these posts is around 20.

Most of Catersource’s posts across all channels are about the different events taking place throughout the day.  Facebook serves as a platform to let people know what’s going on for the whole day as well as what happened the day before with picture albums, Twitter lets people know what’s happening very soon (“The Tradeshow closes in 15 min! Pick up last minute items from the Store and head to the Closing General Session w/“) and Instagram shows followers what’s happening at that moment with a picture of the event.  Every post on these SNS has the #CSES2015, but other hashtags are rarely used.  Catersource definitely didn’t promote its sponsors and booths as much as it should have.  These posts were few and far between.  After doing a quick search, Catersource mentioned “sponsored” 4 times during the event.  Three out of the four times the company thanked them and the last was:

This was the only time a booth number was provided too.

Of course, Catersource hosts all of the information about the tradeshow on its website.  It also sends out monthly email newsletters.  Starting in the August 2015 Get Fresh newsletter, it started promoting the Catersource and Event Solutions Conference & Tradeshow.  In the Sept. 2014 issue, readers were given a sneak peak of #CSES2015’s keynote speakers.

Catersource Get Fresh Sept. 2014 Issue

Catersource Get Fresh Sept. 2014 Issue

Then in each subsequent issue, different #CSES2015 tradeshow speakers/people were featured, such as former chef Neal Fraser and chef James Beard.

Catersource also prints a magazine (along with a digital edition) seven times a year.  The tradeshow is promoted in most issues.  In the November/December 2014 edition, there was a headline on the cover letting readers know more details about the event.

Catersource November/December 2014 Issue

Catersource November/December 2014 Issue

There is a consistent look and feel across all of Catersource’s communications: social media, magazine and email.  Except in its magazine, the company tends to use white, green and teal in its marketing efforts.  Its standard lowercase name, although sometimes in different colors, is recognizable.  Catersource uses the same icon across its different social media as well, which makes it very easy for users to know that the page belongs to the company.

Catersource icon

Catersource icon

I think Catersource uses IMC well as it promoted the tradeshow across all platforms; however, the event wasn’t promoted as much as it should have been.  I’m not sure if this was the first year the app was introduced, but it was a great way for attendees to create their schedule for the day of the events they want to attend, interact with other attendees and take notes.  I mentioned a lot of the issues with Catersource’s social media use already, but the pre- and post-event postings were nonexistent or lacking.  The event wasn’t hyped up enough.  They could have done this by posting pictures of last year’s event, creating a countdown, highlighting specific booths and speakers, and having giveaways, such as its cookbook.  After the event, communication seemed to stop.  Catersource hasn’t posted on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram since March 11.  The website also hasn’t been updated because it says about the event, “There’s still time, register today!”  The company should thank attendees, sponsors and others on all platforms.  It should also send out an email, personally thanking everyone and inviting them to come back next year, along with event information, e.g., how many people were there, testimonials and photos.  A follow-up survey would also be a great thing to send out to ask attendees what the event did or didn’t do well and what people would like to see next year.  This shows that the company is interested in feedback and making the event better.

The company could also work on interacting with its followers and friends.  On Facebook, attendees posted on Catersource’s wall or mentioned it in a post, and the company hasn’t responded.  People were also using the #CSES2015 hashtag and the company should have liked, commented or shared these posts.  On Twitter, there were also quite a lot of people using #CSES2015.  These are missed opportunities for RTs.

Book lovers unite on Goodreads


Goodreads is a social networking and cataloging site for book lovers founded in 2006 by Otis Chandler.  Avid readers, authors and publishers can connect on this platform to see what others are reading, keep track of what they have read, are reading and want to read, and read book reviews.   The site also has a recommendation engine that analyzes “20 billion data points to give suggestions tailored to your literary tastes.”  Although not necessarily industry-specific because anyone can be a book lover, there are groups for authors, each genre, librarians and publishers as well as by location and subject.  The majority of users are females 18 to 34 years old (Quantcast).  I joined the site in 2012 and I’m not as active as I’d like to be, but I usually check it to see what others have said about a book before I read it — yet that probably won’t stop me from reading it anyway.

My Goodreads account

My Goodreads account

Users simply make an account and can start sharing their recommendations, rating books, writing reviews, updating their reading list and interacting with others.  Some other features include the daily quote,  Never-Ending Book Quiz, giveaways, daily poll, 2015 Reading Challenge and Goodreads Choice Awards (Narula, 2014).  Forbes has called Goodreads the “most important book networking site on the Internet.”  It has the most users out of all book-related networking sites with 300 million members, 900 million books and 34 million reviews (Goodreads).  This is the place to be for bookworms searching for the next best book.  It’s also good practice if you ever want to be a reviewer too! Similar sites include Shelfari, LibraryThing and aNobii.  Shelfari was acquired by Amazon in 2008 and Goodreads was acquired by Amazon in 2013.  There is also a free Goodreads app, which allows users to access the platform from their phones.  According to Quantcast, a company that specializes in audience analytics, the site had more unique mobile visitors than online visitors last month.  However, more page views came from online.  Alexa ranks Goodreads as the 124th most popular site in the U.S.

Goodreads is very popular for a specialized social network and in part, I think this can be attributed to it being connected to Facebook.  It stands out from the major channels because it is a place where people who love books can share their favorites and authors can get discovered.  The Goodreads blog is also a great resource for authors and publishers.  One interesting post I stumbled upon was about how books get discovered: According to the post, most people discover books from word of mouth and Goodreads friends, not Facebook or Twitter (Brown, 2012).

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 10.51.21 PM

How people discover books

An article in The Atlantic in 2012 said, “For now, Goodreads is basically Facebook with books, but if enough contributors set the bar high with creative, funny, and smart reviews it might become a force of its own” (Fay, 2012).  To me, Goodreads is not only Facebook with books, but also a resource people use to see what others have said about them and make connections with others who share the same interest.  Goodreads has come a long way since it was created eight years ago in terms of capabilities and uses.  The founder said, “Goodreads facilitates unlikely friendships, the rise of literary microgenres, and ‘deeper’ reading experiences across multiple platforms” (Narula, 2014).  Going off of the first point, Goodreads is a content community where book lovers come together.  I do know most of my connections because they found my account from my Facebook, but the site seems to be a way for strangers to connect and talk about their shared interest(s), which came as a surprise to the founder.  In an interview, Chandler said, “We didn’t fully anticipate the strength of the communities that cropped up, where people were friending not just people they knew in real life but people they had been meeting on the site. And they were writing reviews. The reviews are hands down the most amazing thing of Goodreads; some people are just writing amazing, poignant, deep, funny reviews of books and sharing them with the wider community” (Narula, 2014).

The publishing industry has been struggling the last several years after the introduction of the Internet, which has made way for self-publishing and ebooks.  Thousands of bookstores have closed around the country since 2004.  Statista estimates that by 2018 only about 22,500 bookstores will remain whereas in 2004 there were about 38,500.  As the chart below shows, in the U.S. and UK, there will be more ebooks than print books in 2018.


With this being said, perhaps proximity marketing could save the bookstores that do still exist, whether it’s Barnes & Noble or independently owned.  Barnes & Noble has a membership program that offers free express shipping, 40 percent off hardcovers, 10 percent off almost everything else and a discount on its NOOK.   However, it is $25 a year, which is probably a turnoff for most people.  Members who either come to the store or are in the area could receive notifications telling them what’s new or about other offers.  Notifications could also be pushed out to other consumers to entice them to come in and make a purchase.  Independent bookstores can do the same.  Proximity marketing might be able to keep bookstores and in turn publishing companies alive, along with the other marketing tactics they employ.

Users can share whatever posts they make and activities they do on Goodreads on Facebook; therefore, Facebook is the most obvious channel that would complement the book site.  Other social media — such as Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest — would be good platforms too.  I think email would be another channel that works well alongside Goodreads.  If a company is trying to promote a book and its been received well by others, it could link to Goodreads reviews so potential consumers can read what others are saying about it or to the author’s page on the site.

IMC of Anthropologie, Burberry + Godiva

Anthropologie is a brand that I’ve always loved, but can’t afford.  Nonetheless, it’s fun to window shop and browse the website once in a while to see what new products the company has every season.  As soon as I went to the homepage, a pop-up window appeared asking me to subscribe to emails.  I didn’t because I know I’m never going to buy anything from there, but if I did, I would get pushed an email every day.  There are also links at the bottom of the website to sign up for emails and have a catalog sent to you in the mail.  In addition, instead of having the social buttons displayed, there’s a social media link in the footer that you can click on to see Anthropologie’s pages (below).  I’m so used to seeing the Facebook or Twitter button so it took me a minute to locate the company’s social media — not sure why this choice was made, but I would suggest clearly displaying the social buttons for ease of access.  Anthropologie has Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Vimeo and Google+ accounts.  They’re very plugged in.

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On Facebook and Twitter, Anthropologie posts several times a day, featuring different items, sometimes a sale, and, every few days, a blog post with the link.  Every Facebook post has the link to the website and every tweet has a link to the website and at least one hashtag.  The most notable one being #AnthroPS.  The company also retweets others’ posts, meaning it is interacting with other users.

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The Facebook page is the most extensive I would say in terms of IMC and more.  There are links to its other social media pages and blog as well as a place to sign up for emails.  You can also watch Anthropologie videos and take a poll, which asks you “which cover would you have chosen for [the] February catalog?” This gets users engaged with the brand and content.  I was also very impressed by how responsive the company was to users posting on its wall.  The user below was having trouble with the promo code and three hours later, the company responded.  I think that’s good customer service.

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On Instagram, some of the images are the same as the ones found on its Facebook and Twitter pages, but mostly the posts are different, fresh content.  As far as I can tell, there are two posts each day.  Again, I’m not on Instagram, but thought it was interesting that the post said “Link in profile” (bottom image).  This is probably so that the post isn’t too cluttered.  Each post has at least one hashtag.

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The Google+ account isn’t updated as often as the aforementioned pages.  This could be because Anthropologie only has about 310,000 followers on this platform whereas its Facebook has over 1 million and Twitter has 518,000.  However, its Instagram page has the most followers with 1.2 million!  This was a surprise to me, but I guess it shouldn’t be after learning about Instagram last week and mobile.  On all these pages, the website link is in the About section along with the tagline: “apparel. home. found.”  Not really sure what this means, but there is definitely consistency across all these platforms.

Anthropologie’s YouTube is updated with a new video at least once a month, which is great.  There are a variety of videos of its models and designers, photoshoots and travels around the world.  The company also has a Vimeo with most of the same videos.  It’s hard to tell how often the Pinterest is used, but the company has 60 boards and 6,753 pins.

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Anthropologie YouTube

I think Anthropologie does IMC quite well.  The company really promotes its website and tries to drive users to it by giving the link to the site in the post or telling users where they can find the link if the platform isn’t conducive to that.  It also uses hashtags to engage users with the brand and each other if they share a love of the company.  Anthropologie tries to update each site every day or at least often.  None of the social media pages were outdated.  Vicki Klemstein of Ciceron, as well as a few others, agrees that Anthropologie does IMC right (2014).

**Update: Anthropologie has a Flickr too, which has some amazing photos, but it hasn’t been updated since 2011.  This might be why it wasn’t listed on Anthropologie’s website, but it’s a shame because the pictures are really unique and interesting.**

On the other hand, Burberry doesn’t do IMC very well. On the website, I could not find links to its social media or how customers could sign up for emails.  These features do not seem to exist, which I find quite strange.  It would be very easy to add social buttons on the top bar or along the side menu.  Perhaps this wouldn’t be keeping with the “distinctly British attitude.”  After some research, you have to “Register” in order to receive emails.  I think this is a bad idea.  Personally, I always try to avoid registering on any website because it’s hard to keep track of all my different accounts whereas just entering your email address is fine, as long as you’re OK with receiving yet another email in your inbox.  During the registration process, you can opt to sign up for email updates, but only if you want.  Burberry seems to make everything extremely difficult.

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Burberry website

The website also hosts what I see as a hybrid between a blog and an Instagram.  The page is called Art of the Trench, which simply has pictures of people in their Burberry trench coats “in any colour, any style . . . in all weather.”  I think Burberry should make an Instagram and transfer this page onto that platform where it would do very well and get a lot more exposure.  The trench coat is its bestseller after all and what its known for.  If anyone has anything Burberry, it’s probably the iconic trench coat — or maybe the signature scarf because it’s cheaper.  The only reason I found the page was when I went to Burberry’s Facebook About section, it provided the link to this page and the company’s other social media.

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Art of the Trench

Burberry has Facebook, Google+, Twitter and YouTube pages.  The Facebook page seems to be updated once a day or once every couple days.  It’s definitely not as active as it could be on this channel because it does have just more than 18 million likes.  There’s also neither a box where I can see what users have posted on its wall nor a review box to see how users rate the brand or customer service.  Also sometimes the posts have links to Burberry’s website, while others do not.  And sometimes there are even posts with links to the Facebook page, which is puzzling because you would be reading the post at that URL.  Burberry should always provide the website link in all posts to direct traffic there.  The Google+ page looks almost identical to the Facebook page in terms of frequency of posts and the exact same cover photo.  There is definitely a consistent image across all these platforms, but it’s boring to see all the same content.  However, Twitter seems to be where the action is.  With 3.6 million followers, Burberry tweets several times a day, always including at least one hashtag.  London Fashion Week, #LFW, is coming up so a lot of posts have to do with that event.  Despite the number of followers, the posts aren’t getting a lot of interaction.  Burberry isn’t retweeting either.

So, apparently Burberry does have an Instagram, just stumbled upon it.  It wasn’t listed along with the other social media on its Facebook page.  Obviously, not a lot of communication going on.  All of the posts are the same as its Facebook and Twitter pages, no new content.  Every post does have at least the #Burberry hashtag.  It doesn’t have the link to the website on its profile page either, which it should have.  Burberry’s Instagram has fewer followers than Twitter with 2.7 million, but there is more interaction as many posts have thousands of likes, i.e., a post of Beyonce and JayZ got 68,000 likes.  However, the interaction seems to be one way as Burberry is only following 121 users.  Also just found its Pinterest.  This is what happens when you don’t clearly display your social media pages.  Lastly, Burberry has a YouTube page that is surprisingly populated with videos from “Burberry Beauty” to “Burberry Shows.”  The company’s YouTube and Twitter pages seem to have the most unique content.  At some point, I’m definitely going to explore the YouTube page because there are a lot of different videos.

It’s pretty obvious that Burberry needs some help in the way of IMC.  Not having social buttons and an easy way to subscribe to emails are definite no-nos.  There is a consistent image across all platforms, yet the posts were identical across some of them, which I don’t think is necessarily good either.  Burberry needs to include its URL in more places to drive users to the website as well as update its content more often.

After a quick Google search, it’s interesting that a lot of writers wrote positively about Burberry’s marketing efforts.  Robin Swire, the content manager of Parallax, praised Burberry for its use of digital marketing whereas I think the company still has a ways to go in perfecting its online brand to make it as flawless as its in-store brand.  Other companies are doing a better job.  Yet the numbers don’t lie, social media and digital marketing did revive Burberry and turned “an aging British icon to a global luxury brand” (see this article from Harvard Business Review written by Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, 2013).  Burberry CEO said,

We also began to shift our marketing efforts from targeting everyone, everywhere, to focusing on the luxury customers of the future: millennials. We believed that these customers were being ignored by our competitors. This was our white space.”

This is interesting because my age group probably can’t afford most of Burberry’s products.  It’s great that the company is using social media to reach this demographic, but I think it needs to do more in order to achieve an IMC plan.


Godiva website

For my last brand, I’m going to look at Godiva because I love chocolate, of course.  I really like Godiva’s website — it’s extremely easy to navigate.  At the top of the page, you can see the different promotions going on.  Right now Godiva is offering free shipping for purchases more than $65 and there is also a sale with items up to 40 percent off.  As pictured above, the footer contains all the the links you’ll ever need: You can sign up to receive emails, request a catalog, join the Rewards Club or the Lady GODIVA Program, learn more about the company and head to its social media pages.  There is also a link that will take you to a recipes page.  It seems like this is a quasi-blog, but it’s probably not updated as often as a blog might be.  Currently, two of the recipes say “Just added” so this lets people know what’s new.  Godiva has Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+ accounts.

Godiva’s Facebook is updated a couple of times every day.  Every post has a picture or video and a link to the website (yes!).  There is also a link to the Pinterest page, which isn’t working as of now, so that definitely needs to be fixed.  There is also a link to enter the Godiva Sweepstakes, but this ended last year so the company should either get rid of this or start a new sweepstakes for users.  The company seems to respond to every post that warrants one, such as help for customer service.  Its Twitter has some of the same posts as Facebook, but new content as well.  The company does use hashtags, but doesn’t always include the link to its website.  Godiva also seems to interact with a lot of different people on this platform.  It retweets posts from customers as well as other companies when it’s relevant.  Some tweets also direct users to its Facebook page or Instagram to get users to connect with them on these different platforms.  All of these pages have the website link in the About section.

Godiva has a Google+ too, which it updates less often than Facebook or Twitter.  Similar to the past two brands, the company has the fewest followers on this site, but it’s easy to add this site to your social media routine.  When you update your Facebook, update your Google+ as well and share a couple of other users’ posts — it will take only a minute or two.  The Google+ page is how I found out about the company’s Tumblr.  Not sure how to get to the blog from the website though.  The company posts once every couple days it seems like, many of the same images as its social media pages.  But it includes hashtags in every post to allow users to easily search the company and its products.  I think the company should add the recipes page on its website to this blog and perhaps have some of its chocolatiers post entries.

Godiva Tumblr

Godiva Tumblr

Godiva has the most followers on its Instagram account, yet it doesn’t have this site listed on its website.  Regardless, I really like what Godiva does on its main profile: “GODIVA Chocolatier, Inc., is a global leader in premium chocolate. Tag your #chocolate photos with #GODIVA”  This provides followers with the link to the website and encourages them to use the Godiva hashtag for engagement.  I guess it seems intuitive, but none of the other companies explicitly said that.  Only problem is that link doesn’t work either…Godiva posts at least once a day, if not a few times, and in these posts, includes about three hashtags and sometimes posts @ some of its followers.  Godiva’s Pinterest has 30 boards, but not that many followers.  I think one of the problems seems to be it’s not saying in the caption where the photo came from all of the time to drive traffic back to its Pinterest or website.  On its YouTube page, Godiva seems to post a few videos all at once and then none for months at a time.  In the video captions, the company includes the website link as well as hashtags.

I would say Godiva does IMC somewhat well, in between Anthropologie and Burberry.  There is consistent messaging and imagery across all platforms.  Most of the content is up to date.  The company includes links in the content to its other pages, but as I found out, some of these links don’t work.  Hashtags are used across all these different platforms to make the company and its products easily searchable.  One of my main grievances with Godiva, and Burberry, is that it doesn’t clearly list all of its social media pages on the website.  For example, I just happened to stumble upon the company’s Instagram and blog.  If Godiva did this, it might see more traffic on these sites.

Now I might go make this delicious looking Triple Layer Godiva Dream Cheesecake.  Until next time!

Kristin’s Favorite Blogs

My all-time favorite blog is Humans of New York, or HONY, a photoblog of (mostly) New York City residents run by Brandon Stanton. The project started in 2010 with Stanton taking pictures of people he met on the street and then it evolved into him becoming a quasi-journalist where he asks questions of his subjects, along with taking their photo. HONY has more than 12 million likes on Facebook (to me, that’s a lot for what started as a little ol’ blog), raised millions of dollars for individuals who have shared their stories, and creates campaigns to change the world.  It’s also a book now too.  It’s tricky to classify this blog.  Initially started as a recreational endeavor, I would say HONY is a now professional blog. Yet Stanton doesn’t get paid to take people’s pictures (I don’t think); he does get money from the HONY book and other projects he does though. This one-man show posts several times a day and has millions of subscribers on  all platforms.

HONY has a really simple mission: to humanize the people of New York.  I don’t think this is the first photoblog of its kind, but I think everyone has been so smitten with this project because the pictures and captions seem to get to the very heart of human existence.  His subjects somehow and for some reason divulge their deepest and darkest secrets to this perfect stranger.  For example:

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It’s incredible — the Internet can be so full of hate, but HONY somehow brings out the best in everyone.  Below are just a few of the thousands of comments this post received:

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I think a large part of the blog’s success is Stanton’s humility.  He always seems grateful to his followers for their support, whether it’s in kind words, likes, or dollars.  One of HONY’s recent posts of a boy named Vidal from Brownsville, Brooklyn, exploded (in a good way), raising awareness (and money) for this underprivileged neighborhood and highlighting the wonderful people who are trying to make a difference in this community.  Stanton raised $1 million for Vidal’s school just by advocating on his blog and social media.  Just yesterday, Vidal and Stanton met with President Obama.  HONY is extremely active on social media, its website and in the news, which certainly helps with SEO.  This is what shows up on Google when I type in Humans of New York:

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Although HONY’s blog, hosted by Tumblr, appears at the top of Google’s list, I think most people are driven to the website from social media.  Stanton’s photoblog is overwhelmingly successful. As per this week’s lecture, HONY provides original content, often, as well as many ways to connect with the blog/Stanton from social media to a personal email address.  The blog was not on eBizMBA’s list of “Top 15 Most Popular Blogs,” but it’s pretty popular — I can assure you of that.  There’s even a Humans of UF page.

One thing Stanton doesn’t seem to use is email marketing.  I can’t find a sign up button on the blog anywhere.  The only advertising on the site is for the HONY book.  Some potential advertisers could be for camera companies, such as Kodak, or humanitarian organizations.

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My other favorite blog is PostSecret.  People anonymously mail in secrets to Frank Warren and he posts them on his blog, hosted on WordPress.  In contrast to HONY, you never learn whom these secrets belong to.  But similarly, this started as a recreational blog in 2004 and after its success became what I would characterize as a semi-professional blog.  Warren is the only person involved in the project and updates the blog with secrets every Sunday.  He has obtained much success from it — published several books and travels all over the U.S. to give talks, meaning it is somewhat revenue-oriented.  I wish I could find if he has a day job and what it is.  From the posts, I can tell he’s very interested in mental health, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he were in that field.  I think the appeal to the blog is that it’s totalScreen Shot 2015-02-06 at 11.32.50 PMly anonymous; a lot of people find it cathartic and the postcards are always interesting to read.  After PostSecret, Whisper, Secret and Yik Yak, other anonymous apps and sites, started popping up.  My undergraduate college has a Facebook page called Bing-U Secrets modeled after it (right).

Whereas HONY puts the same posts on all platforms, PostSecret teases users to its website by not sharing the secrets on social media.  This is smart and has led to high SEO, directing traffic to the blog.  On the blog, there are also Twitter and Facebook feeds to bring users to the social media pages.  Something I didn’t know, you can sign up to get PostSecret News directly to your inbox, further adding to the IMC mix.  The emails would probably include updates about tours and books.  At one point, there was a PostSecret app, but it was discontinued as a result of “malicious” posts (Hernandez, 2012).  PostSecret’s blog advertises its own products: a PostSecret album and a book.  But there is also an International Suicide Prevention wiki link.  Potential advertisers could be mental health organizations.

One thing I would like to change (but in reality wouldn’t!) is the frequency of posts: I wish Warren posted secrets more often as he receives thousands in a year, but that’s what keeps people like me coming back for more!

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For all the foodies out there, Drizzle Me Skinny is a great blog if you like chocolate drizzled on (almost) everything.  It’s maintained by Kate on Bloglovin’, a woman who inspires others trying to lose weight — she’s one of them — while also still eating the foods you love.  I’m all about the chocolate (hence, my blog’s title) so I love this site.  Drizzle Me Skinny is a recreational blog focused on just food, mainly Weight Watchers-friendly recipes.  Kate updates the blog about once a month, but she also has a weekly special list.  She seems to be doing this purely for her own pleasure and to share her experiences and recipes with others.  This blog is unique becausScreen Shot 2015-02-07 at 11.12.14 AMe it shows that you don’t have to give up all the foods you love to eat.  There’s a section on her blog called “All that drizzle” (left) and it’s literally just recipes with drizzled chocolate on top.  My favorite.  Kate says, “If there is one thing I get asked the most its ‘how do you drizzle your chocolate?’. I like to think my claim to fame on instagram was my drizzling techniques! It was also my inspiration to start this blog, hence my name.”

The homepage has social buttons listed on the side to share the blog and connect with Kate on these different platforms.  She has Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, but no Twitter.  You can also subscribe with your email address to receive updates.  I’d say this is a semi-successful blog though, since Kate doesn’t update that often.  Under the “Product review” section, she has one post from November and hasn’t written another review since.  Drizzle Me Skinny’s Facebook only has about 5,000 likes so chances are many people have never heard of it, unlike HONY or PostSecret.  The things that really annoy me about the blog are the grammar and spelling mistakes EVERYWHERE.  Most of the time I just look at the pictures and disregard the text because it’s so bad (as you could probably tell from the above quote).

I think Kate could do a lot of things with this blog, such as have guest posts from people who are struggling to lose weight or with success stories, which would inspire others and ensure readers that they’re not alone.  She could write up more reviews of products.  Since she is a Weight Watchers member, the organization could advertise on her page, yet I think she would need to acquire a larger audience first.  Food companies, such as Betty Crocker, could also advertise on the page.  But again, Drizzle Me Skinny needs to get more followers.