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!

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.

Putting the You in YouTube

“YouTube is the world’s most popular onlinyoutubee video
community where anyone from heads of states to aspiring filmmakers can connect with people all over the world. YouTube’s mission is for YOU to discover and shape the world through video.” – YouTube

YouTube is a video-sharing social networking site that was founded in May 2005 by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim, three former PayPal employees.  The founders noticed that people were capturing videos, but there wasn’t an easy way to share them (YouTube).  By the end of 2005, YouTube was officially a corporation based in San Mateo, California, and the staff grew from a few employees to 65.  A year later, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in stocks (Reuters, 2006).  After the deal was announced that “two kings have gotten together,” the founders created this message:

In 2011, Google+ was integrated with YouTube and the Chrome browser (Whitney, 2011).  Now every Google+ user automatically has a YouTube account.  What better way to tell the history of a video-sharing website than through videos? Here’s “the history of YouTube as told through 10 iconic videos” (Epstein, 2015).  Quartz published this article Feb. 15, 2015, on the 10-year anniversary of the site.

Although often categorized as a social network, YouTube is more so a content community where people go to share videos or simply watch them.  Users generally do not know each other, but come together on this platform and share their love of music, videos, or some other niche interest.  For example, fans of Maroon 5 can go to the band’s channel and comment on the videos or other users’ comments to start a conversation.

YouTube has a variety of features that allow companies to customize their channels and support their brand.  Any user can view videos on the site whereas only registered users can upload videos.  Here are the list of features that a company can enable as long as the account is in good standing, which is measured by abidance of community guidelines and copyright compliance.  There are also many resources YouTube offers to help creators get started, such as its Creator Blog and Creator Hub page.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 4.20.23 PM

YouTube features

1. The first feature, monetization, allows companies to earn revenue from the videos posted by displaying ads.  They could do this by linking their YouTube account with their AdSense account to start getting paid.  Learn how to get started.
2. Perhaps a company wants to upload a how-to video, but it’s more than the 15-minute limit? By simply verifying the YouTube account, a company can then upload longer videos.  But shorter videos are typically better to maintain users’ attention.
3. Annotations help make your videos more interactive and engaging for viewers.  These are the little boxes of text that usually pop-up during videos and can be used to simply explain something further or direct users to your website to buy your product.  Companies should use annotations to provide viewers with their website link and remind them to subscribe to their channel/connect with them on other social media.

Maroon 5 Thumbnails

Maroon 5 Thumbnails

4. Similar to Pinterest, YouTube lets you choose the thumbnail for your video, which is what users see when they initially click on a video.  A thumbnail can be a deal breaker because it has to be visually appealing for the user to want to click on it.  As an example, here are the thumbnails for Maroon 5’s YouTube channel (sorry, I love the band and I saw them on Wednesday!).
5. A company can also charge users a subscription fee to watch videos.  I would deter companies from using this feature because users probably won’t pay to watch content, especially if they can find it elsewhere.
6. A company can submit a content ID claim is they believe someone is violating its copyright and then a user can either accept or reject it.  If the claim is rejected, then a company can appeal to protect its content.
7. Uploaded videos are automatically set to public, but a company can choose to have a video private or unlisted.  Not sure why a company would do this, but maybe if a video is still in progress, the video can be uploaded, set to private and tested on the platform to make sure everything looks good.
8. Companies can have live events streamed to YouTube.  This is one of the coolest features in my opinion.  They can “control [the] event production and manage [their] own encoding settings using [their] preferred platform.”  This is something more channels should take advantage of; fans would love it.
9. The next feature allows companies to edit their videos’ content right on the platform.  There’s also a channel customization option where companies can customize the banner (just like a Facebook cover photo; see SoulPancake below).
10. By enabling the fan funding feature, a “Support” button will appear on a company’s YouTube page for users to donate money.   This is great for start-ups, but users will support you if you have engaging and interesting content.  SoulPancake is a website that I really like and has the support button on its channel (blue button on the right side).

SoulPancake YouTube channel

SoulPancake YouTube channel

11. Companies can also enable Google+ hangouts on their YouTube channels.  This is similar to having a live event streamed, but it’s quicker and can be done right from a laptop.

There are also plenty more features YouTube offers companies, such as creating playlists to share with users.  These could be musicians/songs/brands a company recommends mixed with some of its original content.  Also YouTube Channel was launched in 2013 with the main goal being customization, instead of all channels looking the same.  It was meant “to make your new channel look great on browsers across all screens and devices . . . [and] convert more visitors into subscribers with a slot for a channel trailer” (YouTube Creator Blog, 2013).  As a result, companies could create a channel trailer to hook users, create Channel Art, which would look good on all devices, and organize/curate their videos and playlists to make it easier to users.

Not surprisingly, YouTube has its own built-in analytics software that a company can use to measure its channel’s performance, engagement and most watched videos as well as see who its viewers are.  This is great for brands to understand what they need to improve upon and their audience.

According to YouTube, the site has more than one billion users who spend an average of 15 minutes on the site and view approximately five pages every day (Alexa, 2015).  Three hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, which is up from 100 hours per minute in 2013, according to Forbes (Enge, 2013).  In a single day, hundreds of millions of hours of video are watched.  But where are users watching these videos? Half of the views on YouTube come from mobile devices.  The platform has an app and a mobile-friendly site, which are extremely easy to use.  According to Alexa, an analytics company controlled by Amazon, more than half of users are browsing during school, meaning that most users are younger.  YouTube says that 41 percent of its users are 18 to 24 years old, its largest demographic.  Alexa also reports that this site is the third most popular website in the United States and the world.  Most of YouTube’s users come from the U.S., India and Japan.  In the U.S., 78 percent of users are male whereas only 23 percent are female (YouTube, 2015).

The site is available in 75 countries and Hong Kong as well as in 61 languages.

YouTube Countries

YouTube Countries

However, YouTube is currently blocked in a few countries for a variety of reasons, from violating national copyright laws to fear of political activism or rebellion against the government (Liebelson, 2014).  On the map below, the countries in green have local YouTube versions; the countries in gray have access; the countries in red (China and many in the Middle East) are blocked; and the countries in pink previously blocked the site.


Creative Commons

Three brands that are doing it right on YouTube:

1. In 2014, Budweiser “wanted to ‘win’ the Super Bowl by creating the most popular ad. To get started, it turned to Google’s BrandLab for coaching on consumer insights and advertising trends around the big game. Based on what it learned, Budweiser executed a digital strategy that involved releasing and promoting its ‘Puppy Love’ spot on YouTube six days before the actual Super Bowl. In the end, Budweiser scored big time, winning more than 50M views—and the accolade for the #1 ad of the 2014 Super Bowl.”  Harry Lewis, the company’s senior director of media, talks about Budweiser’s strategy and how it wants to become the best company in the digital world.

And here’s the ad:

How could you not love this ad to begin with? Budweiser has a smart marketing team that put the time and effort into doing research beforehand to ensure the ad’s success.  By working with Google and learning about consumer trends, Budweiser hit it out of the park.  The company has more than 115,000 subscribers and about 14.6 million total views.  Videos are regularly posted to the channel to provide users new content often.  All of the videos have thousands of views, with some even having millions.  In each video’s caption, the company includes its other social media links for users to connect with the brand.

Budweiser YouTube videos

Budweiser YouTube videos

2. Not surprisingly, GoPro is one of the best brands on YouTube.  I say not surprisingly because its products produce videos so it just makes sense.  AdWeek also created its own list of the 10 best brands on YouTube with GoPro in the top spot.  The company has five different YouTube channels, all with a consistent look.  The main GoPro account has almost 3 million subscribers and 722 million views.  Between the five channels, there are close to 766 million views, 3 million subscribers and 2,600 videos.  On the channel’s banner, a user can easily locate the company’s website and other social media.  I’ll focus on the main GoPro page from here on out.

GoPro YouTube

GoPro YouTube

The channel uploads at least one video every day so there is constantly new content for users.  The page is organized very well: Users can easily find videos that have to do with snow, animals, music, or people.  This video uploaded last week of pole vaulter Allison Stokke is extremely cool and has received just more than 4 million views.

One GoPro employee said, “YouTube and GoPro are very much aligned.”  In the video below, the company’s staff talks about how it uses YouTube and how the platform has been instrumental to its success as a brand and on the video-sharing platform:

3. For the last brand, I’m going to choose the most subscribed to channel on YouTube with about 35 million subscribers (Socialblade, 2015): PewDiePie.  This is Swedish producer Felix Kjellberg’s page, known for his Let’s Play video game commentaries.  This YouTube celebrity/personality joined the site in April 2010 and has uploaded 2,260 videos that have been viewed more than 8 billion times!

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PewDiePie YouTube page

According to Sven Grundberg and Jens Hansegard from The Wall Street Journal, Kjellberg makes $4 million a year from his videos (2014).  Not my kind of thing, but I can see why they’re so popular: He is candid, entertaining and energetic.  The videos are extremely low quality though — Kjellberg edits all his videos himself — but perhaps that’s the appeal.  Commenting on this, he said, “Unlike many professionally produced shows, I think I’ve established a much closer contact with my viewers, breaking the wall between the viewer and what’s behind the screen.  What I and other YouTubers do is a very different thing, it’s almost like hanging around and watching your pal play games. My fans care in a different way about what they are watching.”

In every video’s caption, he provides a list of ways users can connect with him, download his app, or buy his products, as you can see below.  A couple videos are uploaded every day, which I think is pretty impressive, but I guess PewDiePie is Kjellberg’s full-time job now since his page been so profitable.  There seems to be a cult around this guy.  Similar to how Lady Gaga calls her fans little monsters, PewDiePie calls his fans bros and started the brofist.  His videos receive thousands of comments.



PewDIePie brofist comments

PewDiePie brofist comments

Please watch my Prezi to learn more about this channel!

Kristin Letsch, Aspiring Editor

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Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”  I believe everyone has an interesting story to tell.  We just need to open our ears, minds and hearts.  I’m someone who wants to discover inspiring, intimate, unique stories and share them with the world.  I believe I would make a great addition to any publishing company’s editorial team due to my previous experience, passion for books, attention to detail, aptitude for words and eagerness to learn.  Although I love writing, I’m not the best storyteller.  I’d rather listen and read, but I’ll try my best.  Here we go:

Chapter 1

I’m from Long Island, about a 45-minute train side to New York City, the arts and entertainment capital of the world.  I was very fortunate because I grew up with an appreciation of the arts: films, books, music, theatre, dance.  Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved reading, whereas my older sister, on the other hand, hated it.  I’ve always been an introvert, feeling more comfortable curling up with a good book than talking to people.  Therefore it comes as no surprise that English was my favorite subject throughout all my years of schooling.  I received 100s on spelling tests and As on essays and other assignments.  When it came time to apply to college, I knew I wanted to be an English major.  I received many of those discouraging comments like, “So what are you going to do with your English degree?” I had no idea.  I just knew it was something that I loved and would make me happy.  My dad always said, “Do what makes you happy.”  So that’s what I did and my parents supported me all the way.

If you’re a book lover, you can totally empathize:

Chapter 2

I received my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Rhetoric from Binghamton University in New York.  I still had no idea what I was going to do with my life, but I loved my time in college both academically and otherwise (it’s where I met my fiancé too!).  Many of my friends would ask me to edit their essays, which was great practice and when I became interested in editing.  I loved my major, while many of my friends were miserable in accounting or some other “practical” field — yet they knew they were guaranteed jobs; there was security.  During my undergrad, I was a reporting intern at a local news station and a reporting intern at my college’s magazine.  I also was an editor for Her Campus and really enjoyed this position.  Last summer, I was a production intern at Time Warner Cable News and worked for the University of Florida’s student newspaper for a year.  Publishing seems to be a hard industry to break into — and one that many say is dying — but I’m trying.

Although I’m getting my MAMC and haven’t had the time to read for pleasure in forever, my love of literature has never waned.  I don’t regret going to graduate school, but it’s made me realize what I want to do in life and would make me happy: something, anything with books.  I graduate in August and believe my various journalistic experiences have prepared me well for a career in publishing.  Editing for news is different, but I look forward to the challenge and learning the process of how a manuscript becomes a book (which this video does a very good job of explaining!).

I think publishers have been slow to take advantage of the Internet and social media.  I’ve got some ideas I’d love to share with you.

Chapter 3

I’m a voracious reader.  I read anything and everything.  It’s hard to say what my favorite book is, just as it is for any movie lover, but I’d say The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy is up there.  I don’t care what anyone says, Nicholas Sparks is one of my favorite authors.  Many think he writes sappy romance novels — they’re not wrong — but they’re so much more than that.  I’m a classics girl who loves her Jane Austen and Shakespeare as well as The Great GatsbyWater for Elephants, the LOTR series, the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson, Perks of Being a Wallflower and so many more.  But of course, the books are always better than the movies.  Check out my Pinterest board to see my favorites and other with book-related things.

I love reading about new books coming out, in addition to older ones I’ve never even heard of.  In the video below, author John Green talks about books that were not bestsellers.  He’s right, I haven’t heard of any of these, but they’re on my list now.  Also, I must say that Green is doing a great job of using multiple platforms to connect with his fans.  More authors should be doing this so that they’re accessible to fans.

Besides cats, chocolate and commas (obviously). I enjoy traveling, seeing new places and tanning.  One day I will complete “The Ultimate U.S. Road trip Reading List” — super cool!

NPR's best beach reads

If you want to know what happens next in my story or be a part of it, please feel free to check out my website or connect with me on Google+ or LinkedIn.  I’d love to chat.


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.

Pier 1 Imports’ Push + Pull

As I demonstrated in my post last week, Pier 1 Imports uses integrated marketing communication very well. The company also makes use of both push and pull marketing to stay engaged with its current customers and acquire new ones. Pier 1 has its own website to pull consumers to its stores as well as to its social media pages. The problem with the social buttons though is that the page doesn’t open in a new tab; it opens on the same webpage, which means you leave the Pier 1 Imports website.  I think this is poor design because you want customers to stay on your website as well as browse your social media.  In this class, we’re expected to have links open in new tabs and it seems like common sense, but I guess it’s not the norm.  If you’re interested in an item, you can also share it on your social media pages — if you have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.  Fortunately, three out of four of these buttons open in new pages.

Pier 1 Social

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Along with the social buttons at the bottom of the homepage (pictured above), you can sign up with your email address for the company’s mailer, sales notices and exclusive offers.  If you sign up, you are allowing Pier 1 to push you daily emails.  Another push technique Pier 1 employs is its monthly mailers.  You can either sign up in the store or on the website.  In the above graphic, under Pier 1 Catalog, you can Request a Copy by simply filling out your address and then the company will push a mailer to you.  Pier 1’s competitors — such as Pottery Barn — still send out mailers, which might be why Pier 1 continues to too.  Yet the mailers are highly effective and according to CEO Alex Smith last year, the company will not stop this marketing activity anytime soon:

As we move into the second half of the year and prepare for the all-important holiday season, we are also bolstering our marketing and promotional strategies to drive both store and web site traffic, conversion and average ticket, while reinforcing Pier 1 Imports’ competitive positioning. Our initiatives include additional circulation of our mailers and catalogs, new TV spots that feature fresh creative, new digital programs and a more aspirational brand message.”

If anything, the company will continue to increase circulation of mailers as the benefits seem to outweigh the costs because the mailers certainly drive customers to the stores and the website.  As I said last week, you can also view the catalog online and actually interact with it, which I think is incredible.  You can page through the digital version, click on the tag on the item you’re interested in and then it will bring you to the item’s page where you can either buy it online, find it in a store, or have the store reserve it for pick-up.  The process is so easy.  (After a simple search, I found Pottery Barn has the exact same feature!)

Pier 1 Catalog

The company also makes use of traditional push techniques to reach consumers by TV, radio ads and pay per click ads.  Here’s another ad Pier 1 ran for the holiday season 2014:

And of course in store is where a lot of push marketing takes place as well.  Interacting with sales associates who can tell you what’s on sale and products that would fit your needs is a priceless form of marketing.  Also at checkout, before a sales associate rings you up, he or she is prompted to ask for your phone number and email address.  Pier 1 won’t call you, but we were told it was just to see where our customers are coming from based on area code.  Email was captured so that customers could receive our daily emails and notifications about promotions and sales.

The company also uses its social networking websites to pull in customers.  Pier 1 posts at least once a day on its Facebook and Twitter pages, providing fresh content such as company updates (the latest was the winners of its UNICEF competition) and deals for customers to use on the website and in stores. If you click on the deal, you consent to receive an email from FB via the company, instructing you how to take advantage of that offer.  Below is the FB post and then the email I received when I clicked on the Get Offer button.  It’s funny: Facebook knows my recent search history because when I first signed onto FB this morning, Pier 1 was one of the first ads that came up.  Crazy.  Social media is great for WOMM — it’s priceless and easy — because consumers can be your spokespeople (albeit potentially your worst enemies too).  They can refer your company to their friends and tell them about their great experience with your company.

Pier 1 FB Post

Pier 1 FB Post

Pier 1 Email

Pier 1 Email

Pier 1 does not have a blog, but it is mobile friendly.  Surprisingly, the company doesn’t have its own app, and the CEO did not include an app in the company’s improvements.  The mobile site is fairly easy to use though.  The main buttons at the top allow you to find your closest Pier 1, create an account or sign into your current one, contact the company, and edit your basket or checkout.  These are all functions that would ultimately result in a push technique.

Pier 1 Mobile

Pier 1 Mobile

You can also view the desktop site, but I find the mobile site easier to navigate with such a small screen.  If you do want to use the desktop site, a push notification comes up asking you to enter your email address to subscribe to Pier 1 emails.  One thing I found amiss about the mobile site is that on the homepage, there are no social buttons.  Only when you clicked on a specific item were there social buttons to share on your SNS.

Sorry, this is a bit of a repeat from last week (guess I got a little carried away), but Pier 1 Imports should make users more aware of its mission and create a singular message to strengthen its brand and IMC.  On Wikipedia, it says the slogan is “It’s your thing,” but I’ve never seen or heard this on any of Pier 1’s marketing.  Its tagline is “Find what speaks to you” and I honestly think the company can do better, come up with something more memorable.  Perhaps something like “Expierience the world,” as this incorporates the company’s name as well as includes its mission to remain “the original global importer of imported decorative home furnishings and gifts.”

I think Pier 1 should continue to send out mailers and advertise on TV and radio.  A majority of Pier 1 consumers are older women and, although this demographic is now logged on, I think the best way to reach them is still through traditional media.  And then of course, social media is a great way to reach the younger demographic, especially with posts that offer deals.  Pier 1 does do a great job of maintaining a consistent image across all media, but it should work on its message, as I have explained above.  We saw in lecture this week that Amazon and Target do a great job of maintaining their brands; we would recognize the logo anywhere (Rhoads, 2015).  Pier 1 has a much smaller market, but I think maintains its brand well so that its consumers know that an advertisement is from Pier 1.

The problems I found with Pier 1 online tended to be with its social media: the pages didn’t open into new tabs and the mobile site didn’t have social buttons on the homepage.  The mobile site is still relatively new and I’m sure will improve as time passes once the company analyzes its performance, but those social buttons should be present.  On its website, making the SNS open into new tabs is an easy, but necessary fix to keep customers on your page.  Once they’re on FB, Twitter or any of the other sites, you’ve lost them.