Photos and Marketing

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I am pretty sure I have mentioned numerous time that I am a big fan of pictures.  I am a visual personal.  I often view my world in terms of what would look great in a photo.

I only recently started using Instagram.  Part of me really enjoys using it, but another part of me feels like I’m cheating on my camera.  It’s so simple and easy to use Instagram, as well as the editing options.

Instagram is a rising start in the social media world.  We are a visual world, grounded by the signs that surround us.  With the Semiotic Theory, formulated in the 19th Century by Swiss Linguist, Ferdinand de Saussiere and American Philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce.  Semiotics is the study of signs.  A sign is an object, sound, or action that stands for something else, including objects and concepts.  Photos and photojournalism exists to produce “natural” sign events.

Using Instagram as part of a social media marketing platform can assist your brand, product, or service in sharing it with your target audience.  Instagram offers a creative way to reach out.  Everything from behind the scenes to sneak peaks of new releases of your product, brand, or service in action can be portrayed in images and easily shared.

Instagram offers an abundance of ways to visually share and market your product.

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Technology, Religion & Social Media

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Media_and_Religion_Mattingly_Sharlet1Recently in my graduate seminar class we have been discussing the extent to which entertainment has seeped into all areas of our lives.  Entertainment is directly intertwined with many important parts of our lives.  Education and religion to name a few.

In our discussions we focused on just how connected religion is with entertainment.  While the earlier forms of entertainment in religions were song and dance, the ways in which believers connect with each other and their faith has expanded.  There are now movies, comic books, networks, internet, novels, and video games that are strongly connected with religion.

Religion has always been a part of my life, but it now it seems to be more accessible in a variety of ways – through forms of entertainment (& through that advotainment) and social media.  Every year my nephew, who is now 16, shares his excitement and enthusiasm of attending Acquire The Fire.  http://www.acquirethefire.com/   It is a “2-day (27 hour) event packed with powerful Christian bands and speakers, setting the stage for your teens to have a life-changing encounter with the living God”.  While I can’t fathom participating in 27 hours of this, it is obviously a successful venture.  It has been putting on these events for over 20 years in a variety of states.  This type of event successfully attracts teenagers in youth groups in churches around the United States.  With an effective and solid website that branches out to social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, the word is spread quickly.

Religion and Entertainment are often intertwined these days. I often wonder if the variety of ways in which they use entertainment and social media as their platform if they are effective in spreading their word?  From the mega-churches with their grandiose stages to weekend long events, churches have started using entertainment and social media as the foundation for advertising.  In the midst of all of the media clutter, it is possible that their “work” is being lost to the millions of messages that the public receives on a daily basis.

I wonder if churches will have more success in this area and become more Internet savvy in terms of promoting their goals and purpose in reaching out to their target audience.

Miss Representation

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About a year ago, I was introduced to Miss Representation by a friend of mine.  www.MissRepresentation.org is the social media campaign based off of the independent film Miss Representation.

Below is a short clip from the documentary Miss Representation by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and aired on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

The film explores how the  media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence.

“Miss Representation is the award-winning documentary film that exposes how mainstream media contributes to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman or girl to feel powerful herself.

MissRepresentation.org is the social action campaign of the documentary film. Its mission is to shift people’s consciousness, inspire individual and community action, and ultimately, transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, can fulfill their potential.”

Initially one may assume that this movement is another one of those female movements without much substance, without a focus.  Wrong.  It’s substance runs much deeper than merely stating that women should be equal.  It looks at the foundation of where these beliefs start and how media plays an role in guiding these impressions.  “MissRepresentation.org believes that all people should be equally represented in our media, that our voices should be heard and that we should all be valued for our talents, capacity as leaders, and ability to contribute to the world at large.”

This social media movement resonates with me on a number of levels.  I was introduced to this as I was closing up a chapter of my life on the east coast and moving out the west coast for graduate school.  I had received a lot of push back for selling a house, quitting a safe secure job, and completely starting over as a woman.  Growing up, my siblings and I were raised to be strong, independent individuals.   My three sisters and I (and my poor brother…) grew up knowing that we could do anything, be anything that we put our minds and hearts into.  I never thought once growing up that I had limitations as to what I could do as a career or where I could live.  I knew that the possibilities were limitless.

As I moved out here to the west coast, it became more and more apparent that I am not in the majority.  Not every female was raised with the same type of beliefs and encouragements from their parents or community.  Not every female has that strong independent quality for one reason or another.  Did my parents shelter from non-stop media clutter, videos, and  television shows?  Possibly.  But as an adult I certainly was bombarded with messages from the media, both explicit and subtle, what women are capable of, how they should be viewed and treated and ultimately their value.  Perhaps my background has made me immune to such media.

In the film, Katie Couric drove home the point of the effect media has to influence society on the value of women.   “The media can be an instrument of change: it can maintain the status quo and reflect the views of the society or it can, hopefully, awaken people and change minds. I think it depends on who’s piloting the plane.”

Media can certainly influence viewers on a number of levels.  It can be all consuming for some.  It can change one’s opinion for the better or worse.  It becomes a part of how many of us view and understand the world.

Standing up against the sexism and disparaging thoughts about women and starting this with young children is important.  Not only for females, but males as well.  Their social media campaign includes a strong email marketing campaign, Facebook, and Twitter presence.  It’s social media in action for a cause.  It’s successful and it’s strong.  There is a strong foundation and backing for their movement.  Their international campaign encourages advertising companies to stop using women as objects portrayed as less than and educating youth and inspiring change.  Individuals of all ages are speaking up and telling their stories – participating in the movement of change.

Celebrating the positive.  Challenging the negative.  Communities are involved.  Miss Representation knows who her target audience is.  She listens, she’s active, and she knows how to reach them.

As I’ve said before, I like a good story.  I like positive change.  I like what I’m seeing here.

Simple

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Since the start of graduate school in the Fall of 2011, there has been no time to pursue my passion:  photography.  It’s my safe place, my form of relaxation, my escape, a way for me to relax, and a way for me to express myself.

I was looking through photos of mine today and discovered this image:

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This is an image of my friend’s children at a BBQ we attended before I left Maine.

With Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogs, cell phones, texting – – do we ever take the time to shut everything down and be present?  Do we take the time to communicate with each other face to face anymore?

I love the ability to communicate with friends and family that are far away, as well as friends that are near by.  I love how instant it is.  I love the immediacy of it.  But, I’m reminded as the semester starts to take off in full force – I need to step back, be simple, and be present.

Advertising and Targeting Children

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Advertising is inescapable.  All hours of our days we are bombarded with a variety of forms of advertisement.  From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep, advertisement is present.  Adults are not the only individuals that are exposed to advertising.

In today’s market, children are perceived as a viable market.  Millions of dollars are being invested worldwide in targeting this growing segment.  Years ago, children were not referred to as customers.  They were merely children of consumers.  Targeting the parents was the prevailing way to reach the children.

There has been a shift in the focus of advertising’s  targeted audience.  Currently, there is an abundance advertising on television aimed at children.  These commercials include, but are not limited to food, drink, music, films, and clothing to young consumers from toddlers to teenagers.  Not only are advertisers targeting children in commercials, but in product placement in television shows and movies.

There are arguments for and against targeted advertising for children.  Some confidently explain that advertising and product placement helps integrate children into our society.  Other also in support, say that banning is a restriction of free speech.  Many also feel that banning such advertising or product placement would negatively effect the production of products and entertainment aimed at children.

On the flip-side, advertising targeted at young children can be exploitive and encourage the start of poor habits and decision making.  It has also been stated that such targeted marketing is unethical in that children can not critically engage with higher forms of communication.

Children are targeted in commercials during morning cartoons and children’s programming.  Product placement is in everywhere – in their Disney movies, in the television they catch adults watching, and movies that aren’t necessarily meant for children.

I have attached a mashup video that looks at product placement in various movies.  While it is 6:30 long, it is an interesting historical look at at start of product placement.  Although, some clips are strictly children’s movies, we know that children are also watching adult movies.

As adults we are “supposedly” immune to such integrations of products, but what about children?  Can they process the information and acknowledge it as merely a placement?  Or are their cognitive abilities not yet matured?  In comparison to to adults, children have a limited cognitive functioning skills, making them vulnerable to commercial messages.

I’ll admit, when I see certain products in movies, especially food products, there are times I want to go out and purchase the food.  And this is coming from an adult who knows and understands the purpose and reason behind such placements.

Do you think that product placement in children’s movies should be banned?  Does it truly affect children in a way we should be concerned?  Does it affect their ability to make good food choices, when fast food is consistently being shown in movies and programs?

Humor Me!

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In my graduate seminar class, we have been discussing humor and the role it plays  in branding and social media.  As human beings, we love a good laugh.  It resonates with us.  It connects individuals on an emotional level.

Humor allows companies to be more human-like in their interactions.  This type of interaction can take a brand or company from being distant and not relatable to something a bit closer to our own reality.

Comedy can take the edge off intense/stressful/serious moments through advertising, movies, real life, and television shows.  There’s a lot of serious moments in life and humor can be therapeutic in some settings, taking the heaviness out of the situation.

The ability to think outside of the box will help your brand stand out in the chaotic world of social media. When appealing to your target audience, it is important to create work that creates a memorable connection.

While humor can be extremely effective, it is  important to be mindful of the risk involved. Humor can go a long way with brands, it can also backfire.  It has been suggested that testing with internal groups prior to going live to prevent any potential backlash.

In this article from February 2011, there is a list of Branding Gone Bad: http://www.bschool.com/blog/2011/branding-gone-bad-10-most-ill-advised-ads-of-all-time/

Being mindful of success using humor, Hubspot article looks at “14 Funny Brands You Can’t Help But Follow in Social Media”.

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33488/14-Funny-Brands-You-Can-t-Help-But-Follow-in-Social-Media.aspx

One of my favorite commercials that combines humor with storytelling is the Toyota Sienna commercials from several years.  It take humor and mirth and reaches out to its target audience with success.

Knowing when, where, why and how to use humor in your social media platforms can be the difference in your success in connecting to your target audience.

Quality

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Quality vs. Quantity.  Value vs. Volume.  While math is certainly not my forte, these equations are ones I can wrap my head around.

If one Facebook page has 10,000 fans versus another that only has 1,000, is the business with 10,000 more successful?  

Are your thousands of followers or fans a sign of success?  Do these numbers translate into dollar signs?  In Brian Solis’ article, “A Facebook Like Does Not Equal an Opt-in”, he addresses several issues that Facebook marketers and strategists universally deal with.  http://www.briansolis.com/2012/06/a-facebook-like-does-not-equal-an-opt-in/

Solis explores the difference between a social brand and and social business.  Is your business able to use the benefits of social media to transform its business into a success?  A successful social business can be a direct result of social technologies transforming and improving aspects of the company.

Is there a way to capture the intent of the visitor, fan, or commenter on your social media platform.  Rather than assuming that a “Like” on Facebook is a sign of numbers in your community, it is important to continually engage with your customers.  Solis states that “…Likes are a form of social currency and their value goes up and down with each engagement.”  Focusing on engagement can increase the involvement of your fan base.

Ultimately, social media needs to connect back to business objectives.  In order to find success in social media platforms, such as Facebook, businesses need to understand where they currently are, what their goals are, and how to track the connection between the number of likes and interaction and an actual behavior.

 

 

Visuals

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I am a photo snob.  I will fully admit it.  Between my film and digital photography training – the way I view images have changed over the years.  I am a big fan of quality over quantity.  With access to a variety of digital cameras in all sorts of formats, everyone is a photographer, on some level.

Instagram.  While I prefer film, I’ll admit it – I like Instagram.  Using images over words to share thoughts and ideas is an ideal format, in my mind.

Instagram is more than just taking and sharing photos.  It allows us to look at the world in a slightly different format.  Not only does it provide the context of our daily interactions, but it allows us to create memories.  As Instagram has become integrated into social media, it allows marketers an opportunity to leverage the visual power of their brand.

In Jason A. Howie’s article, “Using Instagram for Social Media” on http://www.socialmediatoday.com, he touches on 9 key points in marketing with Instagram.

1)  Don’t rely just on Instagram

2)  Involve your community

3)  Let your community see behind the curtain

4) Let your employees be involved

5)  Popular hashtags on Instagram are dead

6) Create your own hashtag and engage people that use it

7)  Geo-tag Instagram Photos

8)  Find the perfect timing

9) Play with your photos

http://socialmediatoday.com/jason-howie/772986/9-things-consider-when-marketing-instagram

Pictures really are worth a thousand words.  What do your images say about you?  What do they say about your brand?  Are you involving the community?  Are you involving your employees?

Route 66 Sky – Kingman, Arizona

Red Rocks – Sedona, Arizona

 

 

 

Simplicity

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I like simple.  Simple can say a million words.  Simple can provide one with all the information one needs, without going overboard.  Simple can provide meaning.

Authentic.ly is an agency that helps organizations execute on business strategies, by leveraging social media.

On their site, Authentic.ly took the different forms of social media and put them into clear concise terms.

Simplicity!

Hope has an address

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In April of 2011, I was attending my sister’s wedding in Pasadena, California.  Of course, it was a fabulous wedding.  However, when the food came out for the reception, I was blown away!  Wedding guests were treated with amazing food and service.  A taco bar, homemade tortilla chips, variety of salsa, and a spread of baked goods.  It was all very simple, but simply amazing.

My sister and her husband chose Homeboy Industries – Homegirl Cafe to cater their wedding.

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Aside from the amazing food, I was curious about the nonprofit.  I was curious about their success and their beginnings.  I was curious about their survival. I was curious about their social media strategy.

The Mission Statement on their website states:  “Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and recently incarcerated men and women, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community.”

It was started in 1988 by Father Gregory Boyle as a job program as an alternative for gang activity.  The program grew and became Homeboy Industries in 2001.  This independent nonprofit has had a positive effect on Los Angeles’ gang problem, providing a way out for gang members.

In the April 16, 2012 issue of Fast Company there was an article on their struggles over the past two years:  http://www.fastcompany.com/1826868/house-second-chances

I went digging and found an abundance of information. Websites, Blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts:

http://www.homeboyindustries.org/

http://www.homeboystories.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HomeboyIndustries

@homeboyInd

http://homegirlcafe.org/

http://homegirlcafe.blogspot.com/

@homegirlcafe

They have shifted and grown over the years – to include a Homegirl Cafe, catering, farmers markets, bakery, diner, grocery, and merchandise.

Recently in my social media marketing class, we discussed the 7 Spokes in the Social Media Wheel.  The foundation (or center) of the spokes of social media lies in a website.  Homeboy Industries has a strong website and active twitter and blog accounts.

My sister said she found out about Homeboy Industries via word-of-mouth through a co-worker.  She had heard about them briefly on NPR.  Aside from experiencing their food and service at my sister’s wedding, I recently saw a piece on the news about their products being sold in Ralph’s grocery stores.  There isn’t a lot of advertising done by this nonprofit.  You won’t see ads or commercials, nor will they be in the news on a regular basis

In looking at their strong media platform, I wonder if their success is in part because of the social media marketing or if it is because word-of-mouth.  Has their social media allowed them to stretch out to the community where it draws in additional revenue and financial support?

Is it because Homeboy Industries is a part of story marketing?  Their services and products are connected to a story that naturally translates into meaning and resolution for a situation. The consumers naturally become a part of the solution and are able to connect and engage with the story.

Regardless of where their social media success stems from, I’m a fan.  I love a good story.  I like the the idea of my money supporting a cause, supporting positive change.