Top Ten Friday: Social Networks Your Company Needs To Be On

Social media has become as valuable as any marketing and advertising channel, but not every social network is perfect for your company. Before you join any network, make sure you go in with a strategy and goals in place, otherwise you may lose steam shortly after starting and end up with a dead page. Sure, you could write an entire post, or even a series of posts, about each network, but we’ll just give you a couple reasons to be on each network.

1. Facebook

There are more than a billion users on Facebook. That alone should get your attention. Facebook allows you to post to a large audience with a variety of content and also gives you built-in analytics to help track your strategies. Use the Timeline to tell the storied history of your company. Post consistently with a variety of content to help you with Edgerank. Brands doing a great job on Facebook include Oreo, Frank’s Redhot, Red Bull and Skittles.

 2. Twitter

Twitter is a conversational platform and is much easier to connect with users. Brands take advantage of this by responding to questions, problems and general comments in order to build relationships and loyalty. Posting company news, coupons and deals, jobs and general conversational posts are just a few examples of what you can do. Brands like Starbucks, Oreo, Whole Foods and Chobani are doing wonderful on Twitter.

 3. Google+

Many brands are hesitant to take the leap to Google+, but I wouldn’t shy away if I were you. Utilize Google+ Hangouts in every way possible, especially because they’ll automatically upload to your YouTube account. Send products to fans to try out and invite them to a Hangout to talk about their experience, create Circles of brand advocates and participate in Communities. A few brands nailing it on Google+ include Cadbury, BMW and National Geographic.

4. Pinterest

This is the ultimate visual platform and has quickly grown into one of the most popular social platforms out there. Pin your products, stories and news about your company, industry news, your company’s work, things that represent your brand, just a few ideas. Brands that really strive on Pinterest are Chobani, Nordstrom, Lowe’s and Ben and Jerry’s.

 5. Foursquare

Foursquare is primarily for visibility and brand loyalty. When users see a place offers a deal or special for checking-in, they are more likely to stop in or become repeat customers. Brands should continue to update the page with posts about current deals or updates from your company. Some brands doing a great job include the History Channel, Bravo Channel and CNN.

 6. LinkedIn

If you’re wondering what the best social network for B2B companies is, it’s LinkedIn. It’s great for finding talent, highlighting your company’s updates and work and offering content to help give people answers to questions they’re yet to ask. Brands doing a great job on LinkedIn include Hubspot, Adobe and HireVue.

 7. Instagram

Instagram allows you to share pictures and 15-second videos. When you take pictures and share them, you can use filters to alter your shot. Short-form video is becoming powerful and with 15 seconds, you can do a lot. Like Vine, you can use it to take behind-the-scenes videos, how-tos, product demos and releases. A few brands really doing great on Instagram include Gatorade, Starbucks, Chobani and Sharpie.

8. Vine

Vine is a young, but popular platform that allows users to create six-second videos on their smart phone. Six seconds doesn’t seem like a long time, but many brands have gotten creative to cram a lot into such a short amount of time. As a brand, you can use Vine to demo a product or service, show off current environment such as your office or photo/video shoots, introduce employees or celebrate great moments. The possibilities are endless.

9. YouTube

YouTube is one of the largest search engines on the Internet and videos appear high in search results. Brands like Red Bull, Oreo, Nike and Whole Foods are doing a great job creating a variety of content their users love. Some popular types of videos include product demos, how-tos, events and conferences, interviews and thank you videos. YouTube is popular for content because video is much easier to consumer than written content.

10. Yelp and TripAdvisor

These two are important, but often overlooked. Just because you’re not active on a site, doesn’t mean people still aren’t talking about you there. By having an account here, you then have the opportunity to respond to any problems customers face, that aren’t shared on Twitter or Facebook, and can also keep an eye on all conversations about your brand.

Are there any other social networks you feel are essential in 2013?

Check out our last TTF post about finding ideas for creative inspiration. Stay tuned for more upcoming TTF posts!

July 26, 2013 · Posted by in social media  

Top Ten Friday: Creative Inspiration

Everyone tends to get their creative inspiration from some place different. Some get inspiration from the Internet, others by simply reading a book, and some even find inspiration from walking around his/her city. Here is a list of places some of us z2ers find our creative inspiration.

10. Mr. Cup: This blog offers up a plethora of inspiration for contemporary design, packaging, web design, type and more. One of the best parts of the blog is the large list of links to other great sites devoted to similar subjects.

9. Talking with other creatives: Sometimes this is the best way to drum up ideas and inspiration. When you get so focused on an idea, it really makes it difficult for you to see it as a whole with a clear mind. Getting other perspectives allows you to back up and refocus your thoughts and energy.

8. Designspiration: This is a great place to discover and share great design. There are a variety of images to find, but one of the coolest things you can do is have the ability to search by color. See logos, typography, graphics, etc., with a certain color background.

7. Smashing Magazine: SM is an online magazine for web designers that has topics ranging from coding, mobile, UX, WordPress and more. It offers helpful techniques and tutorials, best practices and valuable insights that might give you the kind of creative inspiration you’ve been hoping for.

6. Vimeo: Vimeo is a more small, niche community of film buffs. The community is highly engaged and has a serious love for all things film, video, cinematography and more. There is less fluff and more “on-topic” videos where people are more likely to offer constructive criticism. Follow channels and engage with other users. Check out the “staff picks” for some of the best videos out there.

5. Dribbble: Dribbble is a community of designers, web and graphic designers, illustrators, icon artists, typographers, logo designers, and other creative types share small screenshots (shots) that show their work, process, and current projects. It’s a place to show and tell, promote, discover, and explore design and is also a great place to find design inspiration. Think of it as like a social network for designers.

4. The Best Designs: A slick website that finds some of the most creative and innovative sites out there, and puts them in one place. On top of that, its design is pretty awesome.

3. Creative Bloq: This site was actually created specifically to inspire your creative side. It provides daily inspiration on graphic design, typography, tutorials, web design and so much more.

2. Pinterest: It seems like everyone and their mother is pinning these days. But that’s not a bad thing because it has seemingly brought out the creative side in everyone. People can find inspiration in recipes, weddings, party planning and many more ideas all on Pinterest. It has practically become its own search engine.

1. Make Magazine: From 3-D printing to robotics to DIY projects and so much more. This site brings inspiration to the engineering minds in ways you didn’t know were possible. Videos, stories, images and tutorials give you a whole new perspective when looking to build or create something new.

Where do you find your creative inspiration?

Check out our last “Top Ten Friday” post, which was our team photo challenge. Let us know which was your favorite!

July 19, 2013 · Posted by in design, TTF  

We’re happy to announce the new addition of a great talent to the z2 team. This week we welcomed Carly Schroeder, who has more than six years experience in integrated marketing and advertising, as our new Senior Account Executive. Working directly with clients, Carly will manage our integrated marketing initiatives through all communication channels, including web, print, broadcast, social media and online applications.

Carly is a graduate of the University of Kansas and has worked with a variety of local and national clients such as Continuum Health Partners of New York, Banco Popular North America, University of Utah Health Care, Bethesda Lutheran Communities, GE Healthcare, Wonderbox Technologies, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and more.

Although she went to school in Kansas, Carly made her way back home to Milwaukee, where she grew up, after living in Kansas City and Chicago. Carly’s passion for creating and the psychology involved in researching and uncovering consumer motivations, insights and strategy is what drew her to a career in the marketing and advertising industry.

Carly has a sweet tooth for all things food and wine, especially when shared with her close friends and family. You can often find her out and about at Milwaukee’s best new (and classic) restaurants or at local farmer’s markets on the weekends. Carly likes to stay pretty active and enjoys biking, live music, photography and spending time outdoors at all of the festivals and events that happen in the area throughout the summer. Her guilty pleasures include Mad Men, The Real Housewives on Bravo and candy. And her biggest love of all is her “furbaby” Gracie, a six-year old Shih-Tzu Lhasa Apso.

If you want to learn a little more about Carly, feel free to follow her on Pinterest!

June 20, 2013 · Posted by in z2 news  

Pin-spiration

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I’ve heard a lot of people refer to Pinterest with snide remarks about “imaginary brides planning imaginary weddings” and as it being “just another place to post photos of your dog.” Yes, there a lot of unengaged 20-somethings on the site pinning to their “When I Get Married/For My Wedding… Someday/Dream Wedding” boards, but there are also a lot real brides—and non-brides—using the site for real things.

I’m not one of the Pinterest-obsessed, pinning all day and night. Most of the time, I don’t actually pin anything online—I guess I consider myself to mentally pin ideas. I maybe visit the site a couple times a week. That’s enough for me to glean some inspiration and then do something with it. The way I see it, you can pin all you want, but if you don’t actually create something in the end, it’s all just a waste of time (or, I suppose, it could be considered a form of entertainment).

The reason I like Pinterest is because it has actually inspired me to be more creative. Most of the projects I’ve made since joining the site have not been exact ideas I copied from someone else. Instead, they have been a direct result of thinking about everyday things differently, and knowing that if all these other people in the world can create, so can I. Pre-Pinterest, I’m 99% sure I would have never picked up a bucket of old saw blades at a garage sale and made them into a coffee table art piece.

And yes, I have also gotten some wedding ideas from the site. But, there’s so much more to Pinterest than copying other people’s good ideas. It’s all about inspiration.

From a marketing perspective, the Pinterest possibilities are endless. As a Pinterest user, however, I fear us marketers. To be successful, companies will need to learn to use the system discreetly, as to not corrupt the beauty of the site.

July 27, 2012 · Posted by in art, marketing, misc, social media, web  

Holler

Digital creative agency Holler decided to push the boundaries and moved their entire web site to a Pinterest account.

So are these guys on the bleeding edge, or just looking for some publicity for a stunt?

This is only slightly interesting to me because it’s just another case of using a tool for unintended purposes. If you’ve ever used a butter knife as a screwdriver you know what I mean. Since the early days of the World Wide Web, I’ve seen people use web sites for things the developers never imagined. It’s just how things work. When the first blogging tools came out (which were specifically for creating a series of chronologically ordered posts) people found ways of creating entire (traditional) web sites out of them. It’s been done.

As for getting rid of your site and moving it all to Pinterest, others have done similar things… killing off their sites and moving to Facebook, or Myspace, or whatever came before. I see it as a “flavor of the day” thing, and not a long-term solution. Putting your trust that a new service (you have no control over) will be around in 5 or 10 years seems a bit risky, and I know digital creative agencies are all about “taking risks” but I also know that providing clients with solid, time-tested advice is a good strategy.

[Hat tip to Mana for finding this one.]

April 16, 2012 · Posted by in branding, misc