Healthy is the New Cool

Consumers choose brands that are an extension of their identity and today that means an active, healthier lifestyle. According to Nielsen, an estimated 2.1 billion people – nearly 30% of the global population – are overweight. Consumers are changing their diets, exercising more, turning to diet pills and protein shakes, or even getting prescription weight-loss medicines. As a result, healthy brand categories are growing fast and people are willing to pay a premium for better products. In fact, the global sales of healthy food products are expected to reach $1 trillion by 2017.

Brands who sell food products are reformulating to eliminate the bad – sugars, cholesterols – and injecting more organic ingredients. As Nielsen’s report states, “The most desirable attributes are foods that are fresh, natural and minimally processed.” And 88% of people are willing to pay more to get it. Consumers purchase decisions are now influenced by products that reduce the risk of disease, promote good health, and show off a healthy lifestyle.

Business Insider states, “In 2013, 42% of people said they’d be embarrassed to be spotted carrying a bag from McDonald’s.” The majority of Americans are “actively trying to be healthier” so brands need to start promoting themselves as such. This year we’ll see trends in athleisure wear, intense fitness programs, meditation, and healthier eating options. As Business Insider states, “Publicly signaling that you’re a healthy, nutrition-savvy individual is the new cool.” People would prefer to be spotted wearing a FitBit or Lululemon attire and with the explosion of social media, people want to publically share their life choices.

This is where the power of social media can actually help get people in shape. The explosion of selfies and constant updates about one’s life has taken social media by storm and everyone wants to look good. What you wear, what you do and where you go says something about yourself. It’s self-advertising if you will. So it’s time for brands to step up to this growing demand.  Companies like Coke and Pepsi are doing just that with Dasani and Aquafina, respectively. With the decline in soda consumption, these two beverage giants are turning their focus on bottled water. Taking a page out of Evian’s book, they are looking to associate health and wellness with their brands.

The health movement is on the rise and with the power of social influence it’s time to make a change to our lifestyle. It’s not a means to an end; it’s the start of hopefully a long, active journey.

Goodbye Cookbooks. Hello Social Media.

With the falling of the leaves and chilling of the air, it’s time for some hot chocolate, apple cider and maybe some homemade banana bread. But, where can I find the best recipes? Gone are the nostalgic days of browsing Barnes and Noble for a visually stunning cookbook with delicious recipes that would make your mouth water. Today, the advent of the Internet and social media lets both professional and amateur chefs share their latest and greatest creations instantaneously. Sites like the Food Network, AllRecipes and BakeSpace make it easy to find not only the recipe you are looking for, but various iterations of how to make the same dish. In fact, roughly 49% of consumers learn about food through social networks and are turning to social media to post photos of what they cook and eat (or wish they could cook and eat). And let’s face it, the best posts are the comparison photos of what it’s supposed to look like…and then what you actually make.

While I am a fan of browsing recipes on specific food websites (i.e. Pinterest), I think there is a limit to how many food photos people should be posting to their own Instagram feed. Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of a post here and there, but let’s be sporadic about it people. I don’t need to see your entire food diary (especially if you cooked it, and let’s be honest, you aren’t the best at food placement). However, if you are an aspiring chef, developing your own recipes from scratch and are an artist when it comes to finding your way around a plate, by all means I look forward to seeing what you have to offer (as well as an invitation to your next dinner party!).

Avoid a Costume Nightmare

As Halloween sneaks up on us, it’s time to brace ourselves for the overload of costume selfies that will surely invade our social media channels. I mean, there is no other reason to dress up other than to be able to show it off online, right? So, it’s important for your costume to be on point and, of course, original. No one wants to be seen out wearing the same outfit as someone else,  eek! Well you’re in luck. Google Frightgeist conjures up the most popular Halloween costumes this year based national trends in costume searches. Nationally, these are the top 5 most popular costumes:

#1. Harley Quinn

#2. Star Wars

#3. Superhero

#4. Pirate

#5. Batman

So, if you’re still searching for a costume, just be sure not to get one of these if you’re looking to stand out. Interestingly, #100 on the list is a Tiger, #200 is Elvis Presley, and #500 is a Spartan. In my opinion, if you’re looking for a costume, type in an idea and if it is not even listed…go for it!

Yin Yang of Social Media

I think we can agree that creativity and technology work together for social media effectiveness. The right visuals displayed using the right technology and media will garner the impressions you’re looking for. Or will they? Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not that easy. There is so much noise and distraction online that your content may be overlooked. While we all want our content to be earned media that goes viral, so too do millions of other people. So how do companies keep pace in this competitive landscape?

Consider paid media and earned media as the yin and yang of social media marketing with paid media being the negative, “shady” side and earned media being the positive, “sunny” side. Ad Age indicates, “The advertising-averse consumer disdains just one side of the marketing mix: paid media. Meanwhile, earned media is doing what its always done, gathering and holding the collective attention of those who wish to consume it.”

Paid media can bully your online experience serving up ads when you don’t want to see them; but without them, you may never earn any media. As Sarah Hofstetter, 360i CEO, states, “Your paid work can spark greater earned interest”. Paid media is what buys eyeballs, because at the end of the day your content cannot be shared if it is never seen. Earned media has more strength and power in conversation and conversion, but they work together. You have to look at it in totality.

#boldandbetter

Kudos to Doritos for their latest marketing initiative for the It Gets Better Project in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. They created limited-edition bags of rainbow Doritos that are only available to supporters of the cause with donations of $10 or more. It just goes to show the voice brands have that can really make a difference. In fact, when I went to buy a bag, they were sold out! In as much as I was disappointed, I was also happy to see that donations were flowing.

Doritos is a brand that stands for being bold, so this initiative, #boldandbetter, was a perfect extension of their values. Ram Krishnan, CMO, says it best, “Doritos Rainbows chips are a first-of-its-kind product supporting the LGBT community. Doritos the brand has stood ‘for the bold,’ and we believe there is nothing bolder than being yourself.”

When it comes to social media, and all brand marketing for that matter, it is important that any creative execution be authentic to the brand voice. And if you don’t have a brand voice, I suggest you figure that one out first…and fast. As a brand, know who you are and what you stand for, and then develop innovative ideas that reflect those values. If you don’t do that, it’ll be like Halloween everyday where you’re pretending to be someone you are not (and guess what, people will notice!).

From Feline to Digital Microchips to Track What’s Important to You

In honor of #NationalDogDay, it got me thinking about chips. No, not chocolate chips (yum!), but microchips. We are encouraged to insert these latest technology chips into our feline friends so that God forbid they get lost, we are able to find them. It’s a mini GPS for our pets, and now there are even mini GPSs for our stuff, like StickNFind. I’m sure you can relate to not remembering phone numbers anymore because they are already plugged into your phone. Now, you don’t even have to remember where you put your stuff. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could apply the same technology to social media so we never lose track of our content?

Well you’re in luck because the technology already exists. When it comes to social media, search engine optimization and tags are like digital microchips for your content so you can track its performance on the native social platform or on sites like Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Bitly, Radian6, etc.

The challenge, however, is getting your target audience to be sure to tag you when they share your content. What if an online media publication or hot shot journalist decided to repost your content without sharing from your page or tagging your brand? How would you be able to truly track the reach and impressions? Queue social listening tools. Invest in social listening tools that scan the web for your branded content such as TweetReach, and Sysomos. The platforms are so advanced now, that they make it easy to gain insight into your content. The trick is to make sure you are familiar with the dashboards and also tagging your content appropriately.

How To Breed Loyalty

Some may say that dogs are loyal because we feed and shelter them, but I think it’s way more than that. Dogs are pack animals. They need that sense of belonging. Even if you leave them alone for a couple hours or take them to the dreaded vet for shots, they will still love you. They will still greet you at the door wagging their tail like they haven’t seen you in days; they will lick you with kisses like your face is an ice cream pop; and they will cuddle on your lap like there is no place else to sit.

Isn’t this unconditional love what every company wants for their brand? The key, then, is to treat them like the family they are. Pay attention to them and build relationships that they can trust. According to Forbes (2015), “successful brands must build loyalty among their customers so they will keep coming back for more”. Three ways to build loyalty is to inspire people through emotion, communicate core values and content that your audience can relate to, and do it with consistency. With today’s growing consumer demands, people are not hesitant to switch brands. They are no longer brand loyal: “With today’s savvy consumer, it’s imperative that brands focus on how to better interact with them, how to build stronger relationships, and how to ensure that those relationships generate trust and meaningful engagement over time.”

Social media is the pinnacle platform for relationship building. It provides a free pass to communicate with your audience every day. Post content that will inspire them and be sure to respond to their comments like you are talking to family. Show them love by surprising and delighting. This is how to create meaningful brand loyalty. Build your pack. Don’t be a lone wolf.