Fast-Food New Advertising Tactic— Courtesy of GIF Apps like Tenor

Marketers are looking to create GIFs that people will use to express themselves within social media communications. The GIF company Tenor says it has data that brands like Wendy’s and Dunkin Donuts can use to create ads tied to specific emotions. Advertisers only pay Tenor when people share these branded GIFs. Wendy’s knows you get…

via Fast-food companies like Wendy’s are watching when you’re hungry and using a new tactic to get your money — Advertising

Tenor (the number 1 GIF sharing app in the Apple app store) studied the habits of user searches on their platform to find a way to sell their product to advertisers. Through their analysis, they concluded users do not search for specific brand names in their GIF store during conversations with their friends. Rather, they search a feeling like “hunger” and use the GIF that fits their mood/thoughts. If advertisers such as Wendy’s and Dunkin Donuts create usable content on Tenor under these categories, their “ads” have a much higher chance of being shared in conversations.

Tenor also sells user data to companies that indicate the times a ‘feeling’ is most often searched. Meaning, fast food restaurants know the times users are most often discussing hunger and pinpoint hungry spikes in user communications.

HugerSpikes Graph

Fast food restaurants use Tenor application to pinpoint user huger spikes when users search words similar to ‘hungry.’

If fast-food advertisers can create usable GIF content that directly communicates what  users want to express to their friends, companies can take on a new form of ad space: GIF ads.

This new advertising niche is revolutionary and has the potential to generate more concise, creative jobs within the field.

If there are any creatives out there who are wondering about what to explore next or add to their portfolio— this could be it…

May the odds be ever in your favor,

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Things I Wish My Professors Prepared Me For

Professors Prepared

It has been exactly a year and five months since I graduated Florida International University (F.I.U.). Still, it feels like I was packing lunches to study in the library last week…

F.I.U. was the best experience of my life. I am forever grateful for the professional knowledge my communications professors provided. The issue with college is that one semester really is not long enough to cram years of experience into. Needless to say, there’s a lot of information that falls through the cracks. Professors are coerced into being more focused on passing rates than actually guiding students’ transition into the professional arena.

College students often consider getting a job to be the biggest issue they are going to face after graduation. What is not being taught, is that the real difficulty comes with maintaining your position within that job. It’s one thing to accept a job offer and another thing to actually work and continuously meet all expectations covered within the position.

“Welcome to reality; here’s your desk, here’s your new email address, here’s some random documents on our server, here’s your first 5 assignments, figure it out, good luck!” – Part-time receptionist at the front desk.

This is NOT a joke.

The dirty truth is, the lion din is a place where you either make it or you don’t.

Thankfully, you don’t really die after your first job (although sometimes it feels like it). Instead, you get another job and prep yourself with the knowledge of past failures and prepare for the lions once more. And you do this again and again, until you – somehow – survive. Even then, survival is an everyday battle.

A little dramatic? You don’t know the half of it.

The first skill I wish my professors prepared me to develop before I graduate is ATTENTION TO DETAIL. For some this comes naturally, for others it’s a learned talent. This is especially important for those in communications. Every letter, every design, every email, every project needs consistency and correctness. Don’t trust spellcheck or even your own eyes. Print every document before it is sent and check it twice more after you think it’s good to go. FYI Adobe programs don’t have spellcheck– learned it the hard way once. To help me develop this skill later on, I started solving word searches and reading articles much more often.

Secondly, I wish more professors taught me how to work under time restraints and pressure. After I graduated college I was so used to due dates that extended past several days or even weeks. When I first was handed an assignment at work due immediately, I completely panicked. Panic is everyone’s kryptonite in an office setting. It usually brings huge mistakes and irresponsible overlooks with it. I have never made as many mistakes as I have in an agency where all I did all day was put out fires and work with minute-long deadlines. Therefore, I believe quick exercises that require students to develop a project or train of thought within a short time would be a great addition to the classroom.

Developing a creative, make-it-up-as-you-go attitude can really do wonders within the communications field. In college, we have little room to develop critical thinking skills since we are have been taught what/how to think starting as early as elementary school. In a workplace, your boss will never hand you a nicely outlined prompt for you to highlight and circle. Here there are no guidelines. Here there are no rubrics of how to successfully approach a project. There is only a client/supervisor with an idea you must breathe life into correctly, the first time you approach it.

I hope this post will help others out there, rather it be a student or a professor, to see where they can strengthen themselves to prepare for a smooth transition into the professional world of communications.

Good luck out there,

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7 Fall Promo Ideas for Small Businesses

My favorite season is right around the corner! Fall is so close I can almost taste my mom’s homemade stuffing. For businesses, it’s a great time to empty your summer stock, draw in new customers and engage with the community. It’s also a fresh opportunity to get customers to fall in love with your small business just in time for the holidays (pun intended).

It’s always easy to throw together a seasonal sale, but I beg all of my clients to push further outside their comfort zones. As I like to say, “You have to think bigger to be bigger.” One of the most powerful target markets for small businesses exists just beyond their front door– their community (both online and local). People, by nature, tend to stick to what they know so become something they know!

If you’re a small (or medium) business owner I urge you stay away from a typical sale, and try two or more of the promotional ideas for fall I’ve come up with below:

  • Deliverables.
    • Get a small crew together to quickly bag or box a fun bundle of treats to send to two groups: neighbors and clients. Your message for clients should fall along the lines of a thank you and don’t be shy to hand write the note to add authenticity. All deliverables should include these items somewhere inside: branding and company logo, your address, website, a sincere message and an incentive for them to come into your shop. Here’s an example of a box USB Memory Direct and my team put together last year…

Halloween Candy Box 2

  • Fall inspired email blast.
    • Put together an email list of contacts you’ve collected throughout the past couple of years. Reach out to them using a fall inspired graphic with some redeemables. This can include a coupon or other incentive to remind them of your product or service and get them to walk through your doors once more. My favorite, free program I use to quickly design an easy graphic is Canva. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes to put together professional grade graphic art here.

annual68th fallfestival (1)

  • Social media engagement.
    • There are more ways to engage your audience on social media than announcing sales and new products. Keeping up with the seasons and posting shareable content keeps visitors viewing your profile. Start a fun, fall social media contest that requires participants to share the contest with others. You can pick winners by random selection, select winners yourself or by putting it up to a vote via a panel of judges or followers. Get even more creative by planning a fall inspired product photo shoot. Also, asking social media followers to repost an image of yours for charity donations around thanksgiving could get your company a lot of exposure online.
  • Sponsor/host a local event.
    • Grab your best employees and hit the hay. Ask around the town and find an event you can volunteer support at this fall. You could engage with the crowds by setting up a well designed, cut-out photo booth with your company logo that festival goers will take photos of and post online. If your company is having a hard time finding things to get involved in, try approaching nearby businesses, schools or churches for a co-hosting opportunity. You could plan a local pumpkin patch, corn maze, haunted house, fall festival or charitable function.
  • Company holiday blog post or video.
    • Company blog posts or seasonal videos are a unique way to connect with current, previous and potential customers. Many do-it-yourself blog posts tend to get shared around the holiday season. Readers who share the post on their own sites are going to give you an SEO boost. If you’re willing to go the extra mile and put together a business video that stands out, you’re guaranteed to make an impact. Here are some video ideas from off the top of my head:
      1. Lip Sync a Halloween song with employees in costumes.
      2.  Re-create an iconic holiday movie scene or moment of the past year.
      3. Nostalgic holiday moments with employees, “What’s a traditional plate on your Thanksgiving table?”
      4. Create a mockumentary about that time you hired the headless horseman as a cashier.
      5. Thoughtfully plan out a helpful how-to video that customers can share on Facebook and email.
  • Redecorate your window store front.
    • I remember I worked for an adorable woman’s boutique at an outdoor shopping mall and they loved to decorate the store front for holidays and seasons. Why? BECAUSE IT WORKED. They knew their target market and drew in passing cars and people like honey to flies. Potential customers would stop in front of the window and take photos and post it on social media and walk in to see more. I highly suggest going the creative route on this one, and remember, less is more!
  • Specialty seasonal products or foods that get people talking.
    • It’s no secret that Starbucks is the king of this little marketing trick. What is your product? How can you fall-ify it? For Starbucks, they have made a home for pumpkin spice lattes. Also, M&M’s comes out with new flavors for trick-and-treat shoppers every year. Religiously enticing yearly purchasers with new products to buy. The latest seasonal offering from M&M’s has a cookies ‘n’ cream flavor and speckled shell. (Mars)

The latest seasonal offering from M&M's has a cookies 'n' cream flavor and speckled shell. (Mars)

Many of my examples have included generic fall holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, but there are so many more! So, I’ve composed a list for you of national observances and other holidays below that I have created promotional content for throughout my time as a marketing manager. Please keep in mind the list is not in no particular order.

  1. First Day of Fall
  2. Thanksgiving
  3. You’re Welcome Day
  4. Small Business Saturday
  5. Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October)
  6. Black Friday
  7. Election Day
  8. Veterans Day
  9. Presidents’ Day
  10. Cyber Monday
  11. Lung Cancer Awareness Month (November)
  12. Military Family Appreciation Month (November)
  13. World Kindness Week: November 7-13
  14. National Suicide Prevention Week
  15. Hispanic Heritage Month
  16. National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Successful seasonal promotions take time to plan out thoughtfully, so don’t wait too late to begin the creative process. Luckily for you, I’ve planted the seed with this post just in time for you to prepare.

There’s a lot of money to made in the fall, but before you know it– it’s already Christmas! So, get to making your marketing plan for the season to reconnect with old customers and draw in new customers before the leaves turn orange.

Have fun,

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Refuse Comfort and Stick to the Plan

It’s Sunday, the day before Monday, and I have chosen to spend my time writing this post not only to help guide myself– but to guide other young professionals as well. Actually, I have chosen to start this whole blog for this reason. It can be hard to start a path people around you haven’t traveled. I have little to no guidance or support from elders, teachers or friends. I am attempting to follow a road I have envisioned for myself since college, led only by the pursuit of tasks and positions that satisfy a gut feeling I follow.

It’s important for you to set a unique goal for yourself. It’s also important not to get distracted by those who try to turn you onto a path they prefer you be on. If a supervisor or family member is guiding you down a road that doesn’t help serve your vision, then why are you continuing to walk down it? What is that little voice in your head telling you to do and why aren’t you doing it?

– COMFORT. I believe comfort hinders many from achieving great things in their professional careers.

Great things never come from comfort zones.

It’s also fear of the unknown. Fear of untapped potential, unlimited possibilities and financial insecurities.

Isn’t it always easier to follow the guidance of someone else than to refuse their directions entirely and dive head first into the unknown and unfamiliar– which may result in failures or even temporary chaos?

Yet, outside of comfort zones is where all the magic happens. That’s what life is all about anyway, right?

When is the last time you listened to your gut feeling and actually obeyed it?

Thanks for stopping by,

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5 Healthy Snacks to Eat at Your Desk

If you have a job anything like mine, you’re probably sitting in a chair for 10+ hours every day with few chances to walk to a co-worker’s desk for a brief moment. Boredom strikes from every angle, cunningly disguised as hunger. Wait, sidebar– who brought donuts for breakfast?

Before you know it you’ve eaten your daily carb, sugar and calorie intake for the day in less than 10 minutes.

AM I JUST BORED- GRINCH

 

I didn’t always have a desk job (even the name for it sounds dreadful). Actually, I’ve NEVER had a job where all I do is sit on my behind until my current one. I used to run around malls, hotels and restaurants in six-inch heels for hours. Once I even ran up a couple flights in heels with a broken foot! There wasn’t even time for snacks, much less full meals. So, needless to say, the transition has been hard on my ever-growing love handles. It’s been tough to try to lose the pounds I’ve packed on, so I researched some healthy alternatives that satisfy the hunger demons without compromising my waist size.

1. Air-popped Popcorn

I placed this snack first on my list because it’s my saving grace. Depending on how much sugar, oil or salt you season it with, the calories can add up. It’s best to go without any add-ons. Popcorn is actually really good on it’s own, but I make an exception for Skinny Pop’s Sharp Cheddar Popcorn Mini Cakes (pictured in featured image)! At a mere 60 calories per 10 ‘cakes’, they are a snack STEAL. It’s low-calorie, gluten-free, non-GMO, whole-grain and rich with antioxidants!

2. Fruit and Greek Vanilla Yogurt with Chia and Flax Seeds

A great distraction for your gurgling stomach before lunch is fruit with Greek vanilla yogurt. It’s sweet and satisfying. Why Greek yogurt you ask? It’s so much better for you all around. It has twice the amount of protein than your standard yogurt. I usually add an assortment of mixed berries including blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries. Then I sprinkle  3 pinches of chia seeds and a single pinch of flax seeds for extra benefits.

If you’ve never used Chia seeds before, you are in for a treat. Chia seeds are full of nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids and have been proven to help people feel full for longer with their high fiber content. You add them to cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, water or even coconut milk. If you add them to your meal and leave them for a little while, they will swell. Don’t freak out, they taste best like this. I sometimes even purposely wait for them to swell before I eat. Another healthy snack idea while I’m chia ranting: add 2 tablespoons to a cup of coconut milk, put it in the fridge and wait for them to swell. Add fruit and some honey if you’d like. It’s like a gourmet dessert pudding– but better for you!

Same goes for flax seeds. This versatile topping has a very healthy reputation. According to WebMD, some even call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. Recent studies have proven that flaxseed can protect against heart attacks, Parkinson’s disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer.

3. Toasted Whole Wheat English Muffin with Smart Balance Peanut Butter 

Whole wheat English muffins will save your dollar and your diet. You can dress them up in a variety of different ways, so you’ll never get bored of them like the usual diet food. They are high-fiber and low-fat with a dash of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and selenium. All great ingredients that make up the perfect weight loss breakfast food.

Beware, the more you add to the toast, the more calories you take in. To help me feel fuller, longer I add Smart Balance’s Crunchy Peanut Butter. This option is healthier Image result for smart balance crunchy peanut butterfor you than the standard low-sugar peanut butter for a few reasons. First, they add flax oil to their product meaning you get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Second, eaten in moderation, it provides you with less saturated fat and sugar. Third, if you add whole grain to this peanut butter choice the combination gives you access protein. Lastly, Smart Balance Peanut Butter promotes the health of skin and nerves with 20 percent of your daily value of vitamin B3 per serving. It also contains vitamin E, thiamin, potassium and iron.

4. Hard Boiled Egg

This one’s not as cool or exciting but it most definitely keeps your hunger at bay. Hard-boiled eggs good, heart-healthy fats called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This healthy snack is a great source of protein which helps you build muscle and repair tissue. It also provides you with vitamin A which promotes eye health, and vitamin D which promotes strong bones through calcium.  I workout after work four to five days a week so I need my protein. If you don’t work out much or you’re having a slow week cut the egg in half and throw out its yolk center. Also, refrain from adding salt– please and thank you.

Image result for Hard boiled egg

Pro Tip: Avoid stinking up your entire house for hours by making a quick run to your local grocery store and grabbing sodium free, pre-boiled eggs.

5. Hi I’m Skinny, Superfood Sticks ‘Mean & Green’

I am totally a chip person. I love CHIPS. Hi I’m Skinny Sticks have helped me replace my unhealthy finger-food habit. They have a variety of flavors, but the overall best I have found is their ‘Mean & Green’ Superfood sticks. Although it’s certainly not the best tasting option they sell, it’s their most nutritional option. It’s packed with vitamin C, calcium, fiber, protein and iron. My favorite part is that they have familiar ingredients that I’m not afraid to put in my body, so there’s no guessing. Their very first ingredient is green veggies including kale, peas and spinach! The best part is, they are only 130 calories per 35 sticks.

Image result for Skinny sticks mean and green

Happy eating,

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What healthy snack did I miss? Which is your favorite? Tell me in the comments section below!

Millionaire’s Digest: Spark A Viral Trend In Your Product

The #FlashdrivesForFreedom viral social media campaign article posted yesterday touched on each of the topics written by Millionaire’s Digest seen below.

I also would like to add share-ability to the list. Ask yourself… can this be easily shared with a friend or family member? Some things that touch on the share-ability of your promotional idea is covered via visibility, simplicity and accessibility.

If you’re looking to go viral with a product, service or idea check off these 6 items below when planning your promotion.

Now that you have that down packed, read the short list below:

Source: Spark A Viral Trend In Your Product (2 min read)

1. Social currency. Consumers are more likely to adopt a product if it makes them feel special or ahead of the curve. For example, Gilt’s exclusive sales helped it become one of the hottest online shopping sites.

2. Triggers. Products that catch on become part of our everyday lives, so successful products create reasons and reminders to return on a regular basis. For example, Facebook and Twitter drive you back to their sites every time they email you to say you have a new message or mention.

3. Emotional impact. People tend to evangelize a product if it affected them emotionally, whether it solved a stressful problem or brightened a bad day. For example, if a Buzzfeed article makes you laugh, you’ll likely share it with friends who need a lift.

4. Visibility. Giving a product a distinctive feature, such as a standout logo or color, helps consumers notice when others are using it. For example, you immediately recognize iPods because Apple made the headphones white when other companies all used black.

5. Practical value. A truly useful product that helps the user become more effective is more likely to be recommended often. For example, Evernote is very good at helping users remember and organize information, so it’s often recommended for research.

6. Stories. If people are going to share your product, they need to be able to tell its story. That can be as simple as a clear statement about what the product does, or as complicated as a really interesting origin story. For example, people who buy TOMS shoes love telling others how one pair is donated for every pair you buy.

(For Beauty, Book & Fashion Bloggers)
Article Credits Go Respectably to Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

How to Attract Sponsors Online (Step-By-Step)

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
― Aristotle

Building your site’s domain authority (DA) can take months, even years. Once you gradually start to grow your site’s street cred. on the web, you’ll see followers subscribing and soon enough the sponsorship/partnership emails will come pouring in. Remember to take baby steps and whatever you do don’t get ahead of yourself. Try not to accept the smaller stuff and hold off for the larger partnerships, it will make your site a lot more valuable to companies if you don’t work with just anyone.

As a partnership coordinator, I usually won’t email those with sites or blogs which link to more than 45 pages (also called outbound links). In other words, try not to have tons of links everywhere. Keep it simple. Many bloggers shoot themselves in the foot by adding buddies lists, archive lists or tons of clickable sidebar buttons to their sidebars. Seriously, you’ll be surprised how fast outbound links will add up. Be patient and hold off false excitement from less-important sponsorships or partnerships and wait for the real deal. Wait for the business-changing emails that come around every once in a blue moon. Being picky with those you work with will make your site that much more valuable and opens much larger opportunities down the road. Great things come out of patience.

Let’s move on to the fun part of DA ranking– getting those “knocks on the door.”

Here’s a list of items you’re going to need to get the ball rolling:
A Computer
Social Media Profiles (ready-to-go)
A Timer
An Excel or Google Docs Spreadsheet
A large coffee

Forums are one of the first places I go for leads when I am looking to sponsor someone. Yeah, you heard right… forums. You know, those ancient beasts once top of the food chain on the web before the dawn of Reddit? I would have never guessed how valuable they would become to me as a partnership coordinator. So if you want to be noticed, these little online rooms are the place to be seen. I also look for blogs which allow guest posts too.

Let’s begin. Open up a new spreadsheet and title it “Forums To Contribute To.” As you go you can add on whatever columns pop in your head, but for now let’s just add the following sections: the forum’s name, URL, URL of posts, your posts’ date and a notes section. When you’re deciding where to post, there are a couple of factors you will want to take into account to help you get the most out of every effort. Look to comment on or post about a topic that has relevance, timeliness and lots of activity. Make sure that whatever you choose to discuss has to do with things your site can be associated with, this also gives you a little more credibility on the forum itself.

To get you started, here are some great places to find forums, posts and topics:
http://www.findaforum.net/
http://boardreader.com/
http://www.thebiggestboards.com/

You can also search Google by hitting the ‘Discussions’ tab on the results page and changing the search settings under ‘Search Tools’ from ‘All Discussions’ to ‘Forums.’

When you post on a forum most likely you will have to sign-up and log in as a new member. When you’re creating an account look for spots to link your website to the user profile. Also, see if there’s a signature option available. A lot of forums have caught on and banned outside links. If this is the case, I would suggest finding yourself a new site to contribute to. Afterall, the whole point is to gain recognition for your site isn’t it? Also, it’s not smart to go onto a forum and overly promote yourself, it’s annoying and you will be quickly removed from the discussion. Sometimes, you’ll even get blocked by the administrator. Really think about a question or comment you want to post. Ask yourself, “Will this contribute to the conversation?” Give honest, helpful answers and reference facts you throw their way. This is why forums are yet another place patience goes a long way.

After you organize your plan of attack and finally post, copy the URL to help you find it again in the future. Paste this under the ‘URL of Posts’ column. Don’t forget to add the date it was posted under ‘Post Date” too. You’ll want to keep tabs on these items every now and then. Plus, it helps you keep track of your progress. Visit this column every so often and respond to reactions or a contribute to a new discussion that may have developed based upon it.

When my well is dry I turn to Facebook and Instagram for new leads. Social media is another great way to get your site noticed by companies. Make yourself a business page on Facebook and double-check the category it’s labeled under to make it easier for those targeting a niche. Type your URL in the bottom-right section titled ‘About’ to guide them there. Your email should also be included in here to help those interested contact you right away. As a sponsor, nothing is worse than wasting several hours hunting down an email address. If it’s a particularly busy day, I won’t bother searching their business name or email. I rather pass on to the next person to be honest. I can’t stress enough how readily available your contact info and URL needs to be.

Same thing goes for Instagram, your email and URL should be in your bio. Across the board, I look mainly at the follower count on social. If the person I’m looking into doesn’t have a lot of followers and there’s not much engagement there, I will automatically assume their website reflects this. So remember to build your following, post regularly and engage your audience before you turn to these places for exposure.

Once your social platforms are up-to-speed and ready to go, join or ask to be invited to several private and public Facebook groups which associate with your site’s niche. These little groups are awesome online communities where people not only develop friendships but also find life-long fans. I’ve even seen partners of mine pass on exclusive sponsorship opportunities to others in their group.

You should get used to setting time aside every day to publicize your site on the internet. Get your handy-dandy timer out and set it to an hour and a half for the first couple of weeks and then to 45 minutes after you get the hang of it. Don’t stop until you hear the ring! It’s harder than ever to set out and achieve a task on modern technology, especially with the constant *pings* of notifications begging to distract you. This is where the large cup of coffee I suggested comes into play 😉

IT’S OKAY TO GO FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Need a product for your next project? Have a certain company in mind you’d do anything to associate your brand with? It’s forevernot too brazen to email them and ask for what you’re looking for. In fact, it makes the lives of marketing managers sooo much easier! We will love you for-ev-er.  If you’re confident in the exposure you can offer them, ask to speak with their marketing manager.

When you approach a marketing manager give them all the information you will think they’ll need to research how valuable you can be to them without sounding overzealous or arrogant. Enter the conversation with a can-do mentality and be confident in your worth!

Have you ever thought of a dream company you’d like to associate your website with? What would you ask them for?

Good luck, 

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