flower power easter; some say we’re a little artsy

I come from a rather creatively-inclined background. Holidays are no exception. This Easter, my Mom and I put our crafty efforts together to come up with a flower power theme for our guests.

FLOWER POWER: CRAFTERNOON PART ONE

Image

TIE DYE EGGS: CRAFTERNOON PART TWO

Image

ROLLIN’ WITH THE PEEPS: CRAFTERNOON PART THREE

Image

All you need is:

toothpicks

a package of peeps

twinkies or opt for the little debbie brand (cloud cakes)

large marshmellows

small candies for inside of tires

ANTHROPOLOGIE-INSPIRED MASON JAR DECOR: CRAFTERNOON PART 4

Image

(Baby’s breath can do so much for any decoration.)

CAN’T FORGET THE SUGAR RUSH: THE WRAP UP OF OUR CRAFTERNOON

Image

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

California, You Have My Heart; A Week in San Diego Had Me Smitten

Imagine living somewhere that has everything you could ever want in one place, just like eating a sandwich that has everything you crave in between two slices of bread that you had also chosen. That’s just how San Diego felt.

Image

Last Friday, I traveled to visit a wonderful friend over my spring break to her home in Southern California. I had previously expressed interest in moving there at some point, but I was not prepared for such an emotional attachment to this city.

You know how you go on vacation each year and feel like you’re making memories in a city that you are unfamiliar with, you feel like a visitor sight seeing and such, right? The moment I landed and stepped foot on to “holy ground” aka San Diego, I did not feel like a visitor…I felt home.

Image

As indecisive as I may be, down to the smallest things like which coffee to brew in the morning, I knew I was destined to live in this city as if I already had been in some other life. I mean this figuratively, of course.

The beach was two miles from where I stayed. The first day, I instantaneously got chills as I sat in the passenger seat, with my head out the window gazing at the ocean, the palm trees, and breathing in the salty air. I felt incandescently happy because this was filling every empty space in my heart, I felt sad because I had not discovered my escape sooner, and I felt determined because I knew this is where I want to end up and the sooner the better.

While on the road, the California locals may be a bit aggressive, but every single person I met greeted me with a warm smile and a wonderful attitude.

The first weekend we spent the mornings running on Sunset Cliffs and ending our run at the Ocean Beach Pier. My favorite hangout is at a small cafe/bar that served the very BEST sangria I have ever had the pleasure of tasting, it was called Queenstown. It had a minor hipster vibe due to the darling decor and lighting.

I got the pleasure of experiencing my first taste of surfing thanks to a dear dear friend.Image

And as the trip ended, the sappier we got….

Image

Anyways, I’ll see you soon California.

Digital Strategy Artist

Image

Meet Jessica Leitch: a creative twenty something, a community manager and event coordinator, a social media “butterfly,” and a creative mind. Jessica works for Alive magazine, a STL magazine that creates a focus on entertainment, culture, and fashion and hosts around 30 events per year. Jessica is well versed in all three of these genres, which is why she is the perfect fit for her job. Not only does Jessica plan and advertise the magazine’s events around the STL area, but she uses their social media sites to draw attention to Alive. Jessica is a content creator and has a few words of wisdom concerning how to connect with the audience.

Image

The most helpful strategy she offered was “the most common posting I use on Twitter is asking questions daily. By asking questions, the audience feels connected to our company and the question itself interacts with the audience whether they physically respond or not.” By asking questions on social media, the audience begins to hear the “voice” of the company.

The second most common strategy is linking. Jessica stressed how important it was that she linked Alive’s Twitter, Facebook, and website to each other so it seems to be one big working system. Having all social media connected results in more traffic to each site because once the audience makes it to one platform, the chances are pretty high they will coast on to at least one more. It is sort of the natural flow of the internet surfing world.

Jessica explained that the one element that helped her land her current job was Jill Falk’s personal branding class during J-term period back at Lindenwood University. Jessica explained that this class forced her to learn the ropes of Twitter and her extensive knowledge on social media platforms helped her coast into this current job.

In addition to the personal branding class, Jessica has her own personal blog called City in a Jar. It is a lifestyle blog that highlights mostly fashion trends with a few little elements concerning where to go, who to see, what to drink as a trendy twenty something. She updates her blog weekly with new photos and blog posts she writes. This side blog is a wonderful creative outlet and allows her to use her social media skills away from the job, which only perfects them. Jessica explained that having a personal blog helped her define her personal voice, and by working for Alive magazine she learned how to define a voice for the company.

Image

Basically, Jessica’s multiple duties to social media, whether it be at home or in the office, have both aided her in learning the art of defining a brand for a company and for her as an individual.

Jessica commented on the native advertising and explained that it is a new term for her, but she has mixed feelings about the idea. “Coming from an advertising perspective, native advertising can be a wonderful and lucrative detail to a marketing strategy, but coming from a consumer standpoint, native advertising may get a bit obnoxious at times. Advertising is advertising. It is always going to be there anyways.” Jessica makes a valid point. Whether it is traditional advertising or native advertising, it will be necessary to sell any product or service. If an advertising strategy works for a company, then that is great.

Jessica encourages college students to immerse themselves in the social media culture now. Her experience with personal blogging only added one more weapon to her ammunition when she looked to land a job. Jessica Leitch has taken the small steps to create a personal brand for herself and learned how to make a voice for a separate brand.

“Hip” on the Go: Urban Outfitters Trendy Content Strategy

Image

Urban Outfitter’s brand embodies an incredibly diverse amount of elements throughout its stores, website, and social media outlets. The company is a branch connected with Free People, Anthropologie, Terrain, and BHLDN. Each store has a distinct atmosphere with a direct and clear target audience. Urban Outfitters does an incredible job of using their online content to get emotionally connected with their customers. This emotional connection is part of their brand.

Image

The target audience is primarily the trendy “20 somethings” with a taste for vintage, funky, and eclectic taste in clothing, accessories, and decorative items. The first element that jumps out at me when hopping on their site is the blog link. The blog’s content is relatable for the customer because it contains content that the target audience is interested in. There are music downloads, streaming video of concerts, and spotlights for young artists etc. This is a great strategy for Urban because it drives traffic to their site using some other motivation other than selling the customer something. The blog is simply there to inform the readers more on their interests. Those willing to read the blog will feel more connected to Urban Outfitters’ brand. This develops an online relationship with the customer. Furthermore, their content on the blog is consistently being updated. “Music Mondays” has a new playlist of songs selected for free download to reward those who check the blog on a weekly basis.

Image

This constant updating makes an interactive experience for users because new online content creates that if the information is fresh every week, there must be some value to it. The brand speaks the way the people do, they keep a well-polished artsy look online, but the words they use are “hip” and “funky fresh” per say.

Urban’s social media content is all very uniform in accordance with each one. Their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts all have the same visually pleasing appeal. However, the most unique element about their social media strategy is that their content on each media platform is different. Typically, brands post the same pic on Twitter as they do on their Instagram, but Urban has different content on each one. I think in this case this works for them because their marketing strategy never appears repetitive.

Urban Outfitters also offers an app for the iPhone that has content very different than their social media accounts. It features a UO music player which basically streams the music they play in their stores. This is one way they get their content to reflect their in-store atmosphere. The other feature includes a way for customers to get rewards by interacting with their social media. One “challenge” offered is by tweeting about an Urban Outfitters store and using the hashtag #UOHaul, a customer gets a “badge” that can earn them percentage points of their next purchase. This is highly interactive in a few ways. It results in the customer downloading to UO app, tweeting about Urban Outfitters, and then encouraging a sale with the discount.

Their Twitter bio features a sarcastic line. Urban’s instagram bio features the word “’sup.” This is a great example of a brand speaking the customer’s language. Each social media platform updates daily and most of the posts are encouraging some sort of a reaction out of the customer or possible customer. At the end of the day, the UO app seems to be the most functional and rewarding shopping app on the market. Urban Outfitters is doing it right because their app encourages action from their customers. Their target audience is the group of tech savvy individuals and their online content strategy appeals directly to their tech savvy lifestyle. 

Mabie Provides Relevant Information and the Key to Success?

Image

 

The president of Evolve Digital Labs, Derek Mabie made a guest appearance to our class last Thursday afternoon and introduced the ideas and possibilities that this search marketing agency has to offer. He gave a presentation with an overall conversational tone that exemplified the agency’s overall personal approach to their marketing company. I think his approach to public speaking was illustrating the whole essence of company accurately. The community looks to him as a representation of the work they do. Evolve Digital Labs explains their mission statement as “empowering brands through search.”

Mabie explained their entire process as a search marketing agency and that unlike many others there first step is not the “idea,” but it in fact is getting to know YOU the company, individual, or whatever group you may be made up of. Only after doing this, can Evolve begin to develop a strategy. This order of elements is what makes Evolve unique from other companies according to Mabie.

One of the pieces of information Mabie shared that really stood out to me was when he said “Either you are messaging to the wrong people, or you have the wrong message!” This brings up relevant information for our SEO class because I never really thought of the first part. It never occurred to me that changing the people we market to was actually an option. I have always thought of it in terms of which message to send to appeal to said group, but what an idea to change up one’s audience. He expanded on this idea and explained that in a way, demographics do not matter. Groups of people that you need to target may not fall into a specific demographic group, or at least according to traditional demographic break down. Mabie explained that many companies focus on demographics and end up overlooking groups of people that could have been included in their target audience.

A very sobering, but important point Derek made was that marketers are usually very expendable. He explained that they are the first to be cut. Many companies make the mistake that when their company’s profit is declining in sales that their first move is to downgrade their marketing techniques when in reality that is the exact department that needs to be looked at for boosting. Evolve digital labs knows the importance of this factor in business and their mission is to keep the search marketing element of their clients the priority and the reason for success.

Mabie gave us “newbies” to search engine knowledge the key to growth: monitoring and modifying. In order to grow the company’s search engine ranking etc. they have to be analyzing and watching the reactions to what content they create and post. These reactions need to be positive and negative feedback that effects how they modify the content and tweak it so that it slowly becomes a constant routine of putting out content, watching the feedback, and making it better. In the long run, this will only yield positive results.  

Lastly, Mabie gave us the “golden ticket.” He explained that he is positive if we want to make a million dollars in the next ten years, become an Excel expert. This is the one weapon we can use to control our employers (fairly of course) and win over future employers in an interview. Extensive knowledge of Excel can take a lot of studying and practicing, but he says that becoming a master will only bring beneficial elements to the search engine world. 

Another marketing company worth checking out and comparing to Evolve is Resolution Marketing. They thrive on their “entrepreneurial spirit.” Leap is one of the top 25 ranked search marketing agencies in the country driving home the fact that no matter how amazing your content is, it does not matter if it cannot be found. 

I noticed Derek follows HOW Design on Twitter and I found their twitter page to be inspirational for a variety of companies.

Guest Speaker TJ Kirgin Gives Relevant Advice From His Experience at Anchor STL

Image

Allow me to introduce TJ Kirgin our guest speaker from Anchor STL, an inbound marketing company that started just a little over two decades ago, in 1992. Simply put, Anchor STL is an advertising agency that understands advertising as well as technology is ever changing. Anchor STL is one step ahead of…everyone.

Kirgin explained, “Twitter is radio, YouTube is TV, and Facebook is a magazine.” This puts into perspective how much change has happened and that this obviously affects advertising as well. Anchor STL specializes in sales optimization, inbound marketing, web development, and creative design.

One truly catchy piece of information Kirgin shared with us was the importance of your company to develop a “sticky” homepage. By saying this he means, what content can you include on your homepage and how are you going to present it so that customers want to stick around? The goal is to keep their attention as long as possible, that’s how you begin to reel them in. This will cut the bounce rate in half.

Many companies do not stay as on top of their social media and web content as much as Anchor STL. Kirgin’s piece of advice is to create press releases on a monthly basis. This earns the company credibility and the more content the company puts out, the higher they’ll be in search rankings. These press releases need to be as absorbing as possible in order to hold the reader’s attention and encourage them to read next month’s. This can only build trust between the customer and the company, as the customer gradually gets to know the company and their values.

Kirgin described the three types of content that need to be written for different audiences. Awareness is for those who know they have some sort of need that should be satisfied. Evaluation is for those who know that the company has something to satisfy that need. Purchase is for those who have went through the previous steps and are ready to officially purchase. Writing in terms of these three stages is essential to roping in a potential customer.

As Kirgin reiterated a few times, social media is one very important weapon for companies. It’s what will get people “talking about you,” says Kirgin. It’s important to have workshops to make your voice clear. Your theme must be concise and thorough. Lastly, content needs to be curated and created. Leaving social media out or updated rarely will ultimately sink your company.

Something I found especially interesting is the fact that Kirgin said, “a blog could start a company.” This really puts into perspective that what we’re doing right now could potentially formulate into an entire company in the very near future, or at least culture an idea for one that could make it. It’s mind blowing that the blogs I write even just in this class, could potentially lead me write into the path of a company I would want to work with.

A company I found that could go hand in hand with Anchor STL is Nexcess. Their twitter bio says, “Beyond Hosting – You focus on your site’s content and we’ll focus on keeping it online – big, small or in between.” They offer shared web hosting which makes it more affordable for the everyday individual to launch their own website. 

Molchester Limited is an SEO company that became one of the top SEO companies in the UK and it was started only a year ago. A lot of our class work is going to use web hosting and SEO affiliated content, and both of these companies could be beneficial to check out. 

 

The Adventures of Keyword Research: Short and Long-Tail Journeys

short taillong tail

I decided to delve into some keyword research that was relevant to the website I would like to launch about dressing trendy and hipster as well as soaking in the Indie music culture in order to really own the “urban” style. Instead of searching keywords involving indie music, I wanted to make my topic is broad as possible by using the term hipster in both of my searches using Google’s AdWords. Using this tool was a little confusing to get the hang of in the beginning, but proved to be very insightful when it comes to making decisions on launching a website. AdWords can lend you a hand in launching a website because it can give you the facts as to what keywords and phrases are going to be searched for most often. I will know what words I can use that will get fashion lines to want to advertise on my site.

Keep It Simple Stupid

My short tail keyword search was: hipster style. I kept it simple and broad to get as many results as possible. The SERP was not as chalk full of content as I had previously suspected. I was shocked to only find 26 search results. This tells me that my website might actually be something worth reading if there really is this little of content about it on the web. Among the 26 keywords: vintage, retro, and urban were the three that seemed to have the most competition when it comes to advertisers. These three keywords are very popular when it comes to fashion industry now and many fashion companies would be interested in marketing to those actually looking for these such clothes.

My long tail keyword search was learning to dress hipster. It was a bit more specific because it was looking for content with an explanation on how to learn the style for yourself. Not to my surprise, I only received 4 results. I noticed a few things between these two keyword searches. There was a peak in searches near the fall and it declined just after winter. This could tell me how well my website would buzz depending on the season. Depending on the search query I chose to use could greatly affect the results of my keyword research. Changing just one word in the phrase, could yield either a significant amount more or less. The competitive nature goes way down with this long-tail keyword search because less users will search so specifically, especially if they’re trying to learn something as a broad topic.

The user intent I found most common was the help on where to buy vintage clothes and how to piece them together. These users are looking for an outlet that explains what clothes to get and where to get them.

If this whole keyword research adventure has your attention check out this article that goes in detail about how Google is actually moving to secure search completely.

Project Implicit Tests

This class activity was especially interesting to me as well as eye opening. The basis of the test was figuring out what body type is most visually appealing to my mind or the things I associate with weight.

The results unfortunately had me associating everything bad with being overweight. Even though yes being overweight is incredibly unhealthy, my mind associates ALL things bad with this weight. I think this study just merely shows how incredibly stereotypical that we as humans can be by nature. 

Little Rock 9

Issues- African Americans at Little Rock School were verbally and sometimes physically abused, in order to get the story, journalists had to be in the crowd and do nothing.

Perspectives- white students, African American students, the school district, the reporters

Knowledge-the white students said some awful things they can never take back.

Actions-soldiers were brought in to cut down on hate and violence, but they only added extra stress and drama to the situation at hand.

Consequences-physical and verbal abuse. However, the verbal abuse will forever ring in the minds of those African American students and pain their soul.

Conclusion/Opinion-Since being at Lindenwood, I have felt like the minority at times because of how diverse the culture is here. I never felt threatened, but I see that if that were ever to arise I don’t know if I could handle it as calmly as the Little Rock 9 students.