Having trouble finding a gift for that “hard to buy for” person on your list this year? Check out my top 5 picks for the best tech gifts

As you rack your brain to figure out what to buy for each person on your Christmas list you suddenly realize that every single person on there has nearly everything they could possibly need. Why not change it up this year? This Christmas season consider purchasing gifts that can be useful around the home or office that are more technologically advanced. Read below to find a list of my top five recommendations for those that are hardest to buy for on your Christmas list this year.

  1. Amazon Echo—this device responds to the name “Alexa” and connects to Wi-Fi and can “talk” to a variety of smart home gadgets through voice control such as your light switches and outlets.

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  1. Neato Botvac Connected Robot Vacuum—first of all, how cool is this? A vacuum that will manually do your chores for you sounds fabulous. This gadget allows you to use remote scheduling and steering through an app for longer and better cleaning.

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  1. Piper NV—a camera system that allows you to keep an eye on your home from afar. It comes complete with night vision, a sensor, microphone and speaker. This camera system is used with a mobile app and allows for notifications, saved clips and personalized settings. This is great for many uses in-home, maybe even as a nanny cam!

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  1. Fitbit Charge HR—this device is a fitness tracker that tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, sleep, heart rate and pulse. This gift would be perfect for the athlete on your list!

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  1. Google Cardboard Knox V2—Similar to a ViewMaster, this gadget attaches to your smart phone and allows you to look through the lens to view new places, imagine you’re in another country, play immersive games or fly through space. So cool and it’s the cheapest item on this list retailing for $16.99!

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All of these gifts display a small glimpse into this new world of technology that we live in. Another interesting aspect to note is that all of these devices connect directly to your smart phone for accessing data on-the-go or to operate in general. Which of these items would you enjoy receiving for Christmas this year?

Expect to see the 2016 Christmas list filled with even more interesting gadgets for personal or home use.

Are social analytics important for small businesses too?

In digital marketing, measuring the effectiveness of your marketing campaign is important to determine if your efforts are paying off. Analyzing metrics data in real-time is more important now than ever.

Metrics and analytics in digital media vary and range from social media to click through rates and overall site traffic. However, for this purpose, the focus is on social media analytics.

For small businesses, being able to measure the effectiveness of social media efforts is even more important as marketing and advertising budgets are small. Don’t worry though; there are free tools to help provide this data. One of my favorites to use is Buffer which serves as a multi-purpose tool for marketers, especially small business marketers with little staff and marketing dollars.

Buffer provides a platform to create and schedule posts to all of your social network sites and provides real-time engagement stats for every update posted. Additionally, Buffer also displays your top post when an update goes above your average ratings.

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 1.40.12 PMThere are others that may be beneficial as well such as Followerwonk, ViralWoot, Keyhole and Klout.

Another interesting tip is that the social media sites themselves provide stats about your posts, fans, and reach that are accessible to the page admin. Each social site has its own tab for behind the scene analytics to assess in determining the type of posts that receive the most views, time of day, and exactly how many people it reached.

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 1.40.46 PM.pngAll of these free metrics and analytic tools are essential to measuring social media effectiveness for small businesses.

Check out Kevan Lee’s BufferSocial blog for more ideas on how to measure your social media data.

The Rise of Social Media and How it has Changed the Marketing Game

Social media is changing the way consumers think, marketers advertise, and the way communication takes place daily.

Social networking provides a platform for marketers to leverage their ad spending while also utilizing two-way communication among current and potential consumers. In a survey conducted in September 2014 by the Pew Research Center, Facebook is the most popular social media site among adults ages 18+. Additionally, the survey found that not only are these adults using Facebook, but 52% are using two or more other social media sites. This shows that social media should be an important part of a company’s marketing plan.

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Not only does social media provide real-time, two-way communication, it also provides marketers with a platform to post digital media such as videos, GIF’s, and photos. As emerging media continues to advance, social media trends will continue as well.

The openmindsagency.com provides an interesting image of the 2015 social media marketing trends. According to the graphic below, 45% of marketers say, “blogging is still their most important content.” However, the image also states that Facebook marketing is more effective for larger companies vs. self-employed businesses. But, wouldn’t’ social media, Facebook in particular, be a great way to connect with local consumers and to share information about your business for someone who is self-employed? It seems like every other post on Facebook these days is someone trying to sell a product from their personal business whether its beauty products, health and wellness products, or just a simple promotion of a small, local business.

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It’s inevitable that signing onto your social media account that you will see ads and/or communication from your favorite brands. We should all be excited to see how social media will enhance a marketer’s job in the years to come.

The New Era of Digital Parenting

As a very soon mom-to-be, the anxiety and worries about my future child’s health and wellness are starting to build up.  However, with new technology and devices, some of the worries can be suppressed. The Internet of Things (IoT) has changed parenting in many ways by the advancement of wearable devices and sensors that can detect certain aspects of our child’s health. We no longer have to lie awake and listen for each breath our newborn takes, we no longer have to go through the struggle with taking our child’s body temperature, and we no longer have to assume our child is being well taken care of while at home with a nanny. These are just a few ways of how the IoT has changed the parenting game for the better.

Derek Adams of Wareable describes this evolution as “digital parenting.” Examples of this include the following devices and wearables:

  1. Mimo—a wifi-connected wearable that gives peace of mind to parents worried about SIDS. The device also captures sound in the room so parents can listen in on their phone or tablet like a standard monitor. More info at mimobaby.comMIMO.jpg
  2. Sproutling—a baby monitor typically worn on the child’s ankle. This device monitors and streams data such as heart rate, skin temperature, body position and motion to any iOS or Android device. It also can predict when the child will wake up and what their mood will be like. Crazy, right?! More info at sproutling.comSPROUT.jpg
  3. Angelcare AC1200—a baby monitor that brings smartphone connectivity to life. It contains and under the mattress sensor for “monitoring movement and an HD infrared camera with two-way talk-back and built-in nursery light.” All connects to Wi-Fi and streams both video and audio to any iOS or Android device. The mattress sensor alerts parents if the child stops moving for more than 20 seconds and can also play bedtime lullabies. More information can be found at angelcarebaby.comANGELCARE.jpg

These are just a few examples of the many devices and sensors that are on the market for today’s parent. I can only imagine what will be available by the time our children have their own families. The IoT has changed the way we live our everyday lives and has especially relieved some of the worries we face as our children grow.

Why Kate Spade’s #MissAdventures was a hit

Creating shareable content should be the ultimate goal for marketers when establishing short films for marketing and advertising campaigns. One brand that has figured out how to successfully create a short film is Kate Spade. Most recently, the brand has created a series of four films starring Anna Kendrick. The brand has used short films to display their clothing and accessory lines in a fun and entertaining way for consumers enjoyment. Brands utilizing short films may replace print or television ad budgets for smaller businesses or designers.

Mary Beech, chief marketing officer for Kate Spade, explained to Fashionista that the “investment in video followed a ‘major shift in ad budget’ and the amount the company spent on the video series is comparable to what it might have spent on a print campaign.” Clearly, the resources dedicated to the production of a video of this magnitude are significant, but worth it for the brand. Beech feels that a large part of the video’s success is due to the fact that “each film tells a story—with a beginning, middle and end—and that it’s a series, so that when a new film comes out, people have a reference point for it and want to see what’s next.”

Creating a short film that seems more like a story rather than an advertisement is much more acceptable to consumers. Providing a storyline, entertainment, and laughs are what made Kate Spade’s short film #MissAdventures series a success in such a short amount of time. View one of my favorites from the series below:

 

Wondering how to break through the email marketing clutter? Personalize may be key

 

Do you ever get tired of your inbox being filled with advertisements and promotions from literally every store you’ve ever shopped at? This past weekend I went to a store and before my purchase could be completed I had to give my email address. What happens if I don’t have an email address or if I create an email address specifically for marketers to send advertisements and promotions?

However, some email marketing is beneficial, but how do we as marketers know when it’s too much or if the emails are relevant enough to produce a high click through rate?

For starters, segmenting the email lists by demographic and interests to send out more personalized emails to each consumer may receive a better response. Chris Lester of the Huffington Post states that “personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14 percent and conversion rates by 10 percent.” Lester also explains personalized emails as going beyond inserting the person’s first name into the email by also inserting “a recipient’s company name or last item purchased” to be more relevant.

The great thing is consumers are checking their mobile devices countless times per day whether it’s for text messaging, calls, internet, apps, or email. Therefore, sending personalized email marketing messages is a great way to reach your consumers whether you’re a small or large business. There are plenty of programs to help generate personalized, segmented campaigns. This video below is a great example for small businesses to utilize email marketing (and social media) for their consumers.

 

 

Are first impressions worth all their hype?

Graphic design is important to any website through its visual appeal, brand value, and recognition. More importantly, graphic design is essential to every brand as it gives customers and potential customers an impression or interpretation of the brand at first glance. Effective designs provide a sense of professionalism throughout the website and marketing materials alike. Through marketing brochures, logos, stationary, and of course the company website, graphic design plays an essential role in creating the overall brand persona.

Why Do First Impressions Matter?

Let’s face it, people are quick to judge. Matter of fact, according to ConversionXL, it takes “only 1/10th of a second to form a first impression about a person—websites are no different.  It only takes 50 milliseconds for a consumer to form an opinion about your website that that will determine whether they will stay or not.” Therefore, graphic designers are faced with the daunting task of creating materials that are aesthetically pleasing such as fonts, colors, and strategic spacing.

Google also confirmed this to be true with their own study that determined that some opinions on websites can develop within 17 milliseconds. Key findings from their study showed that “websites with low visual complexity and high ‘prototypicality’ were perceived as high appealing.”

Using Emerging Media and Graphic Design for Websites

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Graphic design and emerging media go hand in hand. An excellent example of this is on Squarespace.com. The site shows several 30-second videos demonstrating graphic design and creating the perfect website using Square Space.  View one of their videos below:

Emerging media is a beautiful thing and is used in so many ways to promote our businesses, entertain, and enhance the world around us. Using strategic emerging media and graphic design, businesses can create a website to attract consumers and make a lasting first impression.

Do Cyber-Seniors Exist? Emerging Seniors Take on Emerging Media

This week I’ve done countless amounts of research on marketers and their efforts to target minorities such as African Americans, Asians and Hispanics as well as targeting youth. What I hadn’t seen much of was how marketers are attempting to close the generation gap. In this fast-paced digital world, some may say that the generation gap has never been wider. Here’s where the story of the “Cyber-Seniors” documentary becomes interesting.

The Cyber-Seniors documentary was created by two sisters that had come to the realization that it would be so much easier to communicate with their grandparents regularly if only they learned how to use email, Facebook and Skype. According to the Cyber-Seniors website,the sisters determined that the internet played a huge role in “keeping their family connected despite busy schedules and living in different cities.”  After gathering up a group of their peers, the sisters and crew visited a local retirement home twice a week to teach the interested seniors how to use the internet and all of its functions. After meeting with all interested, the group learned that each of the seniors had different interests in the digital world. Some wanted to learn how to use Facebook, some wanted to know more about YouTube, play online games and mostly everyone wanted to use email.

The group of teen mentors trained the seniors on these digital platforms and helped produce the creation of the “Cyber-Seniors Corner,” a YouTube channel where the teen/senior teams uploaded short videos of the seniors sharing their wisdom or humor regarding the subject of social and digital media. View several examples below:

These videos show that the power of digital and social media can impact people of all ages and walks of life. According to Pew Research Center’s 2010 Internet & American LIfe Project,by the end of 2015 there will be “over 26 million seniors using the Internet in the U.S.”

From personal experience, communicating with a grandparent on the internet is so exciting. My late grandmother had a Facebook account and email which made it easier to keep up-to-date with all of her kids and grandkids. She used both accounts daily and I now have documented memories look back on.

Word of advice: Teach your parents and grandparents how to use the internet and all of its capabilities. The time spent doing so will be well worth it in the end. There are also plenty of opportunities to get involved with the Cyber-Seniors initiative. Check it out! 

Why should we care about emerging media anyways?

Emerging media is a part of our future, it’s social, it’s interactive, and it’s EMERGING.

According to Alyssa Gregory of Small Business Bonfire, “emerging media is the future of marketing: it’s the future of the flow of information.” The way we promote products and services has changed and will continue to change while two-way communication among our consumers is now the norm.

Gregory describes three reasons why Emerging Media matters and why we should all be paying attention to it:

Your Consumers Can Be Your Biggest Advocates—Relationships are key

The way we interact with our consumers and target markets are paramount to the success of the product/brand. This is where brand advocacy comes into play. We don’t want just ordinary consumers; we want and essentially need brand advocates. These advocates are the ones raving about the product or services to all their friends and family, willingly posting about the brand on social media, and are interacting positively about the brand.

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 9.24.10 PMConversations Are Already Happening (With or Without You)—The power of word-of-mouth

Monitoring conversations on social media is a large part of staying on top of digital media for marketers. If a customer is upset about poor customer service, product malfunction, etc. it is important that you are prepared to properly respond to this consumer. Additionally, hiding from negativity on these digital or social platforms may cause red flags among your consumers or target audience. Building trust and relationships among your consumers will help to build the brand advocates we all need to build a successful brand.

 Your Target Audience Expects It—Who are you really?

Consumers want to know more about who the brand really is. Be present. This means being active on social media, updating your website, and conversing more with your consumers rather than just “promotional and sales statements.”

The social media aspect is just a small segment of emerging media and why it’s important to not only marketers but to consumers as well. We are all using emerging media in our everyday lives even if we don’t realize it.