IMC Brand Review: SHAPE Magazine, Food Network and SELF Magazine

SHAPE Magazine 

Facebook: 2,121,577 likes

SHAPE Magazine on Facebook

Twitter: 331K followers

SHAPE Magazine on Twitter

Instagram: 74,149 followers

SHAPE Magazine on Instagram

Google+: 273,006 followers

SHAPE Magazine on Google+

Pinterest: 265, 329 followers

SHAPE Magazine on Pinterest

YouTube: 3,304 subscribers

SHAPE MAgazine on YouTube

With the exception of YouTube, SHAPE Magazine has consistent imagery across all of the platforms listed above. SHAPE’s July/August 2014 cover girl, Jillian Michaels, is featured on the cover photo of nearly all of the social channels (with the exception of Instagram which has rotating images). The current magazine cover that features Jillian is used as the profile picture/icon for all of these platforms. However, SHAPE Magazine’s YouTube Channel is behind the times to say the least. With a bland template cover photo and a dated image of a mystery woman as the profile picture, Shape Magazine could greatly improve its presence on YouTube by updating it’s look to be more consistent with its other social platforms, and by of course producing content more regularly.

SHAPE Magazine’s messaging is consistent across platforms (again, with the exception of YouTube). Similar content is posted on all of the sites, some of which link back to the Shape.com website.  Content is up to date, with posts occurring several times a day. In fact, on the day that I evaluated their activity, it appears they post almost hourly during morning to evening hours on their most prominent platforms. With content that would be easy to produce videos from (i.e. how to exercises, etc.), Shape Magazine has not leveraged the power of YouTube, and last posted videos around a year ago.

Shape utilizes hashtags on the appropriate social media platforms; however, they appear to be utilized more on Instagram than on Twitter. They are also used on Google+ in regards to the general subject matter of the post (i.e #yoga). While I believe SHAPE could benefit from increasing the use of hashtags on Twitter, they certainly realize the importance of hashtags, and are making an effort to create their own trend with the #caughtbeinghealthy contest.

While Shape does a great job of driving individuals to their website from the various social platforms (which is the ultimate goal), the social channels could be better integrated with one another. Shape has successfully integrated their content across social media and has done a good job of posting regularly (again, with the exception of YouTube) with consistent imagery and messaging to maintain their brand. Let’s face it though, some platforms are simply better for some types of posts than other, so not all content should always be shared across all platforms. This also gives people a reason to jump around to your other social sharing sites. Shape has an app on their Facebook page that links to their Pinterest account, and a Twitter icon on their Pinterest; however, other than that, the other channels are not linked (even their Google+ and YouTube are not linked) to one another in a way that is easily visible to the user. While I believe Shape has done a good job integrating social media into their website and utilizes it well with consistent imagery and messaging, they could also improve upon their IMC approach by updating all accounts, linking across platforms and giving users a reason to follow them on multiple channels.


 

Food Network

Facebook: 5,260,670 likes

Food Network on Facebook

Twitter: 2.23M followers

Food Network on Twitter

Instagram: 564,957 followers

Food Network on Instagram

Google+: 4,140,694 followers

Food Network on Google+

Pinterest: 326,328 followers

Food Network on Pinterest

YouTube: 123,180 subscribers

Food Network on YouTube

Food Network has a consistent summer look across all platforms. Food Network is wise to use their easily readable and recognizable logo as the profile picture for all of the above listed platforms. While the cover photos for Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the only identical images, the rest of the cover photo images coordinate with a summer grilling feel.

Content on all platforms is up to date and consistently posted. The day I evaluated the platforms, there were multiple posts per day, and on the most prominent channels approximately every three hours from morning to evening. Food Network does a great job a posting regularly but not too much, and also sticking within their current theme, which appears to be summery recipes, and posting across platforms but also not posting everything, everywhere, all the time.  While the messaging is consistent, it is not necessarily identical.

Food Network utilizes hashtags on Google+, Twitter and Instagram but could benefit from increasing the use of them on Instagram in particular. Much of the material posted links back to their main website, which is the ultimate goal; however, the channels are not entirely integrated with one another. The Google+ and YouTube accounts are linked, as they should be, and videos are uploaded very regularly, as you may expect from a television network. Facebook and Twitter icons are also located on the Food Network YouTube account. The Food Network Pinterest does have an icon for Twitter, but other than that, the other platforms do not promote the other social channels. Again, the traffic is driven back to the Food Network website, which is the most beneficial, and the website promotes all channels. While Food Network does a good job with consistent imagery and content across channels and directing traffic back to their website, they could improve upon their integration across channels.


 

SELF Magazine

Facebook: 1,071,938 likes

SELF Magazine on Facebook

Twitter: 290K followers

SELF Magazine on Twitter

Instagram: 79,642 followers

SELF Magazine on Instagram

Google+: 305,410 followers

SELF Magazine on Google+

Pinterest: 296,397 followers

SELF Magazine on Pinterest

YouTube: 19,344 subscribers

SELF Magazine on YouTube

SELF Magazine has a consistent look across almost all of the above listed platforms. Similar to SHAPE Magazine, they also use the image of their current cover as the profile picture for the majority of their accounts. SELF Magazine’s cover girl is presently Ellie Goulding, and more casual photos of her are pictured on the cover photos of SELF Magazine’s Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts. While Instagram appears to be the only account that uses another cover image as its profile picture, the current cover is also featured as a rotating image within the Instagram cover photo. While the cover photo for the SELF Magazine YouTube page is not Ellie, it is an image that fits with the general look – bright, fitness related and clean. 

All social channels are updated regularly, daily for most and every 1-3 hours for some more popular platforms. SELF Magazine’s Google+ and YouTube are appropriately linked to one another and they do a great job of uploading videos regularly to their YouTube channel, which can often be a more difficult and time consuming platform to keep current, especially for a publication, that may not focus as much on videos.

All information is consistent and relevant and they do a great job of using hashtags on all appropriate platforms, but could increase the use of them on Twitter. They actually even use a hashtag in the description of their Pinterest account (#Drop10Diet). Some social platforms are linked to one another  – Instagram and Pinterest are featured on Facebook, Twitter and Facebook are featured on Pinterest, and their YouTube cover photo image has icons for Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. While they could of course include links to all platforms on every channel, they have done a great job of incorporating a strong majority of them on most channels.

Overall, SELF Magazine has displayed the strongest IMC approach of the three companies evaluated. While there is always room to improve (i.e. integrating all channels, using more hashtags, etc.), SELF Magazine has done a great job of keeping all channels up to date, using consistent imagery and content, and linking back to their website.

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The Truth About Healthy Living

Please note: This blog post has been created as an assignment for MMC5006

Do what you love. Love what you do.I think it goes without saying that people that are passionate about what they do often are more successful, especially in regards to communications professionals. Take Yoga Girl for example, she clearly loves yoga and has gained notoriety for herself through the use of content communities, such as Instagram where she has over 850,000 followers! That’s more than Shape, Fitness, and Women’s Health magazine combined!

So what gives? Why can’t reputable magazines about health and fitness compete with the Yoga Girls of the word? My guess…magazines aren’t people. People want the TRUTH about healthy living. How to really balance it between work, play and family. Women want to follow someone they can relate to and who shares true transparency. While the “How to lose the last 5 pounds” articles and the fitness routines are still popular, there’s room for improvement in the marketing strategies of these publications.

That’s where I come in. I’m not a magazine editor. I’m not obsessive over one particular type of fitness and I don’t eliminate anything indefinitely from my diet.

I’m passionate about healthy living, I like trying new things, and while nutritious food and fitness do excite me, I am also human.

My days are 24 hours long (just like yours) and I juggle a full-time job, a marriage, a home, and now a master’s degree. While I think the concept of doing what you love is important, I also believe we only have one life and one body, and we should make every effort to live our lives in a way that we are proud of and feel good about.

So who am I, and why should I be a representative of your company?

I believe in healthy living, and that it’s not just limited to “eating clean” and pushing your body to the absolute limit.  I also strongly believe in being realistic, making small improvements and taking care of yourself form the inside out.

I believe in eating better to feel better…not to lose weight, or because some article told you it’s right or wrong. Learn to listen to your body. It all comes full circle. If you feel great it shows, and you’re often able to put your best foot forward.

I believe strong is beautiful. While I can’t claim to look like any of the girls in this video, I can tell you I’m proud of the fitness level I have achieved and have every intention to maintain or improve upon it. I enjoy setting goals and while I believe in pushing myself, I also believe in giving my body the appropriate amount of rest when necessary.

Now you know me…but why hire me?

Here is a a sample of some of my interests that I have created in the form of a Pinterest board. However, if you REALLY want to get to know me (which is what this is all about), this is a link to some healthy food and fitness interests, articles, and ideas on my personal Pinterest account. Not only will this give you a sneak peak about me, but this is also intended to showcase my use of a content community (i.e. Pinterest).

In addition to the above characteristics I have shared I also love connecting with people and am intrigued by how social media has changed the way we connect and who we connect with. I am currently completing a Master’s program at the University of Florida with a specialization in social media. I have interned with the University of Florida strength and conditioning department for women’s athletics. Upon graduating with my Bachelor’s degree in a recreation related field, I pursued a marketing internship at the Gator Bowl Association in Jacksonville, Florida. For the last three years I have served as Marketing Coordinator for a local independent insurance agency and while I love the people I work for and building relationships through networking and social media, my passion is not necessarily insurance (however, it’s surprisingly grown on me in the last three years).

I truly believe if your passionate about what you do, it will show in your work. For a social media and communications position, individuals are challenged to find and create content on a regular basis. If you’re not passionate about what you’re researching, or what you’re writing about, it starts to become stale. I love living healthy and I love connecting with people. I’m also a very honest and open person, which I think would play into this role well.

I will keep this example brief to not take too much more of your time, but about two months after my wedding my father was told he would need quadruple bypass surgery. Being that he is my only living parent, I was scared (to say the least), but I was also angry. Angry he didn’t take better care of himself, but also enlightened about the importance of healthy living. I believe life throws us these scary situations to teach us and inspire us to make changes to live a more proactive lifestyle. While I’ve yet to be 100% successful in influencing my father to live a healthier lifestyle, I hope I can influence other individuals as your communications professional.

If hired, I look forward to sharing my life changing moments, instances of enlightenment, articles of interest and the general TRUTH about healthy living, and how an average Jane life myself balances it all.

 

Blog Study: Hands Free Mama, Skinnytaste and I Heart Organizing

 Hands Free Mama

Hands Free MamaHands Free Mama began as a recreational blog about a mother’s new found passion to put down technology and REALLY connect with her family. It has since developed into a semi-professional blog with weekly posts. The author, Rachel Macy Stafford, began blogging in December of 2010 about the concept of living “Hands Free” and published a book in 2013 elaborating on her journey. The blog is utilized to promote her book and other “Hands Free” products.

Author: Rachel Macy Stafford

Author: Rachel Macy Stafford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The purpose of the blog is to share “breakthrough moments” throughout Stafford’s “Hands Free” journey and to spread the word about what living “Hands Free” truly means. Stafford shares about her struggles before she embarked on this journey and how her distracted life was interfering with her ability to embrace meaningful moments with her loved ones. The blog is “for anyone who wants to re-think how he or she is living (or not living) life. It’s for anyone who wants to let go of daily distractions and perfection to embrace what really matters” (Stafford).

This blog is unique because it’s not your typical mommy venting blog and home project bragging page, it’s a revolution. Don’t get me wrong, I love DIY projects and will one day likely follow mommy blogs about parenting advice; however, Stafford’s blog focuses on a more meaningful message. Stafford shares about the moments with her family she has come to appreciate more than ever as a result of the work she has done to transform her life.  The way in which Stafford lives her life and shares her experiences is what reflects the “Hands Free” brand.

When I thought back about how I heard of this blog I couldn’t remember initially, but I did know exactly what article it was that drew me in. Eventually I recalled where I saw the article and who shared it. It was shared by our wedding photographer on her personal Facebook page. You know the quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel?”  That quote perfectly describes my recollection of the day I found the blog and how I felt when I read it. That’s what’s so uniquely powerful about this blog. It is through social media that the Hands Free Mama blog (and revolution, if you will) has gained exposure, in addition to press releases, newspaper articles and interviews that have resulted since the release of Stafford’s book.

My biased opinion would be that this blog is successful because it encourages people like myself to reevaluate how we live our lives; however, it is also successful based on the components discussed in class. The blog has been around since 2010, is easy to subscribe to, publishes original content about once a week,  and the author participates on many social media sites (including Twitter).

Subscribe for Emails

Subscribe for emails sign-up. Social media icons shown in image of blog header at the top of this blog post.

From a search engine perspective, I believe this blog could benefit from utilizing more generic categories and tags in addition to, or possibly even in place of, what is currently being used. Many of the categories and tags are phrases familiar to the blogger, not the general public who may be searching for parenting advice and ways to better connect with their families.

Blog Categories

Blog Categories

Blog Tags

Blog Tags

While there are currently no advertisers on the site, some possibilities that may be worth considering are parenting publications or products.

 

 

 

 


Skinnytaste

Skinnytaste.com Skinnytaste.com is a blog that hosts Gina’s Skinny Recipes. Gina Homolka is the one-woman writer behind the blog, which has regular posts and is now being utilized to gain exposure for her recently published cookbook (shown below).

Skinnytaste Cookbook

Skinnytaste Cookbook

The original purpose of the blog was to marry the author’s two passions: “Great food and beautiful photography” (Homolka). What makes the blog unique are the types of recipes – they are healthy, low fat, and family-friendly. These aren’t your typical “Tuesday Taco Night” type meals. The recipes on the blog are non-traditional, eclectic and modern, such as this Zucchini Noodle Lemon-Garlic Spicy Shrimp recipe.

The brand name is Skinnytaste and the content of the blog reflects just that – healthy dishes that don’t sacrifice flavor and are both “skinny” and “tasty.”

I personally found the blog through recipe posts on Pinterest. Given their active social media presence (with over 661,000 “Likes” on Facebook), I would imagine much of the traffic is generated through social sharing. Skinnytaste has also gained exposure through featured articles, websites, etc., some of which are listed below.

Places Featured

According to the criteria from lecture, Skinnytaste is a successful blog that has been in existence since 2008 and regularly publishes original content. Skinnytaste has an active Twitter account and social media presence, as well as social sharing icons on the blog. There is also an area on the blog that allows users to subscribe to emails.

Skinnytaste on Social Media

Skinnytaste on Social Media & Email sign-up

While there are advertisers on the site and it appears to be successful, I believe the blogs organization and layout could be improved. The right side bar is extremely long, sometimes much longer than the actual content on the page being viewed, which makes for an awkward appearance.  Additionally, while there are many ways and places to search for recipes on the site (and a very cool Recipe Box feature), it seems a bit cluttered when you arrive on one of the many search pages that lists massive amounts of recipes and/or food categories.

 


I Heart Organizing

I Heart Organizing

I Heart Organizing is a semi-professional blog by Jennifer Jones. Blogs are not posted daily, but content is created consistently. While it is primarily a one-woman branded blog, there are some regular contributors which gives it somewhat of a group blog feel as well.

Meet Jen

The blogs purpose is to share ideas and how-to instructions for DIY projects and to serve as a resource for organizing ideas.  While the author did own an organizing business at one point in time and the blog was originally created to help promote her business, she now has an Etsy printable shop that is sometimes featured in various posts.

The blog is unique because of its high level of exposure and creative ideas. I Heart Organizing has been featured on HGTV, The Nate Berkus Show, Houzz and more. The name couldn’t describe the brand more simply – it’s about organizing and the posts promote tips and tricks for a tidy space.

I Heart Organizing has gained traffic through television, magazines and websites. The blog also ranks highly on search. For instance when I searched on Google for “home organizing and DIY,” I Heart Organizing appeared fourth. I Heart Organizing also has an exceptional social media presence, in fact, I first found out about it through a Pinterest post.

Google search for "home organizing and diy"

Google search for “home organizing and diy”

With original project ideas and regularly published posts, as well as, an active social media presence (including Twitter), I Heart Organizing is a successful blog.  The blog has been in existence since September of 2009 and viewers are able to sign-up for regular emails.

I Heart Organizing on Social Media

I Heart Organizing on Social Media

I Heart Organizing E-mail Sign-up

I Heart Organizing E-mail Sign-up

Although the social media icons and subscribe option are not “missing” they could be more prevalent. Users must scroll down to find the “Let’s get social” and “Subscribe” boxes, which are easy to miss amongst the multitude of advertisements. The small social sharing icons at the bottom of each blog post could benefit from being enhanced as well. While there are many advertisers and even a section on the site for potential advertisers, I don’t believe their ads should be more prevalent than the social media sites directly affiliated with the blog.

Advertise with I Heart Organizing

Advertise with I Heart Organizing

 

 

 

 

Pottery Barn – Push Pull Marketing and More

Pottery Barn’s most prominent traditional push marketing material is their catalog that they distribute through the mail – Just ask the “overwhelming number” of individuals that declared Pottery Barn their favorite home decorating magazine (Tischler, 2003). Although they also participate in push marketing via email, those individuals receiving the emails have often opted in through one of their pull tactics such as their email sign-up on their website (shown below)  or by providing an email when purchasing an item.

Pottery Barn E-mail Sign-Up

 

Another push marketing technique Pottery Barn participates in is sponsored Facebook advertisements, like the one shown below. In fact, I received this post on a Friday after viewing the displayed item earlier in the week.

Image

Other pull platforms Pottery Barn participates in include their website and blogs (“Inside & Out” and “Have and Hold”), as well as numerous social media platforms discussed in my previous blog post, “Pottery Barn’s Consistent Brand Personality (and fabulous decor)”.

Seeing as Pottery Barn is a retail store, they are constantly updating their website with new products. Pottery Barn also regularly maintains the two blogs I previously mentioned, both of which they update with fresh content almost daily. In addition to the products and blog, Pottery Barn also maintains a consistent image across all marketing platforms, and transforms it seasonally with a fresh look.

Pottery Barn is most definitely mobile friendly, with an easy to navigate product menu, and an option to utilize a side menu as well, depending on the user’s preference.

Pottery Barn Mobile

Pottery Barn Mobile

In addition to the icons that link to the Pottery Barn social media pages on their website, Pottery Barn also has social sharing buttons on their product pages. While viewing a product you may choose to “Like” it you are logged into you Facebook account or “Pin it” to one of your Pinterest boards, if logged in.

Below the product pictures, users have the option to "Pin it" or "Like" the item

Pottery Barn’s social sharing buttons – Below the product picture, users have the option to “Pin it” or “Like” the item (see far left bottom corner).

Pottery Barn also offers the option to have a live chat on-line with a sales associate; however, they are only available between 5:00am and 7:00pm PT. You may also choose to have a Customer Service Representative contact you by phone by selecting the “Let us call you” option, which then opens a screen that asks for your phone number (shown below).

"Live chat" or "Let us call you" options on the Pottery Barn website

“Live chat” or “Let us call you” options on the Pottery Barn website.

The box that appears if you select the "Let us call you" option

The box that appears if you select the “Let us call you” option.

From an IMC/branding point of view, I believe Pottery Barn could improve on the consistency of their customer service. While I do believe they do a great job of resolving a customer’s dissatisfaction after there has been a complaint (as discussed in my previous blog post), they could benefit from taking preventative measures. For instance, while completing this post I went to use the live chat option to see what it would lead me to, which was the restricted hours stating no one was available. A little frustrating if that would have been my preferred method of communication. From a company as large as Pottery Barn, you would expect them to be able to have at least a small number of individuals working odd hours, as it is not uncommon shoppers to be online during evening hours. Even more frustrating, when I went back to view the live chat hour restrictions to take a screen shot and confirm what days this included, the option was no longer there. Whether Pottery Barn has removed it indefinitely, or only during restricted hours (which wouldn’t be a bad idea, in my opinion) is unknown at this time, but either way it may inevitable lead to a confused or irritated customer.

Pottery Barn's need help box with no chat option.

Pottery Barn’s need help box with no chat option.

All that being said, Pottery Barn has done an incredible job integrating its products and brand online since introducing themselves online in August of 2000, and has done and even more impressive job of maintaining their goal of mirroring their popular catalog look (Khan, 2000).

With the recent release of the 1st quarter revenue for 2014, the Williams-Sonoma, Inc./Pottery Barn brand has produced impressive growth, so they must be doing something right. Laura Alber, President and Chief Executive Officer, attributes their success to, “Innovative, high-quality product, personalized service, relevant marketing and strong execution across all brands” (Williams-Sonoma, Inc., 2014).

Resources

Tischler, L. (June 2003). How Pottery Barn Wins With Style. Retrieved on June 5, 2014 from http://www.fastcompany.com/46714/how-pottery-barn-wins-style

Khan, M. (August 2, 2000). Pottery Barn Builds Its Online Home. Retrieved on June 6, 2014 from http://www.dmnews.com/pottery-barn-builds-its-online-home/article/67635/

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (May 21, 2014). Williams-Sonoma, Inc. announces first quarter 2014 results. Retrieved on June 6, 2014 from http://www.williams-sonomainc.com/files/press-releases/WSM-Q1FY14ER.pdf