Monthly Archives: October 2012

Did I mention I love Instagram?


I have expressed my feelings before about Instagram – I LOVE IT!  For social, social media it is fun to see pictures of friends, their houses, their kids, their vacations…etc.  Users can easily and quickly “paint a picture” with a mobile device.  Businesses can use Instagram in the very same way.  For branding purposes, Instagram provides followers with a glimpse of the business’ inner workings, offering behind-the-scenes, exclusive photos that humanize the brand.

Free People, owned by Urban Outfitters, is a company that has been recognized because it really seems to grasp how to use Instagram for marketing.  Currently, Free People has 363,613 followers.  In July 2012, the company began a campaign which involved attaching hashtag cards to its jeans.  On the cards, in addition to the hashtag, were instructions encouraging customers to take a picture of themselves in their new fabulous Free People jeans, and post the photo tagging  it with the specific hashtag.  “The result:  photos of the (product) circulated not only on Free People’s feed, but their followers, too.  From there, Free People handpicked pictures to publish on its website, turning its customers into models and engaging with its community in a fun, impactful way.”(1)

Free People has done this with other products, as well.  In May 2012, they ran a similar contest , encouraging customers to take pictures of themseves in the Spring collection.

Shopping on a website, especially for jeans, can be a very difficult undertaking.  Having photos of actual customers of all shapes and sizes wearing the products, may help shoppers get a better idea of how an item will fit.  “Lots of e-commerce customers end up not buying a product because they’re not sure how the product is going to fit after they make the purchase, Jose de Cabo, cofounder of Olapic, told Mashable.  It also shows they have a super hip, engaged customer base.  Social photo crowdsourcing start-up, Olapic, is helping on the back end, curating the customers’ photos from Instagram and Twitter and incorporating them onto the retailer’s product pages”(2)

Levi’s ran a very similar  campaign on Instagram.  Targeted at both males and females,”the ‘I am Levi’s’ Instagram global casting campaign asks people to submit photos of themselves using the Instagram app on their iPhones with the tag #IAMLEVIS.  Levi’s will be regularly reviewing the submissions to see if their next star is in the mix.  According to, there is no end date to the campaign and it’s really not a photo contest – Levi’s justs wants to use crowdsourcing to find its next campaign model.”(3)

(1)  The Daily Muse. (October 24, 2012) 5 Brands Thet Understand Marketing on Instagram [blog post] Retrieved from

(2)  Ouimet, Maeghan. (July 25, 2012) Instagram: Killer App for Retailers? [blog post] Retrieved from

(3)  Vong, Katherine (January 7, 2012) ‘I am Levi’s’ Instagram Campaign Searches for Next Star. [blog post] Retrieved from


Figure Skating – Social Media Marketing is N’ice.


During the 2006-2007 skating season, I was helping to run the Learn to Skate program at the skating club I was associated with.  A mom aproached me to ask if the Club was on Facebook.  (What?)  Facebook had just become open to anyone over the age of 13, not just college students.  Luckily, there were some pretty “connected” teenaged skaters in our Club who shed some light on this “new” platform.  The volunteers (moms) who ran the Learn to Skate program were introduced to the power of Facebook – and what joining could do for our Club.

The sport of figure skating is governed in the United States by the United States Figure Skating Association – now known as US Figure Skating (USFS.)  It was formed to govern the sport and promote its growth.  Figure skating is part of a larger ice skating industry, but for simplicity sake I am going to focus on figure skating.  Since 2007, US Figure Skating has connected with its members through the website,  According to the USFS, the site experiences 10,000 hits daily, and at the peak of competition season this number rises to 25,000.  During the National Ladies Free Skate event in 2008, the site recorded more than 83,000 visits.  USFS also has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, an RSS Feed, and it provides Text Alerts.  Figure Skating information can also be found on (USFS owned) which delivers “exclusive live and on-demand coverage” of national and international competitions while offering fans (subscribers) “the opportunity to stay updated with news and information from the world of ice skating year round.”  Icenetwork also hosts a forum called INcrowd and has a presence on Twitter and Facebook.

Because it is a visual, performance sport, figure skating lends itself beautifully to tools such as YouTube and Flickr.  A consumer can choose any aspect of figure skating from how to perform a jump to how to properly tie skates ( , and find a YouTube video to demonstrate it.  Videos of professional and amateur skaters are also posted on YouTube.  I found a video of Dr. Tenley Albright from the 1953 National Championships on YouTube! (

 The choice of Twitter as a social marketing tool makes perfect sense when you look at the demographics of figure skating fans.  Among others, 68% of figure skating fans have college degrees and the median household income is $90,000.  According to Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, the average household income of Twitter readers is $87,900, and 51% have a college degree.(1)

The USFS encourages the individual figure skating clubs to become involved with social media.(2)  Individual figure skating clubs are non profit entities run by a volunteer Board of Governors and most clubs have websites.  Currently, the level of social media usage differs from club to club depending on the size of the club, whether there is a savvy parent (or staff member taking a social media marketing course) who is willing to step into the role of “administrator”, and whether the Board is open to complimenting their website with social media.  According to its website, the (large) Skating Club of Boston (  can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Flickr, and Google+ whereas a smaller club, such as the one I teach for, simply has a website…for now…

(1) Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.  Groundswell.  Forrester Research, Inc.  Boston:  Harvard Business Review Press, 2011

(2) Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz,  “Figure Skating Clubs Getting Social.”  US Figure Skating website.  Retrieved October 16, 2012. <>

A “Pink Hat” Perspective


Since the Red Sox and Bruins are not playing I instead offer my current four favorite social media tools.  I have become a fan of these because I am very visual, I love “easy”. and I do not have a ton of extra time.

The first two are visual, Instagram and Screenr.  Instagram gives people a way to connect around images.  Businesses use it as a “softer marketing” tool capturing the essence of brands and the companies – rather than blatantly advertising.  Companies will mix pictures of products with other “behind-the-scenes” photos which “personalize” the business.  Vineyard Vines is a great example:

Screenr falls under both my “visual” and “easy” categories.  A screencasting tool, Screenr is used for e-learning, webinars, and visual demonstrations of products.  Consumers find it much easier to watch a 5 minute demonstration (the Screenr limit) than read a manual, and support is easily targeted to whatever the “problem” is.  Companies use Screenr to be in front of the customer when it is not possible for a salesperson to be.  Examples can be found on the Screenr blog at

To the “easy” category…HubSpot.  My only pick which is not a free service, but rather a Software Suite.  Designed for small to medium sized businesses to provide sales leads and generate traffic, HubSpot has used “Inbound Marketing” successfully for itself and now shares this model with its customers.  “Inbound Marketing” was founded on the basis that traditional advertising has become less effective.(1)  One infographic showed that 86 percent of viewers skip commercials and 44 percent of recipients never open direct mail.(2)  In contrast, companies that blog have  50 percent more website visitors than those that don’t(3) and ” inbound marketing” leads cost 60 percent less on average.(3)(1)  HubSpot offers “all-in-one” services, but the great part (in my humble opinion) is they provide an easy (there’s that word again) way to design a website and then monitor who visits it, turning visitors into customers.  A 30 second analysis of a businesses current marketing can be performed at and HubSpot has LOTS of answers (Ebooks, webinars, whitepapers, etc…) for effectively marketing a business through social media.

The last tool in my 4 favs is Postling.  Again designed for small to medium sized businesses, Postling allows companies to manage all social media messages simultaneously from a single, one page “dashboard.”  A business can also schedule posts and Postling instantly updates comments made about the company’s brands.  Postling also has a very cool feature which sends alerts to the email inbox of the user, the user can then email a response, and the response is posted to all of the social media platforms the company uses.  This gives small businesses time to do what they went into business to do – spend time with customers.   Please see

(1) Basu, Dev (June 29, 2011). “Inbound marketing:  The customer finds you”.  The Globe and Mail. Retrieved February 27,2012

(2) Nakano, Chelsi (October 31, 2011).  “INFOGRAPHIC The Decline of Outbound Marketing”. CMS Wire. Retrieved February 27, 2012

(3) Leary, Brent (January 27, 2012).  “Jeanne Hopkins of HubSpot:  All Leads Are Not Created Equal”.  Small Business Trends.  Retrieved February, 29, 2012.