Monthly Archives: May 2015

Spotify & Starbucks Team Up for an Interactive Coffee House

By: Lara Greenberg

Three months after announcing that they would no longer be selling CDs, longtime iTunes partner Starbucks announced a brand new music partnership with music streaming service Spotify. Aiming to create what is called a “music ecosystem,” Starbucks and Spotify are working together to make music more interactive and discoverable.

Starbucks, has an impressive history of introducing new artists as well as reviving old ones. Starbucks believes that by pairing with Spotify they can expand their musical footprint. Starting this fall, all Starbucks employees will be given a free Spotify Premium subscription ($10 a month), which they’ll use to select the music that will be played in stores. Customers will also be involved. You will be able to link your Spotify and My Starbucks rewards accounts so while enjoying your Pumpkin Spice Latte, you’ll be able to suggest songs for the playlist as well as give feedback on whether or not you like a certain song.

Starbucks already has over 10 million customers signed up for their loyalty program, My Starbucks Rewards, which allows customers to earn ‘Stars’ that they can redeem in the form of a free drink or free food. As a part of the deal (and as a motivation to attract new subscribers,) Spotify is paying Starbucks for the right to give Starbucks Stars to its members which can be redeemed in stores. By allowing Spotify to give out Stars, Starbucks hopes to gain more subscribers from Spotify’s base of 60 million users.

With Starbucks need for a technological upgrade and Spotify’s need for a big partner with a musical influence, it is a perfect match between the two corporations. Spotify, facing tough competition now that artists such as Taylor Swift have removed their music from the streaming platform, is in desperate need for premium subscribers. Through giveaways such as free app and free song of the week as well as the sale of CDs, Starbucks does a pretty good job of getting people to buy other things besides coffee and as part of the deal, Starbucks will promote and endorse Spotify Premium.

This is the first time Starbucks has opened up its loyalty program to a third party. Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz said, “Our long-term plan has been to create an external ecosystem with like-minded brands that will buy Starbucks stars from us and use them as a catalyst in their own business.” If it proves to be successful, i.e. attracting new, recurring, loyal customers, it will be an influential model for third party integrations.

Starbucks, which has always put music at the center of its stores, can use Spotify to fuel growth and Spotify can use Starbucks to do the same.

As a Spotify Premium and a My Starbucks Rewards subscriber, I couldn’t be happier about this new partnership. This gives people like myself an opportunity to get more out the two things they love most: coffee and music. What song will you suggest at your local Starbucks? Do you think this will be a successful partnership? As always, I welcome or comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

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Red Nose Day – May 21, 2015

By: Dallas J. Short

Are you, your friends or your office participating in Red Nose Day?

Red Nose Day is a campaign dedicated to raising money for children and young people living in poverty by simply having fun and making people laugh. The inaugural Red Nose Day will be held in the U.S. on May 21, 2015. People across the country will come together to have fun and raise funds and awareness. The day’s events will culminate in a three-hour entertainment TV special on NBC featuring the country’s favorite comedians, musicians and Hollywood stars (you can check their website or social media for the long list or just tune in and be surprised.) The TV special will showcase top comedy and entertainment live and in pre-recorded segments, hosted by David Duchovny, Seth Meyers and Jane Krakowski. It will also highlight the issues for which Red Nose Day is fundraising. Viewers will be encouraged to make donations by phone and online. The monies received will be going to 12 charities working with children and young adults in the U.S. (where half of the money is going), Africa, Asia and Latin America.

This year’s Red Nose Day in the U.K. (March 13) raised over 121 million dollars so far and the number constantly increases with donations still pouring in. I’m guessing the U.S. donations will be a lot more.

#RedNoseDay is aimed at being a fun day. Yes, you will look like a clown, but it is for a great cause. This continues the trend of raising funds and awareness through doing ridiculous things. The Ice Bucket Challenge (ALS), dancing in adult underwear (Depend’s #Underawareness), and Color Runs (multiple organizations.) It might have already been coined, but it is what I refer to as #FUNdraisers.

Red noses have been available for purchase at Walgreens & Duane Reade stores across the country. You can locate a store near you here: http://www.walgreens.com/storelocator/find.jsp. A lot of locations are sold out, but keep looking or make one of your own. M&M’s has also partnered for the campaign.

About Red Nose Day: Red Nose Day was founded by Jane Tewson and Richard Curtis (writer and director of TV and films including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually). Comic Relief UK launched on Christmas Day in 1985 with a live broadcast from a refugee camp in Sudan. It was created out of the firm belief that the power of mass media and high-profile celebrities can raise awareness of issues of poverty to change and save millions of lives. For more information or to make a donation online: http://www.rednoseday.org

If this event somehow snuck below your radar, hopefully now that you are aware, you will participate. It is never a bad day when you can have fun and help others.

Here are some ideas for this year and to help you plan better for next year’s: https://www.rednoseday.org/get-ideas

Have you held or been involved with a philanthropic event based around having fun? What are your thoughts on #FUNdraisers?

Let’s laugh and do good.

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like what you read, be social and share. I look forward to seeing lots of pictures of people with red noses.

Riding the TIDAL Wave

By: Dallas J. Short

It has been about eight weeks, since the mega star press conference that launched TIDAL and #TIDAL4ALL. “TIDAL is the first music service with high fidelity sound quality, high definition music videos and curated editorial, expertly crafted by music journalists.”

Since then, people have been already saying it’s a flop, it’s dying and hurling insults. My question, have these people actually used TIDAL or is it just fun to hate on Jay Z and wish that he finally fails at something? Seems a bit too early to be writing its tombstone. I signed up for the 30-day free trial after the launch and have recently started my paid subscription. There are a few things I would like to address about the TIDAL service.

Jay Z and TIDAL never declared war on Spotify or other subscription services. He previously stated “They don’t have to lose for me to win.” TIDAL, Spotify and others might seem similar, but there are differences.

The sound quality of TIDAL is better. For people complaining about TIDAL costing more, you can pay the same price as other subscriptions and receive the same quality. You are paying extra for the higher quality, which is extremely noticeable through good speakers. I grew up spending my allowance, lunch money and whatever money I could get on music, so paying $20 a month for the high quality version still seems like I won.

The curated playlists are more intriguing. From what inspired your favorite musician, to what your favorite athlete trains to, to what a veteran journalist has created in an audio time capsule. These are not songs randomly thrown together. I’m had playlists from Angie Martinez, Elliot Wilson and the Happy Birthday Stevie Wonder playlist on repeat. “Simply the Best” is the only thing I play at the gym.

The exclusive content, songs and videos. Taylor Swift, who has her music removed from other streaming services, is on TIDAL. Jack White streamed an intimate concert through TIDAL X. Prince, who is usually anti-industry, steamed his live concert in Baltimore. Rihanna, Beyonce and others have released music exclusively on TIDAL. There is behind the scenes of videos and tours. You can win passes to exclusive TIDAL subscriber only contests. (While working on this blog, I won tickets to a private Jay Z concert this weekend, where he will only be doing his B-Sides/less mainstream songs. That alone would cost more than my annual subscription. I created a Jay Z playlist titled “Not a Businessman.”)

TIDAL gives more royalties to the artists. Support the musicians you like, let them be able to continue to create the soundtrack for your life. Yes, I have mentioned the big names and that is what will bring most people in, but TIDAL is about the music and connecting you to the artist. There are independent and underground talent who deserve to make more money from streams.

“TIDAL Discovery is the place for the up and comer. The new kid on the block. The unsigned. The undiscovered. In partnership with PHONOFILE and Record Union, TIDAL Discovery is bringing you the new place to come together. Supported and encouraged by the biggest names in music. With TIDAL Discovery, unsigned artists can upload their original music using PHONOFILE or Record Union and be heard for the first time. The possibilities are endless.”

TIDAL Rising is a featured category below “What’s New” that emphasizes growing musicians. Users can browse by album or by track, check out Q&A’s and learn more about some of music’s more concealed talent. The roster changes and it is not locked in on one genre. TIDAL lists it as “A program dedicated to artists from around the globe who have passionate fan bases and are ready to broaden that base to a wider audience. TIDAL Rising was designed to help accelerate the exposure and give voice to tomorrow’s biggest names.”

TIDAL is not based on making the rich richer, so far, it has kept the fan and the music at the forefront. It is new, it will grow and it will make errors, just as other streaming services have. You have nothing to lose, but trying out a free subscription. I have yet to meet anyone who does not like it. I have heard people just not want to recreate their playlists from other services. TIDAL also have a way import your playlists.

I’m not a complete fanboy here. I am just a supporter of great music, hearing it as best I can, discovering new talent and artists being better compensated. Are you? Make your own decision about it.

Have you tried TIDAL yet? http://www.tidal.com

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

Building a Social Media Presence

By: MJ Pedone

As a professional trying to build your online brand or an entrepreneur starting or running your own business, this is what I would like to share with you about social media…you don’t need to do it all to do it well!

When marketing experts suggest brands create a presence on all the major platforms, which is somewhere around nine, and post content on them all several times a day, they’re not talking to you. There’s no way you’re going to be able to do that well.

Social media falls strongly into the “quality over quantity” category, especially if you’re a one-person shop and don’t have the resources to hire a social media manager. So if you’re trying to figure out how to stay on top of your social media game without making yourself crazy and keeping yourself relevant, here are four suggestions:

Plan First, Build Second

Many people rush to get their brands up on a bunch of social media platforms, only to find themselves completely overwhelmed with what to publish and when to publish it. To begin, pick one or two platforms and that’s it. Focus on figuring out how to grow a platform and once you’ve gotten that down, you can add more. To pick the right starter platforms, think about three things: where your audience is hanging out, which platforms you actually like using and which platforms support the kind of content you want to post. For example, if you were marketing your photography business, Pinterest would be the perfect platform to showcase your work, whereas Twitter may not be as effective.

Unless you’re already a pro on the platform, take a tutorial before you begin so you can get comfortable with creating a page, posting content, engaging followers and tracking your analytics. Having this knowledge will make the daily publishing and engaging feel less daunting.

Get Organized

I know many people out there cringe at the idea of an editorial calendar because of its rigidity, but this will help keep you on top of everything.

A well planned-out calendar will help you map out when you’ll be posting content, as well as where you’re getting that content. Are you writing it yourself? Curating it from other sites? Will you be-posting previous content? Once you have content regularly scheduled on your calendar, set reminders for yourself to post and engage throughout the day so you don’t get caught up with the rest of your day and forget to do this.

Leverage Your Content

While you don’t want to post the exact same content on every single platform, leveraging your best content across different platforms can seriously boost your social media efficiency. For example, if you write a blog every week, you can tweet the link to the blog on Twitter and post a related picture on Instagram and include a link to it in your caption. Now, instead of having to create three separate pieces of social media content, you’ve killed three birds with one stone.

Find Some Great Tools

When you’re working solo, you’re always fighting against time. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to successfully do your job and maintain an engaging presence on social media. The good news is, there are plenty of tools and apps that can help keep you on track. Inc. compiled a list of 60 of the best social media tools, like Hootsuite and Pocket. Most of the times, we look to experts and best practices to tell us how to engage with our community on social media. And while there’s a lot of great advice out there, if what they’re saying doesn’t resonate or doesn’t feel realistic to you, you’re never going to do it. People ask me all the time: How many times should I really be posting on my platforms? And my answer is: How many times can you realistically be posting on your platforms? Start there.

Social media, albeit time consuming, is a great way to garner brand awareness and potential business. Keep at it and don’t give up! As always, I welcome any and all comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

Royal Baby Fever

By: Gina Mason

Hear ye, hear ye! Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge arrived last Saturday and as to be expected, the world is still buzzing about her grand entrance.  After much anticipation, the news of the little bundle of joy spread quickly and social media nearly exploded with the reveal that William and Kate gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

As the #1 topic that was trending globally, people from all over the world joined in the conversation about the new princess. Here are some fun social media facts and stats about the #RoyalBaby’s arrival:

  • The tweet sent by @KensingtonRoyal announcing the birth, “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a daughter at 8:34am” was retweeted 47,000 times and favorited 42,000 times.
  • Not only did the announcement garner over a million tweets, but the conversations peaked at 4,500 tweets per minute around 11:34am according to Twitter.
  • According to the DailyMail, “Hashtracking reveals that the majority of people posting about the baby were women (61%) and the highest proportion of tweets were surprisingly sent from the U.S. (23%).
  • The announcement of Princess Charlotte’s birth topped the arrival of her big brother as she received over 1 million #RoyalBaby tweets while Prince George’s birth generated only 900,000.
  • The tweet revealing the name, “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to announce that they have named their daughter Charlotte Elizabeth Diana” was shared and favorited more than 92,980 times.
  • More than 300,000 tweets mentioning ‘Charlotte’ were made following the name confirmation.

Not only were news outlets and people everywhere posting about the #RoyalBaby, but also a number of big brands took the opportunity to chime in the baby banter on social media.  Here are a few of my favorite tweets from big brands:

The @Disney Royal Babies gave Princess Charlotte a royal welcome with this fun video clip:

disney

@BritishAirways got creative when the Princess touched down:

BA

@Nissan got the royal chariot running:

nissan

@MLB reminded us that it has Royals babies too…

MLB

@CocaCola_GB shared the love with the Royal Family:

Coke

@PizzaHutUK even had a special delivery of its own:

Pizza Hut

I loved seeing all of the baby banter that has been going on and loved that many brands used this real-time event to engage their followers.  This is a great example of brands thinking outside of their “strictly promotional” box and coming up with creative ways to stay relevant in the conversation.

To see some additional brands that posted about the #RoyalBaby, check out this article on Buzzfeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tomphillips/hashtag-engagement#.anE85Vkqx

To see some brands that had a #RoyalFail, check out this Mashable article: http://mashable.com/2013/07/23/royal-baby-real-time-marketing-brands/

Did you join in the Twitter-chatter about the #RoyalBaby? What did you think of some of the brands that joined the baby conversation?

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

We’re Still Talkin About Practice

By Dallas J. Short

May 7, 2002, a day that will forever be remembered as the greatest NBA press conference in history or least the press conference that created a timeless quotable. The date when Allen Iverson questioned “Practice? We’re talkin about practice, man.”

(Full disclosure, the Sixers are my favorite team and I believe Allen Iverson is one of the greatest players of all time.)

Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d29VsG35DQM

Thirteen years later, we’re still talking about practice. This is a quote I use on a regular basis, as recently as Monday night I used it at my kickball game. I used it in a blog a few months ago. It has taken on a whole life outside of that press conference, been parodied by comedians, referenced by other athletes, paid homage to on t-shirts and much more.

If you’re reading this, you probably have already done your Allen Iverson “practice?” impersonation out loud or replayed it in your head. So, now that we have got that out of the way, let’s talk about a few social media practices. Don’t worry, I didn’t click bait you with the Iverson story. I really wanted to talk about it, but this is, after all, a professional blog and I figured it was a good tie-in.

Here are five social media practices, which while known, often seem to slip through the cracks.

  • Questions are a great way to engage your community. It makes your fans and followers feel involved. Do not just talk at them, talk with them. Keep your questions short, simple and to the point. “Are you talking about practice?”
  • Asking for a retweet, this is a practice which I know a lot of people say they are against, but when used right, it’s effective. If you have a strong opinion or emotional photo, this could be the time to rally your troops. Use sparingly, otherwise it will be like crying wolf and will have negative effects.
  • You have a story to tell, get it out there. Make sure you sure you have options for people to share your blog posts or articles through other social media platforms. It lets your story grow outside of your own site and increases readership.
  • Your social media voice should be the voice of your company, not an employee. Define it and ride with it. If the person handling your social media ends up not working there anymore, it should not be obvious to your readers. If the ball is ever dropped, it should be able to easily and seamlessly be picked up by anyone on your team.
  • You can never take your online community for granted. You do not need to fawn over them, but you need to make sure to thank them and make them feel appreciated. They are an extension of you. Online and offline, you want them cheering on your side.

Are there any memorable sports quotes you find yourself bringing up at work? What other social media practices do you think people sometimes forget or should try to improve?

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

Yes, practice.