Categories
Marketing

Small Businesses that Rock at Google+

Regular social media use is becoming more and more important for brands and especially for Small Businesses that Rock at Google+

Regular social media use is becoming more and more important for brands and especially for small businesses. It’s common that you’ll see a brand start using Twitter and Facebook first because they’re the most used social channels. However, many brands ignore Google+ because it is not viewed as “popular.” But, if you want your brand to succeed in the social media space, you should consider G+ one of your greatest assets.

Why use G+?

G+ allows you to join communities, interact with potential customers and share content that will help people who are researching your company learn more about your business. Not only that, but G+ is an asset for helping your business show up closer to the top in Google’s local search results and it allows customers review your company.

Now that we’ve established why we should be using G+, here are a few small businesses that you can model your page after and why we think they rock at Google+.

SPOTS

(https://plus.google.com/+spots_app/posts)

This startup is relatively new to G+, but they’re already sharing tons of great content including behind the scenes photos and what they’re up to around their area.

MixMyOwn

(https://plus.google.com/100470657984359776996/posts)

What we love about this G+ page is how they’re frequently sharing customer reviews of their product. Plus, their suggestions for mixes that include images are incredibly eye-catching.

Employee Development Systems

(https://plus.google.com/106751197598501537819/posts)

This small business didn’t skimp on sharing their story. Their about page is very detailed and gives future customers a multitude of ways to get in touch with them. They also do a great job using their page to share website content with their circles.

Nice Carvings

(https://plus.google.com/115378054378083334944/posts)

We love the attention this page gives to the business’ custom creations. They use their online real estate to showcase their work and they’ll find success in bringing in new business just by sharing what they’ve done for their customers.

Did we miss any of your favorite small businesses?

Categories
Design Services

Yahoo Challenges Traditional Branding with ’30 Days of Change’

Traditional marketing teaches that cohesive branding is crucial to public image Yahoo Challenges Traditional Branding with ’30 Days of Change’

Traditional marketing teaches that cohesive branding is crucial to public image.  Your branding defines how the outside world sees you.  Are you edgy and relevant?  Or proper and traditional?

In today’s fast paced market, many consumers will judge a company’s relevance and quality solely by how attractive their website is.  I know I do.

That’s the power of branding.

At the heart of most branding is the logo.  Big corporations pay hundreds of thousands of dollars just for their logo design.  And for good reason.  A logo is often what people remember a business by.  It is the rudder, steering the great ship of branding.  Most companies are very cautious when changing their logo.

Yahoo is not most companies.  Not anymore.

A Fading Star

Officially founded in 1995, Yahoo was one of the early stars of the internet.  For many, Yahoo was the first search engine they ever used.  With it’s wealth of features and fun loving attitude, the company’s value skyrocketed heading into the new millennium.

Then the dot com bubble burst.

Though Yahoo survived, it was severely damaged.  It’s spent over a decade now trying to retain its former glory.  Though it’s managed to have a few successes, much of its change has been mimicking other successful companies.

In the eyes of the modern generation, the Yahoo branding is associated with inferiority, failure, and irrelevancy.   When someone ends up on Yahoo, it’s probably because a Google search brought them there.

So what can Yahoo do when it’s very branding and company image are working directly against them?

30 Logos in 30 Days

Thanks to their new CEO Marissa Meyer, Yahoo has been busy during the past year, making more headlines than they have in a very long time.  While the reaction hasn’t always been positive, one thing is very clear:

Yahoo is not giving up without a fight.

Despite the numerous detractors, the company is determined to change the way the world sees them.  And if you’re trying to change your company image, why not change the branding?

But rather than simply switching over to a new logo, Yahoo decided to go a little outside of the box.  They’re switching to 30 new logos.

Over the month of August, Yahoo has been changing its logo every single day.  While keeping the company’s trademark purple, each logo has brought a different style and vibe to the webpage.

The point?  To serve as a lead in for the introduction of their permanent new logo.

While many have called it odd, gimmicky, or simply terrible branding execution, I think it’s pretty brilliant.

Why Yahoo’s 30 Logos are Winning

When companies switch their logo, there’s usually one of two different reactions.

1. People don’t notice.

2. People hate it, make fun of it, and threaten to burn everything down that bears the logo.

Yahoo can already cross number 1 off the list.  They didn’t just get people to notice their new logo.  They’ve gotten people to anticipate it.  That alone is impressive.

Whether or not the public likes the new logo remains to be seen, but it’s hard to deny the effectiveness of their approach.  I have no doubt there are many people going to Yahoo daily just to see what the logo looks like.

I know I’ve been.  While Yahoo certainly hasn’t won me over to using their services, they have my attention.  They’ve let me know that they’re trying.  In some small way, my view of the Yahoo brand has shifted.

And that has to count for something.

See all the logos here!

Is Yahoo’s strategy crazy? Brilliant? Both? Neither? What are your thoughts?

Categories
Marketing

Small Businesses that Rock at Twitter

Last week we shared our picks for small businesses that rock at Facebook. This week we’re continuing our look at small businesses on social media by exploring one channel that is often the most difficult to get started with: Twitter.

re continuing our look at small businesses on social media by exploring one channel that i Small Businesses that Rock at Twitter

While Twitter allows users to more easily connect with people who have similar passions to themselves, it gives businesses the added challenge of creating and sending their message within only 140 characters. Take a look at what these small businesses are accomplishing online and why we think they rock at Twitter.

Rock Creek

@RockCreek keeps their brand and products in mind whenever tweeting. They do an awesome job of featuring what they’re selling without being overly salesy.

16 Handles

@16Handles excels at customer engagement by reaching out to people who are tweeting about their brand and product, even if they don’t tag the brand. They also showcase a unique hashtag for customers to join their conversation.

Custom Made

@CustomMade has endless options for content sharing because they don’t have a specific niche to their business. They rein it in and focus on their site’s content and retweeting the businesses within their community.

Ring Central

@RingCentral excels at using their background image to take advantage of prime online real estate and letting their followers know how they can further connect with the brand.

Naked Pizza

@NakedPizza wins for accomplishing the task that all small businesses strive for: an overall successful Twitter campaign. This brand not only retweets their customer’s tweets but also content from authorities who have brands related to their products. They share incredible amounts of images and run contests that keep their customers coming back.

What do you think of our list? Are any of your favorite small businesses on Twitter? Let us know what they’re doing to connect with their followers in the comments below.

(Make sure you take a second to follow us on Twitter, too, @RadiateDigital)

Categories
blogging Inside Radiate Digital Tech and Software

The Mac Experience: First Impressions of My First Mac

 of my experience of switching over from a PC to a Mac The Mac Experience: First Impressions of My First Mac (photo credit: Martin Gommel)

(This is part 2 of my experience of switching over from a PC to a Mac.  To read the introduction, click here)

Once you go Mac, you never go back.  That’s what they say.

Being a bleeding heart PC user (and a bit of a skeptic in general), I had my doubts. I didn’t expect to hate using a Mac.  I simply doubted that I would be swayed from my preference of Windows.

I have to say though, Apple makes a great first impression.

Opening Pandora’s Beautiful Box

The packaging for my iMac was quite impressive.  Folding open it’s trapezoid-esque box, I was greeted by a three-piece Styrofoam construct.  Nestled securely in the top was a thin rectangular box which held the wireless aluminum keyboard and mouse.

The keyboard lacked a number pad, which I didn’t mind because I never use the number pad.  The mouse, known as the “Magic Mouse”, features no visible buttons and at first glance, appears to fall in line with Apple’s traditional (and nonsensical) one button pointing devices.

It would eventually become one of my favorites pieces (but more on that later).

Finally, the rectangle box held a very lovely dust cloth with a subtle Apple logo in the corner.  Now that I had the accessories unboxed, it was time for the main event.

Sliding the Styrofoam off piece by piece, I made my way to the still shielded iMac.  Between the clear plastic wrapping around the base and the cloth-like screen cover that fit perfectly around the rest, I had no doubts that my computer wouldn’t have so much as a smudge on it.

Like a bride that remains veiled until the pronouncement of her marriage, this Mac had been saved for me, and me alone.  I felt obligated to handle it as delicately as possible as I removed the rest of the wrapping.  A few minutes later, the all-in-one unit sat before, ready to be used.

Its simplicity serves it well.  I was surprised at how thin it was.  Even for a computer with no disk drive, it seemed remarkably compact.  And with only a power cord to plug in, the computer left my desk feeling surprisingly clutter free.

So far, the Mac and I were off to a good start.  I was ready to turn it on.

Let There Be Light and Sound and Stuff

With a push of the practically hidden power button, the screen flashed a blazing white light as its unseen speakers let out the infamous Apple “startup chime”.  Am I the only one that thinks of Jurassic Park every time I hear that?  Anyway, the mouse and keyboard quickly synced up with the system, giving me the ability to finish the setup.  The rest of the process was very painless and took about half as much time as unboxing the computer did.  Before I knew it, I was greeted by the default OS background and the beauty of the Retina display.

Beauty and the Beastly External Monitor

I quickly went about installing my go-to programs including Drive, Chrome, and most importantly, Spotify.  Installing a program on a Mac feels more like installing an app on my phone than it does installing a program on, say, Windows.

By that I mean I felt very removed from the process as a whole (which I had mixed feelings about).  I also don’t really get the purpose of dragging the icon into the “Applications” folder, but whatever.  I had my programs and everything worked fine.  Time to plug in the external monitor.

First I had to plug the HDMI cable into the thunder adapter, which then plugged into the Mac.  Apple and its proprietary ports.  Why my four-year-old HP laptop has an HDMI port and my brand new iMac doesn’t, I’ll never understand.

Anyway, I turned on the monitor to discover that it looked like garbage.  The background image was fuzzy, text was blurry and almost unreadable in spots.  Sitting next to the Mac’s Retina display only made it worse.  I was very confused because I had just had this monitor running off my laptop the day before, and it looked glorious.

Fixing Blurry Image and Text on a Mac’s External Monitor

To make a long story short, apparently the latest Mac-OS thinks that quite a few monitors are TVs and sends them the wrong video single.  To correct this, I had to download a script, use terminal to run the script, create an override folder, force my Mac to show me my system files, and place the override folder into the system files.

Seeing as I don’t know Mac infrastructure at all (it’s like they try to hide everything from you), I had to look up how to do every step along the way.  If you find yourself with a similar issue, this is what I used to fix it (click here).

I ended up fixing this issue for everyone else in the office too.  Is it weird that I, the resident PC guy, had to fix our offices Mac problem?  A little.  But I least I learned a lot along the way.

And that was basically my first experience with my own Mac.  We got along pretty well, but I’m not sure I’m ready to hold hands and stuff.  Once everything was running, it just felt like a computer.  Sure, the layout is different, and it has this dumb “command key”, but otherwise it felt pretty familiar.

I would imagine it’s comparable to driving in Europe where you’re on the left side of the road and everything is metric. I suppose I can handle that.

Comeback for the final Mac Experience post where I layout my full list of Mac Pros and Cons.

Did you expect a bigger reaction? Should I have started bowing down before my iMac? Does the Apple startup chime make you think of Jurassic Park?

Categories
Marketing

Small Businesses that Rock at Facebook

Everyone wants to know the key to success for a business page to thrive on Facebook. Truth is, there’s no one way that’s right or wrong. Different tactics will work for different types of businesses.

So, even if you post the exact same content as your biggest competition is posting (which we don’t recommend doing in the first place) chances are you won’t have the same outcome, because your audiences will differ. In the end it’s all about connecting with your target market in a way that will not only reach them, but pull them in for further engagement.

While there is no algorithm for success, there are specific actions you can take towards using a Facebook business page to its fullest potential. Here’s our list of small businesses that rock at Facebook and a peek into what they’re doing to connect with their customers.

Brendan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant (facebook.com/brendansirish)

Everyone wants to know the key to success for a business page to thrive on Facebook Small Businesses that Rock at Facebook

Brendan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant in Camarillo, California uses their fan page as a way to post information about upcoming events, share images of their food and drinks, and also their culture. One way this small business stands out above the rest is by sharing customer stories. They do this as a way to highlight their loyal customers and really treat them like they’re part of the Brendan’s family.

Dog Pack Snacks (facebook.com/DogPackSnacks)

Everyone wants to know the key to success for a business page to thrive on Facebook Small Businesses that Rock at Facebook

Dog Pack Snacks is a company that sells snacks for dogs that are healthy and made with wholesome ingredients. They use their company page to connect with dog lovers by sharing information about their products, fun dog owner quotes and pictures of dogs in need of rescue. In addition, this brand stands out by utilizing Facebook’s applications to give users a way to order products quickly and sign up for exclusive deals and promotions.

Primp Boutique (facebook.com/PrimpBoutique)

Everyone wants to know the key to success for a business page to thrive on Facebook Small Businesses that Rock at Facebook

Primp is a women’s retail clothing boutique with three locations in the Twin Cities metro. They use Facebook as a way to promote their products and interact with their customers. Primp’s image posts are better than the rest because their stylists post new outfits and trends a few times daily. Each style post includes which store carries those specific pieces, so their customers know exactly where to go to get it. Plus, they do a great job of answering customer questions regarding sizes and even offer to hold items for interested fans.

Piggies and Paws (facebook.com/PiggiesandPaws)

Everyone wants to know the key to success for a business page to thrive on Facebook Small Businesses that Rock at Facebook

Piggies and Paws uses their Facebook page to engage with current, future and returning customers who are interested in their product. They pair their customers with artists that create art prints of children’s hands and feet. Due to the unique nature of their employees and customers being spread out across the country, they use Facebook as a tool for helping their customers stay informed. Fans can use their applications to find an artist near them or subscribe to their email newsletter. Another way they stand out is by sharing videos that highlight their products and explain the process of working with their artists.

Kitchen Cabinet Kings (facebook.com/KitchenCabinetKings)

Everyone wants to know the key to success for a business page to thrive on Facebook Small Businesses that Rock at Facebook

Kitchen Cabinet Kings uses Facebook with an all around branding perspective that showcases their business as royalty. They use a cartoon King as their mascot and a castle icon for their landing page. What stands out about this is customers will attribute their brand with fun and think that a kitchen renovation will be fun, too.

What do you think of our list? Did we miss any of your favorite small businesses on Facebook? Let us know in the comments!

(And, make sure to connect with the Radiate Digital team on Facebook, too!)

Categories
blogging Inside Radiate Digital Tech and Software

The Life and Times of a PC User: The Mac Experience

   It was one of those square shaped beige boxes that lay horizontally beneath the monitor The Life and Times of a PC User: The Mac Experience

I remember my family’s first computer.  It was one of those square shaped beige boxes that lay horizontally beneath the monitor.  It had no sound, no disk drive, a very limited color palate and ran on Windows 3.1.

While I certainly enjoyed my time of playing Chips Challenge and the original Duke Nukem whilst also drawing away with all the 256 colors that Microsoft Paint offered, I realized very quickly that the abilities of this computer box were a bit limited.

It wasn’t until our second computer we received a few years later that my eyes were opened to the wonders of a PC.  Since my parents knew almost nothing about computers, it was up to me to figure out how to use the thing.

To push its capabilities.

To fix the thing when I broke it.

Even with no internet, I spent countless hours exploring and gaming.  And this was all made possible thanks to an operating system called Windows 95.  We didn’t have Windows 95 for too long however.

Soon we upgraded to Windows 98.

I remember how excited I was.  It had everything I had come to love in 95 but with faster speeds and a sharper interface.  Naturally I was the one to install it.  In retrospect, this process took forever, but at the time, I didn’t care.  I could stare into the depths of the Windows 98 install screen for an eternity.

My joy for the PC had reached a new peak.  Things were starting to get serious.  It was time to make my first personal investment into the family computer.  I bought a brand new graphics card.

With the power of this card and Windows 98, I could run games with true 3D hardware acceleration.

Oh the places we’ll go, I thought to myself.

As the years progressed, Windows and I went all sorts of places.  I was surrounded by it.  My family had a Windows computer.  My mom used a Windows computer at work.  My high school used Windows computers.  My friends all had Windows computers.

It was on these various computers that I became exposed to the internet and to Adobe Photoshop, that I spent hours typing in Microsoft Word and chatting on MSN Messenger.

When I graduated from high school, the time came for me to by my very own PC.  To me, my first computer was arguably more exciting than my first car.  But as much as I loved this first computer of mine, I still wanted more.  Eventually, I would go on to build my own Windows desktop computer by hand.

Today, I have my Windows desktop (which I assembled myself), my Windows laptop, and am currently in the process of assembling a third PC out of spare parts I’ve collected.

And I share all of this to establish a simple fact:

I am a PC.

But this past week at the Radiate Digital offices, something happened.  See, all of us employees received these shiny, brand news computers to work from.  They’re sleek, compact, and the displays are down right gorgeous.  There’s just one problem…

They’re Apple iMacs.

The Macintosh: A Distant Acquaintance

  It was one of those square shaped beige boxes that lay horizontally beneath the monitor The Life and Times of a PC User: The Mac Experience

mwahahahaha

I’ll be frank; my exposure to the Mac is quite limited.  In middle school, we had what was known as the “Mac lab”.  This computer lab consisted of all Apple Power PCs that were truly awful.

They were slow, froze constantly, and ran Netscape, a browser that was so awful, it made Internet Explorer look good.  Using these piles of technological excrement was a chore and everyone in our school despised them.

I realize that it’s a little unfair to judge Macs based on that experience, but people judge Windows by their experiences on outdated $300 eMachines, so it balances out.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had more and more friends purchase Apple products.  I’ve used them from time to time, respecting their design while despising little differences like the “command key”.

And it’s not like I never considered buying a Mac.  But ultimately, I found them to be too expensive and a little too incompatible with programs I regularly used (mostly games).  I could do everything I wanted on my PC for less money and I didn’t have to relearn how to use a computer.

Many have tried to persuade me otherwise.

“But PCs breakdown and fall part and get viruses and stuff.”

I’ve had very little trouble with my PCs in the past.  In fact, my laptop ran for 4 years on it’s original Windows install.

But Macs NEVER have problems.”

I’ve known plenty of Mac users who have had hardware issues, software issues, and of course, compatibility issues.

But now the time has come where choice has been removed.  Now, I am using a Mac nearly everyday.  In fact, I’m writing this blog post on it right now.  So what do I think?  Am I forever changed?  Can an iMac with Retina Display win over the most devoted of PC users?

You’ll have to come back here to find out!  Join me on The Mac Experience, here at the Radiate Digital blog.

Are you a Mac or a PC? Does a person really have to be one or the other?

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