Blog - Page 3 of 27 - Rock, Paper, Scissors

Posted 07 Jul 2017

Brand Perception & Economic Development: Janus Forum Family Feud

We had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 2017 Janus Forum in Rabun County, Georgia in May 2017. The Janus Forum is a program of the Janus Institute, and we were asked to give a presentation at this year’s event. Rather than just stand up and lecture, we wanted to truly show the value of branding and how it relates to economic development. Our goal was to start a conversation that would inspire participants to put themselves in the shoes of the people who live in the communities they are trying to build up. We wanted participants to have fun and walk away with a refreshed perspective, which led us to create a Family Feud-style game, as we knew it would be a fun experience and generate great conversations!

To prepare for the game, we sent out a survey to a selection of both individuals that work in the field of economic development as well as related fields, such as site selection and elected officials. We also surveyed our connections within the general public so we could gather information on how people that do not work in the field understand economic development.

We had the group split into two teams or “families” and had each choose a captain that would start the game off. As we began reviewing the rules, it was obvious who of these nationally renowned economic developers had their own little Family Feud guilty pleasure. For those of you not familiar with the rules: the host reads the question and the first person to hit their buzzer would have three seconds to answer. The team with the highest ranking answer would have the opportunity to pass to the other team or play. If they chose to play, the rest of the team members would take turns guessing the answers. If they guessed three wrong answers, the other team would have one chance to guess and if they guessed correctly, they won that round. The team with the most winning rounds wins the game.

economic development

Branding & Economic Development

We started the game with questions that lead to discussions on the importance of community branding in economic development. As expected, economic developers and those working in related fields feel that community branding is extremely important to economic development. With that baseline understanding, we moved on to what the public understand about branding and economic development.

For our survey, we asked consumers to give us their thoughts on the importance of branding for businesses, as well as how brand names affect their decision making process. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being least important and 10 being most important, the majority of survey respondents rated the importance of branding for businesses between as an 8, 9, or 10. Similarly, the majority of our respondents said that up to 75% of their decisions are based on brand names. No big surprise there.

economic development

What Does Economic Development Mean?

Interestingly, when surveyed about what they think “economic development” means, the respondents from the general public gave varied answers. We got some great answers that included some of the elements of economic development, such as:

  • Improving the quality of life and standard of living and average wages for people in the community
  • The act of bringing and retaining businesses within a specific geographic area
  • Promoting a destination/city/state to businesses, tourists and other investors
  • Marketing to attract revenue
  • Creating jobs
  • The development of the economy
  • Creating interest in a particular community based on items such as tax rate, skilled workforce, social services, arts and recreation, etc.

However, the majority of our survey respondents indicated that they had no idea what economic development is, and even though they feel this way, the majority also indicated that they felt branding is significantly important for communities. As we shared these answers with the group, they shared that they sometimes have trouble even explaining what economic development is to others. The more we discussed this, the more we all realized there is a great need for a solid elevator pitch for economic developers to use when explaining what they do and how it impacts a community at large.

From this, we can also see that there is an opportunity for those working in the field of economic development to get to know the communities they serve. This will help them better understand the perspective of the residents in these communities and allow them to better explain the value their services can provide, even breaking it down in a way that will showcase the benefits of economic development on a community and personal level.

 

Brand Loyalty & Millennials

If people really do make the majority of their decisions based on a particular brand, it’s likely that they use the same process to choose which community they would like to live in. When you think about decision making based on brands, there is always a buzz about what the Millennials think. In fact, this had been a topic of conversation at the Janus Forum the previous day, so we adjusted our game a little so that we could have a deeper conversation about this generation and how branding drives their choices. This was especially important to include since younger economic development professionals are a group that the Janus Institute would like to build more connections with, and because they are currently at a stage of life where they are establishing their careers, starting families, and looking for a places to live, work, and put down their roots.

This demographic tangent sent us in search of the facts. According to a past report from Inc. Magazine, Millennials are the most brand loyal group out there. With that information at hand, we wanted to discuss which brands Millennials spend their money with. The University of Alabama recently conducted a survey aimed at identifying brands that Millennials are most loyal to when making purchase decisions. According to the survey results, the top eight brands Millennials are most loyal to are:

  1. Nike
  2. Apple
  3. Target
  4. Amazon
  5. Coca-Cola
  6. Lulu Lemon
  7. Starbucks
  8. Victoria’s Secret

economic development

As we revealed the answers to the group, some were surprised to learn that these were the top ranking brands, due in part to some viewing Millennials being very loyal to smaller brands and entrepreneurs that sell their goods in local shops and websites like Etsy. Perhaps the biggest surprise was Amazon because most people viewed it as more of a curator of goods rather than a brand itself.

 

Perspective is Everything!

Overall, the game allowed us all to take a step back and remember that perspective is everything no matter what industry you’re in, and that’s why it’s important for economic development professionals to learn about the communities they are working with and the perspectives of the residents as they work toward making these communities the best places to live, work, and play.

Posted 27 Jun 2017

Your Brand Is ________

I know what you’re thinking – what a loaded statement. There’s no black and white, one word adjective that would cover the depth of what you’ve envisioned and what has been established. We get it. But what about four, across the board, concrete descriptions of what your brand should be?

brand story

Your brand is your story.

It’s this unique atmosphere that your products or services carry everywhere they go in hopes that people will notice. Your brand should instantly communicate ‘hey, we really care about making your experience with us the most enjoyable and helpful that it can be’. Do people recognize that something different is in the air when face to face with your products, services, staff? Do you ever wonder if you’re telling a good story?

brand conversation

Your brand is a conversation.

You and your prospective clients are constantly talking it out. You’re dating, in a sense, and communication is key. In an ideal world, they already know that you are trustworthy, always looking to their best interest, and thinking about them often. But let’s say they don’t. How are you communicating that to them? How are you showing them how invested you are?

brand

Your brand is refined.

You’ve cut out the excess. You are comfortable with the bare minimum because you know that any unnecessary extra would take away from what your brand already has going for it. You know that your brand is most valuable at it’s purest form.

brand

You’re brand is sustainable.

Or it’s not. It’s really important to know which side of that line you fall on. Are you constantly reevaluating your vision? Or are you simply redirecting to better routes? You’re still in good shape if it’s the latter, because your brand should be as agile as it is sustainable.

Your brand is your story. You better make it a good one.

Posted 22 May 2017
live tweeting

Tips for Live Tweeting at an Event

Whether you’re hosting an event or attending an event, one of the quickest ways to get information to your audience is to live tweet. Twitter is the perfect platform because it’s easy to join conversations and interact in real time. To help you make the most of your live tweeting endeavors, we’ve compiled a list of tips.

 

Be Prepared

It’s hard to prepare for something that hasn’t happened yet, and especially for a live event, but there are somethings you can do to make the process a little easier for yourself. It all begins with doing your homework in advance. Following are some items you’ll want to know and consider in advance of the event.

  • Know the names and Twitter handles of anyone that will be speaking at the event, and tag them when you share any of their talking points with your audience. Attribution is important!
  • Do your best to familiarize yourself with the topic(s). A little reading on the topic right before the event can help you more accurately refer to the speakers and/or topics while tweeting in the moment.
  • Consider who you are tweeting as. If you’re tweeting as yourself, you can add in touches of your personality and expertise. If you’re tweeting on behalf of your organization, keep your tweets factual and consider tweeting less often.
  • Think about your audience. If your tweets are targeted toward event attendees, you may want to include reactions to what the speaker has to say over quotes and paraphrases of their content. If your audience is individuals that can’t be at the event, you’ll want to stick to sharing what the speaker is saying, and perhaps include some of your own reactions.


Hashtags Are Everything!

If there’s one thing to know about Twitter, it’s that hashtags help add your content to current conversations on a given topic. Furthermore, tweets with hashtags are 16% more likely to be retweeted. With that in mind, be sure to do the following:

  • Know the official event #hashtag. For example, there were multiple hashtags in use surrounding the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, but the official hashtag was #Rio2016. Follow the event’s Twitter account and you’ll quickly find the appropriate hashtag to use.
  • Use the hashtag consistently as you’re live tweeting. That means using it in each post and keeping a close eye on your character count to ensure you have enough space to include the hashtag with each post.
  • Use the event hashtag to see what other’s are posting about. This will allow you to see what is resonating with others in attendance that might be of interest to your audience and worth retweeting.
  • Also use hashtags related to the topic or industry when appropriate. This can help other people interested in these topics or industry join the conversation. Be sure do a little research on the current trending hashtags so you can make your tweets count by incorporating them.

Another added benefit of using hashtags is that you’ll maximize your 140 characters. Just remember to only use hashtags that are relevant and make sense. If you use too many hashtags, your content may be viewed as “hashtag spamming.

 

A few other tips to keep in mind include:

  • Add pictures or videos to your tweets when you can. Tweets with pictures have a 35% increase in retweets, while those with video have a 28% increase in retweets.
  • Make sure your tweets will be valuable to followers that aren’t at the event. For example, when you do post a photo, make sure your tweet has some context to it, such as a quote or a link for more info, instead of just the speaker’s name and event hashtag. Tweets should include a mix of information that is educational, entertaining (when appropriate), and useful.
  • Tweet quotes and key points or “takeaways” from the speakers and tag them so they are given proper credit.
  • Don’t use the event hashtag with non-conference related tweets. It looks spammy and is too self-promotional.
  • Don’t tweet everything! You don’t want to overwhelm your followers, and you also don’t want to tweet something that wouldn’t be of interest.
  • Follow up after the event! Use the tweets with key points or quotes to write a summary blog post, reach out to new connections and share their recap posts if you think it will be of value to your audience, and continue the conversations – there’s a good chance the main event hashtag will stick around for a few weeks after the event.
  • Don’t tweet information that shouldn’t be shared with the public. If you aren’t sure, err on the side of caution and don’t tweet it.

Hopefully these tips will help you feel more confident when the opportunity for live tweeting comes up. As always, we welcome your questions so feel free to reach out to us!

Posted 10 May 2017

The Perfect Pairing: SEO & Google Analytics

If you missed our recent webinar on SEO and Google Analytics, check out our recap below or watch the recording at the bottom of this post!

SEO & google analyticsHow many times have you opened up Google to search for a place to eat or find a particular product or service you need recently? If you’re like many others, you use Google or another search engine on a regular basis to find what you need. But how many times have you gotten results that weren’t relevant? It’s frustrating. Now, think about whether your own customers may have experienced the same before they found you. That’s why it’s important to know what SEO and Google Analytics are and how using each can help you improve your site for your audience, as well as your search engine ranking.

SEO & Google Analytics

 

So what is SEO? SEO, or search engine optimization, is defined by Yoast as “the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or another search engine’s – search results.” SEO focuses on organic, or non-paid, results. There are quite a few things you can do to improve your website’s SEO, which we’ll cover later on. Before we get to that, there’s one thing we want you to keep in mind: SEO is a lot like eating a healthy diet. You don’t automatically lose 50 pounds. It’s a slow process that will pay dividends if you are persistent.

SEO & google analytics

The core of best practices for SEO hasn’t changed in over 10+ years that we have been talking about it. However, that’s not to say that Google algorithms haven’t changed. They typically change because people are trying to find a shortcut for getting results. Some of the things people have attempted in the past include:

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How does Google pull the results when people search for a certain word or phrase? The simple explanation is that Google will look for new content with those keywords and phrases, as well as people coming to your site in order to determine how you rank.

SEO & Google analytics

 

With that in mind, there are some SEO best practices you’ll want to keep in mind as you optimize your site in order to see improvement in your search engine ranking:

  • Regularly update your website to make sure it is current. It’s never “done.”
    SEO & Google analytics
  • Create new content that your audience wants to hear that is relevant to the work you are doing. Some examples of content that tend to work well include answering frequently asked questions, helping your audience solve a problem, and sharing important or helpful news, among others. 
  • Make sure keywords have been added to page titles, descriptions, headings and content, image titles, and image alt text.
    SEO & Google analytics

This brings us to Google Analytics. As a reminder, Google Analytics is a free service that can help you keep track of what’s happening on your site. It’s especially helpful for measuring if your SEO is working by providing the following information:

  • Site Traffic: This is the number of visitors and visits your website receives. We recommend comparing the current month to the previous month, as well as the current year to the previous year, to check for any major increases or decreases in traffic. This will help you determine what types of content on your site at those specific times were resonating with your audience and drawing in new visitors.
  • Traffic sources: As we mentioned earlier, it’s all about organic traffic when it comes to SEO. Traffic sources can include direct traffic, search engines, social media, email marketing, referral traffic, and more. Once you know what’s leading your visitors to your site, you can make adjustments accordingly. For example, if the bulk of your traffic is from social media, you might want to refocus your efforts to SEO to improve your organic traffic.
    SEO & Google analytics
  • Keywords: We can see some of the words people are typing into search engines that lead them to your site. This is a good baseline to see if your organic traffic is coming to your site based on the content and messages that are being sent out.
  • Acquisition: Acquisition doesn’t really tell you much, but it is useful in showing how much of your traffic is organic and can help you determine which online marketing tactics are best for bringing traffic to your site.
  • Page Monitoring: Page monitoring allows you to see the content pages visitors are coming to you through.


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We always recommend a good mix when it comes to content creation. You’ll want to put new content on your website for people to find you from Google, but you can help this cause out by also driving people to your website using social media, email marketing, and digital advertising, just to name a few.  Having a marketing plan in place will be extremely helpful in helping you determine your content themes and ensuring you have a nice mix for your content. To help make this a habit, create a content calendar with specific days and times for sending out your content updates.

Hopefully we have helped you better understand SEO and Google Analytics and why these are very important for understanding what drives people to your website and how to keep them coming back. As always, we welcome your questions so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

 

Posted 10 Apr 2017

Instagram: Who, What, Why, and Where Part 2

We’re back with part two of our Instagram webinar recap. Be sure to check out part one of our recap or watchthe recording below. 

Promoting Your Content

Instagram for business

As we mentioned earlier, a business account on Instagram allows you the ability to promote your content in order to reach a larger audience and potentially gain more followers. In addition to putting your content in front of more users, promoting a post gives you the ability to give a very direct call to action. Once you’ve chosen a call to action, you can select a target audience by setting a location, interests, age, and gender; or you can allow Instagram to choose for you. If you’ve linked your account to your Facebook page, you can use your default Facebook audience. Then, you can either select one of the budget options or set your own budget, as well as the duration for the promotion. Finally, you’ll get to review your order and enter  your payment method. If your account is connect to your Facebook page, your default method for Facebook should carry over so you don’t have to enter new information. Click “Promote” and you’re done.

Instagram marketing

 

Instagram Ads

So what’s the difference between a promoted post and an Instagram ad? For starters, you create ads in your Facebook ads manager settings which allows you to run the same ad on both platforms. Ads allow you to choose more specific marketing objectives in the categories of Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. Once you’ve chosen your specific objective, you choose your audience settings, placements (where you want your ads to be shown) – which can be customized or you can use the automatic settings, and then define your budget and schedule your ads.


via GIPHY

Next, you’ll choose a format for your ads such as a single image, single video, slideshow, etc., and then make sure your Instagram page is connected. After that, you add in your text and preview the post. Once everything looks good, you place your order and you’re all set.

Growing Your Audience

Instagram

When it comes to building an audience, there are several ways you can work to grow your audience. The best way is to have conversations with your audience, so respond to their comments and/or like them. Some other good tips for growing your followers include:

  • Creating a bio that accurately describes your business and explains why people should follow you, as well as what they can expect from you.
  • Following and engaging with other users that post content related to  your brand, business, or industry. Searching relevant hashtags is one of the easiest ways to do this.
  • Cross-promoting on your other social media profiles.
  • Using hashtags to help your content gain traction.
  • Running a giveaway or contest and ask followers to share about it with their followers.

Determining Success

Instagram

Now that you’ve created your profile and starting posting content, you’re probably wondering how to tell if your efforts are working. Everyone with a business account will be able to see four things about each post:

  1. Impressions – The total number of times a post has been seen.
  2. Reach – The number of unique accounts who saw the post.
  3. Engagement – The number of unique accounts that liked, saved, or commented on a post.
  4. Saved – The number of unique accounts that saved a post.

These four points can give you a good idea of the types of content your audience is interested in, but if you want even more information, you’ll want to reach 100 followers as quickly as you can. Once a business account reaches 100 followers, Instagram will allow you to see the demographic information regarding your followers in terms of location, age, and gender. Having that information in hand can help you improve your content strategy so you are producing content your audience is more likely to engage with.

We hope you feel more comfortable with the idea of using Instagram. As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, and if you are already on Instagram, you can follow us @rps123shoot!

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