Holiday Shopping Trends for Brands and Consumers

The merriest of the holiday seasons is here, and probably the one in which the retailers are looking forward to make the most of these final sales of the year.  I came across two very interesting holiday shopping trends infographics; one reveals how brands are planning to spend on social media this holiday season, and the other shows the shopping habits of us, the consumers.  It’s interesting to look at both, perhaps it will give you an idea how to target better holiday sales to your target audiences.

With more than 1.5 billion active users on Facebook and Twitter alone, social media has matured into a critical channel for retailers looking to get a big chunk of the estimated $650 billion USD that will be spent on holiday shopping this season.

According to recently released research from digital marketing platform Offerpop, 67 percent of marketers plan to increase their social media budgets this holiday season. Brands also appear to be sticking to proven social media platforms, with 92 percent of marketers saying they will spend the majority of their budget on Facebook.

However maturing social networks like Instagram are gaining interest from retailers: 73 percent of marketers say Instagram is the breakout social network of 2014.

Read this infographic to learn what a survey of 120 marketers found about holiday shopping trends for this this upcoming season:

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We found this infographic on socialmediopolis.com here.

The second infographic was made by SHIFT communications, who conducted their own holiday related research.  The results uncovered some valuable insights about generational habits during this time of year.

It turns out age is key in answering questions about how much we spend on the holidays, where we shop, and our most and least favorite aspects.  But no matter your age, research also divulges some undeniable trends.

Who knew Millennials are most likely to be big spenders? That Gen Xers are all about hanging the holiday decorations?  That Boomers, especially, hate the holiday crowds?

See the full infographic and results here:

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What Hurricane Odile Taught Me About Life and Business

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The night when hurricane Odile struck Cabo San Lucas was (so far) the worst night of my life.  The only other time I felt this frightened was during the Slovenian Independence war in 1991.  The siren has just announced air raid and we were hiding in the basement.  This night, on September 14, 2014, we were hiding in a 3 m2 bathroom with my fiancee, my dog, our computers, photo equipment, and some of the most important documents.

So many things were going through my mind that night and the following 14 days when we had no electricity, water, phone, cell phone or internet connection.  Events like this make you start seeing things in a different perspective.  I knew that in theory, but I never thought I would have to test them in real life.  Here are some of the things I realized during and after the hurricane, which I believe apply in life and business as well, not just in times of hurricane crisis.

  1. Always over-prepare.  Better be prepared more than it’s needed, than too little.  Our vacation was supposed to start on September 15, 2014, just one day after the hurricane.  We have been living in Cabo for 7 years now, and hurricane warnings until now were luckily just that – warnings.  And so we thought it will be this time as well.  That Sunday morning was surprisingly quiet, sunny, with no wind.  Just to be on the “safe” side, we went to the store to fill up our tank with gas and buy some groceries, cans and water, but we didn’t want to exaggerate, as we were about to go on vacation and didn’t want the food to go to waste.  Luckily we bought enough for one week’s supply, because the hurricane devastation got us cut off from the rest of the town for a week, and we lived off of what we had in the fridge and storage.  It happens often that we don’t prepare well for events in our life, but I believe being well prepared applies for any meetings, business negotiations, or even personal events as well.  It’s always better to be better prepared than too little.
  2. Back up all the important files and documents.  Keep your documents and important files backed up at all times.  If possible, have them stored on two or three different places, your computer, hard disk and a cloud service like Dropbox, iCloud, GoogleDocs or Evernote.  If you are a photographer, upload your files to any photo storage website (I use Photoshelter and Smugmug).  That way you can access them if they get lost or wet in the natural disaster.  Even in day to day life your computer or hard disk can brake down, get stolen or misplaced.  If your files are backed up in a cloud you can access them when needed.
  3. Protect your work equipment.  Before the hurricane hit Cabo, we were convinced we would only get some heavy rain, that’s why we put our computers and photo equipment in a safe, waterproof space.  All of our equipment survived the hurricane, and we were ready to get back to work immediately after the electricity arrived.  But, the thermo generators, with which we are now receiving the electricity, are providing an unstable power, which at the end broke down my Mac and I was forced to buy a new computer (a cost not welcome during this hurricane aftermath, when most of the economy is on halt and we would need those funds to repair the office instead…)  After this experience, we will prepare next time for the hurricane, tropical storms and vacations.  We will also:
    1. Have plastic sheets on stock to cover bookshelves.
    2. Unplug all electricity devices and store cables in a safe place as well (even though I saved my 4 GB hard disc, it doesn’t work because the cable got wet).
    3. Buy a no-brake regulator.
  4. Be a team player.  Even if you prefer working by yourself, if you are a freelancer or are your own employee.  More hands can accomplish so much more.  It was amazing to see how our community of neighbors got together after the hurricane.  Before we hardly knew our names and our relationships were based on Hola and Buenos días.  We knew more our dogs names then our own, but this misfortune bonded us together, we helped each other and looked after each other more then ever.  The best thing out of this is that we keep connected now as well, although we don’t see each other that often any more, as everyone is back to work.
  5. Lend a hand to people in need.  You never know when you’ll be the one in need of help.
  6. Over-deliver.  Always try to go the extra mile in everything you do.  Be it in business or personal relationships. In times of crises or when you will need it the most, your business partners and friends will stand by your side, understand you and support you.  I am very grateful for our clients Capella Ixtapa, Pisces Real Estate, Luxury Villa Collections, Madison Lake, Captain Tony’s, Acapulco Chairs Baja, Pink Palm Photo and other business partners and friend for all the support during the hardest times.
  7. Discover who your true friends are, and the values of people around you.  
  8. Tell people what they mean to you before it’s too late.

The hurricane aftermath was equally if not even harder.  We survived the hurricane, but the hardest struggle was to survive the following days of repair and recovery.  Cabo San Lucas and Baja California Sur are based on the tourism, and no tourists and visitors here means a stop in economic growth; and not even growth, a regular daily life is obstructed as well.  For example, because of the hurricane my client receives cancellations for vacation rentals, and thus has no money to pay my services, with that I have no money to pay my house, my bills, my cleaning lady, pilates classes, and so on; with that my cleaning lady has no money to buy groceries and the circle goes on and on.  Things are slowly turning to the better, but I believe we are still several months away from the complete recovery.  Our office is destroyed, we have windows missing, the walls are covered with plant pieces (even though we cleaned the most of it), walls and ceiling are still full of water, and we will need to do big renovations to fix that, the writing desks are ruined because of the water, bookshelves are moist and will need to be replaced…

So while trying to push forward in the most positive and optimistic way, despite facing the reality of the destruction aftermath, these are some of the things I’m trying to do every day:

  • Face the reality, acknowledge it, and see what it makes possible for me to do every day to make it better
  • Don’t get discouraged
  • Take one step at a time, and one day at a time
  • Never give up
  • Be patient, flexible and adjust to current (daily) situation
  • Support local economy
  • Strive to rebuild better, stronger and more beautiful.

Thank you all for reading this.  Stay strong.

On the photo: my home office the morning after hurricane Odile hit Cabo San Lucas.

How Content Marketing Competes with Traditional Advertising [Infographic]

There are many faces of marketing, and they are constantly changing. With the rise of social media in the last couple of years, the importance of content marketing has risen as well. Are you using it yet? Marketo did a great infographics, which encompasses a variety of statistics and other information on how content marketing is being used by companies. You might find it interesting as well:

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Source: Marketo

Pinterest Marketing Infographic

30 reasons why Pinterest will rule Social Media in 2014

Half of the year has already passed, and if you are not using Pinterest for your business yet, you are missing out.  But why should I use it?  This Pinterest marketing infographic shows 30 reasons, among them:
– 70 million users worldwide
– out of 20 million active users worldwide, 79% are from the US
– there are 2.5 billion monthly pageviews
– Pinterest attracts 1,090 visitors per minute
– International traffic in 2013 has grown 125%
– Pinterest user stays on the site for 15.8 minutes

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Source: Omnicore

Marketing Tools: PlaceIt – Free Screenshot App

I came across this really cool marketing tool, called PlaceIt – Free Screenshot App, and thought you might find it useful as well.  It allows you to create professional-looking photos of your website running on various devices.

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When you visit the website, you’ll notice that there are hundreds of different shots (stage types) to choose from; you can choose which electronic device you want your website or image to be displayed on, and what kind of setting would you like to have for it (restaurant, office, home, garden, kitchen, …).

Once you have chosen your shot, all you have to do is either upload an image or paste in the URL from the website you want to show on the screen of the device.  Within a few seconds you get a beautiful photograph, which you can download and use on your website or social media networks.

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The free version has a tiny watermark over the image, and you have an option to purchase a plan if you want high resolution photos without the watermark.

I like this tool because it allows you to present your website, blog post, an article or any other web based content in this new creative way.  The app even recognizes if your website is responsive or not, and will show it accordingly on the selected screen.

You can try it here.

WANTED: a Social Media Intern

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At LA76 Strategic Design we are looking for a Social Media Intern!

Job Description:
LA76 Strategic Design is a public relations, social media and marketing studio based in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico.  We are working with various clients and are looking for a social media & marketing intern, with the possibility to become a social media & marketing assistant.  An intern will assist in the team’s initiatives with new media on various social media platforms, blog, conduct research, assist in tracking statistics, help with generating new ideas.  He or she will participate in the team’s project planning and is encouraged to have lots of his/her own initiative and creativity for social media engagement.

The ideal candidate is bilingual (English and Spanish), entrepreneurial, communicative, passionate about social media and with analytical skills, creative, outgoing and comfortable in taking initiative in a fast-paced environment.  You should have attention to details and deadlines.

You’ll learn how a marketing agency works, how to successfully manage an online community, and the ins and outs of social media marketing.

Do you have what it takes? Here is what we’re looking for:
• You’re between 15-22 years old
• You love social media and are familiar with different social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs, etc.)
• You’re digital-savvy
• You’re creative
• You’re a strong writer and love grammar
• You’re a resourceful problem solver

Job location & specification:
This position is part time.  You will be working from home, with occasional meetings with the project leader.  In the beginning we estimate we will be needing you 1 hour per day (5 hours per week), which might increase through time, and is based on your efficiency, initiative and ability.  At the completion of the 1-month intern position, an assistant position may await the intern who shows his/her skills, desire and efficiency in thriving in the social media world.

Deadline & application:
If you are a self-motivated individual with a desire to learn everything about social media, SEO, and social media analytics, please send your resume to info@LA76.com no later than midnight of July 1st, 2014.

We look forward to working with you!

Location Marketing: Foursquare Introduces Ads for Small Businesses

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Foursquare Ads are a new kind of advertising made just for local businesses, which Foursquare introduced on October 14, 2013.  With this new offer, Foursquares offers to connect local businesses with the people nearby that are most likely to become customers.  I see them as a very useful location marketing tool for businesses like restaurants, boutiques or stores and places that want lots of walk-in traffic.

Senior Social Media Manager Caitlin Bergmann from Century 21 department stores, who have already tried Foursquare Ads said: “With Foursquare we are able to track how the ad was doing. Plus, we saw that people physically went into the store. With paid social ads in the past, I thought people saw it. It’s much better to tell a client that this person entered their store.”  See more success stories of businesses who have already used Foursquare Ads here.

foursquare-ads-dashHow Foursquare Ads work?

– Pay for actions. You only pay if someone acts on your ad – either by tapping to see your business details or by checking in at your business.
Reach people ready to buy. Make sure they visit you, not your competition — 78% of people who search locally on their phone make a purchase. (source: comScore local search usage study, 2013)
Attract customers that should be yours. Ads are shown to people nearby who are searching for something related or have been to similar places.

How do you create Foursquare Ads?

Creating a Foursquare ad is simple.  All you need to do is go to foursquare.com/ads and build your ad – by choosing a great photo of your business and either offering a special or highlighting a great customer tip.  Then you set your monthly budget and push your ad live for people nearby to see.

After your ad has gone live, you can monitor how many people have viewed it, how many have tapped on it, and how many actually came into your store.  With Foursquare Ads you know what you are paying for – real actions and real customers.

Who will see your Foursquare Ads?

Foursquare Ads targets people based on two criteria: whether a person is near your business, and if they are likely to become a customer.  They base their judgment on the likeliness of a person to become a customer based on where they’ve checked in previously (for instance, at similar places in another part of town) or because they’re searching for something related to your business (for instance, ‘pizza’ if you’re a pizza parlor).

Where will your Foursquare Ad appear?

When someone opens Foursquare on their phone, they might see an ad when they search for a specific place to go, or on the first screen if Foursquare knows they frequent similar businesses.  They will never show an ad to someone who is already at your business.

Short 36 second video where Foursquare describes how Foursquare ads work.

If you would like to implement Foursquare Ads for your business, and would like help with it, you can contact me by leaving a comment on this blog post, or by sending me an email here.

Instagram Video vs Vine: Which Mobile Video App to Use?

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Image via Techcrunch.

Shortly after Twitter launched their mobile video service Vine, Instagram introduced their Instagram Video.  While clients often ask me what is better, if they should use one, the other, or both, the answer, in short, could be: depends.  It all depends on what you want to achieve, what kind of short videos are you (or your social media manager) able to do, and on the social media strategy that you already have in place.

Here are some of the differentiators between both, Instagram Video and Vine, which might help you decide on which video app functionality to use:

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Image source: Techcrunch. Since they published the article Instagram enabled video embed and importing functionality, that’s why we corrected it with YES.

What I like about Instagram is that with 15 seconds you can create slightly longer videos, that you can add filters (although I realized that I hardly use them) and that you can import the video from your phone stream (it doesn’t have to be taken at the moment).

I think importing videos functionality has its pros and cons.  I like the importing function because sometimes it just feels better / easier to record the video with your phone’s camera.  I often take videos at the ocean and with the wind blowing too hard, the beautiful scenery becomes difficult to watch with the scratching sound of the wind – in such cases I find it useful to be able to correct the sound on my computer, and then upload to Instagram.  It would be very useful if Instagram adds a sound editor function as well.  On this point I like Viddy and Videolicious apps where you can add music to your videos from the app itself. With importing video functionality I wouldn’t like to see on my Instagram feed a flood of videos done professionally, and then uploaded to Instagram.

What I like about Vine best is its looping functionality, which can turn a 6 sec video into an endless stream of let’s say waves at the beach, sunset, fashion defile and so on. I also like it because of the creativity it encourages.  Many brands have embraced Vine with stunning, creative and fun videos, which I believe brings them closer to a new audience.

For example, Burberry, a 156 year old global fashion brand, has fully embraced Vine as part of its social media strategy, using the platform to showcase the runway show from AW13 London Fashion Week show:

LA76 Strategic Design’s Creative Director @MADianito has Vine as well, and I love how creative and fun is this post:

Which mobile video app are you using, Instagram or Vine? How do you use it? Which functionalities you like best? I look forward to hearing your comments or questions below.