Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy, Healthy, and Fun New Year

The Most Popular Blog Posts of 2013

As 2012 comes to a close, let’s take a look back at the year’s most popular blog posts. The topics range from telling your brand story to embracing new technologies to engaging your employees. I hope these articles will help you become an employer of choice and attract top talent — and avoid some of the biggest social media mistakes. 

Here are the BrandeBlog’s six most-read posts of 2013.

Employer Branding: Recruiters Help You Tell the Right Story\
One of the biggest recruiting trends of 2014 is employer branding: the promise your company makes to its employees. And one of the biggest trends in marketing is brand storytelling: the use of content and experiences to bring your brand to life. Combining these trends can bring a powerful presence to your talent acquisition. Here’s how to do it.

How to Become an Employer of Choice
A recent Gallup study found that only 47% of American workers are completely satisfied with their jobs. A MarketTools study found that 21% of employees had applied to another job in the past six months. Clearly, many employees are ready to look elsewhere for the next step in their careers. To attract the best of these workers — and make your current employees stay with you, follow these steps to become an employer of choice. 

Create Goodwill for Your Small Business with Community Involvement
For any small business to succeed, it must build goodwill with the surrounding community. You can have Facebook fans or catalogue customers all over the world, placing orders by phone and email, but if locals aren’t walking in the door, you’re doomed. Branding your business as a “hometown hero” can make a huge impression on your customer base and serve as an important differentiator in the marketplace.

One question that gets asked in every employer branding workshop we hold is, “Where does our employer brand fit with our corporate brand?” Some companies create an employer brand slogan that lives only within recruiting or HR. That’s often against best practice, as it has no bearing on a true employer value proposition. A strong EVP is based on the unique elements of your culture and workplace, resonates with the people you would like more of, and integrates with the same value proposition to your consumer base. Integrating the two brands isn’t always easy, but it’s crucial to success.


Social Media PR Disasters: Applebee’s Wild Night

If it’s true that you can learn more from failure than from success, then there’s a lot to learn from Applebee’s mysterious midnight meltdown. After the restaurant chain’s controversial firing of a waitress, critics took to Applebee’s Facebook page to complain. In the early hours of Saturday, February 2, someone from Applebee’s tried to fight back. What happened next is a perfect example of what not to do in a PR crisis.

Recruiting with Google Glass
Google’s new wearable technology may change recruiting forever. Why? Because, as the economy improves and the competition for talent increases, Google Glass will allow organizations to show a job listing and a corporate culture instead of telling. From talent acquisition to employer branding, here’s how this amazing visual device can be used to engage job-seekers in several new and exciting ways.

What do these posts’ popularity tell us? That there a lot of people with an interest in  and a need for  social media trends, marketing, and branding. As it so happens, they are also specialties of ours! 

Want to be more popular to job-seekers, employees, and customer? Put Brandemix on your to-do list for 2014.


Thanks for reading and happy holidays.

How to Conduct a Social Media Competitive Analysis – For Free

It’s important for every business to conduct a competitive analysis to find their niche in the marketplace. But how do you analyze your competition on social media? How can you compare a big brand on Facebook to a small brand on Twitter? 

The good news is that you can conduct a fairly thorough competitive analysis using sites and tools that are completely free. Here’s how:

Basic Social Media Metrics 
First, see if your competitor promotes their social channels on their website and their blog — if they even have a blog.  There’s a big difference between tiny icons at the bottom of a website and big “Follow us” buttons at the top.  

Then, look at their social profiles to see how many likes they have on Facebook, how many followers they have on Twitter, etc. These raw numbers alone don’t tell the whole story, but they’ll be crucial to determining other statistics. 

A great place to start is Wildfire‘s Who’s Winning in Social feature, which lets you compare follower growth of three brands (including your own) on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ over a range of time, from the last seven days to the last two years. 

Wildfire’s “Who’s Winning in Social” interactive app




Simply Measured offers a number of free reports aimed at specific social channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram, with Pinterest coming soon. For Twitter, the report tells you how influential your followers are, the top keywords in your followers’ profiles, and even a breakdown of followers by time zone.

A few social channels themselves offer free information on your competitors. Facebook lets you create “interest lists” that allow you to see your competitors’ latest content and what type of content is resonating with their followers — in real time. Be sure to set your lists to “private” so your competitors won’t know you’re watching them!

Content Metrics
Now you know your competitor’s numbers, so it’s time to determine what type of content they’re posting. You can start with a quick scan of their feeds. Many brands start with text and links. More advanced brands add photos and videos. Expert brands also post polls, contests, and games. 

For a deeper analysis, you can use Infinigraph to see what type of content your competitor is posting, along with the most common days (and time of day) to post different forms of content.  You’ll not only discover a competitor’s content strategy, but you may find that different content is posted on different sites; for example, food and design photos do very well on Pinterest.

Engagement Metrics
Lots of followers is good, strong content is great, but how is your competitor’s audience actually responding? Engagement is really the most important metric of all.

Rival IQ shows your competitor’s content within the last 90 days, sorting the content by the type of engagement per each post.

Rival IQ’s “Competitive Landscape” feature












Why is this important? Take Twitter. When someone favorites a brand’s tweet, only the brand sees it; but when someone retweets a tweet, that person is actually sharing the content with all their followers. Pinterest and Facebook make similar distinctions between approving a post and actually distributing it.

It’s also very useful to see the tone of engagement. Is your competitor posting a lot on Facebook…because they’re responding to numerous customer complaints on their timeline? Are followers associating the competitor with good things or bad things? SocialMention lets you see the ratio of positive comments to negative ones

Putting It All Together
Armed with this information, you can determine what types of content generate the best types of engagement for your competitors and learn what opportunities you have to stand out from the crowd.

Did you find a social media opportunity but aren’t sure how to exploit it? Brandemix has a great deal of experience in social media marketing, branding, and recruiting. Contact us and we’ll work together to put your findings to good use.

What Do The Biggest Recruiting Breakthroughs of 2013 Mean for 2014?

It has been a big year for recruiting and employer branding. Employer
are now reaching job-seekers through “SoMoClo” — social media, mobile
device, and the cloud. New technology, new services, and new
philosophies are re-shaping the recruiting world.

So how will the breakthroughs of 2013 shape recruiting in 2014? Here’s a rundown of some trends you should be watching. 

Gamification
Another evolving technology is gamification, adding game mechanics to a non-game activity, like recruiting. Marriott got the ball rolling with an awareness campaign, and a few other companies have used aspects of gaming in their recruiting. The trend took another step when the French postal service created a game for orientation and onboarding: it simulated getting up in the morning, eating breakfast, and dressing for work, along with mail sorting and delivery. It’s only a matter of time before a bold employer fuses all these concepts together and turns the entire hiring process into a game. Who will it be?

Mobile
A recent LinkedIn survey shows that job-seekers have moved their searches to mobile devices: 72% of active job-seekers and 62% of passive candidates say they’ve visited a company’s mobile site to learn about careers. But the survey also found that only 13% of companies have “invested adequately in making
their recruiting process mobile-friendly.” If you’re using social media in your recruiting campaign, keep in mind that many social sites are visited from a mobile device: a
ccording to Microsoft, 50% of Twitter users access that network through a phone or tablet. I expect all these numbers to increase in 2014. Is your company ready for mobile recruiting?

Google Glass
As I recently pointed out,
Google’s new wearable technology, launched this year, has the potential
to revolutionize recruitment videos. There’s nothing more powerful to a
candidate than showing them what a day working for a company is really
like; Google Glass lets them virtually experience it. But that’s not
all. Google Glass can show candidates the recruiter’s point of view
— literally! This can greatly help them prepare for the application
and interview process. CEO’s can also wear the device and shoot videos
of their working days, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the corner
office that employees and job-seekers now only dream of.

Vine/Instagram video
Speaking of video, two new short-form services launched in 2013. Twitter
introduced Vine in January; Instagram added a video component six months
later. For any recruiters using social media (which is most of them), these simple formats have opened up a whole world of video possibilities. With only a few seconds, very limited editing, and no graphics or effects, even a recruiter who has never made a movie in her life can now create tiny works of art and share them with job-seekers on numerous social channels. So far, I’ve been inspired by Manifest Digital and Aviary on Vine, and VMware on Instagram.

These trends shaped 2013 and will certainly influence 2014. At Brandemix, we’re keeping close tabs on these emerging concepts and are adding them to our campaigns. If you’d like to know more about gamification, mobile recruiting, Google Glass, or short-form videos, drop me a line.

Behind the Scenes of Designing an Annual Report

‘Tis the season for…annual reports! Brandemix’s resident expert on the subject is Creative Director Clarissa Zorr, an award-winning designer with more than 10 years of experience. She’s also a member of AIGA, the professional association for design. Today, we turn the blog over to her to get her thoughts on how to create a compelling and honest annual report.

The Crazy Season
Every year, publicly traded companies are required by law to present their shareholders with a report on corporate performance. The exact date varies from state to state, but it’s always around tax time. Companies often start creating the report during the fourth quarter. The final financial statistics don’t come until close to the end, and you can’t really design the charts or graphs until they do, making November through April the “crazy season” for people like me. 

Starting Off Right
Like any project, I start by listening to the client so I can develop the message they want to convey to investors. Sometimes I read transcripts from the annual shareholders meeting, where I look for emerging themes in the company president’s address.

The format of an annual report can go in any direction. Some companies talk about their pipeline and look to the future after a bad year. Some brag about their recent accomplishments. The interior of the “book” will vary depending on the story the company wants to tell. 

What Makes a Great Annual Report
What makes an annual report successful is transparency. All companies have bad years. How do you keep your investors during the tough times? People often want to get rid of bad stock. But a financially sound company will have a plan for a bad year if, say, a drug didn’t get approved or a merger didn’t work out. The shareholders deserve honesty and it’s the agency’s job to convey that. Of course, there are ways of being transparent while still giving the story a theme or framing information in a certain way. The company wants investors to know that though it was a tough year, but the company still has a long-term plan for success. 

How Annual Report Design Affects Storytelling
Whatever the report’s concept is, we’re going to tell it with design. That includes photography, illustration, typography, and charts. These all must come together to tell that story clearly. It used to be that all annual reports were physical books, but within the last 10 years, some states have allowed online versions. Interacting with screens instead of paper certainly affects the design and the reader experience as well as the cost. For companies that preach sustainability, not printing hundreds of thousands of books is essential. 

An annual report chart created by Brandemix


New Trends in Annual Report Design
As long as the investors have access to mandatory 10-K tax documents, the report can take any form. I’ve had clients whose annual report was little more than a video; they told their whole story on a website with almost no text.

An even more intriguing idea is the use of social media as a way to communicate with investors and share financial information. That concept is a little too advanced for some investors (and even some companies), but it’s definitely a trend. And I understand why: it’s transparent. It’s the same sort of open dialogue that companies use when talking to consumers or job-seekers on social media. The message to investors may be different than the one given to customers, but it’s still truthful.

How Brandemix Can Help
We partner with top international firms that specialize in investor relations. They handle all the regulations, which lets us focus on strategy, design, and execution. 

And there can be a lot of execution. Taking the video route, for example, requires shooting, editing, graphics, and music. Often the board members must sit for an annual photograph, which can be logistically challenging for such busy individuals. The sheer amount of writing that must be done can also be daunting. This is why some companies turn to agencies like Brandemix.

The Best Annual Reports
There are actually awards for the best annual reports! IR Global Rankings determines the best reports based on “extensive technical proprietary research of publicly traded companies through a clear and transparent methodology.” IRGR looks at annual reports from a technical perspective. They ask, Are you being transparent? Are you being forthcoming? Are you giving investors the information they really need? It’s all about the quality of communications.

I was on the team that IRGR honored as one of the top global annual reports in 2010.

If you’d like to learn more about annual reports, write to me. Or view some of Brandemix’s design work on our website.