Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Emoji Mojo

As electronic device users of this age, there is one thing that we all know and love: emojis.
These little icons have become an alternative to words in online communication as they express emotions and even create full sentences.  And we all probably have our own favorite emoji (personally, 💃🏻). With how popular and seemingly essential emojis are, how did we ever know a digital world without them?

There has even been a popular trend of personalized emojis amongst celebrities and other big names. Some of the most well known ones include Kim Kardashian's Kimojis and Justin Bieber's Justmojis. With such distinct personalities and recognized facial expressions, these emoji keyboards are a fun way for online users to express specific feelings and reactions. 

Celebrities aren't the only ones having fun with personalized emojis. The emoji app Bitmoji allows users to create and customize their own emoji to use freely on the web. Ranging from eye and hair color to body type to clothes choices, Bitmojis offer many opportunities to make your online emoji you. This keyboard comes with many emojis expressing various emotions, holidays and occasions. This has become a popular trend over the past few years and has gained even more attention as Bitmoji and Snapchat partnered up this past year. You can now use your Bitmoji keyboard on your Snapchats and in your Snapchat chats. 

In an online world accustomed to expression through words and pictures, emojis are a fun, new alternative to communication. So if you haven't already tried it out, go create your own Bitmoji to send to your friends on text, Snapchat, and other social platforms. Because I mean, there are just some things that can only be said in emojis.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Maddie Minor- Making a Splash

There are so many people out there in the world that are extremely talented. I mean, we all know the common ice-breaker question- do you have any hidden talents? Well, with the flux of social media in today's society, those hidden talents are slowly becoming revealed. Specifically, the amazingly creative work of Maddie Minor.

Maddie is a long time friend of mine who I have always seen as a creative soul. I'm talking way back to the middle school days when it was popular to write "notes" for your friends. Over the past couple years, she began sharing some of her art on her personal social accounts, specifically Instagram. Her work was a hit with her friends and followers, and the requests for personalized pieces began rolling in. While Maddie loved giving her art as birthday and holiday gifts or just out of the goodness of her heart, people began offering to pay for her work. And a business idea was sparked.

Instagram, and social media in general, is such a unique and dynamic platform because you can use it for a variety of purposes. While you can use it for its intended purpose of expressing yourself and your life through photos, you can also use it as a foundation to start a business. That's exactly what Maddie did. This past year, Willows & Palms was born. 

Maddie now uses this Instagram account as a sort of homepage for her new brand. She has her contact information in the bio, showcases her pieces via posts, and includes purchase details in the captions. I love keeping up with her accounts to see what new products she releases and to be inspired by her work in general. While her business may just run out of Instagram for now, I can only imagine where it will take her in the future. She even already has her products on Etsy and Society 6!

Apart from being beautifully made and designed, Maddie's products also have a greater purpose as she views art as a way to express her faith and sing praises to our Maker. She also encourages self love and inspires other to feel beautiful and loved with each purchase. I have loved watching this project grow, and I can't wait to get my hands on some Willow & Palms goodies of my own.

Follow along with Maddie's journey on her personal account or brand account

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Publix Fresh Seafood Bagged Dinners: A Must Try

As a low-income college student just trying to balance making good grades, volunteerting, and staying sane and healthy, I'm always on the lookout for new, easy meal opportunities at a low cost. Thankfully, Publix has introduced a type of meal prep that is fast, healthy, and affordable. 

This new feature allows shoppers to prepare a whole fresh meal in store while avoiding preservatives and hassles of microwave dinners. The process includes choosing a fresh meat choice from the seafood section of the grocery store, then deciding on a flavor, and finally having the meal bagged and sealed in a special packaging that keeps the components fresh and can be cooked without any unwrapping or distributing.

Publix's new feature also offers a variety of flavors including Caribbean, Mediterranean, Dijon, and Sweet Chili- so there is an option for everyone! While these meals are not as cheap as a frozen pizza necessarily, they are surprisingly affordable. At around $20, you receive a fresh, flavorful meal with plenty of food to save for leftovers. This meal option is perfect for a variety of people, from families to struggling college students.

So throw out your Ramen noodles and Stouffer's and add some nutrition and variation to your diet. I'm sure you'll be hearing about this trend from friends or seeing ads pop up all over your social media. And with reason, because this is a tasty new service that everyone should be taking advantage of at their local Publix (where shopping is a pleasure). 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Periscope: A New Trend In Social Media


In today's age, there is always a new social media platform being introduced. Some become classics while some only stick around long enough to be considered trends. One of the newer channels that has caught the eye of social users over the past year is Periscope. But is this app here to stay, or just another fad?

Bought and launched by Twitter in early 2015, this new live video streaming app allows users to broadcast from their mobile app anytime, anywhere. The platform is totally interactive as it allows viewers to respond with feedback and start discussions with the broadcasters that they follow. Replay, share, and save videos from different channels including #Travel, #Music, #Food, #Art, and more.

In an evolving digital world, this new social media channel allows bloggers and other socialites to share their voice in a live, more personal way. Sound familiar? With the startup of Facebook Live, which is basically the same concept as Periscope, it seems as though this new app has been falling in popularity. Why use up space downloading a new app and remembering another username and password combo when you can accomplish the same goal on an app that you've been using for years?

So yes, Periscope is a great idea and is well executed as an app. However, the constant release of new social media platforms and the innovation and evolution of features in the already well-established channels pose a threat to Periscope. It may prove to just be a trend in the social world that has come and already gone. Try it out and decide for yourself!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pop Up Food Stands + Social Media

A popular service that has been around for the past few years is mobile food businesses. Food trucks, ice cream carts, and other pop up food stands are all around us. Here in Athens, one of the most popular mobile services is your favorite cold treat- King of Pops. However, they need to watch out because a new local dessert pop up just might be taking over the throne. 

Nedza's Waffles is a new business that serves delicious ice cream-waffle treats at various locations in Athens.  Haven't heard of it yet? One reason might be that they don't have an actual retail store. They just simply choose various locations around Athens, such as Zombie Donuts or Fuzzy's Taco Shop,  set up their tent, and serve out this modern twist on an ice cream cone.

While these type of food stands have become increasingly popular over the years, how are they so successful without a physical store space? The answer is social media. Rather than passing through downtown one day and seeing the signs for Nedza's Waffles like I have in the past with new food spots in Athens, I first learned about this business through Instagram. Then, a few weeks later, I saw one of these treats on a friend's Snapchat. This marketing tactic solidifies their target market as college students because if you don't have social media, odds are you haven't heard of this place. 

Instagram is probably the most useful platform for this business because staff members and customers can post photos of their treat and tag the location so that others know where to find Nedza's. They even instruct followers on their website to "follow us on our social media channels to stay up to date on where you can find us next!" This mobile business just goes to show how digital and social media marketing is continually being integrated into strategy design in all fields of business. 

So give them a follow and find out where Nedza's Waffles will be next. You're pretty much guaranteed to find me there as well!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trends In Festival Style

Although it all started with the OG Woodstock in 1969, music festivals have been making a comeback as a popular trend over the past few years. And what comes with event trends? Style trends. 

"Festival Style" is such a popular trend with numerous Pinterest boards and blog posts centered around the subject. Festival-goers look to celebrities and other influencers for the latest festival trends and try to mimic those looks on their own. However, what I have realized is that the festival trends definitely depend on the type of festival. 

Three years ago, I went to Coachella Music Festival in Palm Springs, California. While I was primarily there for the bands and the musical experience, I was also prioritizing my outfits. Because this festival is known as a more classy, chic event, I looked to fashion blogs and Vassnessa Hudgen's Instagram feed for inspiration. (Think flower crowns... lol.)

While Coachella is known for luxurious pool parties and best-dressed A-listers, other festivals such as Bonnaroo have a different outlook on the festival style. This festival that takes place on a farm is known for being hot and somewhat dirty. And with that mindset, festival-goers look for comfortable, yet crazy statement outfits while veering away from gladiator sandals and designer maxi dresses. 

One of the newer festivals that has grown in popularity over the past couple years is right here in our backyard: Music Midtown. This festival is interesting because it's hot, very hot. It might rain. It's not as luxurious as Palm Springs, but it's not as farm-y as Tennessee... it's Atlanta (take that as you will). So how do you dress? Where should you look for inspiration? Should you go for the chic, high class hippie look? Or more grungy, fun and crazy comfortable look? The answer is that there's no right answer- and that goes for all festivals. 

Depending on the festival, certain looks are encouraged or suggested. But the matter of the fact is that each festival-goer should dress in a way that he or she feels comfortable, confident, and expressive. The way I do it? A little bit of both. I had Vanessa-inspired hair for Day 1 and comfort and fun for Day 2. And I felt like my outfit choice each day was the best decision! So no, it might have not been street-style worthy on a prestigious fashion blog. But all I'm saying is that I'd love to see you try and find that homemade shirt with my friend's face on it anywhere in Vogue. Now that's original.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Rise Of Online Communities In Fashion Brands

With the ever changing and evolving social platforms, brands are constantly trying to find out how to differentiate themselves from their competition. Brands want to be inviting to their customers, but in a cool, attractive way. One way of achieving this goal that I have noticed a recent growth in over the past couple of years is through online communities. 

Many companies have begun an online community on their website that invites customers to share their product purchases in a fun new way. With these member profiles, users can share information about themselves (including location, style, age, and hobbies) and upload pictures of their purchases. While this is a great way for users to express themselves creatively, this is also a new approach to product reviews. Customers who are considering purchasing a product can look at other users pictures to see how the product looks on a certain skin color, body type, and certain 'style.'

The two brands that I have noticed the most success with this brand are Free People and Urban Outfitters (owned by the same company URBN). With Free People's platform, users create an account through the website where they can upload pictures, 'tag' (link) products in their pictures, and like and comment on other users uploads. This creative community allows Free People's customers to be themselves and connect with other inspiring girls like them. I myself have even taken to this online community and have found it both fun and beneficial! 

Urban Outfitters has taken a similar approach. However, instead of an online profile through the website, users can connect their Instagram account to different products to showcase their look and how they have styled different products. Using new, innovative ways to attract consumers to a brand has proven to be very successful for these brands. Users feel apart of a group or community, and this feeling of unity creates brand loyalty. So to Free People and Urban Outfitters, kudos... you're doing it right!

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Millennial's Take On Instagram Giveaways

If you're on Instagram, then there is probably a pretty good chance that you have come across some sort of giveaway contest on your feed.

Online giveaways are somewhat of a new fad for digital marketing that consist of users making some sort of action that will benefit the company hosting the giveaway for a chance to win something of value (ie product, giftcard, etc) from that company. On other platforms, some of these actions may include providing an email and/or other demographic information, sharing, pinning, or retweeting. For Instagram, these actions usually include liking, following, reposting, or tagging friends. All of these things have one common goal for the company who is hosting the giveaway: allowing more people to reach the account.

These giveaways are pretty genius. Brand accounts gain followers and popularity while users receive a chance to win a cool prize. And depending what the prize is, users may be more willing to participate. Take it from me: a loyal Instagram giveaway participant. I love the excitement of the competition and waiting for the end result to be announced. I've actually even won a few of these giveaways and have received prizes such as clothes, bags, jewelry, and planners. I love all of these gifts and now have somewhat of a loyal relationship with these brands. And if the brand is lucky, the winners will post a picture of their prize with the company's account tagged for more publicity!

While I am normally a fan of Instagram giveaways, there are some contests that just ask for too much. When a giveaway requires that a user tags 5+ friends and repost the image on their own feed with lots of tags and hashtags, this deters participants (especially if the prize is not worth all the effort). The loop giveaways are also a popular new trend that I am not that supportive of. This kind of giveaway leads users through a loop of around 10 accounts and requires that you follow/like/comment on photos from all accounts in that loop. Again, while all of those requirements benefit the individual companies involved in the giveaway, that is a lot of work for an average prize that users don't have a great chance of winning.

The matter of the fact is that Instagram is a platform for people to express themselves through pictures and gain inspiration from other accounts. While Instagram giveaways are a great opportunity for brands to gain audiences, remember that Instagram users want to maintain their own individual brand without being overwhelmed by rules and requirements from contests that are meant to be fun and enjoyable.
(But if you're giving away a million dollars, let me know, and I'll do whatever it takes!!)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Just Call Me Bloglee

Summertime is usually known as a period of freedom, adventure, and care-free attitude... until you get old.

While preparing for my senior year of college, I had to put all the shenanigans aside this past summer and do what big girls do at this age: get an internship. But I didn't want just any internship. The last thing I wanted was to sit behind a desk all day wearing a pant suit and kitten heels while marketing for a company that my values didn't align with. So I chose to intern for a business that I truly believed in.

Based here in Athens, Georgia, umano is a fashion brand on a mission to unleash kids’ creativity by showcasing a kid’s drawings as Artwork on all products/designs. With every purchase, they give a backpack full of school supplies to empower a kid. So I had found a brand whose morals resonated with my own and that was also conveniently located in my backyard. But then I had to decide what I could bring to the team.

During my phone interview, the subject of blogging came up. I mentioned that I had dabbled in a little lifestyle blogging of my own and kept up with a few brand blogs pretty regularly, but nothing of expertise. Next thing I knew, I had been hired as the new blogging intern and was now to be addressed as 'bloglee.' Big moves in Summer16.

Blogging is such a cool channel of digital marketing with a lot of potential and opportunity, yet often gets overlooked. Usually brands tend to focus on the main priorities such as their website social media. However, blogging actually appeals to a wide audience because it's almost like the posts serve as short stories. Blogs are quick and easy to read and filled with inspiration, if you do it right. I knew that as umano's blog intern, I wanted the story behind the company to be sincerely translated through all posts while simultaneously producing "on brand" lifestyle and fashion inspiration in their own voice.

To be honest, the job wasn't easy. With all the social media trend critique today, it's hard to translate authenticity through an online presence. I learned so much from this position such as:
1) Keeping a consistent brand voice on all online platforms is so so important, and not very easy. While a different person was providing content for emails, Instagram, website, Facebook, and the blog, how do you make umano seem like a real, consistent voice? That's the challenge and the goal. 

2) For many brands, the blog is not the most popular outlet. Especially with fashion brands, many audiences gravitate to Instagram because of the photo content paired with captions that are short, sweet, and to the point. Scrolling through Instagram takes far less effort than reading and committing to a blog post. So sometimes you work really hard on a post, and the statistics from the other media channels don't quite match up. That's kind of hard, yet very important and very humbling to accept.

3) Blogging opens up a world of opportunities and creative potential. There is no standard type of blog post. The directions are endless! You can feature an interview, a how-to, videos, recipes, and so many other forms of inspiration. Blogs are a great outlet to trying something new. They really are a blank (digital) canvas. This position gave me a lot of creative freedom, and I was able to experiment with my abilities. 

So I guess this summer really was a time of freedom and adventure, just in a different context this time. I'm so thankful to umano for an amazing learning and growing opportunity. And if your looking for a stylish brand with a deeper mission, check them out. They are a truly authentic brand whose #umanounion I am incredibly proud to still be apart of. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How Instagram Can Enhance Your Travels

Going into college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. But where? Didn't know. When? Didn't know. How? Really didn't know. So naturally, my first step was to literally google "UGA study abroad programs." That search basically gave me all the logistics that I needed. I knew the different cities, dates, classes, and prices offered for these programs, but how could I feel drawn to or connected with a destination by a list of information and some dated photos on a UGA website? That's where social media surprisingly took a role in my journey to the best decision of my college career.

I knew a ton of people who had studied abroad in college, so I figured why not look through their albums on Facebook to see what all they did on their trip? This eventually led me to stalking people on Instagram months and even years back to see their study abroad posts. With the advancement in technology and specifically in social media platforms today, it's super easy to get 'lost' searching. One click led to a new page, that led to a new account, that led me to a completely different city. 

The beauty of social media today is that you can pretty much find anything. Someone posts a bomb ass looking sandwich? They probably tagged the restaurant's account or at least added the location. Cute shoes that you have to have? I'm sure they tagged the brand or hashtagged the store. Easy- add it to the list! So after hours of searching a stalking hashtags, locations, and random account searches, I found so much real-life information about the cities that I was considering studying abroad in. The the end, I knew that Valencia, Spain was the place for me.

After finally deciding on a destination, I went back to the Instagram accounts of people that I knew had studied or visited this city and began making a list. I wrote down restaurants, clubs, museums, and so many other cool things that I wanted to see or do. It was so easy. This process led me to another epiphany- I can probably find other blogs or accounts based in this city from a basic Instagram search. I ended up finding Valencian food accounts, annual music and arts festival information, and cool boutiques around the city. So thanks Instagram- I owe my carefully detailed and mostly completed bucket list to you.

Discovering how easy it was to find out information about a certain city through Instagram and other social media sites has definitely affected my travels. Now when I go on a trip, I search that city or place on Instagram to find local accounts, blogs, tags, or cool locations. This is such an easy, practical and free resource to use when traveling. 

So next time you're preparing for an adventure, take to social media before a travel agent or other traveling companies. You just might come across some truly honest, authentic, and helpful recommendations that you wouldn't otherwise find. And those little spots will change your entire trip and lead you to views that you never knew existed.