IMC Brand Review: Forever 21, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie

This week we’ve been tasked with picking three brands that each have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and at least one other social media account and evaluating their integrated marketing communications strategies. I’ve selected Forever 21, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.

Forever 21

This Los-Angeles-based clothing retailer utilizes an integrated marketing communications approach. On each of its social networks, which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and Youtube, Forever 21 uses its logo as its profile picture. On all of its pages, except for Pinterest, the company uses the same cover photo. While the company’s logo is not visibly present on its webpage, the company name, “Forever 21,” is largely displayed in its traditional font on the center of the top of the page. The brand also uses consistent imaging on its store shopping bags, gift cards and billboard ads. As far as messaging is concerned, the brand uses the same tagline for both its Facebook and Twitter pages, “Satisfying your craving for fashion.” What it posts on Facebook, it also posts on Twitter and Google+.

Forever 21 Logo and Cover Photo

Forever 21 is extremely active on each of its social networks. The brand posts on its Facebook page an average of 2-4 times per day, on its Twitter page an average of 2-3 times per day, on its Google+ page an average of twice a day and on its Instagram page at least once a day. The brand posts at least 2 videos a month to its YouTube page and has 54 Pinterest boards.

So far this summer, Forever21 has been actively using #SummerForever and #F21XMe every time it posts a picture of items from its summer collection. These hashtags were actually part of a recent Pinterest contest the company held. When not using these hashtags in its posts, the brand used other hashtags to describe what was in the picture it posted, such as #PeasantTops. The brand uses the majority of its hashtags on its Google+ page. Each post features a hashtag to describe what’s being shown in the picture, such as #activewear and #style.

Forever21.com features social media buttons at the bottom of its website to drive traffic to its social networks. It also has a link to its Twitter account on its Pinterest page.

 Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters logo

This Philadelphia-based clothing retailer also utilizes an integrated marketing communications approach. Urban Outfitters has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Vimeo, YouTube and Tumblr. It is extremely consistent on its social networking sites, especially in terms of the frequency of its posts and the images it posts.

Monday through Friday, Urban Outfitters posts to its Facebook page four times a day. On weekends, it posts three times a day. The brand posts to its Twitter page multiple times a day and is really good about replying to its fans tweets. Urban Outfitters does not post to its Google+ page every day. (The brand last posted three days ago). However, when it does, it posts extremely eye-catching images and uses hashtags to describe what is being shown in the picture, such as #summersale #urbanrenewal and #hats. It posts a picture on its Instagram page about four or five times a day and maintains an up-to-date Pinterest page. The brand’s two most recent boards are called “Endless Summer” and #FestBest, right in time for the summer music festival season. Urban Outfitter’s presence on Vimeo varies from posting once a month to posting every few months. On YouTube, however, the brand posts videos about twice a month. Finally, the brand posts to Tumblr about two to three times a day.

The brand uses its company logo as its profile picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr and Vimeo. The images Urban Outfitters posts to it social media profiles are all of a similar look; however, I noticed that the brand reserves its artsier images for Tumblr and Instagram, which doesn’t surprise me, as both of these platforms are a less traditional than Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

For the most part, Urban Outfitters does not utilize hashtags as much as it should, which surprises me. Hashtags are frequently found on its Google+ and page but are rarely found on Facebook and Twitter posts.While using Facebook hashtags aren’t as popular or common hashtags on Twitter or Google+, I think the company could benefit from including a few of them in its posts.

Urban Outfitters Tweet

 

Anthropologie

Anthropologie logo

Like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, which happens to be owned by Urban Outfitters, Inc., relies on an integrated marketing communications approach. The brand maintains a consistent presence on its social media networks, which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr and Youtube, by using the same profile picture throughout. The brand has 58 boards on Pinterest, the most recent of which is called “Love to Wear” Summer.” Although it does a great job of providing its fans with eye-catching images. Anthropologie, in my opinion, does not have as active of a Facebook presence as it should. The brand only posts twice a day on weekdays and once on weekends. Hashtags, such as #TuesdayShoesday are only used occasionally. Anthropologie is much better about posting to its Twitter page. There, the company posts about four to five times per day and utilizes more hashtags than it does when posting to its Facebook fan page. Instagram posts are made twice a day. Google+ posts are less frequent while YouTube posts are made about twice a month.

I feel that Anthropologie also has a consistent use of imaging and messaging. All of the images give off a very laidback vibe. Anthropologie drives traffic to its social media networks through its social media buttons located at the bottom of its webpage.

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I Eat, Sleep and Drink Pop Culture

E! Pop of culture

Ever since I could remember, I’ve had a fascination with the entertainment world. As a journalism major during my undergraduate years, I always had the dream of working for E! in some way, shape or form. Now, with several years of work experience under my belt and a master’s degree in mass communication and social media in the works, I believe I would be a great entertainment reporter for E!.

Growing up listening to the greats like Larry King and getting to witness the talents of my generation, like Ryan Seacrest and Mario Lopez, I’ve been able to understand what it takes to be a good interviewer and how to really engage your audience.

Ryan Seacrest

I’ve admired Ryan Seacrest’s work ethic as someone who rose in the ranks from morning radio host to entertainment reporter to primetime TV show host to E! producer. I actually had the fortune of meeting him while I was interning for The Miami Herald and covering the American Idol auditions in Orlando, Fla. back in 2009 (See picture below). Ryan’s interview with Selena Gomez last year where he played ping pong with her while asking her questions showed how relating to your guest can make a world of difference. I am proud to say that my work ethic is one of my strengths. No matter how many hours it takes, I am willing to put forth as much effort as I can to get the job done.

Ryan Seacrest

Larry King

Larry King is the master of tough interviews. To me, he represents what it means to keep composure no matter how tough your guest is. His 2010 interview with the eccentric Lady Gaga was one of the most memorable ones for me. While most reporters would’ve had a tough time with her since she never gets out of “character,” the 79-year-old reporter kept his composure. Larry has always been a professional, and I, too, have learned that professionalism should be above all else when interviewing someone.

Mario Lopez

And finally, Mario Lopez, one of America’s sweethearts. He has come a long way from his days as Slater on “Saved By the Bell.” Mario’s likability and professionalism have carried him far in this field. Like Mario, I, too, have been told by everyone I’ve interviewed that I am easy to talk to and very relatable.

Why hire me?

Since graduating from the University of Florida, I have expanded my horizons and worked in public relations, social media, sales, marketing and SEO. I am versatile and learn quickly. And throughout the years, my love of pop culture has remained unchanged.

If you like what you’ve heard so far and are eager to find out more, feel free to check out the Pinterest board I made all about E! News. And when you’re done there, feel free to add me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Instagram: A Social Network and a Content Community

Ben & Jerry's Capture Euphoria

Instagram has greatly evolved from when it first launched in 2010 as a mobile photo-sharing platform. In March of this year, it was reported that Instagram had reached 200 million active users. “Meet Content” writer Georgy Cohen attributes Instagram’s success to the fact that it allows users to combine personal moments, real-time publishing and community, all of which are extremely powerful for crafting successful content. As Stephanie Frasco mentions in her recent “Social Media Today” article , Instagram is more than just a mobile photo-sharing and editing platform, it’s a great way to build community. “Instagram users want their pictures seen.  They want them liked. And they want you to comment on them. By liking and commenting on Instagrammers’ posts, you’ll see them return the favor,” she said.

Instagram’s use of hashtags makes it easy for both users and brands to like and comment on those photos that interest/pertain to them. For instance, if you’re trying to target fashion bloggers, you might want to try #ootd. If you’re trying to target people who frequent outdoor music festivals, you might want to try typing #coachella, #ultramusicfestival or even #edm, just to name a few. Through hashtags, Instagram makes it easy for people to connect with others who share similar interests, even though they likely have never met these people before. Utilizing hashtags and keywords that represent your brand will allow others to find your photos and possibly even repost them for their followers to see.

Many brands have also used contests and question-and-answer sessions to increase user engagement. ABC Family’s hit show, “Pretty Little Liars” selects a “liar of the week” to feature on its Instagram page. To enter, users simply visit the Pumped for PLL app and show off their selfie. The show then selects one of its fans’ pictures to feature on its Instagram. Ben & Jerry’s ran a successful Instagram contest last year called “Capture Euphoria,” in which it asked its Instagram followers to “use #captureeuphoria to share photos that best depicted the exhilarated feeling that comes from eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.” Ben & Jerry’s featured the winning images in custom-made ads with a shout-out to the original Instagrammer. Celebrities conduct question-and-answer sessions on Instagram to better connect with their fans. They’ll choose a few select questions and answer them either through a post or through a video. Those lucky few who get chosen are likely to share their excitement via other social networks as well.

Instagram is both a social network and a content community. It allows both brands and users to tell a compelling story through photos, engage their followers and post their photos to other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. The key to having a successful Instagram is, of course, original content.

Blog Review: Reality Rocks, The Sartorialist and Perez Hilton

Reality Rocks

Reality Rocks is a blog featured in Yahoo! Music. It combines writer “Lyndsey Parker’s pop-culture passions, music and reality TV, for coverage on American IdolThe Voice and more.” I would consider this blog to be semi-professional, even though it’s affiliated with a major company like Yahoo! because Lyndsey adds her own opinions to each of her posts. In a professional blog, such as Mashable, the author would leave his or her opinions out of the posts. The purpose of Reality Rocks is to inform and entertain readers. What makes it unique is that Lyndsey focuses on the topic of reality TV. While there are other writers out there who write about TV and the entertainment industry, she is one of the few I’ve seen who solely focuses on this topic while adding some humor to it.

Yahoo! is known for creating “highly personalized experiences that keep its users connected to the things that matters most, across devices and around the world.” Its homepage always features the latest celebrity news, so Lyndsey’s blog suits the brand perfectly. People visit the blog to find out what Lyndsey thinks about a particular reality TV show topic. For example, Lyndsey will write a blog post the same night that an American Idol episode airs, so people will read her blog to determine who they should be voting for.

Based on the bullet points from this week’s lecture, I would say that Reality Rocks is a successful blog. On average, Lyndsey publishes new content on her blog about two to three times per week and also makes sure her content is original and fresh. Lyndsey is active on Twitter and has included social sharing buttons at the top of each blog post.

My one criticism of her blog would be that it doesn’t let you subscribe. It seems to just allow you to save a particular post or click on the “more like this” button so that Yahoo! will show you posts that are similar to these in the future.

The only advertisers I saw on the blog site were Zulily, Metro PCS, Simply Measured and Instant Checkmate.

Reality Rocks

The Sartorialist 

The Sartorialist is a recreational fashion blog created by Scott Schuman in New York. Scott is dedicated to taking pictures of people in New York who are wearing something that catches his eye. “He describes his philosophy as trying to echo how fashion designers looked at what they saw on the street: ‘I thought I could shoot people on the street the way designers looked at people and get and give inspiration to lots of people in the process.'”

What makes this blog unique is its use of photos instead of content to get its point across and the fact that Scott is considered by many to have “pioneered fashion photography in blog form.” I believe these photos stay true to the overall brand because they all contain people dressed in very unique outfits. Actually, I believe these pictures are what keep drawing people to this blog site. (Think Humans of New York, only less writing and more photography). Overall, I think people visit this site to explore the latest fashion trends and to check out the cool photography.

The Sartorialist is a successful blog because it includes social sharing buttons such as Facebook, Twitter and email; fresh, original content is published almost every day, except for Saturday and Sunday; and it makes it very easy for readers to subscribe to the blog. Aside from this blog, Scott Schuman’s work has been featured in GQVogue ItaliaVogue Paris, and Interview. There are no advertisers on the site.

To improve its blog, I think The Sartorialist should include a sentence or two as the caption for each picture it posts in its blog. I think readers want to know more about the people in the photographs, what they’re wearing and where they might be able to buy something similar.

The Sartorialist

 

Perez Hilton

PerezHilton.com is a semi-professional pop culture blog. Created by American blogger and TV personality Perez Hilton, this blog is known for covering celebrity gossip. Perez is also known for posting tabloid photographs over which he has added his own captions or “doodles.” Perez Hilton takes a very casual, humoristic approach to blogging, and that’s why people love reading the posts on this blog so much. (Think TMZ, only it’s even more informal). Perezhilton.com really reflects Perez Hilton as a person. He is known for his extremely outgoing personality, for outing alleged closeted celebrities and for feuds with such celebrities as Lady Gaga and Ke$ha.

Perez Hilton

 

While Perez’s Hilton’s blog content tends to be very controversial, I would say that his blog is successful based on the bulleted points in this week’s lecture. Each post has multiple social sharing buttons; the blog itself has links to all of Perez Hilton’s personal social media accounts; and new, fresh, original content is posted multiple times a day. Each post not only contains text but also an image to go along with it. The blog features such advertisements as ModCloth and Camry.

To improve this blog, I would suggest that Perez Hilton exercise better judgement in what material gets posted. While everything he posts is quite humorous, I find that it isn’t always the most accurate. Successful blogs should strive for accuracy as often as possible.

Victoria’s Secret Has Its Marketing Strategy Down Pat

Last week, I analyzed Victoria’s Secret’s (VS) use of integrated marketing both on-site and off-site. This week, I’m going to take a closer look at the company’s use of push and pull marketing techniques. Push marketing, also known as marketer-initiated communication, takes place when a company initiates a marketing dialog with its customers or prospective customers. Examples of push marketing techniques include chat windows, pop ups, emails, text message alerts and RSS feeds. Pull marketing, or consumer-initiated communication, takes place when consumers begin the engagement with a company. It’s about answering the questions that people are asking. Some examples of pull marketing techniques include a sponsored story on Facebook, a banner ad, SEO and a sign-up button to receive texts and emails.

Push and Pull techniques On-Site

  • When you click on the Help button at the top of victoriassecret.com, you have the option of either live chatting with a customer service associate, calling the company customer service line directly or emailing the VS customer service team. All are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
  • While Victoria’s Secret sells plenty of full-priced merchandise, the company makes sure its homepage is filled with eye-catching sale announcements to lure in current and prospective customers. Full-priced items are left for the site’s interior pages.
  • There are three separate locations on the website for customers to register for the company’s opt-in email list. VS sends daily emails to its loyal customers alerting them of upcoming and current in-store and online promotions. Customers can also subscribe to the Victoria’s Secret catalogue on the website.
  • When you click on VS All Access, you’ll be given exclusive access to all things Victoria’s Secret, including TV commercials, in-depth coverage of the Angels and announcements of special events and new store openings.
  • You can download the Victoria’s Secret app for iPad and iPhone “to watch the hottest videos, scroll through the most recent behind-the-scene snapshots or explore cutting-edge trends” says Sharen Jester Turney, the president and CEO of Victoria’s Secret.
  • PINK, Victoria’s Secret’s sub-brand focused on introducing 15-22 year olds to Victoria’s Secret, also utilizes push and pull marketing techniques. Through PINK Nation, the brand’s loyalty reward program, customers can opt in for exclusive offers via text messages or emails. And, to top it all off, there’s a PINK Nation app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Did you know that more than 3 million PINK girls have these apps?

Victoria's Secret PINK Nation

 

Push and Pull Techniques Offsite

  • Victoria’s Secret constantly runs ads on Google AdWords. By simply typing in Victoria’s Secret into Google, an ad will pop up.

Victoria's Secret Google AdWords

  • Victoria’s Secret has done a great job with its SEO. For instance, if you type in “panties,” VS comes up as No. 1; if you type in “women’s panties,” VS comes up as No. 3; and if you type in “bras,” VS comes up as No. 1. With so much competition in the lingerie and underwear industries, this is quite an impressive feat.
  • Victoria’s Secret is active on the following social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. According to a 2012 article, VS has such a successful Facebook page because it uses it to direct traffic to its main site as well as its Twitter and Pinterest, thereby increasing its ROI.

Additional Marketing Strategies

  • Victoria’s Secret’s website is updated daily. With so many sales going on for both VS and PINK, the company really has no choice but to be on top of removing any expired sales promotions, out-of-stock items or last season products.

Victoria's Secret Sale Promo

 

  • Victoria’s Secret doesn’t maintain a blog through WordPress or Tumblr, but when you visit the VS All Access section of its site, you’ll find mini blog entries detailing the company’s latest news, updates and events, in addition to behind-the scenes interviews, videos and photo shoots featuring its Angels, or supermodels.
  • Victoriassecret.com is mobile friendly, which as we’ve learned so far, is a necessity nowadays since smartphones and tablets have become so prevalent. Today’s consumers don’t want to have to pinch or zoom in to get to what they’re looking for. The VS mobile website is user friendly and contains the same information you would find on the desktop version of its website.

Victoria's Secret Mobile Version

  • As I previously mentioned, Victoria’s Secret is extremely active on/has social share buttons for the following social networks, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. The company also has share buttons on the bottom of each of its VS All Access blog posts.

Room for improvement?

No company is perfect, but I have to admit that, in terms of marketing, Victoria’s Secret is as close to perfect as you can get. My only suggestion to them would be to include a blend of both full-price and sale-price ads on its homepage. That way, the company can condition its target audience to buy both new, full-price items as well as sale items. Having a homepage that only advertises current sales makes VS come across as a discount lingerie retailer, which is far from what is actually is. Other than that, I think the company has a great IMC plan in place.

 

Victoria’s Secret Lies in Its Social Media

Victoria’s Secret serves as a great example of the dos of integrated advertising, or combining several different media channels and tools under one big idea in order to produce a greater experience for the consumer. The largest American retailer of lingerie has an extremely active online and offline presence. But Victoria’s Secret’s marketing success is not new. During Q1 of last year, Expion, a social media management company, ranked Victoria’s Secret in the top 10 retailers in social media. The company utilizes victoriasecret.com, sends daily emails and maintains accounts with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram to build excitement around new collections and events such as the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. It also relies on more traditional forms of advertising, such as TV, print, billboards and direct mail.

Online Advertising

Victoriasecret.com

Victoriasecret.com has a global Alexa ranking of 1,481. It ranks as the 499th most popular website in the U.S. The site is very easy to navigate and contains many large, high-quality images of models showcasing the latest items. It maintains a consistent color scheme of pink, black, white and gray throughout. Besides the eye-catching photos of its models, what immediately draws people to the site is the fact that the first image is always promoting a current sale that its having. Who doesn’t love a good deal?!

Email Blasts

I signed up to receive daily email promotions from Victoria’s Secret about a year ago. While I don’t always get the chance to take advantage of them, I find the company’s choice of images in its email blasts as well as the email subject lines to be extremely engaging. Through these emails campaigns, the company does a great job of making women look and feel beautiful and making sure its customers are aware of current in-store and online promotions.

Victoria's Secret Email Campaign

Facebook: 25,300,751 likes 

Last year’s Expion study found that Victoria’s Secret and fellow social media powerhouse Walmart were posting on Facebook about twice as often as other brands. The week of 5/25/14 Victoria’s Secret received as many as 37,600 likes on one of its posts. The company posts approximately two to three eye-catching photos a day of gorgeous models, new products and current promotions. It also does a great job of utilizing its Facebook to handle customer questions and issues.

Victoria's Secret Facebook Comment Highest

Twitter: 3.97 million followers

The company has an extremely active presence on Twitter, posting to its profile an average of three to four times a day. What I like most about its Twitter is that it answers as many of its customers’ tweets as it possibly can, regardless of whether the customer has a complaint, a question or is simply stating that they recently purchased a product from the retailer.

Victoria's Secret Twitter Customer Service

YouTube: 462,349 subscribers

The Victoria’s Secret YouTube channel features more than 425 videos, including behind-the-scenes footage, TV commercials and exclusive interviews with the Victoria’s Secret Angels.

Pinterest: 181,350 followers

Victoria’s Secret’s Pinterest has 25 boards and 4,170 pins. It posts the same images it already does on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, plus so many more. If you ever wanted to get an inside look at every model and product photo imaginable, this is the place to do so.

Victoria's Secret Pinterest

Instagram: 4,534,152 followers

As of today, Victoria’s Secret has posted 1,267 photos to its Instagram. Almost every photo has more than 100,000 likes. The company averages between two and three posts a day that feature its models, also known as Angels, product shots and even some videos. The Victoria’s Secret Angels each have their own Instagrams, so loyal Victoria’s Secret customers have the option to follow them as well.

Victoria's Secret Instagram Cover Photo

Offline Advertising

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

Victoria’s Secret utilizes this annual fashion show to promote and market its goods in high-profile settings. Last year, 9.71 million people tuned in to view the TV special that featured the current roster of Victoria’s Secret Angels modeling high-end lingerie.

Victoria’s Secret Angels

One of Victoria’s Secret’s greatest marketing strategies has been to heavily promote its models. Victoria’s Secret’s models, known as “Angels,” are a major part of the brand’s image, appearing in the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, catalogs, stores and advertisements. The website features a “VS All Access” section for learning more about the group, which includes Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio. Unlike other retailers, Victoria’s Secret wants its customers to really get to know the women who are modeling its products.

Victoria's Secret Angels

But wait…there’s more

Victoria’s Secret also utilizes print, billboard and TV advertisements to promote its brand. Loyal customers can expect to receive notifications of product promotions via direct mail and see advertisements strategically placed in their favorite magazines. Victoria’s Secret is also known for buying billboard advertising in key locations, such as on the side of buses, and in high-traffic areas, such as Time Square.

VICTORIA'S SECRET using Showcase in Chicago

Overall, Victoria’s Secret’s integrated marketing communications strategy is top notch. It is both consistent and engaging.