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Josh St. Aubin - 2:31 pm June 21, 2013

Instagram or Vine: What’s the Right Choice?

Almost immediately following Instagram’s announcement that it added video recording capabilities to its already popular app, the debate over Instagram vs. Vine started heating up. But as we listen to the arguments over which platform we should embrace and choose to evangelize to our clients, I have to ask the question, why can’t both win? After all, how many other social platforms have been declared dead when something new is offered only to continue finding success in spite of what the “experts” said?

Facebook, Google+ and Twitter have all at one point played each side of this victor becomes victim scenario, and now Vine joins the list. But each time we come to learn that each of these tools speaks to a specific audience that identifies and fills a need within a vast and very diverse space. We tend to think in absolutes, where there always has to be a single great option. The fact is that people are not absolute. They don’t come from one mold and no one thinks, acts or makes decisions the same way. Instead, the challenge needs to turn to finding the best way to use each tool to create engagement within each of these audiences. Just as developing content for Facebook and Twitter is very different, I believe we’re going to find the same to be true with Instagram and Vine. There may be some overlap, but I think there are huge advantages to be found within both channels, and I for one am very excited to see how these endeavors unfold. This doesn’t have to become the Pepsi vs. Coke, Chevy vs. Ford, Mac vs. PC, cat vs. dog debates of the past. The brands that embrace the people that truly love both will be the winners.

Josh St. Aubin - 11:42 am December 6, 2012

Social Media Isn’t a One-Night Stand

Many brands fail in the social landscape because, while customers are looking for a long-term relationship, brands are looking to score right away. In many ways, social media is the courtship phase of a new relationship. You have to focus on listening and getting to know the other person – what they’re looking for in a partner, their wants and needs. It’s understanding what they’re looking for from you, what they expect from you, to keep the relationship alive for the long run and not just what you’re willing to do today while everything is still fresh and new. It’s giving without asking for anything in return. You can’t build a solid foundation for a relationship by constantly asking for favors. You have to send flowers, open the car door and watch the occasional chick flick. You can’t just show up in a beer stained tank top with a bag of pork rinds and expect her to fall all over you.

Gary Vaynerchuk explains it as, “Everyone in social-media marketing is acting like a 19-year-old. You’re trying to close on the first transaction. Too many businesses are looking for rapid monetization from their social-media marketing efforts, acting like a hormone-induced teenage male with his prom date. Instead, take it slower.”

Although the comment that “content is king” has become very cliché, it’s still one of the most important aspects of beginning a new relationship through social media. These days, there are far too many options in the world to just settle for mediocrity. There has to be something of substance there, something that your customers can embrace or find value in, that make entering into that relationship worthwhile for them. You have to earn that “Like” or “Follow” – they’re not just going to give it to you. Personally, I check the feed to see their past history – what kind of content they have put out previously and how often they make updates. Do I find value in entering into this relationship? Believe me, your customers are doing this too.

Don’t think you can just coast after entering into this new relationship – it’s up to you to maintain it. Keep the fire stoked and the intimacy alive. Give your best, give often, listen, respond and stay active in the conversation to show you care more than you demand and you’ll be amazed at how much more willing your customers are to give back once you finally ask something of them. Learn from what they like, share and comment on, and adapt the conversation accordingly, but be genuine. Don’t be afraid to reach outside of your comfort zone and give them access to the part of your world that not everyone gets to be a part of.

To be successful in social media, you can’t monetize every click, or focus on the ROI of every impression. Understand that many people will already have preconceived notions of what you expect based on their past relationships with other brands. Maybe they’ve experienced a needy brand that bombarded them with requests or was burned by another that never listened. Be different. Don’t focus on immediate results, but remember that you’re building value, retention and a life-long relationship. Take it slow and the prize will be sweeter. These are your brand ambassadors and hopefully your life partners.

Josh St. Aubin - 8:18 pm November 13, 2012

Bing vs. Google

Google may be the dominant web search leader, but how your content is optimized for Bing matters too. ‘I’ll Google it’ has even become a common phrase in today’s culture, meaning to search or to look up certain information. Bing’s 15.7% of all web searches come in a distant second place behind Google’s 66% in the search market, but Microsoft is dedicated to closing the gap by using methods that help extend and support your brand beyond what is currently possible within Google.

In a recent campaign, Bing It On, Microsoft openly challenged Google to a head-to-head competition for search engine supremacy, where users compared any five search results and selected which results were the most relevant and ultimately, better. Bing claims that blind users chose Bing’s results over Google’s by a 2-to-1 margin. Although Bing proved to be a worthy adversary, blind taste tests will get them just so far.

Bing’s advantage lies within its ability to search and leverage people’s Facebook friends to persuade decisions and provide trusted knowledge. When friends upload recommendations and reviews online, consumers are more comfortable trusting those sources and catapult a brand’s relevance beyond any SEO or SEM initiative. This may seem trivial but this could be the most powerful feature of any search engine. When searching for vacations, cars, restaurants, virtually anything, you can either search through the list of recommendations and reviews from total strangers, or, you can see the recommendations and photos from Facebook friends whose opinions you trust.

While Google uses information from Google+ to make similar recommendations, there’s no argument that Facebook’s reach greatly surpasses it. Essentially, Bing has not only been able to qualify their own search results, but make a push to confirm a new level of legitimacy for marketers to continue investing in Facebook. In fact, this insight emphasizes the importance of becoming a good steward on Facebook and providing great content that your customers will want to engage in. After all, the more likes, posts and photos they see come up from their friends, the more at ease they will feel in making purchasing decisions resulting in greater follow through.

It’s hard to say that Bing will ever catch Google for search engine dominance; however, it does offer a different perspective on the traditional sense of search. If for nothing more, it differentiates itself as to why it’s another important tool to utilize instead of becoming another either/or choice. Maybe one day the phrase will change to, “I’ll Bing it.”

Josh St. Aubin - 3:41 pm October 15, 2012

How to decide between Apps vs. Mobile Websites

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Since the introduction of the iPhone, the debate over how to distribute content to customers through mobile devices has centered around the misconception that you have to choose between developing a native mobile app or a mobile website. The truth is, it’s not an either or battle. Mobile websites and native apps offer different benefits and serve different purposes which create better customer relationships when they work together. At the end of the day, people don’t care about the web vs. app debate; they just want to find what they’re looking for on whatever device they have in front of them.

Of course other factors do come into play with this discussion – price, timing, audience, etc., but the focus always needs to be placed on how people will experience, engage and interact regardless of the platform. App users and web users coexist not because they use both to perform the same function, but because they use each independently to solve different problems. Apps are generally used by your “heavy users” to perform definitive, more personal and reoccurring tasks, while websites are used more for generic research or quick lookups on-the-go. Simply put, doing vs. searching.

Doing vs. Searching may help to provide clarity as to why your customers need these tools, but additional questions need to be asked that help evaluate the best development and deployment strategy:

  • Why do you want or need a native app?
  • What platforms are you trying to reach?
  • How often will you make updates?
  • What is your budget?

Like any other media, mobile development is not a one-size-fits-all solution and should be structured to fit your customers’ needs and goals regardless of what device they have in front of them. Native apps provide rich media integration with a higher engagement rate, while mobile websites offer a wider reach at a lower cost. But, it’s always more important to focus on making something people can use.

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Josh St. Aubin - 6:37 pm September 24, 2012

If you want your customers to interact with your products, interact with them!

More and more brands are finding interesting and compelling ways to interact with their target audiences in this interactive world. Nestle’s Contrex bottled mineral water knew that if they wanted to more effectively reach their audience, they’d have to come up with something nobody has ever seen before.

What appeared to be a row of random pink exercise bikes in Paris turned out to be the heart of Contrex’s viral ‘My Contrexperience’ digital campaign created by the Paris-based agency, Marcel. As you can see from the video link below, intrigued women approached the bikes and began pedaling and their movement came to life to be reqarded with a sexy exhibition as well as Contrex water conveniently located next to every exercise bike.

The bottled water market today is filled with boring clichés that people no longer get excited about. Contrex’s interactive campaign targeted women with a common message: if you want to lose weight, exercise rigorously, then cool down with Contrex water. They were able to take an ordinary message and turn it into a unique, extraordinary concept.

The days of just merely seeing an ad on television or in print are over. Consumers are now expecting to be entertained, as much as interacted with, in an engaging manner. Newspapers are even moving to the digital space to better interact with their audiences and give their consumers an opportunity to better connect with the traditional media.

No brand is going to survive if they don’t step away from play-it-safe techniques and start moving towards original, creative consumer interaction. The execution and delivery proved to be a success and the video went viral.

 

 

Josh St. Aubin - 6:44 pm March 29, 2012

Schifino Lee hires Director of Digital Innovation

If the right-brain is creative thinking and the left-brain is logical thinking, then Josh St. Aubin is Schifino Lee’s cerebral cortex.

On one hand, he is a talented designer with strong visual arts skills. On the other, he’s a brilliant programmer fluent in multiple languages: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ActionScript, Flash, XML, Flex, PHP, ASP… the guy is scary-good.

“The digital landscape is in a state of constant change. Your customers want more than a website for your company. Today’s consumers spend more and more time online while engaging with multiple touch points that include social media, display, email, applications and mobile. When you utilize these new channels to their fullest potential, you capitalize on huge opportunities to connect with you customers.”

For 12 years, Josh has created innovative communications and experiences that helped build brands such as Dollar Rent A Car, Thrifty Car Rental, Transitions, Melitta, Badcock Home Furnishings and the New York Rangers.

Josh’s B.F.A. is from the International Academy of Design and Technology. He is a believer in “touch-nology,” and feels that the primary benefit of any innovation centers on its ability to connect people with experiences they love and enjoy.