Does Your Brand Speak Emoji? 😎 💬 💻

Emoji. Those cute little characters that you add to your texts and tweets are all grown up — or at least getting there. In fact, the “picture letters” have moved into the business world.

Take the above example: Chevy used emoji to launch its 2016 Cruze, and the popular auto manufacturer isn’t alone. Brands continue to get into the emoji game, tapping into the characters’ popularity and universal appeal.

With today, July 17th, being World Emoji Day, brands across the globe, large and small, are getting into the act.

Brands utilizing emoji took a big step forward when Instagram announced that you can use emoji in your hashtags. This is a great move, expanding brands’ reach and allowing them to connect with people across time zones and languages. Considering that we live in a global world today, that’s good business.

As more people and companies use emoji, the demand for a wider variety of characters grows. According to Yahoo News, 38 new emoji are set to debut in 2016. We’re excited to see new business characters, such as a handshake and clinking glasses. The latter seems so much more appropriate to celebrate a business deal than clinking beer mugs.

Our goal in the short-term is to work on incorporating more emoji into our social media, including hashtags on Instagram. We recommend that you do the same. Just remember to use appropriate emoji for what you’re trying to convey and don’t go crazy. Even these cute little characters can make your audience want to face palm, and that character isn’t available until next year.

Emoji Talk

Are you planning on incorporating emoji into your brand’s social strategy?

CCC would love to see an emoji representing a brand. What would you suggest?

What brand does a great job of utilizing emoji?

p.s. Did you know that you can use emoji on Facebook via desktop too?

Majoring in emoji,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on emoji, branding or otherwise): 
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Selfies: Awesome Advertising or Bad for Business?

Selfies tend to draw a reaction one way or the other. Some people love them while others hate them. But here’s the real question: are they awesome advertising for your brand or bad for business?

Selfies: Awesome Advertising or Bad for Business?

It depends on how you use them. For example, the above image is a selfie I took after a spring run two years ago. (Yes, I said spring, which includes snow in Northeastern Ohio.) I’ve used it a few times already for different purposes in addition to this post.

Why do I use selfies? As a small business owner, it benefits me to let customers and prospects see the face behind CCC. It allows people to put a face with a name and helps to build trust, essential for small businesses to survive and grow. When I started this journey over three years ago, my personal brand carried a lot more weight than my company’s brand because CCC was new. Utilizing selfies (and pictures of myself in general) helped me establish and promote my new company brand.

Related reading: 7 different types of selfies

Having said that, there’s a time and a place for everything. I only use selfies where it makes sense, either connecting something in the photo to my business or using the picture as an example. When I kicked this post idea around in my head, it made sense to me to use a selfie and this image immediately came to mind due to its color and layout. I’m not a huge fan of having my picture taken, so it’s taken me some time to get used to being more visible.

Related reading: 8 of the Absolute Worst Times to Take a Selfie

In addition to tapping into your personal brand and building trust with target audiences, being visible as a small business owner can also help your social media efforts. As we’ve covered before, photos with faces receive 38% more likes and 32% more comments on Instagram.^ Showing faces in your photos brings in the human emotion element, which increases engagement on any network. Snap a selfie with happy customers at your next event or meeting to show what’s happening ‘behind the scenes’ at your business.

In summary, selfies can be awesome advertising for your brand AND bad for business, depending on how you use them. Think before you post a selfie to a business (or semi-business) account. Is it appropriate to post to this account? Will your target audiences find this image insightful? If so, go ahead and showcase your self(ie), letting customers and prospects alike see the face behind the business.

Selfie Talk

What are your thoughts on selfies?

Tell us about a selfie you saw or posted that made sense.

Did it surprise you when selfie was the word of the year for 2013?

Source: ^Georgia Institute of Technology & Yahoo Labs

Hanging out behind the keyboard,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on selfies, small business or otherwise): 
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Brands: Is Looking Stupid Ever A Good Thing?

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.”                                                                      -Brendan Behan, Irish writer

Even in the constant onslaught of social media, some things stop you mid-scroll.

Here’s the kicker (no wrong sport pun intended): Hostess did this on purpose.

“The ‘Touchdown’ line was intentional; it’s fun and aimed at young audiences who are in on the running joke – which, of course, is the goalllll.” -Ellen Copaken, senior director of marketing at Hostess Brands

Huh?

As a company who helps brands with social media, we love to secure increased exposure for clients, along with achieving their other objectives. Positive exposure, we should point out. We can’t ever imagine making a brand look stupid in order to gain engagement and attention. How does that help with the big picture?

“For a few hours, Hostess achieved the all-consuming goal of social media managers everywhere: cut through the noise. Even though it had to act like an idiot to do it.” -Mashable

Along the same lines, there was a mixed reaction to JCPenney’s #TweetingWithMittens Super Bowl stunt last year. If you missed it, the retailer sent out a series of tweets filled with mistakes and typos. Most Twitter users thought that the people manning the account were intoxicated, or the account had been hacked. It turned out the company was “tweeting with mittens” to promote its status as the official supplier of Team USA’s mittens.

The company planned this strategy because Super Bowl XLVIII was held outdoors in New Jersey, and freezing temperatures were expected. Unfortunately for JCP, temps were much higher for the game, so wearing mittens didn’t make sense. However, JCPenney’s engagement went through the roof (both positive and negative), and its week-over-week mitten sales doubled.

So, here’s our question –> Does the end always justify the means?

If your brand’s engagement soars (even negative mentions), is it worth it?

Would you use a stunt that may reflect poorly on your brand in order to gain publicity?

This is a hot topic; Mashable even wrote about it. We’d love to hear your take!

Cheers,
Jaime

Tag, tweet, mention or pin us –> Join the conversation:  
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Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget Your Business

Spring is in the air! Maybe it’s the rising temperatures or longer days, but optimism abounds this time of year.

Spring is in the air! CCC can add a breath of fresh air to your communications.

Spring cleaning? Don’t forget your business! CCC would love to help you freshen up your communications.

If spring cleaning is on your to-do list, don’t forget about your business! How can you spring clean your business? Try these tips:

  • Get Organized — Go through your paper and electronic files and form a system. The point is for you to be able to find what you’re looking for quickly and efficiently. Try alphabetizing file folders or creating sub-folders to further corral all of your pictures and electronic documents. Don’t forget to back up your electronic files!
  • Review Your Online Home — Take a fresh look at your website or blog, or ask an unbiased third party to help out. What catches your eye? Is your site easy to navigate? Does the look and feel still work or is it time for a change? If you don’t have a blog, now’s a great time to start one.

Related reading: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide to SEO // Do You Mow Your Blog? // To Blog, or Not To Blog: That Is the Question

  • Get Social with a Strategy — Review your social media presences. Do you like what you see? Be honest — are you providing your community with value? Are your efforts producing the results you want? If not, step back and think about what you want to accomplish.
  • The Right Fit — While we all want to grow our businesses, sometimes downsizing can help spur growth. Are you stretched too thin on social media? All platforms aren’t the right fit for all businesses. Choose your platforms wisely to get the highest return on investment. Remember, social media isn’t free!
  • First Impressions Matter on Social Too — Your profile, profile picture and cover photo are often the first impressions that a visitor — potential customer? — has of you on social media. Make a favorable first impression! Refresh any profiles, profile pics or cover photos that need it. Note that some platforms have changed dimensions for 2015.

Related reading: Have you found your social media voice? // Should You Slim Down (on Social Media)? // What’s in a social media profile? Everything.

  • Revisit Your Customers — Take a fresh look at your customers. Are you providing the right products or services to help them achieve their objectives? Do plans or strategies need a fresh look? Is your customer still a good fit for your business? Companies and brands change, so you need to be fluid too.
  • Look in the Mirror — Look at your brand: your logo, colors, font(s), name, reason for being… everything that makes you who you are. Does it still fit? Has your brand evolved but your look and feel stayed the same? It may be time to rebrand or just refresh.
  • Freshen up Your Communications — Has your message grown stale? Are you having trouble reaching your target audience(s)? Are you sending out the same emails, newsletters and blog posts? Freshen up your content to re-energize your brand and re-engage with your customers, prospects and employees.

Related reading: Why You Should Think Like The B.A.U. // Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun // The Power of the (Red) Pen

We hope that you enjoy the related reading links, which should help you tackle some of the aforementioned business spring cleaning tasks. Or you can search the CCC blog in 3 ways: search box (upper right-hand corner), Categories and Tags (scroll down the right-hand sidebar). If you have a question about your particular project or a subject in general, just ask! We’re here to help. Not sure how we can help you? Check out a sampling of the marketing, writing and social media services we offer.

“I always find something I’ve lost when I do my spring cleaning. This year it was my mind.”  -Maxine, Hallmark character

What part of your business are you going to spring clean?

Whistling while I work,
Jaime

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A Modern Marketer (with an Old School Soul): Things I Carry

As a modern marketer with an old school soul, what kind of things do I carry?

Things I Carry

Things I carry — as a modern marketer (with an old school soul)

Staying Connected

  • Mini Tablet — This little guy keeps me connected while I’m on the go. It’s powerful enough to stream videos, manage multiple social media accounts and drive me around the World Wide Web, but small enough to fit in my bag.
  • Smartphone (not pictured) — How did we live without smartphones? The 5″ HD display brings videos, photos and messages into clear view while the lightweight and slim design is perfect for my small hands. The 4G network keeps me connected, and the 13 MP main camera takes professional pics when I need them. Late last year, I picked up a cover with a kickstand, which provides the protection I need with the slim fit I like. (The two inside pockets are perfect for your ID, credit card or business card.) UPDATE

Power Up

  • Portable Charger —  This lightweight portable charger keeps my smartphone and tablet juiced. The 2600mAh battery provides up to 12 hours of extra power, and is recharged by USB. Micro USB cord included.
  • Water Bottle — It’s amazing how much better your brain works when you’re hydrated. Make it easy to drink enough water by carrying a refillable water bottle with you. This 20 oz bottle includes an internal screen, so you can infuse your water with fruit (without plugging up your straw), and infuse your day with energy.
  • Starbucks Gold Card — Some days, it’s my sanity. As a small business owner, life can be stressful, but handcrafted espresso can make the worst day OK again. Plus, being Gold has its rewards. (I was going to include my battered Starbucks reusable cup, but this looks so much better.)

Kicking It Old School

  • Felt Tip Pen — While I love my gadgets, there’s nothing quite like putting pen to paper. Blog posts, marketing plans and social media strategy all come to life in spiral-bound notebooks with these glorious pens. And there’s something so elegant about writing with a felt tip…
  • (Paper) Business Cards — Yes, everyone’s online these days. So am I. But there’s still something about handing someone (prospect? connector? life-changer?) a physical business card. You’re giving someone a little piece of yourself, a physical reminder of your brand, the business that you’ve sweated and agonized over. It’s amazing what can come from a 3.5″ x 2″ (or thereabouts) piece of paper.
  • A Book — As a writer, I read a lot. I like to have a fiction and non-fiction book going at the same time, which helps me to tackle my two-page (and ever-growing) reading list. So far in 2015, I’ve devoured books on personal branding and entrepreneurship, the power of creativity, changing the way you think and life, love and loss. Reading is an integral part of who I am, so I always try to carry a book (or books) with me.

Odds and Ends

  • Big Red Slim Pack™ — A doctor once told me that I show 9 out of the 10 signs of becoming a chain smoker. How refreshing! So I chain-chew Big Red gum instead. Not any gum, Big Red. I love the cinnamon flavor, and fresh breath is always a good thing. The slim pack is convenient, sliding in my bag or back pocket.
  • Eyeglasses — I’m visually inspired and impaired. My glasses help me see clearly, so I can help others communicate clearly. My Tory Burch frames project a bit of professionalism, so I can play the part.
  • Sunglasses — I’m light sensitive, so I never leave the house or office without sunglasses. In fact, I keep 3 pairs sitting next to my bag, just in case.
  • Lotion — Along with the aforementioned sunglasses, I rarely am without lotion. My dry skin isn’t helped by living in Siberia half the year. So there’s always lotion — in my bag, work bag, car and all over my house.
  • Italian Roots — I’m proud of my Italian heritage, and it helps me every day. I’ve needed a thick skin, indomitable will and fighting nature to climb the ladder in corporate America, start my own business and step out of my comfort zone. And yes, I talk with my hands, so get over it. 😉

Bag It

  • Coach Travel Flight Tablet Bag — The first time I saw this bag, it was love at first sight. Whether flying around the world or around town, I have everything I need at my fingertips without being weighed down. Plus, my hands are free to tweet, message, blog or carry my espresso. And the camo? For a country girl, that’s just a little slice of heaven.


What do you carry?

Leave a list in the comments below or upload your pictures to social media and tag us!

What do you think of what I carry?

Cheers,
Jaime

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Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun

Branding. It’s all the rage, but what is it exactly? According to Merriam-Webster, branding is the promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand. Of course, there’s as many definitions of branding as there are flavors of chewing gum.

These are just a few of the brands who have connected with me.

A few of my favorite things — Starbucks espresso, Chuck Taylor shoes and Merona socks.

I’ll make it easy though. Branding is a feeling you create in people, an emotion. It’s the way that seeing a Starbucks cafe makes me smile. Sure, I’m an espresso junkie, but that’s not the only reason I love Starbucks. It’s the atmosphere in the company’s cafes, the best reward program in the industry. It’s my personal Starbucks cup, paying with my phone and earning stars, all while doing what I love — drinking espresso.

It’s the same type of connection I have with Big Red gum, New Balance running shoes, Sharpie markers, PaperMate Flair pens and so on. When I use these products, they evoke a special feeling in me. When I chew other gum or write with another brand of pen, it’s just not the same. (As a writer, I’m serious about my writing instruments!)

The Garth Brooks brand has a loyal fan here!

17 years ago, Garth put a kid from an unincorporated village 10 rows from the stage, convincing me that dreams do come true. Almost 17 years later, the love affair continues.

And then there’s Garth. It’s not just my country roots or my cowboy brother who turned me onto his music. When you go watch Garth Brooks perform, it’s an experience, not just a concert. And 17 long years ago, he signed this fan up for life with a gesture that he repeated over and over again. He took the time to look at his show from his fans’ point of view and came up with ways to make their experience even better. And this fan will never forget it.


Brand You

What are your favorite brands?

How did they make a special connection with you?

As a brand, how can you connect with customers?

Cheers,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
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6 Valuable Snippets of Career Advice I’d Tell My Younger Self

After reading some of the entries in the popular #IfIWere22 LinkedIn series, I was inspired to think about what I would tell my younger self. Hindsight is 20/20, right? So here I go…

college graduation photo

Yours truly at 22 — ready to take on the world!

6 Snippets of Career Advice I’d Give to My Younger Self

Don’t let yourself be used. Yes, it pays to be a hard worker and to chip in where you can. Some of your best opportunities may come from projects outside of your ‘job description.’ Yet, it’s not helpful to willingly work 70-80 hours a week and become a catch can for the company while others maintain an actual work-life balance. There’s nothing in the Ten Commandments about burning out before you’re 25 and routinely doing other peoples’ jobs for them.

This point also refers to regularly ‘covering’ for co-workers or even your boss while they’re sleeping in, out socializing or living their life. In group environments, you’ll always have people riding others’ coattails. Sometimes, these people promise ‘exposure,’ promotions, even raises. Unfortunately, these are often empty promises.

Start networking now! Your professional network can be a big boost to your career, but it’s up to you to build and maintain it. I’m not just talking about collecting business cards or adding connections on LinkedIn (although that’s a great place to be!). Get to know professionals in your industry, offer your help when appropriate and pick their brain. Remember to give twice as much (of your time, talents, etc.) than you receive.

Speak up. You may be the low man (or woman) on the totem pole, but don’t hesitate to chime in when appropriate. If your boss asks your opinion, speak up. As a newbie to a company or situation, you can offer a fresh perspective that veterans cannot. Besides, the simplest solution is often the best, and others may be over-thinking the project. Your superiors will notice when you routinely offer valuable insight and fresh ideas.

Speak up -- and shine like a star!

Speak up! Your insight and ideas can be just as valuable as someone twice your age.

Learn from every opportunity. You were excited to land an internship at a great company but all you’re doing is picking up coffee, making runs to the mail room and updating endless spreadsheets. First, do whatever tasks you’re assigned to the best of your ability — even making coffee runs. If you can’t handle the routine, why would anyone give you more responsibility? Look for opportunities to improve the situation — save the company money, enhance a report or bring efficiency where you can. If your supervisor doesn’t notice, bring it up (appropriately of course). Then, ask for more. Let your boss know that you’d love to sit in the next brainstorming session or be involved in a conference strategy session, and offer your help — to take notes, order lunch, etc. It may just be that the powers to be have so much going on that they don’t realize you’re being shut out. (This applies to seemingly non-related jobs and experiences as well. You’d be surprised what you can learn from working at Walmart or helping your youth group.)

Try new things! You’re young, so it’s OK if you don’t know what you want to do for the rest of your life. This is where talking to other professionals, shadowing them and volunteering for opportunities will help. For example, volunteering at an American Diabetes Association walk may show you a love for event planning or participating in student government could spark an interest in public service. The more you experience, the more confident you’ll feel in your chosen career path. Change your mind at your first career stop? No big deal. Keep looking for what you want to do and avenues you can take to get there.

Don’t burn bridges. It may be tempting to walk out of a job on the spot or tell that professor what you really think of his teaching, but it’s probably a bad idea. We’re a mobile society today, so you never know where or when you’ll run into someone again. That professor? He may be a consultant for a company you apply at. Your internship supervisor? It turns out his brother-in-law works in HR at your dream company. It’s amazing how small the world turns out to be. So try to act professional until the end, even if that means graciously leaving an opportunity before you explode.

What’s your advice?

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Is there a decision you made when you were younger that you love or regret?

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

p.s. Entering the workforce? Changing careers? CCC can help you with a number of personal branding needs, including resumes, cover letters and social media profiles/usage. Learn more or contact us to discuss your needs today!

Older and wiser,
Jaime

Building your professional network? Connect with CCC!
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LinkedIn: The Essence of a Profile

You created a bare bones profile and uploaded your resume to LinkedIn a few years ago, and you haven’t been back. You’re done, right?

LinkedIn: Essence of a Profile

original photo via smi23le’s photostream by CC BY 2.0 // edited by CCC

Similar to other social platforms, the more you put into LinkedIn, the more you’ll get out of it. And just like other platforms, it all starts with your profile. What’s in a LinkedIn profile? Let’s break it down.

(Read my) Headline

First, let’s start with what it’s not. Your headline does not have to include your title or current employer. That information is already listed elsewhere in your profile. Your headline is what you want people to think of you (and contact you) for. Are you a content marketing maestro? QuickBooks queen? WordPress whiz? Let the world know about it.

Here’s the deal with headlines: you want to come up in as many relevant searches as possible. The format is up to you. List your specialties: Writing Services | Marketing Services | Social Media Services | Content Creation or create a phrase: Writer (aka content creator, communications connoisseur) reaching consumers’ minds and pocketbooks since ’04. Spend some time playing around with your headline: tweak it, change it, have friends and colleagues read it. This is how you pull people in — or don’t.

Profile Picture

As we’ve touched on previously, it all starts with your profile picture. You need a good head shot, which is easier than ever today. It helps to show your face, so people know who you are. Remember, people do business with people, not companies. Let them know who they’ll be working with. Stay away from group shots, pictures of your kids (or other people) or anything related to a mugshot. Your personal Facebook page? Fine. Your LinkedIn profile. Not so much. Smart phone pics work fine. Just make sure you’re in good lighting, don’t have anything distracting behind you and don’t move the phone/camera. Oh, and stay away from duck lips. They may be hot, but they probably won’t help you land new clients or opportunities.

Summary

After a well thought out headline and appropriate profile pic, this is it: the most important part of your profile. Prospects, potential employers and investors will often decide whether to read on and contact you from your summary. This is your time to shine and let readers know why they should want to work with you. What can you do for them? Think of it as your elevator speech or 30-second spot to sell what you do. Always think of the reader — what do they want to know? Include any relevant statistics or numbers to back up your claims (i.e. consistent double digit growth, 25% year-over-year ROI).

Experience & Education

This is where you spell it out (briefly, of course). Tell people how you succeeded at previous opportunities, including going above and beyond. Share relevant examples, statistics, key responsibilities, numbers and any details that may impress a prospect or potential employer. Bullet points work great! Also, add projects that you worked on, including published works. (p.s. Published doesn’t have to mean The New York Times; it can be in a company newsletter or on a blog.) Don’t forget about the Education field, even if it was “forever ago.” Chances are you accomplished a few noteworthy achievements in school and should let everyone know about them: internships, awards, minors & additional areas of knowledge, overseas studies. It’s amazing what could attract someone’s eye!

Skills & Endorsements, Recommendations

These two areas can provide validation to your profile. Select the skills that you most want to be known for to display on your profile, so people you work with can endorse you for them. It’s fine to ask for endorsements or recommendations; just be tactful about it and be prepared to return the favor. Yes, that means you shouldn’t blast a recommendation request to all of your 900 connections unless you’re prepared to write 900 recommendations. Be selective about who you ask: did you provide value to a client? Did you succeed on an important project for your boss? Make sure that anyone you ask has a reason to recommend you, and being your best friend probably isn’t a legitimate reason.

There are other sections of course, and they all add value to your LinkedIn experience. But we’ve covered the “meat and potatoes,” so to speak. Go ahead, implement a few changes, and show the professional world what you’re really about!

Related reading: LinkedIn: Are You Connected | Are LinkedIn Groups Working For You?

Connect with Us

What tips do you have for LinkedIn profiles?

Share an awesome example of a LinkedIn profile or section — yours or someone else’s.

Have you landed a job, client or business opportunity via LinkedIn?

Your professional networker,
Jaime

Connect with CCC! We’d love to be a part of your professional network.
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I’m Sorry… Will You Read This?

I hate to bother you but could you do me a favor and read my blog post? Sorry to interrupt but I’d love to hear your feedback. I really don’t want to be a pain. Does this sound like you?

Do you walk around and apologize all of the time? Even when you haven’t done anything wrong?

 

You may be doing this without even realizing it, like I was. Then I saw the above Pantene ad entitled Not Sorry, and it made me think about my interactions, both professional and personal. While this issue is more common to women, it can affect anyone.

Here’s the problem: constantly apologizing makes you appear unsure of yourself and weak — two things you don’t want to project in the business world (or life for that matter). It also leaves others with the impression that you’re always messing up, which you’re not.

So if you make a mistake, apologize for it. If not, leave the apologizing to someone else.

Related Reading: I’m Sorry, but Women Really Need to Stop Apologizing

Don’t Be Sorry, Chime In!

Do you find yourself always apologizing when you haven’t done anything wrong?

How do you think people will treat you differently when you stop apologizing all the time?

Are strong, assertive women labeled as aggressive or bossy?

 

Thanks for reading!

Jaime

No apologies necessary: connect with CCC!
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