Looks like we weren't the only ones perplexed with this booth.
 
We're thrilled to support local businesses by purchasing apparel, accessories, beauty products, and home goods at the American Express Holiday Popup in Seattle but the clunky positioning of social at the very back of the concept was just plain odd and a total retail afterthought. 
 
Why would you share your favorite moment at a popup with a machine instead of your social community?
 
Instagram
Instagram
 
The latest step in further democratizing photography and, perhaps, devaluing the professional photography industry has launched for iOS devices. SnapMyAd enables consumers to link their Instagram account and allow third party users – such as marketers or businesses – to purchase images.
 
Another feature includes a promotional space for companies to collect/use pictures from contests or events, while rewarding fans with perks or discounts from the brand for likes in exchange.
 
There is something absolutely fantastic about gaining access to Instagram photos from an advertiser's standpoint, which has now become a totally legitimate resource. But it’s hard to imagine amateur photographers with iPhones truly making a living through monetization via SnapMyAd.
 
As friends and admirers of natural lighting, perspective, and the art of editing – it’s important, if not vital, to point out how mobile and digital photography has turned an industry upside-down.
 
Is it our cultural or moral responsibility, as content creators and consumers of social media, to better understand the impact of such applications on society? Or are you happy to snap away and pocket the cash for a photograph, regardless of the consequences? Let us know your thoughts via twitter or facebook
 
 
{source: Springwise}
 
Meat & Bread Vancouver
 
Food is the way to the soul. Or is it the eyes?
 
A new study released today found that the pleasure derived from eating food may be seen in the eyes – at least that’s what they found by using electroretinography to measure dopamine in the retina. Read more about the small study from Drexel University’s department of nutrition sciences in Philadelphia here.
 
No wonder there are over 32 million photos of #food on Instagram. And just think what might happen if all of those users fired up their dopamine by taking a bite of their food before clicking the shutter – could reward-motivated behavior, like eating a porchetta sandwich from Meat & Bread in Vancouver, actually make mobile photography and editing skills better?
 
While the majority of adults in the US are plugged into some sort of social media outlet, not all of them are used in equal measure, and not all of them are used by both genders equally.
 
Take a look at this infographic, published by InternetServiceProviders.org, that depicts the virtual world of online interactions.
 
Social Gender Infographic
 
 
Twitter Cookbook Contest
So you want to write a cookbook?
 
 
Tweeting can now get you one step closer to a cookbook deal. But unlike traditional proposals, each pitch will need to participate in a March Madness style basketball tournament before final approval.
 
The Lisa Ekus Group is taking an untraditional route by hearing the best culinary non-fiction ideas via 140-character (or less) tweets to Literary Agent Sally Ekus (@SallyEkus) using the hashtag #SignMeSal. Inspired by the NCAA Men's Division basketball tournament, the agency will select 16 finalists who will then be asked to round out their proposals with additional tweets that cover standard proposal elements, such as the book’s point of differentiation.
 
The participants will then be whittled down to two finalists — who will compete against each other during a Twitter chat on March 25, 2013. A single winner will be chosen and then work with Sally Ekus to develop a fleshed out proposal to pitch to editors at publishing houses.
 
“In the face of a constantly shifting publishing environment our agency is increasingly interested in finding new ways to discover fresh voices and concepts," Ekus said. "The Twitter contest is a result of the fast paced landscape we all work in, and a desire to give an unpublished or un-agented author a chance to work one on one with our agency.”
 
At a time when many bloggers — food or otherwise — are enamored with a book deal, it makes good sense to consider the resources needed to launch such an endeavor. Most writers and photojournalists could stand to reflect more closely on building a team to support their vision in tandem with receiving a book advance. We love how this contest allows participants to see the value of a literary agent and an agency through an authentic, realtime social media discussion.   
 
For more details on the contest, including deadlines, click here.
 
 
A common misconception is that simply by having a website, sales will roll in — and in spades. Regrettably, this is not the case, and some brands, especially those small and new, have learned this the hard way.
 
Launching a website and ignoring online marketing is like opening a business and not telling anyone about it. You wouldn’t launch a new product, retail venture, or even hold a press event without strategic planning. Digital marketing requires the same consideration, and brands are missing incredible opportunities by not implementing strategies for online growth and development. However, many are unsure what they need, what to expect, and whether or not they can afford it.
 
A typical digital marketing campaign involves a combination of email, search, and social marketing, all of which require the collaborative efforts of a team of writers, designers, developers, marketers and analysts. Though positioning, aesthetic, and budgets are diverse — the same rules apply. Marketing initiatives must be cohesive, strategic, and aligned in order to be successful.
 
If you’re a smaller company with a limited marketing budget, social media is an excellent platform to build brand awareness and grow your online community. However, a bona fide social media campaign involves more than merely having a Facebook page or a Twitter account. It takes time and commitment and requires ongoing interaction with your community. It’s essential to provide a dialogue that includes unique, relevant content and not a constant stream of product or sale announcements. This is important not only from an engagement perspective, but also from a branding perspective, because if you continually discount your products in order to drive web sales, you’re at risk of brand erosion.
 
If you’re going to take a DIY approach to social marketing, make sure to avoid these common mistakes:
 
  • Syncing your social media channels.
    While it might be a timesaver, each platform has a different audience and therefore the messaging should be tailored differently.
  • Not interacting with your followers.
    Social media is the new customer service. As your online presence grows, expect to receive feedback, comments and even complaints from your fans — and always respond promptly.
  • Sending Auto Direct Message’s to your Twitter followers.
    In his article, Augie Ray explains that not only do people dislike Auto DMs, they think less of those who send them and are quite likely to unfollow the senders or even report them as spam.
 
Adding a blog to your website is another great and affordable way to expand your online presence and provide customers with a more intimate understanding of your brand. It allows you the opportunity to speak more in depth about products, ingredients, causes, and lifestyle topics that are relevant to your customer and — similar to social media platforms — gives them a chance to interact with your company. Additionally, since blog content is crawled by search engines, it’s likely that your website’s organic search results will improve as you continue to develop your blog.
 
As your brand awareness grows, hopefully your email subscriber list grows along with it. Once you have a fairly robust email list, you might want to consider launching an email marketing campaign to promote new product launches and special offers. However, take the time to familiarize yourself with email regulations before launching a campaign to ensure you are compliant with all regulations, including the CAN-SPAM Act, in order to prevent blacklisting and guarantee deliverability.
 
If budget permits, you might also want to consider launching a paid search campaign, however this tends to be one of the more expensive options and typically requires a fairly significant budget in order to be competitive. However, when used in combination with SEO and targeted landing pages, paid search can be a powerful marketing tool, providing immediate, measurable results.
 
As with any marketing initiative, traditional or digital, it’s important to do your research before embarking on new endeavors — and that includes giving your online marketing plan the consideration it deserves for your business to succeed.
 
 
---
Julie Ashkenazi is the co-founder of Medium— a strategic eCommerce and online marketing studio dedicated building unique, compelling and successful brands with cohesive design aesthetics and analytics. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.
 
A compilation of the best, relevant, and interest-worthy ideas and news from the past week...
 
CULTURE
Gilt Taste
{image: Gilt.com}
 
- Is “Content and Commerce” the future? As magazines & retail converge, where will the editorial line be drawn?
- NYC needs this: Virtual grocery shopping via phone using QR codes at subway stops in Prague.
 
 
FASHION
- Watch out Pinterest, PPR just invested $10m in Joe Einhorn’s company new website: The Fancy. (follow or re-pin @trendscaping on Pinterest)
- As Marc Jacobs-Dior talks halt; Fashionologie reports that Alexander Wang, Raf Simons, and Jason Wu are now being considered.
- According to IBM’s Coremetrics Benchmark, Mobile retail traffic projected to more than double this holiday season.
 
FOOD
{photo: EvolutionFresh.com}
 
- Starbucks, acquiring juice brand Evolution Fresh, will attempt to do with juice what it did with coffee.
- No surprises here: 2012 food trends, including the rise of Korean food trucks and fine dining, focus on consumer need according to Nation's Restaurant News
 
We've got a new obsession that does not involve exceptional shoes, the rise of mini pastries, or exceptional retail experiences... The QR code.
 
In the weeks since we posted statistics on who is currently scanning these funny little codes, it has become more apparent how this trend has potential for greatness once executed flawlessly. And since we're far from experts in this digital space, we decided to turn to our go-to experts: Uzi Askenazi and Julie Askenazi of Medium.
 
What is the future of QR codes?
Uzi: QR codes offer great potential for brands and retailers, but consumers, particularly female consumers, have been slow to embrace them. Unfortunately, a fair percentage of QR integration appears to be initiated for trend purposes more so than retail use, as evident by poor placement or linking to websites that are not mobile-optimized.
 
Uzi and Julie, how can a campaign appeal to a female demographic?
Uzi: Macy's "Backstage Pass" campaign is a great example of integrating QR codes into a retail promotional strategy.
 
Macy's Backstage Pass

Julie: I also really like the Macy’s campaign, because it’s not just making great use of current technology, it’s leveraging their celebrity partnerships and presenting new, unique content to consumers — while complementing the brand identity. By insetting the QR codes into the red stars they’ve made new technology friendlier and as a result, customers are more likely to engage in the campaign.

In our previous post we stressed the importance of creating brand cohesivity. What are some basic design tips you share with your clients?
Julie: QR codes can be a strong marketing tool, but they should augment messaging — not become the message. If used properly, QR codes allow for cleaner packaging and print design since supportive content can be contained on the website and accessed via the scan. Unitag allows users the flexibility to create codes using brand colors, which is especially important for prestige and luxury brands where aesthetics are critical.
 
Can you give us an example of a prestige brand that has created campaign that is clean and cohesive?
Julie: The current Supersmile print campaign is a great example of QR integration. A powerful headline reinforces the product benefit with a message that is so unexpected from a prestige brand you want to scan the code for more information. Unfortunately, when I scanned the code, I wasn’t served the Testimonials page I was expecting. Instead, I received an error message, apparently due to the link being miscoded when the QR code was generated. This is a sad, expensive example of the QR code learning curve that lies ahead for both brands and consumers.
 
 
It's so unfortunate that we don't know the content related to the Supersmile campaign! Are fail rates common?
Uzi: They should not be if you have a proper testing protocol. It's fairly easy to generate and customize QR codes. Apparently, if you set a high error level when creating a code, you can erase parts of it and replace it with an image. How cool is that?
 
Very cool indeed. But since this is newish to users, are there circumstances where design overpowers the concept?
Julie: As much as I love this Angry Birds print concept, I would be concerned that many people won’t realize they’re looking at a QR code, which would seemingly defeat the purpose of the ad.
 
 
Lastly, how might a brand use a QR code to simplify messaging?
Julie: Other brands are missing the opportunity to fully engage their market by not using QR codes. L'Oréal’s Youth Code print campaign includes a link to the brand’s microsite but only in very small type near the bottom. A QR code is likely to have achieved higher click-through and it would have aesthetically complemented the product name and visuals, while also adding a greater sense of technology to the brand.
 
 
We would love to see more campaigns integrate design and QR codes effectively. Unfortunately, 27% of the QR codes we scanned in the November 2011 issue of InStyle failed. If you see a great example that you would like to share, please tweet it to us or post it on our facebook page.
 
 ---
Uzi Ashkenazi and Julie Ashkenazi are co-founders of Medium— a strategic eCommerce and online marketing studio dedicated building unique, compelling and successful brands with cohesive design aesthetics and analytics.
 
QR
It seems like we can't escape QR codes. Just today, when sending out the In Your Head Newsletter, our email marketing service produced one (above) for sharing so we thought it was time we addresses these funny new barcodes.
 
A QR code (Quick Response code) is a type of barcode first designed by Toyota in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. More recently, these barcodes have become popular for marketing purposes, directing customers to a specific URL or even to compose an SMS message. To view the content enclosed in the barcode, users need to download a QR code scanner for their mobile phone.
 
Not sold yet? Perhaps it's time to reconsider. While a QR code is still new to most consumers, itʼs a fast growing trend that is becoming more common practice due to the rapid adoption of smartphones. Below are statistics on who is currently scanning QR codes.
 
 
Most recently, businesses and brands have used these special 2-D barcodes to communicate additional product information or to advertise loyalty programs and dispense coupons but these tactics only scratch the surface how QR codes might be used in the future. Here's a comprehensive list of ways to use QR codes from Mark the Marketer.
 
We love the immediacy of the technology but, like every tactic, we caution anyone who approaches this tool with a "just slap one" attitude. QR codes, in order to be effective, need to be fully integrated into the design, theme, and messaging. Adopting this trend immediately without considering how it might work with your overall brand strategy could turn off potential customer.
 
only the tasty bits...
 
CULTURE
 
 
- New tool calculates how many slaves (forced labor) helped to make your favorite jeans, eyeshadow, and coffee. {Refinery29}
- Facebook has made even more changes to privacy settings. This time they targeted fan and band pages. {Locker Gnome}
- Sometimes A Brand Isn't Worth Saving. {Co. Design}
 
&
FOOD
- $1,250 Lunch for 2: Welcome to the French Laundry pop-up in London. {Business Week}
- The Next Big Restaurant featuring Willows Inn on Lummi Island in WA. {Wall Street Journal}
- Nationwide Surveys Reveal Disconnect Between Americans and their Food. {PRnewswire}
 
+
FASHION 
Anna Wintour by Andrew Yang
{photo: AnOther}
 
- Loving the Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington dolls by Andrew Yang. {AnOther}
- Skill and discipline paid off: An interview with superstar fashion blogger/photographer Scott Schuman. {Business of Fashion}
- Best of Cosmoprof 2011: How presentation can make or break a beauty brand. {Medium}