WTTV-TV Parts Ways With Tim Doty

Tim Doty has exited Indianapolis CBS affiliate WTTV-TV, stepping down from his position as midday anchor. Doty previously worked as an anchor at WXMI-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Follow WTTV-TV on Twitter.

What Does Clocking a Turbo Mean?

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Townhouse Construction Growth Continues

According to NAHB analysis of the most recent Census data of Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design, townhouse construction starts continued to grow on a year-over-year basis. Over the course of 2016, townhouse starts totaled 97,000, a more than 12% gain over the prior year total. The townhouse market recorded a faster growth rate than the overall single-family market for 2016…. Read More ›

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14 of the Best Brands on Instagram Right Now

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For a while now, it’s been clear that Instagram isn’t just a social network for selfies and brunch pics. In fact, Instagram has a whopping 600 active monthly million users as of December 2016, the last 100 million of which joined in the prior six months.

In a world where visual content remains a crucial part of any business’ marketing strategy, Instagram presents a unique opportunity to visually represent your brand, celebrate its personality, and keep it top-of-mind for all those users who scroll through their Instagram feeds every single day.

Although they’re few and far between, there are some brands out there — in every industry, and with every type of target customer — who are doing really, really well on Instagram. Hear what experts have to say about using Instagram for business at our  YouTube Live event on Feb 23. Sign up here. 

Ready to get inspired? Check out this list of brands that are thriving on Instagram right now, and what about their posts sets them apart. For each of these brands, we’ve included examples of their best posts. For some of them, we’ve also included their most popular Instagram post of all time in terms of engagement (i.e. combined total of likes and comments) along with an explanation of why it’s so engaging.

14 of the Top Instagram Business Accounts

1) Califia Farms

Califia Farms natural beverage products have some of the most attractive packaging we’ve come across. In fact, it’s so iconic that it won top honors in the global packaging design category from Beverage World Magazine.  Instagram is a perfect platform to showcase that cool, curvy bottle, and the folks at Califia don’t shy away from doing just that –most of the brand’s posts feature the beverage’s containers in some way, whether they’re the main subject of the photo, or more of an accessory in the context of the active, healthy lifestyle Califia’s buyer personas love.

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Something Califia does really well on Instagram is create fun, playful videos and GIFs. Check out this one, which they used to teach viewers how to used steamed non-dairy milk for coffee cocktails:

And this one, which is just plain fun to watch:

2) #FollowMeTo

Ever seen those photos of a woman leading a man by the hand in all different parts of the world? That pose was made famous by a couple named Murad and Natalia Osmann for their #FollowMeTo project. Their Instagram account is a mix of stunning images of the classic #FollowMeTo pose that have been edited beautifully, as well as some really interesting behind-the-scenes photos of their world travels — including some fun photos of the “making of” the famous pose.

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3) Lorna Jane

If your brand were a person, how would you describe its personality? Australian activewear company Lorna Jane has done an awesome job answering this important branding question with its Instagram content. Spend just a few seconds scrolling through these photos, and you’ll quickly be able to name the target Lorna Jane buyer: a young, sporty, twenty- or thirty-something woman who values looking good while maintaining an active lifestyle.

The images posted by Lorna Jane, which often show the brand’s clothing and accessories, as well as images of women who embody its target buyer persona, are colorful, playful, and inspirational, which is a perfect representation of the brand’s essence — in other words, its heart, soul, and spirit.

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4) Letterfolk

Letterfolk is a small business run by a husband-and-wife team who create and sell beautiful, handcrafted felt letterboards. Each letterboard comes with a full set of characters so people can personalize the walls of their homes, which means endless room for creativity. Instagram is the perfect platform for them to inspire customers and aspiring customers with real customers’ boards, as well as ideas they’ve come up with and staged themselves. Their Instagram content is funny, thought-provoking, and relatable — all recipes for shareability.

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Most engaging post of all time:

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[Click here to see the post.]

Why it’s engaging: Not only is this photo showing a funny and clever message, but it’s also very, very relatable for parents of young children — a very large audience and also one of Letterfolk’s target customers. It’s also a very taggable photo, so the comment section is rife with Instagram users mentioning their friends’ usernames so they can share in the fun.

5) Paris Opera Ballet

The city of Paris is known for many lovely things — wine, cheese, and art are just a few. But that last one, art, is photographically captured on the Instagram account of the Paris Opera Ballet, or Ballet de l’Opera de Paris.

The account captures candid images of the ballet’s dancers during performances, rehearsals, and backstage, giving viewers an artful glimpse at what goes into the ballet’s productions. It also makes use of something called banners on Instagram, when larger photos can be divided into multiple pictures to create a tiled banner of smaller photos. (There are several apps available to pull that off, but to start, check out Tile Pic). 

The way this account highlights performance venues is noteworthy, too. The lower-right photo below provides a look at the theatre when it’s completely empty, conveying a calm-before-the-storm feel that can generate excitement for productions.

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6) Tentsile

“Stunning” is the first word that comes to mind when I scroll through Tentsile’s Instagram photos. The company sells tree tents, what they call “portable treehouses” that will “literally take your camping experience to a new level.” Their Instagram is full of shockingly beautiful scenes of their product in use in all matter of terrain: rainforests, mountains, beaches… you name it. The best part

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Most engaging post of all time:

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[Click here to see the post.]

Why it’s engaging: Contests draw engagement: It’s as simple as that. In this particular case, Tentsile used an Instagram contest as a co-marketing play with a few of their partners by asking followers to follow three partner accounts to be eligible to win. In addition to following those accounts, they also asked people to Like the photo and “tag your 3 best adventures buddies in the comments below.” That’s a great way to expand reach and do co-marketing on Instagram.

7) Desenio

Look at the colors of any well known brand and you’ll notice that they use the same colors over and over again — in their logo, on their website, and in their social media images. Using the same colors over and over again is a great way to establish brand consistency and help consumers become familiar with your brand. That’s what the Swedish online art print company Desenio does beautifully on their Instagram account. They use a lot of blues, greens, greys, and blacks, which evoke senses of calm, healing, luxury, and trust.

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Most engaging post of all time:

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[Click here to see the post.]

Why it’s engaging: At first glance, this post doesn’t seem to stick out much from Desenio’s other Instagram content. But what’s unique about it is the universally relatable subject: a really beautiful, comfortable-looking bed in a beautiful bedroom, combined with hints of life like a laptop and some munchies. Many of the comments included exclamations of how beautiful and inspiring the setup is and how it’s the commenters’ “dream bedroom.” To increase your comment rate, follow Desenio’s lead by posting images of things and situations your followers aspire to in their own lives.

8) No Your City

The folks at No Your City produce a documentary series that captures the fascinating stories of people all over the world, but mostly in New York. The brand’s Instagram account, though, is less about these stories and more about showcasing gorgeous images from the city itself.

What we love about these photos is how closely they follow the best practices for taking great photos with your phone. Each one of No Your City’s photos seems to follow at least one of these recommendations, whether it’s focusing on a single subject, embracing negative space, playing with reflections, or finding interesting perspectives. The photos are consistently stunning, and as a result, the brand has built a solid following.

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9) Divinity LA Bracelets

Here’s an example of a small business performing very well on Instagram. A beaded bracelet could have any theme. 

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Most engaging post of all time:

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Why it’s engaging: Caption “Each Sea Turtle and Hatchling bracelet sold helps a Hatchling make it to the ocean.” People tagged their friends to show them the cute sea turtles, or to say “WE NEED TO SAVE THEM!”

10) WeWork

WeWork provides shared office spaces in cities and countries all over the globe — so it only makes sense that they should post a lot of photos showcasing their beautiful co-working communities. They do an amazing job photographing the spaces in ways that make followers like us wish we could jump into the photos and plop down with our laptops and a coffee.

They don’t stop at posting photos of their shared workspaces, though. WeWork uses Instagram to capture and share moments from some of the largest branded events that members (and their friends) look forward to all year, like WeWork Summer Camp. Hashtags are used to label these events — like #WWCamp — and to encourage customers to share their own photos of the spaces, using WeWork’s memorable slogan: “Do what you love.”

Our favorite is the #DogsOfWeWork hashtag. Not only is it awesome because, well, dogs, but it’s also a great way for the company to promote their laid-back culture while also inviting customers to interact with their brand on social. Near the end of each year, they actually choose the best photo submissions to the #DogsOfWeWork hashtag on Instagram and Facebook and put together a calendar for the following year.

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Most engaging post of all time:

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[Click here to see the post.]

Why it’s engaging: For all their beautiful photos of people and office spaces and dogs, some of you might be surprised that their most engaging photo of all time is a picture of a simple quote. This goes to show the power of motivational quotes on Instagram, which tend to perform very well. Instagram is, after all, a platform for inspiration — and simple quotes that are inspiring and easy to digest are often welcome in a user’s feed. Use free design tools like Canva, PicMonkey, or even PowerPoint to create these images easily.

11) Finfolk Productions

Ever wanted to be a mermaid? You can come pretty close, thanks to companies like FinFolk Productions. Believe it or not, silicone mermaid tails you can put on and swim around in are actually quite trendy in certain areas and for certain age groups — typically young girls, which is one of Instagram’s most . Finfolk Productions’ Instagram feed is full of beautifully shot photos that play into the mermaid fantasy by looking more like mythical art than real people.

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Most engaging post of all time:

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[Click here to see the post]

Why it’s engaging: One of the reasons this post was so popular is because it was accompanied by a long, heartfelt caption written by the company’s founders — which prompted an outpouring of supportive comments from their loyal followers:

Wish you could be part of our world? The good news is, you already are- just by being here! We might not always have custom silicone slots or Mythic tails readily available, but it’s only because we are busy constantly creating and making mermaid tails for every type of mermaid, in every size or color, gender or nationality. Our company focuses exclusively on providing the highest quality mermaid tails in the world. Some companies may tell you they can make you something faster, or cheaper, but you will never find a more perfectly crafted mermaid tail than right here at Finfolk. A tail is an investment of time, money, and emotions- each one is unique and beautiful, just like you. We’re here to make sure the end result makes it all entirely worth it.
So whether you’re just swimming by to enjoy the art, or grab a pair of leggings, or maybe you’ve invested and are patiently waiting to become one of the select few in the world with a fully custom silicone mermaid tail from Finfolk Productions, we love you and want to thank you for being part of our world. Stick around, we’ve got so much more to show you still. A&B
#finfolk #finfolkproductions #thelittlemermaid #littlemermaid #ariel #partofyourworld #mermaid #mermaidtail #disney #mermaidlife #finfolkmermaid

Commenters wrote that they love the founders for their dedication to beauty and quality, that they love the designs, and that they can’t wait until they have a tail of their own. What it all comes down to, though, is brand loyalty

12) Shiseido

Shiseido started out as Japan’s first Western-style pharmacy 140 years ago and has since developed into selling high-quality brightening and anti-aging skincare, makeup, and fragrance products. Their company mission is to inspire a life of beauty and culture — a mission they portray beautifully through their Instagram content. If you take a look at their feed, you’ll notice they post three images at a time so the posts appear in a row pattern on their larger feed — a very clever and original way to organize their content.

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Most engaging post of all time:

Why it’s engaging: Back in late March 2016, Instagram started rolling out the ability to upload 60-second videos — and we’ve seen some amazing Instagram videos from brands ever since, like the one above from Shiseido. But don’t be intimidated by highly professional Instagram videos like theirs. You can post highly engaging videos on Instagram without a huge video team or a bottomless budget. Here’s a step-by-step guide for making great videos on Instagram without breaking the bank.

13) Made in Sephora

Made in Sephora’s brand personality is playful, colorful, feminine. They do a wonderful job of characterizing this personality in their Instagram content, using bright colors, patterns, and fun captions. The caption on the second photo below, for example, reads: “An easy-peasy smoky eye anyone? 😉 #madeinsephora #smokyeyes #makeupaddict”. They also diversify their feed with a lot of fun Instagram video content that gives off the same playful vibes.

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Most engaging post of all time:

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Why it’s engaging: Similar to Tentsile, Made in Sephora used an Instagram contest to expand their reach and increase engagement on their post. In this particular case, the contest was part of the company’s “Monday Giveaway” series, and it offered followers the chance to win a prize by tagging two friends in the comments with a specific hashtag. (Learn how to run your own Instagram contest here.)

14) Staples

The folks at Staples do a lot of things right when it comes to Instagram content, but there are two that particularly grab our attention — engaging with followers by asking questions and including calls-to-action in captions, and staying true to the brand’s playful-yet-practical personality.

When it comes to engaging Staples’ followers, it’s all about asking questions in the photo captions. For example, check out the second photo below featuring a series of emojis — its caption reads, “That’s pretty much our day. How about yours? Tell us in emojis.” Scroll through the comments on that photo, and you’ll see followers had a lot of fun responses. The caption paired with the first photo below — the one with the cupcakes — asks users to tag someone who they want to thank.

Staples does a great job staying true to brand by posting fun photos such as the “2016” shot written in office supplies and using the #OfficeHack hashtag to engage their following.

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The folks at Staples also use Instagram to post cute videos and GIFs, like the one below that promotes its Office by Martha Stewart line:

Which are your favorite business-run Instagram accounts? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Instagram Experts Answer Questions

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Jack Zaleski Stepping Down From The Forum

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The Forum‘s editorial page editor Jack Zaleski is stepping down after serving in the role for twenty years. Zaleski will take a short hiatus and then return to write a weekly opinion column, he will also retain office at the paper.

While there will be no direct position replacement, Angie Wieck will move into the role of community editor, which will oversee print and online opinion content and community engagement; a variety of staff at the paper will continue to write editorials. Wieck had previously served as a business reporter at the paper since 2012. Follow The Forum on Twitter.

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How to Become a Household Name

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“Google it.” “Can you pass me some Kleenex?” “Let’s take the Jet Ski out.”

These are just a few examples of how brand names have been worked into our common vocabularies. When people ask for a Kleenex, they usually just mean they want a tissue, but because the Kleenex brand is so popular, we’ve started conflating the popular brand name with the object itself.

It’s every brand marketer’s dream for their product, service, or website to become so ubiquitous it replaces the name of the original concept. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the stories of four brands that turned product names into verbs that then replaced the generic terms, along with lessons for marketers on how it was done.

What Is Verbification?

Anthimeria is the rhetorical term for what we’re discussing here: It’s the linguistic term for when we use one part of speech as another part of a speech, such as a noun for a verb. When it comes to branded words, there isn’t an exact formula to explain why some brands become “verbified” and others don’t. For example, why has Super Glue been “verbified,” but Gorilla Glue hasn’t?

Lots of brands have cracked the code for becoming a household name (or verb), and we’re diving into how we think a few technology brands accomplished it in this blog post.

Four Brands That Replaced Product Names

1) YouTube

What it Replaced:

Video streaming website YouTube replaced phrases like “search for a video” or “watch a video online.”

Used in a Sentence:

“You should YouTube the latest Saturday Night Live monologue, Kate McKinnon was hilarious in it.”

Why it Caught on:

A huge part of YouTube’s widespread popularity is its first-mover advantage — it was one of the first video hosting sites ever founded, and after Google purchased it in 2006, it started growing rapidly. Today, YouTube has more than 1 billion users worldwide, and it accounts for more than 15% of all internet traffic globally.

YouTube has maintained its popularity over more than 10 years with a variety of innovative advertising techniques. Because YouTube is a subsidiary of Google, the biggest search engine in the world, it has the advantage of being one of the first search results when users conduct Google searches for videos. Check it out: When you conduct a Google search for “cooking tutorial videos,” YouTube is the first search result:

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Instead of only advertising YouTube online and on social media platforms, in the past several years, YouTube started advertising video creators with billboards, TV ads, and print ads to broaden its reach.

Another factor that’s played a role in YouTube’s popularization is the decline in cable TV subscriptions, especially among younger video viewers. Now that so much video content is available for free online, more viewers are heading to sites like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu to consume videos, TV shows, and movies they enjoy.

Takeaway for Marketers:

Mix up your advertising strategies to keep exposing your brand to new audiences. A healthy blend of advertising on social media platforms, search engines, and print publications could help generate more interest and recognition of your brand. Here’s our guide to getting started with social media advertising if you need inspiration.

2) Photoshop

What it Replaced:

Adobe Photoshop software replaced any and all terms related to photo editing and manipulation.

Used in a Sentence:

“That picture was definitely Photoshopped.”

Why it Caught on:

Like YouTube, Adobe Photoshop benefited from first-mover advantage: It was one of the first digital photo editing software programs of its kind when it was released in 1990. Because it was first on the scene, other photo editing software created later were judged against Photoshop, which helps spread word-of-mouth recognition further.

Additionally, as other Adobe software was created, the new products were integrated seamlessly with Photoshop, making it easier for designers and visual content creators to do their jobs within the Adobe Creative Suite of products. It’s easier to use a product that works well with others you need to use for your job, rather than piecing together a system that requires multiple programs and types of documents to work together.

Takeaway for Marketers:

Help make it easier for your audience to get things done during the workday. Could you integrate with larger companies, social media platforms, or APIs to make customers’ lives easier? It could be something as easy as partnering with a video hosting company to embed high-quality videos in blog posts, or providing easy links to embed social media sharing buttons on your website that could make the difference in your brand’s stickiness and popularity. Try our Website Grader to see where you could improve the health of your site.

3) Google

What it Replaced:

Search engine Google replaced generic terms for searching for information online.

Used in a Sentence:

“Just Google it.”

Why it Caught on:

Unlike YouTube and Photoshop, Google wasn’t among the first of its kind. There were numerous search engines already available, such as Yahoo! Search, Ask Jeeves, and AltaVista, which Google Search has since come to dominate. 

Its simple homepage is easy to use and navigate and doesn’t bombard visitors with a ton of ads or images. Here’s a comparison of how Yahoo! Search and Google Search homepages appear to see what we mean. Which site would you prefer to use?

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Google’s algorithm delivers arguably superior results for searchers with the help of different ranking tools and signals. Because search engine optimization (SEO) has become a must-have part of any content marketing strategy, more marketers are trying to get content to rank in Google Search. This helps searchers find the information they’re looking for faster when brands optimize website content according to how people try to find information.

Like other search engines, Google built an array of complementary apps and services, such as Gmail, Google Maps, and others. Google also made sure to do it right and launch a successful rollout of these newer products after its technology had been completely nailed. Google scaled when it was ready, which resulted in great products people loved to use and share with their friends.

Takeaway for Marketers:

Two lessons marketers can implement from Google? Design a simple, easy-to-navigate website, and don’t start scaling up too quickly. We have a guide for redesigning your website the right way here. As for the second piece of advice, don’t grow too quickly if your brand starts expanding its scope. In 2011, the Startup Genome Report determined premature scaling was one of the biggest predictors of startup failure, so make sure your primary product — software, goods, or advising — is perfected before you start growing your business further.

4) Skype

What it Replaced:

Video calling and chatting app Skype replaced the term “video chat.”

Used in a Sentence:

“Skype me when you’re in Europe.”

Why it Caught on:

One of the most appealing aspects of Skype is how affordable it makes an essential thing (phone calls). Skype eliminated the need for calling cards or international phones — with one app, Skype made phone calls cheaper and video calls easier.

A less scientific reason for Skype’s success is the name — it’s catchy and easy to say. Let’s face is, “make a video call” or “call someone internationally” are unwieldy to say, Skype has the advantage of having a short, pithy brand name that is easier to say than the generic term. Shorter names are also easier to remember, which likely helped Skype gain a foothold in the crowded world of messaging apps.

Takeaway for Marketers:

Marketers can learn from Skype that it’s important to have a clear value proposition for your brand’s product or service. If your brand makes something cheaper, easier, or more efficient for people, make sure your audience knows about it so they can start using it. Make the value of your product clear and easily understood in all messaging, from your website to your social media posts. We’ve even designed templates to create your own calls-to-action (CTAs) to add to your web assets to get the ball rolling.

Everyone Wants to Be Popular

There are varied opinions on if brand names becoming verbs is good or bad for business. There’s potential risk for the terms becoming generic as time passes, or for product copyright to be infringed upon. Even Google specifically warns against using the trademark term as a noun or a verb on its website. But isn’t all press good press?

We’re not saying if you follow by Google or Skype’s example, your company’s brand name will become the next big verb. Let’s face it — that’s pretty rare, and it’s especially challenging unless your brand is the first of its kind in a particular industry. For now, until your brand becomes the next big thing, try some of the strategies that made these brands so successful for greater brand visibility and recognition. If you’re looking for ideas how to get started, check out our guide to social media and public relations branding.

Do you have a lot of brand names in your vocabulary? Share with us in the comments below.

free guide to social and PR branding

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Mortgage Originations Grow in Q4

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Household Debt and Credit Report, mortgage originations grew in the 4th quarter of 2016. Largely resulting from 4th quarter growth, origination volume in 2016 exceeded its level in 2015. This marks the second consecutive year of growth in originations. As the chart above illustrates, there was approximately $617 billion in originations… Read More ›

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Rich Karlgaard Transitions Roles at Forbes

Photo courtesy of Twitter

Forbes has changed Rich Karlgaard‘s title to editor at large, as the company eliminates the publisher position. Karlgaard has been with Forbes since 1998, working first as the editor of Forbes ASAP before becoming a publisher in 2002. Follow along with Forbes on Twitter.

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Housing Affordability Remains Favorable Even as it Hits an Eight-Year Low

Shortages of buildable lots and skilled labor, along with excessive regulations, rising mortgage interest rates and ongoing home price appreciation pushed housing affordability in the fourth quarter of 2016 to its lowest point since the third quarter of 2008, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI).  In all, 59.9 percent of new and existing… Read More ›

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