Why I think the sharing economy has taken off

I like to watch TED talks when I can and one of the most interesting ones I’ve come across is How Airbnb designs for trust by Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb. This got me thinking back to the old days (10 or so years ago) when these trust or sharing economy companies were in their infancy. Uber and Airbnb are such huge aspects of the metropolitan lifestyle now that it’s hard to even remember the time without them.

I feel like these companies have been created by millennials for millennials (and maybe everyone else). We, as a generation, have embraced the sharing economy as a way to save or make money, while having better service experiences. That’s the key. Many people in my generation would rather pay $500 for an artisan leather purse at a craft show, where they can meet the artist and hear their story, over paying $500 for a Coach purse at a shiny strip mall store. The sharing economy has really provided us with quality services, products and experiences, which I believe is what has allowed this economic shift to occur. Here I’ll cover my own experiences with 3 sharing economy companies: Airbnb, Rover and Uber.

Airbnb: My favorite of the sharing economy companies is Airbnb because I love traveling, but really love experiencing new places. Airbnb is a platform that connects users with extra space and users that are in need of a place to stay. Honestly, Airbnb is awesome. I know there are always those people that have negative experiences, but so far, I’ve only had great experiences. When I was in Europe this summer, it was definitely eerie to be in a completely different country and essentially show up to someone’s house for a room. However, Airbnb really does take the scariness out of the whole process simply by its design, as the video mentions. It provides a much more immersive experience and unique aspect to travel. Research shows that millennials value experiences over material things. This is true in a sense. This is what explains booms in craft breweries, artisan goods, festivals, local coffee shops and the overall sharing economy. I think that a better explanation is that millennials value quality. I know that I really value quality experiences and products for my money. 

What I love most about Airbnb is that it allows you to experience staying as a local would in the city. We experienced this in multiple cities in Europe and I felt like it truly made our trip. For example, while in Venice, we had this rooftop patio view, two blocks away from the Rialto Bridge. We were in the best location possible. We could even see the gondolas lined up on the canal from our front door. We felt like this view and our location could have only been provided from an Airbnb, where we essentially “came home” to an apartment in the city with actual locals as neighbors. In Dublin, we had a view over the Ha’Penny Bridge on the River Liffey. We were in an apartment complex with young professionals from Dublin, which I thought was awesome. They get to live there and experience this every day; I was, and am, so jealous.

Uber (and Lyft): I’ve used both Uber and Lyft; they’re essentially the same, especially since Uber now offers a tipping feature. Uber and Lyft are ride sharing apps that have definitely overcome the stigma of that stranger danger/hopping into random dudes’ cars thing. The design of the app makes you feel safe by providing ratings of your driver, a picture of them and the knowledge that the app tracks you along your route. Honestly for me and my friends, Uber has become an experience in where we hope we get a fun driver with stories to share about their worst passengers, best rides, etc. We get some really eccentric people as our Uber drivers, which makes sense. You almost have to be a people person (or learn how to be one) to give random people rides all day and night. If you’re not already a user, I definitely recommend. My friends and I have saved countless dollars on parking fees and DD duties over the past few years.

Rover: I’m currently writing this post as I am house sitting for a client. This is my first experience with Rover and it’s going really well! I have friends that have made thousands of dollars through Rover in such a short time and only have good things to say about the company. I even have a friend that didn’t have to pay rent for six months IMG_1946because of a few, long term house-sitting gigs back to back. The beauty behind this company is that pet owners are no longer forced to find boarding for their pets when they are away. It allows users to find reliable people to watch their houses and pets, so that their pets can stay in a familiar environment without risk of potentially harsh kennel environments or diseases. Rover’s design focuses on reviews and qualifications. Your placement in the search results in your area are based upon your responsiveness, ratings and reviews. Your profile shows potential clients your reviews left by others, as well as that you’ve passed a background check and other safety courses provided by the company. Like many, I’m doing Rover as a side gig, as I am on my way to an entry level job salary that probably won’t cover everything I need. The only negative side I’ve seen so far from a sitter perspective is the crazy taxes you have to pay since you’re technically an independent contractor. The plus side is it’s basically like a paid mini vacation and all you have to do is watch cute dogs.

This might sound dumb or cliché, but what is really awesome about these sharing economy companies is that you are forced to meet new people. In an age where we are so “anti-strangers,” it’s fun getting to talk to new people, whether you’re getting a ride from them, watching their dog, putting together their Ikea furniture or staying in their house. I know there are several more I should try, such as ZipCar and TaskRabbit, but I haven’t had a need yet! What have been your experiences or what should I try next?

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Why I think truth is smart

Why I think truth is smart

I have never smoked cigarettes and never will, so I’ve never needed convincing to not smoke; however, if I did, truth would certainly have convinced me to quit by now. In my opinion, this anti-smoking campaign is extremely effective from an advertising and marketing standpoint.

“truth” is a national anti-tobacco campaign by the Truth Initiative (formerly known as American Legacy Foundation), working towards ending smoking among youth. They’ve been at it since 1999 and they’ve truly adapted with the changing technology and culture over the years. truth commercials have been on air throughout much of my life and I’ve been always been impressed with them all. The most memorable for me was the “Singing Cowboy (2007),” that scarred just about every kid in America at the time. This was obviously when they were still going for the shock and awe effect; it worked.

Today, the organization has evolved to trying to connect with social issues and social trends. The Truth Initiative uses all forms of media outlets and social media platforms to reach today’s teens, Gen Z. The commercial that sparked my interest again to encourage this post is their (relatively) new campaign, #StopProfiling, from ad agency, 72andSunny. I think this ad effectively connects with current social issues in the country, connects it with their cause and connects it to today’s youth. This can be a somewhat tricky sector to break into, as we saw with the Kendall Jenner/Pepsi disaster, but in my opinion, they did it. It works because: 1) it calls out huge corporations for taking advantage of the less fortunate and 2) it’s supported by facts. According to the National Cancer Institute, from 1970 to 2005, there was a major shift in advertising spending from measured media (TV, radio, magazines and billboards) to promotional activities (price discounts). This was a shift from about 18% on promotional activities to almost 100%. This doesn’t look good for “Big Tobacco” when they have been long known for keeping prices low for the lower classes. This particular campaign is causing quite a stir; this tweet gained significantly more engagement than usual, when their average tweet has about 20 retweets and 50 favorites.

A few more campaigns that I thought were effective in connecting with social issues and social trends are:

Hitting us where it really hurts (our wallets)

Our generation’s obsession with our pets, memes and GIFs

Our love of going green

Nice job, Truth Initiative. This millennial doesn’t really need to be convinced not to smoke, but I do appreciate your marketing strategy and trying to make America a little bit healthier.

An American in Cortona

This May, I was fortunate enough to live in Cortona, Italy with the UGA Terry College of Business program. Largely known for its depiction in Under The Tuscan Sun, Cortona was the perfect way to experience small town Italian culture. UGA’s Cortona campus is a renovated monastery-turned-dorm at the top of the scenic mountain town. It was crazy how quickly it began to feel like home, almost 5,000 miles away from Georgia.

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Cortona is located in the farthest eastern corner of Tuscany atop a mountain. The streets and buildings are all made of stone with almost no greenery that is not in a pot, but this really adds to Cortona’s overall charm. The only flat street in town is Via Nazionale where all the shops and cafes are located. These are the cafes we would visit almost every day for a latte (only 1 euro!) and a pastry to work on our assignments. While the stone structures and streets add to the overall charm, the real charm of Cortona is its people. I honestly expected local people to not like us since we were American, but they were really patient and kind to us, as well as all tourists. UGA has had students coming to Cortona for the past 50 years, so they’re definitely used to us, but I think it helped that they knew we were genuinely there to learn about their culture. My favorite part of Cortona was its family owned, local artisan shops all around town. You could buy anything from handmade soap to custom designed clothing. While you might want to come prepared where your wallet is concerned ($$$) if you’re hoping to buy, it’s so much fun stopping in and meeting the owners and artists themselves!

Through this Terry College of Business study abroad program, we took an international business course and an Italian culture course. Our Italian culture course explored Italian art and literature, as well as the history behind it. By visiting local businesses and speaking with their owners, we learned fascinating information about the overall Italian business culture. I was most interested in two aspects: riposo and “marrying your employees.”

Riposo is basically the Italian “siesta” and it is still a very common practice in Italy. We had to wait until about 3pm to go to the cafe every day because they’d be closed from about 12:30 to 3 every single day. While I admit this definitely results in some profit loss and reduced productivity, it is genius from an employee job satisfaction standpoint. The mentality behind this practice is that employees aren’t living their entire waking life at work. This allows employees to feel as though going to work is an activity that occupies most of their day, but isn’t their whole life. They get to maybe nap, eat, or see family and friends during their break, which allows them to feel rejuvenated when they come back at 3 or 4pm until close around 7pm.

When I say “marrying your employees,” I mean that it is law in Italy that an employer cannot simply just fire an employee. An employer commits to employing someone for life, unless they do something insanely terrible or illegal. Even if they are a horrible employee, an employer is required by law to give them three warnings and then, if they do not correct the behavior, they can be let go. However, the fired employee has an option to appeal this, which can cost the employer thousands of dollars in legal fees, time and energy. While I say this, it is not necessarily a bad thing in the Italian culture. While lackadaisical employees can hinder productivity, often times it’s good for a business. This practice has encouraged the Italian people to see their job as a career and not so much so a stepping stone to the next best thing. For example, it was very common for 40 year old men to be a waiter at a restaurant and they took their job very seriously. Whereas at home in the US, a waiter is usually a bored college student trying to pay some bills and student loans. Waiters in Italy were always very concerned if you did not eat all of your food because they thought you didn’t enjoy the food. The success of the restaurant directly affects their chosen career, so they want to ensure customer’s satisfaction with their experience.

My favorite part of Italian culture is “aperitivo,” when everyone in town comes to the piazza around 6pm to sit, drink wine or walk around to talk to neighbors. It’s something both locals and tourists can participate in, which what I thought made this custom cool. This Huffpost article did a great job of explaining the historical significance behind it and the typical “aperitivo” food and drink. I didn’t know about Spritz before I went to Italy, but they are an Italian staple. I wasn’t a huge fan though, so I stayed with red wine most of the time! Italian’s eat very late, after aperitivo, so they usually eat around 9pm and later. The Italian culture believes eating is an activity for spending time with friends and family. In a traditional Italian dinner, there’s at least 3 courses and 5 courses is most common: antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno and dolce. I love Italian food, so it was great getting to try so many things each night. Some have asked me if we had to adjust to different portion sizes in Italy versus the “huge” American portions. Honestly, I ate way more food in Italy than I ever do at home in the US. While each portion may be small, a person gets full after 3 or more courses of carb-loaded food.

If you ever have the opportunity to not only go abroad, but live abroad, do it. I cannot stress enough how amazing it was to spend a month in this amazing little town. Immersing yourself in a culture so different from your own allows you to appreciate their way of life, but also your way of life back home. While I was very happy to be home, I already miss Cortona with every part of my being and I’ll forever be an Italophile.

More to come about my travels to Rome, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre and Venice! I just wanted to share about beautiful Cortona first! 

Pinterest the travel guide: Nashville edition

Pinterest the travel guide: Nashville edition

I recently went to Nashville for the weekend and I owe our successful trip all to Pinterest! Usually, I look solely to Instagram for travel recommendations. Instagram users find the coolest and often hidden gems in cities, and then are able to share the exact location for other users to find! However, for Nashville, I found that Pinterest was a great platform for bloggers to share sample itineraries for weekend trips. Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 2.00.06 AM

Even though it rained about 99% of our weekend, we were definitely able to make the most of our trip! Here are some of my favorite places we visited:

Draper James: First, I am obsessed with all things Southern and Draper James is classic Southern style. Second, Reese Witherspoon has been one of my role models ever since I can remember. She’s an amazing actress and businesswoman. And third, we actually got to meet her and she was so nice. So. Nice.

ACME Feed and Seed: ACME is a four story factory turned into a restaurant, bar and concert venue. This place was packed with both tourists and locals, and I definitely know why. You could easily spend your whole night in this one building. The rooftop bar had a great view of the river and city, while the ground floor had delicious drinks and food, as well as a live band.

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Murals: We hit a few of the most popular ones, but they are located literally all over the city. Murals are one of my favorite newer city trends. They’re art that everyone can relate to, while also livening up the area. I saw most of these on Instagram first, but some blogs from Pinterest helped me find their location!

Biscuit Love: I had heard so much about this brunch place online and from friends-of-friends, so we had to try it. The “bonuts” are definitely not overrated and worth every second of the wait in line. Get there early to avoid a line around the block!

The Broadway Strip: I feel like everyone should experience this at least once their life. The street is lined with huge neon signs and every bar is at least two stories high (most are three or four!). Each bar has multiple cover bands playing on each floor. We loved exploring the four floors of Honky Tonk Central, the old school car hung on the wall at Nudie’s and the party scene at The Stage.

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Antique Archeology: I was a History minor in college, so I’m a huge fan of the American Pickers show on the History Channel. My parents and I used to watch all day marathons on the weekends when I still lived at home. I had to include their Nashville store location on my Nashville list and I wasn’t disappointed! They had some crazy items, as well as tons of show merchandise for fans of the show.

The Loveless Cafe: The Loveless was one of those things that I knew was famous, but wasn’t sure why. Every famous country music artist has been and taken a picture there. While it is actually a little bit of drive out of the city, it was definitely worth the trip. The food was amazing and it was fun to learn about it’s history in its shops during the wait. It was originally one of the few stops on Highway 100 in the 1950s and has been famous for its Southern food ever since.

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More of Pinterest’s Nashville highlights include:

  • The Pancake Pantry
  • The Pharmacy
  • Pedal Tavern
  • Country Music Hall of Fame
  • The Grand Ole Opry
  • The Parthenon
  • Pinewood Social
  • Hattie B’s

Cause marketing: Who’s doing it right from a millennial’s perspective

It’s no big news that cause marketing is in right now. However, companies need to be vigilant about how their cause-marketing-related messages come across to consumers. Growing up around constant advertising, the Millennial generation has been conditioned to ignore and filter out messages from companies, resulting in a bit more cynicism than our predecessors. This cynicism gives us the ability to know if a company actually has good intentions or just wants to stay in the market with a false “do-gooder” appearance. I loved this article from DigiDay, talking about how cause marketing has been a little of “too much of a good thing” recently, or as some call it “causewashing.”

The companies that are correctly using cause marketing (no BS motives detected) are either: 1) essentially the ones that created the movement in the first place or 2) are dedicated to their causes without making it their only marketing strategy. When corporate social responsibility has been built into the core of a company’s brand identity, we’re all about it. The ultimate key to cause marketing is transparency about the cause and what exactly the company is doing it for it. Unfortunately for some, donating a mere 5% of proceeds to an obscure charity isn’t good enough anymore; we want to see real change from a company if they claim to have an impressive CSR policy.

Brands doing it right:

  • LUSH Cosmetics: LUSH is one of my all time favorite cosmetic brands and they are champion cause-marketers. Their charities directly align with their products in such a way that the product is made to work with the cause itself. For example, they are combating and bringing awareness to animal testing and harmful cosmetic ingredients simply by selling their products. While their whole business platform is a cause in itself, they also sell Charity Pots where a percentage of proceeds go to a specific charity.
  • Patagonia: Patagonia is one of the most transparent brands out there and they’re dedicated to their causes without making it their only marketing strategy. Most recently, they created an entire support campaign for Standing Rock, featuring almost no branding at all. This Standing Rock feature was the homepage for days. Patagonia has mastered the cause/product/content marketing balance.
  • Toms: Even with some recent backlash, the Tom’s brand story comes across as genuine and well-intentioned. In my opinion, Toms is one of the top brands that started this recent cause marketing trend in the first place. The Tom’s website incorporates photos of the children they assist on almost every page and the Toms employees giving them away, which is key. Consumers see the Toms brand actively working to help the cause themselves, not just a check sent in the mail. The One-for-One business model and tagline was crucial in the success of this 2006 startup. Consumers feel as though they have personally helped an in-need individual and changed a life by purchasing shoes for themselves.
  • Alex and Ani: Alex and Ani has so many things going right for them. All of their jewelry is eco-conscious, meaning both the materials used and production methods are sustainable. All of their products are made in America, which is a cause in and of itself. They also feature several “Charity By Design” collections, where a portion of the sales are donated to specific charities. Even with the various aspects of an amazing cause-marketing platform, they barely advertise it.
  • KIND: I really like KIND because they have really integrated their brand identity around just the name itself and I love their message. The food is kind for your body and the brand encourages kindness in the world. The Kind Foundation aids those superheroes in local communities that genuinely care about helping other people.

Pro tip: Never post anything like “For every Share, we’ll donate…” I hate this. It sounds like you are withholding money that could be doing the world a lot of good ransom for likes and shares. If you are that desperate for engagement, I would much more respect a company that would post something like, “We have this amount of money and we want to know who our customers want us to give it to! Vote here!” Voting or commenting allows you to reach your audience and fosters engagement, without seeming like you’re withholding money just for attention.

Here’s an infographic from an AdWeek article that I found to really ring true, at least in my opinion.

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March 12, 2017 AdWeek Article by Emma Bazilian

Wendy’s is savage and Twitterverse loves it

I know I’m not the first person to acknowledge how Wendy’s Twitter account is hilarious, but I wanted to address how I love it as a digital marketing strategy for the company.

Wendy’s understands who Twitter users are and how they utilize it as a platform. While there are Twitter users all over the demographic spectrum, the most active users are the millennial generation and younger. Millennials were the innovators that first made Twitter successful in its launch in 2006 and continue to consider it as one of their favorite platforms. Millennials largely use Twitter to: 1) talk about politics 2) complain about things and 3) share jokes and memes. Wendy’s marketing team has gone with #3 and ran with it. 

The overarching goal of a social media campaign is to create an online community around your brand, where you can facilitate discussion about the brand in a positive light. Nothing gets millennials talking more than a savage fast food company tweeting insults and “clapbacks” about its competitors. This clever use of brand personification makes millennials want to be Wendy’s best friend. This guy even wanted to hookup with Wendy’s, to which they replied “We are literally a restaurant.” 

If you haven’t seen Wendy’s Twitter yet, here’s one of my favorite videos that compiled the best of the best examples of Wendy’s tweets:

Insta the travel guide: Atlanta edition

I love doing “Insta the travel guide” posts for two reasons. 1) I get to spread the word about how one can use social media platforms to your advantage while traveling! 2) I try to convey to the marketing world and business owners the importance of the use of social media platforms to reach certain markets. For many like me, if we can’t find your business online, we can’t find your business in person.

My first blog post ever was about how I used the Instagram account, ATL Bucket List, to make the most out of my summer in the city! Now, I wanted to do a separate post about my favorite places I found through Instagram! ATL Bucket List and the Atlanta Places tag were great places to start, as well as stalking friends’ and family’s  accounts! Here are my top 9 places in Atlanta!

1. Murals: I am the most stereotypical millennial and loved the murals. They are all over the city and this Instagram account tells you where they all are! My friends from school came to visit and I dragged them all over the city to see them. This particular one is in the heart of the Edgewood neighborhood and definitely my favorite of the ones we saw!

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2. Jackson Street Bridge: This was by far the hardest place to find because most people don’t like tagging its exact location, but I found it! This bridge has the best cityscape view in the city (that I found so far)! Hopefully this helps someone else who had seen it pictures, but couldn’t find it!

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3. High Museum of Art:  I don’t live under a rock. I had heard about the High before, but the photos in the Places tag made me want to go! I wouldn’t say I am “into” art, but I loved exploring this place!

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4. Chattahoochee Coffee Company: In the back of a gated apartment community, there is the cutest coffee place with the BEST view in Atlanta (ITP!) Pull up to the call box, say “Coffee!” and they’ll buzz you in!

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5. Atlanta History Center: While the museum itself was very interesting, the best part is the Swan House out back and its gardens! I had seen photos of this place and had to find it. It’s absolutely gorgeous and a must-see while in Atlanta! It was once owned by the (very rich) Inman family in the 1930s. Today, it’s known for that the Hunger Games was filmed there!

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6. Sweet Auburn Curb Market: Definitely one of the coolest places I’ve been! Sweet Auburn Curb Market was started in 1918 after the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917, as part of the area’s revitalization efforts. Today, you can find really affordable produce and meats, as well as shop at various food court style restaurants! I highly recommend Bell Street Burritos, a local business similar to Barberito’s and Moe’s!

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7. Monday Night Brewing: Although one of the big three breweries in Atlanta, I initially found Monday Night through a friend’s Instagram and I had to go see the tie wall! While I wasn’t the hugest fan of their beer selection (I’m not a fan of really hoppy beer), it has a great atmosphere and hilarious tour guides. Tucked away in West Midtown, this a must try for a fun evening out!

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8. Midtown: Midtown is an obvious must-see, but a picture with the sign in Colony Square is a must-do while in Atlanta! Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

9. Georgia Aquarium: This one is cheating because I interned there this summer and I didn’t find it on Instagram, but it is definitely an Atlanta must-see and their Instagram is always on point. One of my favorite things I’ve ever done was getting to take a yoga class in front of Ocean Voyager! Processed with VSCO with se2 preset

The best thing that has ever happened to me in my life was catching this cutie’s attention and snapping this awesome picture of our staring contest! I love beluga whales.

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These are my top 9 spots in the city! What are your favorite spots in Atlanta?