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?

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Insta the travel guide: Philly edition

In any industry, the most powerful marketing tool has always been word of mouth recommendations. As consumers, we trust our friends’ opinions. If they have a great experience, we expect the same. In our social media driven society, it’s only natural that word of mouth has gone digital. Instagram has made it extremely easy to share our ideas with our friends and strangers by simply uploading a picture and a caption. It’s my go-to travel guide because I tend to like seeing the sights and experiencing the cool, local stuff instead of the tourist crazed attractions. If I’m ever in a new city, I always follow about 5-10 local Instagram accounts to find the best of the best and I haven’t been disappointed yet. My very first WordPress post was actually about my great experiences with the Atlanta Bucket List account. Most recently, I used Instagram to make the most out of my trip to Philadelphia! While we were only there for a couple days, we made the most out of the city.

Start off the with the Places tag or hashtag of the city you’re in to see the most popular photo ops. We didn’t see too many unique sights this trip because my mom was not up to walking 15 miles a day, but then again, neither was I. It was too cold for this southern girl.

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Then, search for accounts with the city in the name. phillyfoodies and philadelphiafoodie gave us such a great recommendation for brunch near our hotel, we ate there twice! Green Eggs Cafe was amazing and I highly recommend the rosemary potatoes and the cookie dough stuffed french toast. They also led us to Federal Donuts, which is hands down one of the coolest custom donut places I’ve ever been to!

I’m vegetarian, but my mom had to make the tough decision on whether to try Geno’s or Pat’s philly cheesesteaks. She went with Geno’s and she actually said she’d had better before. Our Uber driver said Pat’s was better, so we maybe should’ve listened to him and not based the decision on the most photogenic building. 🙂

We found Bar Bombon the old fashioned way (Google maps), but this place is my #1 Philly recommendation y’all. The entire restaurant is vegetarian, and you wouldn’t even know. My mom, a carnivore, said this was the best place we went to the entire trip! Highly recommend literally everything on the menu.

Thanks Insta for another great trip!

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Vine influencer marketing

If you’re a regular user of Vine, you’ll recognize the “Vine Famous,” always in the Comedy section with at least 50,000 likes on each Vine. These names include King Bach, David Lopez, Logan Paul, Thomas Sanders, AlliCattt, meechonmars, Lele Pons, Brandon Calvillo, Zach King, Brittany Furlan, etc. Instead of companies using only their Vine profiles with their own original content, they occasionally use these Vine famous people to promote their product in a creative, subtle way. Big businesses have recognized that they are influencers in the Vine world and that people look up to them. Through a sponsorship, the company gets to reach a new segment of the target market, and the Vine famous user is given money to make their Vines as successful as can be. However creative they may make the Vine, it is still very obvious to the viewers that it is a paid gig and that they probably don’t LOOOVE Z-Up or Dunkin Donuts THAT much to where they would dedicate an entire video to it for free. They also add a “#ad” to each caption, so it is very clear what is happening. These sponsored ads are now very common and somewhat of a goal for Vine users. You’ll actually see some not as “famous” people put in their caption “please sponsor me” or “trying to get that sponsor.”

With that being said, I’m really okay with it. These people are “famous” for a reason. They’re funny people that make funny videos. Except now, they just make funny videos that include a specific product and get money for it. It’s never fake; for example, a boring review or they pretend like they’ve never heard of something and they’re just now trying it, but already love it. They make it clear they’re getting paid. It could be the poor college student in me that commends them for turning their hobby (Vine) into something they can benefit from. A very wide range of companies that have used this influencer marketing, such as 7-Up, 5 Gum, Xfinity, Intel, Fanta, Velveeta, Best Buy, Budweiser, Coca-Cola,  Dunkin Donuts and more.

I’m not sure if this form of advertising is effective in terms of sales numbers, but in my opinion, it is effective in terms of brand awareness. The fact that Velveeta cheese and Intel can advertise using the exact same method makes Vine an interesting, dynamic platform. It is a unique hybrid of native advertising and influencer marketing.

Sex and the City: still so relevant 12 years later

My current obsession is Sex and the City (the series, not the movies). Some friends of mine told me I had to watch it immediately, and now I physically can’t stop watching.

Sex and the City was revolutionary for its time, proven by both its many awards and nominations, as well as its consistent popularity throughout the past 20 years. I’m a nerd, so I think its interesting how viewers are able to see how technology in America transformed from 1998-2004 through the show itself. For example, Carrie began the series with a desktop PC and a cordless home phone. She ends the series with a Macbook and a flip phone.

The most advanced technology featured in the show was early Amazon and TiVo. In one episode, Carrie even explained to the audience how Google worked. So, how did a show that was in its prime before digital media stay so relevant into today’s digital world? The technology of online streaming has allowed the fan base to grow exponentially, as new generations of women discover the show. Sex and the City fans keep engaged online through various platforms and have formed communities surrounding the brand. The show is timeless and relates to many types of women and their daily experiences, so the show has easily evolved into the digital world through its fans themselves.

  1. On HBO’s website, fans can download screensavers, shop for merchandise, follow a city tour guide and test their knowledge with a trivia game. I got a 91%, but I feel like I could do much better.
  2. Even though Facebook was created after the series had ended, the series has over 13 million fans on Facebook! 12 years after the show’s finale, they still post regularly on their Facebook page. They frequently highlight iconic scenes and quotes, which allows the true fans to reminisce on their favorite moments with the girls.
  3. There are various Twitter fan pages that tweet our favorite lines and photos from the girls. Many fans tweet back and comment, further developing the online community around the brand. One fan page has over 371,000 followers!
  4. Last but not least, GIFs are everywhere and I love them. The women of Sex and the City are so relatable and wise, you can quote them on anything. They’ve been through a lot in 6 seasons and they can offer a solution to any situation. The girls’ facial expressions and reactions are used on Buzzfeed articles, blogs, and quizzes everywhere. It’s hard to go one day online without seeing one of the girls on my social media, and that is fine with me.

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Starbucks gets it

Starbucks gets it

If you know anything about me, you know that I am in love with Starbucks. I’m currently typing this post sitting in Starbucks, while sipping my grande caramel iced coffee with cream. You may be silently judging me for supporting a “corporate monster” or being basic, but I can’t help but love the company, from both the coffee lover perspective, as well as from the marketer perspective. In my opinion, Starbucks is crushing the digital marketing game right now. Here’s how:

  1. Every person I know has the Starbucks app on their phone. The app is the company’s best asset right now. Customers can reload their card and pay for their order with their phone in seconds. They’ve mastered the fastest and easiest point of sale system without having to use Apple Pay or other similar third party technologies. The mobile order feature may have its ups and downs logistically, but more often than not, it is an extremely useful tool for customers on the go. It literally saved my life a few times this summer on the way to work when I hit the snooze 3 extra times.
    1. Side note: Gold Card. We all know that a loyalty program is one of the easiest marketing tools to keep customers coming back, but the Gold Card is the best I’ve seen. I’ll be the first person to tell you that I fell for it; hard. I felt like I was the créme de la créme of Starbucks customers when I got that shiny, personalized card in the mail. Now, on the app, you can whip out your digital gold card and be twice as basic and I love it.
  2.  They utilize their social media platforms correctly. There is nothing worse than a business that doesn’t know how to use its social media platforms. Starbucks effectively uses social media to achieve its overall goals of building brand awareness and product promotion. On Twitter, Starbucks frequently tweets original content and retweets a lot from fans. Starbucks uses its Facebook page to post photos and links, as well as respond to its customers in the comments. Its Instagram only features artistic photos and leaves the promotional content in the caption. Their Pinterest features DIYs and recipes on fancy coffees and pastries. Starbucks’ Youtube features both fun videos on coffee recipes, as well informational videos on where they source their beans. They even have a LinkedIn, where they share stories and information on the more corporate side of the company. Check out 1912 Pike, the official Starbucks blog, to learn about the company’s history and more than you ever need to know about coffee! I’m not saying that Starbucks is the only company that knows how to use its social media, but I’m just pointing out that if they weren’t doing it correctly, you’d know and you’d hate them for it.
  3. They create unique campaigns that they know people will like. This is really how Starbucks is setting themselves apart from the rest, as far as digital marketing is concerned. They create fun, engaging campaigns that both promote the brand and make each customer feel special. Everyone loves coffee in general, so the longer Starbucks can keep a customer engaged with their brand, the better. Here are three promotions that are happening right now that customers, like me, are loving!
    1. Did you know that right now you can talk to The Real PSL? To promote the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte, customers can Facebook message PSL! He’s obviously just an automated ChatBot that responds to certain phrases, but it’s just for customer enjoyment and product promotion. It’s simple, yet entertaining!
    2. Make sure you enter your phone number to receive exclusive, early access to the PSL. All you do is enter your phone number and it texts you your very own PSL Fan Pass to show your barista at checkout!
    3. I’m about to win Starbucks for Life, just as soon as I melt that one last magical ice cube that completes my game piece row and then, I’ll be sipping on Starbuck’s coffee until I die. Pro tip: You get 4 free extra ice cubes when you enter your address in the link at the bottom of the page. 🙂

 

Wildwood Revival knows its audience

Last year, my friend and I discovered an amazing local music festival and immediately fell in love with it. Wildwood Revival features over 20 folk/americana artists each year and takes pride in that it is not “your average music festival.” Artists perform in the cutest barn on Cloverleaf Farm in Arnoldsville, Georgia. I went again this weekend and it was amazing.

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This place is always hoppin’. I attended last year and again this year. BOTH years have completely sold out. While they have a relatively limited number of tickets for sale due to the smaller venue space, it can still be hard to get 1,400 people to buy $78 regular admission tickets and $278 VIP tickets when you’re such a small, local event. However, Wildwood Revival knows how to reach its target market and sells out every year.

The usual crowd is mostly mid-20s and 30s hipsters with a few college students (me) and a few older hippies/empty nesters. These demographics are heavy Facebook and Instagram users (if they use social media much at all), so Wildwood Revival makes sure to effectively reach their target market through both of these platforms. While this may seem obvious, they reach them from two angles and then really hook them in on their website.

Wildwood Revival promotes themselves on their brand’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, but also, all 20+ artists heavily promote the event on their accounts, as well. This reaches 20+ times the amount of the target market that are very likely to purchase a ticket. If their favorite artist will be there, as well as 20 other similar artists in the same genre, they’re sure to at least consider it. A regular artist will usually Instagram a picture or tweet once or twice about a show, but at Wildwood Revival, artists will post about it 3-4 times on each of their social media accounts.

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Once a potential customer reaches the website, they’re sold. I want whoever their photographer is for my wedding one day. The photos are gorgeous and really capture how amazing the event is. They highlight all of the artists and food vendors in an organized and aesthetically pleasing way. Almost all of the food vendors offer dishes made with organic, all natural ingredients. They sell reusable cups onsite, so there is not one plastic cup used all three days and it avoids tons of wasted plastic. They have various craft vendors that sell various sustainable products, from recycled metal jewelry to all natural hair care products. Their website highlights all of this, which they KNOW their hipster target market will love.

You may be thinking “Is that it?” It kind of is, but this works for them. Wildwood Revival relies on Facebook and Instagram as far as digital marketing is concerned, but also heavily relies on word of mouth. Their target market loves the fact that they don’t advertise that much and they feel special when they’re one of the lucky ones that finds out about it. Wildwood Revival has 4,362 followers on Instagram, 3,581 likes on Facebook and I’ve told every single person I’ve ever met about it; so overall, it’s an effective method in my opinion. 🙂

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Use Instagram to get the most out of your city

This summer I moved to Atlanta and interned with Georgia Aquarium (the best decision I’ve ever made and I could talk about it all day). I’m not originally from Atlanta and I didn’t know what all there was to do in the city, so I followed an Instagram account that did everything for me.

ATL Bucket List highlights the trendiest and hottest spots of Atlanta. It focuses on local food and drink, but also frequently features attractions, street art and special events. The Instagram account was only created a little over a year ago in March 2015 and already has over 57,700 thousand followers (and increasing every day!). Alyssa, the account’s founder, has now expanded ATL Bucket List into a blogFacebook Page and Twitter.

Atlanta isn’t the only city to have this type of Instagram account. Nashville has a very similar account, Nashville Guru, and Chicago has an almost identical Chicago Bucket List. I’m sure there are many more cities with similar accounts that I just haven’t visited yet. If you can’t find a similar Instagram account for your city, I highly recommend starting one. Alyssa has become a major influencer in the Atlanta community in just over a year. This could have have easily been anyone! All it takes is one great idea and an Instagram account to gain a following. Through ATL Bucket List, she has gotten some exclusive VIP invites to special events, as well as free swag, from organizations like Chateau Elan and The Atlanta Beer Festival, to give away on her account.

Business owners should go home and pray that she happen upon their business. Just one post and 60 thousand potential new customers have been reached. These are 60 thousand followers there solely to get advice on where in Atlanta they should spend their money next. I am living proof that this is true. I saw these places posted on her account and tried most of them the next day. If you’re an Atlanta business owner yourself and ATL Bucket List hasn’t happened upon your business yet, Alyssa can be easily contacted by the email address located in her bio. If you really want to solidify your chances of being featured, you could always follow in Chateau Elan’s and The Atlanta Beer Festival’s footsteps by bribing her with free stuff. I’m sure she’d be willing to give your business a try then. 🙂