Author Archive

The importance of good design and branding

December 12, 2012

A brand is a kind of promise. It is a set of fundamental principles as understood by anyone who comes into contact with a company. A brand is an organization’s reason for being and how that reason is expressed through its various communications media to its key audiences, including customers, shareholders, employees and analysts. A brand can also describe these same attributes for a company’s products, services, and initiatives. —

The Apple brand is one of the most widely recognized, on a global scale. Their logo is clean, elegant and easily implemented. You may remember a certain point in time when the company began to use the apple logo monochromatically (as opposed to the rainbow stripes), signaling a new era for Apple. Smart branding allowed the company to clearly communicate a change in direction while continuing to build its reputation. The Apple brand is distinctive and delivers a promise: quality of design and ease of use.

We really enjoyed this video post, “How to design like Apple” from (especially the video and whiteboard technique)! Take a look, then tell us what brands stand out for you.


Social Media ROI

November 8, 2012

Great video from Ignite demonstrating that Social Media’s ROI is real and measureable at every stage of the sales funnel:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Preference
  • Intent
  • Purchase
  • Support
  • Loyalty
  • Advocacy

Check it out!

Knoxville’s Blue Media Boutique Merging with Efficience

January 26, 2012

Interactive Firm to Become Division of Knoxville’s Second-Largest Software Developer

Knoxville, Tenn. – Efficience, Knoxville’s second-largest software development and consulting company, announced today its merger with Knoxville-based Blue Media Boutique, an interactive creative services firm.

The Blue Media Boutique brand, established in Knoxville in 2008 and led by Tori W. Rose, will become a trademarked division of Efficience to provide user experience and interface design for Efficience’s custom application software.

The two companies began working together in 2011, with projects that included such clients as Radio Systems Corporation, Innovative Events and

Efficience will maintain Blue Media Boutique’s web development, interactive marketing and social media strategy services for Blue Media’s existing client base and will continue to grow this new side of Efficience’s business.

“Our two companies already had a relationship in place, with Tori’s team creating stronger user-experience / user-interface solutions for several of our clients’ software programs,” said Efficience President April Cox. “We now will have the benefit of Tori’s team fully engaged with all of our clients at the appropriate stage to make sure they get the most functional applications with strong, intuitive design.”

According to Rose, the merger represents a unique pairing in the regional marketplace.

“Among local interactive and web design firms, there are few that offer the vast level of in-house developer and quality assurance talent that our team offers, now combined with Efficience,” Rose said.

“Before, there was occasional business that I had to turn away because of how complex the back-end piece might be to a website development project, for example,” Rose said.  “Now, no project will be too large for us.  We’re no longer stuck in a small-to-medium range of clients, whether by quantity or size of project.”

Rose’s team of eight creative services, graphic design and social media professionals will join Efficience’s team of 50, which includes software developers and technical staff based both locally in Knoxville and in Efficience’s office in Puducherry, India, which employs all full-time employees.

Key clients of each firm have recently included, for Efficience: Coca-Cola, Ritway, and the West Virginia Department of Education; and for Blue Media Boutique: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Dominion and The District in Bearden.

More information can be located at

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Download the release here.

BlueOut Knoxville: a charity event you don’t want to miss!

August 10, 2011

Want to give more than $5,000 to your favorite charity and have a great time doing it? On September 29th, 2011, Knoxville is going to be a BlueOut! Bluegrass, Blue Moon, Pabst Blue Ribbon, BBQ and Bleu Cheese Cole Slaw.

BlueOut Knoxville was born out of a collaboration between two of Knoxville’s most involved social media creative marketing firms. During Social Slam ‘11, Tori Rose of Blue Media Boutique and Jeremy Floyd of Bluegill Creative discussed opportunities to break the traditionally competitive mold of local marketing firms and consider opportunities to work together for good. A few weeks later they reached out to Margaret Slattery at Blue Frog Creations to bring a video element to the table.

The result. BlueOut Knoxville—a charitable event to close summer one last sunny afternoon with beer, BBQ, and Bluegrass.

The way it works:

1. Between August 1, 2011 and August 31, 2011, nominate (via this form) and vote for your favorite charities.

2. On September 1st, the top 3 charities with the most votes will be named the blue ribbon finalists.

3. Between September 1st and the September 29th (the night of the event), votes may be purchased for $1.

At 8:30 pm on the night of BlueOut Knoxville, the winning charity will be announced!

Get involved today!

QR mistakes to avoid (from Mashable)

August 7, 2011

Although QR codes are becoming more and more popular with our clients, many are still learning, and some are actually learning from their mistakes. The following Mashable article outlines five big mistakes to avoid.

The biggest takeaway—put yourself in your client’s shoes. Is your campaign message compelling enough that you would pull out your Smartphone? And, would you be happy with the the pay-off behind the code?

Tell us what your QR campaign is doing. We want to hear from you!

Mistake 1: Not Testing the Code

time qrCommon sense right? Until you’re able to read a QR code just by looking at it, you should always test the proofs with a variety of smartphones and scanning apps before you release a campaign.

This is the simplest way to spot scanning problems. For instance, a small placement (less than an inch) will often be too dense to scan if you’ve encoded a longer URL, but using or to automatically generate a short URL QR code is an easy fix.

Since QR codes feature up to a 30% error correction rate, there’s flexibility for creative branding and tweaks. But if the designer accidentally overdid it, test-scanning is an easy path to being the office hero that day.

For example, the above image is taken from “15 Beautiful and Creative QR codes.” While visually interesting, I’m fairly confident this isn’t scanable.

Mistake 2: Getting Too Fancy With Text

olsen qrImage courtesy of Yiying Lu.

If your goal is to get people to a mobile web experience, you should only ever encode a short URL. Don’t include any plain text, since many barcode scanners (even gold standards like ShopSavvy) won’t tease out the link. If you’re hoping a user will copy/paste on a mobile device, don’t bet on it.

Think of the QR code as a physical hyperlink that every barcode scanner should be able to immediately “click.” If your QR code requires the user to do much more than point and scan to arrive at the intended content, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Take the image above. I love the Olsen twins as much as the next guy, but these QR codes result in the oft-problematic text string + link combo. Fail bonus: The site consistently turns up invalid security certificate errors.

Mistake 3: Serving up Non-Mobile Pages

coke qrYour QR code scans successfully but you’ve pointed the user to a standard desktop website, when 99.9% of QR codes are scanned by a mobile device. Fail.

Get acquainted with HTML5 to give your mobile web app that native app feel. You can either hire a developer to build your mobile site or use a non-technical modular CMS (content management system) like Paperlinks if it suits your campaign objectives.

This Coca-Cola QR code’s heart is in the right place (the MyCokeRewards program) but the resulting non-mobile website is all but impossible to navigate.

Mistake 4: Putting QR Codes Where There’s No Data Signal

red bull qr

Where your ad will run is just as important as how you implement it.

Tesco’s recent QR code “grocery store” in a Korean subway worked great because those platforms have Wi-Fi. This is not the case in the U.S. Placing QR codes in locations without Internet access is a sure way to make your audience upset. Make sure you know where the ads will be, and if possible, run tests to make sure they are visible and will still work.

For example, the Red Bull campaign QR code above was in a New York City subway, so I have no idea what it does.

Mistake 5: Not Offering Enough Value

marines qr

This point is highly subjective but also probably the most important. The proper mindset is to reward the user for scanning your QR code. This “reward,” however, will change depending on what you’re trying to promote.

Try to avoid redundancy (a digital copy of your flyer), irrelevance or dullness (your company’s street address). Take the above image. The U.S. Marine Corps. QR code promises a cool experience but instead leads to a wallpaper download and a commercial.

When coupled with a clearly articulated call-to-action near the QR code, we’ve found the most compelling campaigns tend to offer one or more of the following:

  • Exclusive rich media, videos and photos
  • Exclusive or time-sensitive access
  • Free downloads or swag
  • “Instant Win” contests
  • Special offers, coupons or gifts
  • “Secret” information
  • Deep integration with social media to activate viral loops

75 B2B Facebook Marketing Tips from Social Media B2B

June 10, 2011

One of the blogs we follow and really enjoy, Social Media B2B, recently compiled a list of the top 75 Facebook tips for B2B marketers. We’ve blogged before about the importance of compelling content within the social media space and really engaging/interacting with your audience. We’ve also posted about the need to align your SEO efforts, driving traffic back to one spot (your Facebook page, your website, your blog). With those two things in mind, take a look at the list below for great ideas on how to get great results from your business Facebook page.

Liking the Page

1. Ask your staff, customers, vendors, and partners — who already know you and like you — to “Like” your Facebook page first. (source)

Facebook Content

2. Share lots of photos, and ask your fans to share photos. Facebook’s Photos remain the most viral feature of its platform. (source)

3. Write for the newsfeed, not for your wall. (source)

4. Don’t worry about writing too little. (source)

5. Be strategic and pay attention to signal vs. noise. (source)

6. Write posts that encourage sharing across the network. (source)

7. Boost your comments by asking questions, but stay away from simple Yes/No answers. (source)

8. Mix it up a little between videos, photos, questions and information (source)

9. Use the 80-20 rule to determine how much other people’s content to post versus your own. (source)

10. Use @ tagging strategically. (source)

11. Target by location or language. (source)

12. Tailor your content to mobile users. (source)

13. Diversify your team’s voices. (source)

14. Open the door to user content — but not the floodgates. (source)

15. Keep posts 80 characters long or shorter. (source)

16. Don’t Be Afraid to Show You’re Human. (source)

17. Have a Unique Voice. (source)

18. Diversify Your Content. (source)

19. Post original and relevant content. (source)

20. Post industry articles and blog posts fresh from your newsreader. (source)

21. Share exclusive, behind the scenes information. (source)

22. Write simply and plainly. (source)

23. Think mainstream for content. (source)

Analyze and Optimize Content

24. Use Edgerank to find your best & worst days. (source)

25. Monitor which posts attract the most Likes and comments (eyeball), and use Insights – Facebook’s own analytics tool – for data. (source)

26. Track the Performance of Your Posts. (source)

Calls to Action

27. Treat your Facebook “Like” button or link to your Facebook Page like any call to action – make it easy to spot. (source)

28. Encourage others to share your calls to action, so they show up in their newsfeed. (source)

Tabs and Landing Pages

29. Make creative use of Tabs. (source)

30. Choose a “landing tab” wisely. (source)

31. Have calls to action on your landing tab. (source)

32. The landing page should be relevant to the ad driving visitors there. (source)

33. Offer incentives. (source)

34. Keep it up to date. (source)

35. Provide interesting content. (source)

How and When to Post

36. Watch Your Post Frequency and Timing. (source)

37. There is a short window of opportunity to gain traction with an update. (source)

38. Be careful with automated posting services like NetworkedBlogs or syncing updates through your Twitter feed. (source)

39. Establish a regular schedule for your brand’s Facebook updates. (source)

40. Post towards the end of the week (source)

41. Weekends are more Facebook sharing friendly. (source)


42. Know your audience well, and when you make a mistake, quickly own up, do right by your audience and fix the problem. (source)

43. Don’t forget to send an update to fans. (source)

44. Allow your fans to tag photos on your Page. (source)

45. Put Your Fans in Charge Every Now and Then. (source)

Interaction off the Facebook Page

46. Integrate Facebook outside of your Fan Page, on your website, in as many places as you can. Create more compelling opportunities for people to buy your product based on their friends’ Likes. (source)

47. Find synergy with other organizations and entities, and then work together to promote each other’s Facebook pages so that everyone benefits. (source)

Optimize Your Facebook Page for Search

48. Link to your Facebook page from your website home page, using your brand in the anchor or alt‐text. (source)

49. Use your brand name in your posts. (source)

50. Get links to your Facebook Page by driving social engagement and “likes.” (source)

51. Use Facebook Shares and Likes to improve rankings of any page on your website. (source)

52. Interlink your directory pages with parallel Facebook pages. (source)

53. Integrate your website broadly with Facebook Social Plugins and Facebook Connect. (source)

Facebook Advertising

54. Restrict ads to people that don’t Like your Page. (source)

55. Invest in sponsored stories – they work. (source)


56. Find the resources to respond to your fans questions and inquiries. (source)

57. Accept you won’t work a 9-5. (source)


58. Assess the business value of your Page. (source)

59. Hold real-world events. (source)

60. Make use of “Add to My Page’s Favorites.” (source)

61. If you have a physical location, use Place Pages and Deals to drive traffic through your doors. (source)

62. Respond to comments. (source)

63. Polls delivered directly to users’ news feeds are not only effective in their reach but also in their ability to drive engagement. (source)

Facebook Mistakes

64. Broadcasting Content. (source)

65. Not Investing Adequate Time. (source)

66. Being Boring or Predictable. (source)

67. Failing to Learn About Facebook Mechanics and Tools. (source)

68. Violating Facebook’s Terms. (source)

69. Assuming People Go To Your Fan Page Versus Seeing Your Posts In Their News Feed. (source)

70. Expecting Welcome Tabs To Get You Lots Of Fans. (source)

71. Overestimating Apps and Tabs. (source)

72. No Budget For Ads To Acquire Fans. (source)

73. Posting In A Self Centered Way, Not Trying To Get Likes And Comments. (source)

74. Not Optimizing For Impressions And Feedback Rate. (source)

75. Over-Selling and Hard-Selling Without Conversing Or Arousing Desire First. (source)

Kidney Donor found through Twitter

May 31, 2011

I saw this report a few weeks ago and have been remiss in posting about it. Better late than never. From NBC’s Today show, here’s an inspirational story of a Mayo Clinic patient with kidney disease who received a life-saving transplant after her daughter made connections with a volunteer kidney donor through social media:

Get LinkedIn for business

March 25, 2011

I’m getting more and more questions from clients about the value of LinkedIn, so perfect timing for this Mashable post that hit my inbox this morning. I, personally, am not as active in LinkedIn as I am in Facebook on a daily basis, but I absolutely see its value. I’ve connected with several business professionals in my industry and the groups I subscribe to provide a fantastic networking space online. And, unfounded or not, I do believe people take me and my business more seriously in the LinkedIn space. Here’s what Mashable reports:

LinkedIn recently passed 100 million users, meaning its population is bigger than most countries. But what kind of country would LinkedInLand be? An old, rich, well-educated one.

According to the infographic below, created by Online MBA, 68% of LinkedIn users are 35 or older, 74% have a college degree or better and 39% make more than $100,000 a year. As those stats illustrate, although LinkedIn may not have the buzz of Facebook or Twitter right now, it has an enviable demographic base. The company also is profitable, fast-growing and expanding into new lines of business like news aggregation. As LinkedIn prepares to go public this year, here’s an overview of the phenomenon that Reid Hoffman created 8 years ago.

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“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for the Droid

December 13, 2010

My three-year-old and I just watched this movie and he is hooked (and secretly, so am I…it’s one of my favorites this time of year). So, how happy am I to have found this classic for the Droid? It’s available for $3.99.

The app, which come from publisher Oceanhouse Media, is top-notch, intended to be both “engaging and educational” for young readers.

Mashable review:

There are three ways to read each book/app. If you choose to have to book read to you, the apps highlight individual words as the story is read by a professional narrator. You can also choose to read the book yourself or auto-play. When you touch the image on your Android device’s screen, the words zoom up.

These apps also include custom background music and audio, special effects and edu-taining features along with the original artwork and text of the Dr. Seuss classics.

The app is already getting 5-star reviews from parents of young kids, and several have said it works well on the Samsung Galaxy Tab as well as traditional mobile devices.

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NPR: “New Networks Target Discomfort With Facebook”

December 1, 2010

I’m traveling today and any time that happens, I actually have a chance to catch up on “social media in the news” stuff. This morning, I heard some great commentary on NPR re: start-up social networks that are trying to woo people with the promise of better privacy controls. I am a definite supporter of the underdogs here, but can’t help but wonder how they’ll ever catch up. Facebook has such momentum now and is constantly reinventing itself with new apps, new security measures, new interfaces, and so on.

I agree with many that a network that better represents my real-world relationships to people would be fantastic. Right now my friends on Facebook are a mix of high school pals I haven’t seen in years, friends I see everyday, business colleagues, relatives and everything in between. Facebook Groups functionality allows me to segment to an extent, but there’s room for expansion here. Additionally, I’d love to see similar functionality—more robust functionality—with my business fan page. Of course, Facebook was invented for the individual, but as more and more businesses flock to it for exposure, my hope is the features and functions will improve to support that growing demographic.

Take a listen and let me know what you think. Who has a chance against this social networking giant? Rise up small start-ups and let us hear your cry!

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