Having a Girl’s Night? .. Tune in to the NFL!!

No, that is not a typo. The NFL can now be part of a “girl’s night”. According to the article “Women’s Top-Watched Show Is Not What You Think” by Michael McCarthy, “Sunday Night Football” has tremendously increased its popularity among women.

As someone who is from Chicago (and an huge Bears fan) I can understand the culture of football in the States. It is more than just a culture. People literally live, breath, and eat football. Entire Sundays, Mondays, and now Thursdays are dedicated to this sport. The difference is that now, it isn’t just men who are watching or talking about it.

Women are increasingly interested in this sport. Some may ask, why now? Well, as someone who has followed football her entire life, it’s easy to say it isn’t something new. The interest among women could have always been there.

But ‘now’ a new phenomenon has occurred. The internet, media, and television outlets have made it simple to understand the game! Social media has connected fans from all over the world that can comment on play-by-play action. Anyone can now follow the game and actually understand what is going on.

Being a Bears’ (or any other team) fan can be compared to being brand loyal. The Bears’ franchise is a brand in itself and drives the behavior of its fans. Social media 
has only allowed the loyalty to grow.

Fans can post pictures on Instagram of their game day apparel or live shots from the side lines. They can use Twitter to connect with players, coaches, and professional commentators. They can also use their own twitter feed to comment on every play. Facebook connects fans and rivals through status updates. (My news feed on a Bears game day is overwhelmed with ‘DA BEARS’ shout-outs). Fantasy football has allowed fans to create their own teams and compete against their friends based on how good (or bad) their players do each week. Fans can also share their views on sports blogs. The fans now can control the information posted on the internet and make their own opinions.

And as this online community continues to grow, more and more fans will feel comfortable to join.
So how did the NFL react to an increased female audience? Well according to the McKinsey&Company article, ‘Demystifying Social Media’ social media has four primary functions. The NFL organization has utilized these four functions to their advantage.

1. Monitor

  • NFL has monitored social channels for trends among fans and has identified that more women are showing interest in the sport.
  • This was picked up by surveys, an increase in female tweets about the NFL, an increase in Facebook updates, and overall female attendance at games.

2. Respond

  • NFL responds to this growing trend by hiring more women commentators and expanding their women’s NFL apparel line.

3. Amplify

  • NFL has created such a positive buzz around its season and has openly welcomed their new target audience: Women.

4. Lead

  • NFL has allowed Victoria’s Secret to launch the PINK NFL Collection. Women can choose between 32 teams to represent through stylish PINK apparel.
  • Victoria’s Secret is an iconic women’s brand and for the NFL to link itself to the brand shows the attempt to include women into their fan base and generate long-term behavioral changes. And life-long fans.

Trying to Optimize Your Online Presence?

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If so, you should ask yourself: What is SEO??

In the most basic terms, Search Engine Optimization is the process of increasing the ranking of a website in search engines by increasing its traffic.

I recently read an article in Forbes that listed 6 basic components of a strong SEO strategy. Here they are:

1. Keywords

  • These are the words that people are using to search for a particular brand, company or product. In order to be successful, companies need to understand their target and how people are searching for their products. Google Adwords is a tool that helps companies choose the keywords they want to show up with. The Adwords keyword tool shows companies how competitive certain keywords are. This is very beneficial when a company doesn’t know which keywords they should spend their money on.

2. Mega Tags

  • Tags just simply get highlighted in the title and description of company websites according to what is searched. This can be kept in mind when choosing keywords.

3. Content

  • Like I had stated in my previous post, content is so important. Companies may have a strong presence in retail locations or even just a local presence, but that wont resonate online unless the content is there.

4. Backlinks

  • This is how social media can play a key role in increasing traffic. A company  that broadcasts its brand across several platforms and then links each platform back to their website builds traffic! Blogs, tweets, Facebook updates, press releases and so many more platforms can be utilized and backlinked!

5. Social Media

  • Social media not only will help with back links but it will help in awareness. The internet interconnects people from all over the world and builds a community. If a company builds a strong community around their brand and gives its members platforms to talk, connect, and get involved, their website will be in the forefront.

6. Product Images

  •  People LOVE visual items. Pictures and videos are liked and shared all over the internet. Providing good images and media sources will promote a positive image in consumers’ minds.

These six components can really help a company but it is really important to keep in mind that technology is continuously changing! It’s important to be flexible and willing to curve with changes.

How Does your Company Rank in Searches?

In my previous post I had touched base on how the internet is seemingly infinite. For those who want to find answers to burning questions, that is truly a great thing, But, how beneficial is the scope of the internet for businesses?

Every company, who has a presence online, hopes to rank high when searched by consumers and potential consumers. Traditionally, companies designed a website that is appealing and hoped that their brand awareness would lead people to their domain. But simple brand awareness is not enough in the competitive world of online searching.

Today, companies need take a strategic approach to the content they load on the internet. It has to add value to consumers by being relevant to their searches. Content that appears first in search engines is the content that is most appropriate coupled with the best quality of information.

The companies that have a strong brand identity can capture the interests of their target audience by designing aImage high-quality website and also utilize social media platforms to drive more traffic to their website. Seems a lot easier than it actually is. Finding what consumers are looking for or interested in takes a lot of time and research. It requires companies to listen to the “buzz” that is generated online.

But, with a quality website and social media presence, companies then can look at search engine optimization metrics to see how well their site is doing or not doing in search engines. Various metrics can track indexation, landing page results, keywords associated with a brand, and online traffic the site experiences. Utilizing SEO and analyzing these metrics can create a successful online strategy to take advantage of the internet.

To Infinity and Beyond?

Isn’t that what you think of when someone says anything about searching the web? It just seems to me that the web is truly infinite. Where does it end? Where does it even begin? That, in fact, is the most amazing aspect about the web: there is no concrete starting and ending point. You make your own start every time you begin a search and you create your own end every time you leave the web. And then it starts all over again, a continuous cycle.

So how does an Internet search begin? With an idea. 

Ideas can be infectious, rewarding, crazy, dumb, inspirational, or even dangerous. But it all starts with an idea. A random thought or a calculated move. Regardless how it came about, the idea needs ammo. In other words, it needs backup, a way to research, or just a justification that it exists or can exist. So the reason for a search emerges.

Now the easy part..  conducting a search. Traditional search methods involved a trip to the library and physically looking for information. Nowadays, getting up from the couch isn’t even necessary. All one needs is a means to get to the Internet. With that, people can choose between search engines to get the information they need. Popular engines include.. GoogleBing, and Yahoo Search. Google has gained the reputation to be the place to go to find anything you need. The phrase “google it” is heard when someone doesn’t know the answer to a question.

The difficult part about online searches is sorting through the “garbage”. Anyone can put anything they like on the web and claim it is credible. Google has done a good job of making things organized and tailored to the specific search a person may be doing. There are options to do image, video, books, news, maps, scholar paper, and even blog searches.

Online searches may seem simple but they do require a lot of research, sifting through bad information, and time to find reliable and credible information. But after all of that is said and done, being able to search the web is truly a beautiful thing. I mean if I can be one click away from seeing the latest picture of my celebrity babes, I’m a happy girl. 😉

VW Moves Towards a Sustainable Future

It looks like Volkswagen is redesigning its branding to become the leading automaker in ecological terms!

The company has announced a new green commitment and an investment of about $82.1 billion. Their program will run for the next five years and money will be spent on more efficient vehicles, powertrains and technologies, and environmentally compatible production. Volkswagen also aims to drop its average emissions from new vehicles to 120 grams Co2/km by 2015. (From its current 135.5 g/km)

Their new attempts for this green reputation came about after being targeting by Greenpeace over its lobbying against cuts to EU emissions targets.

The company has also set a goal to reduce emissions from production processes and plants. Its investment of about $790 million is meant for the expansion of renewable energies like wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. Manufacturing plants are also set to reduce water and energy consumption.

Volkswagen is clearly aiming to raise the bar when it comes to sustainability within its own company. They are taking steps to introduce their company and brand as sustainable and responsible.

We talked about how sustainability can offer cost savings benefits for companies in the long run. But, more importantly it can offer companies a competitive advantage! I believe that Volkswagen will have a clear advantage over its competitors by taking this initiative to invest in a more sustainable future for its company. Sustainable measures help decrease costs, increase revenue, and decrease employee turnover.

Volkswagen is really proving that sustainability is the future and companies really need to get with the program.

Designing Sustainable Packaging

A recent report by the Dogwood Alliance, an environmental group, has come up with 8 steps that can help companies move toward more sustainable packaging. The eight steps include:

1. Embrace corporate leadership on sustainability: Adopt an environmental packaging policy and get buy-in from leadership.

2. Use a full life cycle and supply chain approach: Determine the complete scope of impacts from packaging along the entire supply chain.

3. Reduce overall packaging and increase efficiency: Minimize packaging, make it lighter.

4. Increase use of recycled fiber

5. Eliminate paper from controversial forestry practices (with this step, Dogwood Alliance wades into the ongoing debate on sustainable forestry, urging companies should use only paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and avoid paper certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.)

6. Increase in-store recycling and recovery: Provide recycling within restaurants and encourage recycling when customers take packaging away.

7. Eliminate toxic inks and labels.

8 Reduce carbon footprint: Make transportation more efficient through better shipping setups and fuel-efficient vehicles.

These eight steps are aligned with our class notes about how to make packaging more sustainable. The concepts of reducing, reusing, and recycling are embedded in the fundamentals of these steps. Dogwood Alliance also addresses the toxins that are found on labels, which can be detrimental to the environment as well.

McDonald’s and Starbucks have earned high praise from Dogwood Alliance for their attempts to make their packaging more sustainable. McDonald’s has reduced the paper in its napkins by 21% and have announced a new environmental initiative. The company is launching a program to get rid of polystyrene cups. Polystyrene is not commonly recycled and the foam particles break up into small pieces that can be dispersed. They are often carried into our oceans where animals perceive them as food! (See last post) Over the last decade, McDonalds has also eliminated more than 300 million pounds of packaging! These are great steps for sustainable practices within the company. Starbucks has set out a goal to provide only reusable and recyclable cups by 2015.

These major companies are taking responsibility for their waste production and are setting a great example for other companies to follow!

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

What Is It: Huge trash dump in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!

Who Caused It: Humans

Why Should We Care: Its killing life!

How Can We Help: Reduce Reuse Recycle!!

What if I told you the largest concentration of waste is not in a landfill, but floating in the middle of the ocean? Would you believe me? I bet those who have never heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch would have never imagined such a thing to exist! Well, let me tell all of you, IT EXISTS!

The Great Pacific Garbage patch is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and is comprised of two separate vortexes: Eastern and Western garbage patches. It is made of 90% plastic. That is so mind-boggling. Every bit of plastic that has ever been made still exists and it seems that most of it ends up in the middle of our ocean. This is just awful.

Think about the poor birds, animals, and fish that are affected. It is said that the ratio of plastic to plankton is 6:1. So many of these creatures are found dead with plastic in their bellies! The thought of it makes my heart hurt, as I am such an animal and ocean lover.

The worst part about all of this, is that it is our fault! All of this trash comes from human made products. Americans alone use up 30% of world’s resources and account for 30% of the waste, but only make up 5% of the world’s population. We are simply at an age where we consume and throw away too much!!

And who suffers? The environment and natural habitats around us! So what can we do to help stop this? Reduce Reuse and Recycle! Everyone needs to be aware of this problem and reduce his or her consumption of plastic. We are also entering into an age of Reuse! We can turn the plastic that we use into materials that can be put right back into the industrial cycle. This will help reduce the amount that is simply just thrown away.  Finally, we need to accept responsibility for our actions and make the efforts to dispose of our trash properly. Recycling plastics and other materials can really help ensure that our waste ends up in the right places and not out in the ocean. Today Americans generate about 10.5 billion tons of plastic waste per year but only recycle about 1 to 2% of it.

If everyone takes responsibly to make a change and take steps to becoming more sustainable, problems like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can be reduced.

Capturing Carbon … Huh?

Ah, yes those scary words: Climate Change. There are many people still out there who do not believe that our climate is changing. Well, this is what I would like to say to those people, Wake Up. The fact of the matter is that our generation is burning fossil fuels that put Co2 in the air at faster rates than ever before. About 98% of the Co2 buildup in our atmosphere, which causes the greenhouse effect, is caused by man. It’s up to mankind to do something about it!

So okay, we know the climate is in fact changing, we can see it from the different yearly patterns and crazy storms that have occurred all over the world.  We also know that there is a massive buildup of Co2 in the atmosphere. The problem is that we don’t really know the exact effect one has on the other. But, we can’t just sit around and pretend it isn’t happening while we wait to see what happens.

I came across this great article in greenbiz.com about three companies that are trying to do something about the Co2 build up in the atmosphere. They are actually building machines and sucking the Co2 out of the air! Kilimanjaro Energy, Global Thermostat, and Carbon Engineering are the mentioned companies.

Carbon Engineering’s patented technology captures atmospheric carbon dioxide and produces pure Co2.. The air contractor can capture industrial-scale quantities of Co2 while using a cost-effective device and minimal land use requirements. Even the reactant used in the air contractor is non-toxic and does not harm the atmosphere. The Co2 is then moved through the regeneration cycle. Here pure Co2 is released as a gas and the remaining solids are used to make the hydroxide solution, which is used in the air contractor to capture more Co2.  The pure Co2 can be used in industrial applications or stored deep underground. It is an ongoing cycle that is an advanced tool for managing the buildup of Co2 in our atmosphere!

The “air capture” technology requires an energy source like natural gas, concentrated solar power, or nuclear heat. Carbon Engineering hopes to fully integrate solar energy or nuclear energy into its air capture system in the long run. The pure Co2 partnered with hydrogen can produce carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels! Gasoline, jet-fuel, or diesel can be made from carbon originating from the atmosphere and not from the earth’s crust. This technology is truly great and can have a very positive impact on the environment and our sustainable future!

American Idol Fanatics or Jennifer Lopez Fashionistas??

Just want to start out by saying I am IN LOVE with Paul McDonald. His voice, his style, and that damn smile, it all gets me every time! But isn’t that what American Idol is about? Connecting with America’s audience and getting you hooked on your favorite contestant? Of course that is what Idol tries to do each season. It’s all about that emotional appeal and having each little girl melt in front of her TV every time her babe sings (maybe not so much a little girl).  😉

This season is no different. The producers have effectively promoted American Idol perfectly into a model we talked about in class. THE AIDA MODEL. The whole show is a constant promotion of each of the contestants, judges, and the competition to keep viewers interested. AIDA has 4 components: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.

Awareness:

Idol has had a head start this season, they added two new judges to the line up. And not just any old boring judges… Jennifer Lopez and Mr. Steven Tyler himself signed on to do the show. The buzz and whispers about the show started months and months before the auditions even came rolling into the cities of the United States! People said that they couldn’t imagine a show without Simon or Paula and that in itself created the awareness Idol needed.

Interest:

So after creating attention for the show, how are the producers going to interest viewers to actually watch the show? If Jenny from the Block can’t do it, then the crazy auditions will just have to do. Each season, the audition process is the part that gets viewers interested. It is filled with entertainment, crazy people, and drama. The tears, blood, and hunger these contestants have to win keeps the adrenaline pumping for those watching. This is the time where viewers may scope out potential favorites and it’s a chance to really get to know the judges! During this new season it was our first glimpse of Jennifer Lopez’s fabulous style. I still can’t wait to see what she decides to wear each week.

Desire:

Oh desire, I’ll let this one speak for itself. Well maybe I’ll refer back to Paul McDonald J. This is where producers shine a light on the personalities of the individual contestants. Their hometowns, loved ones, and lives are unfolded each week through various interviews and video recordings. Viewers get to watch as their favorites climb to the top or slip to the bottom with each perforance. Either way, it inflicts a sense of care and desire to see the contestant win.

Action:

Call to action is huge with American Idol. After each performance the audience is reminded of the various ways that they can vote for their favorite performance. . (VOTE for Paul J)

American Idol has transformed itself this season and the competition is fierce. Through its successful promotions the viewer ratings are higher than ever! And just as I suspected JLO’s fashion gets better each week too.