Build Your Brand Without Leaving The Couch

Did you know that in 2017, only 5% of Americans worked from home? HA — man, how things can change in a few years. Those numbers have skyrocketed since the global pandemic, and now over half of Americans work from their living room. (Or their bed — no judgement!)

Everyone can agree working from your couch has become “normal” these days, but are you using your time wisely? Since cutting out your daily commute to work, are you using any extra hours to accomplish something great?

Often, we prioritize the needs of others, but the pandemic has given us a lot more free time than usual. These extra hours at home could — and should — be used to finally build your brand. 

For tips on increasing your productivity in working from home, check out our blog on unique tips for working from home.

Without a solid brand identity, you’ll leave your audience confused. The objective of branding is to make a lasting impression. If successful, your business will seem more professional and credible. 

But where do you start?

Research, research, research! 

Researching everything (and I mean everything) you need to know about your industry. This is fundamental for building your path to success.

Start with learning about your audience. Your audience is extremely important to understand because you provide a service or good for them. Having an awareness of their interests, wants, and needs is essential.

build your brand

Next, research your competitors. Find out everything about them and what they bring to the table. A great way to keep track of your competition is making spreadsheets with all the companies you need to keep your eye on. Don’t copy your competitors!

The goal in conducting opposition research is finding your niche and showing why you are unique.   

Find your Brand’s Personality 

Is the voice of your brand serious or humorous? What kind of language are you using? What kind of people does your brand represent? These are all vital questions to answer when developing your brand’s persona.

Finding a brand personality that resonates with your audience will make your business more memorable, and consumers will feel more connected to your work.   

Create Your Digital Presence 

Now that you’ve researched your industry and found a good fit for your brand’s personality, it’s time to take the next step in developing your online presence. Start by building your website. Tons of platforms offer affordable and easy ways to make a website.

I suggest using WordPress as a starting point for a clean and professional vibe. Then, hop on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and make business accounts for your company.

Depending on your audience, you’ll use some platforms more than others. If your audience is high school students, you’ll likely spend most of your time on Instagram. If you’re a B2B business, you will probably be on LinkedIn more. The idea here is to tell stories and build your brand on these platforms.

Learn more about each social media channel — and how you can utilize them — with our free Beginners & Basics download.

Stay true to yourself

The most important takeaway from these tips is staying true to your brand and yourself. At the end of the day, you’ve created this path for yourself. You took risks, followed your gut, and took leaps of faith to get here. Be proud, success looks good on you!

This is the perfect time to get some tips and tricks from the pros. If you are struggling to build your brand and need some help, we got you! 

The 5 Free Marketing Classes You Need to Take

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death” — Albert Einstein

If that quote doesn’t motivate you, what will?! For many people, marketing and social media feel like overwhelming tasks that are just too much to learn. But don’t let that stop you from growing your skills. Albert Einstein said so!

There is no better time to grow as a professional, especially since quarantine is keeping us from doing much else. There are a million marketing classes out there — so how do you decide which ones to take?

We compiled some of our favorite WHIP-intern-tested-and-approved marketing classes to help you step up your marketing game from home. Not only will this further develop your skills, but it will help you build the brand that your business needs to succeed in a crowded digital landscape.

WHIP Communication’s Beginners & Basics

Download: free

Okay, so it’s not technically a class, but our Beginners & Basics series is a collection of information, tools, and tips that are designed to help beginners with social media.

We created this to help anyone — including you — understand the basics of communications, social media, and marketing. In this booklet, we explore the basics of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Hootsuite Platform Training

Class: Free / Certification Exam: $99

Hootsuite is a popular social media management tool. It offers a range of services from scheduling posts to monitoring engagement, Hootsuite can act as your one stop shop for social media organization. Their platform training class provides an in-depth understanding of the resources and services the site provides in only 2 and a half hours.

The class itself is free, however there is a fee for the certification exam. While having the official stamp of approval never hurts, the knowledge that you hold is far more valuable. If you feel confident in your skills, don’t stress about taking the actual exam.

Pros:
  • Hootsuite is a well-known platform used by many companies
  • The class dives into all aspect of the program providing a broad and applicable well of knowledge
  • You’ll learn how to schedule out social media content ahead of time
Cons:
  • The certification exam is not free

HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification

Class: Free / Certification: Free

This might be one of the most popular marketing classes out there, and for good reason. HubSpot is a software company that provides tools for marketing, customer service, and sales. One of their best resources, however, is their team of employees dedicated to educating professionals with an interest in marketing.

Inbound marketing is a strategy used by businesses to develop a marketing plan that is based on human connection. It uses content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding to breed connections with consumers. The experts at HubSpot break this technique down part by part to prepare viewers to build their very own inbound marketing strategy.

Pros:
  • Provides great examples to enhance understanding
  • Makes you think about how to apply this strategy to your own professional endeavors
  • Completely free!
Cons:
  • This is a lengthy course, so you have to prepare to dedicate about 5 hours to learning. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all at once —  breaking it up over a few days is a great option. Professional growth cannot occur without a little stretching (no pain, no gain!), so we promise that the time is worth it.

Hubspot Social Media Marketing Course

Course: Free

This next course offered by HubSpot, again, is a bit lengthy but is totally worth it. Social media is at the forefront of nearly everything we do these days. We love it, but we know it is not everyone’s cup of tea.

This class explains how effective social strategy means, effective marketing, which will in turn boost business. It also piggy-backs off of the inbound marketing course by explaining social media’s role within your inbound marketing strategy.

Pro:
  • Connected to other HubSpot courses, allowing you to deepen your knowledge
  • Provides a mix of videos, quizzes, and lesson overviews to keep you engaged
Cons:
  • Again, a little lengthy but it is worth it!
  • Slightly repetitive if you take the Inbound Marketing course as well

Udemy Social Media Ethics Course

We live in a world where you can Tweet whatever you want — whether it’s true or not. This course does a great job of summing up ethics in terms of social media. It explains some of the laws that apply to social media as well as describing how ethics policy relates to social media content and engagement.

This will help you understand social media best practices so you can continue to build your business in a way that is accurate and ethical. “Just because you can tweet it, doesn’t mean you should. Learn to do the right thing on social media” (Udemy).

Pros:
  • Free
  • Explains legal concepts in a way anyone would understand
Con:
  • Little to no interactive aspects

These are a few of the marketing classes you can utilize to master social media marketing at home. All of these websites offer a number of other courses and programs we didn’t feature, too! You are never too old or too far along into your career to learn something new. Take time to invest in you!

Beginners & Basics: Instagram 101

Our Beginners & Basics series is a collection of blogs and tips that are designed to help beginners understand the basics of communications, social media, and marketing. Welcome to Instagram 101.

What is it?

Over the past decade, Instagram has grown into one of the most prominent social media platforms. The photo and video-sharing social media network heavily focuses on photos, videos, and visual communications, and boasts its own brand of “influencers.”

With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is a place to check out what brands are doing next. Much like other social media channels, users create accounts with profiles and newsfeeds. The newsfeed, which allows people to interact with other users by liking (double tapping) photos, is super user-friendly.

Extra credit: Instagram is owned by Facebook!

Instagram Features:

  • Instagram Stories: temporary posts (photos or videos) that live on a user’s account for 24 hours and is accessed by clicking their profile photo
  • Instagram Highlights: categorized collections of stories on a user’s profile
  • Instagram Live: videos streamed in real time that disappear after they are ended
  • Instagram TV (IGTV): a special section of IG that allowing for hour-long video posts
  • Filters: allow for editing photos in the app
  • Location tagging on posts & stories: the ability to tag restaurants, shops, cities, or other locations in newsfeed posts or stories
  • Direct messaging: also known as “DMs,” allow you to chat via Instagram through the arrow in the top righthand section of your profile

Who uses it?

A lot of people! Of Instagram’s 1 billion users, 11% of users are located in the US. Brazil, India, Indonesia and Russia are among the top countries of Instagram users.

Unsurprisingly, Instagram typically appeals to younger generations — almost 70% of users are 18-29 years old. Among U.S. teens, Instagram is one of the most popular social networks. 

How can it help businesses?

Instagram is one of the best platforms for marketing because it’s easy (and entertaining) for users to follow favorite brands and discover new ones. When users have a business profile, Instagram also lets you use features like the “shop” feature, which tags products and transfers users to different sites.

Analytics (on Instagram Business accounts) allow you to analyze post performance to see what works best. If you want to use Instagram effectively, strong images are the key. To best connect with your audience, avoid using stock photos whenever possible and use high quality images.

You may be a business that doesn’t often have compelling images, and that’s okay! It just means that Instagram may not be the best social media platform for you. Check out our Beginners & Basics articles about Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to see what would be the best fit for you.

Brands that are killing the Insta game:

Get A Laugh From Our Favorite Viral Posts

We all love a good viral video to start the day off right. As we’re stuck at home, more people than ever are watching videos to stay entertained. Here are some of our favorite viral posts from years past.

You’ve probably seen them (if you haven’t, where have you been?), but there’s no bad time for a good laugh.

Chewbacca Mom (2016)

Everything about this video is amazing. The mask. Her laugh. If you’re not laughing — or at least cracking a smile — by the end of this video, we’re a little worried about you. This is what viral posts are made of!

Reaching over 90 million views, it broke the record for most views on a Facebook Live video. Candace Payne posted the video to Facebook and captioned it, “It’s the simple joys in life…”

We agree! Not only is this video funny, but it really reminds us that it’s the little things that can really bring you the most joy. In this case, that little thing is a Chewbacca mask. 

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (2014)

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started in the summer of 2014 to raise money and awareness for ALS. The idea was to pour cold water on yourself and record it —then tag some friends who were up to the challenge. The campaign raised over $220 million worldwide and inspired a ripple effect of viral posts.

The idea of nominating your friends to do the challenge made it exciting and helped it spread to even more people. The Ice Bucket Challenge did well because it was something fun that anyone could do. Many of us participated or watched our friends participate (or we were nominated but weren’t up for the challenge).

We even started seeing celebrities getting involved. Justin Timberlake, Lebron James, Vin Diesel, Oprah and more were talking about ALS that summer. 

BONUS VIDEO: John Krasinski “challenging” his wife Emily Blunt

Everyone loves John Krasinski, but this made us love him even more. He sprung the Ice Bucket Challenge on his wife, Emily Blunt. He may also be the only person on the planet that could get away with dumping freezing cold water on his wife.

World Record Egg (2019)

This isn’t exactly a video, but we couldn’t leave out the viral Instagram egg.

In January 2019, the Instagram account @world_record_egg was created with a single post of an egg. What was the goal? To beat the world record for most liked post on Instagram, at the time by Kylie Jenner with 18 million likes.

In less than 10 days the post reached over 18 million likes, beating Kylie’s record. The original post currently has over 50 million likes. So, how did a raw egg go viral? Well…we’re not quite sure.

It’s random and funny which encompasses all the best parts of the Internet. It’s also highly interactive and engaging. By liking the post, you’re able to be part of history. Since it was a competition to break a world record, it encouraged more people to engage with the content. At the time, nothing was better than an egg being more popular than Kylie Jenner. 

It’s a little crazy and unorthodox, yes. But it worked!  

Beginners & Basics: LinkedIn 101

Our Beginners & Basics series is a collection of blogs and tips that are designed to help beginners understand the basics of communications, social media, and marketing. Welcome to LinkedIn 101.

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn has quickly become one of the most-used digital networking platforms for professionals of almost any field. Unlike more personal forms of social media (think Facebook and Instagram), LinkedIn is focused on professional connections.

The social media channel allows users to build their careers and professional networks by connecting with others and sharing content. The purpose of LinkedIn is also to maintain contact with particular colleagues, friends and others in professional environments. It also doubles as a search engine for job seekers.

Who uses it?

LinkedIn has over 600 million users in more than 200 countries around the world. Surprisingly, over 70% of LinkedIn users are from outside of the US.

There are 46 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn using the channel to work on their experience and careers for future employers. LinkedIn is also crawling with recruiters that use the platform as part of their recruitment process.

Personal Profile

If you don’t have a personal LinkedIn profile yet, we’re glad you checked out this LinkedIn 101 guide! Your personal profile serves as a virtual resume, which allows customers or potential clients to see your experience. That’s the key to building trust!

Your personal LinkedIn profile will have a lot more features that you won’t see in other social media channels. You are able to include your experience, a summary of yourself, contact information, a portfolio, skills, recommendations, and more.

Your profile is meant to be a representation of your career and career goals for those who view it. As LinkedIn has grown into what it is today, with millions of users, your profile can also be seen as your “digital reputation.”

Business Profile

Much like you can have a personal profile, you can also have a business profile on LinkedIn. It’s similar to a business page on Facebook — it’s where companies share updates, articles, posts, and other information relevant to their audiences.

LinkedIn is a great social media tool for certain types of businesses, including staffing agencies, IT, real estate, and human resources are just a few!

Why is it helpful for businesses?

There’s no better way to share your brand than through a platform that allows for interaction between professionals and consumers. Because it has a long list of features to amp up your profile, LinkedIn allows you to present what your company is all about, share the people who work there, and engage with relevant content. 

Plus, it can even bring in some incredible talent if you use its hiring features.

Brands that are killing the LinkedIn game:

  • TED Conferences
  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • IBM

Who Is Your Audience, Anyway?

When figuring out what content to post, there are three basic things that you need to know about your audience. They are: age, gender, and interest. Here’s why those demographics are important for creating content for your audience.

communications consultants providing social media management, content creation, public relations, and media pitching

Age

One of the most influential factors to consider when it comes to creating content for your audience is their age. From Baby Boomers to Gen Z, preferences and communication styles vary greatly and it’s important to be aware of what appeals most to your target age group. Like the saying goes, “one size does not fit all!” 

Just like there is a variety of age groups, there is also a large range of content types. From videos to blogs, and print material to mobile apps, the strategies for talking to each age group are endless. Different social media platforms have drastically different user bases.

So what type of content fits each age group? In general, marketers are able to turn to general generational preferences for content.

CASE IN POINT: That’s not how any of this works!

So what types of content does each age group relate to the most?

  • Baby Boomers
    • Print media
    • Radio
    • Video content (long)
  • Generation X
    • Newsletters (direct mail & email)
    • Blogs
  • Generation Y (Millennials)
    • Social Media
    • Mobile content
    • Blogs
  • Generation Z (iGeneration)
    • Social Media
    • Memes
    • Imagery
    • Videos (short)

Keep in mind that these generational preferences are broad — and not always totally accurate. Age, however, is a great place to start when segmenting audiences and narrowing down how to reach your audience where they are.

Gender

Today, gender-based marketing seems to be dwindling due to shifts in gender roles and traditional gender identification. But being aware of gender in your audience has a great impact on the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. There are very different ways to connect with different genders.

CASE IN POINT: Carl’s Jr. vs Kraft ads — and this wild Jekyll/Hyde situation going on with Hugh Jackman. 

communications consultants providing social media management, content creation, public relations, and media pitching

“Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” is a saying for a reason: women and men oftentimes respond to content with different emotions. (We doubt any of our fellow ladies enjoyed that sexist Carl’s Jr. ad either.) For this reason, content should be created carefully, with an awareness of the potential for different responses in men and women.

What are some examples of general differences between men and women’s emotional responses?

  • Men
    • Less variety of emotions
    • More likely to view content based on positive emotions
    • More suggestible
  • Women
    • Greater variety of emotions
    • More sentimental
    • More emotionally complex

Keeping gender in mind, while remaining inclusive is ideal and positions your content to have the edge it needs for success.

Interest

At the end of the day, your audience needs to have an interest in what you’re saying! 

With the prominence of today’s digital and social media, we marketers are able to keep tabs on the interests of people and more specifically, our target audiences. People’s social interests can be interpreted and used to create content most relatable.

Case in point: Aerie’s #AerieReal campaign and inclusive modeling strategy

communications consultants providing social media management, content creation, public relations, and media pitching
Photo credit: Metro.UK

Did you know that Facebook can target you based on your income level, interests, job title, and even marital status? As a consumer, that can be pretty terrifying, but as a social media strategist, it’s a key part of the job! 

Interest-based targeting engages audiences through relatability and personalization. For this reason, relevant influencers and celebrity endorsements have revolutionized marketing, especially when appealing to Millennials and Gen Z consumers. 

Another example of interest-based targeting is highlighting brand transparency and using “real” people to market. When customers believe that they are represented in advertising, they’re more likely to buy whatever you’re selling, whether it’s literally or figuratively. 

There are so many ways that interest-based marketing can further narrow down content creation and successfully reach target audiences. Let us help you figure it out! 

The Best Super Bowl 54 Commercials

Whether you watch the Super Bowl for the football, the commercials or the halftime show, Super Bowl commercials have become an event of their own over the past decade. Each year, it’s just a (very expensive) contest to see who creates the best, most memorable commercial.  

The amount of celebrity cameos in this year’s commercials was impressive. From Taraji P. Henson and Bryan Cranston to Jason Momoa and Molly Ringwald, the list of celebrities was endless. We love a good celeb cameo, but that’s not the only thing that makes up a fantastic commercial.

Here are some of the Super Bowl commercials that had us running out to buy their products: 

The Cool Ranch Long Form feat. Lil Nas X and Sam Elliot | Doritos

What’s a Super Bowl without a Doritos commercial? Doritos truly takes it to the next level each year, and these commercials have become a tradition. (One of our other favorites was the “Don’t Touch my Doritos” commercial for Super Bowl 44.) 

This year, they went the pop culture route and featured rapper and singer Lil Nas X, known for his chart-topping song “Old Town Road”, and classic American cowboy Sam Elliot, who stars as Beau Bennett in The Ranch on Netflix — admittedly one of our favorite shows ever. Watching Sam Elliot and Lil Nas X one-up each other for the sake of Doritos is not only highly entertaining, but also argues that “Old Town Road” is, in fact, a country song. 

The star factor in this commercial makes it a “win” for the brand. This is the only time of the year we see Doritos go this big with advertising, and they don’t disappoint. 


Loretta | Google 

In a commercial that will pull at your heartstrings, a man goes through his memories with some help from Google Assistant. Portraying Google Assistant as the software to keep your memories safe and revisit them. This did so well #Loretta began trending on Twitter after the commercial aired. While we usually think that the best Super Bowl commercials are funny, this one had us bawling into our nachos. And boy, was it a. good. commercial.


Best Thing Since Sliced Bread | Little Caesars 

Little Caesars announces that they now deliver in their first ever Super Bowl commercial. Featuring The Office’s Rainn Wilson was a great choice — because who doesn’t love beets, bears, and $5 delivery pizza?! All we have to say is, this is the best thing since sliced bread!  


Jason Momoa, “Comfortable” | Rocket Mortgage 

This commercial let us all see celeb heartthrob Jason Momoa in a new light. It may not be our favorite look for him, but it’s a new side nonetheless. Rocket Mortgage’s commercial was a bit on the weird side, but flipping the “muscular man” stereotype on its head was hilarious. 

We’d say they definitely relayed their message of comfort living being key. (We agree — which is why we own more sweatpants then real pants.) Notice how this is the third commercial on this list to feature a celebrity? Capitalizing on celebrity culture is a great way for brands to advertise, especially if the celebrity is a great fit with the message. 


Back in the Office | State Farm

The last one on our list is good old State Farm. They brought back the classic “Jake from State Farm” bit and added a little twist. This was a short but sweet commercial that we really love for the nostalgia factor. Jake from State Farm has become synonymous with the brand, which is a great way to give a brand personality. 

We won’t be mad if Jake from State Farm is retired from now on, but it was nice seeing him for one last swan song! 

Dos & Don’ts of Facebook Posts

Some people say there is, but we think there’s no one “right” way to post on Facebook.

Whip Social Media and marketing

In personal relationships, you have to change your outputs based on the person – you wouldn’t act the same way with your boss as you would with your best friend (we hope)! Just like you know your audience for in-person relationships, it’s important to know your audience for online relationships.

Some posts may be longer because they’re explaining something complex, telling a story, or giving tips. If your followers are engaging with the post and liking it (both literally and on Facebook), that’s a valuable type of post.

Some organizations, businesses, or individuals may have very short posts if they don’t have as much to say. Sharing an article, for example, should only be a sentence or two summarizing the article – not two paragraphs.

It all depends on what your followers like, engage with, and want to hear from you. What works really well for one company may not work for another at all.

So while there are no hard and fast commandments for creating “THE best Facebook post,” there are some ground rules. Read below for tips and tricks on how to make your Facebook posts even better.

WHIP Social Media and marketing

1. DO make sure your grammar and spelling is correct.

It doesn’t matter how compelling your post is – if there’s errors, it distracts readers and makes you look not-so-great. Mistakes happen sometimes, but proofread, proofread, proofread to prevent them at all costs. You want to look polished and professional on your Facebook page at all times.

2. DON’T post things that are totally irrelevant.

A think tank shouldn’t post clips of Jersey Shore, and a fun, young boutique shouldn’t post a New York Times article about global warming. Facebook content should be diverse and non-repetitive, but it should also be relevant to your audience.

3. DO include a picture if you can.

You know what they say: a picture is worth a thousand words. If you can include a compelling image or graphic to go with your post – or even stand alone as a post itself – do! Seeing a relevant photo with your post is generally more likely to draw readers’ eyes than just a big block of text.

4. But DON’T include just any photo.

The key words from the last tip are “compelling” and “relevant.” Don’t include a blurry photo that your 5 year old took – that’s not compelling. Don’t include a photo of a donkey in a post about a unicorn – that’s not relevant. Find a good image that’s high quality from a site like Unsplash that offers free images.

5. DO keep it simple.

You may know a lot about your product/services/politics stance/topic/expertise, but assume those reading your post don’t. Avoid using jargon and explain any phrases or acronyms that outsiders might not understand (KPI, USAID, RBI, LARC, etc). A good rule of thumb (for most places) is to keep content at an 8th grade level. If a 13 year old would be confused, you should probably tone it down a little.

The major takeaway is that you should always be thinking about your audience when crafting Facebook posts. If you don’t know your audience, figure out who they are so you can cater to them! That’s the best way to create meaningful Facebook posts.

5 Basic Stats About Social Media

communications consultants providing social media management, content creation, public relations, and media pitching

There’s a lot of information about social media out there nowadays, and it’s hard to keep track of what’s important and what’s not. Different things matter to different people (ie: what’s important to Coca-Cola is probably not as important to a small bank), but here are some statistics about social media that are relevant to pretty much everyone.

  • Internet users have an average of 7.6 social media accounts. Some of the most popular and recognizable are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, but other sites like Snapchat, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest, and Google+ also draw users.
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  • Facebook has the most users of any social media site. By far. Facebook has more than 2 billion users, followed by YouTube with 1.5 billion and Instagram with 800 million. Overall, there are more than 3 billion social media users. That is a heck. of. a. lot. of. people.
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  • According to a 2011 study, 27 million pieces of content are shared every day. This is both good and bad for companies. There is a lot of opportunity for your content to be shared, but there’s also a lot of competition. Content has to be compelling in order for people to share it, so make sure it’s good!
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  • 500 million people visit Twitter each month without logging in. Add that to the 330 million users with accounts, and Twitter can be an incredibly powerful platform. There are 6,000 tweets sent every second — which is more than 500 million per day.
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  • 60% of Snapchat users are under the age of 25 and in 2016, $90 million was spent on Snapchat ads. While Snapchat draws a massive amount of young people, it doesn’t perform nearly as well with older demographics, who are more typically heavy Facebook users.