Trader Joe’s Needs More Social Media Interaction

One of my favorite grocery stores to shop at is Trader Joes, but I wish they engaged in more social media interaction. I love their fresh produce, amazing variety and selection of alternative foods, and friendly customer service. Though Trader Joes is currently the 21st largest grocery chain, with 294 stores and $4.3 billion in sales, they’re rated the 4th healthiest grocery store in America. Trader Joe’s needs to take their rising business, and strong following, and nurture it with the support of social media interaction. By listening, connecting, and responding to their loyal customer base they have the opportunity to be one of America’s best.

Trader Joe’s has a lot of buzz among some big time bloggers. Freakonomics blogger Stephen J. Dubner, marketing sensation Seth Godin, and Slate blogger Andy Bowers. They also have a Trader Joe’s Fan site, sites dedicated to featuring Trader Joe’s products (like their Gingerbread House kits and Quesadillas), sites that cook recipes only with Trader Joe’s products (this one makes a tasty Vegetarian Mushroom Moussaka), a Trader Joe’s Flickr Account, and the world famous un-official Trader Joe’s Commercial.







Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s didn’t create anything that I listed above. Instead Trader Joe’s has chosen to interact and respond with these bloggers and customers, through a pitiful Trader Joe’s Twitter account.



trader-joes-twitter


This entirely unbranded and automated-esque Twitter account needs a Twitter strategy and focus. Instead of interacting with customers the Twitter account appears to show any and every tweet that mentions Trader Joes. I would take a page out of Erin Groner’s book and try and replicate what: @WholeFoods, @ScottMonty (Ford), @LindsayLebresco (Graco), @MarriottIntl, @Wachovia, @DIRECTV, @CarnivalCruise, @Chargers, or @BestBuyRemix has done.

Moving beyond the Twitter scope, Trader Joes needs to apply David Armano’s suggestions across any social media platform they engage in: Listen, Learn, Adapt, and Respond. I’m not going to state Trader Joes needs a Facebook, Myspace, or any other specific social media platform. Maybe Trader Joe’s should create their own customized social media community using Ning or Kickapps?

Traditionally, Trader Joes has sat back and let their products do the talking. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever come across a Trader Joes advertisement! Word of mouth is the most commonly used form of advertisement and Trader Joes has been utilizing it perfectly. Given the volume of support and free press, Trader Joes needs to start engaging with social media. Trader Joes will then need to move beyond social media engagement, and actually provide value to the conversation, to make their social media use successful. Social media interaction be as cost sensitive as word of mouth advertisement, yet have a greater impact because of its viral nature. Hopefully Trader Joes will catch this disease soon.

2009 Kentucky Derby: Social Media Used For Betting

The first Saturday in May can only mean one thing, the Kentucky Derby. Like The Masters, the Kentucky Derby is a tradition that pulsates across the world. From the start of January trainers begin training their horses with the hopes of making a trip to Churchill Downs. In a matter of two minutes it’s over. The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown that is rich with history and tradition. Next to March Madness and the Super Bowl the Kentucky Derby is one of the biggest betting days in the world. The Kentucky Derby has implemented several new outlets and is really flexing their social media muscles this year.

Kentucky Derby Social Media Efforts

The Kentucky Derby is utilizing blogs, Twitter, and Facebook to ensure they bring the best coverage, insight, and analysis to the fans of the sport. Justin Dew and Caroline Smith give a great one two punch for Kentucky Derby blogging. Justin focuses on the racing and betting, with posts like one line for pie, while Caroline focuses on the fashion and entertainment with the ladies first initiative. The Kentucky Derby official Facebook page provides a great source of news, interaction, and an awesome array of fan photos. Jeremy Borseth is holding down the fort with the Kentucky Derby Twitter account with all the insight you could possibly want from a track side perspective.

Kentucky Derby Odds

The Kentucky Derby betting scene is unlike anything I’ve seen. My Dad usually study’s his Daily Racing Form, watches replays of the prep races on TVG, and hears more expert analysis than anyone should be subjected to. It all comes down to picking one of the horses in the list below:

Horse Morning line Jockey Trainer Draw Earnings
Advice 30-1 Rene Douglas Todd Pletcher 4 $261,885
Atomic Rain 30-1 Joe Bravo Kelly Breen 14 $77,500
Chocolate Candy 7-1 Mike Smith Jerry Hollendorfer 11 $532,500
Desert Party 12-1 Ramon Dominguez Saeed bin Suroor 19 $688,467
Dunkirk 4-1 Edgar Prado Todd Pletcher 15 $193,200
Flying Private 30-1 Robby Albarado D. Wayne Lukas 20 $193,080
Friesan Fire 7-2 Gabriel Saez Larry Jones 6 $603,265
General Quarters 7-1 Julien Leparoux Thomas R. McCarthy 12 $641,735
Hold Me Back 12-1 Kent Desormeaux Bill Mott 5 $487,274
Join In The Dance 40-1 Chris DeCarlo Todd Pletcher 9 $90,000
Mine That Bird 40-1 Calvin Borel Bennie Wolley 8 $374,381
Mr. Hot Stuff 40-1 John Velazquez Eoin Harty 3 $150,560
Musket Man 25-1 Eibar Coa Derek Ryan 2 $572,600
Nowhere to Hide 40-1 Shaun Bridgmohan Nick Zito 18 $100,099
Papa Clem 12-1 Rafael Bejarano Gary Stute 7 $790,940
Pioneerof
the Nile
9-2 Garrett Gomez Bob Baffert 16 $1,234,200
Regal Ransom 18-1 Alan Garcia Saeed bin Suroor 10 $1,297,200
Summer Bird 50-1 Chris Rosier Tim Ice 17 $123,040
West Side Bernie 30-1 Stewart Elliott Kelly Breen 20 $407,360

With so many forums, blogs, and tweets flying around it’s hard to funnel all of this information down into a bet. Second guessing is a given, but just like the NCAA tournament sometimes you just have to get lucky.

My Picks
Win: Dunkirk
Place: Hold Me Back
Show: Pioneerof the Nile

Guy Fieri Gets A Website Makeover

One of my favorite TV shows to watch with my father is the Guy Fieri show Diners Drive Ins and Dives. Guy Fieri went from an average Joe to Food Network cooking star overnight. Until recently you would not have guessed that based on his website. Guy Fieri has the same one of a kind look and cooking flare, but his website now has that same pizazz.




guy-fieri-old-website


Fortunately for the readers of this blog the representatives of Guy Fieri, Tiv, is part of a new breed of ad agencies, but that doesn’t include search engine marketing. I was able to grab the cached version of Guy Fieri’s website, created by Hoekenga Design, which is still displaying the old website. The cached version was last updated on Apr 20, 2009 02:32:01 GMT meaning that in the past week Guy Fieri’s new website has gone live.




guy-fieri-new-website


From a branding perspective it’s easy to see why Guy Fieri’s new website is a substantially better version. The amount of content on the new site has also exponentially increased and is ten fold easier to find from the homepage. That is where the statement stops and where the usability issues continue.

Usability Issues

Once you leave the homepage you’re off on an adventure similar to the adventures Guy Fieri makes across the country visiting restaurants.

Guido Navigation


guy-fieri-guido-navigation



The Restaurants Navigation

guy-fieri-the-restaurants-navigation



The Inside Dish Navigation

guy-fieri-the-inside-dish-navigation


You can clearly see that the main navigation changes on every page. What happens if I want to go from the restaurants page to the TV page? I have to scroll down to the footer and search for it. From a usability standpoint this makes navigation too hard for visitors. If I have to scroll down to the footer each and every time I want to view a different page, because the navigation bar doesn’t have what I want, then what is the point of the navigation bar? A dynamic web page is great, but dynamic main navigation is not. The navigation needs to be the anchor of the site so that users can view the main buckets of content without having to search endlessly for it.

Another usability downside is Guy Fieri’s blog is hosted off-site. You would think that with the dollars Guy Fieri is spending he could at least get a WordPress blog for his sidekick Kleetus. Instead, they are using a non-branded blogspot blog that does exactly what you don’t want it to do. . . Take you away from the main site and with no links pointing back to the Guy Fieri website. As a user, I’m probably not going to hit the back button to go back to the Guy Fieri’s website. This means the visitor is lost and the potential shopping is too.

Guy Fieri’s store is a completely different problem that needs to be fixed. Unlike the blog, Guy Fieri’s store is hosted on his website, but once you reach the store their is no other navigation other than to add things to your cart. The store is still part of the old design created by Hoekenga Design which may be why their is these usability issues. Guy Fieri’s guestbook is another page designed by Hoekenga Design that has no navigation. In addition, the site is on a sub-domain which is substantially taking away from the linking structure.

Search Engine Optimization Issues

As mentioned previously, Guy Fieri’s new and improved website is miles above his last website. However, he still is not using any search engine optimization. Guy Fieri’s website does have title tags, but this website is not using all of my 4 easy steps to guarantee you higher rankings. I don’t know what Guy Fieri would want to rank for, but I’m sure he’d like to show up for more than just his name!

Another problem Guy Fieri’s website has, is he is without an XML or HTML site map. Earlier this week I discussed the power of XML sitemaps. If Guy Fieri’s website was using a properly optimized XML sitemap I never would have been able to pull the cached version of his old site. He would also find that many of his old links are dead and not redirecting properly.

The last piece of the search engine optimization puzzle is the load time and compactness of the website code. If you view the code for Guy Fieri’s website you’ll notice that their isn’t much code, but it’s all inclusive. What I mean is he is not using a CSS page to store all of the stylistic parameters of his site. This causes the site to load much slower, and also forces the search engines to try and parse through that mumble jumble.

Social Media Networking

Enough about ripping Guy Fieri’s website usability and lack of search engine optimization techniques, lets discuss what really rocks! Guy Fieri is a Twittering machine! I think it’s a movement by Food Network, because Rachel Ray started tweeting the exact same day as Guy Fieri, to get all Food Network cooking stars on Twitter.  It’s really refreshing to get that authentic feel that you get from Guy Fieri’s tweets.

I’m really interested to see how Kleetus utilizes the blog. This is the first time I’ve heard about Guy Fieri’s right hand man, but it’s a really interesting perspective that I wish we were able to have while Guy Fieri was moving up the cooking world ranks.

Guy Fieri’s New Website IS Flavor Town

Guy Fieri has taken a huge step in the right direction with his new website and social media networking. With a little bit of work he’ll have an unbeatable, eatable, site that’s chocked full of flavor and fun. If you’re a big eater like me go check out Diners Drive Ins and Dives, you wont be disappointed.

3 Terrible Spring 2009 Fashion Trends

The flowers are blooming and the temperatures are rising. Spring is in full session and that can only mean one thing . . . Spring 2009 Fashion Trends. The good people of Style.com have released their fashion trend report for spring 2009. Instead of breaking down what you should be wearing I’ll keep my trend of what you shouldn’t be wearing. Here are my 3 terrible spring 2009 fashion trends.

Geometry Lessons

geometry-lessons-fashion-trend

I’m a food lover, but I’m not a fan of women looking like food. Comme des Garçons has given women an outlet to look like an Oreo cookie. I can’t tell if it’s double stuffed or not though? Either way, this dress is anything but a refreshing dunk with milk.

Sporting Goods

sporting-good-fashion-trend

This has to be one of the worst outfits I have ever seen in my life. If someone could please explain to me what the hell Louise Goldin was thinking when she designed this please let me know. Something about the camel toe effect combined with knee braces just screams somebody help me!

Trash and Vaudeville

trash-and-vaudeville-fashion-trend

When I read about this trend I thought it was a shoe-in for a terrible trend. I wasn’t disappointed. Their is something about jean jackets and a cloth diaper that just says trashy. Apparently Alexander Wang has managed to make this clothing combination a high fashion trend.

Have any fashion trends of your own or ones you’ve spotted this fall that should be banned too? Send me a link or post a comment to add yours.

Delta! Bravo Music: Using Social Media

It’s hard being an unsigned indie rock band from Portland, Oregon unless you’re utilizing your social network and social media profiles like Delta! Bravo does. This group touches me personally because the Mozart of the group, Tom Shimmin, was a group member of mine in my last class during college. While I’d like to take some credit for Tom’s succinct use of social media unfortunately I can’t. He knows what he’s doing and has been utilizing his social media profiles just fine.

Like any band that wants to be relevant, Delta! Bravo‘s Myspace Page is utilized to inform and connect with their loyal fans. What takes Delta! Bravo beyond 3/4 of the wannabe Portland band’s is the fact they have and actively manage a Twitter account. If you talk to any band they’ll tell you the hardest part of their job is promoting their shows not playing in them. So what can you do to actively promote your shows besides flyering the sidewalks of downtown? Tweet, write bulletins in Myspace, actively update you Myspace upcoming shows, and create a Facebook event.

It will be interesting to see how the social media efforts Delta! Bravo has implemented effects their turnout for their upcoming show tomorrow night at the Hawthorne Theather. I’ll breakdown what went right and what Delta! Bravo could improve on to ensure their next shoe is a dance fest like none other. Any suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.

XML Sitemaps Are Value Added

Search Engine Land came out with an article today describing a Google study on sitemaps.

Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.

A sitemap is one of the building blocks for your website. It’s especially important to update and keep your sitemap fresh if you’re a blog or news site. As the Search Engine Land article described, 78% of URLs were seen by Sitemaps first meaning the search engines are crawling and initially discovering new content via a sitemap rather than organically.

The power of submitting a fresh sitemap has actually produced several knock off businesses claiming to get you indexed in ‘blank number of hours”. Essentially what these businesses do to ‘ensure you’re indexed quickly’ is submit an XML sitemap, produce fresh content, and link your site to rapidly changing high page ranked sites.

By producing a new blog post everyday, submitting and updating my XML sitemap via Google webmaster tools, and getting a few blogs to link to me I was indexed within Google’s system in 5 days. It is not rocket science and does not take very much effort on your part to maintain your sitemap.

I highly recommend using the free XML sitemap creator. After creating your XML sitemap download the compressed version and upload the sitemap file to your root directory on your server. If you have any questions about the submitting process visit the Google Webmasters Help Page.

By submitting and keeping you XML sitemap fresh you ensure that the search engine spiders will crawl you pages more often. This will allow modifications to appear in the the search engines more rapidly. Having these changes appear more rapidly ensures your showing up for your primary keywords which can lead to more relevant traffic. Taking care of your XML sitemap is a small piece of the puzzle, but it is highly beneficial to your websites success.

Not So Sirius After All

Concerned stock holders don’t need to look search very long before understanding why Sirius Radio, now Sirius XM Radio, is struggling as a company and experiencing a $2 decrease in stock price. Sirius Radio’s social media footprint is as prominent as their customer service. Their customer service is abysmal at best and the only breathing human that would talk to me was someone that spoke English as a second language. Sirius radio has a lot of work to do.


sirius-radio-stock


Sirius Radio ‘No-Shows’ On Customer Service

My father, a lifetime subscriber of Sirius, recently had to replace his Sirius Radio because the transmitter inside the radio was dying. When he first bought the plan he was informed that he could upgrade his radio for free three times. After purchasing his new radio and having it professionally installed he was told by Sirius he would have to pay $75 for activation. We contacted Sirius via their customer service and through broken English were told their was nothing they could do when in the contract it says they have the right to change any and everything. We also e-mailed them three separate occasions without a response.

Unfortunately, this is another case of customer-no-service on all levels. The sales associate that first sold my father his radio was either misinformed or not informed of all of the fine print details outlined in the Sirius Terms & Conditions. Otherwise the ‘lifetime subscriber’ offer really doesn’t sound like that great of a deal. According to the terms and conditions, each new radio requires the $75 activation fee and after the third new radio the contract is null and void. Add in the fact Sirius doesn’t respond to customer’s e-mails via their contact-us page and you have a real problem.

One of my coworkers, Amanda Bernard, informed me that her Husband was also a Sirius subscriber, but canceled his subscription. Several months later he received a bill in the mail claiming he owned money for the month. He was told that someone has re-activated his account, but would not show proof merely that he owned the money. I couldn’t imagine a company with such a great product executing so poorly.

Sirius Radio Social Media is Inexistent

If you do a Google search for Sirius you’re bound to find plenty of articles, affiliate sites, or product sites selling radios. What you wont find from Sirius is any form of social media outreach. Two other companies that have been bashed over the head about customer service or product problems are Dell and Comcast. What did they do to turn things around? Engage in social media and provide customers the ability to be heard. Lee Odden put together a list of 25 Social Media Tips that would help any struggling company like Sirius. At this point, something is better then nothing. If you’re not willing to respond to e-mails and your outsourcing your customer service to India the least you could do is set up a Twitter feed and respond to complaints in real time like Frank Eliason from Comcast.

Sirius Radio is yet another company that is stuck in the stone age trying to churn out product and subscriptions without regards to customer satisfaction. Like any aspiring business you’re bound to run into roadblocks and experience growing pains. Don’t let responding to your customer base be one of them.

Would You Like Holes With Those Jeans?

Last week, I discussed the spring time phenomenon known as muffin top, and this week I will cover holey jeans. This trend has been hot for a couple of years now, and I still don’t understand it. People are actually willing to pay more for a pair of jeans that has less material then a pair of jeans that are completely intact.


ripped-jeans



So in an effort to help out the arts and crafts business, instead of the Hollister’s of the world, I’ve scoured the Internet to help us create the perfect pair of $200 jeans for only $20!

The site e-how, the Internet’s how-to capital, had a great how-to guide for creating ripped jeans.

  1. Take the pencil or washable marker and mark where you want to put the holes.

  2. To make holes that keep the white strands in the hole – Grab a razor blade, and carefully fray and slice, strand by strand, the area that you have marked off. Using the razorblade, cut off the blue strands, separating them from the white stands.

  3. To make wide open holes – Grab a razor blade, and slice the center of where you would like your hole to be. Take the scissors and, using the hole, cut out the spot that you would like to have a hole. Take the razor blade to fray the edges of the hole.

Do You Like Jeans With Holes

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Pandora: Sharing The Station Love

I pride myself on having an extensive taste for music and nothing helps curve that hunger than using Pandora. In a previous post, I compared social media music players and I’ve continued to use primarily Pandora because of their innovation. One of those innovating features is the ability to directly share and create stations with your social network.

I may be slow to the Pandora party, but as long as my friends share their stations with me everything is great. Pandora offers the unique ability to create a custom made radio station and then share it with your friends.


share-radio-station


Refining your station, by giving songs a thumbs up or down, also refines a station your friend uses. It’s one of my favorite ways to learn about new artists and songs. What better way then to learn about a new genera then to have your ‘expert’ friend create a station for you?

Do you remember making a mix-tape for for your girlfriend or boyfriend? Now you can make an enhanced digital mix-tape. As your love grows and matures so will your station. Pandora has one of the coolest ways to put a modern spin on your mix-tape. Creating a custom Pandora station.


custom-pandora-station


Pandora allows you to choose five artists or songs, create a skin, and then create a custom name for your station. Once complete Pandora lets you send your custom station to any and everyone with an attached message.

Maybe your a Pandora station genius who’s created the all-time best TI station? If you are, you can share it with the entire Pandora community. All you have to do is write a little description about the station and Pandora will make it accessible to the entire music community. If you’re curious what’s transformed a station you found into a powerhouse you can see all of the song the station creator approved and disapproved.

Pandora has made the music experience more social because of their station sharing ability. I’m excited to see what else they have in store for us down the road. If you have a great station you wish to share come find me on Pandora, Jesse Liebman, and we’ll see if we can create the ultimate, modernized, enhanced, mix-tape.

The New Web Design: WordPress Themes

Web design has changed in recent years from slaving away at your computer for a month to potentially completing your web site in a weekend. What’s enabled this change is the use and implementation of WordPress. When making the decision to utilize WordPress for web design you have two options for completing your web site design: buy or find a free WordPress theme or create your own WordPress theme.

I like having the control to completely customize my website therefore I’m a big fan of creating WordPress themes from scratch. In order to do this you’ll need to know and understand HTML, CSS, PHP, and WordPress. Here are some great resources you can use to teach yourself how to make a WordPress theme from scratch.

Web Design Languages

Using the W3Schools you can learn virtually and web based language needed. They have a great easy to understand set-up along with interactive examples. Use W3Schools to Learn HTML, Learn CSS, andLearn PHP.

WordPress Standards

Make sure before diving into creating a WordPress template that you visit the WordPress Theme Development page. This will give you several resources and guidelines for making a compliant theme.

WordPress Theme Development

Everyone needs a little help and ThemeTation’s article on Creating WordPress Themes. Between TehemTation and WP Designer’s How-To Guide for WordPress Themes you won’t leave any stone uncovered.

Have a personal example or site you really like that’s used a self created WordPress theme? Leave a link in a comment to share the love with everyone.