A Reflection on Blogging

My name is Anushka Panday and I am a fourth year Marketing student at the University of Georgia. An interesting fact about me is that my mind is always processing what needs to be done. I could be enjoying a night out with my friends while simultaneously thinking about how we are going to split the check, how we are going to organize sleeping arrangements, and what I have in my fridge to make breakfast the next morning. Some would think that I am not enjoying myself because my mind is so preoccupied with these thoughts, but it is natural. If I do not think about such things, my anxiety grows and I end up having an awful time dealing with the outcomes.

I’ve grown to accept the ways my mind works; however, I’m not sure it’s the most conducive mindset for happiness and a stress-free life. My thought process naturally works in to-do lists.Here lies my dilemma: without writing down everything I have to do I grow disorganized and forgetful, but maintaining to-do lists makes me overly reliant on them. Do my extensive to-do lists help me keep the big picture in mind or do they do the opposite and distract from the big picture?

In examining my tendencies, I realized that the only writing I did for a couple years was emails and to-do lists. Thankfully, blogging has taught me not to be reliant on my natural writing style: a to-do list, in which I cross off things like, thesis, body paragraph 1 topic sentence, etc., but to experiment with free flow ideas and try to connect them after.

Truthfully, writing terrifies me. When I was younger I enjoyed it immensely, but over time my anxiety has grown to where now I stare blankly at my paper or word document until I absolutely have to get started. It is not because I don’t have ideas or the desire to do well and work hard. It is simply because I am awful at translating what is in my head onto paper. If it were an interview or a speech, I would feel confident and ready, but writing requires me to slow my train of thought and examine how I structure my sentences and which words I use. This process is tedious. For some reason, I am not comfortable with it. While my developments as a writer are evident in the substance of my work, my natural inclination to structure is prominent.

Blogging has made writing more enjoyable and relaxed. It has also given me a way to really flush out the constant thoughts in my head about certain topics. It might be tedious at first, but I definitely recommend blogging to others!

Standard

Uber vs. Lyft: A Brand Comparison

This blog post is a snippet of a larger brand comparison I conducted on Uber vs. Lyft: While the brand comparison focused on social media, there were many comments to made about Uber vs. Lyft marketing overall, which I would like to expand upon here.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.27.53 PM

Background & Brief History

Uber and Lyft are both innovative and disruptive transportation services. They have removed the friction from the typical taxi cab transaction and have made the user experiences seamless and enjoyable. Both companies are growing quickly and are becoming an integral part of travel and everyday life. While both have great marketing tactics that are contributing to the overall growth, the major reason these companies are succeeding is their focus on building great products.

Uber was founded in 2008 when the founders were unable to hail a taxi in Paris. They took this problem and tried to solve it in San Francisco where they officially developed the Uber process and application. It launched in 2010. Over time, it spread across the world and overcame many hurdles. Once establishing its presence, Uber started to do innovative things to get people involved with the brand. Meanwhile, Lyft started in 2012 as a direct competitor to Uber. The Lyft founders originally started a ridesharing service called Zimride which helped people share their cars for long trips. However, in 2012, the founders focused their efforts on Lyft and sold Zimride in 2013. Unlike Uber, which at the time only offered their black car service (now known as BLACK CAR), Lyft allowed regular people to offer rides with their own car. In response to this, Uber launched a direct competitor called UberX in July 2012. Along with this release, Uber tested “Uber Ice Cream” where users could summon an on-demand ice cream truck. Uber often pulls marketing stunts like this to garner attention to their new offerings. In this instance, Uber played on the fact that July was National Ice Cream Month.

As the competition between the two grew, Uber & Lyft positioned their brands strategically to focus on different origin stories of the companies. Uber’s brand echoes the original Black Car service which was targeted towards professionals, whereas, Lyft started out as a regular ridesharing service giving customers more relatable drivers. Ridesharing is much more intimate and personal than a black car service, so Lyft’s brand is more approachable.

I initially started this analysis under the impression that Uber was going to sweep Lyft on most promotional aspects because of a lot of the Uber stunts I have been exposed to; however, I was surprised by the difference in content produced by both companies.

Target Market

Uber & Lyft have the same target market. According to Uber data, their target market are tech-savvy users and smartphone users. Users value their time and have a (limited) spending power. Examples of the customers include: students, working adults, people in a rush, professionals, or normal taxi users. Uber & Lyft both have various services in place to serve the various segments within their target market. These services include UberX, Lyft Line, Uber Pool, etc. Both Uber and Lyft use mobile applications to connect the users to the drivers. These apps are integral to the success of the products. Uber is playing in the international market whereas Lyft is still limited to the US market.Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.28.07 PM

Overall Marketing

In regards to overall marketing, Uber focuses on experiential marketing. They use marketing gimmicks such as the Uber Ice Cream one described above to garner attention from consumers. Other examples of Uber promotions include: on-demand roses for Valentine’s day, on-demand barbecue in Texas, DeLorean rides in San Francisco, UberCHOPPER helicopter rides to the Hamptons, and 15-minute play time with adorable puppies or kittens. While these promotions are risky, Uber has strategically aligned with social, geographic, and cultural trends to provide consumers with exciting offerings. These promotions may not always have a point, but they are popular and are unique to Uber. As a result, consumers find Uber to be a favorable brand; Uber has taken the boring taxi industry and has found innovative ways to make intercity travel exciting and fun. Once they reel consumers in with these promotional efforts, they give consumers many opportunities to try their services for free in hopes that they will convert these consumers to loyal customers.

Furthermore, through these marketing stunts, Uber is able to build partnerships with community organizations. For example, with the puppies and kittens, Uber partnered with animal shelters in the cities in which it offered the service. Uber delivered puppies and kittens to people and gave them the option to adopt. Many of the marketing gimmicks Uber executes involves another entity in the local community. Uber provides these entities with a vehicle (literally) to disperse their brand (in whichever way is appropriate). In this case, Uber was able to help the animal shelters increase adoptions while reaping the benefits of positive brand awareness.

Uber’s focus on localized and experiential marketing is causing Uber to become integrated into the community. Despite all of the legal hurdles, Uber is popular and has gained a huge consumer base – they have started local bases to be able to execute Uber more seamlessly in these communities and to address local concerns. Through these marketing tactics, Uber is engaging their consumers and keeping competitive.

While Uber is pursuing grand marketing gestures, Lyft focuses on the experience. Everything they do – driver screening, marketing, pricing – is geared towards making the driver and customer feel more comfortable and welcome. Furthermore, Lyft’s marketing content & strategy focuses on the connections and moments between drivers and passengers. The emphasis on these interactions demonstrates Lyft’s commitment to building a ridesharing community.

Although Lyft may not pursue grand marketing gimmicks, everything Lyft does shows where they place value. For example, they have The Hub, which is an online portal and blog curated specifically for Lyft drivers and dedicated customers. Lyft’s investment and confidence in drivers is in stark contrast with Uber, who has frequently undervalued their drivers – going as far as to say they can’t wait to use driverless cars. Lyft encourages its drivers to go and beyond in the community and rewards them for their good efforts through highlighting them on their blog or by giving them some sort of reward. Furthermore, Lyft is able to establish partnerships with other companies through the perks that drivers get. Currently, Lyft drivers, can get 15% off of each Verizon phone bill, free roadside assistance, access to many learning tools, and access to a local social events. Lyft is also working on a partnership with Starbucks where drivers can earn free coffee! By doing so much for their drivers, Lyft has become popular and respected.

The company’s principles and values drive the marketing conversation – Lyft is successful because it makes moves based on how to please its users and further build an engaged community.

While I believe Uber wins community engagement on the grand scheme, Lyft fosters more personal relationships with its customers through creating a friendlier interaction between driver and rider. Uber lives up to its original tagline “Everyone’s Private Driver” by being a professional with its customers. Lyft lives up to its tagline “Your Friend with a Car” by making the ridesharing experience more personal and inviting. Both brands have since changed their taglines to emphasize the convenience and speed of the services; however, both brands still hold true to their original taglines. While both have effective overall marketing strategies, which brand does a better job in regards to social media engagement?

Standard

UGA India Night

This entire semester I have lived, breathed, and not slept because of of UGA India Night 2016. It is a national, intercollegiate dance competition that the UGA Indian Cultural Exchange hosts annually at the Classic Center. We host around 300 dancers and volunteers and over 2000 guests. I am one of the event planners, so it can get stressful!

It is great that I am taking this course because it has really helped guide my social media decisions for the event.

Our Facebook page has 887 likes and we have 3,595 posts each every week. The content that we are posting consists of the actual event pages and ticket sale info, blurbs about our teams and their assigned volunteers, blurbs about judges, and general posts to hype our audience.

We also have a YouTube channel in which we have posted multiple videos. These videos were shared on the Facebook page.

We made a website; however, our webmaster failed to update it so it unfortunately did not play a role in our promotion or sales.

My role in all of this was both generate content, as well as, scheduling posts. We also have many people involved with the event so we had our graphic designer design profile pictures and cover photos. I had our volunteers share events are various times in the weeks leading up to the event and I had volunteers change their profile pictures and cover photos so that we took over newsfeeds.

There are many things I would like to improve upon in the future as I know that there needs to be one mastermind behind social media from the beginning as opposed to haphazardly doing things in the middle.

**The event is this Saturday! So I hope it all goes well! Fingers crossed.**

Standard

1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab

This past spring break, I visited Cincinnati, Ohio. While it’s not the most exotic spring break location, it is a great place for a foodie like myself. I had the opportunity to explore the city and to eat some delicious food. I also got to venture the local coffee shops! I’d like to share my experience in one of the coffee shops I had a chance of visiting.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.13.35 PM

1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab is a very neat place as it caters to wine lovers and coffee lovers (often times, people are both!). It’s located in a very great spot in Cincinnati. It’s website is fairly simple – it lists menus for both wine & coffee and it shares a few things that 1215 specializes in or supports.

With 174 reviews on Yelp, it has a 4.5 star rating. The reviews have been consistent from 2012 to present. Their Yelp profile is fairly comprehensive with menus, pictures, and detailed information about the business. When you search 1215 on Google, many review websites appear in the search  results.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.22.37 PM

Their Facebook page is updated almost daily and they post about new products and highlight some of their offerings. There are many beautiful photos of the drinks that are made. During my visit, I ordered a dark chocolate latte. Here’s a great picture I instagrammed:

IMG_1510

They are not incredibly active on their Instagram page; however, many people check-in and take photos that they Instagram at 1215.

The coffee was absolutely delicious. I hope that I can go back soon and see the changes they make to their digital presence!

Standard

Slack

Slack is a really neat cloud-based communication tool for companies or organizations. Their catch phrase is “Be less busy” and the tool truly makes you less busy – or at least it organizes your busyness. Slack really helps organize a group or organizations’ efforts by dividing communication by work streams or channels. There is a more than sufficient free version available to the public.

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 3.23.38 PM

It was built to solve the problems of email. Here is an excerpt from The Verge from 2014:

In the six months since launch, Slack, as the app’s called, has been growing at a breakneck pace. Over 125,000 people use the app every day, among them 13,000 teams at companies as large as eBay, Sony, Yelp, and NBCUniversal. Active user numbers are expected to double by year end, but more importantly, engagement is off the charts, with users spending nearly 10 hours logged in to the app every day. “Slack is so beloved that some companies have begun mentioning it as an employment perk alongside on-site massages and bottomless bacon-tray Fridays in their job listings,” reads a recent profile of the company in Wired.

Here is a picture of what the its dashboard looks like:

screen800x500

I am currently using it to plan a large event and it has made planning so much easier for my team. It integrates into many application making it easy to connect with our Google Drives and Dropbox accounts.

It is omni-channel with a mobile app, a desktop app and an online app. They are also active on social media. Their Twitter handle is @SlackHQ; they have many followers and posts. Here’s a link in case you’re interested in following them on social media.

icon128-2x

 

Standard

Dancing Goats

Dancing Goats is definitely one of my favorite spots in Atlanta. It is located right outside of Ponce City Market (also a very cool place). I’ve been here before so this experience wasn’t new to me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t pick up coffee, but I did have time to observe the environment and customers! (slightly creepy). The baristas were busy, but they answered questions and offered thoughtful suggestions. There was barely any place to sit as it was a Saturday and many people decided to study, read or socialize over coffee in the afternoon. The seating area in this particular Dancing Goats is very aesthetically pleasing, so I understand why there was little room to sit. I would give Dancing Goats a 4 on the “coffee-shop feel” factor.

Prior to dropping in, I conducted a Social Mention search on Dancing Goats and found:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 3.11.31 PM

So, it’s not the most active social media brand, but part of the reason why is because it is owned and operated by Batdorf & Bronson Coffee so a lot of the Dancing Goats tweets are simply retweets of Batdorf & Bronson Coffee. Batdorf & Bronson Coffee is a coffee roaster; they provide beans to many shops. Furthermore, each coffeeshop under this umbrella has its own Twitter account and Facebook page.

This particular Dancing Goats location’s Twitter handle is @poncecitygoats and they have almost 1,500 followers. Almost 3,200 like their Facebook page and more than 5,000 have checked in.

Overall, I’d say their social media presence is weak. While having each store manage their social media through different channels could increase reach, the individual store is not engaging millennials enough. However, I would definitely recommend visiting the shop and trying the coffee!

 

Standard

GroupMe

So this past week was pretty hectic and I didn’t quite have time to visit a coffee shop, but I will be sure to visit and review one over the next week. For my blog this week, I decided to discuss GroupMe!

When you say “let’s start a GroupMe” to a group of people working on a project now, the typical response is a “sigh”. Why is there so much hate towards GroupMe? Mostly, the hate stems from people being overwhelmed by the number of notifications and constant phone buzzing. Although the mobile application enables these long, often unnecessary conversations, it does a great job connecting groups of people. I think the solution may be to form better groups for the GroupMes or to have some sort of GroupMe etiquette, but that’s not the point of this post.

The-Completely-Revamped-GroupMe-App

GroupMe started in 2010 (it was acquired by Skype, which was later acquired by Microsoft) and has really taken off since then. GroupMe is very similar to other messaging apps, but is focused primarily around group conversations. To facilitate this, it has a few useful and fun features, including the ability to “heart” messages in the group, an auto meme builder when you upload a photo to the group, and a gallery of all past media uploaded to the group. You can also control the way you receive notifications and if you want notifications at all.

GroupMe has evolved over time and in their latest upgrade, they have released a Calendar feature. It is a simple way to make events within a group of people. For example, I like to keep up with my high school friends who all attend different colleges. We try to plan a couple of events during the year (usually during winter break or before we go back to school in the fall) and as we figure out which dates work for one another, we make an official event to put on our calendar.

groupme_calendar

I personally think that the calendar is great tool for groups, but GroupMe can upgrade it extensively to make planning amongst groups much easier and more seamless. In particular, GroupMe should pursue a feature/function that helps people find a day and time that works for everyone on the group. It would make it less confusing to keep track of and aggregate the dates everyone messages the group.

GroupMe’s biggest competitor is probably Facebook Messenger. Originally a part of the Facebook mobile app, Facebook has spun out the messaging component into a separate app called Messenger. Up until recently, GroupMe’s only real differentiator was the ability to add photos as a “avatar” for the group, as well as the ability to “heart” any of the messages posted in the group. I believe GroupMe’s explosive growth is largely due to it not being tied to individual conversations – many people do not like to use Facebook Messenger for long group conversations because it can get confusing when one gets notifications. With GroupMe, you instantly know that it was a message sent to a group that doesn’t necessarily need your response. Additionally, GroupMe’s interface is far more appealing to other group chat applications.

While we constantly mute our GroupMe’s during the late night group chats between a few night owls in our groups, it is important to realize the utility of this mobile application. It is a useful tool to stay connected with friends, families, classmates, coworkers, or organizations, so stop the hate and begin to appreciate (also set your notifications to mute).

Anushka

Standard