Portland’s SEM Scene

LONG TIME NO SEE. How’s it going? Good, that’s good. Cool. Oh, me? Just, oh, y’know, stumbling into thriving hubs of digital marketing niches in Portland.

Search Engine Marketing, or SEM for short, is getting paid a lot of attention by the buzzing industry in Portland.

I wasn’t even very aware that SEM specifically was so talked-about until I started following a lot of Portland digital-marketing related accounts and noticed the word floating around everywhere.

First, I stumbled upon Michael Cottom’s twitter account; he had recently posted a slideshare about his recent presentation on Google Panda’s influence at a local event, which had gotten retweeted and made its way to me. As it turns out, his sense of humor in presenting is HILARIOUS (clearly a bonus in my book), and I immediately posted it, followed him, and very quickly realized that not is he an SEO consultant in Portland (and we both know how I feel about that), but also a Moz associate. holla. We are now facebook friends and I go about liking all the pictures he posts of his recent tropical vacations. Not that that’s weird, or anything.

michael cottam


Michael is also a board member of SEMpdx, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting Portland SEM events as well as an annual conference, SearchFest, all aimed towards fostering critical thought and discussion around the ever-changing search engine marketing industry and what PDX professionals are doing to keep up with it.  SEMpdx’s twitter feed is active with info about upcoming events and retweets from a highly connected network of Portland professionals all looking to connect and better their SEM strategy. (We follow each other too. It’s casual.)

You can get plugged in to the SEM industry, anytime.

All it took was a twitter mention and a few strategic follows to get connected–not just to the local digital marketing industry, but to SEM in particular. Instead of just focusing on SEO in general, you can try going even more granular and focusing on one (increasingly important) facet of the industry–and one that you’d do well to check in with.



Digital Marketing Spotlight: PORTLAND

Portland skyline sketch

Portland: home to the now-cliche “hipster,” now-touristy Voodoo donuts, and now-blooming hub for digital marketing.

Keeping up with my “Spotlight” series on brands that are doing some aspect of digital marketing right (if you missed it, here’s me gushing about Kate Spade’s twitter + instagram campaigns and Gap’s mobile marketing initiative), I wanted to highlight another champion of the digital marketing industry. In this case, however, instead of singing the praises of a specific brand, I’m giving a shoutout to my hometown, which is ONNNN POINT with its host of kick-ass digital marketing agencies. I’ll post some more specific introductions to a few that have done an especially good job of standing out from the pack, but right now I’m drawing emphasis to the Portland region as a whole with its digital marketing efforts.

Digital marketing has met its match with Portland’s blend of creativity, youthfulness, and innovation.

It’s fueled by a contagious cocktail of talent, young energy, professionals who work their toned-bike-commuter butts off, quirky creativity, and maybe some really great sustainably-sourced coffee. It’s the work-hard-play-hard mentality. It’s the marriage of tried-and-true traditional marketing with the millennialist  emphasis on relationship, experience, and aesthetic/design. And it’s a sight more beautiful to behold than the mid-April Portland waterfront in bloom. (Okay, laying off with the overdone PDX references for real now.)

Pop Art, one such Portland-based agency (not to be confused with Lady Gaga’s lackluster 3rd album ARTPOP), explains the phenomenon in better words than I could:

 Pop Art’s home of Portland, Oregon has become one of the creative capitals of the United States. We’re home to exceptional interactive agencies on the cutting edge of modern digital marketing and interactive design.

Okay, digital marketing and design, we get it. But why is Portland actually distinct from other regions when it comes to the digital marketing industry?

 Portland’s history is steeped in the go-it-alone, do-your-own-thing, pioneer spirit. That translates directly into the modern makeup of the city. With our thriving arts, music, film and interactive scene, Portland has become a place where even the most “out-there” thinkers can find their niche and innovate in the global economy.


That’s the key: NICHES. NICHES NICHES NICHES NIETZSCHE NICHES. Digital marketing is geared around the long tail, the granular, the individual…and individualism is basically the altar upon which Portland worships. Not conceited individualism which only serves the self, but the overall concept of valuing and cultivating your own unique skillsets that can always be honed and improved to create something bigger than yourself. Not lazy individualism, but oh-you-think-you’re-cool-okay-then-do-something-with-it individualism. Individualism that ultimately ends up contributing to a team effort in some way or another.

The result of such a culture is an elite team of intelligent, savvy, forward-thinking individuals who are ever learning, ever creating, ever tweaking. And I want to be on one.

SO BADLY. I realize as a sophomore in college I haven’t exactly peaked professionally (I just finished building out my LinkedIn profile, for crying out loud), but I am doing everything I can to align myself now with that ultimate goal in order to make sure I can bring something worthwhile to the table and contribute meaningfully to a team that could use my own skillset. I thrive in the atmosphere of competition, camaraderie, and a permeating passion for the craft, and I would literally KILLLLL for that job. And by “literally” I mean figuratively kill myself getting there, of course.

I have a deep sense of belonging in the culture of Portland, in the industry of digital marketing, and in the work environment of a hip-and-happenin’ agency that’s constantly moving forward. And I have such a thirst to learn and absorb and simply be in that environment. (Any super-cool dig. marketing agencies out there need a starry-eyed intern? Will work for food.)

…welllll that escalated quickly. My b. Bottom line: Portland has got it goin’ on, and I’m way proud to call it home.



Personal Branding: Why “Playing it Safe” on Social Media is Stupid

Don’t play it safe on social media.

…and really, would it kill you to actually have a picture of your face in your profile? You’re not going to get your identity stolen just because you don’t use a generic cartoon or stock picture of a sunset as your avatar. Really. Relax, dearies, and replace that cute animal avatar with that cute selfie.


Because people appreciate authenticity.

Think about the advice you’d give your friend going on a first date. “Remember, now, never ever let that mask come off so that you seem both 2-dimensional and unattainable at the same time!” No! You’d most likely tell your friend, “Be yourself! Be approachable. Genuine. If the person is right, they will appreciate that and truly understand you better as a whole.” (…Unless you’re a lousy friend, in which case you should probably reevaluate your approach.)

In the same respect, think about the impression you want to make with people who may not know you very well and are probably going to skim through your accounts (twitter, facebook, your blog/tumblr, whatever). We jokingly call it “stalking,” but honestly it’s just leveraging social media to develop a better grasp of who a person truly is. Whether it’s a new follower on twitter or a potential new employer who’s going to be looking you up, embrace the opportunity! Just like you wouldn’t want your darling best friend to show up to their first date with a paper bag over their head and only a pre-approved list of notecards to speak from, you likewise shouldn’t shy away from the opportunity to make an authentic first impression.

single and ready to mingle.

single and ready to mingle.

Not only should you not just shy away from the chance, but you should actually go the extra mile to make that impression count.

You have the opportunity to differentiate yourself from everyone else and truly convey a vivid, colorful portrayal of who you are–so why not take full advantage? Putting your best foot forward on social media and painting an rich, vibrant picture of yourself is not mutually exclusive–it’s complementary.

My challenge? Go forth and differentiate.

Find a way to use some form of social media professionally–especially Twitter, because I’m biased like that (and also because Facebook is dwindling. More on that later). It sounds scary, but give it a shot! I’m not talking about creating a separate, impersonal account simply for professional use–but rather finding how you can leverage a personal account to truly merge your passion with your profession. When the two come together, it’s a powerful, powerful thing.



P.S. Stay turned for my next post in the Personal Branding series: curation creation! It has a play on words so you know it’s gonna be good.

Personal Branding, Part II: Twitterpated

The world is twitterpated about twitter. (For those of you who don’t get the reference, y’all need Jesus. And Bambi.) But at the same time, twitter can get you on the fast-track to being very, very annoying. Here are some quick do’s and don’ts that can help you differentiate yourself on the fastest-growing social network without being a huge pain. You’re welcome.

DO: make your tweets meaningful. That’s tricky to do with only 140 characters, but it makes you even more memorable in the clamor of voices. There are plenty of ways you can do this, but the best is to simply tweet about what matters to you, since that’s what you’re most passionate about. Love sports? Tweet about it, and like-minded fans will follow you. Same goes for politics, baking, struggling college kids, moms, and just about every niche that has a hold in the digital space—just go to town and talk about what you love.

DON’T: tweet too much about mundane tasks. We get it: twitter is your chance to tell the world about what just happened to you or how you’re feeling when it doesn’t warrant a facebook status. But if you’re consistently posting content that never gets any interaction from others (a favorite, a retweet, or a mention), then you’re probably better off saving those precious little nuggets for your diary. I know I’ve said that in a previous post, but I’m serious. Once you annoy followers it’s very hard to win back an unfollower. Use your tweets wisely. At the same time, however…

DO: stay current. Twitter is all about real-time, constant updates. It’s live! Of course you don’t want to be flooding your audience and overwhelming their twitter feeds, but you do want to maintain your voice and stay relevant amidst the constant din. At least 5 tweets a day is a solid number, especially if you can space them out a bit to reach different groups of people.

DON’T: say “twitterverse” or “twittersphere.” Please. Just don’t. You will sound desperate and people will hate you. In fact, while we’re on the topic of what never to mention, please don’t angrily reference someone indirectly through your tweets (infamously called “subtweeting”), talk about the weather, complain repeatedly about something, or post a bunch of self-important tweets. No one will like you and you’ll basically die alone. Or without many twitter followers, anyway.

DO: be pithy and funny. People will be way more inclined to follow you (or at least remember you) if you keep this is mind. There’s nothing wrong with serious tweeting—many do it successfully—but since twitter is such a short, sweet, and limited social media platform, sometimes it’s better to save heavier or lengthier posts for a different outlet (like a blog or facebook post). Try being a little bit sassier, a little bit more opinionated, and take yourself a little bit less seriously. Chances are people will appreciate the humor and the honesty afforded by such a fast-updated medium and you’ll have made yourself stand out more.

DON’T: take any of this too seriously. In the end, your twitter account is yours to do whatever the hell heck you’d like with. These tips, garnered from personal experience from yours truly, will only be helpful if you’re concerned about differentiating yourself with twitter. Sometimes you really just want a personal platform to talk about the most mundane things and if so, then that’s totally fine. In that case, just avoid saying anything really regrettable, angry, or all-around stupid, since other people do notice it and all. Thanks.



Tumblr Greats: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream


Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: Brittons Royal Mixers


Earlier, I referenced Tumblr as a great possible social media outlet for companies to promote their brand and message. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has gone above and beyond.

They’ve used it to establish their brand voice and post much more in-depth about the craft and creativity that goes into their ice cream. And IT LOOKS GOOD. (I’ve got my eye on you, Black Coffee. oh baby.) Everything from updates about company lunches, new merch releases, to snapshots of what’s going on in the kitchen–all in gorgeous full-size pictures. I found them through Tumblr’s featured blog list (the holy grail of Tumblr, basically) and already love what they’re about even though I’ve never tried their stuff. That’s how good their posts are. (Although if anyone’s looking for a Valentine’s Day present, they deliver in all states and ship right to your door. Hint.)

Check it. They’ve got a good thing goin’ on.



Ode to Southwest Airlines

Posted 12/23/13 by Mia McMahon and filed under:

Oh, Southwest. How I love you so. This airline has seen me through thick and thin. I live in Portland, OR and go to school in Grove City, PA–so needless to say, there’s a lot of flying back and forth that happens. And Southwest, from its dirt-cheap (relatively speaking) flights to its customer service, has got it DOWN. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1. TWO FREE CHECKED BAGS. As a cross-continental-US commuting college girl, this is huge. I still have to prioritize which heels I’ll have to leave behind (usually ending in just deciding to wear the pair in question to the airport paired with yoga pants because committing a fashion faux pas is better than abandoning a best friend). I still have to weigh and re-pack my bags multiple times to make sure they’re not over 50 pounds. I still stuff my carry-on like a greedy chipmunk. But the 2 free bags has saved me so much grief and out-of-pocket cash over the multiple trips back and forth. And for that, Southwest, I am forever grateful.

2. You can switch flights with no fees. SUPER helpful when plans keep changing on the go. They also go above and beyond to try and help you out. Once I had to “undo” a flight change a couple days after it was made and the fares of my initial flight had since gone up. The stakes were high: it determined whether or not I was able to see my then-boyfriend before school started. Though their typical policy only allows for those “whoops my b” undos within 24 hours, they chose to honor it anyways because they’re just cool like that. The guy and I have since parted ways, but Southwest and I are still going steady.

3. Their sense of humor is ON. POINT. The flight attendants always switch up the routine rule-reciting with some wisecrack or another and their sassiness always makes the whole hassle of flying that much more enjoyable.

By definition, without any gimmicks, Southwest is demonstrating a great marketing concept–just provide customers with what they want–good “content,” if you will–and the profit will follow. For me, every positive experience with them only solidifies my brand loyalty–and good for them, because I’ve got 2 and a half years of school left and a helluva lot more flying to do.


P.S. they also are very generous with snacks and even provide ritz bits cheese sandwich crackers which is enough for me

Social Media Spotlight: Tumblr

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…what do you think of when you think social media? Tumblr’s not quite as mainstream a choice for businesses when it comes to promoting via social media, but the often-overlooked platform has far reach and diverse skillset when it comes to professional use. Since digital marketing is all about authenticity (as opposed to the spin of a carefully-worded message), Tumblr provides businesses and brands the ideal outlet to connect with their users in a much less contrived environment. Think the length and purpose of blogging, only with more pretty pictures and much more real-time interaction and updates. Who even reads blogs anymore, anyways?

………….Ahem. As I was saying. One of Tumblr’s best features is the reblog button, or essentially the equivalent of a retweet. Pretty self-explanatory. But here’s the DL for the those truly stuck in the stone ages: if you like a post enough, you click a button and forward the entire post on to your followers for their personal enjoyment, much like those emotionally-manipulative hotmail chains that threatened the health and goodwill of your loved ones if you didn’t pass it on to your 12 best friends. A reblog, along with likes and comments, all add to your total “notes” on a post, much like retweeting and favoriting on Twitter. The more notes you garner on a post and followers you gain, the more Tumblr-famous you become. If you ever wanted to measure your popularity and feel subsequently insecure about yourself, Tumblr’s a great way to do it. (I’m not bitter or anything, I swear.)

Still not convinced? My shining review just isn’t cutting it for you? FINE. These stats don’t lie:

  • Tumblr reaches a huge youth market, so it’s gold for One Direction’s Content Marketers brands trying to attract critically-thinking-compromised tweens/teens
  • It’s grown 74% in 2013 (Twitter and LinkedIn “only” saw 40%)
  • An average Tumblr visit is 14 minutes (longer than Facebook)–perfect for more in-depth content
  • US users alone: 41,250,000
  • It’s the 5th-most-visited site in the US

…sooooo you really want to get on it, kids. Whether you just reblog a lot of music-related stuff or write poetry and take great pictures, test it out and be familiar with it now because brands are starting to take note.

And also as a bonus: the tumblr culture is really hilarious and deserves to be appreciated.



Twitter: Finding Sticky Followers

Ah, followers. The greatest success metric of Twitter that can never quite be fully met. Everyone always wants more followers and often resort to shortcuts (black-hat twitter, anyone?) that only end in gaining followers that don’t interact or, even worse, unfollow you shortly thereafter (gasp). The nerve. So I, dear ones, as a certified twitter expert have taken it upon myself to give a few pointers on how to gain legitimate followers–“sticky followers,” as I like to say. You’re welcome, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa.

The main thing to keep in mind is the age-old concept of quality over quantity. While a bigger following on twitter does say more about the strength/quality of your profile, it all starts with a solid base. Once you’ve found your twitter niche and are consistently tweeting about whatever banal-yet-appealing subject that is dear to your heart, you’ll start to grow a following of people who appreciate your content enough to commit to receiving your refreshing little gems every day. Got it? Great.

Next, onto some finer-tuned caveats. If you try to buy followers or simply mass-follow a bunch of people in the hopes that they actually follow through (get it? FOLLOW through? haaaaaha) on the #teamfollowback promised in their twitter bio, you will be sorely disappointed. Alas, my friends, you will only end up with a skewed follower-to-following ratio, an empty interactions page, and an even emptier heart.

Instead, try following only people who have similar interests. Use twitter to network with friends from school, home, and events you attend. Or just take a gamble with random people whose vibes you really like. Use a rhyme and a reason and then do your part to follow up by being a person worth following back. Don’t simply expect someone to return the favor because you followed them first; if your tweets simply become clutter or background noise on a person’s twitterfeed, you’re doing yourself more harm than good.

It’s important to note here that what some people consider “clutter” might be another person’s passion. It can be very relative. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure. For example, I studiously unfollow people who solely tweet about sports or politics. And in turn, I have driven away many a follower with my linked tumblr queue and vague lower-case alternative song lyrics posted at off hours of the night. To each his own.

Anyways, back on track. Once you’ve gotten your tweets and your base group and you’re strategically following people who you actually have interest in interacting with, just keep it up. The quality will do its part here; as you get retweeted more and get other people to check out your account, you will slowly grow that core follower base and expand. And that’s all you have to do! People will begin to recognize you. You will get more followers. …Unless you’re just really bland and vacuous, in which case I can’t really help you out there.

One last word: speaking of your twitter bio, you can use it to immediately influence what people think of your account (and, thus, influence their inclination to follow you). Write something cutesy or witty in your bio. Upload an attractive picture of your face. Even the ubiquitous mirror selfie is preferable to the default anonymous egg avatar. The sky’s the limit! You’re differentiating yourself, so do anything you can to set yourself apart. Being professional is important, but don’t feel confined to just being safe and formal on twitter. Break out your sassy side. Make awkward puns. But most of all, have fun and remember that I love you conditionally.

Happy tweeting!


P.S. follow me on twitter for a guaranteed good clean fun time: @ACaucasianAsian

Trending: Bitstrip Comics



Chances are, you’ve seen your facebook friends post captioned comics featuring characters that looked surprisingly similar to them. These addicting little cartoons are brought to you by Bitstrip, which allows you to pick characters, scenes, props, and captions and customize them to your easily-delighted heart’s content. No, really, that’s all it is. And people freaking love it. Hell, I love it. I spent an hour just figuring out how to layer objects and creating my persona, which is reminiscent of Nintendo Wii’s create-your-own-Mii craze. It’s addictively specific–everything from face shape and pupil size to eyebrow arch and body type is customizable.

Once you’ve got your character set up, you can go back and change details (including clothing or accessories) anytime you want. The gold, though, is in picking from their vast variety of scenes and situations and hand-tailoring it to fit your life. It’s like Neopets or Webkinz (shoutout to all my fellow virtual pet owners of the early 2000’s)…but for grownups. YES PLEASE.

It’s also a great moneymaker, too. Yesterday it had its first round of fundraising, garnering $3 million from Asia’s wealthiest man. Not bad, Bitstrip. Not bad. It’s also seen 30 million avatars made in these past two months alone! Needless to say, they’re blooming. And I’m all too happy to hop on the bandwagon because it’s freaking fun.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be squandering my lunch break creating a pointlessly hilarious and oddly specific comic, tyvm.



Beyoncé Is A Genius Marketer And Also A Babe

yay Beyoncé

Beyoncé’s surprise new visual album


…wait, what? That’s right. Not only does Beyoncé look FAB at 32 (and a mother to Blue Ivy no less) but she pulls this one out of her famous, shapely, moneymaking hat. Yes, her hat. What did you think I was going to say?

It’s a stroke of marketing genius. Instead of going the usual route of months of anticipation and milking all she could out of promotional ads, she just drops the bomb and starts a social media frenzy. Seriously. All hell broke loose. It generated 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours (the math’s not very hard in this one, people) and beat even Sharknado in social media buzz. WHADDUP, GIRL.

That’s it guys. I’m done. I’m just going to quit school (conveniently in the middle of finals week) and become a full-time goddess. Okay? Okay.

P.S. Check out all the snippets promoting her “visual album” on her youtube page. I watched all 14 in a row. #noshame