Archive for Digital Trends

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.



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

Millennials: We Suck But We’re Also Marketable











Literally, the internet was commercialized the year I was born (1995) so naturally I was just meant to be addicted to twitter and googling all my questions instead of actually consulting a tangible reference.

Sue me.

There’s been a lot of buzz circulating about how millennials are narcissistic, self-centered, vapid (new fav word?) little snots who feel self-entitled to everything without actually wanting to invest any of the hard work and commitment required to go there. While I’m not denying this truth (anyone want to take my finals for me? anyone?), I am here, dear ones, to inform you about the marketable benefits of being a millennial. That’s right! We don’t suck all the time! Ready? Here we go:

1. While being born in the digital age means we are glued to our phones/tablets/laptops sometimes all the time, it also means we’re the most savvy and intuitive when it comes to all things digital. Need to know how to market to the up-and-coming generation? We are literally exactly who you’re looking for. Need to come up with effective social media strategies? We live and breathe it. Need help figuring out Netflix? Call me. It’s like asking a native Chinese speaker to translate for you instead of someone who took a couple classes for their expertise. Millennials innately and intuitively know.

2. We’re super efficient! Granted, we may be lazy butts who balk at the thought of an 8-hour workday. But that just means we find innovative new ways to achieve the desired results with the least effort possible. We’re bright and we’re lazy and we’re damn well efficient at getting stuff done in the least amount of time. Streamlining, yo.

3. We are so lovably self-expressive. When it comes to the digital age, differentiation is key. And we are literally so great at championing our own strong points and packaging ourselves in the best possible light that chances are we can do the same for you! It’s the time to stand out from the pack and do your own thing–and we’re shamelessly proud about it. We can use our incredibly narcissistic worldview to help you rock whatever it is you do best. Most likely it’ll end with creative new approaches and a stronger brand identity. Who doesn’t want a stronger brand identity?

I’ll leave you lovelies with this gem:


Love and Participation Trophies,



Portland Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy

Taking a little break from digital marketing to share the spotlight with more traditional forms of marketing.

Ad agency

fav new ad agency yo






Everyone, meet Wieden+Kennedy, a Portland-based ad agency I recently stumbled across and was delighted because they’re from my hometown! (I may be a little biased.) They have several big-ticket clients like Nike, Facebook, Coke, ESPN, and Honda. Cue wolf whistle. According to the dearly-beloved and trusty wikipedia, they’re one of the biggest independent ad agencies world-wide and have garnered numerous awards for their work. Way to go, W+K. You go, Glen Coco.

Though I naturally gravitate towards social media since I’m a millennial baby (more on that later), I have serious respect for advertising agencies in specific because there is so much sheer time, effort, and manpower involved that all have to come together in a creative concoction to formulate an effective commercial. It’s like a dance between the brand and the consumer that has more subtleties and nuances than an awkward first date.

What really goes into crafting a successful ad? On a fundamental basis you need delve into the identity, personality, and core message of your brand. What sets you apart? What’s your THING? What comes to people’s minds when they think of your brand? If you work for a well-established company like Coke, you’re lucky in that the brand identity is already very solidly established in the mental space of the consumer. Oftentimes ad agencies have their work cut out for them because they may have to go back to square one and help build up a brand’s identity through the very ads they’re being asked to create. That’s a lot of responsibility.

Once you’ve established the personality and vibe that you’re aiming for, it’s a whole lot more time and raw effort involved that goes into developing an ad. Different teams under different jurisdictions need to seamlessly blend together to crank out a solid piece of work that’s relatable to the brand’s target audience, resonates with both the brand’s message and their consumers, and captures attention using creativity/humor/surprise/solid craft/whatever they can pull to differentiate themselves. It’s a crapton of work and the final product can be a disaster even after all the resources and $$$ invested.

That being said, I’ve been stalking some of Wieden+Kennedy’s ads and I must say they’re fab. Even their criticized ad Go Forth for Levi’s jeans appeals to the individualistic, experience-oriented, somewhat-vapid target audience. It makes me cringe, but the consumers hath spoken.

Adweek named their Coke ad It’s Mine the best superbowl ad of the decade. What’s really impressive, though, is their video detailing the process behind creating the ad. Check it out:


We may disregard them or look down on them more in the age of digital media, but ads truly are still a powerful giant in the marketing world, and Wieden+Kennedy is spot-on.


SEO for Dummies: What You Need to Know

SEO has become such a buzzword now but for those just starting to learn about its effectiveness and how it works (read: me), it can help to simplify things a bit in order really nail the key ideas. So without further ado, I present to you the dumbed-down, oversimplified, bare basics of SEO for dummies.

Rule #1: Content is king in the SEO world. All the great tips and tactics in the world can’t help you if your content sucks, so make sure the bulk of your time is spent investing in valuable, unique, well-written content that people actually want to read.

Rule #2: If content is king, then links are the benevolent right-hand man. If you want people (and the Google indexing “spiders”) to be crawling your site, you’re going to need some other sources who also think your stuff is worthwhile. The key is that they need to be authoritative sources! A big reason people tend to be reluctant to trust SEO is because of all the black-hat tricks out there that rely on link farms and deceptive sites to gain more traffic. But if you get into the practice of paying for worthless links in bulk, Google will punish you and that’s a lot worse than sitting in the corner without dessert. Make sure you link out, too—though not as valuable, it increases your chances of getting some recognition back.

Rule #3: Reputation matters. In our happy little SEO monarchy, it’s probably the knighthood or something. Essentially, you need to have a positive reputation, which you build up with your valuable content, and authoritative links. It takes patience and time (something a lot of people forget to take into account), but you will gradually build your reputation and popularity which alone will give you higher ranking. You’ll be rewarded for the legit content you post and people will like you and everyone will be happy.

That’s all I got. Good luck.

P.S. for 52 more SEO-related tips, check out Search Engine Journal’s handy-dandy list of SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love.

Mobile Marketing Spotlight: Gap

Now that Gap has been sufficiently made fun of for its logo redesign disaster a couple years back, let’s take a moment to praise the brand for something it’s doing right: mobile marketing! It’s another hot-button digital marketing topic but one that brands are still figuring out how to do effectively. If Gap’s move a couple months ago is any indicator, it looks like they’re on the right track.

Gap recently bought out all of Tumblr’s mobile ads for a day (which had never been done before, FYI) in order to kickstart its fall “Back to Blue” campaign. First, the company asked Tumblr bloggers to create original content of what blue meant to them, which already shows savvy and know-how on Gap’s part when it comes to using different campaigns for different social media outlets. The icing on the cake, however, is that the brand picked its four favorite submissions to be featured in all of Tumblr’s mobile ads on August 29. Talk about a smart monopoly!

The global director of digital and social media at Gap, Rachel Tipograph, told Mashable how Gap was essentially using the Tumblr community as a creative agency in its own accord:

“Pop culture doesn’t really start on TV anymore. Pop culture starts on the Internet. When you think about what community is creating pop culture on the Internet, it’s Tumblr. We wanted to partner with the best content creators, give them a chance to make the Back to Blue brief, and then take the best pieces of content and turn them into mobile ads.”

All I can say is…keep up the good work. You go, Gap.