’s New Virtual Community for Salon Professionals (BTC) is an online-based company that provides education, retail and industry-related information to salon professionals. With over 600,000 members world-wide, has built a strong reputation withing the salon industry. About a month and a half ago, BTC launched its own virtual community on This community is open only to salon professionals (stylists, make-up artists, estheticians, owners, etc.). It is a place where stylists can create a profile, upload and share their professional work and interact with each other.

Other websites have attempted to create virtual communities in which stylists can create and share their work, but have not been successful in doing so. The initial concept behind these sites is genius, but they all seem to fail when it comes to gaining awareness and engaging social media, making it impossible to achieve success. This is where I think that BTC stands out and why it will become the go-to community for salon professionals to interact and upload their portfolios.

First of all, already has a name for itself and a large following, which gives this new community a great platform right off the bat. On top of that though, BTC does a phenomenal job of engaging their audience, especially via social media (i.e. competitions, personal responses, etc.). Upon launching the new community, BTC sent out one email promoting a hair color competition in which stylist could have their work published in BTC’s book or magazine to encourage stylists to join the community and upload images of their work. According to Mary Rector-Gable, founder and President of, within 5 days there were 8,000 pictures uploaded from over 4,000 people to the site (Stylist Choice Awards, 2013). There are currently over 5,500 members registered on the BTC community.


Successful email promotion from

This community does more than just allow stylists to interact and share work though. Making this new community available through BTC’s website will also encourage salon professionals (BTC’s primary audience), to engage with the rest of the site more regularly, which I would imagine, will result in a positive correlation to increased sales.

My only suggestion for the BTC community would be to integrate a component that would allow clients and potential clientele to browse stylists’ work. For example, someone looking for a new stylist might be able to search and view the images of stylists in their area. If said potential client likes the work of a specific stylist, they could call the salon and schedule an appointment or consultation. Stylists would just need to provide their salon name, number and location. While something like this could be done as a separate site that links to uploaded images, I think that it would be more effective as a part of the existing salon community; however non-professionals should still not be able to attain membership and access features such as industry education.  This would encourage stylist to post more images and it would draw a larger audience to the site. While salon clients may not be interested in salon education, they could be interested in making a purchase from BTC’s retail store either themselves or when looking for a gift for their stylist.

 Stylist Choice Awards. Mary Rector-Gable. (2013, March 10). McCormick Place, Chicago, Il. (Can be viewed online at




NickMom uses Social Toaster to create a Semi-User-Generated Content Buzz

social toaster logoSocial Toaster works to help companies increase presence in social media through encouraging a company’s current audience to share content via social media. Social Toaster then tracks activity to help assess effectiveness. I am going to discuss how is using this program and why I think that it is successful. is a parenting website that accompanies the adult-centered television program, NickMom, which targets women with children, and airs on the Nick Jr. network after 10pm. The program just launched in the fall of 2012, and has already created quite a buzz in online communities. recently launched NickMom Clique via Social Toaster. On NickMom Clique, people can earn points and win prizes by sharing specific content with their Facebook friends and/or Twitter followers. NickMom Clique seems to be successfully engaging current and potential viewers.

NickMom Welcome Email

The content that members share is not entirely user generated, but, as I am calling it, semi-user-generated, because the actual message is pushed by the company. Status updates can include a link to content from an email newsletter and/or have a specific keyword or hashtag that users must include (ex: #motherfunny) to earn points towards prizes or other incentives. In other words, NickMom tells users what to post about, and users get points for social media shares that include the recommended content.

This gives NickMom some control or influence over what content they want out there, but the statuses themselves are still being shared by the public. This is a great way for a company to gain stronger presence in the world of social media (or at least on Facebook and Twitter) for many reasons.

People are already engaging in social media and sharing recommendations. Offering incentives for the current audience to engage with NickMom and share via their social media networks does more than help to expand online presence. It also strengthens the existing audience by bringing them together in an online community and further exposing that audience to the company’s message.  Edelman’s 2013 Trust Barometer shows that people trust people like themselves over a company’s employees or CEO. Based on this, a company’s message will likely have more influence if it comes from someone’s peers than if it comes directly from the company.

This model for social media engagement and expansion seems like the best of both worlds. On the one hand, the company is able to steer the direction of the message that is being shared on social media, but the actual sharing is generated by the public. According to Social Toaster, when a company encourages a message to be shared, users are choosing to share the content 42% of the time and reaching 313 people on average. I expect that we will continue to see more companies implementing social media campaigns like this.

NickMom Clique Cheers

The images we consume…

I would like to discuss how people perceive images in the media and the affects those images have on society.  Most of the images that we view have been altered to create an ideal or a fantasy, as opposed to a reality. Most Americans are probably aware that advertising images are altered, but that does not protect them from the messages that images send. Each picture a person views sends them a message of what perfection looks like. When someone sees a picture in an ad, they don’t just see a model displaying a perfume bottle, for example. They see beauty. They see what it looks like to be seductive. They see an ideal. They might recognize that the model in the picture is airbrushed, but it doesn’t prevent them from defining human beauty according to the altered image. People reflect themselves back into images and depict their world through those images, as opposed to understanding them at face value. Rather, people use these images to define themselves and the world around them. For example one might view an image and personally relate to it, or they might view an image and want to relate to it, asking how they could change themselves to closer reach the ideal depicted in the image.

The multitude of images that we consume in American culture has many affects. First of all, it causes people to constantly compare themselves to often impossible ideals. For instance, women might look to magazines to determine how they should look. Some might follow a path towards trying to become and image, in which the actual self can be lost.  Many people measure celebrities and others according to their images. For instance, how many images one sees of a person might be positively correlated to how relevant and important they perceive that person to be. I would say that people today also use social media to measure celebrities and non-celebrities according to their images. For example if a “friend” on Facebook only posts pictures of herself in full make-up, wearing heels and on vacation, one could perceive her living a very glamorous life, even though this is really just a highlight reel of images she wants seen. People are more mindful of their image (both in person and online) and the messages that it sends because we live in a society that is so consumed with, and aware of images.

Understanding people based on their images also plays a role in politics in our society. The general population tends to care more about who a politician is than what his or her policies are. For example, when surveyed, people rated President Regan highly, but didn’t typically agree with the actual policies he endorsed. People often want to vote for who they observe to be the better person. I think it would be safe to say that people determine who the better person is, based (at least partially) on the images of that person that they are exposed to. I imagine that if Americans were surveyed today and asked to describe our current president, many would list attributes of his personality or character; based on how they perceive the images they’ve been exposed to of him, as opposed to his political decisions or policies.

When it comes to images in the media, one could argue both that they are good and that they are not. Regarding this, I think that there is somewhat of a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, we don’t want to see real images, and studies indicate that they wouldn’t sell products nearly as well as an altered, fantastical ideal. At the same time though, we hate these images for setting in our minds an unachievable standard of perfection. Many say that advertising force-feeds us these images, but we are the ones buying the magazines in which to consume the images. I do think that images in advertising have an effect on society; however I also believe that society has an effect on advertising. I don’t think that we can blame one or the other, but that the two perpetuate each other.

IU Health Live Tweeted a Living Kidney Donor Surgery!

At today’s PRSA Hoosier luncheon, we heard from Kristofer Karol and Gene Ford, who discussed how they pulled off Indiana’s first real-time transplant Twittercast.

Gene Ford speaking about the Twittercast with Kristofer Karol at the PRSA Hoosier November luncheon

In efforts to raise awareness about organ donation and organ transplants, they decided to tweet highlights, during an actual living kidney donor transplant. Tweeting the live surgery was a little bit risky, a lot outside the box and a huge success.

When they started planning for this, they anticipated it taking quite a bit of time before everything was in place to make this idea a reality.  However, there was a surgery scheduled sooner, so these guys had a lot to do in a little amount of time – 23 tasks in 9 days to be exact. These tasks included asking the patients to agree and sign the necessary documentation, informing the doctors and hospital staff, speaking with attorneys to make sure they were doing things in an ethical and legal way, among numerous other things.

Some background: Caleb Johnson was speaking with his friend, Colin Newton, over dinner about his need for a kidney transplant, when Colin offered to be his donor. At IU Health, kidney transplants are done frequently, and as far as surgeries go, usually one of the safest procedures. This was one of the reasons that Karol and Ford chose to highlight this specific type of surgery.

Caleb Johnson and best friend/kidney donor, Colin Newton

Karol and Ford had a lot to consider before implementing this Twittercast. For instance, what if something unexpected does happen? Or, worst case scenario, what if something goes wrong? While there is typically little risk involved in this type of surgery they still had to be prepared for anything. Fortunately, they did not need to use any premeditated crisis management strategies.

This Twittercast far surpassed all expected outcomes. The team predicted they would receive about 500 new twitter followers and 50 mentions or re-tweets. In actuality  they got just under 1,400 new followers and over 1,700 mentions/re-tweets, as well as over 100 media placements!

Click here to learn more about organ donation and Caleb’s story on the IU Health Website.