Nashville Night With Friends

Last weekend was a good one. My boyfriend (who is also a grad student at UT) and I went home to Nashville to celebrate his birthday with some of our good friends. It was another one of my friend’s birthdays too, so we did a kind of joint birthday event. We went to Cabana Nashville for dinner and had some delicious food. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for some large moonshine cocktails like this one that the birthday boy and girl were drinking…

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Then, after dinner we went downtown to an art crawl that the birthday girl wanted to go to. I had never experienced anything like it, but it was actually a pretty cool event. Here was an interesting room that required a little participation from the viewers:

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The picture below of my friend Dannie and me was at my favorite exhibition of the night. The artist, Herb Williams, used an assortment of crayons to build intricate and beautiful animal sculptures (mainly of different breeds of dogs).

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The sculptures featured beautiful colors and designs, usually incorporating some iconic designer symbols like this Louis Vuitton dog.

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Here are even more fabulous designer pups…

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It was a really interesting and fun experience, and you never know who you’re going to see at events like these…*cough* Steven Tyler…

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{ Don’t worry, I’ve already accepted that I am a creeper for this photo }

Anyways, it was just a great night catching up with friends and I was glad to be back in good ole Nashville!

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Animal Obsession

There is no denying the power of animals in today’s world of social media. Animals have the power to make you smile, laugh, cry, and basically experience any emotion you could think of all at once. Content including animals is definitely some of the most popular and viral content out there. How many times do you see an Instagram dedicated fully to a dog? Or a funny cat video going viral throughout all of your social media platforms and maybe even featured on the news?

Yes, animals are our weakness in today’s digital world. We can’t help but snap a picture of that hilarious position our dog is sleeping in and share with our social media followers (that would be me) or repost that Buzzfeed article about the 10 Best/Cutest/Funniest/etc. Animals…. Don’t get me wrong; I am in no way discouraging this animal obsession we have. With that being said, I thought I’d satisfy all our animal-obsessed needs by sharing this awesome compilation of dog vines:

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!:)

Let the Lip Sync Battles Begin!

For those of you who watch The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and can’t get enough of his lip sync battles with popular celeb guests, then I have some good news for you! If you didn’t know already (especially from all of the buzz surrounding Thursday night’s performance), Jimmy Fallon has teamed up with Spike TV to create a whole new show dedicated to these beloved celebrity lip sync battles. And get ready, because it’s epic.

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(GIF via iheartmbm.tumblr.com)

I just learned about this show a few days ago and since the two 30 minute episodes that had already aired were leading up to the newest episode Thursday night, I decided to watch them all. The first one was between Jimmy Fallon (of course) and Dwayne Johnson, and the second was between John Legend and Common. They were both pretty good but nothing compared to the third battle between Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway. I won’t deny, it was pretty awesome watching Anne Hathaway transform into a (somewhat alarmingly) spot-on Miley Cyrus in her performance of “Wrecking Ball.”

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(GIF via iheartmbm.tumblr.com)

I have no idea if this show will last, but that performance will definitely live on! You can watch the full performance in the YouTube video below:

Facebook Marketing

This week was Social Media Week at the University of Tennessee. We had a lot of great speakers come talk to us about different topics surrounding social media.

We were lucky enough to have UT alumni, Morgan Ashpitz, from Facebook come and talk about how marketing is changing and how Facebook is making business more personal. First, let me highlight a few key statistics that demonstrate how important Facebook is in the realm of social media. According to Morgan, the average person looks at their Facebook news feed 14 times a day. 23% of people’s mobile time is spent on Facebook and Instagram and that is more time than Google and all of its channels combined. According to expandedramblings.com, there are about 1.393 billion monthly active users on Facebook.

We are definitely in the digital era of marketing, and that has allowed it to become much more personal. Also, with so much content out there now, this is becoming an era of what Morgan referred to as “TLDR.” If you don’t know what that means, that’s okay, neither did I. TLDR stands for too long don’t read. Basically in order to break through the clutter and make sure people actually are consuming your content, it is necessary that you are making “relevant, high quality content” and that you “deliver [this content] to the people that matter to you.” Fortunately, she let us know that Facebook gives you all the tools you need in order to do this.

She talked about how in digital marketing, content is changing. At first it was all text then it was all photos and according to Morgan it’s soon going to be all videos. Marketers are increasingly shifting to video and soon it will be a “virtual reality.”

Morgan also showed us how Facebook was giving you all the tools to do the most effective marketing. With Facebook ads, you can reach specific audiences and are in control of what you spend and how you spend it. Basically, you set your budget and see what works for you. Facebook allows you to measure your results and see what’s working in terms of marketing efforts and ads. Their ad insights allow you to tell how many people engaged, how many people liked the ad, and more. These insights will allow you to make better decisions for marketing. If you want to learn more about these measurement tools go to Facebook for Businesses.

Overall, we learned from this talk that Facebook is allowing companies to be more personal with their marketing and really helping to shape the new landscape of business. From this session, Morgan left us with three key takeaways:

  1. Marketing is changing; it is becoming more personal.
  2. You create relevant, high quality content and deliver to the people that matter to you.
  3. Facebook give you the tools to do this.

Best Brands on April Fools’ Day

I’m a big lover of seeing how brands are engaging in real-time marketing, as some of my previous posts may have revealed. This week provided a fun opportunity for brands to engage in some creative real-time marketing with the unofficial but popular holiday for prank lovers: April Fools’ Day. This is a day where brands get to show off their humorous side and pull a few pranks of their own.

Here are 5 of the best April Fools’ Day social media posts from brands that I came across during this year’s April 1st holiday:

1.  T-Mobile

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What would April Fools be without some ridiculous fake products? T-Mobile came out with the perfect prank product with its “Pets Unleashed” plan. Check out the “Un-commercial” here.

2.  Jimmy John’s

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Drones are a popular topic right now, especially when talking about the future of food delivery. Jimmy John’s decided to make the future reality with the announcement of its upcoming Drone delivery service.

3.  Miz Mooz Shoes

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Another hilarious invention—the selfie shoe—was a prime prank product this April Fools’ day.

4.  Oreo

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Oreo’s prank this April Fools’ Day was hardly funny. Getting us all excited about this amazing creation…how rude😉

5.  Barefoot

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I’ve noticed that Barefoot has been on top of its real-time marketing game lately. They took a different approach to the traditional prankster holiday this year and actually did something really amazing and good. Watch the video here. (Beware: you will probably cry).

Hope nobody got pranked too bad this April Fools’ Day!

Book Review of Mark Schaefer’s Return on Influence

In his book, Return on Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing, Mark Schaefer demonstrates the changes happening in business and marketing due to the growing concept of social influence. He also shows you how you can increase and take advantage of your personal online influence score.

In the first chapter, “The Rise of the Citizen Influencer,” Schaefer discusses how it’s not only the celebrity that has the power of influence anymore. You don’t have to be a famous actor, singer, or athlete to receive celebrity treatment from businesses these days; all you need is social influence. This social influence is measured by rating systems (like Klout) that use complex algorithms to measure your online influence and give you a score based on these measurements.

“An advertising image may be fleeting and ignored. A television commercial is viewed with suspicion. But a Citizen Influencer like my friend can have a long-lasting influence in his or her sphere of connection and engagement with just two sentences of original content.”

The fact is that people are trusting ads less and less. People are much more likely to look to the opinions of their friends, peers, or other social influencers before buying a product or service. Schaefer highlights through real-world examples how word-of-mouth communication—such as opinions and reviews from those well-trusted peers, friends, or social influencers—has become such a powerful form of persuasion. As social media has enabled anyone to publish information and reviews that are easily searchable and permanent, it has become crucial for marketers to listen to, understand, and join in on these conversations in today’s digital era.

Schaefer illustrates how instead of just investing millions of dollars on celebrity endorsers, commercials, and other forms of mass communication, companies can now utilize the huge power of online social influencers. Successful companies are now identifying top influencers on social media and targeting these people with enticing incentives in hopes that they will spread positive word of mouth about their brand or product. Identifying and targeting these key influencers is becoming of utmost importance to businesses today and is becoming a powerful form of marketing.

This book really demonstrates all you need to know about the power of social influencers today and how you can take advantage of this power. In Schaefer’s words, this book “will shift the way you think about your personal power, the ability to leverage the power of others, and the importance of the new class of Citizen Influencers to the world of marketing and advertising.” It is definitely worth reading.

Neat iPhone Gadgets

My boyfriend’s birthday is coming up in about a week, and every year I work hard to find him the perfect present. I love giving gifts and am known to be a pretty good gift-giver, but guys are so hard, right?

Well, like every year, I dedicated a good amount of time just searching the Internet for any ideas. I always start with his favorite clothing/outdoor brands (Oakley, Under Armor, North Face, Patagonia) then move on to other brands that he loves (Jack Daniels, Yeti, Jeep, etc.) then start searching for unique merchandise for his favorite college football team (Florida State) or for his hobbies (golfing, working out, etc). He is super loyal to his brands so that usually makes things so much easier, but this year everything was just starting to look boring and like everything he already had.

Like most guys, he loves any kind of cool gadgets/tech, so I started to search for some gadget-type things that might interest him. He just got an iPhone 6, so I thought, why not see what kind of cool accessories/tech is out there for the iPhone right now? And to little surprise, there is a lot! Some of the stuff I came across is so cool (not just for guys but for anyone), so I thought I’d share a few of these finds and maybe give you a few ideas for gifts or just something neat for yourself.

Here are some of the most interesting iPhone gadgets/accessories I came across:

1. Beastgrip Pro (via GadgetFlow)

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2. Eco Terra Waterproof Boombox (via Gadget Flow)

3. MOGA REBEL Game Controller (via Apple Store)

4. Brookstone Pocket Projector Mobile (via Mashable)

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5. ZINK: Portable Zero Ink Printer (via IPPINKA)

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A Pinspiring Easter

Peeps, pastels, decorated eggs, baskets, bunnies and bright Spring colorsWho can’t help but smile at the thought of Easter?

I love Pinterest and I especially love using it to gather ideas for holidays. Since I did a blog dedicated to St. Patty’s day Pinspirations a couple of weeks ago, I thought this week I’d post a little Easter Pinspiration:).

Here are some of the inspirational Easter ideas I found through Pinterest this year:

1) Bunny Pancakes

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Start your Easter morning off right with some Bunny Pancakes (via Taste of Home).

2) Bacon Jalapeño Deviled Eggs

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I know I posted a deviled egg idea for St. Patty’s day too, but (lets be honest) what is Easter without deviled eggs? This Bacon Jalapeño Deviled Eggs recipe from Real Housemoms looks absolutely delicious.

3) Crescent Roll Carrots (Filled with Egg Salad)

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These egg salad filled crescent rolls from Life a la Wife would be so cute to serve as an appetizer for Easter brunch.

4) Sweet Potato Bunnies

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Another super cute bunny shaped food item to serve on Easter (via With Style & Grace).

5) Rustic Easter Decor

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If you go through most of my Pinterest boards related to home decor, you will realize that I have a slight obsession with rustic. Some great inspiring rustic decor Easter ideas like this can be found at DigsDigs. And don’t forget to add some jelly beans to your table this Easter!

6) Minion Easter Eggs

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I had to include these DIY Minion Easter Eggs from A Pumpkin & A Princess in my Pinspiring Easter Ideas. Are they not the greatest thing you have ever seen?

7) Marshmallow Bunny Peep-Tini

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Catering to a more grown-up crowd this Easter? You may want to try serving these Marshmallow Peep-Tinis. If you’re watching your sugar intake, this probably isn’t the drink for you. Nevertheless, it looks delicious! Get the recipe from Raining Hot Coupons.

8) And don’t forget your Easter bunny!!

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  (Image pinned from indulgy.com)

For more Pinspirational holiday ideas, check out my Pinterest board titled Holiday Cheer!

Saint Patrick’s Day Ideas on Pinterest

Saint Patrick’s Day is upon us, and what better way to prepare for the holiday than with a little Pinspiration?

Here are a few ideas I’ve gathered on Pinterest to celebrate this Saint Patrick’s Day:

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I love avocados and I love deviled eggs, so what could be better than these avocado deviled eggs from cakescottage.com?

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TheFlirtyBlog.blogspot.com has some green ideas for St Patty’s Day dinners. These pesto and goat cheese baguettes are just one of several great recipes on her blog.

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You can never go wrong with traditional Irish Shepard’s Pie on St. Patrick’s Day. Spinachtiger.com has a recipe for it in party bites as well as an entree if you are cooking for the family.

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There is no shortage of drink recipes out there for St. Patricks day either. For something a little more refined than the traditional green beer, holidayscentral.com has this green sangria recipe.

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Now for a little home decor. If you are a DIY person, how-to for these jars made from puff paint to draw or write messages and green paint for that St. Patty’s Day look is on yesterdayontuesday.com.

I hope these Pinterest finds gave you a little inspiration for your St. Patty’s Day festivities!

DWTS is Back

It was sad having to say goodbye to The Bachelor this week, but it will all be okay because that just means we are saying hello again to Dancing With the Stars. And—surprise!—Chris Soules (aka “Prince Farming”), will actually be a contestant in this year’s 10th anniversary season!

This show is so fun to watch. I’m always surprised at how good some of the contestants end up being. Although I don’t think anyone in this season’s line up will be able to match reigning champ, Alfonso Ribeiro, and his iconic moves, it should be a fun season to watch!

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From The Hunger Games actress Willow Shields (aka Primrose Everdeen) to multi-millionaire Shark Tank investor, Robert Herjavec, to military veteran and motivational speaker, Noah Galloway, this season is full of an extremely diverse set of stars—which is nothing unusual for DWTS. For more information on the whole cast you can go here: abc.go.com.