Dear Google Plus, We Bid You Goodbye

Google Plus is getting ready to say goodbye to the world. But why? A security breach that put users’ information at risk is what burst the bubble. Despite this security issue, we must highlight that Google+ is not as successful a social platform as expected. Regardless, the consumer interest was never there. Let’s examine what might have contributed to the Google Plus failure that is forcing its end.

What Went Wrong?

Indisputably, Google is the #1 search engine in the world, followed by Bing and Yahoo. But despite its success, its social counterpart didn’t follow suit. With four attempts at social networking, the consumer interest in the platform just was never there. Reports show that 90 percent of users spent about 5 seconds or less on Google Plus. But then again, how can you compete with social network titans like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter? With  billions of users, such platforms almost leave no room for new concepts to emerge. An article discusses that although the unpopularity of the platform was a factor, the security breach was what reached the boiling point. With private profile data of over 500k users, Google was forced to shut down its social platform for users. This means that the site will still be available for companies, but not for individual consumers.

Popular Response

Although Google Plus never reached the popularity of other social media platforms, this channel did count with a fan base. The lack of ads and content that connects people, makes it a more genuine social network platform for its users. To them it is like having the benefits of social media without everything social media entails. And though the fan base is small, it is loyal. There is a group with over 2,000 members, created by a Google+ user, to give its consumers options to migrate to other social networks. As this community prepares for the shutting down, their plans to find options better than the traditional social network platforms are in full throttle.

Google+ is estimated to shut down for consumers in August of 2019. In the meantime the Google team is allowing this time for users to transition, download, and migrate their data. And while consumers prepare to bid Google Plus goodbye, we are relieved to know it will be available for companies. There are more advantages for companies when they use Google Plus. However, the loss of this platform will be felt in the community of users that call Google+ their social network of choice.

Energyhill Knows Social

Trust Energyhill with your business’s social networks. We know what social platforms are the best options for business owners to succeed. Contact us today and let’s get the conversation started.

Retail Apocalypse: 20 Big Retailers Closing Stores In 2017

Increasing online sales year after year has resulted in a steady decline of brick and mortar locations for many retailers. While this year’s Cyber Monday sales hit record highs, according to the Washington Post, in-store visits declined by 1.6 percent over last year. As a result, below are 20 of the biggest retailers who will be closing locations before the end of 2017:

Retail Apocalypse: 20 Big Retailers Closing Stores In 2017

Clothing Retailers

  • Abercrombie & Fitch
    The speciality clothing retailer for tweens, teens and young adults has closed hundreds of locations in the past few years. They have announced another 60 locations will close in 2017.
  • American Apparel
    Once considered an edgy clothing retailer due to their envelope-pushing ad campaigns, American Apparel filed for bankruptcy in 2017. This resulted in all 110 of their retail locations closing their doors.
  • BCBG
    Based in Los Angeles, the clothier filed for bankruptcy in February 2017 and closed over 110 stores. However, through a company-reorganization, 300 stores remain open.
  • Bebe
    This women’s apparel brand closed all 168 of its stores in May 2017.
  • Guess
    They have announced that 60 of its U.S. locations will close as the company focuses more attention on consumer markets.
  • J. Crew
    The once preppy clothing brand announced 50 of its stores would close in 2017.
  • J.C. Penney
    This department store will restructure its business to more closely align with shifting consumer tastes. It will close 138 of its locations.
  • The Limited
    A specialty clothing retailer, The Limited had a particularly difficult 2016 holiday season. This resulted in closing all 250 of its retail locations and a loss of more than 4,000 jobs.
  • Macy’s
    While only closing 68 of its retail locations, this will supposedly result in the loss of thousands of jobs.
  • Michael Kors
    The high-end clothing brand will close 125 stores to better adapt to a changing retail landscape.
  • Rue21
    After closing 400 of its 1,100 retail locations, the teen clothing retailer then filed for bankruptcy in May.
  • Sears/Kmart
    The once ubiquitous department store and discount chain has suffered from a changing e-commerce retail landscape. The company has closed 35 Kmart locations and 8 Sears stores and has plans to close over 300 more.
  • Wet Seal
    Another teen clothing retailer, Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and closed all of its 171 stores in 2017.

Specialty Retailers

  • Aerosoles
    A New Jersey-based shoe company, Aerosoles filed for bankruptcy in September 2017. It is unclear how many of its 88 retail locations will be affected.
  • The Children’s Place
    Once a mall staple, The Children’s Place will adjust its business model to focus on ecommerce. This will result in hundreds of store closures by 2020.
  • CVS
    The pharmacy retailer is slated to close 70 locations.
  • Gymboree
    Another children’s clothing retailer plans to close 350 of its 1,200 locations.
  • H.H. Gregg
    Unable to find a buyer once it filed for bankruptcy, the electronics retailer will close all of its 220 stores.
  • Payless
    The shoe retailer will close 800 stores this year and filed for bankruptcy in April 2017.
  • RadioShack
    Only 70 retail locations remain after another 1,000 were closed in 2017.
  • Toys R Us
    One of the last remaining independent toy store chains, Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in September. However, it has said its 1,600 retail locations will remain open and operate as normal.

There are advantages and disadvantages to shopping purely online. The convenience factor is certainly an advantage; while the inability to touch and feel the product prior to purchase is a challenge. Perhaps the biggest challenge, however, is the loss of local jobs associated with closing retail stores. Whether you’re part of a brick-and-mortar location or own an online retail store, you’ll need robust digital marketing efforts to keep the business healthy. Energyhill is committed to working with clients in all aspects of advertising, design, and video promotion. For more information about our work and how we can help your business, please contact us today.

Google To Roll-Out Mobile-First Index Sites: What Is A Mobile-First Index?

What Is A Mobile-First Index?

It’s no secret that Google holds the purse strings when it comes to online indexing and search results. After all, the ubiquitous search engine has become a noun and a verb. However, online search activity migrating from desktops to mobile devices is bringing about a change in Google’s initial search assumptions. Here is a quick rundown of what Google’s result announcement regarding the implementation of a mobile-first index says:

How Google Determines Search Results

This definition is going to require a little explanation. Currently, when a consumer searches Google on their mobile phone, the search result order is based on an index. The index has been developed by Google through a combination of search crawlers, indexing, and ranking. Google ranks different websites based on keywords and content. Part of the search algorithm decides how relevant a site is to the search terms based on these characteristics.

How Google Determines Mobile Search Results

Currently, Google ranks sites based on desktop searches. This ranking is device-agnostic; the results still rank primarily based on desktop index, even if the search is conducted on a mobile device. However, the inclusion of additional mobile keywords that the Google search crawler is looking for may help to give some sites a bump.

How a Mobile-First Index Changes Things

So, Google recently announced that this method of determining search results on mobile devices will migrate to a mobile-first index. Accordingly, mobile search results will be returned based on mobile-focused criteria, including a responsive mobile site, a separate mobile and desktop-based site, and the lack of a mobile site.

How This Affects Businesses

If you don’t have a responsive mobile site, make one. This will have the most influence on your business’ mobile index ranking over just about anything else. Rankings will still primarily be at the page level; so do your best to make as many of your website’s pages mobile friendly as possible.

If you are interested in finding out more about mobile-first indexing or search optimization in general, please contact Energyhill today for a consultation.

Behind Energyhill, Our Story

There are times in life and business when things come together for the good. It could be called destiny, karma, luck, sovereignty, or a plethora of descriptive phrases.  Ryan and Gloria Lowe have found it. Maybe it found them. However it may be described, there is an “Aura” about this couple and their rising marketing and design business. Somehow they have found the opportunity to do what they love. Behind Energyhill’s aura of excellence is a story of the American dream.

Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.   – Confucius

Behind Energyhill, Our Sotry

Gloria A. Lowe, CEO and Dr. Ryan E. Lowe, President

Behind Energyhill – Emergence of a Design Agency

The journey began in 2001 in Pittsburgh, PA. Ryan started building computers from scratch. It was a wonderful time with amazing technology surging on every front. Ryan was there in the middle of it all investing in a future enterprise loosely referred to as “RyTek.” Later, it evolved to “RyDesign”.

He drew his whole family into the process and a lengthy debate arose to choose the ideal domain name for the future. The final choices were Energyhill.com and (believe it or not) Energypuppy.com. Obviously, Energyhill won the vote.

As time passed, DESIGN emerged, and then MARKETING. Ryan was honing his skills and loving every minute of it. In 2002, Ryan was accepted at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. On scholarship for his strong personal portfolio of work and development of an innovative hub for students, Ryan began gathering the building blocks for the owned but dormant domain name of Energyhill.com.

Behind Energyhill – Evolution of a Quality Brand

Meanwhile, far away in Florida, a highly skilled designer was enrolled at the Art Institute of Tampa. It was there that Gloria began infusing her Dominican passion into her beautiful art and where she would meet her soulmate. Meanwhile, Ryan completed his Master’s degree at SCAD and was hired by the Art Institute and moved to Tampa. After Gloria completed her degree, she began working with Ryan on the side. As their professional relationship grew, so did their courtship and they married in 2008. After joining together, they realized what advantages they had as a couple that they didn’t have before. Their combined skills, knowledge, and experience exceeded the combination of the same as separate individuals. After a few years of contracting and outsourcing in the industry, they decided in 2013 to officially launch Energyhill.com. To better equip himself for a future enterprise, Ryan earned a doctorate in business from Argosy University in 2014.

When a team works well together as a unit, they are able to accomplish more than the individual members can do alone.

Behind Energyhill – Expectations for Future Vision

Gloria and Ryan found the sweet spot of collaborative design and business aptitude. They complement each other, work tirelessly, and put everything into their brand. The result is a design and marketing agency that is competitive with much larger companies. They deliver in every aspect to make others succeed and grow while at the same time establishing solid relationships with each of their clients.

Each client knows they can be trusted to deliver on time and with the highest quality, and every member of their staff is trained with this in mind. Energyhill is now established and entering its fifth year as an entity. With many years prior to that working with small and large businesses, Ryan and Gloria were positioned to hit the ground running.

Making others succeed is a pretty good formula for Ryan and Gloria; it’s what makes them successful. “Clients are part of us, and we are part of them,” they say. If the clients, who they call “partners” suffer, so do they. If they prosper, so do they. Thankfully, the latter is what happens with Energyhill.

Behind Energyhill – Loving What We Do

It’s obvious that Ryan and Gloria and every one of their team at Energyhill LOVE what they do. Does this mean they never WORK a day in their lives? Hardly. The fact is they are TIRELESS workers, and they function as a TEAM. They are so passionate about design, advertising, and marketing, that it seems like they are not working. That’s the mystery of the Confucius quote, it’s about LOVING what you do.

By the way, they have three small children that require NO WORK, and are a JOY. Well, at least the second one 🙂

We Took the Challenge – 36 Days of Type

At Energyhill, we are always looking for ways to expand our imaginations, learn something new, and innovate. Not only does this help us become better designers, marketers, and advertisers, it also helps us become better client partners. Recently, the design team at Energyhill participated in the international 36 Days of Type. Two graphic designers (Nina Sans and Rafa Goicoechea) from Barcelona first conceived the event. Nina’s last name is Sans… born for this! Their goal was to challenge themselves to create one new thing every day while still balancing their normal responsibilities. And of course, they had to post these new creations to social media. Through the help of their friends, 36 Days of Type became a global event. Now, multiple participants around the world take the type challenge every year. In 2017 Energyhill joined the fray.

#36daysoftype

What is the Type Challenge?

The type challenge is essentially a 36-day commitment to think outside the box. The goal is for designers to create a new letter or number every day. It can be as abstract or literal as the designer wants – the point is simply to imagine these familiar characters in novel ways.

Why did We Participate?

The creative team wanted to participate because it was an interesting side challenge. However, our designers discovered that a friendly environment of competition was quite productive and fun. Our team made friendly bets over morning coffee. Likewise, our creative team was very inspired by interacting with designers across the world.

What did We Learn?

Our designers learned quite a bit by participating in the type challenge. We learned about ourselves. Our internal processes are fairly structured. We also have a clean workflow with project management playing a role. This challenge was open ended. Working without guidelines or parameters was challenging, but also invigorating. The passion was real when we started combining organic and graphic elements. Even Ryan, our president, joined in and helped with the stop motion piece.

All of our design team’s entries can be found on our Instagram page. Also, we invite you to take a look and see what you think of our type challenge entries. We’d love to hear from you! Contact us today for information on how our creative team can go to work for you.

#PrayforOrlando

Orlando Shooting

Today marks a month since the Orlando attack, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. This hashtag is displayed all throughout the city on billboards, pictures, and social media desperately imploring for prayer. This hashtag unintentionally depicts the need for unity in prayer, rather than the calamitous focus on what contrasts us as human beings. The city of Orlando has made a tremendous effort in carrying on with life, but there is a palpable sombre feeling in the air that constantly reminds us of what happened on that late Saturday night. Yes, it has been a month since the mass shooting, but our hearts still feel very heavy, as we continue to slowly heal from the loss. Although we forgive, it is very hard to forget. It is difficult to forget the lives of so many innocent people. It is difficult to forget how unjustly they had their hopes and dreams taken away, all in the name of faith. It is difficult to forget that we, too, have beliefs and faith, and yet have respected not to impose our way of living on others. It is difficult to forget how ungrateful other people can be when we as Americans have opened our doors offering freedom to those who needed it. But we must turn the other cheek and pray for a brighter future. We should pray to spread light and encourage our fellow Americans not to fear, as we live in a country that is free thanks to those who have fallen for us to enjoy this privilege. We should remember that our nation is our safe haven and we should contribute to keep it that way.

As Floridians, we stand by the city of Orlando and those affected. We love the United States of America and we pray for its safety during these times of difficulty. We believe in a nation where our freedom remains intact and our lives do not become affected by fear. We believe in respecting one another honoring our constitution and abiding by the laws of our Heavenly Father. The Energyhill team extends our condolences to all of the people affected by this attack. We will never forget the lives lost that night and we will continue to honor their memory. May our prayers go beyond a hashtag, may our intentions be more than a social media fad and truly mean something. May we continue to support each other to make Orlando Strong again. May we contribute to make America Strong under God and cast out all spirit of fear. This is the time to rise and bring a positive message to the world and show them that love will always prevail. We believe in Orlando and we believe in America.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

From all of us (including Loops and Jax),
we wish you a very special holiday season!

Energyhill Christmas Jax Loops

 

Breaking Through to True Innovation

Business Innovation

The speed of change has reached a velocity that is creating unprecedented levels of stress on businesses and increasing the competitive pressures in the marketplace. The interconnectedness of commerce through instant access to information around the globe has accelerated the ability of non-traditional players to disrupt traditional businesses.

So, it is more important than ever that your organization answer today’s challenges with breakthrough innovation — but to paraphrase Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, many times you don’t have to look any further than your own back yard. This approach is timeless, and can be illustrated by one of the most innovative organizations in history as it faced a major crisis.

NASA, April 13, 1970

Two days into their mission and just minutes after a live television update was sent back down to Earth, a sudden violent explosion rocked the tiny metal cylinder carrying the Apollo 13 astronauts through space. In an instant, their mission to the Moon was scrapped, and the odds of the astronauts coming home safely looked pretty slim. Houston did, indeed, have a problem.

As harsh as it sounds, crisis is often the starting point for breakthrough innovation. If an idea, an invention or an innovation does not fundamentally solve a problem – perceived or as yet unrealized – then it is just an idea. In the case of Apollo 13, as Americans sat paralyzed in front of their televisions watching a real-life drama unfold before them, the carbon dioxide scrubbers began to fail, sending C02 levels in the spacecraft to dangerous heights. Everyone was counting on the brilliant minds at NASA to bring these men home safely, but those brilliant minds had to figure out how to keep the astronauts alive in the mean time. The folks in Houston were under intense pressure. And the world was watching.

The three men sat crammed into the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), to take advantage of the last bit of breathable oxygen, while they waited for a breakthrough innovation from the scientists at NASA. And back on Earth, the experts on hand at Mission Control dumped all of the available materials in the LEM and the Command Module out on a table. This is all they had to work with, and they had to work fast.

Fortunately, by using the items on-hand, they were able to improvise a new filtration system adapting a square canister for the round Command Module filter – and attaching it with hoses and duct tape in the LEM. To this day, their innovation is still called the “Square Peg in the Round Hole” at NASA. The ingenious fix kept the astronauts alive long enough to get home.

Far from being just an interesting retrospective, there are lessons here that can drive meaningful innovation in your business today:

Embrace Your Constraints

The limited resources NASA’s team faced were both a constraint and an asset. The one thing that the team in Houston knew for sure was that they could only work with the materials that were currently in the hands of the astronauts. Interestingly, that limitation combined with a life-or-death timetable proved to be a driver for their creativity.  

Look to Your Ecosystem

Often the innovations that make the greatest impact are born from using already existing technologies in new and unusual ways. Just like the engineering team on the Apollo 13 mission found out, our resources are sometimes there in front of us – we just need to look at them differently. You may not be facing life-and-death problems in your business today, but you can still drive innovation by starting with what you have as a powerful and enabling business principle when approaching challenges.

Create Meaningful Innovation

The bigger lesson that NASA took from this crisis – the truly meaningful innovation in the long run – was the necessity of having interoperable parts between components of future spacecraft. That insight has now become a mantra for engineers in many industries, making manufacturing more productive and economical.

Great innovations happen when organic ideas spring from the collaboration between individuals; however, you don’t want to wait for the crisis to enable your business to innovate. Enablement can come every day. You just have to create an environment to nurture it and then empower it.

This is an excerpt from an upcoming book, Box Breakers! The Secrets of Innovation and Creative Thinking in Business by Fredda McDonald. Order your copy on Amazon today!