A 20-Somethings Guide to #CEDIA14

There’s something to say about the fact that the millennials are swiftly entering the housing market. And coupled with their love (and near dedication to technology), it should come as no surprise that these are also the consumers who are ripe with enthusiasm towards connected home technology. As a matter of fact, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate recently published a study that did more than justify this changing of the tides, highlighting that 77% of ‘Millennials’ surveyed seek “essential, purposeful homes with the technological capabilities they have grown accustomed to”.CEDIA 14

With that in mind, there’s no better place than CEDA EXPO for us 20-somethings to immerse ourselves in the wonders of smart home solutions – and the custom integration that turns these high-tech dreams into a reality. Whether attending as a PR representative (like myself!), brand marketing associate, integrator-in-training or savvy consumer, CEDIA EXPO is a one-of-a-kind classroom that educates us on the latest and greatest home tech trends. With a sneak peek at exciting new product introductions and the opportunity to network face-to-face with the brains behind these impressive solutions, CEDIA EXPO has quickly become one of my most beloved and highly anticipated industry events. Although, I’m not quite a vet, this will be my third EXPO and as one of the new kids on the block, I’ve put together a crash course for other young and encouraged minds to help maximize your show experience:

  • Plan accordingly. If you’re attending the show for business, don’t forget those cards! Business cards are one of the easiest ways to stay connected with your fellow home tech specialists, allowing you to collect emails and additional contact info. It’s also great to keep a notebook handy and a good camera – whether that’s your smartphone or an easily portable digital. Trust me, you’ll want to jot down notes and capture video or snapshots of your favorite technology, it’ll be great inspiration for you down the road.
  • Set your sights on special events. Whether it’s First Time Attendee Orientation or the Opening Keynote, CEDIA has a ton of great events planned to help you ease into the show and really get your bearings. Especially as an industry newbie, events not only help you to dive into networking, but also act as a great foundation for your show experience. This year’s Opening Keynote will be given by Sony Electronics President, Mike Fasulo – definitely one you will not want to miss!
  • Get social. Yea of course you’ll want to hit up some of those networking cocktail hours, they’re a great way to unwind and reconnect with both new and familiar faces from the show floor, but it’s also key to get rockin’ on social media! Make sure to follow the #CEDIA14 hashtag for the most up-to-date conversations and coverage. And if you’re a social media junkie like me, it’s also fun to turn to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as a means to documenting your favorite moments from your CEDIA trip. (PS: some of us foodies also like to share our favorite CEDIA meals throughout the week, use the hashtag #EatCEDIA to join in on our fun…we’re hoping to top last year’s trip with even more mouthwatering pics!)
  • Go mobile. The CEDIA EXPO 2014 App is my go-to resource for navigating the show; it’s a no brainer since I’m practically attached to my iPhone. The mobile app allows you to pull all of the information you need straight to your favorite mobile device including: schedules of sessions and events, exhibitor booth and product information, interactive show floor map (aka life saver!), and local information such as restaurants and shopping.
  • Enjoy Denver after-hours. After you’ve had a long day jam-packed with trainings, booth visits and networking, you deserve a little down time, and there’s no better place than the city of Denver. I’ve been fortunate enough to me nurtured and lead by some of the best and brightest CEDIA veterans who know where the hottest spots are to fill your belly and quench your thirst. My must-visit haunts include:

Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen (1317 14th Street); try the drink called “Unicorn Tears”…it’s beyond delicious. They ain’t messing around behind that bar.
The Market Café (1445 Larimer Street); a vast Hot Toddy menu and Nutella flavored iced coffee, what more could you want?
Beast + Bottle (719 E. 17th Ave.); seasonally-inspired farm-to-fork goodness. I once went for dinner, then for brunch the next day. No shame in my game. Can’t rave about this place enough.

Overall, CEDIA EXPO is an amazing experience for home tech professionals of any age, but it’s also become a critical element as I personally and professionally grow within this industry. For those who will experience #CEDIA14 for the first, or maybe second time, relish in the opportunity to explore hundreds of new audio/video, control, networking and lighting products – these innovations really are the best of the best and will shape our industry for years to come. Makes you feel pretty special that you get to be a part of it all, no?

Quick reminder for all who have yet to register for CEDIA EXPO, you can score FREE access by registering with Guest Code CT7 – so help this #CEDIATweep out while securing your spot at the show!


Which Visual Social Network is Right for You?

By: Kalyn Schieffer

Visual social networks like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr are often overlooked by businesses who are unsure if they can actually help them reach their target audiences. They have certain traits in common, the most important being that they are all growing extremely rapidly. There may be one network that’s a better fit for your brand, but if you have a steady stream of visually appealing content, they can all help take your products and brand to the next level on social media. If you are still skeptical of these networks, taking a look at the stats associated with these three channels might help you change your mind.


Active Users: 70 Million +


The typical user: 68% of Pinterest users are women.

Users Trends: Users tend to repin content more often than pin original content. The active users pin 3,472 images per minute, allowing content to easily spread like wildfire.Greatest Opportunities: Brands that target women, or audiences interested in décor, babies, recipes, weddings and fashion.

Tips: I can personally vouch for these stats because I myself am a female who spends a good amount of time re-pinning countless recipes, home décor ideas and clothes that I could never afford. Creating boards filled with photos of your products that are linked back to your website drives traffic with minimal effort. Always be sure to put a description along with your pin so users have a better idea of what your brand is all about. Descriptions with a call-to-action tend to see an 80% increase in engagement.


Active Users: 150 million

The typical user: 68% of Instagram users are female, with the largest user age group being between the ages of 18-29.

Greatest opportunities: 93% of prestige brands are already using Instagram. The industries that have the highest Instagram adoption rates are the automobile industry, fast food, soft drinks, apparel, retail, luxury and beer.

User trends: Users upload an average of 216,000 photos per minute. That abundance of photos generates 1.2 billion likes per day. That’s a LOT of traffic.

Tips: Engagement is 1.5 times higher on photos than videos for many brands, so even though the video feature provides brands a new way to interact with customers, photos are still dominating the platform. Hashtags are also one of the top ways brands are engaging with customers on Instagram. Be sure to use hashtags relevant to your brand and don’t over-do it!



Active users: 33 Million Tumblrs

The typical user: 51% of Tumblr users are men, and the average user is within the 18-34 range.

Greatest opportunities: Brands with strong content can really hit the ground running on Tumblr because of how easy it is to start a blog and share content. Many users tend to look around Tumblr for inspiration, whether it be for a new hairstyle, outfit, etc. Brands can also use Tumblr as a method of reaching consumers they may not have had access to on other channels.


User Trends: With over 192 million blogs and 83.1 billion posts, users stay busy by liking and re-blogging content. Over half of the 14 original posts the average user creates each month are photos.

Tips: Take advantage of the many different features and customization options Tumblr offers. Not only can you blog to your hearts content, you can post photos, quotes, links, videos and more. Keeping it interesting and switching up your content can help increase engagement.
As I mentioned earlier, one of these three sites may be more useful in promoting your brand than the others but they are all worth integrating into your social media strategy. Do you use Pinterest, Tumblr or Instagram to promote your brand or products? Let me know how they work in terms of reaching and engaging with your audience either here in the comments or on Twitter @CasterKalyn or @CasterComm. 


Time to Revamp Your Website?

By: Peter Girard

Last week’s post on the death of SEO got me thinking. If you didn’t get the chance to read it and want to, follow the link in the first sentence. In a nutshell, the article recommended keeping a tidy, up-to-date website as the best SEO practice you can adhere to, and there’s some data that supports that claim.

I linked to the article about study done by the Missouri University of Science and Technology in last week’s post but I wanted to revisit some of the figures and elaborate on just how important it is to have your website in tip-top shape. If you think your website is just ‘alright’ or ‘gets you by’ I’m talking to you. Hopefully you’ll change your tune after you learn that it takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form a first opinion of your brand after they’ve glanced at your website. It then only takes them roughly 2.6 seconds for their eyes to concentrate in such a way that reinforces that first impression.

So what’s a company to do with a window of under 3 seconds to ensure they make a good first impression on a potential customer? First and foremost, you need to understand why customers are going to your website and it’s almost always for information. According to a 2014 survey done by Intelliresponse, 68% of the respondents said a company’s website is the first place they go when looking for information regarding a product or service.

Once a potential customer lands on your page, where do their eyes go next, and go long do they rest there? In the study done by Missouri S&T, participants were asked to rate sites on the basis of visual appeal and design factors during an average of 20 seconds spent on each of 25 websites. In descending order based off time spent on each, here are the design elements participants found most important:

  • Logos – visitors spent about 6.48 seconds focused on this most identifiable portion of a website.
  • Navigation Menus – visitors spent almost as long (6.44 seconds) studying the menu for the webpage they were visiting.
  • Search box – this aspect held visitor attention for a little over 6 seconds.
  • Links to Social Sites – participants focused on social media icons for 5.95 seconds and offers insight onto how important it is for your business to engage with customers outside of your website.
  • Primary Image – the main photo or graphic held visitor attention for approximately 5.94 seconds.
  • Written Content – this portion of the webpage only held their attention for 5.59 seconds.
  • Bottom of the page – engaged users for about 5.25 seconds.

According to BrightLocal, when it comes to local websites, customers most value the “four P’s” identified as product, price, place, and phone number. If these 4 elements are not quickly discernable, you run the risk of losing the potential customer. In the aforementioned Intelliresponse survey, it was uncovered that 59% of respondents look for a transactional relationship where they can get in and out with they want while only 24% of respondents seek out ‘friendly’ relationship where they can personalized service. All this data suggests that taking steps to make sure your website is context rich, clean, and easy to navigate will benefit any users visiting your webpage.

local website musthaves