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TODD SMITH: Amazon dives into food, detergent & diapers

Amazon already sells things like electronic accessories, office supplies and even clothing under a variety of its own brand names. Now it’s going all in on groceries and household products.

While some people will point out that so-called “private labeling” is nothing new – grocery stores and big-box retailers have been increasingly pushing their in-house brands – this is a much bigger deal.

That’s because major growth in retail is increasingly online, and Amazon owns online. It already accounts for half of all sales growth in U.S. e-commerce.

So Amazon’s move into consumer packaged goods gives it even more opportunity to flex its muscle with suppliers. That means giving its own products better placement on its site and undercutting competitors on pricing.

The move is also a way to increase the power of Amazon Prime, the $99-a-year unlimited shipping program that fuels Amazon’s retail growth.

Prime customers spend more on Amazon than non-members and are more loyal, too. By adding another perk, Amazon can make its best customers even more loyal.

Are you a thought leader – here’s how to be one!
So, you know your stuff, you’re confident of your abilities and you’re widely considered an industry expert, but are you a thought leader? Here are five ways make it happen, according to Social Times:

1. You have a Twitter following all your own: You have a substantial, engaged Twitter following on your personal account. When sharing content from your brand’s blog, people tend to credit your personal Twitter handle. Thought leader tips:
» When writing posts, always include your Twitter handle in your byline.
» Check that the opinions and content you share on your personal profile align with those of your brand. Discrepancies here will harm cross-pollination between your brand and your personal profile.
» Make sure 25 percent to 40 percent of your tweets are personal, yet professional–this shows that you’re human and that you’re there to make connections.
» Keep your followers/following ratio in your favor by unfollowing:
» Inactive accounts
» People who don’t follow you
» Users who aren’t relevant to your professional or personal interests

2. People interact with your LinkedIn posts: When a user comments or likes your LinkedIn posts, it suggests they value your opinion. It also reveals something more: They feel that associating with you will make them look good. When someone comments on a LinkedIn post, it shows up in their connections’ feeds, so people only tend to do it when it’s going to reflect well on them. Thought leader tips:
» Post more! Busy professionals often neglect their own profiles, particularly when they’re content in their current position. Don’t be afraid to curate content, just as you would for your brand page.
» Regularly update your profile. Your connections will be alerted when you do, which increases your visibility; and it makes you look more organized and professional.
» Make use of headline real estate to tell people what your expertise is. Putting your job title here is a waste of space. Save that for the descriptions below.

3. You’re approached for comment: Do you get emails from strangers asking for your input on their content? If yes, you’re a thought leader. Be sure to respond graciously to requests (though feel free to ignore the link-builders and hacks). Thought leader tips:
» Show that you’re open to collaboration. Take the initiative and reach out to industry contacts, asking if they’d like to work together on a joint article. To increase exposure, buddy up with someone outside of your area of expertise. For example, a search-engine optimization expert could write a collaborative piece with a web developer about finding the right balance between search and design.
» Open a dialogue with other thought leaders. Write a roundup post asking experts for their input in your next blog post. A carefully crafted outreach email will position you as a peer, rather than simply an admirer. They’ll remember you next time.

4. People pull quotes from your blog posts: Regularly check linking domains in Search Console (or your SEO software). If people are using your quotes and linking out to your blog posts, consider yourself an authoritative figure. Thought leader tips:
» Start by making sure your blog posts are top-notch–and that goes for your content recommendations, as well. “It’s critical for the most well-respected media brands to maintain the high quality their users are accustomed to,” said Katherine McDermott at Revcontent. Conversely, “One of the fastest ways to drive your audience away is low-quality content recommendations.” And low-quality content, period.
» When reading industry blogs, pay attention to the kind of content people are linking to. Is it actionable lists, or opinion pieces? Try incorporating that into your strategy.
» When editing your blog posts, make sure you have at least five short snippets. As a test, imagine them as a tweet–if they make sense and sound good on their own, bloggers will be more inclined to include them in their own articles.

5.You’re a search term: While you’re in Search Console, check the search terms driving traffic to your website. If you see your name anywhere, people are Googling you–and unless you’ve recently embarrassed yourself in public and gone viral, that’s a really good sign. Thought leader tips:
» Network more. Start conversations, both online and offline. Most thought leaders are excellent networkers, so brush up on your public speaking skills and get used to talking to strangers.
» Establish a presence that extends beyond your website by posting on industry news sites and blogs.
Also, make sure your specialization excites you. Being a thought leader takes passion. Without it, you’ll never be more than an expert. If you’re not enthusiastic, try focusing on a particular sub-niche that does fascinate you, and write about that extensively. That will grow your audience. If you don’t love what you’re doing, what’s the point?

Golden Mic | Morley Safer redefined war reporting, 60 Minutes legend
Morley Safer – the CBS newsman who changed war reporting forever during Vietnam and became an iconic 60 Minutes legend – signed off for life just a week after retiring from the show following an illustrious half century on air. Gone in his death is a shining star of long-form, news magazine style journalism that galvanized a generation that tuned in each week to learn more about their world, their culture, their news and themselves.

He helped push 60 Minutes to the No. 1 program in the 1979-80 season – a crown it won five times. 60 Minutes remained in the to Top 10 for an unprecedented 23 straight seasons.

He had flair, he had bravado, and he asked the tough questions, always. Safer’s stylish stories on America’s most watched news program made him one of TV’s most enduring stars. Though he is gone, the brilliant rays of enterprising reporting will be his lasting legacy – and somewhere from the heavens the “On Air” sign has illuminated and the microphone – a Golden Mic – has fired-up!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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