Last week Derek Key and I had the opportunity to travel to Baton Rouge, LA for the Louisiana Food Processors Conference, which was held on the LSU campus. Derek was a guest speaker and laid some knowledge down on how to grow your community online via social media.
The night we arrived in Baton Rouge we met up with our friends from Red 6 Media (@RedSixMedia) and Cancer Services of Baton Rouge. They showed us around downtown Baton Rouge (where the Red 6ers new office digs are located) and the LSU campus. The majority of the group were LSU grads and knew the culture within the campus and the city. It was a real treat hanging out and getting to know the group and the city of Baton Rouge.
We met other Louisianan food processing companies such as Blue Runner Foods and Camellia. A highlight of the conference was hearing two iconic Louisianan chefs, Dickie Brennan and John Besh speak about integrating local ingredients in markets/restaurants and micro farming of Louisiana.
Here are my top takeaways from Derek’s talk on growing your web presence with social media:
Social Media matters more now than it did a few years ago. Broader demographic – not just adolescents, but Mom Bloggers, CEO’s, etc.
Facebook has over 1 billion users, Twitter – 200 million, LinkedIn – 160 million, Instagram – 100 million, Flickr – 75 million, Pinterest – 25 million
Know your audience and cater to them. Meet them at the appropriate platform.
Social Media gives you a chance for interaction and reaction with your audience.
90% of what people say on Social Media is positive. Have a policy for replying to positive and negative feedback.
These platforms give you a chance to listen to your audience. Learn their interests so you can better serve them.
Nothing will go ‘viral’ if you don’t put it out there.
Keep your website as your home base, connecting all your platforms together.
Remember the 4/5 Rule: 4/5 times you post, post about someone or something else other than you and your product.
Measure effectiveness and then adjust to what you’ve learned.
Keep an eye out for new apps such as Vine, Instagram and Over
Our time in Baton Rouge was short and sweet. Final thoughts?
Louisiana is always a good time! I’m a die hard Texan/Aggie, but I enjoyed my stay on the LSU campus. This video/song sums up the spirit there:
Judging from the packed house at the San Francisco stop on the Social Media for Nonprofits Conference tour; organizations are still looking for best practices and new ways to connect with volunteers and donors online. And for those Bay Area nonprofits lucky enough to attend the event, they got some fantastic advice that they could put to use right away. I am always delighted to attend an event with concrete steps attendees can use, and so as to not keep all the goodies for myself, here’s three things that really stood out to me for a nonprofit trying to connect via social media.
Tip 1: Don’t Try To Be Everywhere
You’ve no doubt run in to this – with so many different social media spaces out there, which ones should your organization be on? All of them, right?! No. It’s just not practical, and it also can make it difficult for your constituents to connect with you online if they’re not entirely sure where to go. A great example of this came from Christina Samala, the online community manager for the Story of Stuff [which, by the way, has a new movie out today – The Story of Broke]. Since most of their community is on Facebook, that’s where they spend most of their social media time. It wouldn’t make sense to take away from that in order to throw time at other outlets that the community isn’t engaged in. As Christina suggested; think of your organization as a person – how would that person talk and where would it hang out? Who would it hang out with? It sounds a little hokey, but it’s a great way to make sure your nonprofit is communicating with the right people and in the right way.
Tip 2: Volunteers are Where It’s At
I know. Sounds like a total “DUH” moment, right? But I was amazed to hear the stats behind volunteers and donations. Did you know that 2/3 of volunteers donate to the organizations they work with, and when they do they donate TEN TIMES that of a non-volunteer? Getting your volunteers engaged can have a huge impact on your organization. The three R’s for volunteer engagement, from Greg Baldwin of VolunteerMatch, are Recruit, Retain, and Recognize. A great way to do all three online is via the Johnson & Johnson &you widget. This is a neat little tool that will allow you to bring in your volunteer opportunities, events, and news and display them on Facebook or your website. (Innov8Social has a list of some other great tools to check out). And social media gives you a great way to recognize your volunteers and donors – you’ll be amazed at what a little shout-out will do for a volunteer’s spirits!
Tip 3: Close the Loop
This is a phrase Schipulites are well familiar with! It’s not just for letting someone know when you’ve completed a task – it’s also for letting your supporters know when you’ve reached a fundraising goal. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team, and when you set realistic and specific goals (like, “We want to raise $2,000 to buy a new computer for our classroom”) you’ll find that people are more likely to get involved and get you there. When you then share with the world your success, you’ll find that those who were a part of it will get hooked on that feeling – and will come back again and again. I think often nonprofits are always moving to the next goal and next event, and we sometimes forget to update on previous efforts. If you put out a call to action for donations or volunteer help, be sure to close the loop with your community and let them know a goal was reached and how it’s impacting others.
The Social Media for Nonprofits Conference may be coming to a city near you – so check it out online! And if not, don’t despair – slides from all the presentations are up online and following the hashtag #sm4np is a great way to virtually attend a future event. And we want to hear from you! If you’re working with a nonprofit – volunteer or staff – tell us, what are some of your favorite ways to connect online?
Facebook makes changes to the way the network works on the daily. I do my best to stay up to speed, and I’m normally pretty polar in how I feel about an algorithm update here or an interface change there, but Facebook’s latest major announcement has me teetering. Here’s what’s going on. . .
You can subscribe to Public status updates from people you are not Facebook friends with.
You can choose what kind of updates you see from your current Facebook friends. You can choose to subscribe to All Updates, Most Updates or Only Important Updates.
You can allow people who aren’t your friends to subscribe to your Public Facebook status updates. Don’t worry, you have to opt in for this to be available to those who stumble across your Facebook profile.
Why this is great
Follow your Faves
You can subscribe to a celebrity or famous blogger’s Public status updates. They’ll likely never make Facebook friends with you, and now you don’t have to troll their profiles to see what they are publishing publicly.
You can trim your newsfeed down to the status updates that really interest you. For example, if the girl who sat behind you in Sophomore Chemistry updates her Facebook every time her cat sneezes, you can choose to see â€œOnly Importantâ€ updates from her without feeling badly about hiding or unfriending her (but if she really updates every time her cat sneezes, you really shouldn’t feel badly about unfriending her. Just sayin). You can also subscribe to specific types of content your friends are posting. Choices are Life Events, Status Updates, Photos and Videos, and Games.
For personal marketing purposes, you can extend the number of people who read your content by allowing non-friends to subscribe to your feeds. This way, if you would like anyone in the world to easily access to knowledge you share regarding specific topics, but don’t want to be friends with the whole world, you can allow other Facebook users to subscribe to your public content.
Why this really isn’t that great
Dilutes the Power of the Fan Page
I totally get that there is a difference between a celebrity’s personal profile page and their Facebook fan page, and that there will be different content, but:
Being able to subscribe to their personal pages seems to dilute the purpose of the fan page.
Seeing as most celebrities share what they want the world to know via their public fan pages, what new content would I really be subscribing to here?
I know that this feature doesn’t just apply to major celebrities, but you get the point. Lines are getting greyer here. Could be a good thing, but my gut reaction is to feel a tad uneasy.
I’m Just Jaded
I really appreciate getting to trim down what I see from which friends. This is cool, and by far the best part of this new feature. But honestly, Facebook, I’m not inclined to use it, because you’re just going to change it up in two weeks anyway.
Hello, Twitter, is that you?
This whole subscribing-to-people-without-having-to-be-their-friend thing reeks of Twitter. I like using Twitter and the way it works. . . when I’m on Twitter. Basically, I feel like this update begs the question: â€œISN’T THAT WHAT TWITTER IS FOR?â€
Let’s look at the numbers: Facebook has 750 million active users. Twitter just announced that it reached the 100 million active users milestone. If I were to make the assumption that everyone on Twitter is also on Facebook, I could reasonably assume that 650 million of the active users on Facebook are NOT interested in Twitter. So, why are we trying to make Facebook more like Twitter?!
This Automates Trolling
Well, that about sums up my point there.
Those are my two cents on this update. I’d love to hear yours. If you’re interested, you can follow my public content on Twitter, which is where I will continue to focus on posting it until I see Facebook embrace the subscription thing for personal marketing.
With recent Congressional hearings and proposed legislation for more stringent online privacy laws, there is a lot of eye-opening going around consumers. If asked to estimate/guess, I would suggest that probably 85% or more of the people who are using the internet daily are unaware of all the different ways they are being tracked and what data is being collected about them online.
Facebook is the most notable violator – constantly changing privacy settings with little to no notice to its members. Recently, Google and Apple started making headlines for their geolocation tracking software in iPhones and Android smartphones. These devices were sharing the owners’ locations without the owner being made aware in many situations.
If these privacy issues have you feeling a bit icky – you aren’t alone. Ernie Manouse’s recent PBS episode invited his guests to explain just how concerned you should be and what to watch out for to better manage the information that both goes out on the internet about you as well as the information that you and your children are receiving online.
There were some really great debates and thought-provoking questions asked during the social media security and technology discussion. You can watch the recorded episode and hear Ed, Tom, and Christopher debate three major topics Ernie asks around online privacy in today’s digital world.
Ernie poses 3 questions to his guests:
1) What information is being tracked online without your knowledge and why is that information being tracked?
2) How does the younger generation view these privacy issues – do they even consider them invasions of their privacy?
3) Are we spending too much time trying to find ways to limit the information being shared and collected online and should we instead be focusing on education and teaching people, and more importantly children, how to handle the different situations they may encounter?
Tell us how you would answer the questions in the comments below, and watch the episode to hear how Ed, Tom and Christopher suggest you can better manage your online privacy to protect yourself and your kids. And you can check out photos from the taping inside the studio at Houston PBS on our Schipul Photo Gallery.
Last week Schipul was a proud sponsor of the 2011 AllFacebook Conference in San Francisco. Two days full of awesome brain-candy, all centered around the number one social platform, and how groups and businesses can better use it. The overwhelming theme was “Quality versus Quantity”.
More important than the number of fans you have for your page is how much those fans interact with you. More important than how often you update your page is the kinds of things you’re sharing and questions you’re asking. A few tips to help you get the most from your Facebook page:
Give people a reason to like and engage with you. Contests, coupons, earn rewards, etc. Social media is an escape, you’ve got to make people smile and make them want to share. People share because it expresses something about who they are. They share if they believe it to be beneficial to their friends. In contrast, people who enter a contest on your page aren’t likely to tell their friends they did so. We’re gamers at heart and we don’t want the competition! Instead, find a social reason for people to share your content. Keep contests simple – let people use content they already have. If you’re making folks create a video or take a photo, that’s a barrier to participation. The easier it is the more engaging it is.
It’s too early in the social media spectrum to have a guaranteed recipe for what works. You’ve got to watch what others are doing and learn from them. You have to be willing to try things out and make mistakes. Make sure you’re documenting the things you do try, so you’re able to gauge the response and know what your audience responds to.
Think of Facebook as a cocktail party. You’re not looking to meet someone and have them sign a contract on the spot; you’re looking to start a relationship. A great way to do that is with social context ads. Those are the ads that you’ll see in the sidebar which indicate which of your friends are already fans of the product or service. They improve your ad recall by 68%, and make you 4 times as likely to buy. Crazy stat time: If you’ve got 350,000 fans on your page, you’re then able to reach the entire U.S. population via those social connections. Start those conversations now!
Social media often gets the leftovers from other campaigns. It’s the “behind the scenes” access and leftover footage. That doesn’t sell the dream of your product. Whether you are marketing to individuals or businesses, your product has a dream to offer; that idea that if I use your service my life will be more glamorous, or that I can accomplish all my goals. Your company needs to become the enabler that allows me to achieve the dream. Your task is to define that dream for your product and make sure that your social media platforms are effectively selling it.
Get your fans engaged every time. Easier said than done, right? A simple way is to make a very strong statement and then ask for a response. Think along the lines of “Houston is the best city in the entire world, don’t you agree?” Remember that you’re competing with your fan’s friends in their timeline. Your message has to be engaging enough to stand out amongst the talk of new babys, boyfriend drama, and cute bunny photos. Once you get a conversation going, never leave a question unanswered on your wall. It’s the whole point of social. But be careful to not run over the conversation either – you don’t have to comment on every comment made.
It may seem a little surprising to have two full days of nothing but talking about Facebook, but I think it’s a great example of just how much this social platform has become a core part of our lives. The challenge for businesses is to find a spot in the system that is ultimately built for social connections. The best way to do that is for page owners to talk to fans like they are friends. Authenticity and transparency are super important when building these relationships. Facebook isn’t going away, so it’s key for businesses to claim their spot now and start listening to consumers.
Facebook announces group and video chat
This morning in Palo Alto, Facebook announced several new features rolling out today – group chat, a new chat design, and video chat (aka: ‘video calling‘). These are features that you likely already take advantage of using different platforms, but now it’s possible to take part in them via the Facebook application you’re using every day. In his announcement speech, Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly hit on the theme that the next 5 years in tech will be new applications and programs that use existing platforms.
Now that we’re all connected, the future will be about the cool stuff we can build to take advantage of that. He also stated that users are sharing at an exponential rate. And it’s not just a Facebook phenomenon, it’s an internet phenomenon. Users are no longer the metric to watch; it’s the amount of sharing each person is doing. Now go back and re-read the above points on how to make that content that people want to share. And of course, call us at Schipul if you need some help!
4 billion things are shared every day on Facebook, and now you have some new tools to do it. Group chat you’ll use for coordinating a dinner out or movie time with friends. Start a chat with your best friend, then easily add another. The new chat design makes this easier; instead of a small chat window at the bottom of your Facebook window, the new chat design will scale with your browser. You’re also able to easily send a message to anyone offline; you can even include them in a group chat and a full transcript will be sent to them. (So no talking bad about the people who aren’t there!)
Video chat is by far the most powerful new feature. Powered by Skype, you’re now able to start a chat with someone just by clicking a button on their profile or via a chat window. If they don’t have the application already, it will download for them in just 10-20 seconds. There’s no need to open a new program, add a new contact, and schedule a time to talk. It’s all on Facebook, where you already are. As the lead engineer for the product stated “If it was any easier than that one click, it would be reading your mind.” I think this has huge implications for how we communicate, because now even the most non-technical person can be up on video chat in no time. This might be a good time to evaluate having your parents as friends on Facebook!
The one-on-one intimacy is incredibly powerful. No matter how tech-savvy I consider myself, there’s something about being able to see and speak with a friend or loved one across the country that brings an emotional response. Seeing the demo this morning where that connection was made in a matter of seconds was amazing. I’ve got a few friends that I have connected with on Skype already, but now I’m able to chat with ALL of my friends, without having to do anything new. It’s amazing, and really solidifies Facebook’s place in the social spectrum.
So what about Google+?
As expected, there were a few questions about Google+ directed at Zuckerberg, specifically asking if the Facebook video chat would be expanded to allow for group chats, similar to the Hangout feature in Google+. Zuckerberg said that nothing is ruled out, but right now they’re focusing on the one-to-one experience. Personally speaking, I’m excited to see how this develops. And really excited to be able to easily connect with my friends.
Your customers just got a few more reasons to hang out on Facebook all day – make sure you’re there with them! Fortunately, Schipul is here to help.
This Friday July 8th marks a historic moment in both U.S. History and the story of Humanity when the Space Shuttle Atlantis launches to carry supplies to the ISS-Station in orbit around Earth. NASA’s space shuttle program will conclude with mission STS-135.
I am super excited to have the opportunity to view the launch from Kennedy Space Center Friday morning. For those of you who cannot make the trip – there are a number of awesome online outlets including twitter, NASA TV, Facebook and more to hear updates, watch the countdown and launch, and hear directly from the astronauts as they prepare to launch into space.
Next, here are just a few of the official NASA twitter accounts to follow: @NASA – official NASA twitter account @NASAtweetup – official “tweetup” account for NASA @NASA_Astronauts – NASA twitter account that retweets all of the astronauts tweets
The four Astronauts that will be flying Atlantis for STS-135 each have twitter accounts as well and have been tweeting actively about their mission preparations and thoughts. You can follow them in the “Twitter-verse” here: Christopher Ferguson: @Astro_Ferg Douglas Hurley: @Astro_Doug Sandy Magnus: @Astro_Sandy Rex J Walheim: @Astro_Rex
Hashtags to follow on twitter: #NASATweetup and #STS135
Then, on Friday morning watch the shuttle launch live online on NASA TV. The launch is currently scheduled for 11:28 AM EST. That’s 10:28 AM CST for those of you in Houston and 8:28 AM PST for all of you in California.
Finally, I want to include a couple of great non-NASA organizations that will be tweeting and uploading photos and video from the launch site in Florida too. Both of these organizations are focused on sharing the excitement of space exploration and all things space with others and are extremely active on the web.
The Space Tweep Society is an organization whose mission is to connect those inside the space industry with those on the outside looking in and generate enthusiasm for all things space. You can find the Space Tweep’s on twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.
SpaceUp is a new organization that hosts “un-conferences” focused on space-related topics all over the country including Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington DC and Minneapolis. You will find a number of organizers and volunteers from the different SpaceUp cities in Florida this week for STS-135.
Want a play-by-play? You can follow me on twitter: @SarahMWorthy as I tweet throughout the events leading up to the launch with all the other Space Geeks.
Before the launch, I urge you to go check out TEDxNASA in Silicon Valley and register for FREE if you can attend. This official TEDx event will be August 17th, 2011 in San Francisco, California. I was honored to attend the recent TEDx Houston event last month and definitely want to see all of you at TEDxNASA if you can make the trip to San Francisco next month!
Last night, I received my coveted invite to join Google + and I immediately started playing with it while Dexter played in the background. Like so many social media nerds, I was excited to finally get my hands dirty with what some are calling a â€œFacebook killer.â€
So what is Google +?
Google + is Google’s new social network service and is currently in limited field trial. Unlike Google Wave and Buzz, Google + immediately seems more promising due to its slick design which users will love.
At first glance, the minimalist interface is very similar to Facebook.
However unlike the debacle with Buzz, Google + puts privacy in the forefront, making the service innovative and fun to use. Here at Schipul, everyone has been geeking out over it and Google + is truly, as PC Mag’s Mark Hachman states, â€œa social network for geeks.â€
The new social network service is ripped with some really cool features as well which I will discuss next.
So What about these Google + Features?
So it seems Google really thought about these features and realized that life is a little more dynamic than just the Public / Private dichotomy that Facebook and Twitter has created. Instead Google + provides a granular and exciting way to share our lives with the people we know.
This will be a basic overview of Google + features. In the coming days we will blog more in-depth reviews of each feature but for now, let’s see what’s inside Google +.
Social networking is about connecting with people and sharing information. With Google Circles, it’s really easy to do this. Google Circles is basically like Facebook friends lists and groups or Twitter lists but with more control and visualization.
Here’s an example of how they look:
Basically, you can drag-and-drop people in the circles you create. For example, I created a Schipulites circle for my coworkers. With Google +, you now have more control with who you share with at a granular level.
Google + Stream
The stream is very similar to the Facebook home feed which users will appreciate. Here is the Facebook home feed:
Here is the stream for Google +:
This is where you will enter a status update, share photos and videos, etc. As you can see the design is slick and sexy, typical of Google.
Google Sparks is a great feature that helps you find things to share. Think of it like Google Alerts that allows you to follow topics you’re interested in. Here’s an example of how it looks when I search for topics on SEO.
Google Sparks makes it easy to browse suggested topics or you can set your interests using keyword-based searches. Most importantly, it’s really easy to share content.
Hangouts: Group Video Chat
This feature is pretty neat. With Hangouts, you can video chat up to 10 people at a time. Here’s an example of how it looks from Search Engine Land.
This feature looks like it’s going to be useful especially for business meetings. The way it works is when someone initiates a Hangout, it shows up on your feed and notifies your friends. There is however a 10 person limit.
Huddle: Mass Texting and Group Chat
This is the feature, besides Google Circles, I’m most excited about. Huddles is a mass texting and group chat service that turns your different conversations into one simple group chat. Can you imagine? Bar hopping with friends will no longer be an ordeal. It will be simple and painless to get everyone on the same page or update people on where to meet for another crazy night of Red Stripes and darts.
Like Facebook’s â€œLikeâ€ button, the +1 share button makes it easy to identify content that you approve or think is cool. It’s a great way to recommend awesome content to your friends, coworkers and family. This is how it looks in the search results when I do a search for â€œHouston Coffee Spotsâ€ and +1’d the result.
The content you +1 will show up on your Google Profile. Just like in the way that anything you like on Facebook can be liked with Facebook â€œLikeâ€ buttons.
So, you might have also noticed Google +1 buttons starting to appear in search results and publishers adding the button to their sites. If you want to install the Google +1 button on your site be sure to check out our â€œHOWTO: Install Google +1 Share Button on Your Siteâ€ blog post on our SEM blog.
Currently however, the content you +1’d does not feed into Google +. It doesn’t really make sense but I suspect Google will fix this before the service becomes available to everyone. The only way you can see what people have +1’d is if you remember to go to a person’s Google profile. For example:
So that is Google + in a nutshell. In the coming days, we will post more in-depth articles on how to use Google + for your business, so be sure to keep a lookout.
If you got an invite to join Google +, we would love to hear what you think about it. Let us know in the comments below. For now, I’m going to continue getting my Google + on.
Need help getting Google+ on your website?
Check out our handy how to install Google+ button help fileâ€œHOWTO: Install Google +1 Share Button on Your Siteâ€ blog post and if you’re brain is still hungry, we’ve got some great social media and online technology help files to help you take it to the next level.
This post comes as a blast from the past by our very own JJ Lassberg – she’s taken a new direction in her creative and tech world, but remains ever a Schipulite! Enjoy her great thoughts around branding!
In a world saturated by marketing ads and promotions, where children watch more than 40,000 ads of TV alone, it’s hard gain the competitive edge.
Here at Schipul, we believe there are 10 Top Branding Guidelines that can help you stand out in the crowd:
Focus on the #1 thing you provide
Get a short, Clear Tagline that tells me what you are going to do for me
Be consistent with your branding – don’t change it because YOU get bored, it’s all about ME the customer
Show that your are the best by choosing top quality, up to date graphics and design
Use Your Branding EVERYWHERE
Share your branding with a press kit – give people what they need to talk about you
Train everyone in your organization to say the same thing about what you do
Let Your fans rave – them where and how to do it
A bad reputation is louder and more demanding that even the best branding
Let go… just a little. Be Fun, Kind and Grateful to anyone willing to engage and share your branding online.
For the full Branding Guidelines – view the Slideshare Presentation Below:
Are you growing profitable relationships using LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is one of those social networks that has a lot of rabid fans – but also a few detractors who scratch their heads on the non-resume posting / job searching capabilities of the site.
Guilty confession: I was one of the latter, until recently re-connecting with some of the great updates and cool features LinkedIn has to offer.
Here are a few of the ways that LinkedIn has become a relevant part of my relationship building process:
Knowledge sharing tool extraordinaire – With so many places to share your insights, content of note and other great media (think articles, events, notes, thoughts on recent events, etc.) LinkedIn makes it easy for you to keep you name in connections’ minds and give you another platform to be appreciated as a valuable and relevant relationship. Be generous and interesting – it will come back to you in spades (or search engine rankings, at the very least).
Uber-awesome search engine – LinkedIn gives you some pretty remarkable Advanced search features that enable you to narrow down your searches to zip code, job title, keywords, industry and oh-so-much more. Go crazy searching through your 2nd degree connections (that is, your own connections’ connections) or search the LinkedIn database at large.
Magical time machine! – By including all of your education and previous work experience, LinkedIn can help you locate former colleagues, associates, clients and school buddies. Don’t forget to include your high school too. Your old high school flame might be an industry pioneer and your old physics teacher might be a CEO – don’t lose those valuable opportunities!
Additional membership benefit – LinkedIn groups are a great way to get more out of your professional memberships by giving you a single location to share ideas, events and needs with a select group of people that you know, trust and (hopefully) like. You can also leverage groups for special interests you share (motorcycle maintenance or hang gliding) to find like-minded folks to connect with in an out-of-the-ordinary way. Don’t forget those alumni and church groups too!
The ultimate due diligence tool – There is no place like LinkedIn to track a company, association or individual’s updates and news. Plus you get to read between the lines by seeing a firm’s attrition rate, recently updated press release and employee discussion. Take advantage of this information and use it to be helpful and awesome.
Grow your networking brain with LinkedIn Today Headlines feature
During this presentation, I make the suggestion of re-working your morning office routine to include a 5 minute review of your Linked connection / groups / companies updates with coffee. With LinkedIn’s ‘LinkedIn Today’ headline tool, you can even read up on the news that actually matters to you by subscribing to specific news sources and topics.
Everything isn’t a Facebook Like or Share. Everything isn’t a retweet. Everything isn’t how many times you’ve checked in on Gowalla or Foursquare or bought a Groupon or Dugg something. These ideas aren’t revolutionary.1
But it’s easy, isn’t it? It really easy. You don’t have to leave your computer. You have an infinite number of shots. You can throw as many notecards at the wallâ€”when you have an unlimited number of notecards, you just know eventually something will stick.
To use a military metaphor, there is no substitute for on the ground intelligence. To not use a metaphor at all: There is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. For phone calls over e-mails. There is no substitute for getting out of your chair and attending a conference, or speaking at a luncheon, or for taking a client out for lunch.
This is what I call Analog Marketing. It’s you being youâ€”all your awkward mannerisms, all your beautiful eyes, all your suits that fit slightly off your shoulder, all your quirks and the cadence of the way you speak. It’s getting on the ground and doing the tangible work that will support your digital marketing. And for that, there is no substitute.
Like and Share everything you can. Go viral. Ask for retweets. Do the best you can.2 But in reality, companies don’t have an infinite number of notecards to throw. Companies have to be selective in what they do. They have to make profitable decisions. And the most profitable, sustainable decision a company can make is to put their people on the ground.
Part I: DrupalCon and the birth of the #drupalmonster
I recently had the pleasure of giving a guest lecture at a Public Relations class with co-worker Albert Hughes at his alma mater Prairie View A&M. It was the impetus for writing this piece.
Our company Schipul solves problems. Painting with a broad brush, we solve client problems related to the Internet. For example, a potential client will come to us with one concept: They need a website and they have no idea how to do it. They trust us to not only:
Be honest with them and give them an honest quote3,
but also provide them with the best technology to solve their problem.
One of the solutions our company employs is the content management system Drupal4. We believe in its infinite flexibility, its community, and it is often times the perfect solution to a potential client’s website that needs to be extremely custom.
We realized three things about Drupal as a company:
The community is fiercely loyal;
a lot of people talk about Drupal as a solution, but there aren’t a lot of people “doing it”;
the Drupal community is definitely doing it.
Albert effectively “brought” Drupal to our company as a solution. He had been messing around with it in his personal time, and when a client approached us about a website, he immediately knew Drupal could solve the client’s problem. It did.
At that point, Schipul went full force with Drupal. We learned it and memorized it and taught it and began to take part in the community. We even loved it so much, that at one point, Albert (a rapper by night) produced a quick music video based on a flow of his. Watch this:
Rapping about Drupal is a pretty absurd concept, but it worked. Founder and creator of Drupal, Dries Buytaert, saw it and put it on his blog. The plays on the video sky-rocketed. Albert and I went to DrupalCon that year, and because of the video, people recognized him. He began to cultivate relationships based off his non-Web-based talent. It established him as part of the Drupal community, albeit in a weird way. It showed a love for the product, and the people responded.
Fast forward to a year later, and Albert and myself were attending DrupalCon again. We knew the power of last year’s rap video, and we wanted to do it again. We had just hired a video specialist on our staff, and with his help, Al and I created a remix to Kanye West’s Monster, effectively creating the #drupalmonster. Watch:
Since we had met Dries, we e-mailed him again and asked him to watch the video figuring he would enjoy it. To our intense thanks, he loved it so much he posted it on his blog again. This was two days before DrupalCon.
Here’s where Analog Marketing comes in. We didn’t want the initial push and hype of a mere blog post to stop people from watching the video. We wanted to be a part of the Drupal Community, and we wanted to give backâ€”as I said earlierâ€”albeit in a weird way.
Our idea was this: Print a bunch of moocards (half-sized business cards, halved hot dog not hamburger) with a bit.ly link that pointed to the video. That was it. The only thing on it was this: bit.ly/drupalmonster. When we got to DrupalCon, we had 1,500 printed out at a local Kinko’s, and old-school guerilla-style, handed them out to everything and everyone. We put them on tables. We gave them to Drupal fanatics, we gave them to concierges at our hotel, we gave them to people we’d meet eating lunch at a local pub.
But as we gave them out, we talked to them about Drupal. What they loved, what they didn’t. Some had more to say than others, but we tried to connect with them on some level. Given a captive Drupal audience, this was somewhat easy. (“Hey, we wrote and produced a Drupal rap music video” said to someone who uses Drupal raises an eyebrowâ€”it doesn’t make a lot of sense.) It was a little harder when trying to convince a hostess at the hotel it was worth her time.
But I saw that same hostess the next day and she called me over and said that not only did she watch it, but she pulled her co-workers aside and they watched it. Eventually, her boss saw it too. And as she was telling me this, her boss came over and complimented us on the video, and I got to compliment the hostess for being a good sport and actually taking the moocard back and watching the video.
Warning: Nerdy Business ROI Stuff Coming: A lot of people ask me how to quantify ROI on social media… blah blah blah. This is exactly how: That boss then said to me: “I’m not in control of who does our website, but if I were, I would go with you.” It’s the best compliment you could give not only myself and Albert, but our company. Asking our company to do your website is an honor to us; it’s like asking us to babysit or be invited to your wedding. And because of the work we did on the ground, in the trenches, talking to the people and going to where they were, we would get their business. We would get that honor.5
Part II: SXSW
If there was ever any epic display of Analog Marketing, it exists on the corner of Trinity and 4th St. during the Interactive portion of SXSW. I had the pleasure of attending for the third year in a row, and each year, it seems this spot between the Austin Convention Center and Champions Bar gets busier and busier.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending, at this spot and immediately entering the convention center, there are literally hundreds of people handing out any number of things: party invites, QR codes, half-clad women giving you a card with a free trial code on it. It’s Analog Marketing, for sure, but it’s the “Facebook” equivalent of the concept. You have an infinite targeted audience and, most likely, and infinite number of notecards to throw at a wall. So you start throwing.
Companies know SXSWi is an important cornerstone in networking. The sessions are always hit-and-miss, but there’s always one thing you can rely on: People. People are the cornerstone of any business. If you have no buyers, there is no company. The only thing this version of Analog Marketing lacks is the connection. Most of the time, the people are in a hurry. They’re trying to get from Point A to Point B in as quick a time as possibleâ€”the marketer barely has time to hand them a card (one of many they’ve gotten in the past 30 seconds), let alone have a conversation with them about their needs and how the marketer’s product could possibly solve their problems.
We tried the Analog Marketing moocard approach to our video at SXSWi as well, and it was significantly less successful, for two reasons:
We did not have the captive audience. (When you’re at DrupalCon and you’re handing out a video about Drupal, it’s like going to a comic book convention and asking someone to watch an interview with Stan Lee.)
We did not have time to cultivate a relationship with the person receiving the card. (See next.)
Part III: Cultivating the relationship
Our Business Development Director Aaron Long once told our company in a full company meeting:
It’s a lot harder to get mad and permanently leave your best friend.
His intent is this: When we talk to clients, we try to be their friends. They literally pay our paychecks. Being honest, ethical, and doing good are cornerstones of our company’s foundation, so when a new client comes in, we get the blessing of helping their business not only survive, but thrive. That’s our job; it’s why people hire us. In return, they pay our paycheck which allows us to do all the things we love to do when we’re not working. It’s a win/win6.
When you have a good rapport with a client, they’re less likely to leave you. You can be absolutely honest with them, speak with candorâ€”and with those two combinedâ€”have real conversations about what they need their website to do and how we need to accomplish it.
Along the way, you become their friend. You begin to respect each other. You begin to bring in the client’s business as your own; when they succeed, we succeeded. And as they grow and trust you more, they’re less likely to leave. You’ve established a level of trust that has absolutely nothing to do with Digital Marketing. Something you could never buy and something you could never “Like” or “Share” on Facebook. Those things are all part of it, but at the end of the day, you need Analog Marketers to cultivate your relationship with your consumers.
Part IV: What you should be doing now
Laozi (known by any number of variations of his name, such as Lao Tzu) was a record-keeper for the Zhou Dynasty court. He is credited with the following, translated into any number of languages, written 3,000 years ago in one of the most famous texts of all-time, Tao Te Ching7:
Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say, “We have done this ourselves.”
This is the definition of Analog Marketing.
I spoke in Houston once about The Next Generation Website at the Social Media Breakfast Houston. A man was there whom I had never met, nor had the chance to meet after my talk, but called our office later that same day. Our top sales-person, Courtney Pemberton, fielded the call and fell in love with them; it wasn’t even about “selling” to them in the conventional sense. They were Girouard’s General Store, who have the claim of the oldest general store in Texas. Due to my public speaking and Courtney’s expertise, they signed on as a client in an incredibly short amount of time. At the time of writing, their site is still in development, but Courtney has gone out of her way, having fun with the client, because she likes them. Both the project manager and Courtney went to their store and took pictures of everything they could find because it’s such a cool place. She brought the pictures back and in design meetings, the designers fell in love with the place as well, experiencing it through the pictures they took, but also the excitement in the employees’ voices.
And when their designs are approved, and their content is added, and their site goes live, our tasks accomplished, I know they’ll look back and say, “We did this together.” And at that point, Digital Marketing can take over and run its course. I’ll be sure to Like it and Share it on Facebook, but I have confidence knowing it all started with Analog Marketing.
1 Although I am still amazed at how many “public relations” companies just try to convince their clients to get on Facebook or Twitter because it’s like some sort of mandate. News flash: You don’t have to be on Twitter. A better question to ask: Is that where your people are?
2 Recognize that these are still good things and that this statement is not tongue-in-cheek. Just don’t start here. Don’t put your cart in front of your horse.
3 If someone’s quoted you over $100,000 for a website, pleaseâ€”call us. You’re most likely being lied to.
4 For the curious, we use three content management systems at our company: WordPress, Tendenci, and Drupal. The first and last are open-source CMSs that have created and cultivated wildly successful communities. We rely heavily on said communities and are infinitely grateful for the hard work these people do. The second in that list is a currently proprietary CMS our CEO wrote in the early 2000s to keep the company afloat after September 11. It’s currently in its fifth iteration and is still bread and butter to our business model.
5 Even more “ROI”-y stuff: The video had an initial push of around 1,500 plays. As we handed out the cards throughout the conference, the plays continually went up each day: 123, 141, 148, 154, culminating the last day of the conference, topping 200 plays at 202.
To this day, we continually get double-digit plays from the video as it takes on a life of its own. We also continually get sales calls solely because they saw the video, liked it, and thought to themselves, “If they love Drupal this much to make a video, they must have a passion for it.” And passion breeds greatness.
At the time of this writing, the video has over 4,600 plays and 33,400 loads.
6 Also a cornerstone of the business. A card is handed out to every new employee (and to a number of clients/potential clients) that not only lists the cornerstones of the business, but also our Mission and Vision and Schipul Honor Code.
7 I don’t intend to cheapen any form of Taoism or religion by comparing the concepts of Analog Marketing to a sacred text. I take the quote literally at its face-value: Go to where the people are first. It will literally support everything you do after that.