Social Media Marketing – My Experience

Learning social media marketing improved my career and life

It’s been a little over a year since my last post, so this will be a bit of a departure from my previous entries. The past year has been one of personal and professional growth for me. I took on a six month social media management contract for a friend. Shortly after I wrapped up the contract, I landed my first full-time marketing gig from a Facebook group. This was nothing short of poetic justice. I say that because I’ve been working my ass off in my spare time since early 2008 to learn everything I can about social media marketing. I’ve done a ton of volunteer, pro bono work, etc, and read countless blogs, feeds, gone to conferences on my own dime, that allowed me to form friendships with notable marketing professionals locally and around the world.

Gary Vaynerchuk‘s new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World speaks to me on many levels. Gary preaches you must first offer value to your audience and be willing to give it away by jabbing at least three times before you hit your audience with a right hook when you ask them to buy what you’re selling. I jabbed from 2008 until 2012 when I stopped giving away content and started getting paid for my contributions.

I owe a lot of it to Estes because he gave me my first shot on a professional level back in 2011. I linked up with Estes after I came across talklaun.ch on tumblr one night.  I wrote a few blog entries until Estes tapped me to handle a national account in April 2012. Estes even invited me to fly out to Denver to attend the Talklaunch kick off party at Dazzle Jazz.

In February of 2012, I managed to snag my first paid contract locally, after a job interview turned into what can you do for our company to improve our reach in the social media space. From there I felt like the sky was the limit. Preceding my experience with the aforementioned, I took it upon myself to establish the digital footprint for my father’s business. My father is an old school guy who just recently bought his first smart phone, an iPhone 4S. I can only imagine what the conversation between the cell phone rep and my father must have been like. When the economic downturn happened, his calls dried up. His idea of advertising in 2008 was a half page phone book ad and word of mouth. I took it upon myself to change that for him. I also set out to learn the social media channels while doing it. My father’s business did pick up but he could never tell me where his calls originated from. I didn’t opt to set up analytics for the accounts I managed. I didn’t feel it was necessary because my goal was simply to get his company name out in the digital space along with the specialty and his phone number in order to generate phone calls. I was never chasing followers and customer interaction.

I have learned a great deal about the ups and down of social media marketing. I’ve managed to apply everything I’ve learned to how I do things now.

Have an individual voice on each social media channel you manage. Refrain from pushing the same content to each channel.

Contests are tricky and can be better managed using a service like rafflecopter.com

Do not project the car salesman vibe, and allow interaction with your fans to be organic.

I feel my experiences have made me into a well rounded social media marketer. I’m excited for the future and what 2014 holds.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

NODE by Variable Technologies

Knoxville is on the verge of something fantastic and I’m excited I was able to witness the start of it. I was invited to attend the announcement of the new Variable Technologies office in Knoxville on Wednesday 12/12/12 at 1 PM. 

 

George Yu, PhD, CEO and Founder of Variable Technologies based out of Chattanooga. 

Alex Lavidge of Variable Technologies and Syner-G explains the NODE to WBIR.


This was also a presentation of their product NODE that was held at the offices of Syner-G. Greg Compton and Alex Lavidge were on hand to represent Variable Technologies and field questions about NODE. Media in attendance consisted of WBIR and the Knox News Sentinel, so I was honored to be in the room given my lack of press credentials.

 

When I arrived I already had the NODE and the newly released THERMA iOS apps installed on my iPhone 4S because I had been reading quite a bit over the past few months about NODE

iPhone 4S screen shot of the NODE Therma app that allows you to view with your iPhone camera.

George told me to turn on my Bluetooth so I could sync my iPhone 4S to THERMA that was attached to one of the many KORE units on the table before me. I picked up the KORE unit with THERMA and started pointing it around at an assortment of things to take different temperatures in the conference room. I was impressed by the quality of the KORE unit and the durable materials it was constructed out of. The THERMA sensor is held onto the KORE with two tiny screws. The THERMA iOS app was beautiful and well done. It’s quite intuitive and very easy to navigate so anyone thinking about purchasing a KORE and the THERMA sensor don’t be intimidated because it’s easy to figure out.

 

iPhone 4S screen shot of the NODE app

George said to try the CLIMA sensor next to let me get a feel of the amount of data you’ll have at your fingertips when you purchase the KORE and CLIMA. With the CLIMA sensor I was able to pickup the barometric pressure, ambient light, humidity, and temperature of the conference room. For a weather nerd and National Weather Service certified SKYWARN storm spotter like me this was too much! I was absolutely amazed at the fact that I could so easily pickup everything. George told me about the record feature so I tapped it and let the data flow and eventually I decided to stop it. George said I now had the option to E-mail, Delete, or Cancel. I decided to e-mail the data sets to my Gmail account.

When you tap to stop recording data from the NODE you’re prompted to Email, Delete, or Cancel.

 

The default file type is .csv that can be read by Excel or Google Sheets and there was one for each data type.

 

Screen shot taken from Google Sheets on my MacBook Air displaying the temperature .csv



During the presentation I connected to one of the KORE units on the conference table that had the OXA sensor attached to it. I ran through the app and I was fascinated that I had the ability to measure Carbon Monoxide. The poor air quality in Knoxville during the summer justifies the purchase of OXA. The Variable Technologies website states the OXA is an industrial grade Carbon Monoxide sensor. I had a limited amount of time to play around with OXA so I wasn’t able to unlock the full potential of the sensor. 

 

I went to my iPhone’s Bluetooth display and synced to another KORE unit but this time I was unsure of the sensor I was connected to. I didn’t have this KORE unit in my hand while I was connected because it was one of the many the conference table. I monitored the temperature as it rose and declined  only to spike again as I disconnected from it.

Greg Compton demonstrated how you can use the CHROMA sensor to accurately read and color match multiple paints and have the exact paint code that you or your painter will need to get that last gallon of paint. The broad scope of uses for CHROMA by interior decorators, painters, and contractors are endless. I’m a new home owner and I was thinking of how I could use CHROMA to help with a few remodeling projects I have in mind. I was unable to get a hands on trial with CHROMA but the demo Greg gave us was excellent and showed off the power of CHROMA.

Variable Technologies has a very bright future ahead of it and the NODE has already caught the attention of the tech world. George confirmed that Variable Technologies will take NODE to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) January 8-11. I can’t wait to see how big of splash NODE will make on the largest stage in the tech world. 

If you are interested in learning more about NODEKORECHROMACLIMALUMA, and OXA then head over to Variable Tech.

(Disclaimer: I don’t work for Variable Technologies and I did not receive any compensation for this blog entry.)

App.net aka ADN

 

App.net logo

 

App.net first caught my attention when it presented an app showcase at SXSW.

 

 

I frequent Google + and already followed Dalton Caldwell so on July 25th he posted about joining App.net and even had a campaign hashtag on Twitter #joinus because he was trying to raise $500,000 to fund the site which is billed as the ad-free social network. The entry fee for a yearly membership at the time was $50 and $1000 for devs. On October 1, it was announced the yearly membership fee would drop to $36 and they introduced a monthly membership of $5 for those unsure if they want to commit to a full year.

Tuesday night I took my daughter to her ballet lesson. The lobby has WiFi so I fired up my MacBook Air and was checking my regular channels for news. I ran across the announcement that the yearly membership had dropped so I decided to take the plunge and ponied up my $36 bucks making me App.net User #20,482.

 

When Dalton had first announced his 500k fundraising I went on and checked to see if jason or jason_ was available and they were. Fast forward to Oct 2, I was surprised that I was still able to snag  jason_ which is the same as my personal Twitter handle along with a slew of assorted account across the interwebs.

 

I consider myself somewhat of an early mainstream adopter of Twitter because I first signed up back in March of 2008 after seeing it featured on G4’s Attack of the Show. Twitter back in the first quarter of 2008 was quiet and was mostly frequented by tech savvy types. Once Twitter had their Oprah moment and the Arab summer Twitter jumped the shark and the downhill slide began. Twitter has gone on to cut off a lot of their ties to the third-party devs that basically helped Twitter get to the point where they are today.

 

That’s where App.net comes into play. ADN is all about third-party development and ADN is working on the first payout of 200k to devs very soon. First off the similarities to Twitter are undeniable, it’s a parallel universe of sorts. App.net reminds me a lot the feeling of Twitter when I initially signed up in 2008. It’s not clogged up with people, celebs, and companies making a lot of noise.

 

The reason I didn’t sign up for App.net when it was in the 500k fundraising stage, I was saving up for our family summer vacation. I even posted the other day about my hesitation on becoming a member and Founder/CEO Dalton saw my post and replied.

 

 

 

There’s already an impressive offering of third-party apps such as Felix for iOS and Netbot that was released a few days ago also for iOS which made a huge splash and it seemed membership boomed that day as a direct result of the app’s release. I’m using the OS X app  Wedge on my MacBook Air and it rocks! I’m excited to see what the coming months and the third-party devs have in store for App.net so if you have $36 bucks to spend annually I suggest you head over to App.net and join the conversation minus the spam bots and noisy chatter that clogs up Twitter.

 

Here’s a screen grab of my user profile on App.net

 

 

Facebook

It has all come down to this – (NASDAQFB) – the ticker symbol for Facebook that made its debut this morning. Today marks the initial public offering (IPO) for Facebook that was started by Mark Zuckerberg back in February 4, 2004, with his Harvard buddies Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. At first, only Harvard students could access Facebook. Eventually,  colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University gained access. Facebook was not open to the general public until September 26, 2006, to everyone of age 13 and older with a valid email address.

 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been a fan of Facebook. However, I’m not a hater, I do have an account but I only created it to keep in touch with my family that I don’t see very often. Facebook allows me to share moments of my life that otherwise my family would never know about. They’ve been able to watch my five year old daughter grow and see pictures of our first home.

 

The biggest downside to Facebook would have to be the privacy concerns. My account is pretty locked down and I intend to keep it that way. I don’t play Farmville or any of the crazy time consuming games that I used to get invites to. I’m one of those people that post in their timeline to not send me anything game related. Anything third party related that requests access to any part of your account is only trying to data mine you. Simple and plain, I don’t allow anything access to my account outside of say the iPhone Facebook app access, which by the way sucks terribly and their designers need to take design cues from the newly updated Google + app. Facebook settled FTC charges that it deceived consumers by failing to keep privacy promises which occurred on November 29, 2011. Mashable just announced that Facebook was hit With $15 Billion user tracking lawsuit. That’s not a good way to start life as a publicly traded company.

 

Facebook seriously needs to work hard on improving their stance on privacy concerns or it could tarnish the company for years to come. I’d be quite nervous if I was one of the people who was buying Facebook stocks today. The social connectivity comes with a price and that seems to be our individual privacy. Mark Zuckerberg was famously quoted as  saying The Age of Privacy is Over which didn’t sit well with many. I don’t feel like we should have to trade our anonymity on the internet to be tracking by the likes of Facebook or Twitter. At the end of the day it’s big business for them to data mine all of us to know our shopping habits and how to target advertising which is the primary source of income for their sites. I’d honestly pay to use Twitter as long as they promised me 100% that my activities weren’t being tracked. I could never see Facebook owning up to such a promise.

 

I’m curious to what direction Facebook will take now that they’re a publicly traded company. They now have to answer to shareholders and don’t have as much rope to hang themselves with as they did before. The overall public internet view of Facebook has seemed to shift a great deal to a more negative stance. With competitors such as Google + hanging around and gaining traction, Facebook should tread lightly with the public because all it takes is one big blow up on the internet and the next thing Facebook will be Myspace.

#SuperSocialBowl

 

Over the past few years I’ve observed more usage of social media to enhance Super Bowl commercials. This year it seems like every commercial had it’s own #hashtag. I saw a tweet from someone who noticed the lack of Facebook links as a whole. I believe this is happening because hashtags are far easier to remember than a url to a Facebook page. A lot of people watched the Super Bowl this year mainly for the commercials. Mashable.com for instance did a live blog to document all of the commercials. Overall I felt this year’s batch of commercials lacked the comedy and punch of those of years past. The Doritos spot with the guy and the dog was hands down my favorite commercial this year. The ownership of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets has seen quite a lot of growth. This makes internet apps such as Twitter and Facebook much easily accessible while you’re watching tv so people are more likely to visit the company’s site right after the $3.5 million commercial airs.

I’d like to see stats of how many people actually scanned the QR code on the Go Daddy.com commercial, I bet it was hardly anyone. I honestly think using a QR code in a commercial is a terrible idea. It makes about as much sense as using a QR code on a billboard that you see while you’re driving down the street. QR codes take some time to focus and scan properly so this is why I say this. Depending on the smart phone you own the scanner requires the user to accurately fit the QR code within the screen to scan. I previously had a Blackberry 9650 and it was quite difficult to scan a QR code. My iPhone 4S scans within five seconds or less.

It seemed Anheuser-Busch was more focused on the Kanye West “Runaway” backed commercial for it’s “new” 6.0% ABV Bud Light Platinum than to run more funny commercials for regular Bud Light that have been so hilarious in years past. I read tweets regarding Anheuser-Busch’s weak commercial showing from people in PR / social media who were watching each commercial closely to critique and analyze it.

The smartest marketing strategy award goes to Coca-Cola and their multiple tie in using the lovable polar bears. If you visited CokePolarBowl.com (which now redirect to their official You Tube page) throughout the game you could observe the real-time reactions of the polar bears to the events as they unfolded. The three commercial spots for Coca-Cola of course featured the polar bears that even worked in tandem with the Coke Polar Bowl live online stream. On Twitter, you could follow the comments of polar bears labeled NY_Bear and NE_Bear from the official Coca-Cola Twitter account. Ad agencies need to take notice of the Coca-Cola campaign and see how they executed flawlessly. This shows that Super Bowl commercials will continue to push people from their tv ad to the internet in order to get the most bang for their advertising buck. This makes it easier to get potential customers to go ahead and make that impulse buy.