The following is a real (real annoying) email that I just sent for an introduction to what all I have going on. I didn’t even MENTION the crazy news that in the next week, a press release will be going out, to announce my role as President of leading custom furniture design, retail and manufacturing outfit, Jaxon Home.
Here’s a little ditty about what I’m into in my days since quitting KCRW a year ago, where I launched 10 blogs, brought our social fan base from around 30k to 400k in a short number of years, helped launch the KCRW MusicMine iPad & iPhone apps – as well as produced an underwhelming YouTube video series called The Cue!
Over the past year, my long time friend, fellow musicmaker, and new biz partner and I refined his santa monica search marketing agency into one that accommodates full service digital marketing ideation. We focus on organic growth tactics. His expertise in SEO is unparalleled, and I just run around and talk to business owners and throw audacious ideas for content marketing around until one makes enough sense and fits the budget well enough that it sticks.
We’re building some new websites for a couple of KCRW DJs, we’ve created digital campaigns for clients from an educational rapping puppet video series, to an online macaron baking contest for bloggers… We’ve also delved into a unique code set on Shopify that allows custom furniture makers to extend some really cool functionality to their online shoppers through Shopify – which is an easy and great platform for small biz owners. Additionally, I publish for several blogs, contributing to LA Magazine, Audio Muffin & The Estate of Things... The last pot that I have my hand in is another top secret app project, in development and currently seeking funding. I’m in charge of community, our content organization, presentation and taxonomy.
I’m also often told that my emails are too long.
If it seems at all like I don’t have any focus, rest assured – I question it too.
The great thing is that I’m flexible as a consultant and I’m beginning to understand that new ideas just spawn other new ideas. So I’m happy to discuss any new project to see if there is any value to my involvement or any recommendations I can make.
A friend of mine runs a business that has something to do with Escrow. I’ll claim ignorance. I have an escrow account, but I don’t know what it does. Jon’s company wanted to help Angeleno’s carry their grocery load since LA banned single use plastic bags. Seems nice huh? They had some canvas grocery bags ordered, and this flyer will accompany them at an event.
Kate offered me some free work to do for her, so I did it. Her terribly outdated blog desperately needed a cleaner look. She’d be better off paying the team for the full treatment from design to development – but not bad for a night’s worth of work. We’ll keep working on it.
One fine day, I want our vintage shasta camper fruits to function as a jobby, a hobby/job. As in, a revenue generator– that I LOVE!
When Jeff and I took a weekend trip up the coast for a little stay in a sleepy old craftsman style hotel near Ventura State Beach, I hatched this plan with him over oysters and a bloody mary.
We would set out to find and renovate old vintage campers and collect a fleet. He was interested in bringing in modern conveniences like wi-fi and gaming. I was interested in interior decor that felt homey and on trend. We dreamed up a couple of different themes and talked about the kind of people that we imagined might like to rent a camper and haul it away for a getaway here in Southern California.
Amazingly, we got home and he made it happen! I love the man for setting my dreams into motion.
So, the plan is to move forward with this dream starting first with one, to see if we can actually do the work. We’d like to park that hunk of metail up on piece of land in Topanga and work on it there. My guess is that it could take us sometime yet to really get moving on the land, but we’re always keeping an eye out for opportunities via Trulia. As far as I can tell though, he appears to be dead serious about all of it. I pinch me.
There is also very seriously an east coast version of Seven Wanders brewing in the back of our minds… meaning we like to dream of getting a piece of land in NC too. I already have a shasta there, parked in my Dad’s driveway. I’d love the reason to come home often…
The land becomes sort of a home base for Seven Wanders in my mind, whether it merely serves us as our own family private campground and weekend getaway retreat, or if I can make it super cute and market it on AirBnB for a bit to see how we fair with the hospitality side of things…
The dream of launching “Seven Wanders” as a business – means we have created a getaway product for the modern gypsy. Come to Topanga and temporarily pretend to be a roving boheme hippie with our trailer. The thought processes split a little bit here, b/c we have to either build out the amenities on a site or we have to figure out vehicle rentals and map out really great weekend trips. But we like to kick back and dream up themes for different trailers. I always talk about Stevie Nicks and Steve Jobs falling in love and taking off for a weekend camping trip, and Jeff talks about how to work the renovation to properly accommodate an Xbox One and a 5 gallon kegerator. As an added amenity with your week’s camping rental – get a keg of craft beer!
I see it as a lifestyle that people would surely buy into… an experience. It’s very “Southern California – don’t give a what, sunshiney, young, aesthetically inclined hipster” folks that wanna getaway from town for a weekend, or wanna fly over from the east coast and get a taste of something that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
It’s the PCH w/ a flowy kimono, felt hat, fringe boots. Or, the sequoias in a caftan, with braids and modern moroccan lanterns hanging overhead. It’s pretending that you live in the era when hitchhiking was safe. It’s being in the camper that everyone in the campground wants to be in.
Seven Wanders dreaming inevitably comes along with some retail too… That way, if there is anyone out there in the world that can’t make the trip, they can still buy the throw blanket, the floral 100% cotton sleeping sack, the solar powered moroccan lanterns, the teepee tent, the kimono even.
So… These are my dreams. What do you think? Do you want to play Seven Wanders with me? Would you come for a week and live the dream?
Everyday I think to myself with a full heart and sincere intention, that I will sit down to do X. So, I sit down… and I begin.
And more often than not I walk away empty handed.
Oh, I’ve done a lot of something, I just haven’t done what I sat down with the intention to do, create something all on my own and publish it, with my name on it.
My myriad of reasons are quite intellectualized, and I easily rationalize away my inability to commit to the final publish process. But it’s time to recognize, that it is 100% self doubt that is stopping me from working all the way through my intention.
Perhaps I’m not able to produce to the level of graphic design that I admire in other sites. Perhaps I don’t feel like my rambling narrative evolved full circle into a story with a point. Maybe while I was out looking for inspiration images for my idea, I came across a different article that a different author wrote, and they captured my ideas more articulately than I. Perhaps I was left feeling unoriginal or inferior. Perhaps the internet is too cluttered with terrible content, why would I want to contribute to that?
All of these are excuses. Excuses that merely hide my self doubt.
My resolution this year, as previously posted is to create more than I consume. That is a very lofty goal, but it is a good smack in the ass when I find myself wandering away from my own efforts, and clicking on click bait headlines from Refinery29 or Upworthy.
CREATE…. I don’t have to go so far as to do it confidently, but I would like to do it with less self doubt!
It’s the new year and it has my head abuzz for the future. I love self reflection, probably to a fault, and this time of year offers plenty of freedom to indulge in promise of bigger brighter you. One of the best things I’ve read about the practice of creating resolutions are these 6 Hard Truths.
I’m not too cool for resolutions, but I like a deliberate approach. So, here I am, sharing mine for some accountability, complete with little quotesy graphic design pics to pin, so that hopefully they will continue to float around in my cyber periphery to keep me reminded regularly! I wrote them down in the margins of my planner as well.
While I thought hard about it, I didn’t want to try to commit to something specific like a certain number of blog posts a day, or to get better at photography or pick the guitar back up… cause I don’t want to feel like a failure… but these are things that I can strive to do everyday!
Soooo, I guess this means that I need to push myself to talk to more people and express myself more. Also, I think a lot about my dueling personality traits. While I wouldn’t describe myself as an introvert, I do have some incredibly introverted tendencies. I’d like to push the boundaries a bit.
I don’t have any rules up in here, so I’m gonna divert our attention from social media campaigns and career choices for a minute to talk about women’s bodies, celebrities, selfies and self expression through social media.
I’m no gender studies expert and while I have a lot of rants, I’m not always 100% confident to share those thoughts. They feel complex, I feel impassioned by that, and as a result I often keep those thoughts to myself.
However I’m moved to share now, because I just stared at this for a solid 4 minutes picking at the little details like the elongation of the neck by dropping the clavicle and the added fullness to the waves of hair…
Between Dove Beauty campaigns and these more recent photoshop exposés where the glossies are takin heat for “perfecting” already perfect bodies – I can’t help wonder….
I seriously love this Jennifer Lawrence chick for raising her voice over this notion that this is NOT COOL. I love the light that is being shed on how unattainable those bodies are without photoshop trickery, and I do think that we could stand to become a bit more comfortable with real nakedness.
Recently, I came across an app built specifically for the selfie. Clearly it was developed for tweens and not grown women like me…. but I was curious as to what it was all about.
There is no ability to comment, you can only like the pic or move along. This functionality is stated to discourage negative feedback, they don’t want to perpetuate trends like #thighgap. The app has since received a lot of criticism for being a bust, even with Justin Bieber backing it. Nonetheless, an interesting moment for social media and beauty awareness.
I was hoping that it might be the next big thing and I logged on with full intention to share a billion photos of myself all day long every day. Instead however I was still feeling too guilty, too insecure, too silly. The selfie has become a derisive practice, easy prey be snarked upon. Even President Obama is getting in trouble for it… meanwhile – like so many millions of cellphone users, I just want to post pictures of myself and look at them from within the privacy of my own phone along with my invisible audience. I can’t help it, I’m deeply compelled to want to see myself through the same screen through which I now view the world. I also want to do it without any overwhelming guilt riding on it… I don’t want people to think I’m self-centered….
But we are, right…..? Why else would I spend so much of my time documenting my life via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the multitude of blogs that I contribute to? Is this selfish?
Oh I can ramble myself away into justification.
At 11 I got my first diary, by 15 I was seriously journaling. I have a boxful of composition books out in the garage that chronicle the ins and outs of tragic love interests, moves from one side of the country to the next and relationship turmoil. Unlike the blogs and the social media profiles, where I showcase the moments I find to be humorous, sentimental or otherwise memorable, the private journals lean tragic, they just do. But in those books are where I have found myself time and time again, defined my values, penned my moral boundaries, explored my spirit, and boys….. lots of talk about boys.
Both the private journals and the public facing blogs are all about SELF EXPRESSION. I must purge, it is a practice that is required for my wellness of being, I must express myself creatively, and whether I like to admit it or not – feedback is magical. Isn’t is some kind of wonderful to receive affirmation that your deepest you is relatable to someone else?
Social media made that expression feedback loop possible. It gave me a platform on which to host a conversation about what it was like to be me, and then subsequently be part of a dialog with people that could relate to that. I love to see other people express themselves too. I love relating to others as they express themselves and I LOVE when they relate to me.
This is something to be proud of!
Perhaps it seems that these ramblings are disparate from one another, how does an image of Jennifer Lawrence under the photoshop microscope relate to our desires to snap photos of ourselves and EXPRESS ourselves?
I suppose it is because I immediately correlated this image, and this thought of perfecting beauty to the barrage of critique the selfie receives – that this image too is under scrutiny. I suppose I wanted to rant, to scream and shout “let the girls express themselves without having to bear the burden of yet another stance of judgement to weigh out before they ever hit share.”
I don’t know how much water this theory holds, but I’m happy to discuss.
While the internet world is raging on about celebrities getting photoshopped to perfection, we are sharing more images of our natural selves than ever. Let us see one another as we are #purplehairdontcare… #amipretty…. what have you… Otherwise, we’re left to compare ourselves only to Cosmo’s warped view of an already unattainable celeb reality.
The Facebook 20% text rule for ads was totally killin my “cute graphics” game for blog posts.
You’ve likely only run into this area if you are an avid Post booster. I serially toss about $5 onto each status update that points back to a client’s property – to help raise visibility. I’ll toss more on if it gets exceptional engagement.
But recently, my posts stopped being approved due to failing the 20% text rule. It seemed that just about any amount of text would trigger the problem, so I had to get to the bottom of a solution.
So here is what you need to get around it.
Visit this page and upload your 400×209 link thumbnail image before you post it: https://www.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay
Click on any box that contains text or partial text. If the percentage tops 20, then it’s too much and you’ll have to go back to your edit screen and minimize your text!
For a shortcut – I created this blank png to open up for initially creating my graphics. It’s at the 560×292 or 400×209 dimensions that Facebook suggests for link post thumbnails.
This way, I always have the dimensions at hand, and the grid is easy to overlay so I can keep an eye on my font size and text placement.
Thanks for keeping us jumping through hoops Facebook! Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if you are all sitting back having a good laugh at us marketers!
We had a little discussion about this over on the Facebook Page Managers Support Group today too. Please join us there if you are a page manager that is looking for a group to help you out in real time with the challenges that we face in daily page management!! It’s a great group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/448536578514849/
Recently I wrapped up a week long internet event that was created in order to build value in my client’s social media efforts.
So, let’s call this part one in a new series where I demystify the steps that go into my social media campaigns. We’ll see if it actually becomes a series! I recommend serializing content all the time, I should practice what I preach.
Mapping Out the Business Goals
This should always be the first step in any campaign! This was ours:
Establish Student Loan Consolidation Awareness Week as a legit national event in which the finance industry recognizes and participates
There are obviously deeper business reasons for that, and so we make note of that too:
Educate graduating debtors about their debt management options with a focus on loan consolidation
Sell the Loan Consolidation product!
This is the obvious and most self-serving goal…. but note that it is 3rd in priority for a reason. We needed to keep our focus on the pure mission of building awareness FIRST… putting value into the educational materials first… and branding, lead generation and sales tactics are all meant to be a BONUS. It was my role to push this and keep it top of mind.
Building the Assets Rather than concentrating our social media campaign on one platform over another, we opted to concentrate on a micro-site. We wanted the campaign to feel like it was about more than what cuSL had to say about the topic – we built an aggregate page or content hub to accommodate contributions from various sources. It’s focus was on content and conversation that was being drummed across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – all surrounding the hashtag, #StudentLoanAwareness.
We chose a brand neutral URL in student-loan-awareness.com, though the page was branded with the CUSL header. We aimed to appear as hosts of the event, welcoming everyone to participate, and add their voice.
We designed a full screen, one page long scroll design. I’m not sure what you call this, but I like to think of it as a “single task” design. The user isn’t distracted by a billion options and the intent is clear despite the fact that it holds a ton of information.
Naming the Event
Your title IS important and it can make or break your campaign. “Student Loan Consolidation Awareness Week” is a mouthful and it wasn’t working for us as much as it was against us. We took to the round table, and decided that while we are stuck with all of those words, we could use a simpler hashtag to get our point across. We discussed several options, and ended up with on the spoke to our mission, and one that we can multi-purpose throughout the the year.
Again, we didn’t choose to brand the hashtag, as to encourage other brands to participate and meet their own business goals.
Encouraging Engagement from the Consumer
So, naturally we concocted a giveaway. We thought about several different options, but one goal that we kept in center focus was to stay on mission. We didn’t want to simply toss out iPads to folks that don’t care about our topic in exchange for likes or comments – we wanted to EDUCATE. So we came up with a cash reward and messaged it as debt relief via “$500 sweepstakes to be used toward your student debt.” The mode of entry was simply to ask a QUESTION on our Facebook page. It looked like this
In retrospect, I’d have redesigned the floating questions b/c as much as they were meant to be designerly, Facebook recognized the graphic as 80% text and it made boosting the visibility impossible.
Encouraging Influencer and Competitive Participation
We sent out a press release, created a fun email for targeted industry bloggers, and we sent a message to the hundreds of participating credit unions in our program, inviting all to join us in the fun. This part was really our most crucial aspect of the campaign, and next time I think we should have all the moving parts completed sooner, so that we can really put more into the outreach that is needed to drum up partner participation. We would have been happy to do some really cool cross pollination with other organizations if we could have.
We built an assets page to make materials to share on social readily accessible, so that our participating organizations would have easy share options. See that here: http://www.custudentloans.org/student-loan-awareness-assets/
Then, we set ourselves to task creating that content. We had educational rap videos, Instagram pics for word of the day, we gathered up some informational debt survival guide tips and we put together a massive FAQ.
At the end of Student Loan Consolidation Awareness Week we called it a wrap and gathered the following info to see how our efforts paid off.
12 well thought entries into the Sweepstakes.
Great engagement on Twitter with the hashtag, including a debtor that not only shared his Fannie Mae debt printout with us, but was also picked up by BuzzFeed that week. He consolidated with CUSL and we’ll do a follow up on his success story once it finalizes.
50% of the traffic to the landing page came from a front page trending link on Reddit /personalfinance
Facebook Fans at the beginning of campaign = 3306
Facebook Fans at the end of the campaign = 3458
I started building out a punch list for a new client’s social platforms with a focus on influencer outreach and engagement.
Turns out, it is a pretty universal list for best practices.
Cruise through the bullet points and ask yourself if you’re doing these things as a part of your social strategy. Let me know what I should add or what has worked for you.
Build Influencer Lists on Twitter, categorize by niche or tier (tier meaning, level of reach or audience size).
Use Hootsuite to build views of these influencer streams for easy access.
Add the streams to your phone app too so you can get busy tweeting while you wait in line at the grocery store.
Daily (if not multiple times a day) skim through and read the influencer streams. Engage on anything interesting, have conversations.
BE Cool dude… inspire influencers to want to know you based on your wit and participation in their conversation, or as my friend Kate says, tickle their compliment bone. I think she made that up and it sounds a little inappropriate, but she’s right. If you dig people’s tweets, tell ‘em – but
Don’t show up empty handed. Have something to offer to the conversation.
Create an SMS alert notification for any @mention of @yourbrand. This way your alerted immediately when Alyssa Milano hollers back. – Reply immediately.
Share curated content from your influencers’ blogs and interviews from time to time, make sure its relevant to your overall brand…
Post your own blog posts to twitter so that your influencers can share your work. You could pimp out each post more than once, but space it out by several hours (6-8) and come up with something different and valuable to say as you frame the link…
GOAL: 8-15 tweets a day not including RTs
Organize your collection into focused and specific boards
Create a board for real life projects, and collect inspirations
Always update the caption with a little note on why you love it
<3 the images that you spend more than a few seconds enjoying and pondering
Visit “My Likes” from time to time to see if any patterns are emerging from the things you are into… Consider turning these patterns into a blog post roundup
Find influencers that you love and follow them so that you have a stream full of great designs to love on
Utilize categories and search to discover new content that you
PIN images from your site to a specific board… but be mindful not to be overly self promotional
Barbara was Derek Stephens, Frank Eybsen and Betsy Moyer and was made wickedly famous on the internet with a cover of Kid Cudi's Pursuit of Happiness!
We released an EP, played a few shows, recorded an second EP and fell apart. Here is the first EP on Spotify!
My latest project with Jonny Joyner, Ginny PItchford, Beth Arzy and co. is soon to be released.