Applying What I’ve Learned: Developing a Social Media Audience

Ok, ok, so I’ve totally been neglecting Fans of Brands. But you can’t blame me! I’ve started developing marketing materials, managing the social media, and blogging on behalf of two stores here in Jackson Hole: Belle Cose and Goodie2Shoes. You can check out my efforts at bellecosedish and goodie2shoesstyle and become our fans on facebook here and here.

So while I have not been updating Fans of Brands as frequently as I’d like, I can’t say that I haven’t been busy blogging. And I must admit – while I love being the voice behind these two stores, I’ve found the task quite challenging! I want to increase our web presence and fan base, but now that I’m the one on the other side of the equation actually thinking up fun campaigns and ideas that will engage our audience rather than snarkily critiquing other brand’s efforts, I’m left wondering where to begin. How the heck do I start developing more of an audience and fanbase?

Well first we need to link the Belle Cose website to the blog and facebook page. That’s number one on the list! Next we need to actually CREATE a webpage for Goodie2Shoes, which currently doesn’t have a website at all. Then we need to create a link to our blogs on all email blasts. Fortunately both stores have comprehensive customer databases, so that will definitely help our cause.

Now if I’m going to take a page out my own book, I think the next thing I need to do is “get involved in the conversation.” I need to start sounding off on homeware, interior decorating, and cooking blogs (for Belle Cose, a high end home goods store) and fashion and accessory blogs (for Goodie2Shoes, a clothing and accessories store geared at women age 50+). Then I need to link back to my own blogs. Or maybe I should just start writing about Lady Gaga on both websites and see if they start garnering as much attention as Fans of Brands! I guess that wouldn’t be attracting the right target audience though…

Do any of you, my loyal readers, have ideas for how I can start generating fans and directing traffic to my sites? Please feel free to click the above links, or leave comments on this post – I’m all ears!

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Lady Gaga Sends My Blog Stats Skyrocketing

I guess I wasn’t the only one watching the new music video for Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s single Telephone. In just twelve hours after its release, the video garnered half-a-million views… and I counted for at least seventeen of them.

Compared to my Wyoming ski-bum friends, my level of fanaticism for Lady Gaga is relatively high. But apparently it’s pretty average when compared to the rest of the American population. I say this because my blog somehow attracted an unprecedented 972 views on March 13, its hottest day ever, due to my recent post on National Lady Gaga Day.  When Gaga’s video hit the web on march 7, Fans of Brands popped up in online searches for Lady Gaga, funneling hoards of viewers to my site. With my average of 35 views per day, I was shocked to see to 385 views on March 8th, then 534, 538, 568, 812, peaking at  972 on March 13th.  After another week, the Gaga traffic has finally slowed, and I’m back to my normal level of daily hits.

All I have to say is: HOLY TELEPHONE, GAGA. I get the point of linking my blog posts to newsworthy topics, but after all this attention I wonder if it would it be worth ditching the social-media-meets-branding thing and turning my site into a straight-up Lady Gaga fanpage?

I’ll leave you, my 972 viewers, with this link to the Telephone video on MTV.com. The video totally blew my mind, and I know I contributed to its viral status when I texted, emailed, facebooked, and twittered to all of my networks and friends to stop whatever else they were doing to watch it for themselves. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look and let me know if you think it’s worth the hype.

http://www.mtv.com/videos/lady-gaga/492192/telephone-long-version.jhtml

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Tribute to Apple’s Revolutionary Products

When you think about how much the media landscape has changed in the past few years, you also have to think about the platforms that have enabled the transformation. The way we consume media has moved from analog to digital, and innovations in technology have facilitated, but also forced this shift. We can credit Apple for creating the many of the tools that have rocked the traditional media and marketing models – the company has come up with the groundbreaking devices and applications that have changed media and the way we consume it.

Check out this video that highlights Apple’s most revolutionary products:

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New Obsession: StumbleUpon

Maybe I’m a little behind the times, but I just discovered the wonderous time-wasting properties of a joyful little internet application called StumbleUpon. For those of you who don’t know of this fascinating phenomenon, StumbleUpon is a social network where users recommend, rate, and share web pages. A toolbar at the top of your browser allows you to “stumble” into a random webpage, video, or photo that’s been recommended by the StumbleUpon community, and filtered by your interests (select from topics including food, music, humor, science, and more). You may then “like” or “dislike” the page, share it with the network, add it to your list of favorites, and even blog about it.  Having been founded in 2001, the appication now boasts over 8 million users and 5 billion “stumbles;” it looks like I’m not the only one with an obsession!

Already a fan of bizarre internet finds such as CuteOverload, and icanhascheezburger, StumbleUpon has opened my eyes to a whole new world of website trolling. Not only does the site allow you to discover funny, quirky, and compelling photos and videos you may have never found on your own, it also introduces you to new sites where you can spend even more time nerding around, consuming new and exciting media. In the past week, StumbleUpon has introduced me to many new sites that have become obsessions including tastespotting, a gorgeous and lipsmacking collection of recipes, OhJoy!, an exhuberant design and fashion blog, Haha.Nu, a self proclaimed “lifestyle blogzine,” and countless other personality quizzes, photobanks, lists, and videos.

But how does the site generate revenue? Apparently paid advertisements will pop up for users in about two percent of their stumbles, so the site does in fact rely on a more traditional advertising model. StumbleUpon was actually purchased by eBay for $75 million back in 2007, but then in 2009 its original founders, Garrett Camp and Geoff Smith, and several other investors bought the company back. So it seems that StumbleUpon is now an independent, investor-backed startup once again, with offices in San Francisco and New York City.

Even while I’m not sure how the site is going to generate enough revenue to stay afloat without outside investment, I’m sure glad it exists. Boredom be gone – StumbleUpon will introduce you to some of the coolest, most mind blowing randomness you’ll ever hope to encounter on the web. I’m head over heels for this site and want to shout it from the mountain tops… but most likely I’ll just be up ’til 3am diving deep into the complexities of the web,  “stumbling” to my heart’s content.

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A Little Bird Told Me that Twitter Hired a CFO

We love social media sites, but how successful would Facebook and Twitter be if we had to pay to use them? Part of the appeal of social media is that you can be as active or inactive as you want; the site is going to be free whether you spend hours a day browsing for new Twitter followers, or if you only look at your Facebook notifications once a week. However, I might be a little hesitant to update my status seventeen times a day if it cost me forty-nine cents each time. These companies know this, so they have to rely on other avenues to generate revenue.

One of the biggest difficulties facing social media sites is monitization of their services. Because forums like Faceebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon are free, revenue generation doesn’t necessarily correspond with number of users.  It’s too bad, because the number of members for these sites is vast. Facebook boasts over 400 million users, and while Twitter doesn’t release data on its membership base, it is one of the top fifty sites visited on the web, and according to Nielsen, the third most popular social media site. It seems a little unfair that these companies can’t capitalize simply based on the sheer number of users, but have to find other, more creative ways to generate revenue.

It’s actually kind of ironic that sites like Facebook and Twitter are what’s killing the traditional advertising model, yet Facebook relies on advertisers just like any other website. On the other hand, Twitter has remained ad-free. That is why I’m interested to see what happens now that the company has appointed a new CFO.

Ali Rowghani, current CFO and senior VP of strategic planning at Pixar Animation Studios, will join Twitter in March, bringing his financial expertise to the microblogging service. According to Twitter CEO Evan Williams, “Ali will be an important member of a growing team focused on creating value for our users and capturing the financial opportunities that result from it. His thoughtfulness on retaining a great culture to work and staying consistent with your principles will also be a significant contribution.”

But how will the site change with Rowghani capitalizing on these “financial opportunities?” Will he maintain the ad-free integrity of the site? Will users be able to pay to write tweets longer than 140 characters? Who knows! But paid accounts and new advertising models can’t hurt the company, which has generated over $150 million from venture capital and is valued at $1 billion, but has only generated $400,000 in revenues the third quarter of 2009. As is, the long-term financial viability of the site is not maintainable. I think tweeters everywhere hope that Rowghani can find a model that increases profitability for the site, allowing members to tweet for free, and to their heart’s content.

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National Gaga Day Inspires Over 100,000 Fans

Blasting Lady Gaga songs has become one of my guilty pleasures lately – her addictive club hits, bizarre costumes, and theatrical persona fascinate me, and I can’t look away or stop listening.

It seems like I’m not the only one gaga for Gaga: according to a Facebook event created by student Sarah Jane Elliot, January 29th 2010 has been declared “National Lady Gaga Day.” The viral event spurred 105,147 RSVP confirmed guests, 14,398 “maybe’s,” and countless tweets, including one from Gaga herself. “Thank u for creating #nationalladygagaday little monsters!” she wrote.  “I love u with all my gaga heart.”

 We love you back, Gaga! We love you so much that for a whole day we will celebrate by wearing weird outfits and hair styles, cranking up the volume on “Poker Face,” and fist pumping alone in the car.

 But National Lady Gaga day isn’t the only event of its kind.  Fan-created Facebook events paying tribute to our favorite pop culture icons have been popping up all over our news feeds recently. Back on December 10th, 2009 I took part in “Party in the USA,” an event that garnered over 89,317 attendees in celebration of the famed Miley Cyrus song. The invitation called for “children, teenagers, adults, and elderly folk alike to come together for 5 minutes to nod their head like “yeah” and move their hips like “yeah” for a five minute Party In The USA.”  My teen-culture-loving sister and fifteen year old cousin actually did rock out to Miley for those five minutes, and were promptly hushed by my uncle, who was trying to sleep in the next room. “I didn’t know the person who started the party, but when I saw it on my newsfeed, I immediately RSVPed and invited all of my friends,” my sister said of the event.  “It felt great to know that thousands of people were rocking out at the same time throughout the nation.  It was literally one huge Party in the USA, and for those few minutes, I felt connected to Miley lovers everywhere!”

Through viral events like these, Facebook remains the location for fans of all ages to literally sing their praises for their best loved pop stars and create a strong fan community.  I know that when its time for second annual Lady Gaga Day, I’ll be sporting a bow made out of human hair, carrying a teacup just for the fun of it, and unabashedly belting those profound lyrics, “Da da da do do, just dance!” And with 105,146 other fans joining me, my guilty pleasure might feel a little less guilty.

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Your Farmer List

Your Farmer List

Maintaining a web presence and maintaining a farm seem worlds apart, but blogging about your brand and milking Bessie are more similar in essence than you may think.  At least according to one of my favorite bloggers Chris Brogan, whose post this morning compared web presence maintenance to chores on a farm– your “farmer’s list,” he calls it.

I came across Brogan’s post while checking my RSS feed – one of the chores on my own “farmers list” as it were – and found it particularly relevant for several reasons.

First, having recently moved to Wyoming, I am smack dab in farm and ranch land, and Brogan’s allusion to farming definitely resonates with my new surroundings – blogging and farming aren’t so far apart in my own world anymore.

Second, I hope to start freelancing for some local businesses to implement and maintain their social media presence. As I start blogging on behalf of others, Brogan’s advice on managing your web presence couldn’t be better timed.

But although creating and maintaining a web presence for your brand may take a lot of hard work, it doesn’t have to be a chore. Growing your brand and engaging consumers requires daily upkeep on your website and social media pages, but how fun is it to hear back from your consumer? Chris Brogan gets hundreds, sometimes thousands of responses to his posts, and he replies to a majority of them. That kind of consumer interaction not only makes readers and customers feel appreciated, engaged, and inspired to return to the site, but it also feels really rewarding for the blog writer to get reader’s feedback, write a response, and thus form a bond with the reader.

So just as Farmer Bob bonds with Bessie during her daily milking, these “chores” for daily web maintenance and consumer engagement can also be fun and rewarding for everyone involved.

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