Warren Buffett is a better writer than you for one simple reason: he knows his audience and he writes directly for them. Are you doing the same?
Don't write your content for "the world," rather write it for an individual. Don't try to make yourself *sound* smart. Try to make your reader *feel* smart.
This episode covers some takeaways from Social Media Marketing World 2019 and pulls from a great presentation given by Ann Handley, the author of Everybody Writes.
Full Episode Transcript
Last week, I attended Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. Throughout some upcoming episodes, I’ll be sharing a few takeaways from the massive conference, which played host to around 5000 social media and marketing professionals!
But today I want to talk about a presentation I saw by Ann Handley, the author of Everybody Writes.
While her session was called “How to write an email newsletter that people clear their schedules to read,” it could have just as easily been called — it’s time to focus less on the news of newsletter, and more on the letter.
I’m a huge email junky — along with writing email newsletters for my own business and my clients, I also read a lot of emails from brands, journalists, politicians and the like. And I mean a lot. In fact, email has become my primary method for keeping up with the news. I get daily or weekly emails from a ton of journalists and organizations, and let me tell you: there’s a huge difference between an email that was written for me, and one that was written for the world.
And that brings us to our title: Why Warren Buffett is a better writer than you. Warren Buffett is arguably the smartest person alive in his field. He could probably sit down and write his annual report ensuring that you couldn’t understand a word of it. He could use big words, tech jargon and language intended to make him sound smart, rather than to make you become smarter. But he understands that he doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone (at least not in his writing!). He uses his annual letter to convey a message and he wants to ensure that message is accessible to all. To do that, he has a trick. And it’s such a simple trick, you won’t believe it.
Rather than writing his annual letter to his stockholders, en masse, he writes it to his two sisters, Doris and Bertie. Now I’m sure that Doris and Bertie are very smart women. But they aren’t as smart at investing as Warren Buffett — no one is! When I say he writes it to them, I mean literally. He starts his letter “Dear Doris and Bertie.” He removes the line before sending it along, but the DNA of the letter is personal and real. He doesn’t want his sisters to feel dumb — he wants them to feel smart! And he writes accordingly.
Ann Handley talked about this concept at length during her session at social media marketing world and it really resonated with me — because it’s something I’ve recommend to my clients for years.
Along with working with nonprofits and business professionals (as well as solopreneurs, bands, artists, authors and all kids of other brands!) I do a lot of work with candidates and elected politicians. I was doing an audit and a training for a caucus a while back and I realized that a majority of the members of the caucus were regularly tweeting our press releases. No one on Twitter wants to read a press release. NOT EVEN THE PRESS!
I told them that before they sent any further communications, whether it be via Twitter, Facebook, email, anything… they should picture an actual constituent reading their content. Do you think that sweet grandpa you met last month while knocking doors is going to appreciate your press release? He isn’t! Take the message of the release and make it digestable to him. Is he going to know the terminology of laws and budgets and legalese? Maybe. But probably not! So write it for him. The goal is not to make yourself sound smart — the goal is to make your reader feel smart.
I tell all my clients to picture an actual customer before sending a post. I even had someone tell me they loved the idea so much, they wrote a customer’s name down on a post-it note and stuck it to their computer. This way, anytime they write anything, they force themselves to think of this specific person.
Warren Buffett is a better writer than you because he knows his audience — it’s his sisters. Become a better writer simply by focusing on an individual, rather than the world. Because even if your tweet or Facebook post goes viral, or your email gets forwarded on by Oprah and millions of people see it, it’s still being consumed by single individuals, one at a time.
Don’t think of your content as a megaphone, blasting everyone in the area with your knowledge, wisdom and wit. Rather think of it as a telephone, creating a connection between two people. Your writing will be better for it. And your audience will walk away with a much better understanding of your message. And isn’t that kinda the whole point?
Wisconsinites went to the polls on Tuesday In droves. The final results of the election though do not fully reflect the will of the people.
There were five statewide races: Governor (with Lt. Gov on the same ticket), US Senator, Attorney General, Treasurer and Secretary of State. Democrats won all five races. This is the first time that’s happened since 1982.
Dems had unmistakable victories at the statewide level. As you look down the ballot though, the results tell a very different story.
Wisconsin has eight Congressional seats all of which were up for election on Tuesday. Going into Election Day, Democrats controlled three of them and Republicans the remaining five. No seat flipped.
All told, Wisconsin Democratic Congressional candidates received 1,350,960 votes.
Wisconsin Republican Congressional Candidates received 1,171,456 votes.
[These numbers have been updated since original posting, as additional totals have been tallied and reported. See most up-to-date vote breakdown here.]
And yet, as mentioned, Dems got three out of eight seats.
That’s right, Dems got 53.5% of the vote, yet took only 37.5% of the seats.
When we look at the State Assembly, which had every seat up for grabs this past Tuesday, that disparity becomes even more glaring.
While final numbers are still not fully available for all races, Democratic Assembly candidates appear poised to take right around 1.3 million votes to Republican Assembly candidates 1.1 million votes.
And yet Democrats walked away with only 36 seats, while Republicans took a staggering 63!
That means that Democrats won 54% of the vote and yet took only 36% of the seats.
A Flimsy Response to a Gerrymandered Map
Republican Speaker Robin Vos’s response to the imbalance of the map: “I do not like the fact that Madison and Milwaukee chose Gov. Evers and they’re the reason that he won. But in the process that we have, Madison and Milwaukee get the chance to vote. I don’t like the outcome all the time, but they have a fair chance.”
Speaker Vos is essentially arguing that Wisconsin should not have a popular vote (or popular representation), but rather that we need our very own electoral college to protect Wisconsin from its two largest cities.
But of course how a city votes is irrelevant (or should be!). It should be how the people vote. And his explanation doesn’t even come close to explaining the clear disparities at play. Of course Madison and Milwaukee have a large role in deciding our state’s leadership. The combined population of their two metro areas makes up over a third of the state’s population. That’s simply how representative democracy works. Or how it’s supposed to anyway.
Wisconsin went to the polls on Tuesday and now we find ourselves with a split government. But that’s not because of how the people voted, it’s because of how the maps were drawn.
Remember that the next time our minority-elected legislative government aims to make sweeping changes to our state — changes like curbing the authority of our newly-elected Governor, because a powerful Executive was good for Vos and Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald when that Executive was a Republican, but is a threat to their minority-rule now that he’s a Democrat.
Republicans couldn’t draw the statewide map to their benefit and every statewide race went to a Democrat. Despite winning sizable majorities in the popular vote for both Congress and the State Assembly, Democrats continue to find themselves in the minority of both bodies (for Congress, this only relates to the Wisconsin caucus, not the national map).
Partisan gerrymandering is undemocratic. Tuesday’s results show clear as day just how undemocratic.
Work in politics? Want to?
Learn more about how I work with candidates, elected officials and political organizations today.
If you work with people, you should have a photo/media library. Period.
Taking pictures of your customers/fans/community will help you tell your story in real time. It will also help ensure you have great content to use for years to come.
There’s no shortage of stock photography on the internet, but none of it has your team members in it, or your customers wearing/using/engaging with your products, or events taking place in neighborhoods where you live.
You don’t need to be an amazing photographer to build a photo library, you just need to pull out your smartphone and start taking pictures. If you have multiple team members, you should all take photos regularly to ensure as many different shots as possible of any given event, sale, party, etc.
But that’s where things gets complicated. If several members of your team are taking photos, then those photos are spread out across several different phones and devices.
There are many services out there that aim to solve this problem. Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Photos… all of them can do it. But they are all clunky and slow, and therefore unlikely to be used regularly and reliably. And if you aren’t sharing all your photos, the system isn’t working.
Here’s the good news: If every member of your team uses at least one Apple product, Shared iCloud Drives are the simplest solution you can imagine to solve this annoying problem.
Adding photos to a Shared Drive takes three clicks of the screen. Literally. And then everyone with access will have all shared photos and videos right on their phones and other Apple devices.
To add a photo(s)/video(s) to a Shared Drive, simply open up the media on your phone you want to share.
Then click in the share box in the bottom left of the screen.
At this point you can email or text the photo, or you can share it to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. But don’t do any of that. Select the rainbow icon labeled iCloud Photo Sharing.
The name of my Shared Album is Reverbal Communications. Click next to Shared Album and you can add your media to any existing Shared Drive you're a part of, or you can create a new one.
Optionally: you can add text or message to accompany your photo. I highly recommend you do this, both for your own sake, and for the sake of your team members. Say where you were, what you were doing, who is in the photo(s)/video(s) and any other information your team should know.
You can add a message or a note for an individual piece of media, or a group of pictures/videos. Whatever you choose to share will be commented on individually or as a unit.
Then just hit post and everyone in the Shared Drive will get a notification that there is new media in the Shared Drive.
When you open up the Shared Drive, you can toggle between Photos and People.
To invite new people to the Drive, go to People and then click “Invite People.”
They can only accept your invitation if they have an iCloud enabled device (a Mac computer, phone or tablet). You can invite them through their email or phone number, so long as that contact info is associated with an iCloud account.
Shared Drives are a great tool for placing all media at the fingertips of everyone on your team. You can have as many as you want too, so maybe have one accessible to interns or revolving staffers, and another for senior staffers/stakeholders. Or you have different Shared Drives for different parts of your team. Whatever works for you and your organization.
Have questions? Hit me up. I’m here to help you and you team get started building your Digital Media Library.
Check out some other iPhone tips and tricks.
Have any favorite secret iOS tips, tricks, tools or hacks that you love? Share them in the comments!
If you have tuned out this news completely for Memorial Day weekend, congratulations!
If not, the biggest story in your varied timelines is probably about how the US is systematically removing children from their parents, many of whom came here seeking asylum (and all of whom came seeking a better life).
The parents are being given no information as to where their children are being taken or when — if ever — they will get to see them again. To make matters worse, we are now learning that the US has lost children (thousands of them 😞😱😡) that are supposed to be in the system, and that many of these children are getting sold to human traffickers.
This morning, Ivanka Trump tweeted a picture. The caption: “My ❤️! #SundayMorning”
While ordinarily, a picture like this would have gotten the Likes and the RTs rolling in, it could not have been more tone deaf to the world around it.
Ivanka is not just President Trump’s daughter, she is also a senior member of his administration.
A tweet does not live in a vacuum. A digital intern would have looked at this tweet and recommended to Ivanka she not post it, when the story of the weekend is lost children.
But post it she did. And so the Quote Tweets rolled in:
As a general rule, pictures and videos of babies and puppies can be engagement gold. But while good content is important, it can't work without an awareness of context.
In other words: you can ignore the people; but rest assured, they are not going to ignore you.
It’s always best practice to read through an article before sharing it via social media.
Sometimes a headline tells you most of what you need to know, and it’s okay to only skim the article, without reading every word. For example, if your local paper reports that a new baby panda was born at your zoo, you can pretty well trust you got the gist of the takeaway before even clicking on the link. It’s still a good idea to read through it, of course, just to be sure there are no critical takeaways/surprising angles towards the bottom of the page. But you are probably safe making assumptions about what you’ll find in the article.
While reading through articles before you share them with your networks them is important, if the article in question is about you, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!
Yesterday, the Salt Lake Tribute named Senator Orrin Hatch “Utahn of the Year.” (Yep, apparently someone from Utah is a Utahn — good to know!)
On its face, this is a pretty big honor. A significant paper from the state’s capital city named Hatch their person of the year. I can see why he would be excited to get that out far and wide to his networks.
Unfortunately for him, the article didn’t exactly line up with the headline.
The very first line of the article should have been a clue to even the most casual of readers: “These things are often misunderstood.”
It then lays out what he has done to deserve such a title.
• Hatch’s part in the dramatic dismantling of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
• His role as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in passing a major overhaul of the nation’s tax code.
• His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.
While the first two bullet points were clearly intended to be direct hits against Hatch, it is possible that he could wear both criticisms as points of pride. If he thinks it’s good to scale back national monuments and to raise working people’s taxes so that massive corporations can get a tax break, then he might have read the opening lines and been proud of his accomplishments.
But of course the opening line of the article made clear that the Salt Lake Tribune editorial staff is far from impressed with their senior senator.
And even if the intention of the first two bullet points confused him, that last one was pretty damn clear: “His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.”
The article goes on to call him a liar who has long overstayed his welcome in Utah. It also says that if he doesn’t retire now, the voters should toss him from office in 2018.
I read the article yesterday and thought — "Damn! This is brutal."
But of course that’s not the story here. The story here is that while I read the article and found it brutal, Senator Hatch (and/or one of his aides) saw the article as well, but never read past the title before proudly shared the scathing op-ed with his Twitter network this morning.
Oof. Oof. Oof.
Let this be a lesson to you. Read the article you are sharing. ESPECIALLY if you are the subject.
P.S. Do you know what the ratio is (in the context of Twitter)? It’s when you get waaay more responses to a tweet than likes or retweets. It’s typically a sign that people disagree with your message pretty vehemently, as supporters typically like or retweet, and comments tend to be criticisms of the message. Someone might say: dang, look at that ratio! So notice Hatch’s tweet has a 10:1 ratio.
“Dang, look at that ratio!”
On Friday night, I went to see a Grammy winning bluegrass legend wow his crowd with songs spanning his 40+ year career.
Because I’m both a bluegrass nerd and a social media nerd, I streamed one of his songs via Facebook Live.
It was late on a weekend night and it didn’t get a lot of views in real time. But over the next 36 hours or so, it was watched a few dozen times. (And now I can go back and rewatch the band anytime I want on my personal Facebook page!) But truth be told, by Sunday night, I wasn’t thinking about the video anymore than I was about the drive to and from the show.
But then Monday morning, something interesting happened — my video was “liked” by the bluegrass legend it featured.
Now let’s be clear: I don’t think that this artist liked the post himself (although he might have). More likely it was a member of his marketing or management team.
But the notification that he had liked my video popped up, and I have to be honest — I got excited. Like, more excited than I probably should have.
I work in social media for a living. I know how this works. I know he probably has some marketing agency liking positive mentions of him online. But you know what: it still got its intended effect out of me!
Having him like my video felt like getting a high five or a quick hello from a bluegrass legend.
Does that handshake mean that we are suddenly best friends? Of course not.
Does it mean I can suddenly shred on the mandolin like he can? I wish!
Am I still excited enough that I immediately want to tell all my friends about it? Yup.
Liking that post cost him literally nothing (save for whatever he’s paying his agency to manage his social media—but that’s a story for another post). Yet it added to my excitement about the show.
Social media serves many roles, not least of which is customer service and community relations.
Think about yourself as a movie star. When you walk down the street, people recognize you. You can't stop and have lunch with every fan. You can’t even stop and take a picture with them all or you’d never get anywhere. But you can nod and smile to everyone who waves at you.
That’s what a "like" or a "favorite" is on social media — it’s a head nod from a celebrity. It doesn’t suddenly make you best friends or ensure that they will buy your product/go see your next movie/buy your upcoming album. But it shows the fans that you are real, and that you respect them as people, not just as consumers. And it only takes as much time to create that connection as you need to give a single click of your mouse or tap on your phone.
If you see a celebrity on the street, and you wave at them, you are going to tell your friends one of two stories:
“Oh my goodness, I just say this famous person on State Street. It was so cool!”
*** OR ***
“I just saw this famous person on State Street. He was kind of a jerk.”
You’re the celebrity. Which would you prefer?
We live in strange times. One person with a little ingenuity and a Twitter account or a YouTube channel can have greater reach than their local paper, and greater influence than even some in the national media.
But for most of us, we log-on to social media to connect with our friends and family, to see what’s happening in the world and to share our opinions. We aren’t trying to build massive audiences—we just want to learn, to socialize and to share our opinions on the story of the day.
And so often today, that story is about politics.
We live in a social media age: never before have American politics moved so fast or felt so destructive. It feels like we are in an endless state of breaking news; CNN’s chyron writers can hardly keep up with the stories as they come rolling in.
So let’s say you want to go online and get involved in the conversation, but you aren’t sure where to start. Then these ten tips might be for you. This list could apply to professional politicos and full-time activists, but I didn’t write it for them. Rather it’s intended for people with jobs, families, social lives and a million other things going on, but who still have a passion to change their community, if not the world.
Tip 1 — If it didn’t happen on social media, it didn’t happen.
This is the first rule of any campaign I’ve ever worked on, and it needn't be limited to traditional political campaigns. If you go to an event, no matter how well attended, consider all of those who didn’t attend. Some didn’t know about it, some couldn’t get off work, some live in other places. Talking about the events and meetings you attend both bring in new audiences in real time, and give more people a reason to attend such events in the future.
Share your story via the social media platforms of your choice throughout the event. Quote speakers, share videos of exciting moments, talk about why you are there, what you are learning and how great a time you are having.
Or else, it never really happened 😉
Tip 2 — Your story is your best asset
All the facts and statistics in the world can’t compete with a personal story from someone in your community. Hearing that 23 million people will lose healthcare is powerful; hearing that YOU or YOUR BROTHER won’t be able to keep their healthcare, far more so.
Your story doesn’t have to be tragic to be powerful. What got you active in the movement? Why do you care? What are the moments that shaped you? They are all part of your story.
You don’t have to reveal your deepest, darkest secrets to put a personal spin on the story of the day.
Tip 3 — Online organizing starts offline
You will not sign up for a Twitter account today, and amass 100k followers over the next few weeks (if you do, contact me and let’s tell that story!). But connect with the people you already know in real life and let them know how to find you online. This can be at events and meetings, in your email signature, within Facebook Groups in which you are active, etc.
The people who already know (and love) you will be much more receptive to your message than a group of strangers. And if your goal is to make a difference, it helps to have a receptive audience.
Tip 4 — Support each other
If you see someone getting attacked for speaking out, it’s okay to step up for them, just like you would in real life.
If you aren’t comfortable getting involved publicly in an online debate (some can’t because of their jobs, others just aren’t comfortable with it), consider dropping a private note to the person under siege. Let them know you appreciate that they are fighting the good fight.
If we cede the conversation to the bullies, we lose. We can’t all be outspoken activists, but we must support each other so that those who are in a position to engage won’t get shut down and pushed out of the conversation altogether.
Tip 5 — Use Twitter lists as a listening tool
I know a lot of people who don’t like Twitter because they find it too confusing. And I get that. At first glance, Twitter is chaos. But Twitter lists help bring order to the chaos.
Utilizing them is free and easy, and you don’t even have to build your own — you can subscribe to someone else’s.
Lists can be public or private:
Build lists of journalists, people who inspire you, friends, colleagues, etc.. And then get a free account with HootSuite or Tweetdeck and easily monitor them, on a timeframe that works for you.
Lists only show content shared by those in your list. So if it’s a list of journalists, whenever you login, you can see all of their tweets in a manageable stream, and nothing else. Literally: order out of the chaos.
This will help you stay informed and connected to many different groups of people in a way that won’t feel overwhelming.
Tip 6 — The Power of Facebook Events
Activists are, first and foremost, organizers. Sometimes, their goal is to use the internet as a tool to bring people together in real life. If that’s your goal, optimize your efforts.
Facebook events are extremely powerful, but ONLY if used correctly. Don’t build a Facebook Event two days before an event. At that point, you have missed your window. If you can’t build it at least 4-6 weeks prior, you are not really taking advantage of this awesome tool. (Bear in mind, this is NOT applicable for birthday parties, community concerts, etc., where you can pretty much do whatever you want. This is for public events that you want to promote to a public audience.)
Once your Event is built, invite people you think will want to attend and share it with your networks. Post about it on your wall, email it to your friends, tell people about it in real life and let them know they should join.
Once you have a group of people who have said they are “interested” or “going” to your event, now it’s time to engage them.
Every time you post an update in the event, everyone “interested” or “going” will get a notification. So it’s important not to annoy them (they can remove themselves from the event outright or simply from receiving notifications). My recommendation: post about once a week until the final two weeks prior to the actual event. Then ramp up as you get closer. But just about EVERY notification should not solicit, but rather excite.
Buy your ticket today — solicitation
This elected official will be at the event — EXCITING
Did you mark your calendars yet for the big day? — solicitation
We’re going to have cake from this awesome local bakery — EXCITING
Don’t ask people to buy a ticket. Get them to ask you how they can buy a ticket!
Tip 7 — The Power of Facebook Groups
Facebook sees Groups as a big part of their future and is investing heavily in them. Take advantage of this powerful online tool.
Find groups of likeminded people and join them (you can explore Facebook’s countless Groups at Facebook.com/Groups). If you can’t find a group of like-minded people, start your own!
The biggest strength of a Facebook Group is the same as the biggest strength of a Facebook Event: the notification!
Every time someone in the Group posts, members get a notification.
It’s a far better tool for talking to like-minded people than posting to your timeline and hoping it will get seen by the right people.
Groups can be public, closed or private:
Tip 8 — The Power of Facebook live
When it comes to Facebook reach and engagement, text is good. Pictures are better. Video is better still. And Facebook Live trumps them all.
When you use Facebook Live, whatever your phone’s camera (or now your webcam!) is seeing is broadcasted over your timeline in real time. It’s a great way to share your events with a larger audience, to tell your story, to excite people about your events (you can go Live directly into a Facebook Event or Group) and so much more! If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. It’s a fun tool and will all but guarantee increased reach and engagement over your current content.
Tip 9 — Know your tools
If you are going to be spending time online, don’t spend that time spinning your gears. You need to understand the platforms you are using to ensure you are getting the most out of them.
Knowing your tools includes important things like how to tag people on different platforms, how to schedule content, why people put a period (.) before a tag (@) on Twitter, as well as understanding the free analytics tools you have access to and so much more.
Follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook for lots of awesome tips. Read through my blog for plenty of helpful explainers. Book one of my social media training classes for you and/or your cohort. Or simply head to Google whenever you are confused and read a blog post or watch a video explaining how or why something works. If you are asking the question, someone has probably answered it online. So stop spinning your wheels and start reading/watching/digging in.
Tip 10 — Engage, educate, inspire
There are so many good people online, but sometimes the trolls and the bots are louder and more persistent. It’s our responsibility to come together and ensure that we don’t cede these valuable online spaces to the worst amongst us. Social media can be an amazing tool or a toxic wasteland. Let’s ensure the good are heard, engaged with and supported, and let’s not waste our time fighting with those who want nothing more than to draw blood. They aren’t worth the effort.
You can make a difference in your community by setting an example, by educating your networks and by digging in rather than checking out.
The internet isn’t the solution for all of life’s problems. But it is a great tool for organizing, learning and connecting. Know your tools, build your community, share your story online and work towards creating the world you know is possible.
These are my ten tips. But this list is far from exhaustive. What would you add?
When you sit down to write a social media post, it’s easy to think about promoting your amazing, important and worthwhile message to the world — to make pronouncements that will change your audience’s behavior and blow their minds. Whether you are selling a product, promoting an event or even just sharing an interesting article you came across, you know the value you are adding to your community, and you want your audience to recognize it as well.
It doesn’t matter what the content is, every one of your social media posts will be consumed by (numerous) INDIVIDUAL people, reading it on their INDIVIDUAL screens, as they go about their INDIVIDUAL lives. So ensure that you are writing for each of them as an individual, not some amorphous crowd of people. It’s easy to forget this because your content, once published, will be seen by tens, hundreds or even thousands of people. Rather than thinking about how many people will consume your content, think about how they will consume it—alone. Think of it this way: you aren’t playing in a packed arena, you are providing a private living room concert; adjust accordingly.
Here’s a simple trick for ensuring that your content rings true to each individual member of your community: when you sit down to create it, picture an actual person with whom you want to connect and draft as if you are speaking directly to that particular person. Think about a costumer, a donor, a constituent or a fan… pick one person and write your post directly to them.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself before hitting publish:
It’s easy to think about a social media post as a megaphone, announcing your latest content to the world. But really, it’s more like a telephone, creating a connection between you and an individual. Treat your content accordingly and get ready for higher engagement rates and better reach on future posts.
And if you are wondering, I wanted to let you know, I wrote this post especially for YOU!
On Friday, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States before a crowd of about a quarter of a million people gathered on the National Mall.
The following day, half a million people took to the street's in our nation's capital for the #WomensMarch in order to "stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country."
Along with the central march in Washington, DC, there were another 2.5 million people participating in 600 sister marches world wide.
The largest marches were in Los Angeles (750k), Washington, DC (500k), New York (400k) and Chicago (250k). It is not surprising the biggest crowds were in the three most populous cities and our nation's capital.
The top ten largest marches* were:
Los Angeles, CA: 750,000
Washington, DC: 500,000
New York, NY: 400,000
Boston, MA: 100,000
Chicago, IL: 250,000
Denver, CO: 100,000
Madison, WI: 100,000
Portland, OR: 100,000
Seattle, WA: 100,000
St. Paul, MN: 90,000
BUT, when we look at the size of the march compared to the city population, rather than the raw numbers by city, things get interesting.
Washington, DC comes out on top, with number of participants equivalent to 75% of their population. [Before we move forward, let's break that down: Washington, DC has a population of 659,000 people. They had 500,000 marchers. So the percentage of marchers, as compared to the city's population, was 500,000/659,000 = 75.87%.] But many people traveled from all over the country to participate in the central march.
Second to DC, the clear winner of marchers by city population was Madison, WI with over 40% turnout!!!
When rearranged for turnout ratio, the top marching cities are now as follows:
Washington, DC: 75.87%
Madison, WI: 41.15%
St. Paul, MN: 30.51%
Los Angeles, CA: 19.23%
Portland, OR: 16.42%
Boston, MA: 15.5%
Denver, CO: 15.38%
Seattle, WA: 15.34%
Chicago, IL: 9.26%
New York, NY: 4.76%
Great work Madison, Wisconsin. Way to represent your values.
Check out some of the great social content from the day at #WomensMarchMadison.
*March sizes sourced from The Hill.
Population size is based on city limits and sourced from the Google Knowledge Graph.
This awesome infographic was created by iCandy-Graphics and Web Design. Follow them on Twitter @iCandyGraphics1.
Yesterday, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted this:
The backlash was quick and it was fierce. A particularly good response (one of thousands) came from Jon Favreau, who used to work for President Obama.
And on the other end of the spectrum, here’s one from @darth:
It’s worth noting that as offensive as Trump Jr.’s tweet was, it wasn’t even an original idea.
When Ben Carson was running for president, he often used a similar analogy to justify his opposition to accepting Syrian refugees, except he substituted Skittles with rabid dogs.
Mike Huckabee, during his run for president, used peanuts. Others have replaced Skittles with M&Ms or grapes.
Former Congressman Joe Walsh—who you might remember as the guy who threatened President Obama in the aftermath of this summer’s shooting in Dallas—was offended by the tweet, but only because he didn’t get an h/t.
Suffice to say, it’s not a new argument.
Now imagine you are Skittles (the brand), and suddenly—inexplicably—you find yourself trending on social media. What’s your response?
Really think about what you would do. A massive, household name is being equated with poison and refugees and xenophobia. Do you attempt to “capitalize” on the situation, ensuring the world that every Skittle in the bowl is good and poison-free? Do you try to be funny, serious, irreverent, angry… On a situation like this one, you could ask a hundred branding experts, and they would all probably have a different idea.
And yet, Skittles managed a perfect response. Here it is in its entirety:
Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel like it’s an appropriate analogy. We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing.
In 30 words, they clarified that they are offended by the comparison, that they don’t agree with it, and that they would now be shutting the hell up.
In fact, despite the fact that they are a brand with a vibrant social media presence, their Facebook and Twitter accounts have gone completely radio-silent since this controversy erupted yesterday.
Here is the lesson for brands: don’t see every mention of your brand as an opportunity to raise sales or increase market share. You can’t capitalize on tragedy; trying typically raises your profile in ways you don’t want and associates you with a story which you probably don’t want to be a part of.
It’s so easy to see how this could have gone wrong for Skittles. Instead, they came out the heroes in the story. Or, at the very least, not one of the villains.
The bowl of Skittles in the picture that Trump Jr. tweeted was used without attribution. And much richer than that: the photographer was once a refugee himself!
Want to read more great responses to this awful tweet. Here are 21 you are sure to appreciate. Did you see any others in the Twitterverse that aren’t on this list? Tweet them at us or share them in the comments.
Last week, I had the good fortune to attend the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Needless to say, it was quite the experience. I saw and learned A LOT.
While the DNC is all about politics, and quite a bit about policy, I want to reflect on what I learned regarding process. Here are a few key takeaways—in no particular order–that I took away from my time at the DNC.
If you have any questions about anything else from the week, ask them in the comments or on Twitter—I’ll be happy to answer them.
Who's Telling The Story?
I watched the RNC on television, I had a front row seat for the DNC (well, not exactly front row, but you know what I mean). From where I sat, the RNC was a full-on sh*t show compared to the DNC.
Now to be fair, the DNC had its fair share of controversies.
But none of the DNC chaos ever made it on to stage. You could see the protestors in the audience and you could hear them chanting (and occasionally booing), but as far as the regularly scheduled program: it was a well-oiled machine.
And yet, I saw countless stories talking about how much better an event the RNC was, when compared to the DNC.
At first glance, I couldn’t understand it. Had the press been watching a different set of conventions that me?
The answer: they were watching the same events, but they were experiencing them much differently.
Unless you watched the conventions yourself, what you know about them is most likely based on how the press chose to report them. The press experience at the RNC was FAR superior to the press experience at the DNC. I know this from reading numerous reports as well as several conversations with reporters. The RNC understood the importance of pampering the press -- the DNC seemed to approach them as an oversight. The reporting conveyed those differing opinions.
The Takeaway: If you don’t treat the press well, the story of the day will not be good.
Don’t Needlessly Extend Your Controversy
Debbie Wasserman Schultz was the chairperson of the DNC. The day before the gavel was set to bring the convention to order, Wikileaks released numerous emails, purportedly hacked from the party's servers by Russia, showing that one particular conspiracy theory—that the party had been tipping the scales in favor of Clinton over Sanders throughout the primaries—had in fact not be speculative, but real.
DWS was party chairwomen, and as such, much of the blame and the vitriol fell on her. The host of the week was suddenly person non grata within the party. So what did she do? She flailed.
Anyone paying attention knew that she should not take the stage at the convention, and that was the ultimate outcome. But by my count, it took four pivots (FOUR!) in about 24 hours to get her there.
First she said she would gavel the convention in and out, but not speak. Then, she was going to gavel in and out, speak briefly, and then resign immediately following the convention. Then she was set to speak, but not gavel. And ultimately, she did none of the above.
Which was what obviously had to happen. And yet she allowed the hours immediately preceding the convention to be all about her, the controversy, and the process.
Key Takeaway: Damage control is sometimes necessary, but don’t publicly air your thoughts throughout the process.
Don’t Pivot to Your Weakness
Congressman Ron Kind came and spoke to the Wisconsin delegation over breakfast one morning. He was immediately met with protestors, challenging his stance on the TPP (as guaranteed, this point is NOT about policy!). He diffused the protestors by essentially appealing to their Midwestern niceness. He asked them to be respectful, and offered to speak with them in the hallway following his remarks. A New York or Florida delegation might have eaten him alive simply for offering to speak about something like this offline, but these were Wisconsinites. They acquiesced.
Then a few minutes into his speech: he brought up trade (the TPP is a trade agreement). The protestors were willing to sit by while he spoke about party unity and how hot Philadelphia was or whatever, but he pretty much threw their silence back in the face. And they were having none of it.
The protests began again, with fresh blood.
Key Takeaway: Don’t bring up a controversy, unless you are prepared to talk about it.
It Just Takes One Or Two
If you followed coverage of the DNC at all, you probably saw the Wisconsin delegate who taped her mouth shut, declaring herself “silenced.” If 99 people are happy (not that this was the case here at all, but still), the press will seek out the one who is not.
The Kind breakfast (discussed above) got a lot of Wisconsin press, and it was not because of his remarks, but because of the protests that erupted during it.
There were close to 200 people in the room when Kind spoke. There were MAYBE five vocal protestors. But those five people owned the story.
Key Takeaway: Anyone can own a news cycle, if they are organized and ready to become the story.
Is There A Such Thing As Bad Press?
We won’t really know the answer to this question until November, but if anyone understands how to own a news cycle, it’s clearly Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, day three of the convention, Trump went on TV and literally invited Russia (the purported hackers of the DNC who started the DWS controversy) to try and find Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing e-mails. He promised that the press would appreciate it.
He was openly colluding with a foreign government, and literally asking them to help sway a presidential election. To say that this was unprecedented would be an understatement.
The controversy swelled and it quickly became the story of the day.
Granted the story was negative for Trump, with even the conservative press mostly saying it was an insane thing for him to have said.
Yet on a day when the country should have been talking about President Bill Clinton’s remarks from the night before, and the speeches coming later that evening from President Obama, Vice President Biden and Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine, all anyone could talk about was Trump.
Key Takeaway: The American people love controversy and drama and Trump is the master of both.
Emotion Trumps Articulation
There have been so many stories written about Kazir Khan, the father of the Gold Star soldier who asked Trump if he had even read the constitution, that I feel weird wading into the territory. But I’ll continue limiting myself to the non-political and non-policy angle of the story.
Kazir speaks English as a second language. He purportedly had no speech on the teleprompter, he simply got up there and spoke. And yet his speech was arguably the most talked about of the entire convention.
Compare his speech those of Senators Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, FLOTUS, VPOTUS, two POTUS, HRC herself and so many others. Khan is far from the wordsmith of any of the aforementioned, yet everyone listening to his speech felt his words in a way that is rare, and frankly special.
Key takeaway: Preparation is good, soaring rhetoric is great, but both pale in comparison to truly believing in your story.
It’s Good To Have Friends
The location of the convention was far outside of town, surrounded only by other stadiums (Philadelphia has football/baseball/basketball venues all in one MASSIVE parking lot), with no hotels nearby.
There were several ways to get to and from the convention everyday, but one of the easiest: Uber.
If you wanted a car to take you as close as possible to the event, you couldn’t take a Lyft or even a standard cab. You had to take an Uber.
Uber and Philadelphia have a complicated relationship, as do many cities with this disruptive technology. And yet a cab could not get you nearly as close to the DNC as an Uber.
David Plouffe, a former campaign manager for Barack Obama, is currently a full-time strategic advisor for the company. Do I know that Plouffe’s role at Uber directly helped create this relationship? No. But does it seem like they are interconnected.
Key takeaway: It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know
Other’s Weakness + Your Strength = Power
While there were MANY powerful moments at the DNC, there was one in particular that really stayed with me.
Throughout the week, they showed these clips of Trump saying terrible things, billed as “Trump In His Own Words.”
One such clip showed Trump mocking a disabled reporter. They then showed him saying disparaging things about the reporter and others with disability. Then they showed the clip again.
As soon as the clip ended, a voice came over the loudspeaker, sounding not all that different than the one Trump had just been openly mocking. Anastasia Somoza was on stage, sitting in her wheelchair and speaking passionately about her relationship with HRC.
They hadn’t just gone out and found a young woman with disabilities to follow Trump's disgusting moment from the campaign trail, Anastasia has had a relationship with Hillary for many years. She told stories of hearing from Hillary numerous times over the years when she was in darker moments in her life. They showed pictures of the two together dating back to Anastasia as a young girl.
Anastasia was articulate, passionate and proud of her relationship with Hillary. It was a touching moment at the convention.
But it wasn't her speech that stood out per se (at least not for me). Rather it was the juxtaposition of Trump’s mocking with Anastasia’s grace.
Key takeaway: Don’t just highlight your adversary’s weaknesses. Highlight your own strengths in comparison.
So, those are just a few of my non-political, non-policy takeaways from the DNC. I also saw lots of great speeches, had tons of celebrity sightings, drafted a tweet that made it on to the jumbo-tron and so much more. But these were some thoughts I wanted to share with you.
As I said, ask any questions in the comments or via Twitter and I’ll be happy to answer them. Thanks for reading.
People often ask me why I love Twitter as much as I do (in case you are wondering, I love it. A LOT). I have so many reasons, but at this moment, I just want to share one.
There was just a coup in Turkey. That is a pretty big deal, to say the least. I have been scrolling through reports via Twitter for a good 35 minutes reading up on the latest developments. At the time of this writing, there isn’t much known, but there is SOME known.
Out of curiosity, I headed over to my Facebook feed, just to see how relevant this massive international story was for my friends and family. I had to scroll through 41 posts to find anything mentioning the word Turkey. Forty-one.
While Twitter might not have had all the facts, Facebook didn’t seem to even know that something was happening.
While Facebook’s algorithm helps ensure that you see things that you are most likely to be interested in, it’s also slow and can be clunky as hell.
Many people get their news exclusively from Facebook. A Pew Research study earlier this year found that 62% of people get their news from social media, with the vast majority relying on Facebook.
Almost an hour after a coup broke out in a very complicated part of the world, those checking the “news” via Facebook know nothing about the story.
At some point, Facebook’s algorithm will catch up with the events and people will have more info about Erdogan and Ankara and the PKK then they know what to do with. But by that time, the coup will probably be over.
Twitter is reporting in real time while Facebook is working hard to try and figure out which stories might matter.
I use both platforms on a constant basis and can’t imagine losing either. But when people ask me why I love Twitter, days like this are just one of a million reasons.
Recently, I spoke at Social Media Breakfast about Using Social Media to Build a Movement (Even Without a “Real” Budget or Staff).
We covered many topics and concepts, but the one that seemed to garner the most buzz was the concept of the Digital Guide.
So let’s break it down.
What is a Digital Guide - An Overview
A Digital Guide should offer everything that you supporters (more on defining your supporters below) need to help you tell your story. They are typically created for a particular event or campaign.
Let’s say your company (“Sneakz”) makes and sells tennis shoes. You are having a grand opening for a new location. You want buzz online. Your official social channels are of course going to be posting about the event in advance and, once it starts, promoting how great it is going. But official accounts ≠ buzz, no matter how often you post or how great your content is. Buzz is what happens when many parties all come together to post about something.
What Goes Into a Digital Guide
First of all, you need to give the details of the event. Who, What, When, Where, Why.
Is there an RSVP link or a place to buy tickets? Do people need to reserve their new Sneakz in advance or can they just show up and buy them? If there is pertinent information, share it.
Give the reader the context to understand the event from 30,000 feet. The story of the day isn’t that you are opening a new store -- it’s that you are growing! Or that you are entering a new market. Or that people are so excited about your company, one store just wasn’t enough to contain your product.
The better your supporters understand how you see this day, the easier it will be for them to help tell the story you want to be told.
Share who your partners are, what time it starts, the address of the new store. If it’s something people should know, put it in the guide.
But Who Are My Partners?
The company that makes your laces by hand. The mall into which you’ll be moving. The online store selling some exclusive design of your Sneakz.
Who are the companies/organizations/brands, etc., without which you couldn’t thrive? Those are your partners.
Where Are You Online?
If you want people to write about you online, make sure they know how they can find you. Share your handles and relevant social media platforms. If you are working with a younger audience, you probably don’t have to explain how to use your tags (@s). If you are releasing a new line of orthopedic shoes and are hoping to target baby boomers, you might need to offer some instructional sections.
The question you should be asking when constructing your guide is: what do our supporters need to join us in telling our story?
What’s Your Hashtag (#)?
You should have a brand hashtag. Something you are encouraging your customers to use when they want to show off their #Sneakz. Or maybe it’s more personalized: #MySneakz. Or more active: #GetSneakz. Whatever your overarching hashtag is, include it.
If you have crafted a hashtag for this specific event, share that as well. Maybe you created a hashtag for anytime a store opens: #SneakzToYou. Or you could go hyper-specific: #SneakzMadisonEast.
Don’t just share your hashtag(s), but give examples of how they can be used.
Encourage people to create their own content, to add pictures or videos, to get clever–so long as they tag you and include your hashtag(s), a positive post is a great post!
Distributing Your Digital Guide (Who Are My Supporters?)
It’s an internal document. DO NOT publish it on your website or to your social media channels. Rather share it with your employees, interns, rapid response team, top-level fans, volunteers, etc.
Distribute this guide with anyone who will (or should) actively be working with you to tell your story throughout the event or campaign.
A Story Comes in Three Parts
Make sure to remind your supporters that every story has a beginning, a middle AND an end. Remind them (again and again) to tag you and include hashtags in EVERY post. Give sample content for each of the three.
Creating and sharing a Digital Guide is not the end of telling your story… it’s the beginning!
You should be actively monitoring social media for both mentions of your brand and usage of your hashtag. If people are posting, engage with them.
As long as you keep asking yourself what your community needs to tell your story, and including or excluding information/samples/information accordingly, you are doing it right. There isn’t one correct Digital Guide, there’s only the one that works for you.
Create a guide for your next event. Learn from it. Tweak it as needed for future events. Learn from what worked AND from what did not. Ask your supporters what else they need to support you.
You might find it worth holding trainings, especially for staff and interns. If someone doesn’t have a Twitter or a Facebook account, they probably won’t create one just to tweet about you. Unless you help them to do so! Never underestimate the power of working with someone on their journey into social media. Trainings are an investment that will pay for themselves many, many times over.
Need a staff training or help creating a Digital Guide ? Drop me a line. These are services I offer. Or just have some questions about finishing touches or need a fresh set of eyes to help you see what you missed? I can help you there as well.
Continuously ask what your supporters need and then give it to them. They are your best asset for creating buzz and telling your story.
I get emails from all kinds of people, businesses and organizations. I love the art of the email, so I subscribe to many lists. Of course, this list includes numerous candidates running for President in the 2016 cycle, both Democratic and Republican.
Amongst the list of people I get emails from is Hillary Clinton. Or at least, I try to get emails from her. I have subscribed to her list on several occasions, and for some reason, I continue to be excluded (maybe I should start to take it personally?!).
On Friday, February 5th, I signed up for her email list—AGAIN. I was immediately thanked for my support and taken to a landing page asking me to contribute to her campaign.
[For those of you not familiar with the term landing page, the idea is simple. It's a single webpage that a user is taken to when clicking on a specific link. It can be from a Facebook post, a Google ad, an email, an online sign-up or the like.]
This is the obvious next step in the funnel for any candidate: The people who want to hear from a candidate -- in their inboxes and on an ongoing basis -- are by far going to be the most likely to give money to that candidate.
But here was the landing page to which I was redirected:
It thanks me, offers me a range of amounts to give, doesn’t confuse me with numerous asks or calls-to-action (Pro Tip: a sure-fire killer of any ask is to be surrounded with numerous other asks!). So what IS the problem with this landing page?
It’s February of 2016. Voting has already taken place in Iowa, and we are days away from the New Hampshire primary. Three of five democratic candidates have dropped out of the race and there have been countless debates, town halls, campaign events, tv appearances and so much more. And yet this landing page is asking me to “be one of the first people to support Hillary’s campaign.”
ONE OF THE FIRST?!?!
What is going on in the Hillary campaign that so few people have contributed, a year into her campaign?
Obviously, this isn’t true. Clinton has raised tens of millions of dollars over the last year, from big and small donors alike. But this landing page apparently hasn’t been updated in some time.
The lesson of this post is simple -- a landing page needs to be updated as often as your ask. A year ago, this would have been a strong ask. Today, this makes the Clinton camp look weak, or at the very least disorganized.
The worst part is that nothing on this page even needs to be updated, save for the ask. The picture and the “select an amount” are still applicable, a year later. Change the text and this page is good to go.
A good habit to get into is to regularly go through any processes you expect your audience to go through, and to update them as necessary.
Not sure what your landing page should say? Or have another question about messaging or engaging your community? Drop me a line, let’s chat.
On Thursday night, Jeb Bush held a town hall in New Hampshire—a must win state for his struggling campaign. Looking at the pictures, it’s clear he packed the room. He proudly took to Twitter to report that the crowd was “400 strong.” Respectable turnout, no doubt about it.
Just a few hours away in Vermont however, Donald Trump was holding a much-publicized, much-covered rally. Despite the room having a capacity of 1400, his campaign distributed over 20,000 tickets. According to Trump’s Twitter account, they “could only get a fraction of this 25k crowd in.”
So on the same night, there were two events in two neighboring states. Both campaigns tweeted out recaps of their respective successes.
But here’s the thing: Jeb Bush could have said “we were standing room only in Peterborough last night.” He could have said “full house in NH.” He could have skipped describing the size of the of the crowd altogether—he had great photos to tell that story!—and spoken instead about how awesome his event was.
But he didn’t. Instead, he told the world that his event was “400 strong.”
Now 400 people is a lot of people. A LOT... for a local band. Or a high school soccer game. Or for a Rick Santorum rally*. But it’s really not all that impressive for a presidential candidate with a $100 million war chest and the resources that Bush has at his disposal.
And it REALLY doesn’t seem like that much when you see Trump bragging about his YUUUUGE numbers from right down the road.
What’s the point?
You can brag about turnout without mentioning numbers.
Had Jeb left it at “full house” or “standing room only”, we could have imagined the size of the event and been impressed that he filled the room. Instead, he gave us a number. Compared to Trump’s, it just seems paltry.
If your numbers are extraordinary, you might consider sharing them. Otherwise, just talk about the quality of your crowd and the substance of your event and don’t get caught up reporting on quantity. There’s little potential gain and a decent amount of potential risk.
*Feel free to substitute Santorum with the undercard candidate of your choice.
Carly Fiorina, ousted head of HP and defeated 2010 senate candidate, is running for the GOP nomination for President.
Things were going very slowly for her throughout the summer. She was relegated to the “kiddie stage” for the first GOP debate. She accepted her placement and the general consensus was that she shined. She began to get noticed for the first time throughout her campaign.
By the second round of debates, she had risen in the polls and she managed to score a big victory by being the only candidate to move up from the kiddie debate to primetime.
She was again widely praised for her performance in debate #2. The highlight of the evening for her was when she took on Planned Parenthood over some tapes that had just been released. She made an impassioned pro-life plea and quickly shot up in the polls.
The problem was, the highlight was based on factually incorrect information. She claimed that the videos showed things that didn’t exist—objectively didn’t exist . No media bias, no difference of opinions, she simply created a scene and spoke about it in great detail (or possibly, confused a different video with the one she was referencing).
While her rise was meteoric, her fall was pretty much just as quick. She built her reputation on something verifiably false. Every story that followed was not about her or her ideas, but about that falsehood.
It was a good play based on a shoddy foundation and she ultimately fell right through the bottom. Post debate, she was polling at 15%, putting her in second place. Today, heading into the third GOP debate, she is at 4%.
Her Truthiness Problem is Bigger Than That One Debate Statement
Fiorina has a general problem with telling the truth, even when the fact-checkers have done their fact-checking. Mother Jones just published a story called “Carly Fiorina’s Fact-Defying Stump Speech,” outlining all of the outright falsehoods she has made a regular part of her speeches.
The problem is, every enticing story or juicy statistic she tells is sure to impress the people in the room. But candidates, like businesses, organizations or anyone else, can no longer live just in the room. The press is listening, social media is watching and the fact-checkers never sleep.
While making up facts and statistics may help a candidate—or brand—get noticed, the story will ultimately be not about the candidate but about the falsehoods. And that is always a recipe for disaster.
It is far better to win over voters—or customers/supporters/fans—slowly with honesty, than quickly without merit. Their support may be harder to gain, but it will be worth something once you have earned it.
Tonight is GOP debate #3—we’ll see if Fiorina has learned her lesson. Based on her current stump speech, I’m thinking the answer is no.
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