I LOVE Twitter lists. They are an amazing listening tool, helping to bring order and clarify to the chaos that is the Twittersphere.
You can use them to easily simplify who you are following at any given moment on Twitter. While I follow many accounts, there are times where I ONLY want to know what a few of them are saying. So I have a Twitter list just for them.
I love them so much, the second episode of my podcast, #StepUpYourSocial, was about how, when and why to use them. (You can listen to that episode at stepupyoursocial.com or wherever you stream podcasts).
Whenever I run trainings on Twitter, I always highly recommend that people utilize this amazing tool.
I even include it on my list of free tools you should be using but probably aren’t and recommend that even if your brand isn’t on Twitter, you have an account you can use to build lists and monitor your competitors, customers, influencers, etc. just as a way to keep tabs on your field.
So yeah, I’m a fan.
There are two types of lists: public and private.
Public lists can be followed by anybody and they are visible through your profile. And whenever you add someone to such a list, they get a notification. They are public.
Private lists on the other hand exist only for you. No one will ever know that such a list exists. No one can follow it or even find it unless they are logged in as you. And of course no one knows when you add them to it. They are private.
But here’s the thing — nothing online is ever actually private.
When I build private lists for political campaigns, I also give them overly-guarded innocuous names like “interesting” or “other campaigns.” I would never call them “competition,” “the enemy,” or, as we’ll soon see, “haters.”
Likewise, when I work with businesses or nonprofits on developing their own listening tools or prepping them for crisis management, I always push them to do the same. Don’t call the trolls “trolls.” Call them “interesting accounts,” or “people to follow.”
Why? you might ask. These are private lists. No one will ever know that they exist.
Well, that’s true. Right up until it’s not.
I was (and am) always afraid of hacking. I have run very large Twitter accounts and you never know what’s going to happen. If heaven forbid someone hacked into one of those accounts, it would be awful. Because they could post whatever they wanted.
But there would be nothing incriminating or embarrassing in those accounts for them to find. Because our campaign doesn’t have “enemies” or “haters.” It has “accounts to follow” or “notables.” It would have to be a pretty quiet news day for that story to get written.
Well as it turns out, my caution was extremely valid. Because Vice just reported on a bug that led to people being notified when they were added to... private lists. 😳 😳 😳
The bug was first noticed when a Vice reporter was added to a PRIVATE list called… you guessed it… “haters.”
Who’s fault was this? Twitter’s of course!
Who’s problem is it though (should it happen to you)? Yeah, YOU know.
I always advise that you never put anything in writing you aren’t prepared to see in the paper. But that advice definitely goes beyond writing.
Being in a sketchy Facebook Group — even if it’s a secret Group — can still come out. Having a secondary account you use online to talk about how hot or awesome you are… is stupid. And risky!
And labeling Twitter lists, even private ones, with any name that would embarrass you were it to come out — is just a bad idea.
Be smart out there y’all! The internet is our permanent record.
Step Up Your Social Ep. 10 — Facebook Wants You To Know What Your Competitors Are Doing... So Does Google
Don’t you wish you had a magic wand you could use to see what your competitors were doing well, so that you could grow your own business accordingly?
Facebook has a free feature, available to all Facebook Brand pages, that might as well be a magic wand. Yet so few brands are taking advantage of this simple, powerful and important feature.
So let’s dig into Facebook’s “Pages To Watch.”
Afterward, we’ll cover some other helpful and free tools you should be using to keep tabs on your competitors across the internet, including mailing lists, other social channels and the almighty Google Alerts.
Full Episode Transcript
Don’t you wish you had a magic wand you could use to see what your competitors were doing well, so that you could grow your own business accordingly? Facebook has a free feature, available to all Facebook Brand pages, that might as well be a magic wand. Yet so few brands are taking advantage of this simple, powerful and important feature. So let’s dig in to Facebook’s “Pages To Watch.” Afterwards, we’ll cover some other helpful and free tools you should be using to keep tabs on your competitors across the internet. But first up: Pages to Watch.
To access this great feature, go to your brand’s Facebook page. At the top, you will see a menu bar including the following items: Page, Inbox, Notifications and then Insights. Click there. If you haven’t been to your insights yet, you are missing out on a ton of valuable information. We’ll do some more deep dives into Facebook Insights down the road. But for now, let’s just stick to this particular tool.
Once you’ve clicked Insights, you’ll be on the “overview” page. Scroll down to the bottom and you should see a section called “pages to watch.”
If you have never been there before, chances are Facebook has auto-populated the section with pages they think you might want to watch. If they guessed right, great. If not, simply hover over the number on the left and you can delete it from your list.
To add new pages, click the option to “add pages.”
Once you have your pages set up, you’ll see some very basic data: the name of the page, it’s total page Likes, the percent it grew from last week, how many times they posted this week and what their engagement this week has been. None of those data points are all that useful. BUT, if you click on the name of any of the pages, something interesting happens.
Facebook opens up a pop-up box and shows you that page’s top content from the past week. Top content in this case means that it had the highest combination of reach and engagement of anything that page posted this past week. And you can scroll down and see all of their content from the week, ordered by how popular it was for their audience.
Quite a feature, right?!
Bear in mind, when you follow a page, they have no way of knowing you are doing so. So if you want to know what is working for your competitors, without having to continuously go back to their page and scroll through their feed, you can just pop on over here every couple of days and easily keep tabs on them.
If you see that several of your competitors are sharing an article or a meme and it is resonating with their audiences… well don’t steal their content. But definitely do be inspired by it!
The content that is working for your competitors will probably also work for you. Follow along, learn, and create your own content accordingly.
And here’s the thing, while of course you should be watching your competitors, don’t limit yourself to them. Follow influencers in your field, relevant journalists or publications, even high value customers if you they are using brand pages.
Figure out who’s success you most want to track, and then spend a few minutes setting up your Facebook Pages to Watch. It will be an amazing tool you can use indefinitely moving forward.
While we’re on the topic of tracking your competitors, influencers, high-value customers and the like, let’s cover a few ways to do so outside of Facebook.
First of all, if the people you want to follow have public mailing lists, sign up! There’s no better way to know what they are excited about, then to see what they are sharing with the people they care about most. It probably goes without saying, but you might not want to use your company or organization’s branded email to sign up for a competitor’s email list. So use your gmail address, or create something new specifically for this purpose. While it might seem weird to be on their list, don’t forget, unless they are limiting sign-up (and this is important: don’t lie in any way to get on their list!) they know that their list is public. And chances are, if you have an email, they’re on it! As far as influencers and relevant journalists go, you can use your branded email or not. Your call.
In episode two of this podcast, we covered the power and the importance of twitter lists. Twitter lists are a great way to follow relevant accounts. And you can use private lists to do so under-the-radar, even if your brand isn’t using Twitter as an outreach and communications tool. Go back and listen to that episode for more.
There are also plenty of third party tools out there that will track keyword mentions and send you alerts when those keywords pop up online. Some are free, most are not. But one powerful one that is free is google alerts. If you haven’t set up google alerts yet, you should do so immediately.
To do so go to google.com/alerts. Once there you can put in some relevant keywords and let google know that you want to receive email alerts whenever those words are used online. It’s important to know that google alerts don’t track content from social media platforms, so don’t expect to see Facebook or Twitter mentions on there.
But if someone mentions you or your brand in a blog post, or on their website, Google will usually catch it and send you an alert.
And here’s the thing, you can select if you want google to send you an alert as a mention happens, or to instead send you a daily or weekly digest of all mentions. For your brand, you should get those alerts as they happen. Unless people are talking about your brand numerous times a day, you want to know you’ve been mentioned as soon as possible. But if you also want to use them to track competitors, industry keywords, influencers and the like, you might not need them rolling in as they happen and you can opt to receive those alerts as part of a daily or even weekly round-up. The choice is yours.
One other cool thing you can do with google alerts is set them up for high value clients so that if that client gets an award or someone writes a story about them, you can be amongst the first to reach out and congratulate them. Alternately, you can let them know if you find something problematic that they might want to deal with
The tools are out there for you to keep tabs on the internet. The set up is relatively simple and the rewards can be immense.
So I’ll finish this episode with the same question I started it with: Don’t you wish you had a magic wand you could use to see what your competitors were doing well? Turns out, you do! You just have to take a moment and set it up.
You start a new Facebook brand page. It's only natural to invite everyone you know to like the page.
The problem is, you're actually hurting your page's future growth when you invite people who like you — but don't care about your brand — to like your Facebook brand page.
In this episode:
• We dive into the Facebook algorithm
• Talk about the difference between "good" and "bad" likes
• Cover helpful tips to grow your page with the right audience
• The importance of using a brand page for your page (as opposed to a personal account)
• And a whole lot more
Are you leaving low hanging fruit on the table? Are you missing opportunities to encourage your current customers, fans or audience to start conversations with you online, thus promoting your brand to their own networks in the process?
In this episode, we cover two inter-related topics: the importance of displaying your handles *everywhere* your audience is and the vital role that engagement plays in creating and managing a beneficial social media program.
Never forget — social media is not a tool to speak TO the people. It’s a tool to speak WITH the people. The goal is to have conversations and to build relationships.
Full Episode Transcript
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!”
Social media moves fast. You need a good strategy, but also countless cute/clever/funny/helpful/interesting pieces of content day in and day out to make it work. If you are doing it regularly, you are going to occasionally make mistakes.
The majority of the time, you will notice your error before anyone else does and you can delete your tweet or edit your post. Sometimes though, the only option is a response.
In preparation for Black Friday, McDonald’s sent the following tweet into the world:
This wasn’t a typo or someone hitting send too fast. This was someone copy and pasting a note from an internal document, throwing it into Twitter or a third party scheduler, and letting it fly.
They didn’t even wait until Black Friday to send it — the tweet went live on Thanksgiving.
Now if you run a small business or manage your band or nonprofit’s social media account, you could simply delete this tweet. If you’re a behemoth like McDonald’s, not so much.
You do have a few options though. You can:
McDonald’s went with option four, tweeting this the following morning:
While the follow up tweet didn’t get nearly as many retweets or likes as the original tweet, it did appease the internet, which is always hungry for a social media scandal.
You need look no further than the responses to see that the follow up fully appeased the Twitterverse. This time.
But user beware: if you or your team require coffee to start the day, then by all means, have it on hand! If you are McDonald’s that really shouldn’t be a problem. 🙄 🙄 🙄
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?
I wrote a guest blog post for Indie on the Move entitled: 5 Ways to Use Facebook Live to Grow Your Brand's Reach. While the post is (obviously) geared towards musicians, I think it can assist any person or brand who works directly with people. Try and think about your own audience: what might a "behind the scenes" peak look like?; what would be the equivalency of your sound check?; what might your customer see as your "tour"?
If you have good answers to any of the above, share them in the comments or on Facebook/Twitter. I'd love to hear about your customer journey.
If you aren't sure how these examples can serve as metaphors for you and your customers, drop me a line. Maybe I can help you figure it out!
Without further ado, here are 5 Ways to Use Facebook Live to Grow Your Brand's Reach.
If you spend time on social media, you’re probably familiar with Facebook Live, a relatively new Facebook tool that allows you to broadcast live—in real time—directly to your audience.
While you probably know what Facebook Live is, you might not realize just how powerful it is.
Facebook, at least for the time being, is extremely committed to this tool and is offering all implementers a powerful free gift for using it: guaranteed exposure and engagement!
When you stream via Facebook Live, Facebook gives a notification to every one of your followers that you are currently live. If your followers aren’t online while you go live, they’ll get a notification that you were live. This simple notification all but guarantees increased reach and engagement over even your most well-produced videos.
So that’s why it’s important. But you might also be wondering WHEN you should use it. Here are 5 ways you can use Facebook Live to greatly expand your band’s reach.
1) Do a weekly Live session right from your living room or practice space.
Give it a simple catchy hashtag to demonstrate it’s part of a series. Exs: #MusicMondays or #TuesdayBluesday. Having the day of the week is helpful, to help brand it as something people should expect every week. One caveat: if you tell people you are going to do it weekly, YOU HAVE TO DO IT WEEKLY. If that is too much responsibility, then go with #LivingRoomSessions, or #FunkyFacebook. You’ll lose a bit in the process, because it will be harder for people to know when to expect it. But better they don’t know, then they expect it and it doesn’t happen!
Sharing music like this gives you a chance to connect directly with your audience in a very personal way. They log onto Facebook to see updates from their friends and family… and there is their favorite band or musician, playing just for them! It’s like a private concert for your fans. And the best part: it cost you nothing.
2) Working on a new album? Take us “behind the scenes” into the studio.
Show us your drummer setting up his drum mics or interview your sound engineer about how he gets that special signature sound. This is an easy way to raise awareness—and build excitement—about your new album.
Conversely, when you release a new album, go live to talk about the process. Tell a funny story from the studio, or the meaning behind one of the songs. Is the local record store selling your album? Go in with your smartphone and show it sitting on the shelves. You get to brag a bit about your accomplishment, your fans know where they can find your music, AND the record store will love you: you just gave them a bunch of free publicity!
3) Whether you’re traveling halfway across the country for your next show, or just ten minutes down the road, hop on Facebook Live and let us know how great tonight’s show is going to be.
Will you have a special guest (you don’t have to say who it will be!)? Will you be playing a new song? Is it your first time at a new venue? What better time to talk to your audience then while you’re on your way to a show. For those in other cities, they’ll be excited to hear from you. And for those in town, your video might just be the reminder they needed to call their friends and head on down to the venue!
4) This one is similar to 3, but different enough to get its own point: livestream part of your soundcheck.
If you don’t do a soundcheck, then walk around the venue and talk to your fans. Or show the line to get inside. Or even just tell us how much you are enjoying your pre-show beer! This is your last chance to make a connection before the show starts, and to get all those fans who haven’t yet committed to coming out, to give it once last consideration. Pro tip: Don’t ask them to come, just talk about how excited you are about the night. If your excitement is genuine, they don’t need to be invited—they’ll be eager to get there all on their own!
5) As your band grows, you have more and more fans who live further and further away.
Just because someone isn’t going to drive 6 hours to see your show doesn’t mean they don’t wish they could be there. Buy a tripod (you can get a good one for $20) and set it up on stage. Livestream a song or two. Hell, livestream the whole show. (You can go Live on Facebook for up to 4 hours at a time!) It might be too late for someone not at your show to come out. But this brings them into the party, makes them wish they were there, and all but ensures they’ll try harder next time to make it out.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive—far from it. There’s no shortage of ways you can use this powerful tool to grow your reach and engagement. Are you using Facebook Live in other, clever ways? Please share them with me on Facebook and/or Twitter. I’d love to hear about them!
If you need any additional help with Facebook Live, or with anything else related to your digital story, drop me a line. I always love talking social media and music!
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.
FedEx has one of marketing's most recognizable logos. It's simple: take the first syllable of each word in their name. Federal Express becomes Fed Ex. Smash them together. Put them in the proper font. And voila: you have a well-known brand.
But FedEx has long used color to differentiate which branch of their business their logo is representing.
You probably think of their logo being an iconic purple and orange:
But that’s only one of their many color patterns.
That orange is also often replaced by a litany of other colors.
What many people don’t realize—even if they've noticed the differentiating palette—is that each of these different colors has a completely different meaning.
Orange is their standard express delivery service.
Grey covers their supply chain services.
Green is ground and home delivery.
Red is freight.
Blue is “custom critical.”
Yellow is trade networks.
Believe it or not, that’s not even all of them.
But most casual observers, never realized there was more than one color option, much less that each color had its own unique significance.
Don’t worry about working out mnemonic memory devices for each pattern though. FedEx realized that no one knew the difference -- or cared. So they're officially retiring all of their logo colors save for the standard purple and orange.
As long as we’re talking about the FedEx logo though, here’s one cool component that definitely won’t change: the arrow within.
If you know it’s there, you see it every time you look at the logo. If not, you’ll be amazed what you’ve been missing.
Check this out:
See it now?
IT WAS RIGHT THERE THE WHOLE TIME!
Hard to imagine, right?
It gets cooler still. Check out their logo in Arabic:
It points in the opposite direction and is written with a different alphabet, but it still contains that (missed-by-most, but loved-by-those-who-notice-it) arrow letting the user know it’s the same brand they can trust to get their package from point A to point B.
Who knew there was so much to such a simple logo?!
Do you have any favorite logos hiding secrets within? Share them in the comments.
Looking for more social media tips, tricks, strategies and hacks?
Check out my podcast Step Up Your Social. All episodes are short (~10 minutes or so) and provide quick, actionable tips to help you step up your digital marketing.
Tune in today.
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.
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.
Blog Posts by Category