Mike is a great guy. Yes, I know him. Knew him would probably be more accurate, as we haven’t spoken in around six years, apart from Facebook birthdays and Instagram comments. We went to high school together, and dated for around 2 months. That’s my (and a couple of more girls’) current claim to fame. My first boyfriend was the co-founder of Instagram.
Between getting accepted to what seemed like every college on the face of the earth and having a multitude of talents, it was only a matter of time before Mike did something revolutionary. Indeed, I call amassing a plethora of largely location-based data and images “revolutionary.” Evidently so does Mark Zuckerberg, as evidenced by his latest one billion dollar purchase.
Despite having dated him, I wouldn’t say I knew Mike that well. I was 16 at the time, he was 18, and I think he can attest to the fact that I was a lot more interested in my friends and gossip over dating (sorry, Mike). Mike made me mixed CDs, introduced me to oddly named bands (I’ll never forget …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead. I mean,what?!), and in general, made me feel like the smoothest sophmore at school. Afterall, I was dating the coolest senior (who is now probably the coolest personever)in the jurisdiction. Oh, and he also plays guitar. And sings. You know how that makes those high school hearts *swoon*.
Mike, this is my backwards way of saying congratulations—congratulations on the creation and sale of Instagram, from concept to execution, congratulations on every image ever uploaded to your server, congratulations on being on the cover of Veja magazine, congratulations on becoming an inspiration for all of us.
What are your questions for Mike? Maybe he’ll take pity on me and answer them. ;-)
A few weeks ago, a client of mine asked me to send him a detailed report as to why his brand should be following their clients back on Twitter. To me, the answer seemed obvious—mostly because after 6 P.M., I’m just another Twitter user hungry for followers too, so I know who my target audience is. However, I wanted to give them information that was backed up on the web, and not just by my insecurity.
After searching Mashable and Social Media Examiner, I couldn’t find anything that explicitly listed why you should follow back on Twitter. There were plenty of helpful resources on how to build a Twitter community, but nothing that catered to my exact question.
So I decided to write my own article about the benefits of a brand following their users back. My client’s Twitter had reached a stagnant follower base. This, of course, could be a result of much more than not following back—irrelevant content, too much brand promotion, posting times that weren’t optimized—but, I found that following back was the push my client needed.
Following back fulfills nearly every Twitter user in the spectrum. For those looking to simply garner more followers, seeing that you follow others will instill confidence in them and they will likely begin following you. On the other hand, for the followers who are your brand advocates, following them back is a meaningful way of thanking them—much better than that generic DM you sent them a while ago. With a follow back, customers feel appreciated, thanked, and noticed. Don’t have a loyalty program for your brand? Follow back.
Now, I’m not saying that a follow back completely substitutes a loyalty or points program—in fact, they are mostly unrelated—but it’s a step in the right direction. It’s a small action that speaks volumes to dedication and interest in your customers. Following back opens the channel of conversation. Have you ever felt intimated by a user who follows 0 people? It’s pretty pretentious. (Twitterentious?)
In two weeks, my client’s followers organically grew by 32%—a considerable amount. While follower growth is a happy outcome, following back also reaps other important benefits.
In those two weeks, the number of mentions with the brand’s name have nearly doubled. Just today, one post was retweeted five times. Users are noticing the brand’s engagement, and are confident that they can communicate effectively with them via Twitter. Call volumes have decreased, and problems are being effectively communicated on Twitter and then dealt with in the private sphere. Spontaneous publicity is being generated, from compliments to blog posts. They can be genuine, or they can simply be looking for an RT—but it all counts.
This, of course, was only my exprience. What I’m mostly interested in is hearing about YOURS. What are your thoughts on brands following back? What positive and/or negative outcomes did your brand have?
A little over a year ago, my parents and I flew to NYC to attend the Direct Marketing Association’s Social Media Smarts Seminar, taught by NYU Professor and Riverside Marketing Strategies’ President Heidi Cohen.
At the time, my main objective for this trip was sneaking in a jaunt to the discount mega-store Century 21, in Lower Manhattan. My Dad quickly assured me that that would be happening, as this was a “business only” trip. No time for dinners at Tao or window shopping on Madison, he reiterated.
Eventually I did visit the mega-store, but it paled in comparison to the DMA seminar. Thinking back, I wish I had taken more notes (I’ve been saying that since 5th grade Science), because I keep asking myself how exactly I am supposed to implement Flickr and Youtube for a client’s social media campaign. Feigning silly superiority at the seminar (I mean, I grew up with social media!), I opted to doodle instead.
The highlight of the conference was when Professor Cohen was explaining the amplification of podcasts via iTunes, when my father piped up: “What’s an iTune?”
“iTunes,” Professor Cohen corrected, as the entirety of the seminar stifled their laughter, “is the name of the media player built by Apple.”
If Dad was clueless about the “iTune,” I’m sure he had no idea what a podcast was. All he was interested in, as he told the class, was making the next United Breaks Guitars video. But with insoles.
Of course, that never happened, and Dad all but gave up on social media. He detests his Facebook Home Feed, mumbling “Look at all this crap,” in between status updates. When I suggested he begin using Twitter, he was reluctant. That was one week ago—today, he has 40 followers and growing. Last night, he spent all of dinner dictating tweets to me while I furiously programmed them into HootSuite. I could tell he was pleased with himself—finally he had an outlet for all the advice his kids refused to listen to!
This morning, I received an e-mail with the subject line ‘Twitter.’ It read:
Sofia: Last night making tweets at dinner was fun. I hope that you can recall all the tweets that we have made in the future. I am thinking of writing another book and the tweets will be helpful. The process of remembering all the little tidbits of information is gradual and a little at a time. In the end there will be a collection of hundreds of tweets. Love from your Dad
From not knowing what an “iTune” was to wanting to write a book based on his tweets, I’d say he has come a long way.
How have older generations around you reacted to adopting social media? Share your stories, strategies and tips about engaging Baby Boomers on the web.
You can follow him at @ThomasCasePhD. It’s like Sh*t my Dad Says for Entrepreneurs.
Saturday night was definitely a “Wikipedia” night—when you start off reading about the town of Fallon, Nevada, and end up on the page for the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives two hours later. Navigating through Wikipedia’s link building is an exercise in measuring degrees of separation, as everything is inextricably connected. That is how I discovered Sheila Jeffreys’ book Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West.
During my third year of college, I studied abroad at the Victoria University of Wellington, in Wellington, New Zealand. New Zealand was the first country in the world to grant women suffrage, in 1893. During my study abroad, Vic’s Gender & Women’s Studies department was world-renowned (since then, it has been shut down) and my friend SBK, a psychology graduate from Hamilton College, encouraged me to take GEND 101 with her.
GEND 101, or Introduction to Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, was my first dalliance with feminism since the 7th grade, when my Language Arts teacher traumatized a group of us by introducing veganism and the alternative spellings of ‘wimin’ all in the same hour (at the time, a lot to handle for a 13-year old).
For me, 7th grade was too early for feminism. By the time I enrolled at Vic, I was all too familiar with (mistakenly) ingesting lipstick and the pains of body image. Growing up in Brazil meant most of my friends had, by the end of high school, gotten nose jobs, battled an eating disorder, and used their parent’s hard-earned money to strip hair from their legs.
Of course, I was not—and still am not—immune to any rituals myself. Highlighted hair and no carbohydrates at dinner were the order of the day then. When I moved to the USA for college, beauty took a backseat, and I gained an unhealthy amount of weight. I fancied myself progressive, but deep down felt unhealty and unfulfilled.
4 months ago, I moved back to Brazil. The plane ride home was a model casting in itself. Everyone’s nails seemed perfectly manicured and every strand of hair was immaculately ironed straight. My self-esteem had reached a low point, and I let self-loathing take its place. Some family members were keen to egg me into having stomach reduction surgery.
They almost prevailed—I went to all the doctor appointments and did all the blood tests. Luckily, the surgeon’s secretary was on her lunch break when I tried to schedule my surgery. Relieved, I took a taxi home and finally thought about what I was doing. I looked at the thigh-high sock I was supposed to wear to prevent embolisms and the breathing device I had to practice on so I could increase my lung capacity. I was willing to die for beauty.
Shocked by this realization, I never scheduled my surgery, and quietly slipped into a routine of healthier eating and exercising. I lost weight and felt better about myself without going under the knife—unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my half-brother’s girlfriend and his mother, who got breast implants and stomach reduction surgery, respectively.
Prior to this experience, I saw Jeffreys as an extreme feminist who was probably bitter about her looks or being traded by an ex-boyfriend. Now, I understand Jeffreys ideas a little clearer. In Beauty and Misogyny, Jeffreys argues that western beauty practices—from cosmetics to invasive surgery—are akin to the harmful cultural norms such as genital mutilation, which I do not agree with. Jeffreys discredits gender reassignment surgery as a cosmetic solution for a societal problem. If we lived in a truly genderless world, there simply would not be the desire the change genders, she says. I do not have Gender Identity Disorder, but I am still keen to disagree with Jeffreys.
There are a slew of reasons I wouldn’t want to live in a genderless world, mainly because I am not interested in losing access to reproductive, prenatal and neonatal healthcare. But, after reading Jeffreys’ book, I am more critical about my own beauty rituals and sacrifices. Unlike the women who are subjected to genital mutilation without consent, I am privy enough to chose what parts of my body to modify and altercate. Since I am just a “beginner” feminist, I think Jeffreys would at least approve of my efforts to think about how my aesthetic choices are affecting my health and psyche.
How do you react to Jeffreys’ ideas? Or, what Wiki-path did I take from Fallon, Nevada to the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives?
Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West is available on Google Books.