My SXSW As Told Through Timelapse GIFs

Everyone and their intern has already shared articles, discussions, and photos about all the fun they had at SXSW 2018 in Austin last month. So I figured, why not throw my story out there in Timelapse GIF form? Now, it would have been quite boring to relay Timelapse GIFs of the speaker sessions and panels I went to. But SXSW is more than just learning; it’s a visceral experience for all five senses. For that reason, I decided to document my 5 favorite categories:

FLIGHT: I loved the flight from Seattle to Austin. Huge variety of landscapes and terrains. And I got to study up on my SXSW guide so I wouldn’t miss a thing. Who else actually loves flying?

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FOOD: At least a dozen people told me in advance that I simply HAD to try one food or another while I was in downtown Austin. My clear favorites were Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken, Voodoo Doughnuts (originally from Portland), and Moonshine Bar & Grill. What restaurants should I have tried that I didn’t get around to?

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MUSIC: These days, Austin is even more popular for its music scene than Seattle is (blasphemy!), and rightfully so. Every day and night of SXSW, live bands and singer-songwriters were packing the bars, entertaining the pedestrians, and setting a sweet mood for the whole city. The highlight for me, although it was too dark to get video, was Sassyblack who lit up the house with her cosmically funky one-woman-band vibes. Ever heard of her?

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CROWDS: First off, I had never rode on the back of a pedicab bike. It’s an awesome feeling. Second, call me crazy, but I truly enjoy being somewhere that's overflowing with people who are united in a common reason to be there. Festivals, expos, conferences—I get caught up in the excitement every time. And what better place to get lost in the crowd than here?

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EYE CANDY: Put simply, Austin is weird. The art, the architecture, the people—you name it. And SXSW takes full advantage of that weirdness. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that there’s something cool to look at, no matter what street you’re wandering down. For instance, have you met my baby goat friend from VICELAND?

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Every SXSW attendee experiences the festival differently. What did you do in Austin that I missed? Make me jealous in the comments!

How to Use ConvertKit to Convert More Leads: Evolving beyond MailChimp & once-a-month newsletters

Create email funnels that actually convert

The once-a-month/week/day newsletter format is tried and true. It has been proven as an effective and efficient marketing channel over and over and over again. There is a plethora of information out there to guide you through that process. This post will not cover any of that.

This post is about taking your email marketing to the next level. Since everybody has caught on to just how powerful email is, there is more noise in this channel than ever before. It is so easy to simply end up in the junk folder. That means you need to crank it up to 11 and ConvertKit makes it easy to do that. ConvertKit is a tool that allows you to manage your email list much more effectively and create automated funnels and triggers to give your leads the content they need most.

Strategy: Design multiple paths that your customers can take, based on their interactions with your content, that walks them through your sales funnel when your leads actually want it. With this strategy, you are able to give more relevant info to your leads exactly when they need it the most. You aren’t constrained to send one big email blast on a certain date of the month with the same content for everybody.

Oversimplified Steps:

  1. Create an insightful piece of content that people actually want.
  2. Capture their email in exchange for the content
  3. Send an automated email asking them what their biggest interest is and give three options
  4. Based on what they click, automatically send them down the appropriate funnel.

To give you an example, I have built out what a sample campaign might look like for a destination hotel. Let’s assume this hotel is in a beautiful tropical paradise with many things to do, see and eat. The hotel has created a thoughtful guide to the can’t-miss attractions in their area that guests can download onto their phone in exchange for signing up to their mailing list. 

A day after the guest has received their guide, an automated email goes out to him or her to ask whether they are most interested in the ‘food’, ‘adventure’ or ‘relaxing’. If the guest selects ‘food’, over the next two weeks, they will receive an automated email every other day introducing them to a different restaurant in the area. If the guest chooses ‘adventure’, they will receive details about the different activities. If they choose ‘relax’, you might send them a coupon for a massage, details about meditation and highlight secluded beaches. 

Whichever route they choose, there is a very high likelihood that you are going to up-sell many of these guests on extra packages that would have taken far more work for them to discover normally. You will also drastically increase guest loyalty and you can even siphon off guests from competitors over the long run.

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Create more value than you take

It really isn’t that complicated but it takes a lot of planning and you absolutely must spend the time to create content that is actually valuable to your customers. This is where most businesses fall short. If you don’t create more value than you are capturing, nobody will engage with your campaigns. You can’t just send a few coupons for people to use. You need to create content that is deeply engaging and meaningful to that customer and any discounts are just a cherry on top.

The whole idea is to have such valuable information that customers WANT to keep engaging with your brand so you stay top of mind and build trust. If you can integrate video content throughout the campaign, you will amplify the amount of trust and brand equity that you build by a huge factor, but don’t let that be a barrier to getting started with this strategy. Even with just text and photos, you can develop deep relationships with a large number of people. And the most beautiful part is that, once you put in the effort to set it up right, you can just sit back and let it automatically build all of these loyal customers.

Facebook and Instagram API Updates (April 2018)

By now, you’ve likely heard about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying in front of Congress this week. Privacy of citizens using social platforms has come under scrutiny over the past few months, and big changes have come down the pipeline in order to work towards providing more privacy to social media users.

TPM wanted to take the time to breakdown the major changes happening to the Facebook and Instagram APIs in the coming weeks. These changes, again, are happening in an effort to protect user data and privacy. 

Facebook and Instagram are limiting the way Instagram Partners and apps access user information. 

Facebook API Changes

Updates to the Events, Groups, Pages, Search, and Games APIs will occur. Read more directly from the Facebook Newsroom, here.

Facebook will be blocking apps from accessing user data after 90 days of non-use.

On a side note, find out if your information was shared with Cambridge Analytica here.

Instagram API Changes

Updates to the Follows & Relationships, Commenting on Public Content, Likes, and User search will occur.

Many third-party Instagram apps will be affected and will no longer work.

Instagram bots that ‘comment' and ‘like' photos will no longer work. Some bots will inevitably do a work-around in order to still exist, but just like before, use of these are against Instagram terms of service and will likely end in a ban to the account. Brands and users may experience lower engagement due to the lowered number of bots, but rest assured, the engagement and followers you earn will be by actual humans (most likely!)

The photos and posts you ‘like’ on Instagram will now be private to you. Nobody will be able to see what you are liking.

You can no longer see if a user follows you on Instagram.

TPM Assurance

As our clients know, TPM is always up-to-speed on the latest social media news. We can assure you that there is no reason to panic from a business stand-point. Our team will be discussing how these changes may affect your business and how best to proceed with our strategies while adapting to these changes.

The Power of A ‘Mom Blogger’

March was Women’s History Month and it made me think of the many women who have contributed to our history, society, and culture, as we see it today. It also made me reflect on the impact women have had in marketing, in particular the relatively recent rise of influencer marketing amongst my fellow moms.

What initially started as simple innocent blogs from stay-at-home moms (many of whom had spent years as successful business women prior to becoming parents) trying to connect with other moms for support on parenting, products, joys, and frustrations, suddenly grew into a network of thousands, then millions of women listening to women. Not surprisingly, brands started to take notice and recognized the value of mom bloggers and their huge online following. Many of these women were able to turn their blogging hobby into a full-time job by getting paid for affiliated advertising, banner ads, product reviews and giveaways.

 Mom Blogger:  Marnie Rae

Mom Blogger: Marnie Rae

Ever since the initial blog monetization, women have, in essence, become creative directors, content creators and the media vehicles behind their blogs. Women realized that they could pick and choose what brands to blog about and how to share it. What started as simple ‘mommy blogs’ morphed into niches like food, fitness, fashion, interior design, jewelry, travel and much more. In today’s world influencers now execute vast marketing campaigns by effortlessly weaving brand messages into their own reputable voices.

Today there’s an overwhelming amount of mom bloggers on the web -- 4.2 million  to be exact, and they make up a powerful content marketing army. On average mom bloggers mention brands 73 times per week, making them lucrative to brands as they are harnessing influential bloggers on their corporate sites or social media sites.

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Smart marketing isn’t about reaching everyone, it’s about reaching the right one. Big brands understand the trust level moms have with their fellow moms, and that their credibility and trust far exceeds what their brands can achieve through conventional channels or even celebrity endorsements in some cases.  Studies have shown that 66% of moms believe word of mouth is credible and 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advise from blogs. From a brand perspective, negotiating with a mom blogger can be much more straightforward as many have menu rates for different types of engagements. Those rates would generally include the use of the product or service in question, something of value to the moms as well.

 Top 2017 Mommy Blogger:  Mommy's New Groove

Top 2017 Mommy Blogger: Mommy's New Groove

With the rise in the prevalence of mom bloggers and how companies engage with them, there is a risk that content is influenced by which companies offer the most robust compensation to the blogger.  Even as a marketing agency it is not always easy to determine which bloggers we engage with will yield the best results. Of course we will look at community size, community demographics and their past work, but at the end of the day results will be determined by how much the bloggers’ constituency trusts them.

Ultimately, as a mom, there are few opinions I trust more than my ‘mom squad’, or the other women I commiserate with while raising my three kids. And that is something that no ad agency or celebrity campaign will ever be able to replicate.  Happy blogging ladies!

Working Remote: Amp It Up

Working effectively, being engaged, and being productive are goals for all employees of a business -- but these are especially important for those that are completely virtual. While working remote has many benefits, it is crucial for those who work out of home offices to find routines that help them be productive and feel connected at the same time when not seeing their fellow colleagues daily.

During SXSW this year, I attended a meet-up called, Feeling Connected in the Virtual Workplace, led by Rolando Balli, a Business Development Consultant at RRB Ventures, who helped develop Dell’s Connected Workplace initiative, and by Laura Hambley, President and Co-Founder of Work EvOHlution.

About 30 people who work remote in some capacity attended this meet-up and we separated into three groups to brainstorm on big ideas such as Wellness in the Virtual Workplace, Communicating in the Virtual Workplace, etc. I was placed in a group focused on Wellness in the Virtual Workplace and we discussed some great themes for those who work remotely.

The first item we discussed dealt with barriers to wellness in the virtual workplace. If you work in a virtual office, what hurdles would you describe? Here are some the group discussed:

  • Working through lunch or for hours at a time without taking a break
  • Not separating work from leisure when working in a home office
  • Working into your evening hours instead of cutting the time off when you leave a physical office
  • Not feeling connected to your colleagues
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We then discussed ways to combat these habits and how to feel more connected to your colleagues when you may be separated by miles. Rolando from RRB Ventures mentioned creating connections builds trust and reliability and are incredibly important to focus on when working in a virtual office. Here are some key takeaways from this discussion:

  • Check in with each other on a team call before hopping straight to business. It’s important to see how everyone is doing to feel more of a sense of community and to build a bond between colleagues.
  • One person’s company hosts Lunch with a Leader once a month where everyone hops on a call at lunchtime and a leader of the company discusses the standing of the company along with any client updates, and it provides a time for the others on the call to ask questions and discuss topics that might not come up otherwise.
  • Virtual dance parties help one guy’s company spice things up at their workplace each month when one person picks the music and they all hop on a video call and dance for five minutes then go back to business as usual.
  • Several people mentioned using Slack to cut down on team emails and to increase communication in general.
  • A suggestion that stuck out to me was to celebrate birthdays. One person mentioned they do birthday calls where everyone gets on a call and wishes that person a happy birthday. This really made sense to me as birthdays are typically celebrated in an office setting so why not celebrate them when working virtually? It is important to create connections with those you email with on a regular basis when you don’t see them face-to-face regularly.
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Another element that can improve your virtual office is to change up your workplace environment by going outside or adding nature to your day.  Experts say adding nature to your day helps relieve workplace stress. Here are some suggestions our group had to switch up your routine:

  • Check your emails and drink your morning coffee outside on your patio at the start of your day.
  • When traveling, work outdoors at a park or outside of your hotel instead of working in your room.
  • Encourage your company to use a hashtag such as #whatsyourviewtoday to challenge each other to switch up their routine and share their view for the day.
  • If you don’t have nature nearby that is conducive to work, play sounds of rain or ocean waves in the background for a soothing touch.
  • Eat lunch outside to breakaway from the indoors for a bit.
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Lastly, a good way to break up your day is to add some physical movement to your routine. When working remotely, it is easy to sit at your desk for long periods of time whereas you may have walked to other offices, desks, meetings, etc. in a brick and mortar office. Here are ways to move more throughout your day:

  • Take a 15 minute break and take a walk outside.
  • Hop on the treadmill or elliptical if you have one that is easily accessible.
  • Take a call and go on a short walk while on the call to knock out the call and add physical activity to your day all at once.

Overall, working in a virtual office offers fantastic opportunities to be productive and to add nature to your day. It does however put some pressure on you to feel connected to those you don’t see on a daily basis. How do you connect with your colleagues when working remote?