Big Gay Social — Media, That Is

This Scoop Shop’s Secret Sauce? Social Marketing.

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Founders Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff outside of one of the locations of Big Gay Ice Cream, the quirky East Village ice cream shop. |Image: biggayicecream.com.

Great story on Mashable – with video – about Big Gay Ice Cream, the Manhattan-based ice cream truck and bricks and mortar stores of the same name and how they’ve used social media to fuel their brand.

They have found that their quirky take on tweets and Facebook posts have won over fans.

Social media is a tool. Just one arrow in your marketing quiver. I can only say this a million times before someone is bound to key into it. These guys understand it’s about raising your profile, not necessarily equating numbers of tweets with numbers of widgets sold.

Next time you happen by, try a Salty Pimp. Or a Bea Arthur. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Kurtz’ Bad Reporting Cost Plenty of Money

Howard Kurtz’s Bad Reporting About Jason Collins Cost Him A Lot of Money (Forbes / Mixed Media)

Contrary to appearances, Howard Kurtz didn’t lose his job at the Daily Beast over his boneheaded reporting about gay basketball star Jason Collins, or over his excessive extracurricular work. What he did lose was money — quite a lot of it. (The Atlantic Wire) So it turns out Kurtz wasn’t exactly fired by the Daily Beast just for his egregious Collins story — but Kurtz’s defense that his exit “was in the works for some time” still wasn’t pretty: Tina Brown had been “putting together a file” of excuses to fire him, and the big gay cover-up heard ’round the media world let her dump Kurtz and his quarter-million-dollar contract, quickly and affordably.

MediaBistro Morning News Feed, 5/7/13

Word to the wise: check your sources and get your facts straight. Since when did this NOT become the first thing you learn in J School?

How to Say Thank You — A Saga and A Case Study in Doing It Right

Okay, kiddos, I brought this up at work last week and a few people seemed to understand some of the words, so I thought I would repeat it in more augmented form here. So, here’s a few tips from the land of Savvy-Ass Marketing 101, inspired by watching the Kickstarter campaign of the web series EastSiders unfold.

This needs a set-up, though. Once upon a time, back before the flood, back before the earth began to cool, back around the time Mr. Edison invented the Mazda lamp, I worked in non-profit professional theatres. Most of my job was to develop marketing and promotional schemes for plays and events. Getting people to buy tickets. I was exceptionally good at it.

There are two revenue streams in this type of business: (1) earned — the things people purchase and (2) contributed — the money people give you.

One night, working late, I thought about contributed income — and I usually didn’t because development work bored me to bits — and it occurred to me that we were doing a poor job of marketing our fund-raising. (The people that I pitched this idea to decided to humor me and let me do whatever I had already decided that I was going to do, having already discovered that I am the type of person that it’s best to humor or it’s just death by a thousand cuts until you give in.)

Most people build thank you programs on the public television “donor appreciation” model. You know, “For a $25 contribution you get this Downton Abbey tongue depressor, but for a $250 contribution we’ll send you a wooden spoon autographed by Mrs. Patmore.” And I did it, too, but where I went a bit rogue was designing the actual thanking. What?

Yes. I actually told people how to write the words “thank you.”

Here’s the deal: people adore something personal. Back in the days of print, I had note cards printed so we could hand write a note. You would then hand address the envelope and put a real stamp on it — never, ever run it through the meter or label it — because you (yes, you) cannot resist a hand addressed and hand stamped envelope, especially when you know there’s a card inside.*

THEN, I took it a step further and conned a few of my company members to write these notes for me. Except, I didn’t want them doing the “big gets;” I asked them to write the notes for the smaller gifts, e.g.:

“Dear Mrs. Jones,
Thank you so much for your gift of $25. Your gift is so important to us as it allows us to continue producing terrific shows like our recent production of Uncle Vanya that I was so proud to be a part of. We really do appreciate — and need — every gift, so your generosity truly does make our shows possible. Again, thanks.
Steve Actor

P.S. I hope to see you next month when I’ll be appearing as Danny Zuko in Grease!”

Theatre fans LOVE to get stuff from actors. It worked because of that and it worked because it was genuine. Every time we had a chance to thank someone personally, we did. And while I’ve thought up a blue million thank you gifts in my time, nothing has ever worked better than a personal thank you note.

Besides, the warm fuzzy you get from the thank you note may engage you to be receptive to increasing your gift AND it makes it more likely that you’ll be more receptive to purchasing another ticket (or widget/fruit basket/dog obedience class) the next time I have one for sale.

Flash forward to social media infused today. What’s the equivalent of the hand addressed thank you note? Well, how about this:

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Here’s what happened. I like this series. I think it’s smart — and smart is rare on the web these days. They began a Kickstarter campaign and one of the things they asked — because, remember, you don’t get anything unless you ask — was that if you’ve contributed then to share it on your Facebook or Twitter. Okay. Fine.

This is called word-of-mouth and historically it’s the most important way ticket sales are influenced. It’s also a personal appeal and that’s the most effective influencer there is.

I wrote a short blog post and then sent it out on Twitter. HOW HARD WAS THAT?  Next time I looked at my phone, I had that note. So, what now? Well, now I’m invested. I am an invested investor. They have given me a reason to care that they succeed.

Every day this week, there’s been a video posted on YouTube about their progress. AND a thank you to the fans and contributors in each one. This has been a super successful campaign. They met their initial goal in four days. Then, this tweet arrived:

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Then, this video was posted later in the day:

Why? Why do this? Why make this thank you video? Why send out updates? Why tweet out screen shots of your Kickstarter page? Why make a series of thank you videos? Why? Because, cats and babies, that’s how you get to do it again.

Be grateful. Be genuine. Be appreciative. Be bloody, bold and resolute. Be gracious. Be humble.

How many people are going to fund your next great idea — no matter how well-crafted it is — if you’re a dick?

See, there’s nothing fun — nothing useful — nothing creative — about sitting home alone, brooding that the world doesn’t understand the genius that you know you are. In the immortal words of cold pop-loving Internet meme Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

On the other hand, “Could you help me with an idea? I’d really appreciate it,” goes one helluva lot farther.

So, the first barrier is breached: the “we need this much money to just barely do it” barrier. Now, the harder work comes: the “we need to raise money to pay actors, to pay crew, to feed people on set, to rent better lights, to have more edit time, to make it a viable enterprise” phase. And it’s harder because people are more likely to give money for bricks and mortar than flesh and blood. Sadly, that’s really true across the board in almost any fund-raising enterprise.

I’m looking forward to see what the EastSiders team does next — because they’ve done the marketing of their fund-raising flawlessly so far — and they’ve stayed bang on top of all the social stuff which, I can’t stress this enough, is so incredibly critical to this type of enterprise but so easy to let slip.

I want to see how far above that initial goal they get because, you know, a labor of love is great, but you can’t pay the electric bill with it.

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N.B. — I just checked, as of 1/22/13 they have raised a bit more than $21K which is more than their revised goal. There’s still two weeks left. I do enjoy seeing a plan come together!

*Truth in advertising: not my original idea, I just tweaked it and played with it. Like “Fresh Eggs and Flying Lessons,” I stole it, but I always credited it as such!

Husbands vs. Partners

Husbands, the web series, is pioneering new message delivery methods.

Lots of space being taken up in newspapers, magazines and on the Innerwebs about the new “gaycoms” on network television this season — especially “The New Normal” on NBC and “Partners” on CBS.

I’ve blogged about this a couple of times in my “Things That Interest Me” section (HERE) and (HERE).

I’m bringing this over into the Marketing area now because I want you to think about how the innovative web series “Husbands” differs tremendously from the network sitcom “Partners.”

I find that there is a savviness and a fluidity to the writing on “Husbands” that I don’t see on “Partners.” And I think that’s because it exists on the web and does not suffer from the restrictions from producers, from the network, from the advertisers, and, quite frankly, from the money. Oh yeah, money restricts you. In my experience, a lot of great art is created on a shoestring while a lot of mediocre art is foisted on us by those wearing Manolo Blahniks.

“Partners” on CBS, developed by Kohan and Mutchnick, the team that also created “Will & Grace.”

“Partners,” I find is muddy; “Husbands” is crisp. A lot — okay, most — web series suffer from pretty bad acting and storytelling that will get you a C+ in most college level Creative Writing classes, but “Husbands” sets itself apart by using excellent talent and having excellent writers. The first season of 11 very short episodes functions, in aggregate, as a 22 minute pilot episode, but I’m glad they decided not to go to television because it’s better without the restrictions.

Here’s why I wanted to put this story here: how effective are you telling your story in the medium that you are telling it? When you find the right medium, you’ll be better able to find the right message. (My, what a very meta riff on McLuhan.)

For the record: www.husbandstheseries.com and www.cbs.com/shows/partners.

Marketing Fail: Truth, Lies and Chicken Sandwiches

If you’ve been following social media for the last few days, I’m sure you’ve run across this Chick-fil-A mess. In case you are just coming out into the warm sunshine after a long hibernation, you should know that Chick-fil-A is a Georgia-based fast food chain that is known for its chicken sandwiches — and for the far right-leaning politics of its founder, S. Truett Cathy and current president Dan Cathy.

That’s the basic set-up.

Three things have happened recently that has brought Chick-fil-A to the top of certain news wires. First, Dan Cathy gave an interview to the Baptist Press where he noted that the company was supportive of traditional family values. Then, in the wake of reports about Chick-fil-A’s support of a number of anti-gay organizations, the Jim Henson Company announced that it would pull its affiliation with the firm. Photos then started appearing that seemed to imply that Chick-fil-A had removed the Henson toys from their stores because of a “possible safety issue.” Then, the company was accused of creating a fake Facebook account and using it to dispel rumors.

Think what you want about Chick-fil-A. Personally, I think they are repellent, but I want to put politics and beliefs aside here and focus on what this means for marketing, PR, and the implications thereof.

Casey Chan first reported the story on Gizmodo.

Here’s a clip from Chan’s report:

Yep, Chick-fil-A is still stuck in its own reality and is doubling down on its lie. Instead of owning up to the fact that The Jim Henson Company stopped doing business with them because they’re overrun with bigots, the chicken sandwich company appears to have made fake Facebook accounts to defend its honor on the social network. How do we know the accounts are fake? Just check out this back and forth on Chick-fil-A’s Facebook page between real, breathing people and “Abby Farle”, a Facebook account that was made 8 hours ago by a chicken PR flack with a stock image of a teenage girl as her profile picture:

I have several problems with Chan’s report, blatantly filled with editorializing and unsubstantiated allegations. This is not investigative journalism. It’s not even journalism. It’s a rant.

Cavan Sieczkowski’s report on Huffington Post  is better, but neither actually have any substantive proof that the Facebook postings came from anyone associated with Chick-fil-A. It’s all a lot of reporting on rumors. Chick-fil-A, by the way, denies any fakery came from them.

Given Chick-fil-A’s track record, I’m not so sure that I believe them, but I hope it’s the truth. Those of us engaged in the pursuit of advertising, marketing and public relations are all ill-served by a corporation that would stoop to chicanery such as this. When everything finally shakes out, a corporation that is found lying about itself, its products, services or business practices, makes it that much harder for the general public to believe those of us who go about our daily lives in this field telling the truth.

And, of course, telling the truth is at the heart of the matter. Advertisers, marketers and public relations folks who are doing their jobs, are doing them with integrity. That’s the only way you can be successful in the long-term. As the great David Ogilvy said nearly three decades ago in Ogilvy on Advertising (he also said something very similar in 1963’s Confessions of an Advertising Man), “The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.”

When you forget that — when you begin to think of “the consumer” as some nameless, faceless, idiot that you can control with your clever spin — please, for the good of mankind, get out of the business. When you think you can solve a problem with lies, stop it. You can’t. When you think you can fool people by pulling a stunt like creating a phony Facebook persona, you’re doing it wrong. You’re not a marketer. You’re a liar. And you’re corrupting my profession.

Sadly, I fear many have indeed forgotten, if they ever thought about it in the first place. Just a cursory read of the comments on Chan’s Gizmodo story is enough to turn my stomach. Where, oh where, has integrity gone?

And one last thing — and this goes to you photo editors out there — the Jim Henson Company does not own the Muppets. Disney does. So, all those stories about the Henson Company cutting its ties with Chick-fil-A that show a photo of Kermit the Frog or Miss Piggy? Well, you should probably change them to reflect a product actually owned by Henson. It’s called authenticity. And good journalism.

As for me, well, I’ll never spend a dime in a Chick-fil-A restaurant and I’ll ask my friends not to either. Dan Cathy won’t ever feel my refusal in his pocketbook, but it makes it a lot easier for me to get up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror.