Social Media

Post-Election: A Loser’s Guide to the Internet

Some things are just too darn hard to bear. You know what I’m talking about — wars, natural disasters, hangnails. In my case, the recent outcome of the presidential election has sent me into a spiral of depression that will likely take me four-to-eight years from which to recover.

I know I’m not alone. For proof, see this article in QZ.com on post-election depression, and how election-addiction leads to post-election depression.

After more than a year of consuming as much news as I could about the election, I’ve found that, now that the whole thing is over, I want to banish it all from my psyche. Yet every time I go online, it pops back up. It’s like after eating a garlic pizza — sure it was fun at the time, but the resulting indigestion is no picnic.

I’ve taken to going onto Facebook only when needed, and I’ve also avoided the Twitter account I’ve set up strictly for bathroom humor.

To keep my sanity, I’ve started compiling a list of websites that are largely non-political. They are decidedly geek-infused, mainly dealing with the future or the distant past. My attention will be on them for the next four-to-eight years:

  •  Wikipedia’s “On This Day.” A daily timeline of events, births, deaths and holidays and observances on any given day. Hey, did you know that Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” was published Nov. 14, 1851? Thank you, Wikipedia!
  •  Space.com. All things space, all the time. Want to know about super-moons, gas giants, Uranus, and other giggle-inducing astronomical trivia? Space.com should be your destination.
  • AVClub. The sister publication of the satirical news site, The Onion, The AVClub is a smart, snarky guide to film, books, television comics and more.

You can’t completely avoid post-election news, but they’re a good substitute for sites such as Politico that regularly fed my election junkie habit, for which I’m currently paying the price.

Also, kudos to the slacktivists on the image-sharing site Imgur, who, shortly after the election, attempted to block any news of the presidency from the front page by upvoting photos of sea slugs.

Also, I’ve started reading about three or four books simultaneously, most of which are between 40 and 20 years old at this point. I’ve become reacquainted with my favorite film from the 1990s, “The Big Lebowski.”

I’m sure this won’t last. We all move on and the healthy, better part of us learns to accept things the way they are, even if we don’t like it. And with that, comes a refinement of social media habits and learning that life does not stop and start at our convenience.

Besides, the holidays are upon us! And those aren’t at all depressing.

Creativity Without A Script

Last summer, one of America’s most beloved fixtures on public radio signed off from his role as host of A Prairie Home Companion. Garrison Keillor, 74, had been hosting the Minnesota-based variety show since the 1974, having revitalized a genre of entertainment that had largely been replaced by television.

I’ve been thinking about Keillor after having a conversation with Breaking Even’s Nicole Ouellette about this month’s blog theme — creativity and the creative process.

Arguably, the most memorable aspect of Keillor’s time at PHC is his monologues that capped off every episode of PHC. Rather than take each episode off with a bang, Keillor’s monologue is a quiet, intimate affair. There’s little fanfare, no eruption of fireworks, no zany vocal sound effects that frequently punctuated the rest of the show.

“The News from Lake Wobegon” was more of a hot cup of tea on the back porch than Broadway-style finale. It speaks to Keillor’s creativity that he could close his show every week in such a quiet, captivating way.

Keillor, in a 2006 interview with CMT, stated, “I never found that to be true, but I did find that if you want to get people’s attention, you speak more softly.”

The monologue starts that same — “it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, my home town” — and then delves into the lives of its Lutheran inhabitants.

Keillor once told National Geographic that the creation of the fictional town was, in part, brought on by the loneliness he felt after moving to Freeport, Minnesota in 1970: “No minister visited to encourage us to worship on Sunday, no neighbor dropped in with a plate of brownies. … I lived south of Freeport for three years and never managed to have a conversation with anyone in the town. I didn’t have long hair or a beard, didn’t dress oddly or do wild things, and it troubled me. I felt like a criminal.”

Either despite, or because of, that isolation, Keillor was able to craft a fictional small town, described, tongue in cheek, as a place “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

How real those characters become, however, also depends on the audience, according to an interview Keillor did with The State in 2015: “I leave it to the audience to imagine the characters – I just try to get the events straight. I create a scaffold and the audience imagines a building – that’s how it works. The stories are based on real life in some way. … When you live in one place for so many years … your memories are attached to the landscape, particular streets, the river, woods, a town, and you only need to drive around slowly and you will recall enough stories to occupy you for hours.”

Each week, Keillor, would recite that week’s “news,” without a script, apparently on the fly.

It wasn’t completely improvised — let there never be said there’s no room for preparation in the creative process. Keillor would write a draft for each monologue in the days leading up to the show, and would review it a couple of times before delivery.

“The monologue you hear is a man trying to remember what he wrote down a few hours before. Sometimes, while he’s trying to remember it, he thinks of something better,” he told CMT.

The illusion was Keillor making a story up on the fly, as if he was your uncle, recounting a tale of the darndest thing you ever heard, when, in reality, there’s a lot of planning involved.

“It’s not the job of an entertainer to have a moment of revelation on stage, but to create them for other people,” Keillor told VQRonline in 2001.

Keillor has handed over the reins of PHC to musician Chris Thile, most notably of the country/bluegrass band Nickel Creek. But he has kept busy with his writing, a craft he has been honing long before he ever took to the airwaves in Minnesota. He even popped up in the news very recently after writing a scathing open letter to Donald Trump.

Keillor, by the way, is still performing live. He has performances scheduled until at least April 2017.

Links referenced in this post:

20 Questions with Garrison Keillor- CMT

Church on Saturday Night – VQR

Garrison Keillor on Storytelling, Technology, and Mockingbirds- The State 

Garrison Keillor Letter to Trump- Washington Times 

Facebook’s Attempt at Mind-Reading

Social media has always been a platform for self-expression, and has even evolved into a way for people to stay in touch and get updates on current events. Facebook in particular has some interesting methods of encouraging users to share their experiences, beyond the “What’s on your mind?” prompt for status updates.

In the past year or so, it seems like Facebook has been upping the ante in terms of getting people to share how they feel about things-current events, politics, sports, even seasonal changes.

Sometimes, it seems as if Facebook is reading our minds…These are a few of the things that I’ve noticed in the past few months that Facebook has offered to anticipate what we want to share:

Temporary Profile Pictures and Overlays

Last summer, Facebook started introducing temporary profile pictures as a way to let people show support for a cause, be it political or showing support for a sports team. When you make a temporary profile picture, you have options for how long you want to have it set for (a day, a week, a month), and then it will automatically switch back to whatever you had before. Last November, Facebook created a French flag overlay to show support for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Facebook prompts users to show their support by creating a temporary profile picture. In these circumstances, a temporary profile picture is meant to extend support and solidarity no matter where you are in the world.

Good Morning/Afternoon/Seasonal Changes

A couple weeks ago marked the first day of fall, and you may have noticed a “happy first day of fall” message at the top of your Facebook newsfeed. A couple months ago, I was on my phone and noticed a “Good Morning, Kassandra” message with a sun beside it (in the same top-of-newsfeed position). This isn’t an every day occurrence for me, and I haven’t figured out what the pattern is (or if there even is one), and one day there was a “Good Afternoon” curve ball. These messages don’t even have a “share with the public” option, so I can only imagine that they’re just to create a positive user experience.

Let People Know that You’re ______. 

Another feature that borders on creepy is the “Let people know you’re watching” option during a sporting event (only on mobile). The scores will automatically appear if you’ve liked a team’s official Facebook page. Facebook has since added a new “Sports” section that you can access to get updates from any team without having to “like” a ton of Pages. This area of Facebook is called Sports Stadium, which came out this past January. In addition to sharing a status update, you can “hang out” with other Facebook friends who are watching the game, too, and talk about it within the app.

sports

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Another example of a narrowed “let people know what you’re doing,” Facebook started sharing a “Register to Vote” campaign. When you click on it, you get taken to a printable page for voter registration along with instructions. And, because it’s Facebook, you could share with others that you’d registered.

Safety Check

Similar to “Let people know you’re watching,” Facebook has a “Safety Check” feature. If you are in an area that’s in crisis (natural disaster or otherwise), Facebook picks up on this if your location services are on, and will ask you if you are safe. Fortunately, I live in a pretty low-crisis area, so I’ve never seen this in action, until last week when one of my friends used the tool to let people know she was safe in North Carolina. For those of you who watched our Facebook Live video last week, we talked a bit about this Safety Check feature there, too.

fbsafetycheck

These are just a few ways Facebook is attempting to anticipate what people care about and changing the way we interact with each other online. Can’t wait to see what’s next, Facebook!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Facebook Live And Facebook Ads: An Experiment

Rumor has it that advertising/boosting Facebook Live videos is less expensive and more beneficial than other types of Facebook Ads.

Of course, we wouldn’t just rely on a rumor. So we ran a little experiment where we boosted two posts (a Facebook Live video and a blog post we wrote) with the same amount of money for the same seven day period. (Like any good experiment, you should only change one variable at a time!)

facebookadvideooutcomes

 

facebookadvideooutcomes2

Some interesting things we can see right away.

  1. The blog post I promoted wasn’t styled sexy. I could have worked a little harder to make it visually compelling, especially for mobile.
  2. The video got way more direct engagement (clicks) and reach (views) than the other post.
  3. The blog post got more comments and shares, which we could argue is more ‘deep’ than someone liking or viewing.
  4. We didn’t use tracking links or any real call to action (ex: email newsletter signup) to see if these drove actual business. So not an entirely amazing experiment on all fronts.

One experiment can’t definitively prove anything, but our results show that Facebook is making Live video ads a cheaper prospect to those willing to give them a shot. (I will say, it is cool Facebook let’s you pick your thumbnail; don’t settle for the one they give you!).

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Facebook Live: What We’ve Learned So Far

I’ve been on the whole video marketing bandwagon for at least six years. Even in its infancy, I had an introductory (terrible) video on the Breaking Even site so people could get to know me. Circa 2010 ya’ll:

(Wow, that was painful… but how awesome was my lime green kitchen? I mean really.)

I did videos sporadically but talking at a camera by yourself, well, it’s not very interesting (no matter how informative the material).

When Kassie started working here threeish years ago and she was also not opposed to doing video, we had a weekly Google Hangout for about a year. Since it was live, we stuck to a schedule- Thursdays at 10 a.m.- to take out any guesswork for our fans.

Here’s an example of how many people watched us:

googlehangoutlifetimestats

99 times. Ever. Like in the video’s entire life.

At first, I took it that people didn’t want to watch us. (Leave it to Self Deprecating Nicole to take it personally right away initially.)… Until I thought about it and realized 1) Not many people are generally using Google+ and 2) Our target customers tend to be not on this network anyway, and if they are, they most likely aren’t “on” it frequently enough to watch videos.

When Periscope (live video tied to Twitter) came out, we got a bit more popular:

periscopestat

(I get that this is only 50 viewers compared to the 99 on Youtube but this was 1) way less promoted and 2) only available on mobile- while the other one is available everywhere so despite the number being smaller, I think it’s more impressive.)

But still, while we do have more of a Twitter following, our active people tend to be on Facebook and Pinterest the most.

So when Facebook Live came out, I was excited to be able to do the live video thing in front of our intended audience… though I am happy we got other practice first.

facebookliveinsights

Top two posts are video posts, bottom two are popular photos. As you see, people LOVE the video.

While the videos did get a lot of love, you may ask yourself, “OK Nicole but did anyone watch them?” An excellent question:

facebooklivedeepstats

Ok so 7% of people (Alison King and maybe two other people) watched all the way through. And 62 our of the 124 video views only watched it for ten seconds.

Now this begs the question: does it MATTER if people watch the video? Or do you just want them to like, comment on, or share your post so more people see stuff from your business in a general way?

The answer in, my case, is both. Kassie and I thought about what we wanted to talk about but we didn’t work hard on scripting it (you see the stats of people watching it and probably get why). We come up with a few ideas that we think are interesting and will have value for viewers, but there’s nothing rehearsed about these recent videos.

What we can find the most compelling about Facebook Live (besides the fact that people actually seem interested in it), is that according to my sources, it is less expensive to ‘boost’ (re: paid advertise) a Facebook Live video then other kinds of Facebook posts.

So whether you are looking at this from a building relationships perspective, from a ‘viral content’ perspective, or cheaper advertising vehicle perspective, Facebook Live is something to watch and something we plan on continuing to experiment with. You can check out our live videos on our Facebook page, or check out this collection of 7 early Facebook Live experimenters (all brands) to get inspired for your own debut, should you choose!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Building a Press List

So, we’ve covered the dos and don’ts of press releases in our two previous posts. Now that you know how to write a press release, you’ve got to know who to send it to. You could scramble for a bunch of local media contacts in the days before your event or product launch. Or you could have all that information stored nice and neat in a spreadsheet and in the contacts on your email client.

Compiling your first list will require an investment of time and patience upfront, but will payoff when you’ve got to send your press release to multiple outlets quickly, and the right contacts are there at the click of a mouse.

Break out Excel; you’ve got a spreadsheet to make.

Who goes on your press list?

If you’re a small business and organization, I recommend you keep several types of lists. They include:

• Media

— Newspapers (local, regional and state)
— Blogs and aggregators
— Broadcast — TV and radio (Learn who your local TV affiliates are — those who carry network programs such as NBC, CBS, ABC, CW and FOX — and find out if they have a local newscast.)

• Trade publications

— Industry-specific regional, national or international trade magazines and newsletters

• Chambers and business organizations

— Local, state and regional chambers of commerce
— Local business development associations
— If applicable, other non-profits and anyone else who distributes community news, such as local access cable stations

What to include:

Your spreadsheet should include names, direct phone numbers and extensions as well as email addresses.

Many news outlets have a general email address for you to submit your news to. Others have an online form. These methods are often convenient for both your organization and the media outlet. But it also makes it easier your information to get lost in the daily deluge of information media outlets deal with.

There’s a workaround, but it’ll take some time and effort on your part: Getting specific.

If you’re a business, know who the business editors are at your local news outlets; if you’re a theater or gallery, know who the A&E editor is.

Also, get a list of reporters and their beats. Let’s say your TV station covers the communities of Bedrock, Springfield and South Park. If your business is based in Springfield, you’ll want to make sure your press release gets to the Springfield reporter directly from you, in addition to being sent to the business editor.

If you’re sending to business development associations or chambers of commerce, make sure you keep up-to-date with whoever is in charge of marketing.

Maintenance

Your contact list should be updated once a year. Call the paper, TV station, chamber, etc. directly and make sure your information is current. Fair warning — this project is often time consuming, but is great if you have an intern.

A couple of things to remember:

• When you write, write to capture as broad an audience as possible.

• Don’t ever assume that local media won’t want to run your press release. If you’re a local business, you’re part of the fabric of the community. Well-written press releases about local businesses are more welcome than not.

In other words: When in doubt, send it out.

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