The 5 Fundamentals of Cause Marketing

Guest post by Corey Pudhorodsky, Senior Client Partner at Social: IRL sponsor, Spredfast.  Originally posted in the Spredfast blog.

Cause Marketing – the word is tossed around more than a caesar side salad, but what does it actually mean? What are the components of a strong cause marketing campaign and how do you make it relevant to you and your audience and consumer?

In a recent strategy session comprised of industry thought leaders, we dissected cause marketing and uncovered five essential ingredients for a powerful campaign. Participants shared their own interpretations and uses for cause marketing, along with tips for final evaluation.

Attendees included:

Audrey Tiger, Senior Product Manager at Spredfast

Kristen Haga, Director of Client Services at Spredfast

David Modigliani, Creative Director at Flow Nonfiction

Alana Kalin, Account Executive at Blippar


1. Know Why You’re Doing This   

Simply put, Cause Marketing is the intersection between a brand and a cause whether that’s a cause through a third-party nonprofit or a cause that a brand adopts. Marketers are using this tactic for several reasons, both to promote a brand message and also to produce social good.

The beauty of cause marketing lies within it’s ability to add value and reinforce a brand’s image with audiences – all while using that social impact to make a difference in the world. It sounds like a perfect marriage for all parties involved but before you slap together a cause marketing campaign, some planning has to happen.

2. Be Yourself

Authenticity in cause marketing means choosing the right campaign for your consumer. Brands these days come with predefined images of what audiences already believe a brand to be, so planning a cause marketing campaign means choosing the cause that already aligns well with the image your brand portrays. If you’re a weapons manufacturer, it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for you to select an anti-gun cause for your campaign.

Choose a cause that’s relevant to the brand and those who receive it. Once you have this connection it becomes easy to tie the cause to your product in a way that the brand can openly discuss. That my friends, is authenticity.

3. Alignment is Everything

Similar to authenticity, selecting a cause that pairs well with your brand is essential to the success of your campaign, but how do you know what resonates with your consumer? Well, that’s where social really steps in – with social you can see what your consumers are talking about, what they’re saying in their everyday conversations through social and word of mouth, and what their interests are. Take this collection of knowledge and match it up with a cause.

Below are two examples of cause marketing campaigns that clearly took brand alignment into account:

Lucky Charms


During Pride Month, General Mills celebrated diversity with a campaign around the Lucky Charms brand. The LGBT community and its allies were engaged by a call-to-action asking audiences to submit Tweets or Instagram stories using the hashtag #LuckyToBe while aggregating that content to the brand’s Tumblr page.

(RED) Campaign


The (RED) campaign was created in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to involve people in the widespread fight against AIDS. To bring social to the forefront of their campaign efforts, Spredfast created “Pulse of (RED)”, a display of images that brought in social posts from (RED) campaign supporters. There, (RED) connected with supporters while observing how audiences were interacting with their organization.

These brands selected causes where they knew they could make an impact. With absolute certainty they could say, “your cares are aligned with my cares” when talking to their audience. Once they’ve reached that point, brands can give the audience some control vs. the brand trying to sell to the audience. The brand becomes the giving facilitator and this option becomes very organic, like the grocery store adding $1 to your final bill.

Of course there are other factors to consider such as timing – when are people in the giving mood? Take that authentic message and content you’ve worked so hard to craft and capitalize on it at the right moment when your audience is feeling philanthropic. And by capitalize I don’t necessarily mean money either. These campaigns aren’t always asking audiences to do something – they could also be simply raising awareness. When brands tell a story in their cause marketing campaign, audiences are compelled to give back which is actually more effective in many cases. People will be more inclined to give later, but in the meantime they can interact and participate.

4. Extend Your Caring By Sharing  

So we get that it’s nice and all, but aside from that, why do cause marketing? Brands can only exist within a certain amount of mindshare of every consumer’s space and level of interest. When you align with a cause, you’re increasing the level of impact that you have around what those consumer interests are. With Hollister, for example, teenagers are only going to be thinking about clothes so much. Maybe they’re also thinking about surfing or the environment or a whole other set of interests that brands can tap into to show that their ideas are shared.

By creating an extension of your brand formed around other interests, brands can attach themselves to causes and extend their impact. We think about mechanics (where will they share and how will we host it) but first, we must think about the story. Tell an impactful story.

Now it’s finally time to spread the word – it’s actually a step that people miss, believe it or not. Brands need to ask others to engage and share, look at the share/retweet/follower to follow ratio on Twitter. Are you going to promote a hashtag or use a celebrity endorsement?

5. See How You Did

The end is just as important as the beginning and evaluating the success of your cause marketing campaign is the only way to learn from past mistakes or pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

How do you know if it was a success?

That has a lot to do with what you’re planning to measure. If you’re looking at reach, it would be based on the total potential reach or number of interactions that you’ve had. If you’re looking to raise money, it would be based on the total number of funds that have been donated either through your audience of consumers or your brand, based on the number of activations you’ve reached from people who’ve participated. If you’re looking at awareness, you might do some surveying before and after to see what’s been the increase in education about the cause.

Whatever your goal is, it must be established beforehand. If you’re partnering with a nonprofit make sure that you know their goals too because the best cause marketing campaigns are the ones that aren’t just performed one time. It’s the brands that have an ongoing partnership with a nonprofit where the brand is really increasing their interaction with a cause of a period of time.

Ready? Set? Plan!

The best cause marketing campaigns are the ones that have a lot of thought behind them. Reach beyond the obvious with a campaign that resonates with your audience and tells a story that the consumer can relate to. There’s so much more beyond the business aspect of a brand where clients are interacting with products in uncovered ways – it’s up to brands to get in touch with these storytellers and raise awareness. The people who care and causes already exist, brands just have to connect with them.

Preparing for Twitter’s New Layout

Guest post by Courtney Doman, Digital Marketing Manager at Social: IRL sponsor, Spredfast.  Originally posted in the Spredfast blog.

Twitter recently started rolling out its new look for desktop. Initial feedback is all over the map from high praise (“stunning visual format!”) to skepticism (“Haven’t I seen this before?”)  It’s only natural to have an opinion about the new look, but getting hung up on specific changes is for the birds. Smart social marketers are already thinking about how to make the most out of their renovated real estate.

Here are five things you can do to make the most of Twitter’s new layout:

1. Update your profile picture

The aspect ratio of you profile picture hasn’t changed; it’s still a square. But things are getting much bigger in the new layout. Upload a 400x400px image to ensure that your profile picture looks great in the timeline and the new larger format profile picture at the top right hand of your profile page.

2. Add a new header image

This one will bum out the clever people and brands that had a “picture-in-picture” thing going on with their profile picture overlaying the header image.  In the new layout, the profile image is left of center and only overlaps a small portion of the cover photo (okay, even we’ll admit, this is quite similar to Facebook.)

This frees up a broad swath at the top of your profile to share an image that tells your brand story. Look at the two different stories told by Chobani and the New Zealand All Blacks. Two very different, but equally compelling messages, conveyed with a single image.

New Twitter Header Images

3. Pin an important tweet to the top of your profile page

With (well over) 5,700 tweets per second being published every day on Twitter, it’s easy to wonder whether your brand’s message is being swept away in the mad currents of your followers’ Twitter streams.  Now, if you have an important message to convey, you can pin a tweet to the top of your brand page so that it’s the first tweet a visitor will read.

Quick tip: don’t use this space to introduce your brand- that’s what your bio is for. Use it to communicate timely information like details of an upcoming sale, a match or episode specific hashtag to enhance a second-screen experience, or an important cause your brand is supporting.

4. Take advantage of new photo sharing features

Before rolling out these new desktop updates, Twitter announced social enhancements to photo sharing via mobile. You can share up to four images in a single tweet and tag up to ten people in a photo. All without taking up any more of those precious 140 characters. While these updates only affect mobile publishing, you can still view tweets with multiple pictures and photo tags from any device.

How can your brand use these features? Think about events like new store openings, or tab your design department to create a diptych, triptych, or tetraptych (we had to google that last one) where each individual image, as well as the collective collage tells a story. Michelle Obama used this feature to share photos from her recent trip to China.


5. Think about your audience(s)

While your brand may have an established presence and following on Twitter, remember that many of these changes have been motivated by Twitter’s desire to draw new users to the network. This is great for brands seeking to engage and invite more people to participate in their social community and experiences. Understand your audience and share content that will engage your community, new members and old alike.

6.  Remember, a lot of your audience is mobile

76% in fact.  These changes to the profile page currently only affect desktop views. Keep an eye out for how these updates may potentially impact mobile use, but for now, don’t take your eye of the ball in optimizing tweets for on-the-go consumption.

Are you looking forward to the new visual layout? To help you get started, we’ve created a cheat sheet to make the most of your visual timeline:

Twitter Layout

Lead in the Collaborative Economy: Attend KC’s Inaugural Resilient Summit

Mary Noulles

Guest post by Mary Noulles, Marketing Communications Manager at Triple-I, Kansas City’s premier technology consultancy focused on the application of emerging technology. With more than five years of experience in brand and marketing strategy development, she proudly supports Triple-I’s efforts to help build the Silicon Prairie. Triple-I are also a sponsor of Social: IRL’s Resilient Summit. We are grateful for their support. 

A few years ago, our family decided to spend the Holidays the right way – with each other, disconnected from work and the day-to-day distractions of social media, our busy lives and just plain noise. So what better way to escape than in the remote town of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. We booked our flights and later, our rental home via AirBnB. Then, all we had to do was wait for sunny Costa Rica.

The above story is relatively commonplace for most vacationing families and couples. However, there was a growing movement happening right before me. Our inclination to reserve a room via AirBnB was natural – we didn’t browse major hotel and resort sites nor did we compare prices with a travel agent. Instead, we researched and selected a home, someone else’s home, we thought would be the most accommodating – all from the comfort of a couch with a glass of wine and nothing but daydreams.

Founded to connect travelers with unique accommodations across the globe, AirBnB is an online portal for people to research, list and reserve rooms or homes for vacations. Want to stay in a penthouse in a New York? No problem. House in the trees? It has that, too. In fact, in a recent Forbes article, AirBnB stated it will “eclipse Hilton to be the world’s largest hotelier in 2014.” To me, it’s because AirBnB isn’t selling a rental home – it’s selling an affordable lifestyle, an experience, that many years ago seemed only attainable for the Joneses.

Our increased adoption of sharing services, like AirBnB, is indicative of a movement identified as the “collaborative economy.” As subject matter expert Jeremiah Owyang says, the collaborative economy is the global shift toward “human to human” marketing and business collaboration. The collaborative economy removes silos of “corporate America,” allowing employees, clients and consumers to be a part of the decision-making process at all levels.

With the rise of the devices and an increasingly mobile workforce, the collaborative economy leverages the intersection of creativity and technology to make us more efficient and to enable enterprise collaboration. And nowhere is this global trend better positioned for growth than in the Kansas City region.

With our unique blend of Silicon Valley innovation and Midwest values, our business ecosystem represents a symbiotic approach to success; “we” versus “me.” From Sprint’s increased investment in the startup community – whether it be in the newly established Sprint Accelerator or in its partnership with Local Ruckus – to Kansas City’s effort to be “America’s Most Entrepreneurial City,” our region is poised to be a leader in the collaborative economy; we will lead in the New Reality versus follow in the new normal.

We blend industry and academia, connect students with corporations and invest in our community to fuel innovation. With grassroots efforts like Athena League, led by representatives from PoslinelliKauffman Foundation and Triple-I, as well as groups like KC Women in Technology and the Women in STEMM, our region leads our nation’s effort to invest in and foster female entrepreneurship and leadership. Our community and the innovators, creatives, technologists, students, teachers, business professionals and civic leaders who comprise it are the collaborative economy. It’s a mindset, one that’s inherent in our Silicon Prairie.

Join us February 6-7 and learn how our community can continue to leverage this momentum to create, build and lead in our collaborative economy. We’ll see you there.

Register for the Resilient Summit here.

Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers

Maker Manifesto CoverMark Hatch is CEO and co-founder of TechShop, a recognized leader in the global maker movement, and a sought after speaker and consultant on innovation, advanced manufacturing and leadership. The San Francisco Business Times presented Mark a “Bay Area’s Most Admired CEO Award” and Fast Company has recognized him in their “Who’s Next” column. He has spoken to groups from GE, Ford, P&G, ExxonMobile, Kraft, and many other Fortune 500 firms, and has presented at events and universities like TEDx, The Clinton Global Initiative, the Council on Foreign Relations, Singularity U, UC Berkeley, and Harvard.

On February 6, Mark will join Social: IRL and a diverse group of brands, startups, makers, sharers and innovators from across the U.S., at the Resilient Summit in Kansas City, where he will help us explore the role of makers in the collaborative economy, as part of our greater discussion on the role businesses play when people get what they need from each other.

Mark’s book, The Maker Movement Manifestocame out in September of 2013. Thanks to the generosity of Mark and his publishers, today we’re proud to share the entire first chapter of his book here in the Social: IRL blog. It includes a detailed outline of the Manifesto and serves as powerful inspiration for innovation and creativity, as well as a valuable introduction as to why the Maker Movement is so important for our collective future.

Don’t miss your opportunity to hear Mark speak at the Resilient Summit. Learn more and register >> Click Here


Maker Movement Manifesto, by Mark Hatch

Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers

In the spirit of making, I strongly suggest you take this manifesto, make changes to it, and make it your own. That is the point of making.


Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things. Things we make are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our soul.

Make. Just make. This is the key. The world is a better place as a participatory sport. Being creative, the act of creating and making, is actually fundamental to what it means to be human. Secular philosophers like Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Carl Jung, and Abraham Maslow all came to the conclusion that creative acts are fundamental. Physical making is more personally fulfilling than virtual making. I think this has to do with its tangibility; you can touch it and sometimes smell and taste it. A great sentence or well-written blog is creative and makes you feel good about what you have accomplished, but it is not the same as the satisfaction that comes from the physical labor involved in making something physical.

If you come from a Judeo-Christian religious background, whether Jewish, Protestant, or Catholic, then you know that the first book of the Torah or Old Testament is the book of Genesis. Read Genesis Chapter 1 closely. Whether you believe in the literal interpretation of Creation or not, we can probably agree on two things coming out of this chapter. God is a maker, and he made us in his image. It is a very powerful introduction to God and who we are as humans. What do you know about humanity by the end of the chapter? It says, “God made” (or “let,” or “created”) some 15 times and ends with making people in his image. At the end of Genesis 1, we may not know much about God or humans, but we do know one thing for sure: we were made to make.

There is nothing that can replace making—philosophers, religious scholars, and personal experience make that clear. Wars have been fought when the common people thought they were going to lose access to ownership of their own productive tools. So the first thing we must do is make. The do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement industry in the United States is worth over $700 billion. The hobbyist segment is worth over $25 billion. The most valuable segment of the $700 billion DIY is the perpetual remodeler, specifically those who have enough money to let business professionals do the work for them, but don’t. You might know or even be one of these people. In your heart of hearts, you know you don’t really need to redo the bathroom, or certainly not the way you plan to do it, yourself. But you do it anyway. This is because there is more satisfaction in completing the remodel yourself.

A makerspace is a center or workspace where like-minded people get together to make things. Some makerspace members are designers, writers, practitioners of medicine or law, architects, and other white-collar types who come in and start making things for themselves, their families, and friends. They spend time in makerspaces because they just love to make things. They don’t need to make Christmas presents; they want to.

Tina Albin-Lax had made a New Year’s resolution for 2012. She was going to learn how to make something. She signed up for TechShop’s basic laser cutter class and has never been the same since. For $60, she learned how to use a laser cutter. Then she booked it for the next day so she could practice what she had just learned, but she needed a project to practice on. As luck would have it, that evening Tina’s sibling called and invited her to attend her nephew’s birthday party that weekend. With a flash of brilliance, Tina asked for the names of all the children who would be at the party.

The next day Tina used her new training to make cupcake toppers for each of the party attendees. Using the laser cutter, Tina cut out the name of each child and etched in some nice patterns. She finished them with a nice glossy coat and that weekend put one on each child’s cupcake. What child doesn’t love to see his or her name emblazoned on something? Particularly something chocolaty and sweet? Not surprisingly, the parents wanted cupcake toppers for the rest of their children and then wanted them for their children’s parties. It snowballed.

Soon Tina had an online store ( Then she began teaching classes on how to launch a business and had a great mention in Martha Stewart’s magazine, Martha Stewart Living. Her phone couldn’t make it through the day from all the order notifications she was getting. Last I heard, she was working on a book.

This all came about from a simple desire to make something for the first time since sixth grade. An accidental entrepreneur was born. And what was Tina’s background? She was a labor organizer.

I grew up playing neighborhood football with a kid named Ben Parks. His dad was a ceramic artist and had throwing wheels, clay, and amazing glazes around his house. One day his dad invited us all to come out and throw a pot. What a great afternoon. I attempted to make a large vase—and after what seemed like dozens of attempts and lots of help and encouragement—I ended up with a sad-looking, lopsided, very small coin holder. It will hold a couple of dollars’ worth of quarters. I glazed it beautifully with help from Ben’s dad. A couple of days later, after it had been fired, I got to take it home.

This thing is an ugly duckling that will never grow up, but guess what . . . I still have it. It’s small enough that I’ve taken it everywhere I have moved. Its only value is that I made it and it is some kind of memento from my childhood. Looking back, I realize now that I was not the target of that day of making, though I still appreciate the gift it was. Ben eventually became a ceramic artist himself, following in his father’s footsteps. There is something fundamental about making.



Sharing what you have made and what you know about making with others is the method by which a maker’s feeling of wholeness is achieved. You cannot make and not share.

We make to share. Each of us is wired to show off what we have made. We get a lot of satisfaction out of the making, but the real payoff is in sharing. Some people are coy about showing their work off. Others are just terrified. One of the reasons we may have stopped making is that what we set out to make and what we ended up with may not match very well. Or others may have ridiculed us for our attempts. “I’m not good at making anything,” need never be said again. We were born to make. It may take some practice to get good at some kinds of making, but technology has begun to make creating easy enough that everyone can make.

My favorite question to ask at any makerspace is, “What are you making?”

People open up like flowers when asked that question and given any kind of positive encouragement. In this regard, we are all still five years old.

Interestingly, after six years of working in a creative space, I’ve been told, “I can’t tell you everything, but . . .” probably hundreds of times, maybe thousands of times, but I’ve never been told, “I can’t tell you.”

Why? We want others to see what we have done.

When I worked at Avery Dennison, we used to let the newest junior product managers help work on the back panels of our product’s packaging. They had to work off templates that had been approved and developed for the line, and they had to have all the appropriate approvals; nonetheless, the back panel was “theirs.” The young managers would jump into this with gusto, argue over font choices, the kerning of apostrophes, the shade of loam green. I repeat, they cared about the kerning of an apostrophe—the space between a letter and an apostrophe. Look at the space they had to work with here: ’ s. Can you see it? On a high-resolution computer screen, this is about the distance of two or three pixels, and they removed one! Yet, they would protect their design turf like a pit bull protects its bowl of food, growling when someone tried to mess with their back panel.

Let me put this into context. To be a junior product manager at any Fortune 500 packaged goods company, you have to graduate from a respected MBA program at the top of your class. You have to work between your bachelor’s degree and your MBA at another major company with consumer facing interactions. You are among some of the “best and brightest” our schools and companies produce. You will almost always make senior director, VP, SVP, or CEO if you choose, or you will go out and start your own company. If you are a junior product manager at this level, you are a very intelligent, type A, hard-charging, competitive professional.

That said, once the aforementioned products were launched into the channel and we all went to an Office Depot or Staples to see what the final product packaging and shelf positioning looked like in the stores, the junior product managers would rush like little kids to the stacks of “their” products. They would stand in front of them, momentarily admiring the way the products looked on the shelf and then pull a package off the shelf, turn it over, and examine their handiwork. A sense of satisfaction visibly rolled over them as they saw that the typesetters had taken their ideas into final production and the s was just a little closer to the apostrophe because it had been manually kerned. Invariably, these talented, impressive, type A young professionals would turn and say something like, “I did this.”

“I did this.”

“See the space between the apostrophe and that s? I did that.”

The glow on their faces was like a new mother’s when holding her child for the first time. Complete satisfaction. The need to show others one’s new, beautiful child is embedded in the human psyche.

What is going on here? First, while the contributions that these professionals were excited about might seem insignificant—after all, the difference, distance-wise, between the spacing of an apostrophe that has been automatically kerned and one that has been manually kerned is negligible— but the end product is something that can be bought, taken home, and shown to a significant other. Second, it is public. Hundreds of thousands of these packages are shipped all over the world. Third, it is often the first tangible and public representation of years, if not a decade, of work. It isn’t the size of the impact that is significant; it is that there was impact and it was made tangible, and tens of thousands of people would “see” their work. That really is powerfully satisfying, even if it is only the amount of nothing between an apostrophe and an s.

If you make something and don’t share it, was it made? If you make something, even something as small as a one-pixel space modification on the back of a package, and share it, you have made something, and it must be shared.

Another aspect of sharing is sharing knowledge and know-how. The best attribute of a well-run makerspace is the sharing of skills and knowledge. It starts with the formal instruction, but the best learning takes place while one person is building or designing and someone else with just a little (or sometimes a ton) more experience lends a helping hand and the project gets upgraded in the process. The sharing philosophy gives a makerspace its magic. People show off their creations knowing criticism was left at the front door, and everyone feels comfortable asking for help, guidance, and input into projects as they go through the build process. Sharing makes a maker-space a community.



There are few things more selfless and satisfying than giving away something you have made. The act of making puts a small piece of you into the object. Giving it to someone else is like giving that person a small piece of yourself. Such things are often the most cherished items we possess.

One of the most satisfying aspects of making is giving away what you have made. Wonderfully, most people still value gifts made by the giver more than gifts that were bought off the shelf. If you do nothing else this year, make one Christmas present to give away. And reflect on the level of satisfaction you get and the recipient receives in that act. It is immeasurable.

If your parents are still alive, they probably are still hanging onto craft projects you made for them when you were a child. Quilts are often handed down for generations. A well-made item, meeting a real need, made by and for a loved one, is among the greatest of gifts.

There is another type of giving, that of your creativity or intellectual property. Embrace Global is a wonderful nonprofit that used TechShop for some of its development work. Naganand Murty was one of the design engineers who came to our space, under Embrace cofounder and CEO Jane Chen’s direction, to address the problem of infant thermoregulation in developing countries. Babies who are born even a few weeks prematurely are unable to thermo-regulate, or maintain their body temperatures on their own, and consequently must be incubated within one hour of birth or risk death or serious permanent disabilities. For the hundreds of thousands of these babies who are born around the world every year without quick access to incubators (because they are born in rural areas where the nearest hospital with incubator equipment may be several hours, if not days, away), the problem is especially critical.

The question that Naganand Murty and his team had (you’ll meet cofounder Jane Chen in Chapter 3) was fairly simple: Would it be possible to design a simple, affordable “blanket” that could maintain a baby’s body temperature at a constant level for an extended period of time? And that was not dependent upon a continuous supply of electricity? Well, it turned out the answer was yes. The Embrace portable infant warmer, which looks like a mini sleeping bag and costs a fraction of the price of other baby warming devices, uses some fancy chemistry and design to make it work.

But here is the most amazing thing. Portions of Embrace’s core technology were donated to the organization through interactions with other members of the TechShop community. These community members gave their ideas away freely. And as a result, General Electric has signed on to help distribute the blanket, and Embrace is on track to save the lives of 100,000 babies in the next five years. Jane has been recognized by the World Economic Council as one of the top social entrepreneurs in the world.



You must learn to make. You must always seek to learn more about your making. You may become a journeyman or master artisan, but you will still learn, want to learn, and push yourself to learn new techniques, materials, and processes. Building a lifelong learning path ensures a rich and rewarding making life and, importantly, enables one to share.

Making brings about a natural interest in learning. It brings out the natural four-year-old in all of us. “Why is the sky blue?” “Where does milk come from?” “How are babies made?” This natural inquisitiveness seems to be beaten out of most people in school or at home. I’ll let the educators in this community help figure out why “project”-based learning seems to fit some learning styles better than others, but it certainly feels more natural. I always found the order we did things in physics class backward. Instead of being taught the formula for determining the ratio of the required output force to the input force and then trekking to the lab to see how a lever works, it makes more sense to first observe the lever in action and then learn the formula for it. This is how the principle was figured out in the first place, through observation. You observe an effect, then build a theory to fit the observation. It may be faster to memorize facts than to experience them, but then I would argue you don’t really own that fact. “Hot” is a pretty abstract concept until you’ve burned yourself.

The world is such a fascinating place. How do you design and build a table? What kind of joints can be used to join the legs to the table? Which are the best ones for what I’m trying? What periods in history used different technics? What glues should I use, and when do I use a screw or a nail, or a brad, or a staple, or a rivet? What woods have which characteristics? What style do I want? What tools should I use? The options go on and on. They don’t have to; you can jump in and just do it. Or you can plan and plan and plan. The key takeaway, though, is that you are going to learn something. And no one can take it from you.

Learning is fundamental to making. The more time you spend familiarizing yourself with and practicing in a field, the better you will get in it. Very quickly, you will be able to share what you have learned with someone else who is newer to it than you are. There is a different kind of satisfaction that comes from teaching, but it is very real. Watching people you have been teaching become facile and expert in what you have taught them is extremely satisfying.

Learning is fundamental; it is why we have books, libraries, schools, the food channel, the DIY channel, and shows like How It’s Made. These days, the DIY magazine rack at a local newsstand often constitutes 15 to 20 percent of the total space.

From an educational perspective, we live in a sad time for making. When I was growing up, woodshop and metal shop were required courses for middle schoolers. Every middle school I was aware of had a woodshop instructor. I still have the things I made in middle school woodshop, and many of you do too. Today, it can be hard to find a shop in an entire school district. This makes no sense at all. In our “race to the top,” school systems tend to focus only on the students who are headed to college, ignoring the 50 percent of those who aren’t, depriving all students of skills that they could use the rest of their lives.

Just as badly, right as we are on the cusp of the largest explosion of new products and development of physical goods through breakthroughs in materials science, 3D printing, bioengineering, nanotechnology, design, and engineering, American institutions are failing to graduate enough engineers, scientists, and production workers. Economically, this is insane. It is time to reengineer our schools and reintroduce shop class. Oh, and by the way, through cheap and powerful design computers and 3D printers, we can make these courses exciting, engaging, and transformative.

With access to the right kind of tools, you can experience your own industrial revolution in a matter of weeks. It’s possible. It really happens.

Let me give you an example. A couple of years ago, some of our TechShop staff members encouraged me to meet one of our newer members. He was the first I’d met who was taking an extended “maker vacation.” This member had saved up his money for a couple of years working odd jobs as a security guard and janitor, and once he had accrued enough money, he quit his job and took the first vacation he had taken in years.

This man was committed. He had the bug. He wanted to learn how to make things. He was good with the hand tools, but he had never taken welding, machine shop, woodworking, textiles, 3D printing, computer-aided design, or any number of other classes.

To stretch his funds, he didn’t stay at a hotel or rent an apartment. Instead, he used to find free places to stay every night. A few times, he couldn’t find a couch, so he just slept in his car. Couch surfing turned out to be a great tool for him to help us find new members. He was so focused and excited that he would go “home” at night and tell his new couch surfing host all about what he was doing at the shop. We picked up half a dozen or so new members that month. We actually kicked around the idea of turning him into a sales representative by having him couch surf through the Bay Area for a couple of months.

But even better, he became a maker that month. He took every class he could schedule and went from hand tools to power tools to computer-controlled advanced manufacturing tools. He could weld, lay out carbon fiber, CNC mill, lathe a bowl, and spin a lighting fixture. He even picked up a little electronics in that 30 days. His desire to learn was so powerful that he quit his job, stayed at strangers’ houses, and created other new makers in his enthusiasm. What is holding you back?



You must have access to the right tools for the project at hand. Invest in and develop local access to the tools you need to do the making you want to do. The tools of making have never been cheaper, easier to use, or more powerful.

I had to use a phrasal verb as a heading to this section so it would be consistent with all the other one-word headings in the manifesto. I like manifestos heavy with verbs.

You and I are living through the most amazing age in all of human history. Whenever someone asks me which time period I would like to be living in, I always say “right now.” Tools are getting easier to use, they are more powerful, and they are cheaper to acquire than at any other time in history. Materials are becoming more accessible, more sophisticated, and more fun to work on and with.

Odds are, you cannot possibly afford all the tools you may want or need. So join a makerspace. What I have learned is that a community of makers does not fully emerge until a complete makerspace is provided. The advantage of a well-equipped makerspace is that it attracts people with a widely diverse selection of projects, creating a beehive of activity, passion, knowledge, and sharing. When a large and diverse set of tools is provided, a large and diverse group of makers comes out to live, work, and play. The following is a general list of what a well-equipped makerspace needs in order to meet the needs of a community. There may be a few more or different tools on your list, but this is a good start:

  • Laser cutters
  • CNC milling machine(s)
  • Manual milling machine(s) with digital readouts
  • Manual lathe(s) with digital readouts
  • 3D printer(s), consumer and commercial grade
  • 3D scanner
  • CNC (computer numerical control) waterjet cutter (4 × 8 foot)
  • Vacuum forming system
  • Heat strip bending system
  • Injection molding system
  • Commercial grade sewing machines
  • Overlock sewing machine (also known as a serger)
  • Quilting machine (preferably CNC)
  • Computer-controlled vinyl cutter
  • Powder coating system (and large oven)
  • MIG (metal inert gas) welders
  • TIG (tungsten inert gas) welders
  • Handheld plasma cutter
  • Sheet metal spot welder
  • Sheet metal brake (16 gauge × 50 inch)
  • Rotary sheet metal punch
  • Sheet metal corner notcher
  • English wheel and planishing hammer
  • Sheet metal shear (6 gauge × 50 inch)
  • Sheet metal roller (16 gauge × 50 inch)
  • Sandblast cabinet
  • Metal grinders and sanders
  • Metal chop saw
  • Metal horizontal band saw
  • Metal vertical band saw
  • Electronic testing and soldering equipment
  • Large format color printer
  • ShopBot CNC wood router saw (4 × 8 foot)
  • Panel saw
  • Wood planer
  • Wood jointer
  • Wood band saw
  • Wood sanders
  • Wood scroll saws
  • Wood lathe
  • Drill presses
  • Granite surface plate with digital height gauges
  • Compressed air throughout shop
  • Compressed air hand tools
  • 30 or more design computers
  • 30 or more copies of or licenses for Autodesk Inventor, Maya, 3D Max, 123D Make, AutoCAD software
  • 30 or more copies of or licenses for Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat
  • 30 or more copies of or licenses for National Instruments LabVIEW Professional development system
  • 8 or more National Instruments multifunction data acquisition devices
  • Member storage
  • Private studios for rent
  • Meeting rooms and/or classrooms
  • 12 large work tables
  •  Wi-Fi
  • Retail store
  • Free coffee and popcorn

And, of course, the local makerspace must then have staff to teach classes and manage this great space.

I’m not going to apologize for the size, breadth, or depth of this list. This is, in fact, what is required to foment a maker revolution. Without the tools and community it is impossible to maintain a movement. Revolutions are fought and won with arms. These tools are our “arms.” Without access to them, nothing has changed. They may be easy, cheap, and powerful, but they are useless if you can’t use them.


Be playful with what you are making, and you will be surprised, excited, and proud of what you discover.

The most productive environments I have operated in are often the ones where there is a lot of laughter. We joke about the craziest things. We are playful with the ideas, stretch them to extremes, and morph them ridiculously. Even in the military with the Special Forces unit I was a part of, we were constantly exploring ideas, trying new ways of working, and even goofing around.

One day we learned that the quickest way to cut down a tree was with a detonation cord (det-cord) and plastic explosive. The number of wraps and the amount of plastic varied depending on the size of the tree we were trying to “cut down.” The det-cord cut the tree, and the plastic would kick it out in the direction we needed it to fall. If just the det-cord was used, the tree might randomly fall on a nearby object by accident. This became a feature once we figured out how to control the direction of the fall. By using the plastic as well, we could drop the tree on something on purpose. That was a great day, or, it was until we started a small fire. Live and learn. No, actually, play and learn.

We have artists and engineers (among many other categories of users) in our space. What is interesting is that the engineers typically come to a machine with a set of things they are trying to accomplish. The artists, often enough, come to a machine to experiment and see what it can do. (They also tend to break the machines a little more often, and not because they don’t know how to operate them; they are just pushing the equipment to do something beyond its normal operating environment.) When the two are combined, watch out. Have you ever heard a CNC milling machine play a tune?

Blocks, LEGO, and Erector sets are what I grew up with. Kids now have LEGO Mindstorms, radio-controlled robots, and Arduino microcontrollers. Soon, the home 3D printer will be the PC accessory of choice. Playing with these toys is a lot of fun and will help to raise up another generation of makers.

Recently, I received a note that one of my sons had updated his Facebook page with a video titled “Hovercraft.” I was on the road and had no idea what this referred to, so I clicked through to YouTube and watched him floating around our garage on a homemade hovercraft. He had found instructions on the Internet, gone to the hardware store and bought the pieces he needed, and in an afternoon he had built a poor man’s hovercraft using an electric leaf blower as the drive. He now has a hovercraft, and I’ve got a leaf blower. He was playing around, but he learned how to use a couple of saws he had never used before. I built a trebuchet with my other son and had a blast getting the cats to chase flying paper balls around the house.

Building is a form of play. There are times I have a hard time distinguishing the difference between work and play. I hope you will have the same experience in your work life.



Join the Maker Movement and reach out to those around you who are discovering the joy of making. Hold seminars, parties, events, maker days, fairs, expos, classes, or dinners with and for the other makers in your community.

We are not islands. Though there is a time to work in solitude, to focus, to push oneself without distractions, there is also a time, and I daresay most of the time, where it would be better to be working together, or at least sharing a creative space. The warmth of another human in the room or workspace is preferable to working in solitude. Many artists, engineers, and inventors work alone in their labs and studios, but just as many or more collaborate. Even if they don’t collaborate directly, they will seek out the comfort of a peer group to hang out with. Writers form writing clubs, others form co-ops to share tools or workspace. Many go into business with friends or collaborators, not just because they need to, but because they want to. We are social creatures. It is great to be able to build up your shop in the garage or barn, but it is sad to work in it alone day in and day out. It is more fun to work together.

Participation takes many forms: working directly together; attending events; and participating in societies, clubs, and parties with others who care about the work we do and share. One such event, designed specifically for makers by the editors of Make magazine, is the Maker Faire. Held in various locations around the world, Maker Faires are annual events where thousands of makers come and hang out together to look at, participate in, and experience a wide range of fun projects that makers are working on in the area. The primary Faire is held in Northern California and attracts over 100,000 attendees over the course of a weekend. Smaller, local versions, called Mini Maker Faires, draw up to a thousand people to see a hundred or so projects, booths, and exhibitions.

The sense of wonder and amazement on the faces of the kids (both young and old) at these events makes all the effort and expense that go into the Faires well worth it. Watching the performance group, ArcAttack, rock onstage inside a Faraday suit while making a 500,000-volt Tesla coil “sing” along with 15-foot-long bolts of electricity striking the suit is unforgettable. Nor will one easily forget the 40-foot-long, fire-breathing, heavy metal–playing metal dragon. Or Colossus, the 70-foot-tall, 25-ton flying boulder merry-go-round where little kids can pull on a rope attached to flying multi-ton boulders hanging over their heads. These engineering entertainment devices thrill and amaze thousands every year. Engaging young people and getting them excited about science, engineering, technology, and math is a key driver of the Maker Movement.



This is a movement, and it requires support. Emotional, intellectual, financial, political, and institutional support are needed. The best hope for improving the world is us, and we are responsible for making a better future.

Governments have spent billions, if not trillions, of dollars building institutions of learning, research, development, and experimentation. Almost none of them open their labs up to the public. Actually, I’m hedging here, I haven’t found any yet that do, but I’m sure there must be one somewhere. We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on building research institutions across the United States and the world—and within them very little self-directed, self-interested research is taking place. All of that research requires approvals and funding from third parties, a general manager’s approval, a budgeting committee’s approval, progression through a stage-gated new product process, and the receipt of a grant from a foundation or government.

Instances of access to the tools of research and development outside of institutional direction are exceedingly rare. Why? It is a fact that the tools of the industrial revolution have been exceedingly expensive, hard to use, and of limited power—until now. They are now cheap, easy to use, and powerful, yet we have not made any changes to how we organize access to these tools. This must change. Those countries that change the fastest in this regard will have a serious competitive advantage.

What can you do? Support policy changes at your institution that open up the labs to others in the institution and to those in the local community who don’t have access. Help allocate new funding to set up open access fabrication studios. Pressure universities, government research labs, and large manufacturing companies moving into your community to set up open access fabrication studios.

We live in a world now where computers are everywhere. We carry them in our pockets and call them phones. Similarly, the software tools to design and produce things will be coming to your preferred screen; yet without access to a Kinko’s for making things (a fabrication studio), you are no better off than before.

Please do what you can to support your local maker community. We have seen a number of technologies come out of makerspaces that have already changed the world. These innovations were created cheaply, quickly, and easily by small teams and, in most instances, by people from outside the domain they were disrupting.



Embrace the change that will naturally occur as you go through your maker journey. Since making is fundamental to what it means to be human, you will become a more complete version of you as you make.

Whenever one joins a movement, one changes. This is a good change. Embrace it. Participating in the Maker Movement is a personal journey. Each will look different. No two makers are exactly the same. No two paths will be the same. But you will change. You will begin to see the world through the eyes of someone who participates in creating. You will look with wonder again at great artisanship. You will wonder how someone was able to design this or that, and you will begin to appreciate local artists, designers, architects, and artisanship in your community. You will wonder where something was produced and who made it—you will look for the story behind the artisanship You will ask about local talent and local sources for things you never dreamed you cared about before.

Joining the Maker Movement and participating in it locally will open up your life to the highest concentration of creative people in your community. You will meet poets, laser etching their words on oak panels, you will meet a financial planner building sets for her children’s play. You will see someone start a hobby that leads to an avocation and then a business employing a dozen locals. You will enjoy the excitement and joy of giving those you love a piece of yourself through gifting to them something you made just for them. Join me, join us, join the movement—it will help you become you.

The Maker Movement Manifesto

In February 2014, Social: IRL principal Ben Smith and Crowd Companies founder Jeremiah Owyang, will co-host The Resilient Summit – a two-day conference exploring key issues surrounding the collaborative economy. The summit will take place in Kansas City, with participants ranging from major global brands, financial institutions, and marketing agencies, to leaders in the maker and sharing movements, tech startups, small businesses, city leaders, and civic organizations. Attendees are registered from across the United States as well as Canada and Europe.

Maker Movement ManifestoA keynote speaker at the Summit is Mark HatchCEO and co-founder of TechShop. The San Francisco Business Times presented Mark a “Bay Area’s Most Admired CEO Award” and Fast Company has recognized him in their “Who’s Next” column. TechShop also won the EXPY Award, given to the “experience stager of the year.” 

Mark is a recognized leader in the global maker movement and is a sought after speaker and consultant on innovation, advanced manufacturing and leadership. He has spoken to groups from GE, Ford, P&G, ExxonMobile, Kraft, and many other Fortune 500 firms. He has presented at events and universities like TEDx, The Clinton Global Initiative, the Council on Foreign Relations, Singularity U, UC Berkeley, and Harvard. At the Resilient Summit Mark will help us explore the role of makers in the collaborative economy, as part of our greater discussion on the role businesses play when people get what they need from each other.

His book, The Maker Movement Manifestocame out in September of 2013. Thanks to the generosity of Mark and his publishers, we will be sharing the first chapter of his book here in the Social: IRL blog. Today we start with an outline – what is the The Maker Movement Manifesto. In subsequent posts we’ll expand on the Manifesto with the entire first chapter.

Don’t miss your opportunity to hear Mark speak at the Resilient Summit. Learn more and register >> Click Here


Maker Movement Manifesto, by Mark Hatch

Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers


Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things. These things are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our souls.


Sharing what you have made and what you know about making with others is the method by which a maker’s feeling of wholeness is achieved. You cannot make and not share.


There are few things more selfless and satisfying than giving away something you have made. The act of making puts a small piece of you in the object. Giving that to someone else is like giving someone a small piece of yourself. Such things are often the most cherished items we possess.


You must learn to make. You must always seek to learn more about your making. You may become a journeyman or master craftsman, but you will still learn, want to learn, and push yourself to learn new techniques, materials, and processes. Building a lifelong learning path ensures a rich and rewarding making life and, importantly, enables one to share.


You must have access to the right tools for the project at hand. Invest in and develop local access to the tools you need to do the making you want to do. The tools of making have never been cheaper, easier to use, or more powerful.


Be playful with what you are making, and you will be surprised, excited, and proud of what you discover.


Join the Maker Movement and reach out to those around you who are discovering the joy of making. Hold seminars, parties, events, maker days, fairs, expos, classes, and dinners with and for the other makers in your community.


This is a movement, and it requires emotional, intellectual, financial, political, and institutional support. The best hope for improving the world is us, and we are responsible for making a better future.


Embrace the change that will naturally occur as you go through your maker journey. Since making is fundamental to what it means to be human, you will become a more complete version of you as you make.

In the spirit of making, I strongly suggest that you take this manifesto, make changes to it, and make it your own. That is the point of making.

The Nice List: The Best Campaigns from Holidays Past

Guest post by Courtney Doman, Digital Marketing Manager at Social: IRL sponsor, Spredfast.  Originally posted in the Spredfast blog.

You have probably already seen tinsel and garland in the aisles of your favorite department stores and may have even grumbled that it is “too soon!” But if you are a marketer, particularly for a retail brand, there is no time like the present to put a bow on your holiday strategy for this year.

Social activations are becoming bigger and better parts of many brands’ holiday strategies. We’ve assembled a “Nice List” of standouts from the 2012 holiday season. Check it out for some social inspiration.

Provide a One-of-a-Kind Experience.

A personal touch goes a long way. REI wowed with their #giftpicks campaign in 2012. REI called on their Green Vests—passionate in-store employees who are knowledgeable and helpful, to create real-time video responses to REI members asking for help buying gifts. The team shot about 90 custom videos for this campaign. Not only did the gesture deepen relationships between the brand and members receiving responses, referral traffic to REI’s site doubled. Want to read more about this campaign? Ekaterina Walter wrote a great recap last year.

Nice List 1Give the gift of great content.

The holidays are a time to celebrate and look good doing it–whether you’re scoring facetime with your boss at the office holiday party, sitting around a feast with family, or ringing in the new year with your friends. You might guess that Brooks Brothers, America’s original clothier, has your outfit covered. But did you know that they also provide scores of tips and tricks on how to navigate the holidays with style and ease? The Brooks Brothers blog, Of Rogues & Gentlemen, covered everything from creating a knockout charcuterie plate to writing the perfect thank you card last holiday season. The holidays are hectic. By providing useful lifestyle information, Brooks Brothers was able to create value for customers and stay top of mind, with something other than a sale.

Nice List 2

Invite People to Share their Wish List.

81% of U.S. Consumers are influenced by friends’ social media posts. Getting consumers to actively discuss preference for your brand’s goods or services is a powerful tool that can drive further awareness and preference. Last year, Sephora asked their twitter followers to tweet the Sephora products on their holiday wish lists to “@Sephora Claus” and granted the wishes of 30 users. The campaign garnered over 50,000 entries. The great interactive user experience allowed entrants to discover other wishes and engage with the campaign.

Nice List 3

Surprise and Delight

Many brands are tapping in to the visual, inspirational nature of Pinterest to stage their holiday social campaigns. Pinterest collaborated with people, businesses, non-profit organizations, and celebrities to reveal 30 holidays boards in an interactive calendar for their 30 Days of Pinspiration Campaign.

Nice List 4

H-E-B, a Texas grocer, ran a Pin to Win campaign during the 2012 holiday season, asking customers to pin their favorite holiday meal ideas to a Pinterest board for a chance to win a $1000 gift card. It was a great way to start a conversation about holiday food traditions and get users engaged.

Nice List 5

Are there any other holiday campaigns that stood out to you last year? Shoot me a tweet at @cjdoman to discuss. Looking for ways to make your holiday campaign memorable this year? Check out this tip sheet for 5 Social Media Best Practices for Retail Brands.

Seven Key Takeaways from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

Guest post by Jeannette Arrowood, Senior Account Manager with Social: IRL sponsor, Expion.

Keeping your arms around everything that’s going on with social media and in digital could be a full-time job. Thankfully, Mary Meeker has been putting out an epic deck for the last 2 years called “Internet Trends,” and she’s taken it on as her full-time job to summarize for the rest of us where digital and social are going.

Mary Meeker is an important name to know in the world of startups and digital: not only is she a partner at an influential venture capital firm, but she’s been involved since the days of funding Netscape, back in the dark ages of the early 90’s. Last year’s “Internet Trends” deck was quite accurate, so we expect her collaboration with Liang Wu to be on point for the upcoming year, as well.

We took the time to flip through this year’s 117-page deck and pull out the tidbits that we found the most interesting. We’ve got the highlights broken out below.


Photos, Video, Sound, and Data

It’s been all about uploading photos to social for the last year and change—see Instagram, Snapchat, Flickr, Facebook photo albums, etc. Video uploads are a swiftly rising tide that cannot be ignored—see YouTube, Vine, Cinemagram and Dropcam. Sound is also a growing trend—SoundCloud and Tencent WeChat are two of the leaders that should be mentioned. But the really interesting trend to pay attention to is the way that data is being shared and examined.

Have you heard of Waze? It’s a mobile navigation application that crowdsources user data to provide its users with real-time traffic information. Think of all the ways data compilation and sharing is changing our lives. From traffic updates to changing the way we stay healthy—UP by Jawbone, FitBit, and the Nike+ Fuelband, the use of personal data to better understand your surroundings is going to be huge.

Wearable Technology

All of those products that help you to stay healthy listed above are a part of an emerging trend often referred to simply as “wearable tech.” That is, technology that you can wear. It’s been all about mobile technology and the smartphone, but now we’ll be seeing that technology turned into something you can wear. Google Glass and Apple’s rumoured smart watch will be just the beginning (Samsung is reportedly getting in on this game, too!). As mobile traffic on the web continues to explode (because people LOVE their smart phones), and as tablet traffic grows even more quickly, we’re likely teed up to see that same data be consumed via wearable technology.

Short-Term Sharing

Short-term sharing is a trend that has mostly been driven by a mobile app called Snapchat. Snapchat users send more than 150M images every day. And remember Poke? The Facebook copycat of Snapchat? They weren’t nuts to develop that app—Snapchat sees more uploads than Instagram.

Who’s Using Which Social Media Channels?

Facebook is leading the pack, in terms of number of users, but Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest have all seen some big gains in the user department—and that’s not just those who are “on” the networks. That data comes from those who self-report which social media channels they actually use.

If you know of anyone thinking of stepping away from Facebook because of reports that “no one’s on Facebook anymore …” stop those people in their tracks. So far, mobile usage on Facebook is up so much, that it’s making up for any decline of usage on the desktop.

Expion Guest Post Photo 1

The US Shares Things Online … But Not That Much

In comparison to other countries, the US falls on the lower end of the range in terms of how often we share on social. Who reports that they share “everything” or “most things” online? Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and China. Those areas of the world might become increasingly important to those who work in social.

Expion Guest Post Photo 2

China, China, China

China’s mobile access to the internet has surpassed desktop access, and, if you think about it, this totally makes sense. It’s cheaper and easier to access the web via a mobile device than it is to make a larger investment in a more expensive laptop or desktop computer.

QR Code scanning in China is up 4 times year over year—this no doubt can be traced back to the popularity of accessing the web via mobile in China.  You can even follow the UK Embassy’s Weibo Account by scanning a QR code outside the Embassy’s building in Beijing.

China is also using social differently from the rest of the world because the services available there are a little different from others (you can’t access social channels like Facebook in China). Tencent has been around for 15+ years—that’s 6 years longer than Facebook, and they’ve got almost double the revenue. One of their services—Tencent WeChat lets users connect to friends and family via voice, text and pictures. But WeChat also provides a way for users to scan merchant QR codes to opt-in to receive special promotions and coupons. This is a seemingly dead-simple way to link the in-store experience with the online and mobile experience.  Those merchants can then sell to consumers via WeChat, send offers and coupons and provide customer service all through WeChat.

Sina Weibo, another Chinese social media channel, has helped to drive government response to important public issues and provided users with a way to organize during emergencies. Users of the service generate photos, answer polls, talk to each other, repost information and make suggestions to collaborate and drive change.

Groupon’s Not Dead Yet … Maybe

This was a total surprise thrown into the beginning of the deck … Groupon’s, reportedly, not dead. Despite being the butt of jokes of consistently delivering disappointment on the stock market, “its first quarter revenues rose 7.5% to a better than expected $601 million.” And their transactions on mobile are up from less than 15% two years ago. They do 45% of their sales from mobile, anyway, but maybe they shouldn’t be written off entirely. We’ll have to wait and see if mobile turns Groupon into a comeback kid.

Bottom Line

People are really into aggregating data about themselves. No surprise there that navel gazing remains a popular pastime, but wearable tech changes the game in terms of what you can do with that knowledge.

China is a force to be reckoned with based solely on the number of users that are on social networks, but those users are spending more time on the internet and on mobile than users in the US (who are watching more TV and listening to … the radio?).

It’s also clear from the section of the deck that examines immigration in the US and the spiking shortage of highly-skilled workers that we should all be sure our children are studying computer science and upping their game in the development department if we want them to be gainfully employed in the next 30 years.

jeannette headshotJeannette Arrowood is a social media industry veteran who has worked as a Community Manager, Social Media Strategist and Digital Marketing Consultant. She loves the internet, hosting videos, content curation and trendspotting. She recently returned to Raleigh from Brooklyn and joined Expion as a Senior Account Manager. Over the years, Jeannette has worked with a number of large brands including Mondelez International, Kraft, MTV, AT&T, and Hilton, and she currently works with some of the world’s largest digital agencies to optimize their use of Expion’s social media management software. 

Maybelline New York on their Global Social Community and Award-Winning #TopChicret Campaign

Guest post by Courtney Doman, Social Media Specialist at Social: IRL sponsor, Spredfast.

Maybelline won two Shorty’s this year: Best Use of Video for the Top Chicret announcement of Charlotte Free as the face of Maybelline New York and Best Facebook Brand Presence for Maybelline New York India. I sat down with Charlotte Adjchavanich, Vice President of Digital at Maybelline to discuss the winning campaigns and Maybelline New York’s approach to social.

Congrats on the big win(s)! How do you align social within a multinational company with so many product offerings?

We set the guidelines for our brand presence and create and approve the assets to be used in global markets across all social media platforms at our Headquarters (known as the DMI which stands for Direction Marketing International) for Maybelline New York. We set the guidelines, the do’s and don’t’s, determine which types of imagery and posts are approved, so that we can create one consistent global brand image. For us, that global brand image is based on our DNA: Fashion. Education. Innovation. New York. We use those as our filters when developing social content.

We have a social presence in 106+ countries that fall within regional zones (e.g. Eastern— Western— Central— Europe, Asia, Latin America, North America) and we rely on a mix of internal teams and agencies to maintain our global social presence.

The #TopChicret campaign tapped Sh*t Fashion Girls Say’s P’Trique (and a score of influential fashion personalities) to announce the new face of Maybelline in a viral YouTube Video. How did you come up with this campaign?

Spredfast - Maybelline 2We’re really proud of the #TopChicret campaign and so honored to have won a Shorty Award. ICED Media is a great partner to us and this concept was genius. A major theme for Maybelline is “Catwalk to Sidewalk”—taking fashion and making it translatable to the consumer. When we decided that we wanted to use an influencer to help us reveal Charlotte Free as our new face, ICED came to us and said: What about P’Trique?

And in terms of our filter, he really checked every box. Fashion? Check. Education? OK, there is a reveal, so you’re going to learn something. Innovation? Well, that’s using a meme. New York? The video was shot in New York and we used a lot of New York-based Influencers.  I fell in love with the idea. It was definitely daring, which is something we strive to embody as a brand—not just in product innovation but advertising as well, Maybelline was the first to be talked about on radio, one of the first brands to use recognizable models—so it made sense for us to push boundaries with video in a digital campaign.

The #TopChicret video was a big success and your YouTube Channel is full of great content, what role does video play in your social efforts?

Spredfast - Maybelline 4Video is very important to us. It is definitely an area of investment, focus, and priority. We centralize video production at the DMI to create consistent, high quality videos in line with our DNA so that we don’t dilute the brand.

Tutorial videos are major. Nail is the leading beauty product trend right now and by May we will have shot 43 how-to videos for our Color Show Nail Line. We’ll also often receive director’s cut assets from other advertising platforms that we distribute digitally to provide an extended or behind the scenes look at the brand.

What Goals are you trying to achieve on Social?

We’re focused on education and engagement. We’re using innovative technology and great content as two key drivers to achieve these goals.

Who makes up your social community?

On Facebook, we have 12.5MM + on our 57 pages. Our YouTube channels globally get an average of 2.5MM views each month

How do you encourage fan engagement?

We prompt lightweight engagement and reaction with open-ended questions or either/or questions (“Which shade of lipstick do you prefer?”) and, of course, we respond to customer inquiries (“Where can I find this eyeliner?”). We also create opportunities for deeper engagement, such as soliciting User Generated Content in our activations for new products to build buzz. We definitely are not a one-way communication brand.

How do you see social evolving for consumer brands in the next year?

The focus will be fewer, bigger, better. And beyond that, it will be about integrating social and digital more fully in the marketing mix to create a 360 approach, no matter where or how the consumer wants to interact with us. We’re actually beginning to incorporate augmented reality experiences into in-store displays so that you can instantly access and stream content from your smartphone. It’s about eliminating disconnects. No dead ends.

I loved learning more about Maybelline New York’s daring and innovative approach to social. There is no doubt in my mind that these were two Shortys well earned.

Listen to Learn: The First Stage of Social Business Transformation

Guest post by Eric Melin, Manager Marketing & Communications at Social: IRL sponsor, Spiral16.

Social Business StrategyAt this stage in the world of widespread social media adoption, it seems that almost every company has some kind of social media presence. It may not be cohesive, and it might not be integrated into your overall strategy, but hopefully your company has gone beyond the experimentation stage and has implemented a social media program in either a marketing or customer service capacity.

(If you’re using web and social media monitoring for market/industry research too, you are well ahead of the curve — congratulations!)

According to Brian Solis and Charlene Li at the Altimeter Group, there are six steps towards linking customer and employee relationships to social media strategies and business growth. The Evolution of Social Business: Six Stages of Social Media Transformation is a new report that illustrates a process that can move companies into “deeper social business strategies.” This is an in-depth document aimed at taking a company all the way from social confusion to social success.

The first stage is the most important. It’s defined in the report as Planning: Listen to Learn.

  • Before you can begin to build a social strategy, you have to understand the landscape of the Internet and how your company fits into that. What is the social behavior of your customers? Where are they talking about your brand? What needs are they expressing online? This will help figure out on which networks you can most effectively connect with them.
  • Start a pilot social media program and experiment with the intelligence provided by your social media monitoring. Altimeter says many companies use pilot programs to connect the dots between social media efforts and business impact and then prioritizes which strategies to roll out first. Don Bulmer, VP Communication Strategy at Shell also warns to move beyond experimentation soon afterwards, and go “all in.”
  • Competitive intelligence audits help you to understand how your competition is and isn’t using social media. What opportunities are they taking? Which ones are they missing out on? How can you improve on this for your company?

Six Stages of Social Business Transformation









Within this first stage of social business transformation, the report also identifies six best practices in online listening and learning.

 READ MORE about those six best practices in the Spiral16 blog.

Eudora Schools: Embracing Social Media and Creating a Digital-Friendly School District

Kristin MagetteGuest post by Kristin Magette, Communications Director at Eudora School District in Eudora, Kansas.  Originally posted at and re-posted with their kind permission.  Disclosure: Eudora School District is a Social: IRL client.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. At school, they make us nervous. We hear stories about teachers losing their jobs and students losing their innocence. We see the nasty rumors and insults that can flourish online. So if we clamp down and keep social media out of our schools, we’™ll be good. Right?


We live in the digital world. And when students and parents enter our schools, they don’™t check their lives at the door. 

Whether it’™s young children watching online videos to laugh and learn, adolescents navigating friendships, or parents looking for updates on a lock-down, they’™re using social media. But for those of us who work to mentor, encourage, and protect children – and keep peace in the community – the digital world can feel overwhelming, even dangerous.

When my district acknowledged that our students are citizens of the digital world, we realized that we were missing out on so many of its opportunities. As a district, we really weren’t:

  • Using social media, video and blogs as teaching tools.
  • Helping students learn safe and courteous online behavior.
  • Communicating with parents through the real-time, content-rich exchange that social media provides.
  • Encouraging others to engage with us – to celebrate our successes, grieve our losses, and sometimes even challenge us to do better.

Eudora SchoolsIn late 2011, we began to look at social media as an exciting opportunity to be embraced by our district – and more than a year later, we haven’™t looked back. Of course, we’™ve had hurdles to clear along the way. We needed real changes to our Internet filters to give teachers (and some students) access to Facebook, Twitter and the like. We needed board policy that outlined our expectations for staff and students. We needed training for our teachers to understand the great potential that exists in the digital world. And we needed procedures that employees would follow to ensure accountability and responsible use.

We worked through those challenges last year and through the summer, and our teachers have embraced our digital-friendly school district, much to the delight of our students and parents. A good place to get a taste of how we’re using social media right now -“ it’™s always changing! – is the social media directory on our district website. This is where parents and fans can find us in the social media world, including some pages that are open to the public and others that are restricted to certain members.

By far, the liveliest place you’™ll find us is on our district’™s Facebook Page. While there have been some difficult moments on our page, the support we receive is overwhelming — and our Facebook community truly has become a place of celebration, sharing and connecting. Two-way communication isn’t always comfortable — anyone who’s lived with teenagers or run a town hall meeting knows that! – but it ultimately creates greater trust, transparency and support.

Our teachers and students have produced more YouTube videos this year than ever before, both for learning and fun. Teachers are finding outstanding networking opportunities through Twitter chats. Our elementary school teachers who use Facebook for work say that communication with parents has never been better. Our high school students have embraced Twitter to share the good news from their school and connect with teachers. Sure, it takes monitoring, and it requires a level head to handle the negative comment that pops up now and then. But the increased engagement and support are more than worth it.

When other districts ask us how we do it, or tell us all the things that could go wrong, our superintendent, Don Grosdidier – who has virtually no personal experience in the world of social media – sums it up this way:

There are risks and rewards, but if we can manage the risks, the rewards are far greater and worth the trouble.

Professional development, policy and procedures help us manage the risk. And the rewards are improved parent communication, enriched student learning, increased community involvement, and powerful professional networking for teachers. It’s hard to argue with that!

Find Your Marketing North Star With Social Media Monitoring

Guest post by Eric Melin, Manager Marketing & Communications at Social: IRL sponsor, Spiral16.

Spiral16 North StarMarketers are continually challenged with finding ways to measure their social media programs and digital marketing campaigns.

There are a ton of different metrics out there, but the most important thing that marketers and analysts can do is find that critical correlation between the right metrics that comes together to tell the story — that “north star,” as it were, that will guide your strategy and action going forward.

An article I ran across on Time’s Swampland blog about politics and the economy spells this out even more clearly. It’s called The Most Important Chart in American Politics, and it’s above. The chart identifies the single most crucial piece of President Obama’s 20012 re-election campaign: his political north star.

There are three lines mapped out across a timeline of the last two decades:

“The first two lines — productivity and per capita gross domestic product — are rising. This is the unmistakable American success story, the one reflected in record corporate profits, growing wealth accumulation and the unmatched efficiency of this country’s economy. The third line tracks median household income, as measured by the U.S. Census. It shows the story of frustration and stagnation that so many Americans long ago accepted as a reality.”

It is crystal clear when looking at the chart that the third line diverged from the first two after the year 2000. You could fill up a book debating the causes of that divergence, but the end result is an unmistakable political takeaway: “Much of the U.S. stopped feeling the benefits of a growing national economy.”

How does this apply to social media monitoring?  

Business metrics are financial, while web metrics are NOT. The trick is to correlate the two in a meaningful way — like the “political north star” chart above.   READ MORE

Closing the Gap Between Social and ROI: Speaking the Language of Your CEO

Guest post by Eric Melin, Manager Marketing & Communications at Spiral16.

SkepticThere are plenty of CEOs who are still skeptical about the ultimate value of social media.

A new report says that a shocking 43% of B2B companies admit that their CEOs “never consider” their social media reputation. 74% of CEOs think that marketers focus too much on the “latest marketing trends such as social media,” and say they can rarely demonstrate its business value, according to Fournaise Marketing Group.

I get where the CEOs are coming from. If my marketing department told me that the company’s social media profiles were consistently gaining new likes and follows, I would say “So what? What are you doing with them?”

Closing the Gap Between Social and ROI

Companies need to be able to prove that their social media efforts are paying off in a business sense. They need to be able to go beyond surface-value metrics and correlate their social media and web presence with tangible business metrics. The problem is that ROI is a financial metric and social media metrics are decidedly non-financial.

So what approach do you take?  READ MORE