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Be Mine

Last night as I was helping my kids make their valentines for their classmates, I couldn’t help thinking of when I was their age doing the same thing. After making the cards, I would sort out the heart candies by the two-word messages and labor over what candy would go into each envelope. I couldn’t give Cory Lindholm a candy saying, “BE MINE” nor could I give Krista Banducci a candy saying “B COOL”. Looking back, MAYBE I might have been overthinking it. (Perhaps not though, Krista did check the ‘Yes’ box on the ‘Will you be my girlfriend?’ note passed to her in 5th grade history class.) Either way, I still to this day get nutted up on things that if I take a step back, probably aren’t that important.

Fast forward 35 years where I am now derailed on social media. Anyone who knows me, knows I struggle with social media. It feels superficial, makes me feel old, and I labor to generate followers. The problem is I NEED social media to promote our games and our business. I have done my best to learn what it takes to be effective, but in the end, it is still a mystery. There are obviously things that can be done to improve your presence and in turn get more followers, but it feels like more of a you got it, or you don’t situation. Or maybe that is just my justification for being so bad at it.

As 12 of you are aware, we have recently launched an Indiegogo campaign (http://bit.ly/dwnot) to fund Dice World Alexa development costs. We have a loyal user following, we are cash poor, and have plans for something a lot of users have requested so crowdfunding seemed like the logical vehicle to get to us to our destination. For crowdfunding to be effective you need a good story and a ton of traffic. While we aren’t curing cancer, we have a decent story being one of a handful of game studios dedicated to building quality games for the visually impaired. So once again we are faced with the issue of traffic. While crowdfunding is different than social media, I think the both share a common path. To not repeat mistakes of our social media past, we spent a lot of time and money trying to get the campaign right in hopes of driving the traffic needed to make it successful.

In hopes of making the video go viral, we hired a voice actor to do Deadpool and Arnold impersonations. To entice contributions, we had some cool dice products created with our logo to give away as perks. Then to make sure the campaign received proper traffic we posted it on all of our social media outlets and paid to have it promoted. In addition, we paid a few third-party companies who “specialized” in crowdfunding to market it. We weren’t overly optimistic, but after putting in a lot of energy into it, we were confident this would be different. Or at least a little different.

After a few weeks, we have raised a few hundred dollars. There is another Indiegogo campaign for a guy trying to buy a video game (you read that right) who offered nothing in return other than gratitude. He of course raised more than us. And while crowdfunding is not social media, the criteria for success are much the same. So, the question remains, what does it take to generate traffic?

I have read countless articles about gaining social media followers and most suggest the same general tips:

  1. Post Great Content
  2. Use Hashtags
  3. Engage with Others
  4. Make Sure Your Content is Shareable
  5. Re-share Other People’s Content
  6. Reach Out to Influencers
  7. Stay Active
  8. Follow other users

Nothing groundbreaking.  Each point on its own seems easy enough to accomplish. Let’s start from the top.

  1. Post Great Content – yup. I post stuff all the time that makes Nick and I laugh.
  2. Use Hastags – check. #Iusehastagseverydamnpost
  3. Engage With Others – done. I have responded to 10s of followers.
  4. Make Sure Content is Shareable – booya.  All of our fcking posts are shareable
  5. Re-share Other People’s Content – Of course. I have re-posted a cat tackling a toddler from behind and some great burger posts from friends dinners
  6. Reach Out to Influencers – Yes. My mom has had a lot of influence over me over the years and I have reached out to her at least twice in the last few months.
  7. Stay Active – check check. I try to get to the gym at least once a month. (Ok, I am willing to admit there is room for improvement on this one.)
  8. Follow Other Users – absolutely. How else would I repost other peoples’ burger posts?

It really doesn’t add up why we haven’t had more (any) social media success. In all seriousness, I have spent a lot of time working on each point and while we have improved by most all measures it hasn’t been enough to move the needle. To get over the hump we need an influencer. Someone on social media who has established credibility with access to a large audience and who can persuade others to give us a shot.

When I hear the word ‘Influencers’, it makes me think of Malcom Gladwell. In his book, “The Tipping Point”, he discusses three archetypes of people: mavens, salespeople and connectors. 

Mavens make change happen through information and ideas. They are the builders, engineers, process and system people of society. These are the people you ask whenever you want to know something about anything. I couldn’t describe Nick any better. When he decides he wants to learn about something, he learns everything. It is both impressive and from my seat annoying.

Salespeople make change happen through persuasion. They can take an idea and position it to get a tribe behind it. The people who can borrow your watch and then sell it back to you. Neither Nick nor I are Salespeople. When we are in sell mode we come off as nervous, apologetic, and unsure.

Connectors make change happen through people. They galvanize people. They’re natural hubs. I am a connector, but not to the degree I once was. The “off my lawn” old man in me has become too preoccupied with tracking the speed of cars barreling down my street or calculating the price increase of eggs to spend time connecting with people. Blind-sided by a couple of decades, the old man in me would rather spend my time with people I enjoy rather than expend energy attempting to stay in touch.

Where do social influencers fit into Malcom Gladwell’s model? Influencers can be one or all three. No matter what archetype they fall into, they all connect ideas and messages to a lot of people. They move the needle, and this is why companies like ours find them so attractive.

I am obviously not an influencer. I do however have a high degree of self-awareness and good at is recognizing my shortcomings. I am also good at making friends. Often befriending those who compensate for my deficiencies. OK, that sounded terrible. I don’t see friends as resources and would like to think I am a good friend. Or at least not a bad friend, but at the same time if I can help a friend do something that they maybe struggle with, and they can help me then why not? So how does someone like me befriend one such influencer?

One of the best articles I found on engaging social media influencers was written by Margot da Cunha (https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/03/21/social-media-influencers). Before engaging with an influencer, she suggested first doing your homework. Know your target market and find out who is moving the needle in your industry. Once you know both, she suggested 5 tips for engaging with influencers:

  1. Reach Out in a Non-Aggressive Manner
  2. Join Online Chats Your Influencer Participates In
  3. If Possible, Make a Human Connection
  4. Leverage Your Network
  5. Keep an Organized List of Your Outreach Efforts

To me it sounds a lot like dating. Basically, show interest without being a creeper. You need to be in the same places (virtual and real) as your influencer without them feeling like they are being followed. And of course, keep a diary…err… log of your actions to prevent annoying them or worse case, scaring them off…Stalker 101 basics.

Once you begin the influencer courtship and get to the point of exclusivity (by influencer standards), Margot has the following ideas to take it to the next level to leverage your social media sweetheart:

  1. Run a Joint Social Media Contest
  2. Create Something Together
  3. Co-host an Event
  4. Share Special Discount Codes and Offers on Each Other’s Websites
  5. Partner on a Joint Webinar or Video Series

All brilliant ideas, none of which would have ever crossed my mind. Unfortunately, I have yet to get any of my influencer relationships to the point of exclusivity where we are planning our future social media babies. And maybe that is the problem. I am the date we have all had who is planning your future life together after five minutes of meeting them. Perhaps I just need to slow it down. Pretend like I have got this. Nothing scares a potential suitor off like the stench of desperation.  (Suitor? Who under the age of 70 uses the term suitor?)

So today, which just so happens to be Valentine’s Day, I am going to spend some thoughtful time on making my influencer Valentines. Let them know I like them, but not ‘like them like them’. I am cool, you are cool, let’s be cool together kind of thing. Problem is, I am not really that cool. Believe it and it will happen…Right?!?

[Inside voice: You are cool…you are cool…you are not cool…YES, you are cool…NO, you are not….Be cool…Try to be cool…cookies…I like cookies…damnit where are the cookies?]

In retrospect, I may have peaked in 5th grade. Maybe instead I overthinking it, I just need to follow my 5th grade instincts.