Saturday, July 9, 2011

Introducing... Dunwoody Music Festival 2011

The Dunwoody Music Festival is back for 2011!
At this time, applications are being accepted for musicians, food vendors, and marketplace vendors.
More features and information are added all the time so check back often!

This site is a "subsite" of the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce.  It has its own design which took inspiration from the Coachella Music Festival - grungy, edgy, with lots of textures.  The handwritten-style titles and headers (the font is called "Rock Salt") were made possible with a Drupal module.   There are numerous customized information forms, each built by hand.   Because it is part and parcel of the Dunwoody Chamber, various info can be moved freely to other pages for promotion through the same administrator interface.

The site is a constant work in progress.  In this first phase, requests for applications from vendors and musicians take priority.  Next will be information for sponsors and partners.  Finally, the forms will rotate off and general festival information for the public will be rotated on. 

It's been a great pleasure working with Oktober Productions organizing the information for this year's Dunwoody Music Festival.  SDOC has great freedom in terms of design and organization, creating the best presentation.  Oktober is also responsible for the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, so the Music Festival at Brook Run is going to be a real treat.

Check back frequently for new features all the time.  Hint:  if you have photos from 2009 or 2010, get them ready for a new gallery coming soon.  And yes, the Chili Cook-Off will be back too! 

There was a change in plan regarding the Chili Cook-Off.  That contest is on hiatus until further notice.  I'm not happy.  But it is what it is.

See you in October!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is Facebook on its way out as a marketing tool for small business?

Facebook has issued some new promotional guidelines that can potentially derail a small firm attracting attention to it.

Have you ever sponsored a contest on Facebook?  Like my page, like this wall post, be the first to respond to this wall post, or tag yourself in a picture and we'll enter you in a drawing for a prize? We'll send you a message if you're the winner?  It worked to gain an audience for your product or service, didn't it?

Not anymore.

Excerpt from the New FaceBook Promotions Guidelines:

You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.

You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.
It goes on like this for a few more bullet points.

As I said in the previous post, if you're going to engage in a promotional campaign in any social media format, be ready for change.  Online forums come and go.  This restriction may very well be a "CYA" move by FaceBook to protect from liability.  Unfortunately they may be protecting themselves from popularity as well. 

So what is a business to do if they want to keep using Facebook to draw attention to their product or business?  They're going to have to make the actual contest one step removed from Facebook.  That is, put the contest on another website and then use Facebook to announce the contest and drive traffic there.  That includes contacting the winner or distributing prizes.

SDOC's client, the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce took this tack:  when the Business Expo Awards were open for public voting, the actual poll was on the Chamber's website.  Facebook was only used to announce the contest and the winners.

For other companies and their social media managers, it won't be so easy.  So everyone sit down with your PR/media people and have a serious think about how you're going to use Facebook for publicity - or even if you still want to.

More commentary from a digital marketing colleague

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Leveraging Social Media - Five Lessons Learned

Tomorrow, April 21, is the first Dunwoody Business Expo.  Leading up to this event was a public online vote for "Good Eats" (aka, Best Restaurant) and "People's Choice" - general public favorite local business.

I used Drupal modules and a slew of other tools to create and tabulate the actual ballots.  To spread the word I went by the old standbys:  email, Twitter, and Facebook. 

The poll went viral in a number of venues starting with the above three and we had a full on, old-fashioned, Chicago-style Ballot Box Stuffing Jamboree!  Which is exactly what everyone wanted - it's all part of the fun!

I burned through weeks and weeks of 3G minutes on my iPhone watching the site statistics.  I saw a number of interesting trends:

First, all three of the "People's Choice" entrants had Facebook pages, but not all were getting even close to the same number of votes.

Second, only three of the four "Good Eats" entrants had Facebook pages, but the votes were close to even throughout the voting.

For all of its hype, social media is not necessarily the be-all and end-all of online promotion.  It only works under certain conditions.  Here's a checklist of how to get the most out of social media:

1)  You have to invest time and/or money to get results.
This is not the "Field of Dreams"  - "they" won't come just because you build it.  Before you get your own Facebook page or other online social outlet, be very honest with yourself about how much time you're going to spend using the medium to promote yourself.  Or, if you're going to hire someone to spend that time.  If the answer is "as little as possible", this isn't the place for you.

2)  The first word in "Social Media" is SOCIAL.
As archaic as it sounds, there are still people out there who are loathe to mix business and pleasure.  That's OK - but that means you want to invest in traditional media and go the extra mile in promoting it.  If you're comfortable with starting your marketing with friends and family, then sign up and get your page.  If not, then again, it's not for you.

3)  You have to be ready to change.
Before Facebook, there was MySpace.  Before MySpace, there was LiveJournal.  Before LiveJournal, there was America Online.  Before America Online, there was Prodigy.  Before there was Prodigy, there were UNIX-based email lists and bulletin boards.  Online forums wax and wane constantly.  Sooner or later, Twitter and Facebook will eventually fade into the background and something else will come to prominence.  Pay attention to the kind of results you're getting from your social media outreach.  When the flower fades, start looking for the next latest wave to ride.

4)  Offer something specific and unique in your Social Media outreach.
According to this article in Social Media Today, there are specific things the average Facebook user is looking for when they follow a company online.  In short:
1. 40% want to receive discounts and promotions

2. 37% want to show support for the brand/company to thers
3. 36% hope (want) to get free samples, a coupon (a.k.a. freebies)
4. 34% want to stay informed about the activities of the company
5. 33% want to get updates on future products
6. 30% want to get updates and information on future sales
7. 27% like to get fun and entertainment out of it
8. 25% want to get access to exclusive content
9. 22% mentioned they were referred by someone to follow this brand/company
10. 21% want just to learn more about the company
Why are you on Facebook or Twitter?  What are you offering that is unique to that venue?  Lots of people are looking for freebies or the latest scoop.  If you can plan that into your Social Media approach, you're more likely to get the results you're looking for.
5)  The biggest name isn't always the best route
Facebook isn't the only social network out there.  The AddThis bookmark tool (which I highly recommend to help your visitors do some promotion for you!) links directly to over 334 social media outlets.  Sure, you can take the shotgun approach to anyone and everyone on Facebook, the current big fad.  But on the other hand, with a little audience research, you may find some hidden treasure in another network that could give you a greater ROI. 

Social Media plays a large role in many of the promotions I create websites for.  The Dunwoody Chamber is making plans to make even greater use of social and mobile media in the coming months.  The social networks got the word out, but it was the users who made the votes in the poll count.  By the way, the winners are....

going to be announced at lunch tomorrow at the Expo at Crowne Plaza Ravinia!
(Gotcha!  Made you look!)  See you at the Expo!