This is a story about design, social media, starting a company, and getting an indirect nod from one of our favorite authors.
Our story begins on the evening of the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the day after second Thanksgiving, our new broken-home tradition.
We spent our Sunday teaching robotics to a group of 8 to 13-year-olds. We spent the weekend eating and relaxing with family. We spent the week writing a white paper on the ROI of social media. We spent two months attempting to spread awareness of our online presence. We spent six months trying to build a better design firm.
Earlier that morning I moved a photo from our Instagram feed to our Twitter feed. This picture:
I took the slightly less than perpendicular photo at the grand opening of the second location of Avid, our favorite local and independent bookstore.
I immediately fell in love with the cover design of these Penguin reissues. I loved the fact that Neil Gaiman wrote new introductions for them. I wanted them for Christmas, so I took a photo. I quickly posted the photo on Instagram and tagged Avid. It pulled in seven likes, which is about average for our little feed.
I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman. I find that his mix of dark fantasy and magical realism soothes and transports my soul. I count among my prized literary possessions the three annotated editions of “Sandman” and a signed copy of “The View From the Cheap Seats”. I’ve read everything of his at least twice, and gifted “Odd and the Frost Giants”, “Blueberry Girl”, and “Instructions” to our children. Just last night I finished reading “Coraline” to our oldest.
Trying to get noticed on social media can be a grueling and thankless task when you have no followers. We say this as enthusiastic believers in the medium.
It’s not easy to start a conversation with 20 followers. Especially when half of them are bots, and the other half are marketers marketing to marketers.
We spent weeks trying to find the right balance of original content to interesting articles from our daily feeds. We kept hoping that somehow the right c-level would be browsing #branding or #designthinking during the half hour in which our relevant tweet might be seen.
This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.
Our small Twitter feed gets less attention than our Instagram, so I wasn’t expecting a lot when I posted my adoration of the covers and tagged PenguinBooks and @neilhimself.
We’re lucky to get one or two likes on Twitter. I made the post and forgot about it. The day went on without incident. Until that evening.
I heard a little electronic beep and picked up my phone in a Pavlovian fashion. “Oh cool,” I said, as nonchalant as you please. “Hey, Jennifer. Neil Gaiman retweeted us.”
Thirty seconds later there was another electronic beep. Then another and another, and holy shit – is this what it’s like to be the Twitter version of Gin and Tacos?
For a few hours, I felt famous. I virtually high-fived Avid as we celebrated their store being right there on Neil’s feed.
I’ve spent many hours over the past couple of weeks poring over marketing blogs, digging deep into “Lean Analytics”, and trying to suss out the secrets of social media success.
As it turns out, it’s easy. The rest of you can continue optimizing your keywords and reverse-engineering your competitors’ hashtags. We’ll farm our tweets out to @neilhimself.
If you ever see this: Thank you, Neil. Sincerely. For all that you’ve written and shared with the world. And for making us feel famous one Sunday evening after second Thanksgiving.
This Saturday I’m planning a trip to Wuxtry to take a photo of the newest Katy Perry album. Follow back, Katy!