Sunday, June 13, 2010

An Insight into Facebook Fanpage Insights

There are between 400 million to 500 million people on facebook but out of those continental size figures you really only need to concern yourself with your hopefully growing fanpage fans (or "likers"). Facebook has gone out of their way to make it easy for you to get useful information on your fanpage fans and this post will give an insight into facebook fanpage insights.

Fanpage admins can access their fanpage insights by pressing the "See all" link in the insights section in the left hand panel. Amanda from Tees in a Pod has created a very useful video below which gives useful information and explains all the graphs and statistics available in the insights - everyone likes videos so enjoy it.

I will now try and explain how the insights can be used to improve your fanpage from what I have noticed from the LadyUmbrella facebook fanpage. One of the key ratings for a fanpage is the Post Quality Rating. This rating is expressed mathematically in the following:

In words this can be represented as the No. of Interactions divided by the No. of Posts Made all divided by the No of Fans in the fanpage then divided by Other Fanpages of similar sizes. This last division is used to create a comparison to other fanpages.

I have formalised Post Quality Rating in the above in the hope that those who read this will share their ratings so that we (fanpage admins) can get a fuller and more precise understanding of the Post Quality Rating.I believe the above equation may hold true and from it the following theories can be derived:

1) to get a better post score don't post updates too frequently. The more updates you post the more interactions required. For example one update which gets 12 interactions is better than 2 updates that get say 15 and 7 interactions respectively. Too many updates may result in "fan fatigue" which causes lower interactions and some fans may leave.
2) as your fanpage fanbase increases the number of interactions you receive should increase relative to your fanpage growth. Mass fanpage expansion with non targeted fans who may never interact with the fanpage will lower post quality rating. When it comes to fans for post quality rating an interacting fan is better than a mass of uninterested fans.
3) keep an eye on other fanpages with similar amount of fans. If possible find fanpages of similar stature and gauge how you are doing compared to them. If they are getting more interactions than you then try to up interaction count as ultimately you are in competition with them.

I believe the Star Rating gives an estimate of how your fanpage post quality score stacks up against other fanpages. It is a 5 star rating and one could make the assumption that:
***** = Top 20 percentile for fanpage post quality score
**** = 60 to 80 percentile for fanpage post quality score
*** = 40 to 60 percentile for fanpage post quality score
** = 20 to 40 percentile for fanpage post quality score
* = Bottom 20 percentile for fanpage post quality score

The benefit of having a 5 star rating and high post quality score is that your updates persist longer in fans news streams.

The reason for this is that facebook wants to give their users the "top news" and they use the star rating and post quality rating as a metric to determine what is "top news". With a 5 star rating your content will be exposed to more people for longer which may result in more interactions which can become a self perpetuating cycle. It is important to note that "top news" items also include status updates which receive a lot of interactions even if the fanpage has a low post quality and star rating.

Understanding what influences the post quality and star rating is key to fully utilising insights. In the video below Amanda details all of the different statistics which are available but it is the post quality and star rating which give the snapshot of fanpage health. I hope this post coupled with the video has provided and insight into fanpage insights. If you have any tips for insights that you would like to share we would love to hear them.

I would also urge you to share some of your ratings either privately or publicly so that I can conduct further analysis on these key factors which affect fanpages. If interested please leave a comment or e-mail teesinapod[AT] and give details regarding: fanpage size, star rating, post quality score & no. of interactions. There is no need to give fanpage name if you don't want to. With some more ratings it should be possible to fully understand post quality rating and star rating system.

This post was written by Rob from LadyUmbrella ladies t-shirts.
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Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Rock Stars Social Media Strategy - Whiskey Optional

Hello all and welcome to a rock fueled insight into ways one can apply social media principles and strategies to music, brands, shops or anything your mind can conjure up. I believe it is now time for everyone from plumbers to pizza men and percussionists to postmen (well maybe not them) to join the social media revolution.

Why? Well, that is where the much talked about Gary Vaynerchuk "eyeballs" are. This blog post will talk about the basic things one should do to establish an online presence backed up with real life rocking facts from a sensational up and coming Irish band - Seven Days (who I highly recommend and check out the video at the end of this blog).

The Dynamic Duo
When you hear social media there are two landmark social media sites that instantly spring to mind - Facebook and Twitter, the dynamic duo of the social media world. The crux of their popularity and effectiveness lies in the explicitly viral nature of how people interact with each other on twitter or on fanpages. This very public interaction gives rise to a sort of mob rule (the good kind though)..When people see other people are interacting with you on these social media sites their curiosity peeks and they will be inclined to check it out. It is akin to passing by a packed restaurant, peering in the window and feeling a pang of hunger - you have seen the social proof of people and so want to check it out yourself. Seven Days have a presence on both of these sites and the interview with the band which follows will show how social media can be applicable to all types of efforts - and the whiskey is optional.

Roll Out the Blogs
Forget the red carpet, the glitz and glam and the rock star poses but in my humble opinion a blog (and hard work to maintain it) is a must have in this day and age. Everyone, from budding rock stars to rattlesnake experts should regularly catalog their recent events, successes and news in a blog. Why? - well, I'll bullet point it for you:
- Expands your web presence
- Builds trust between you and potential customers/groupies ;)
- Gives loyal fans and customers all the information about you they could possibly crave
- Can be an SEO goldmine
- Each new blog post is new content and something fresh to "talk" about
- Keeps search engines happy

And, on a personal note, it gives you a place to put your thoughts, an online diary if you will for how your business, brand or band progresses. I couldn't not blog about what I do at LadyUmbrella ladies t-shirts - it's part of the routine now.. Surely you would like to be able to look back in a year or 5 years and see how you have progressed and reminisce? Writing a blog is easy IF you are 100% passionate and committed to what you are doing and IF you are not 100% passionate and committed just stop, right now. Really...if you don't view what you are doing now as the foundation of your legacy (what you write will persist pretty much forever now..."Hi grand kids that I don't have yet") then maybe you should look for something that you want to become your legacy. Seven Days are making writing their future autobiography a lot easier as they're blogging it up - and it helps them!

Social Bookmarks
Digg? Reddit? Stumbleupon? - do these names ring any bells with you at all? They are all social bookmarking sites or content aggregators where millions of people consume content on a daily basis and "vote" for it so that the cream of the content rises to the top and ultimately hits the motherload for web traffic. People submit blog posts (oh, wait a minute, could you submit your own blog post to these sites?? - yes, start a blog now), entertaining videos and pictures and then the finger flexing frenzy continues as the votes pour in. The traffic from these sites can range from tsunami to gentle trickle but the flow of the traffic is determined by only 2 factors (again, in my humble opinion)
1. The quality of content you submit
2. The amount of effort you put into building up a network on any of these sites
and thats it..

With some thought and time it should be possible to create great content (wait until you hear the Seven Days single on our podcast) but if you are unable to do so Poppa Google and Uncle Youtube can help you out. Future blogs will explain in depth some ideas for social bookmarking sites but for now apply a little bit of Factor 1 + 2 from above and you'll be surprised at how quickly you'll learn and how much it'll benefit you.

And now, to back this strategy up with a real life rocking case study I would like to first thank Seven Days for taking the time to answer some of my questions. They hail from a town called Kildare in Ireland and are on the precipice of insanely big things. Despite their hectic gigging schedule when I contacted the band via facebook and twitter I instantly knew that they would do the interview. Why? Because they get "it"..they engage their online fans, work hard and are now reaping the rewards..Please, enjoy the following interview from Seven Days, an Irish band you'll hear a lot more about very soon...

------- Interview Starts -------
Rob - Please state your name, your bands name, your instrument and are you Internet savvy?
Seven Days - Nicky Brennan Guitar , Ricky Byrne Drums, Ian White Vox Keys Acoustic, Darren Sweeney Bass, Seven Days and were all Internet savvy

Rob - What social media sites are Seven Days on? Any one in particular that is your favourite?
Seven Days - MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Bebo. Our favourite is probably facebook for the amount of interaction you have with people and fans, being able to send event invites and keep people updated on the band makes it a fantastic promotional tool.

Rob - Any gigs or opportunities arise as a result of using social media sites?
Seven Days Yes most definitely. we had a lot of people who contacted us through facebook and myspace to book the band for gigs. It provides such an easy access to us and has been a real vital part in our attempts to make the band bigger.

Rob - Any web awards are mentions on big websites that have helped you out? I found an article about you in about a sweet gig deal in The Dail Bar - any other gems like that?
Seven Days - We're delighted about the Dail bar and the gigs there have been fantastic. We got a
lot of gigs along the way that have led us on to bigger gigs in that area. The Edenderry Harbour festival has just put us onto our own headlining gigs there. The Meteor awards also proved to give us excellent exposure simply for all our attempts e-mailing and messaging through facebook and twitter. Our myspace hits sky rocketed from this event.

Rob - Get any groupies? Seriously like;)
Seven Days - Ha ha :) we've got some fans that have been absolutely amazing. Between coming to all of our gigs and leaving us comments it really keeps you motivated. Theres a girl in England who went around a shopping centre promoting us with her own made poster and drawing. That's really cool! as she has never seen us play live and only found us through myspace and twitter.

Rob - When a friend joins your fanpage that is cool but also kind of expected if they are a supportive friend but when a randomer joins it's a different kind of special. Do you give people incentives to join? or is all a very natural, rocking and organic growth?
Seven Days - Of course at our gigs we always plug the myspace and facebook pages and encourage people to join. Its great after a good weekend of gigging to sit down and reply to some nice comments you got from people who saw you. Wether it be a new fan or an existing one! so in that sense I would say the online growth is very organic. We are a band that gigs quite frantically (up to four gigs in a three day weekend) which is a regular occurance. This week actually comes to five to hopefully we can expect some more comments!

Rob - Any final thoughts on how you think social media can help you in the long run? You've heard of Justin Bieber on Twitter ye? - could you be the next trending topic?
Seven Days - In todays age social media for the likes of ourselves and other band etc is an absolute necessity. When someone hears of a new band the want to check out they instantly turn to their computer. In which your sites have to be in good shape and up to date. Otherwise that person isn't going to think a lot of you! In the long run once you maintain and built your sites you should have a very solid block of impression, perception and support. This makes for quite a stable foundation for an artist.

I don't know much at all about Justin Bieber. Mostly that he is a young artist brought to the front by his you tube videos and social networking. I may be wrong due to my lack of knowledge on him but I think we try to use social networking in a different way.To encourage people to come and see us and support us as opposed to putting your performances online and solely using that as your marketing. That was his focal point where as ours is to use online networking to encourage people to see our focal point (our live shows) As I said though I could be wrong! I don't think were trying to set a trend. Were just trying to make music we love to play and try our hardest to get you all to listen!

------- Interview Ends -------

And so, there you have it, an from a band who are putting social media to use to get themselves into the back of a tour bus for a global adventure. Check out the video they made as a digital thank you those who have helped them below! Whatever your goal or target is social media can help you get there quicker. You just have to plan a bit of a strategy and stick with it...and whiskey is optional!

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Crouching Twitter, Hidden Dragon - 4 Ninja Tips for Twitter

In this digital day and age it's of paramount importance to have a presence on the web and in particular, Twitter. This post will dish out 4 ninja tips so that you can use twitter a bit more effectively and efficiently with the poise and elegance of a well trained ninja. If you've never used Twitter before don't run to the hills if the info below intimidates you but bear it in mind for when you do start your twitter career :) And so, without further ado, here are 4 top ninja tips that you can use to improve your twitter experience right now..

1) Use of Lists
Lists, are a somewhat new feature to Twitter, but for all intents and purposes allow you to categorise (list) people that you want to keep track of based on certain criteria of your choosing. An example of lists might be, "People from Ireland", "T-Shirt lovers" or "Podcast Pros". Lists are located on the right hand side of your Homepage view on Twittter, beneath the twitter search feature.

Now, onto the ninja tips..I really wish lists were around when I started on Twitter so I could have started using them for all my followers as they allow you to create "channels" based on a certain stream of tweets. By channels I mean, if you clump and organise people properly you could create different "channels" (like television channels which focus on one topic) on twitter - a list for social media experts, sports fanatics, Twilight lovers, competition junkies etc - this can help you quickly get the information you want from twitter. Another advantage of lists, is that if you are following a couple of thousand people you're twitter stream will be full of "noise" that isn't of any real use to you and you may be missing out on tweets that you would deem more important. Maybe a potential customer has contacted you - add them to a list so you can keep tabs on what they are up to and an opportunity for a sale may arise in the future...if you don't list them, finding their tweets within the other thousands of tweets will be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Here are three things you can do right now that will improve your twitter usage:
1. Start some of your own lists and ask people how they would like to be listed - this will help you find out more about the people you follow, may serve to break the ice a bit and help build relationships with more tweeps.

2. Find out who has listed you and why not say "thank you for listing me" - again, another opportunity to break the ice and show that you are real and actually care what people think. Also, by seeing how you are listed by others you'll be able to get a better idea of people's perception of you or your brand. If someone lists you, it generally means you've made some impact on them and that they want to be able to quickly and easily get to your tweets - you're now on one of their "channels".

3. Pay attention to lists and see if there are any good ones you should follow. Certain lists of tweeps that people have created could be of some use to you (lists regarding bloggers for your niche for example). Follow those lists and give props and thanks to whoever created it - people like random thanks.

2) Auto DMs Bad, Scheduled Tweets Good
One of my pet peeves on Twitter is receiving a lame auto direct message like "thanks so much for following, looking forward to your tweets, go to my site and buy my stuff - link" (we've all got them ye?). However, what makes it even more frustrating is when you reply to the DM only to be told "there is an error sending to the recipient". I call this the caught with the pants down scenario and it really highlights why auto DMs might be a bad idea. People can generally tell if a DM is automated (we just have a 6th sense for it) but when you can't reply it is because the other person isn't following you back. If they're not following you, the likelihood of them sending a DM to say thanks is slim to none - unless it's automated. When this scenario happens to me I unfollow whoever sent me the DM and I'm sure I'm not alone. Anyone agree with me here or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Not all automation is bad though. Scheduling tweets can be a great way to make sure you pump out tweets regularly if you aren't going to be at your computer for a few days. Personally, I haven't used the services like Tweetlater (Socialoomph) too much, but they do have their benefits. Being able to schedule tweets gives you the freedom to have a holiday and still maintain a twitter presence. One word of warning would be, to make sure that you follow up all those who reply to your posts upon your return. When scheduling tweets its best to pay attention to the time that the tweet gets posted. Posting at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am etc will look very automated or at least more automated than 1:12am, 2:08am, 3:28am, 4:21 etc...

3) Link Shorteners and RT Space
It's time to make some new friends with, and - some link shortening services which are free and powerful. In twitter you have 140 characters to get your information across or make a link as juicy as possible for someone to click on. If your tweet contains nothing but a long link then you are wasting a lot of valuable characters. My link shortener of choice is which I use for every link I put up. Most of these services allow you to also customise the shortened link which can make it easy for you to remember. This helps the link look better and increases the "trust" that someone will have in clicking on the link. An example of this is a link I created for LadyUmbrella which is - LU for LadyUmbrella and site because it's our website - it is easy for us to remember and if people look at it they could perhaps decipher and trust the link a bit more (or at least we hope so).

As mentioned, you are given a limit of 140 characters to make people want to click on a link and you probably would like a few people to retweet your stuff. As a general rule I try to leave about 20 characters free in each tweet I'd like to get retweeted. Why not retweet this blog with the handy retweet button at the top? go on, do it :)

The reason for this is when people retweet the format is RT @username "tweet message goes here". You need to factor in that people who retweet are going to need space to include your username, the @ symbol, 2 spaces and "RT". Some people (angels, saints and heroes - truly great people) will actually edit your tweet so that they can retweet it but these people are in short supply - make it easy for people to retweet your stuff.

[HOT TIP] The recent addition of the retweet button means twitter has made it easier to retweet long and cumbersome tweets but I believe there is still more value in the old school RTs when someone takes the time to copy and paste your tweet and maybe add their 2 cents to it..Also, it is very hard to see who has retweeted your tweet via the retweet button as you don't receive it in your @mentions. Instead, tweets which have been retweeted using the twitter function get squirreled away in the retweets section (on the right hand side beneath favourites) in the third tab "Your Tweets Retweeted" - make sure to check this frequently so you can give kudos and thanks tho whoever has retweeted you tweets..

4) The 90/10 Rule
It's counter intuitive, it'll make you scratch your head and for those who have a financial manager breathing down your neck harping on about ROI (return on investment) and targets the 90/10 rule will really blow their spread sheet savvy minds. I believe to be successful on twitter you have to give a lot more than you get. The 90/10 rule basically says that 10% of the time you can pump out a "hey, check out our products" tweet but the other 90% of the time you should be, well, human...Talk to people, interact with people, forge relationships, RT your competitors (it'll blow their mind as well and they might just RT you in the future as well - their followers are also your target market), RT crazy news or gossip that your followers might like - basically anything but a tweet about you or your products..At first, no doubt, it feels wrong, almost dirty, but it is important as I think it in someway gives you more street cred which is what is needed on all social media sites..

The 90/10 rule is an easy enough rule to follow (90% of the time you tweet about things not related to you or your busines, 10% you do) but it is a very hard one to implement. It can seem nonsensical to retweet and promote your competitors but consider each non promo retweet a good deed done for the day..The 90/10 rule is without a doubt one of the most important twitter tips of the lot..

And there it is, 4 Ninja tips for Twitter without a Chuck Norris reference (until now...How do you know Chuck Norris is not on Twitter? - the whale fails, it wouldn't fail if Chuck was on Twitter! [P.S. made up on the spot, sorry]) that you can start to apply today to improve your twitter experience and efficiency.

So, how many lists are you on? - want to be on one more? Leave me a comment with your twitter name and I'll list you... Any top twitter tips you'd like to add?

And, any other Chuck Norris and Twitter jokes? Has to be some good ones out there, lets hear them...

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Monday, March 22, 2010

6 Onsite SEO Tips You Can Do Today To Improve Rank!

Sorry for such an intensely long gap between posts, the reason why will be relealed later..This post will briefly touch on 6 onsite SEO tips you can use on your website right now to improve and help with your ranking in the search engines. Rather than being long and rambling the points have been kept as concise as possible to encourage further "googling" and and encourage some questions out of you..a lot of onsite SEO is mindset I believe and by thinking about what search engines want the entire process becomes easier to understand..

1) Ensure there is a well written, non-duplicated attractive, title and description tags on every page which contain some of your keywords. Google does NOT like duplicate titles.

2) Use of h1 tags - only once per page and for key keywords. Google does not like more than one h1 tag.

3) Avoid use of "click here" or "more info" type of links as they don't give the search engines much information. Always use alt/title tags when linking and try link via a keyword.

4) Make sure that you have a robots.txt file - this way will ensure all pages get indexed and invites the spiders in to come crawling

5) Check that important images are labeled properly with the alt tag and name them according to your keywords. Why not put the images in a folder so that the img src looks like keyword/keyword - keep the search engines happy.

6) Use the footer on all pages to link your pages via keywords. It keeps users as it makes navigation easy and makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site as well as giving the search engines useful information about pages.

Not really a SEO but will help get the onsite to sprawl to the offsite..prominently place your social media links so that people can fan/follow etc..just like you can fan and follow LadyUmbrella ladies t-shirts (the business I launched around the time this blog stopped posting regularly, will try get back in the groove now) on facebook and Twitter..

And there you have it, 6 hangers in the SEO cupboard that we'll dress up with more in depth SEO info in the coming weeks..but, for now, lets see some comments with any questions you may have and any of your top SEO tips - I want to learn too.. ole..

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

IWYS Interview - A one on one with Jason Sadler

Hello once again avid readers, t-shirt lovers, marketing and branding strategists and hapless browsers from all around the world. I'll skip the apologies for the chasm of time that has passed since the last blog and instead turn it to appreciation and thanks for Jason Sadler, the mastermind behind the marking tsunami that is who was kind enough to take some time out of his jam packed days to answer a few questions for me. From my work with LadyUmbrella ladies t-shirts I came across Jason and by this stage I'm sure most of you reading this right now also have. So, lets cut the chit chat and get down to the good good, lets peer insides Jason's marketing and branding brain a bit and get to know the him a bit better...

Rob - Jason, firstly let me just say thanks a million for agreeing to be interviewed by me - from seeing all your facebooking, tweeting, youtubing and flickring I know you're insanely busy so thank you..So, lets get things started - for those who haven't heard of you or the advertising tsunami that is would you care to enlighten us?

Jason - was 1 guy in 2009 who got paid to wear t-shirts and advertise those companies through social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,, Flickr and the of course). People bought days throughout the year at face value, starting on January 1 for $1 and increasing $1 per day until December 31 at $365. I sold out the entire 2009 calendar on August 10 and had plans in place to add a 2nd person wearing shirts in 2010 and double the price of the calendar. As of this interview there are only 74 days left for sale! [Ed. due to circumstances beyond our control there has been quite a delay since conducting this interview with Jason and its publication - there are now only 58 days left. We chastise ourselves daily for the delay, apologies]

Rob - So, would you consider yourself a model or an animate advertisement? And, do you enjoy your job? From the outside looking in it looks all rosey and awesome but you must have some serious deadlines to meet. How you do stay focused and organized with so many things going on? At are there any other staff or are you flying solo?

Jason - I think I'm an advertiser who's directly reaching a focused audience. I definitely enjoy what I do because at the end of the day it boils down to being myself, being social and wearing a t-shirt. It's been a crazy year and a ton of fun. I continue to meet new people/companies on a daily basis and new friends/followers. Staying focused comes with having a very supportive family and audience. Everyone keeps me in check but also helps me get creative when I need it. It was just me in 2009 and next year my buddy Evan White will be wearing shirts with me everyday from Los Angeles, California. [Ed. ..and who hasn't heard of Evan by now??]

Rob - From one of your tweets I saw that the good folks at ABC were talking about you and then checked your press page - over 60 listings ranging from the LA Times and NY Times to Yahoo! Japan and - how did you achieve that? And which bit of publicity/press has been the most beneficial to you thus far? Any top tips on creating good press releases?

Jason - Press Releases are a waste of time. I've never created one and have tried to advise people against doing it. You build press for your company by creating interesting marketing campaigns and getting people involved with your brand. If you are working hard enough and smart enough, the press will come. I've been incredibly lucky to have the NY Times and The Guardian write about me very early on in the project. That initial press helped get people on board, but it was my continued effort and participation from my audience that landed the Reuters feature that turned into a story on the homepage of & and eventually a few major network evening news spots. I am very grateful for all of that press, but word of mouth continues to be the best sales force for [Ed. - Note to self, scrap the press release plan]

Rob - You were recently in Jamaica which must be a nice perk of the job I'm sure. You engage in any water sports or when you're not wearing someones shirt what do you like to do to unwind? [Ed. - at time of interview it was recent, again apologies]

Jason - Yeah it was an awesome opportunity to go on the 5-day cruise to the Caribbean courtesy of I do enjoy traveling, especially when it's to a tropical place. And to unwind I spend time in the gym, I play tennis and basketball and live at the beach. It's refreshing to step away from the Internet for an hour or two each today, especially with the amount of hours I am on my iPhone, laptop and on camera.

Rob - You're a marketing major - was it from your studies that you got the idea for or where did it come from? Or did you just see an opportunity and go for it? Most, if not all, of your job entails social media and being online - have you always had an affinity for computers?

Jason - Actually I was a Graphic Design major [Ed. - very hard to get good research staff these days]. From an early age I picked up design and constantly tried to teach myself new things and experiment with new technologies. College for me wasn't a learning experience in the sense of skill set, but more networking and learning how to interact with people. For as long as I can remember I've believed in the "it's all who you know, not what you know". It's interesting though, when the idea of came about I only had a couple hundred friends on Facebook, 0 followers on Twitter and had NEVER made a YouTube video or done a live video. I knew that I had the personality to put myself out there and dove in head first. [Ed. - I don't know what those of you who are reading this think but I think that is quite incredible, like a digital duck to wwwater]

Rob - Once you got the idea for how long did it take you to get it up and running? You've been wearing t-shirts since January 1st 2009 but surely there was lots of hard work before that? What key things did you do before you launched that you look back on and "ye, I'm so happy I did that" or "that really worked out well"?

Jason - I thought of the idea in September 2008 and bought the domain name. A website was up in mid October and the first day sold November 11. I spent a month and a half interacting with people on Twitter, Facebook and starting to put myself in the social media space. By the time January 1, 2009 rolled around I had 5 1/2 months sold and was well on my way. I think it was a combination of people I knew, a bit of luck and people thinking the idea was unique. I wouldn't change one thing because I wouldn't be in the position I am today. [Ed. - just wow, only four months to get the whole machine in gear, incredible]

Rob - What do you attribute your success to? As we said, you operate in the social media world and you're (obligatory Gary Vee reference - you've actually met him ye?) crushing it - any tips for success in social media? And I recall a post you made on and now your on ABC and CBS - what is the coolest company or brand you've represented this year or top 3? Are your starting to feel a tad famous now or get recognised in places?

Jason - My success has come mostly from hard work and being myself. I have had some good bumps through using and the advertising services there [Ed. - shall be checking them out]. That is the ONLY advertising service I believe in and it has been a big help in growing As far as tips go, it's incredibly important to be yourself, to talk to people in your network and to focus on something. I've actually had a couple ideas I think are great and could make more money than, but this is the business I am working on now, it's doing well and I want to make sure I ride this wave while it's here. It definitely helps validate the idea when companies like,, Bill Cosby, Wired Magazine and Gary Vaynerchuk had me wear shirts for them. But I don't neglect the "little guys" either, all the other companies I've worn shirts for are great and have their own unique story to tell. And I don't feel famous at all, nor do I really want to be famous. I want to continue to provide a unique value for people through t-shirt wearing and social media and make some decent money. [Ed. - well, readers, which company that Jason has worn a shirt for do you think is the coolest? any memorable iwys vids you'd like to recount, leave a comment]

Rob - 2010 heralds the dawn of two timezone t-shirt wearing goodness - how is that looking so far for you? Any friend called Evan you'd care to mention? And beyond 2010 what are your plans - a global t-shirt wearing empire?

As I mentioned earlier, there are only 70+ [Ed. - 58] days left for sale in 2010. So people either REALLY love my buddy Evan or this t-shirt wearing thing has proved to work well. And I will continue to say that I think $730, the most expensive day in 2010, is a bargain for the content we are creating for a company and the size of audience that company is immediately exposed to. You couldn't get all the social media content created for the price we are asking and then who would you show it to? That's the big selling point to me. 2010 is 2 guys in shirts, 2011 will be more people in shirts and I eventually hope to get up to 50-100 people around the world wearing the same shirt in a day. Imagine 50 people all with 5,000 social media friends.... that's 250,000 people seeing your brand in 1 day. Wouldn't that be worth $1000 a day or more? [Ed. - I think it would be worth $1000 and think you have got a fantastic marketing formula here..Hehe, I nominate myself as Mr. GMT and am sure with the way things are going come 2011 there will be lots on the more iwys crew]

Rob - Ok so, we're nearly there...but, importantly, any random Jason Sadler facts that you don't want the world to know about? And you have an i wear your shirt wiki page - pretty cool...did you create that yourself or you do you have a super stalker out there?

Jason - Ha.. I have a wiki page??? I had no clue, where's the link? It's flattering when people take the time to do those things... I'm heading to Google right now.

Rob - Well, Jason, it has been a privilege, a pleasure and an honor to be able to ask you a few questions. You are somewhat a champion of the social media age and a pioneer for things to come. I wholeheartedly wish you a ton of success as you're a bonafide good guy and would like to give you this humble medium to address the masses - the stage is yours...

Jason - Thanks for having me and I encourage anyone to connect with me and chat with me on Facebook, Twitter or wherever else you can find me on the web. I answer every email that comes to me, as long as you aren't asking me if I want to partner with you and have you wear hats for a living.

And I encourage you all to connect with Jason (and Evan) too. They have recently kicked off the IWearYourShirt facebook fanpage so you can join them there for all sorts of fun and games.

I'd like to briefly throw my two cents into the IWYS mix. Personally, I think it is a phenomenal idea that has been executed immaculately by possibly the only guy who could do it so well. His success has led to others to jump on a similar bandwagon but I'd be surprised if you ever get to hear of any of them. Jason has created a company with solid foundations rooted in hardwork, honesty and giving value to the customer. He excels with customer service and, unlike so many others who preach, he actually cares about his customers and is passionate about giving them a good service. The fact that he enjoys it is obvious and I can only see IWYS going from strength to strength and I wish him all the best.

...and thats a wrap, no more gushing from me. Thanks once again to Jason and apologies for the tardiness in getting this interview up. So, readers, what do we think of IWYS? Will it be a flash in the pan or do you think, like me, that there is some longevity to the business? Have you come across any IWYS copy cats? What is your favourite IWYS clip? And the real clincher of a question, who do you prefer - Evan or Jason? (ye, I went there)..

I look forward to your comments and will endeavour to get blogging more regularly here again. Stay happy.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

How to market your brand - 9 marketing tips and ideas

Marketing, branding, raising brand awareness - its not easy but it is essential to any new brand in any business, t-shirts or otherwise. I apologise for not posting anything in a while (I've been extra ordinarily busy with LadyUmbrella t-shirts and haven't been able to blog here). A few weeks ago John from J. Benjamin Clothing asked me about marketing and branding and the likes so here are my 9 marketing/branding tips - hope they are of some use.

1) Believe In Your Brand
Not so much as a tip I guess but if you don't believe in it then no one else will. As a result of this all subsequent marketing or branding efforts won't be given 100% commitment as you don't believe in them - or, that's how I roll anyway..100% belief will yield 100% conviction, determination and application - all vital traits for brand marketing. It will take time and effort to build your brand, be ready to sweat.

In everything you do try have a common trend or a link between designs. In slogans, colour choice, logos and images try make it easy for people to recognize them as coming from one source, one brand. Further to using the above consistently use them constantly...anything that you "put out there" ensure that it has something that links it back to you, be it web address, logo, slogan, image, whatever - make sure that if people see it they recognize it and importantly associate it with your brand.

3) Suspense and Intrigue
Build up a bit of mystique or intrigue about your brand. Don't just show your cards from day one but gradually give nuggets of enticing info that arouses curiosity in whoever may view it. We, humans, are curious creatures and are generally drawn to things that we don't know about, that intrigue us, that leave us wondering a bit. For example, Smirnoff Vodka (oh, how we love it) ran a campaign for Smirnoff Mule which just featured a plush looking velvet stage curtain on billboards. WiMax also ran a suspense rousing campaign that honed it on their target market perfectly.

4) Catchy and Memorable
You want to make it easy for the viewer/reader to remember your brand. Use alliteration when writing slogans etc as this rattles around in our inner ear for a bit. Think of all successful brand names/slogans, they rattle around a bit. Prime example would be Coca Cola (um, with some Smirnoff = win). Another way to make things memorable is to make them shocking, get a response from whoever views it, motivate them into looking twice, taking a gasp or ideally, compel them to view your t-shirt designs. Also, the brain has 3 main sections which and a combination of food, sex and danger seem to spark a response from each region. I strongly suggest reading this blog which talks about the 3 regions of the brain and how to influence them - 11 Ways to Influence People Online and Make them Take Action.

5) Stickability
You want your brand to stick around don't you? to be able to persist? Try think big in every aspect of your branding or marketing and invest time in creating things that won't be instantly dated due to surroundings or other. Think of other avenues you can venture down in a bid to expand your brand - hats, scarves, boxer shorts?

6) Be Remarkable
As Seth Godin says be the purple cow, be a bit different, be something remarkable. Its not to dissimilar to being catchy but instead of going for the majority within a society be remarkable to a few who truly relate to your brand, get your brand and you could quite possibly be good buddies with. These people will help you find niches or possibly even create niches for you by getting all of their friends to like your brand. Brand zealots are a rare commodity and should be appreciated and thanked. Ultimately, you want to the purple cow to a few - watch this video.

7) Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM)
Word of mouth marketing is getting people talking about you. Think of what you pass on to your friends? "oh, there is a deal here" or "I got this for free from..." or "you should see this brand, so cool" and 9 times out of 10 you'll act on it, or at least consider it more because it was told to you by a friend. Some stat I heard stated that there is an 89% conversion rate on word of mouth market versus 12% on standard marketing. So, use competitions and freebies to stimulate some chit chat amongst friends. Another key element of WOMM is managing customer expectations. Customers inherently have an expectation of what they are going to get based on price, what you've said and what they've heard from friends. If you meet their expectations you get a pass grade and nothing really happy. If you fall below what they expect then you will have more than likely lost a customer. If however you exceed their expectations they will talk about you, they'll be happy with the product they have received from you and will be compelled to talk about you. How do you try to exceed your customers expectations?

8) Persistence
Marketing and forming your brands identity and persona will take time. There is no overnight solution (not that I have discovered anyway although I'd love to find one) for building your brands reputation so be persistent. Never miss an opportunity to market your brand but don't overkill it. It goes back to my very first point really, you have to keep applying yourself and promoting and pushing your brand - if you don't do it no one else will..

9) Responsive
Ideally what you want is to get the WOMM machine revved up and in high gear. You then have to be responsive to what gets said. How can you use what is said to further your marketing campaign or branding efforts? What opportunities are to be had by getting in touch with people who mention your brand? What if someone says a negative thing about your brand? Be responsive and thank those who like your brand and give them something to talk about. When receiving negative comments deal with them quickly and in a nice manner - turn the negative into a positive.

And so, there it is, 9 marketing tips and ideas. I'm not a guru by any stretch of the imagination but the above are just some of the things I am aware of and try practice myself. Your thoughts on the above, what your marketing efforts consist of, or any tips/ideas/suggestions are warmly welcomed - knowledge is no burden.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

GritFX Interview - A one on one with Amanda Vare

I'm way down under, putting a shrimp on the Bar-b, shouting at the flaming mongrels, drinking Fosters and thinking like an Australian for the GritFX T-Shirts interview with the awesome Amanda a.k.a Manz. Despite the mind boggling time difference (and weather difference) the power of the web has enabled me to delve deeper into the t-shirt and artistic world of GritFX, a truly great company based in Australia. Lets get it on...

Rob - So, Manz, good'ay mate (and that'll be the last of the Oz cliches I hope),many thanks for the interview. How is all in Oz today? - you're almost in the middle of summer now ye? Surfing, ice creams and t-shirts? what is your favorite ice cream?

Manz - Summer is upon us now (came a little early this year with some stinking hot days already). I can tell you that I don’t surf (believe it or not, not all Aussies do – I tried once but didn’t get past the breakers), but I do eat ice-cream. In summer, nothing beats a “Splice”. I’m not sure if they are only found here in Australia. It has lemon/lime flavoured ice
around a sweet, coconutty ice-cream centre. It’s been my fave since I was
a kid. At other times, it’s just vanilla with chocolate topping. [Ed. - Never heard of them but Google has, anyone else hear of them?]

Rob - Alrightly, lets get down to it. GritFX seems to be an extremely passionate ensemble of characters with a love for Lego who really want to give something to the "independent" community at large. What is your company mission or goal? Whilst you do sell lots of cool t-shirts (and we'll get to them later) you seem to have many facets to GritFX - care to discuss?

Manz - Well, honestly, like any business, the goal is to make money. We will hopefully get to the stage where we can print our own t-shirts, but for now, POD suppliers are brilliant. As far as the other facets to GritFX – we are basically a group of friends and extended friends (some of us have known each other since high school) who work in artistic fields (graphic design, copywriting etc) but didn’t have an outlet for certain things we wished to pursue. We thought it would be more beneficial and stronger to combine everything we do into one entity. GritFX, whilst being a business, is also an avenue to share the things we all are interested in, which obviously also influences our t-shirt designs.

There is a lot of competition in the t-shirt industry, and also in artistic fields. So many wonderful artists, musicians, writers, etcetera, never gain the recognition they deserve. All of us at GritFX have a deep respect for artists, and that’s one of the reasons I have decided to show support to other t-shirt designers & online shopkeepers. The Support Shopkeepers page is completely unbiased and boils down to supporting groups or individual designers/artists rather than the “man” and the “machine”. [Ed. - I strongly suggest contacting them, they are supporting my efforts with LadyUmbrella t-shirts, much appreciated guys] As far as the Lego goes, that’s Will’s domain. He created the little character pics we use on the website – when he sent them to us, we all thought they were far too cute to discard.

Rob - One of the GritFX team, a certain Will Thame, has some serious Lego and video long has he had a love affair with Lego to be able to able to create the movies that he does? How long does it take him to make one like below and have you ever seen him in action?

Manz - Will (also known as Wadrick Jones) has been watching movies incessantly since he was ten years old. That’s twenty-odd years of celluloid infusion. He reckons that if he didn’t know how to make a movie by now, after watching so many, that would be pretty sad. But I think he is just being modest when he says that. I can say that he’s his own worst critic. To call him pedantic would be an understatement.

He dropped out of film school years ago after about a month because of “all the damn pretentious twats!” He works on the animations in his spare time – the two parts of The Rookie took him about six months, but by his own admission, there were stretches of time where he didn’t work on the film at all. He loaded the first part of The Rookie and told us the second part would be ready within two weeks. It wasn’t until a few months later did we finally see it.

I have never seen him in action (Dave has), but I do know he uses an old Video8 tape video camera to film. And he edits on iMovie, which is rather impressive considering the programs’ limitations [Ed. - from my limited experience with iMovie I concur, extremely impressive]. Will is always bemoaning the fact that iMovie will only allow him 10 frames per second. He says that Lego is the easiest toy to animate, but his love affair with Lego goes back to childhood. Apparently, the new film he is working on now (“Kingdom of Scum”) features some of the Castle Lego he had when he was a kid. We never get any sneak previews of his work though. [Ed. - Check out part 1 of the Rookie below and find out more about Will Thame at The GritHouse]

Rob - So lets get onto t-shirts. I was perusing your impressive catalog and particularly liked the "I'll work for peanuts" tee (maybe its because I can relate to it) - that design happen to be done by you as I know there are a few designers at GritFX? who is the most prolific designer you have and which is your favorite design? Any clear top seller?

Manz - Thanks for the kind words. The “Peanuts” design is one of mine. Basically, Dave and myself are the main designers – most of the black and white graphic works (famous faces etc) are the work of Max. The ideas however, come from everyone. Will has a background in graphics too, and has worked on a few designs (but he, as he’d tell you himself, is rather lazy). So I guess Dave and I are the most prolific. That’s really our area I suppose (as well as, in my case, marketing).

My favourite design from all our stores constantly changes! Right now, it would definitely be World Water Fight Champion [Ed. - That is a pretty cool tee, no doubt about that]. That’s one of Dave’s. With summer upon us in Australia, that design makes me nostalgic for my teenage days. As far as best sellers go, the clear winner at the moment is “We’re Going To The Winchester” from our Popcorn Classics range.

Rob - One thing I really like about your store is that most of the t-shirts have cool, amusing, anecdotal type stories about them so, what comes first - the design or the story or do they both evolve together? And what do you think is the benefit of writing stories about tees?

Manz - The designs always come first. The stories are secondary and are just a fun thing for our writers to do. Honestly, there is probably no benefit that we can see, other than the fact that visitors to our store may be amused by the story that goes with the design. And if a smile is put on a face, that can’t be a bad thing. Sometimes it is just a case of “this design needs some kind of explanation”. And I suppose that because GritFX includes other areas of interest aside from our commercial enterprise, it is just an extension of those other elements (or, in other words, just another biased way of displaying the work of our writers). [Ed. - for the benefit of my beloved readers out there, here is the tale from the tee for "I'll Work for Peanuts" - That’s correct. I will work for peanuts. I’ll also take other food as payment for any services rendered. But I do prefer the peanuts. You don’t even have to remove the shell for me. I like the shell. I’ll eat the shell too. Scoop up any crumbs. I won’t leave a mess. Please. I need peanuts. Give me something to do and all I’ll ask in return is for some peanuts….and somebody to love me.]

Rob - You also do custom work and orders at GritFX. How is that side of the business working out? One might imagine the customer service side of things might be a bit tougher as customers have more scope to be "unhappy" - any hair raising customer situations to tell us about? or, any top tips in how to deal with customers complaints with aplomb?

Manz - Dave and I have run a small graphic design business for a number of years and have plenty experience in dealing with “unhappy” clients and those who seem to be difficult for the hell of it. But it is always important, when dealing with clients who have asked you to create a design, to not be too precious with your artwork. Sometimes a client will request something that doesn’t fit into your own artistic aesthetic. But if it is what the client wants, that’s what they have to get, and you have to live with it. Alternatively, there is always the old-fashioned method of just telling clients to go f#@k themselves. [Ed. - ole, throw some fingers in there for good measure too I say..]

Rob - Since you've been in the "tee game" for a while any top tips for new companies? What are your views on the social media, facebook, twitter revolution - a fan? Noticed any impact on your business since using social media?

Manz - Persistence is key and a tip would be to allow for change and growth and to not be frightened of re-evaluating designs. As your brand evolves, your work may also. Keeping quality standards high is important. There are graphic design projects that I was once proud of, yet would never consider for inclusion in a portfolio today. Apply that reasoning to your online store. Even if you have a distinct brand look, some concepts may become stale and introducing new work keeps your online store fresh.

As for social media, as a group of gen-Xers who grew up on stable diets of cinema visits, playing cricket in the streets, and wasting days away at the beach while we waited for our photos to be developed – taking the plunge into social media wasn’t all that natural. Around 6 months after launching our t-shirt brand, we instinctively set up a Facebook page. It’s there for fans to join, ask questions and comment should they feel like it. It’s important to us to have this option for fans to interact with us - which social media such as Facebook provides - but we don’t actively promote it and ask people to join. Twitter on the other hand has become a big contributor to the referred traffic to our website. It took a lot of convincing for me to create an account, and it was only recently that I changed the username to GritFX. I think women can be too self-conscious at times, and dwell on what others may think - which may hamper the optimum use of social media. Being perceived as a “spammer” was and continues to be an issue for me. Therefore, I’ve been working on getting in touch with my “inner male” and I’m now working at convincing Max to help tweet. If you can use 150 characters to entice someone to click on a link, then Twitter is an amazing FREE marketing tool.[Ed. - I agree, Twitter is incredibly powerful and every member of every t-shirt company should be on it and active.]

Rob - From a previous competition you guys ran I think it could be fair to say that you like Bill Hicks - or, maybe just a little..Who would your favorite comedian be? And, what about your competitions - how are they working out for you? Any tips on running successful ones?

Manz - Bill was a legend – ahead of his time. [Ed. - I agree, Bill is a legend, any other Hicks fans out there?] Decoy summed it up beautifully in his article for our Magazine. Personally, I’m not really a huge fan of comedians. There are a few that I do like – Richard Pryor comes to mind, recently Jon Lajois and I do enjoy Saturday Night Live from time to time. The guys (Decoy, Max, Will etc) tend to be more interested in comics with something of import to say – Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and the like. Here in Australia, in my opinion, our comic talent is pretty thin (regardless of what some may say) and perhaps that’s the reason I don’t get into more comedians.

Our competition questions will always relate to something that we are either interested in (music, movies, pop culture etc) or something that has been included on our site. In the case of our last comp and the question about Bill Hicks, it was on the back of Decoy’s review of Hicks’ Rant In E Minor, which was very well received by readers. That competition was pretty successful. We plan to make them a regular thing (we have another comp running at the moment) and the idea is always to make it as easy as possible for people to enter. We found in previous comps that people were less likely to enter if the entry process itself was complicated. That’s why we have set up an online form that makes it all the more easy. It’s obviously a great promotional tool, and I do recommend running competitions simply because of that.

Rob - Music is also a part of the GritFX DNA - any awesome bands from Oz that you've worked with that we should know about? And what about the music that motivates Manz? what melodies make you muse these days?

Manz - I once worked with the SBS Television Youth Orchestra who were great and up for a fresh, young design. But we haven’t worked with any bands of note. Music, however, is essential to any productive day in the ‘office’. There are a number of great bands in this country (along with a fair serving of shite bands) – Dirty Three, Magic Dirt, The Necks, Spiderbait (now defunct, I think), 78 Saab, Crow (also defunct), to name a small few. [Ed. - My music knowledge does not stretch that far, best get a google on] At the moment, high on my album rotation is Two Suns by Bat For Lashes, Cold Fact by Rodriguez, My Maudlin Career by Camera Obscura, It’s Blitz by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Kick Inside by Kate Bush, Fun House by The Stooges and Who’s Next by The Who.

Rob - Finally, what does the future hold for GritFX? A little birdy told me that 27th of July 2010 should be a day for the calendar? We mentioned it earlier, but 27th of July will be a day of social media incarnation for you - care to tell us?

Manz - Well, continue to do what we do and hopefully take over the t-shirt industry (wink, wink). The 27th of July 2010 is definitely a day to watch, as that is when GritFX will be featured on Jason has enlisted another guy (Evan) for the 2010 calendar year, meaning double promotion of the GritFX brand for the full day! We’re cooking up some ideas on what we can have the guys do on our calendar day, and therefore make the most of their social media skills (whilst also delivering some entertainment to fans!). With any luck it’ll coincide with Jason’s appearance on Oprah or Ellen and give us some serious exposure (fingers crossed). [Ed. - now that would be pretty incredible, Jason is doing some good things].

And, so thats a wrap...immense thanks to Manz and the GritFX crew for taking the time to get back to me with some really great answers..For those of you who made it this far I commend you and hope you enjoyed the read..let me know what you think - comments make me smile...and, stay tuned for another interview coming soon..guess who it will feature?

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