The Day Lily the Monkey Blew-Up Social Media

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note the number of cell phones taking photos

As many of you (all three of my loyal followers) know I am a marketing professor at a local university.  In the advanced applied marketing class a common theme amongst the clients has been “how do we reach the younger generations?”. The days of conventional newsprint, radio spots and television advertisements as a sole resource to get your promotional messages out are over.  Although top executives are embracing the power of social media, they lack the understanding of why it works or even more importantly when it works.

A little background to better understand why a monkey was in my classroom. I am also the program director of a fair management program that is unique to our agribusiness department.  This spring I am teaching the introduction to fairs class.  Lesson plans are filled with guest speaker appearances who cover ever phase of the business of fairs and festivals.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure to feature a new addition to the annual schedule and welcomed Karla of Pacific Wildlife .  Fairs are no different from any other industry in the 21st century.  They are in constant search on how to attract customers with new exhibits or events.  And then how to connect or reach their consumer.

Being huge fan of content marketing, my instincts have told me that not only do many executives underestimate the power of their story, but more importantly the strength of the various platforms available to share their message.  Achieving results depends on being real, in the moment, and genuine in content.  Where am I going with this back story?

Karla arrived the day of class with an assistant, Lily the spider monkey.  As she shared Lily with the students toward the end of class, a greater lesson came to light for me.  The room full of 47 twenty year olds first reaction when Lily emerged was to grab their cell phone.  From texting their friends and family, to posting photos to Instagram, Lily was an instant social media hit.  As she toured the room I watched them take photos, post to Facebook and tweet away. Furthermore when I returned to my office after class’s, everyone already knew about our class visitors. Professors were sharing how their students were inquiring why their was a monkey in the agriculture building.

 Not only did, Lilly blew up social media for a short period on Monday morning but confirmed many of my content marketing beliefs.

 1 – The most effective content is what is happening now.  Being live in the moment on tweets, photos and posts, gather the best metrics.  success lies in the relevance of the message.

 2 – Personal voice if more effective than a message coming from non identity sources.  What do I mean by non identity sources?  Well a company Facebook has no personal voice behind the message.  But if the viewer could relate the message to an actual person sharing the news, the message takes on a real voice.  It adds an endorsement that is sincere in nature.

 3 – The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented to attract a younger audience.  I introduced a monkey into an unexpected setting and witnessed a huge response.  A personal experience is the golden ticket in attractions, exhibits, fairs or even content marketing. Sharing a story that has character can carry a viral message more effective than any national advertisement campaign.

This experience has got me thinking.  How do I take the cell phone as the “word of mouth” devise and channel the viral storm to a central site?  How does a marketer capture these divine experience moments and translate them into promotional messages to your consumer?  I am not sure just yet, but maybe if I bring a giraffe into my classroom I can gain some more data!

My Long Forgotten Blog..But Not Really

I have been very bad at writing in my blog and at times it deeply depresses me. I started this project over a year ago in hopes to train myself to write often. My ultimate goal is to write a book…….someday. My thought was if I can get in the routine of writing, bing bang boom before you know the infamous words of my bestselling novel would pour out onto the page like a rain storm in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Yet as one can easily view, I have not accomplished much in the last year.

As I celebrated the first day of 2013, in my usual Type A style, I graded my accomplishments of my 2012 goals and created a 2013 agenda. As expected my writing rated poorly in 2012 and made the top five of accomplishments for the coming year.

So what strategy will I employ for better success in the coming months? Well I have been pondering this very dilemma and came up with a new strategy. I love to read. I love to read for lack of a better word, “self-help books”. One novel I really enjoy is The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. There are many great lessons discovered in these pages, but for this example I am going to focus on “daily strokes of effort” as created through William James work. Basically it honors the old saying “practice makes perfect”.

The theory is to create the habit of doing something. Making an effort to do something daily, until it becomes second nature could be the key to my writing predicament. But I needed a simpler task than pen and paper. My solution was found in a piece of fruit.

I recently read that a healthy lifestyle should include eating an apple a day. I figured if I could get myself to consume an apple a day for 21 days, I could test the habit forming hypothesis. There were two reasons for this challenge. One it would require little effort and time and two how guilty could I be if I didn’t eat my apple.

Well I am over 21 days into this experiment. I will confess that I did not eat an apple every day, but there were few days I did skip. I also find myself thinking every afternoon that I need to go have my daily fruit snack. I might have just discovered how to take a bite out of my writing issues. Either way, both duties do nothing but better me as a person. And who can feel defeated about that!