Ashley E. Kingsley

Perch Yourself

In App Technology, Facebook, Fail Whale, Perch, Social Media, Twitter, Women in Tech on August 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm

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I have been in social media marketing since the dawn of, well, social media. Countless hours spent moderating Yahoo! Groups, posting to Craig’s List in the early days, using Twitter before the storm, and connecting via Facebook before it was a centralized tool for marketing. Seems like a lifetime, and yet, it’s only been since about 1998.

Engaging early on, both personally and professionally, has taught me a great deal about shifting landscapes, pivoting quickly and consuming information at high speeds, but only if it’s written in 140 characters or less. I think it is referred to as “nimble”. In the world of social media, you must be nimble, or you will not survive.

It has been an extraordinary evolution and one that I am so glad to be part of. Early on, many told me I was wasting my time and that social networking was just a “fad that will fade.”  I didn’t listen, because I saw something early on (or a few things) that struck me.

It was campaign season 2008.  Obama and McCain were on the ticket. I had all but stopped watching any news coverage on the television. I couldn’t stand the endless analyzing, the talking heads. News, just for news sake. I was bored. I spent most of my time on Twitter and some on Facebook.  I was there with other people that wanted to share information and who were connecting in a meaningful way. The news was being reported by people who were seeing it unfold and living through experiences themselves; what a concept.

When I saw the election called on Twitter via someone on the East Coast well before mid-night and far before any major news outlet reported his victory, I was in awe.  A Presidential Election was called out on Twitter by a non-news source, and it was accurate. CNN reported 1.5 hours later.  It was then that I knew Twitter was going to change the way people communicated, consumed and shared information. It was no longer just one of the many start-up tech companies in Silicone Valley.  Twitter was changing our intake and output of information. Long before the Hashtag, Trending, Verified Users, Followers, Klout, Streams, Decks, Influencers, Thought Leaders, Re-tweets, Ninjas and Scheduling, many used this tool in a meaningful way. When we tweeted, we actually shared. We weren’t selling and we weren’t buying. We were listening, even playing and making real connections. We were storytelling, posting what was happening, in between our blogging, our phone calls and our IM’s. Originally, what Twitter was designed for. “The stuff that happens in between.“

Twitter grew quickly. There were a lot of us that often went bonkers when the “Fail Whale” showed up on our screen. “What do you mean I can’t Tweet this thought, RIGHT NOW!” The “Fail Whale” became more and more visible as Twitter’s hosting was overrun and failing. People were taking to Twitter like crazy and by 2010, well, it was a totally different platform.  As a Consultant, I urged my small business clients to let me build their brand and presence, on Twitter and Facebook. Many begrudged the idea, yet the forward thinking ones let me run loose. Now, almost five years later, those small businesses are considered early adopters and have a presence and a following. More importantly, they recognize the value of diversifying their marketing channels and not relying on only print advertising, word-of-mouth marketing and radio. Unlike print and radio, utilizing Facebook and Twitter were extremely cost effective, and I could show my client’s actual insights and ROI and shift campaigns and directions within minutes.

The landscape keeps shifting constantly. Information online has changed so drastically and with the changing eco-sphere of social media, our intentions must follow suit. I think it is important to ask; “What are we here for? What are we hoping to accomplish?”

In answering these questions, I know that my heart has always belonged with Small Business. When I learned how MapQuest Founder Perry Evans flipped the switch and brought the Perch App to life, I had to re-organize the way I viewed social and the dissemination of real-time information.

Perch is a robust app that pulls several leading social streams (think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, G+, Yelp) together in one app, and even adds in tracking for local promotions from Foursquare and Daily Deals, and gives the Small Business Owner the ability to observe, listen, watch, and learn. It is a totally different and new approach to social. Perry actually calls it marketplace listening which I like! I think over the last few years, many claim they are listening to their consumers – the title of Community Manager emerged to confirm, that yes, you are bring heard. But with the Perch App, the SMB can listen to the competition and their customers. Genius.  It has taken me some time to wrap my head around the listening part. It seems we have been busy foaming at the mouth for a while now; I call it “Machine Tweeting”. Hellllo…is anybody out there? Is anyone listening, or are we all just scheduling information and crowding the space with sales pitches, e-Books, contests, and Hashtags?

I highly recommend Perch, as a former Small Business Owner, Marketing Consultant, and as a long time lover of Small Business. It, in Perry Evan’s words  “is the next generation of listening. We are giving you a more real-world pulse of your local marketplace.”

Perch App won Best New Business App at the Appy Awards at SXSW 2013.

Don’t stop Tweeting and Posting. Perhaps, download Perch, and give a listen, observe. Stay Perched for a while, see what you can hear. See what kind of business intelligence you can harness with this power tool.  Hey, be an early adopter, this is Web 3.0 emerging. Adopt it before you are a latecomer.

Download here for Droid or iPhone

SHE DID IT ANYWAY

In App Technology, New Media, Social Media, Twitter on June 5, 2012 at 5:36 am

 

leap-of-faith

Looking back, I cannot believe what just occurred. It almost feels as if it was a dream… and yet, I know, it wasn’t because I have aged, considerably.  It was a start-up. A beginning. A hope. A fear. A mountain. A valley. A success. Wow.

I find myself  sifting through the emails I filed under “Milestones” so I could begin to digest the last two years of my life, their meaning, significance and the enormity.

From what I have been told, timing is everything. Starting a company, with no plan, no money and no idea, is quite the serious undertaking. Good thing we had no idea what we were in for. We loved the idea and it had legs.

Kismet, indeed.  The stars aligned, yes. But we JUMPED. We moved quickly because we had too. The market was getting penetrated and we wanted a strong foothold.  So we worked, like dogs… and I mean, dogs.  The kids got seconds and our husbands got whatever little pieces that may have been leftover. Our baby, was our company.

Startups are messy and confusing, exciting, wild. Talk about being on a roller coaster.  Many people told us, “We couldn’t do it, not with kids, no way.” The more people told us we couldn’t, we did more, faster, better. Flat out, we set out to turn that notion upside down.  Between my partner and I, we had three kids under 3.  Breastfeeding, diaper changing, sleepless nights,  consistent illnesses, and not to mention just being new moms, WE DID IT ANYWAY. 

We experienced the highest of highs, and the LOWS… of the lows as well. One determines what those are based on a varying degree of things – and we had ours.  Some days were killer. Some days, killed.

The company grew fast and before we could even decide on a logo, we were turning a profit. It was unreal. We were hiring in every state of the Union less than 6 months in.  We were learning things we’d never set out to learn.  Within eighteen months, we were in 18 markets, on national news and radio regularly,  published in major news outlets and frequently asked to contribute our story  and experiences.

The tough part was that there was no time to really relish.  It was always GO TIME. If we weren’t dealing with tech issues, it was human resources, legal, or sales.  We were small and mighty, the wind was strong and sometimes destructive. But we didn’t give in.

And a lot of life happened too…

Between life and children, managing 26+ people  and markets nationwide, ensuring the best customer service in the industry (a promise I made to myself from the start), there was very little ME left. I gave it my all… and then some. So very, very proud.

Someone once told me that I’d never make it to college.  I now had, not only my traditional schooling, I had several Masters degrees in Business, Public Relations, Marketing, What Not to Do, Operations, Sleeplessness, you get the idea.

We did good and we are both proud to say, the “Start-Up” is no longer a Start-Up, but a company, being driven by one of the finest people I know, with one of the best teams imaginable.

We accomplished more with the company than I ever imagined possible. I am so, so very thankful for the experiences, the people I met along the way, the patience and the support from my family and deep kindness from the communities across the Country.

I sold my portion of the company in April 2012, exactly two years from inception. It was time for new adventures. One of the biggest adventures being a full-time stay at home mom for the summer months. This is something that scares me more than going after funding, talking to the media and having a server crash during a big announcement.  Yet, much like I did with the start-up, I am jumping in, literally, with two feet and no idea. I do know, the kids and I will make a splash this summer!

What a RIDE! A journey!

To be repeated. No doubt…

Independent We Stand

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Daily Deals for Moms is celebrating 20 months in business. From the beginning, we saw the Mom market getting left behind in the Daily Deal offerings. We also saw small business getting pummeled when they offered a deal with the big conglomerates. Thousands of deals sold, for a small mom and pop shops, isn’t a desirable outcome. After all, isn’t this about assisting business owners with their advertising campaigns, while offering great deals?

Over the last 20 months, we have witnessed the fallen soldiers of small business, and it has made us quite sad. Many, have gone out of business, after offering a deal with a big conglomerate. Their bottom line got crushed. We are in this business, for the opposite reason – we are here for the small business. We have spent the better part of two years working really hard to educate merchants on the deal process while structuring offerings that will encourage repeat business. We aren’t interested in ‘deal seekers’ and neither are the merchants. We want to see our neighborhoods thrive.  I often say “I don’t want to live in a Wal-Mart world.”

We have worked diligently to create meaningful relationships with small business owners all across the country and structure offerings so they don’t cripple the business owners, they encourage consumer loyalty and raise brand awareness. This was our goal from the start, and it continues to be today.  We have had several business owners call to tell us “I was able to keep my doors open as a result of running a deal with Daily Deals for Moms.”   This delights us to no end.

We are now in 26 cities and growing. We have Head Moms in each city, with a focus on local. The women we work with are amazing, dedicated, vibrant, creative and strong. We have assembled a dynamic team and created jobs in a time when many, cannot find employment.

Recently, we have seen a lot of big deal companies try to narrow their focus and localize deals. We feel proud, that we were the first, to recognize, it has to be hyper-local and it must be well-intentioned. We are also proud, that we were the first in the industry to offer small businesses the opportunity to cap their deals. If their budget would only allow for 50 to be sold, we would turn off the offer at 50. We look at this as an advertising campaign. We ask business owners to look at their budgets and determine how much they would spend on marketing and advertising?

We are here for the small business owners and we are here for the Moms.

We recently partnered with a few amazing organizations that I wanted to share.

Mamazina Magazine is the ‘Heart & Soul Of Women’; Sharing mother’s perspectives in print and online.  A great tribute to all things Mom, and all things creative, brilliant, inspiring and rock n roll. Joy Rose, the founder, also puts on MAMAPALOOZA… talk about awesome! Moms aren’t just changing diapers and juggling home/work life… we are rockin’ too, didn’t ya know? As if Joy isn’t busy enough, she also runs M.O.M – The Museum of Motherhood. Again, stunning way to capture our diverse lives and women and as moms. Take a moment to check out her nobel undertakings.

We have also carved out a partnership with Independent We Stand. All things local. Taking a stand for small business. Independent We Stand is a movement of independently-owned local businesses across the country dedicated to educating their communities about the importance — and the benefits — of ‘buying local.’ Clearly, this was a match made in small business heaven. We are thrilled to be working with them and our merchants are as well. All small business merchants can add their information to IWS database as a way to raise their search engine traffic, organic search, SEO, and hyper-local awareness.

We are lucky.

We are in the midst of continuing to grow, as well as roll out some pretty awesome stuff (if I do say so myself). Thanks, for your support, as always.

Support local, YO!

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