Where are your Customers Gathering?

You know that phrase “go where your patrons are?” It’s always bugged me. Not because of the concept – the concept’s great. But because of the grammar – that ending in “are” thing. It’s never sounded right to me (says David, who got a B- in grammar).

At the Free State Social conference last week, someone – not sure who – added a word to that phrase that made a lot of sense to me. Or maybe it just sounds better to my ears. Anyway, here it is:

Go where your customers are gathering.

Besides just sounding slightly better (to me, anyway), it also gives a bit of direction, doesn’t it? Where “are” your customers/patrons? You don’t have to look around every corner for them – just find the places they’re already gathering … then figure out how to exist in those places.

So – where do your customers gather? I can’t answer that one, because it will look different for every organization. My library’s customers gather … at the actual library, on Facebook, at the mall. At church. In schools and our one university in town. And probably other places, too.

Chris Brogan put a marketing spin on the phrase during a small group session. He said “the marketplace convenes where it’s convenient.” Where are those “convenient” places in your community? Facebook is convenient for a lot of people (but not the people you probably think of when you think of Facebook). Not kids and younger teens (although they’re certainly there). Think people with easy, convenient access to the web, at work, at home, at school … and on their mobile devices. Just one example of many.

Find those convenient gathering places – online and off – and take your message/your services/your library to those places.

Free State Social – Jeremiah Owyang #fssocial

Jeremiah OwyangJeremiah Owyang was the last speaker of the day. Notes from his talk:

Who do customers trust? Customers trust friends and families. People turn to each other for help.

Rings of social influence: Prospects, Customers, Employees, and Brand

In the past, the brand was the only thing that communicated, typically faceless.

Employees as example – best buy is encouraged to use @twelpforce – anyone at Best Buy using twitter can respond.

(reminder to myself) Social media brands punkd (thanks KrisMcDonald21 for the link!) – google this for shining examples of doing it wrong.

Zappos customers trust other customer product reviews.

OK – not much here in the way of notes. It was the end of the day, and Jeremiah said lots of good stuff in his talk and the next day’s small group sessions that I need to process further (and will probably blog about – stay tuned!).

Free State Social – Scott Raymond #fssocial

Scott RaymondTitle – Location Based Social Networks

Scott Raymond, Co-founder and CEO CTO of Gowalla

Fun thought – someone is in their basement right now, coding something that will be huge in 3 months.

A funny thing – while building the first version of Gowalla, he had to actually code a bit, then go outside and check in somewhere, then go back home and code some more, etc.

He thinks location is fundamental.

Macroscope – a way to access the world at a social scale. Helps us see what the aggregation of many small actions looks like when added together.

Services like gowalla act like macroscopes.

Passports are cool, because they tell a story. In the passport view of gowalla, you can see a recorded version of a person’s life through his passport stamps.

Photos – you’re sharing with your friends … Like what the food looks like. But you’re also sharing with everyone else who checks into the restaurant or place. That’s huge.

Hotspots… Sort of like trending twitter topics. Places getting lots of checkins get put at the top of the list.

business case:

deals: during sxsw, they gave away virtual tacos … Then you could go to the real restaurant, and get a real taco. Gowalla was going to pay for it. The company, One Taco (I think), said forget about paying, because they sold 12 tacos for every one, and had a huge line down the block the whole week because of that one virtual taco giveaway.


Location based services can provide data.

A restaurant manager, for example, can see who his most frequent visitors are, then contact them via Twitter. It should be possible for that manager to be emailed when a loyal frequent customer checks in so they can go to the table,  shake their hand, comp their wine. Wow.


The check in shows up on his facebook stream. Shows he was really there, had a good experience. It’s word of mouth.

What if you could infiltrate your competitor’s space … What if one competitor “owned” another’s Location-based space, and could leave messages there?

They made a game for a laptop bag company sold at Apple stores. You check into an apple store, possibly see an ad for a case … and you could get a badge. If you collected all 6, you could get a free real bag.

He sees gowalla as less of a game and more of a sharing experience. And the visuals are nice.

Free State Social – Sarah Evans #fssocial

Sarah EvansTitle: How to Make Your Brand Stand Out Online

Sarah Evans – She runs Sevans Strategy out of her home

Telling a story about the Chicago earthquake a year or so ago… she was able to be a citizen reporter, and ended up on national news (and got 5 solid client leads from it, too).

First – know what you want to accomplish

9 ways to stand out online

1. Find an opportunity to showcase what you do best

2. Hijack a conversation – gave a example of using the sxsw crowd and speakers to host another simultaneous event

3. Meet a need in an innovative way. She identified a larger need. Asked permission to be in charge of the #journchat thing. Innovate – do something different. It evolves. One pitch – she lets them do one pitch at the end – she gives them something quick to share. We’re a community.

4. Generate a LOT of quality content. Think multimedia.

5. Do it for a good cause. The #beatcancer hash tag as an example. And #crisisovernight as another example.

6. Give freely, give often. Share, acknowledge, give tips and tricks for your industry, trade secrets, etc. Retweet, like, comment post engage. Read your feeds, respond, etc.

7. Think like those you’re trying to reach. Use the tools they use. She checks out people’s twitter feeds before she contacts them to pitch them something and brings something from the feed up in her initial contact. It makes it more personal.

8. Get sourced … A lot. Sign up for helpareporter.com, follow journalists. Online, identify story opportunities where you are the best source and pitch them. Focus on media, bloggers, and online influencers bonus – use Pitchengine for your releases. Write for the consumer and the media…

9. What else? We had audience participation here.

Prtini? A pr blogger. …

How do we manage our message? You. Don’t. You start it, but your community takes it somewhere else.

It cant be a good sign when you have more twitter followers Han t he subscribers to your local newspaper.


Free State Social – Ellyn Angelotti #fssocial

Ellyn AngelottiTitle: The New News Cycle

Ellyn Angelotti works at the Poynter Institute for media studies. Stuff I found interesting from her talk…

Explaining how news has become interactive. There used to be no way to engage with news stories, and that is changing.

How have the web changes affected news?

X factors:

News is published the same – people share the story after it’s published

Take queues from your audience

Facebook users share more than 5 billion pieces of content each week (libraries – so shouldn’t we be creating content around our content that people can share???)

85 percent of college students have a Facebook account

Journalist’s digital presence – Some are segmenting their personal and professional.

News orgs should put their videos on youtube instead of just their website – put it where people are already going.

Someone in the audience publishes news – then what?

Hudson river plane crash – first pic came from a personal trainer – not a reporter (@jkrums on twitter)

Ouch – foursquare tip – never take a class with a certain professor!

Location based journalism…?

Journalist uses audience to report, then what? They now use the audience before, during, and after the event.