Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Carried Away with Pinterest (really)

my feed is 80s. so what. 

I don't know about you, but when Pinterest was new, I Really Got Into It. As in, 3am what-the-heck-am-I-doing-still-awake-rabbit-hole into it. I set up boards on everything I liked had ever heard of, carefully set my cover photo for each one, found all my friends on the platform, and pinned absolutely everything in the universe. I even got jealous of those uber-pinners who somehow had more time than I did and had huge massive boards filled with images I loved as well: 80s Benetton ads! 60s shoes! 70s kitchen design! James Bond! Brutalist Architecture! Supergraphics! Things I would buy online the next time I had a credit card near me after drinking 2 glasses of wine!

I set up secret boards which clients and co-workers and I used, slapping inspiration images into them faster than you could say Xerox. Our projects were going to rock harder than they ever had prior to the invention of this amazing online global magic bulletin board. Anything we'd ever heard of, we found an image of it, and pinned it. And pinned it, and pinned it and pinned it.

But slowly, Pinterest lost it's appeal. My eyes spun in my head if I scrolled the feed too long. I no longer cared it I didn't have as many pins in my Weird Foods of the 50s board, or if I didn't get to the "end" of my feed. And the notifications! I got sick of knowing that 7 people in Australia had liked or pinned the pin that I had ripped off from someone else anyway. I started to get sick of my phone pinging me because someone thought I might like some new Jell-O recipe. Diagnosis: Pinterest malaise.

I guess you can have too many cute 60s clothes :(

I turned off all notifications, and logged in only once a month or so when I needed graphics, or if a client was active on a collaborative board. The last time I checked, I had over 3,000 unread notifications. Delete! I became un-obsessed cold turkey. I advised my clients to skip Pinterest unless they were in the wedding industry, and when Huck, in an episode of Scandal, made fun of his out-of-touch girlfriend by saying that she "still used Pinterest", I guffawed and spit out a mouthful of popcorn. I bet you did too.

BUT THEN I attended Social Media Marketing World, where there were many sessions on using Pinterest for marketing. Confounded, I had to attend them (the best IMHO was by Kate Ahl of Simple Pin Media, who can actually help you if you want to work this platform for your business or blog) to discover why Pinterest was still relevant... and it turns out, it is, for several reasons, but one stands out above all others. And it is MASSIVE.

Here are 15 things you can do with Pinterest, and I saved the best for last:

  1. Boost your Google ranking by having a presence there
  2. Convert your kitchen DIY account to a business account with analytics and everything!
  3. Learn which type of devices your audience follow - iPhone or Android or desktop
  4. Sponsor posts just like on Facebook 
  5. Beta test which images, colors, words perform best for your business
  6. Create boards to showcase images of your work
  7. Post text overlay images for your blog posts
  8. Create photos optimized to this platform (735 x 1100 = vertical)
  9. Sell directly on the platform (via shopify)
  10. Shop directly on the platform (blue dots = shop the look) 
  11. Observe trends / topics on the platform
  12. Use Pinterest as a collaborative tool, which you can keep private
  13. Save images by category of your choice (the original use)
  14. Fnd things - Pinterest is a massive search engine!
  15. Snap photos with the Lens tool on mobile for object identification

Wait, what? Number 15, hello... Get this: using your smart phone, you can snap a photo of ANYTHING right in front of you, or a photo in a magazine or a flower in the park or a car - ANYTHING - and the Lens tool (which was created in 2016 but just rolled out to all US users last month) will IDENTIFY it and send you keywords as well as related pins. Think Shazam for images... really. This technology has been around for a few years (hello, Google Glass!) but has never been used with the database of Pinterest behind it. THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING! Seriously, keep me away from the phone and credit card at the same time...I mean really.

in the LENS is my own mug, with keywords and suggestions detected by the app!

For the Lens feature alone, I downloaded the app to my phone, and went back in. ALL IN. (To find this feature, update your app on mobile. tap the search icon at the top of your home screen, then tap in the grey search box and you will see a red camera icon appear to the right. Click on this and the lens appears - tap inside the circle to capture anything IRL and see what the app gives you. If it isn't dead on, tap the + sign and tell it, which will better the functionality as it learns.) MAGIC.

So tell me, what are YOU doing on Pinterest at 3 am?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Carried Away with SMMW17 (recap)

Straight up 100

Do you like business conferences? Love them even? Or do you, like most people, dread them with every fiber of your being? Don't worry, I'm bananas for them and I'm here to share a recap so you don't have to feel bad that you didn't go. You're welcome ;)

Social Media Examiner came across my radar a few years ago as a resource for social media how-to, and in a sea of eBooks, blog posts and "authorities", they actually know what they are talking about and give quality and up-to-date info. For those reasons, I decided to make the (substantial) investment to attend their massive annual conference (3000 people) in sunny San Diego in March of this year. And [**SPOILER ALERT**] I am quite glad that I did! First, a little about the experience, and then I will share my top 3 takeaways from the event.

From the very start, the experience was grand - and not just because I had a fancy room with a view in the Grand Hyatt! Bad pun, great location.

I used The Force to get a room upgrade!

At check in I was given my credentials. I wasn't expecting a card for a free Starbucks, but clearly someone was advised that I was attending, and it was handed to me by a friendly check-in volunteer. So far, my investment had just paid off! (Well OK about $4 of it...)


Did I mention that the conference is held in San Diego? To be honest, it's difficult to be in a place of such natural glory and only spend time inside, but the fact that the Convention Center is so groovy made up for it a bit. Built in 1987 (which might be the last time I was actually IN San Diego) the center is a total mod spaceship landed on earth. Thank you, Arthur Erickson. 

The groovy SD Convention Center

Wasting no time, I attended several pre-conference workshops on Wednesday (Day 1) on storytelling, using your phone to create decent videos, and PR. It was appropriate to end with PR (darling) as it was time to get ready for a kind of massive party (remember, I said there were 3000 people!) on-board an Aircraft Carrier! I got dressed up and headed over to the USS Midway where the scene was lively, to say the least. Planes! Sailors! 80s music! Tours! Wine! Flight Simulators! Tacos! DONUTS! Glow necklaces! Advice not to ride the flight simulator after drinking the wine! 

I like people, but even I can get overwhelmed, so I found my sweet spot at the party below deck, learning about supplies delivery, ship operations, and how the mess hall worked. Meeting retired military personnel who now conduct tours was a treat, as was the private tour aspect. Any and all of my silly questions (did you get sea-sick? did you actually eat shit-on-a-shingle? did your dad make you join the Navy?) were answered patiently and fully. I didn't take a formal poll, but I can report that there were as many different answers as people I spoke to. The fact that I am familiar with the USS Carl Vinson (which was stationed near my home town, in Alameda, in the 80s), helped me converse as well as understand their answers. I could have stayed all night but soon enough it was time to go, because events began at 6am the next day! 

Party on the USS Midway. With tacos. 

After a party, it was refreshing to see my personal favorite, green juice, at the breakfast buffet. No, were were certainly not in Kansas! 

Breakfast in California ;)

Day 2 started off with a bang, or maybe I should say a prediction, in a great keynote by Social Media Examiner founder, Michael Seltzner, on Social Media in 2017. THIS is exactly why we go to SME for advice, because they work with the very best and newest in the field. This is also why I spend my money to attend this conference, so that I can bring that info / perspective back to my own clients! I was pumped. And each block in the day, and the whole following day, offered a choice of 10 or more different sessions - THERE IS SO MUCH TO LEARN ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA! I wasn't getting overwhelmed, though, I was going to relax in the sun at lunch time. 

Sunny San Diego

In addition to literally hundreds of classes offered over the next two days, there was a well-stocked bookstore where I bought books from speakers I heard at the event itself (and even had a few signed) as well as a couple that had been on my reading list for some time. 

Book haul

And there was a networking hall where we could meet with vendors, like David here, who started EasyMedia and who gave me a pair of logo glasses, so we could have a Sally Jesse Raphael moment in one of the thousands of selfies I took at the event: 

Meeting vendors / collecting swag

Ummmm did I mention that I adore conferences? I do, and I also live for the haul of conference swag I network my butt off for. With apologies to my daughter, who for her whole life has had to use random corporate logo-gifts as school supplies, I gleefully collected and dragged home plenty of swag. 

Conference swag

In addition to lectures, networking, swag collecting and juicing, I also made it a point to meet the founder of the event, Michael Selzner (see selfie below!) which I am using as a reminder to myself to work towards the level of expertise which will allow ME to one day speak at this conference! 

Selfie with the founder, Michael Stelzner

After an incredible 3 days of lectures, parties and whatnot, we were treated to a closing keynote by someone I know from the fitness world, the adorable (and tiny) Chalene Johnson. I actively do Chalene's PiYo and other fitness videos from BeachBody, and have been inspired to purchase them because of her wildly successful info-mercials (I am actually a huge sucker for info-mercials but that is a story for a whole post in itself!) so I loved hearing her describe the process and formula for creating those very videos. As a wrap, it perfectly capped off a hugely relevant and entertaining conference. Also, she made us dance. 

Closing keynote with Chalene Johnson

Did I mention that I had help from my sweet daughter, Ivy, in selecting my conference garb? Yes, I very carefully styled it up. And then was dismayed to see an overwhelming number of guys in shorts! Oh San Diego, didn't we tell you to Stay Classy


After three days, though, I was TIRED. And that is why this conference ruled: after the close on Friday, I was able to drive the 2 hours to Long Beach for dinner and a bed at my Dad's house! Total bonus, available only at the Super VIP level ;) 

Dinner at Dad's

Now, enough about my experience, what were my three biggest takeaways from the event? 

  1. Technical details change constantly; rely on the right sources to stay up-to-date.
  2. Quality content still rules; storytelling is key. 
  3. New technology is available at every level and should not be ignored by small business!

Thank you to my Dad for having me, to my family for sparing me for 3 days, to my clients for sending me with questions that I was able to answer and more, and to Social Media Marketing World for quite an experience! And I will be back next year (already bought my ticket) for more coffee, selfies and science. And watch this space, because I WILL speak there some day!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Carried Away with Master Hair Colorist James Colgan

You know it's a good sign when other staff come around and ask what products / techniques were used for your style, and that's also how you know you are working with a true master. I didn't say ninja or wizard, but I may as well have, because James Colgan took my scruffy, faded bob and painted, tinted and shaped me into the me of about 10 years ago! Three weeks later, I am still getting compliments and stopped on the street, so let me tell the story of MY DAY WITH JAMES COLGAN.

James' Potrero Hill Location is sunny and charming!

Recently, OJ, my trusty 1974 VW Super Beetle, and I headed up to 18th street, next door to my favorite coffee house and magazine hoard shop, Farley's, to visit with the newest biz on the block, and to get beautified. I didn't know it, but I had walked right into a raging neighborhood party, as passers-by and clients alike dropped in all day long to offer congratulations and welcome. Or maybe were they coming for the wine?


From the moment I walked in, it was a party, and not just because there was wine and chocolate. But, there was wine and chocolate, so, you know. 

James Colgan. Not just for Union Square anymore!

James has been in Union Square (more about that in a bit) for 17 years, but recently opened a little jewelbox of a satellite salon in his home neighborhood of Potrero Hill. It's a darling little 40s storefront, and his chic minimalism has just poshed up the hood! Plus, there is wine (did I mention wine?) and some of the best coffee in San Francisco right next door. As I was thinking how perfect his placement is, neighbors strolled in and told him the very same thing. Mind readers, clearly. 

Of course, as much fun as I was having chatting, I was also there to have work done, and even thought we'd already chatted on the phone, when I got there, James and I looked at images of hair that I like as well as some of me with cuts I liked (thanks, smart phone!) before he even picked up the scissors. I could see the wheels turning in his mind as he looked over my photos, played with my (then shaggy and messy hair) and remarked that he "loved the bronze, BUT..." That's always the kiss of death, right there, and it means WE WILL NOT BE KEEPING THE BRONZE. (Also, what were you thinking???) I pretty much told him that I trusted him (the Irish accent gets me every time!) so he could do what he thought was best. Was it risky? Probably. Am I glad I did? Absolutely!

Honestly, I could just DYE!

Everything starts with color. James is a Master Colorist, having trained extensively beginning in Dublin in the late 80s (and OH yes we dished all over the 80s, being the same age! Fun Fact: when James had hair, he used to style it up as New Wave as possible, a la Flock of Seagulls! No offense, but something tells me that his look now is more flattering. Just sayin...) So anyway, there was MUCH ADO about COLOR for my hair. I had never even heard of hair painting, but when James worked between two bowls of color and applied it with both brush and fingers, then another layer after the cut in little pockets, I learned. Or, I was schooled. Like I said, other staff members (like the lovely Irish Alicia, and the bubbly Hannah who gave me a final blowout at the end) kept asking him to show them what he had used and where. The Master was Dropping Science! 

Washing that man... ahem!

While I LOVE my new do and color, I have to say, the very best thing, above all else, is having your hair washed for you. Nothing like it. James has strong fingers, he tells me, because he used to play keyboards and bass guitar. His dreams of becoming "U3" (his joke, not mine!) didn't pan out, but you can totally benefit if in no other way than by a good hair wash! Ahhh, who needs therapy? 

The view from the wash chair - such a jewel box!

After the first two layers of hair color, it was time to shape the cut. I still didn't know what he was planning, but I was having such a grand time chatting with Alicia, who was balancing tending to her own clients (including the older gentleman who jokingly asked for The Donald Trump hairdo), pouring wine and general merriment. (Did I mention it was a party?) And I was in the hands of a master, so I let him do his thing. With sharp instruments. He even gave a quick razor demo, while I sat still as a statue, praying for no bloodshed. My prayers were answered. 

Yes that is my NECK near that RAZOR...

James had decided on a Very Precise Sculpted Bob, and for that he used a razor. If you've ever worn a bob, you know it needs to be precise, especially at the nape of the neck. He made that happen AND I didn't have to go to the ER! We were all good. James finished the cut and then applied hilights strategically and put me back under the strange circular swirl machine that he tells me is to heat the color evenly so it sets in less time, but who was he kidding. I *know* it was a time travel device. I used it to go to County Mayo in 1989 and check out his fancy hair. He wasn't kidding!

Before and After - we are both looking sharp!

Before I knew it (well, actually I had been there all day, but there had been wine, so...) it was time for James to get himself gussied up to attend a fundraiser, and for my new do to be revealed! Hannah did a blow dry and James checked for strays (Nope. He does in fact know what he's doing.) and I got ready to head out on my merry way...

one last check of the line...

Honestly, I was having so much fun I didn't want to leave! Also, it had gotten dark and rainy out, but that is entirely beside the point. I enjoyed James and his staff so much, I decided to pay a visit to his original location, in San Francisco's tony Union Square the following week! But first, one last selfie: 

Car selfies! You do them too, right? 

I looked so fabulous, I just had to... FLY TO NEW YORK THE NEXT DAY TO SHOW OFF!!!

I love New York! See how I blend? ;)

Then when I got home, I went to visit James at Union Square, but as luck would have it, that day HE was in New York. I can't imagine why, I mean it's not like he went there to show off his own hair...Still, I had a visit with Hannah and snapped some fun pix. Check out the view they have, would you EVEN get any work done looking at that all day? (Asking for a friend.)

The Union Square location is dizzyingly chic.

Because you can never have too many selfies!

Union Square, in downtown San Francisco. Do you ever pretend it is 100 years ago and you get all fancy to Go Into Town? It involves dressing to the 9s and a little bit of a swagger. When you have a fresh new do, it helps with this quite a bit. After I popped in, I went downstairs to the Lacoste shop and looked over various preppy necessities, then went and grabbed a coffee at Cafe de la Presse, because: Union Square! Nothing like a bi-coastal swagger, thank you James! 

You can avail yourself of this master yourself: James Colgan Salons or follow his Instagram @jamescolganhairsalons