Social Media Innovator Amy Lupold Bair; Queen of the Twitter Party
Like many companies, Gunnar Optiks was started in a garage, with an idea. Glasses already existed, as of course did the eyeball. With innovation and thought, a new idea was born that would find unrivaled success in the marketplace. With this innovative spirit in mind, we continue looking at innovators out there in the world, making their mark by finding something worth doing that will make an impact.
One area that is seeing a fresh spate of innovation is that of social media. With social media being such a young part of the overall PR and marketing world, there is plenty of room for new ideas and a constant shift of business ideals that have long been considered set in stone. The rise of the amateur social media capitalist has come. Leading the charge is the Queen of the Twitter Party, Amy Lupold Bair. You may know her as @resourcefulmom and chances are you have participated in one of her parties.
One of many to find success in manipulating and navigating the social landscape, Amy has risen above many of the others still trying to make a living in the social atmosphere. She has done so with dedication to her craft, a solid foundation of tenacity and a smattering of luck. She has found a way, through kindness and connectivity to bring together thousands nearly every day, that create impressions in the millions, talking about brands and products that we all recognize.
The former middle school teacher (degrees in literature and secondary education and M.S. psychological services) and mother of two has worked with brands such as Pfizer and Wal-Mart. From her perspective, this is no small feat and still an amazing achievement from someone who was not born into the marketing world. Hosting Twitter parties that create worldwide trending topics in the course of an hour is impressive. Recently, I sat down with Amy at Blogworld NYC (now New Media Expo) to talk to her about her success in the world of Twitter partying and the future of social media.
Gunnar Optiks: You are known as the Queen of the Twitter Party. Let’s talk about the beginning, how did that happen?
Amy Lupold Bair: I started tweeting in the summer of 2008, and I began blogging just a couple weeks later. From the beginning I knew that I wanted to do something special to launch my site, but I wasn’t sure what. In the weeks prior to the BlogHer Conference, many bloggers were having chats on forum sites to celebrate the conference from home. It seemed illogical to announce an event on Twitter, ask bloggers to leave Twitter, create a forum account, and sign in in order to attend an event.
Gunnars: Sounds like a time ripe for some innovative and logical ideas to step in.
Amy: Exactly. That is when I created the concept of marketing events on Twitter itself. People had already begun to add hashtags to the ends of their tweets to identify themselves as part of a group (i.e. #TCOT, Top Conservatives on Twitter), so it just made sense to have everyone attending the marketing event use the same tag. I reached out to brands on Twitter to ask for prize donations, and let them know via email about the party concept. The first twitter party was my launch event, which I called a “Sitewarming”, and we gave away over $2,000 in prizes. The topic was blogging to fit with the theme of people who had missed BlogHer, and the panelists answered participants’ questions for one hour. The hashtag #RMLP (Resourceful Mommy Launch Party) trended as the top worldwide trend for 24 hours following the event, and that night three people hired me to create similar events for them.
Gunnars: Wow. So you created a worldwide trending tag overnight. Nice. But, how long was it before brands started to take notice?
Amy: A few start ups and other bloggers noticed immediately, but PR firms and well established brands began to sign on with the concept about six months after our first event. With that said, many brands dipped their toes in the Twitter Party waters by donating prizes to early events including Playskool whose Cherry Blossom Market was a grand prize at the first event.
Gunnars: What kind of production stats do you supply brands to show they aren’t wasting money?
Amy: We provide potential clients with averages that include number of attendees, number of page impressions on Twitter during the hour, and number of tweets per hour. We also have experiential evidence from past clients regarding social media account increases, sales directly associated to the events, and increased influence of existing campaigns after events. Brands typically find that twitter parties are a small investment with a large return.
Gunnars: Plus, they can write it off as a marketing expense! Changing gears, what is the state of social media today? What are the best tools for connecting? The worst?
Amy: I am probably not the best person to answer this question because I will forever dig in my heels and sing the praises of Twitter.
Amy: Absolutely, and while much of my interaction has shifted to Facebook, I still turn to Twitter to share news and find answers quickly. It remains the best place to crowdsource, and I believe the most effective platform for introducing everything from a new idea to an innovative product. There will always be new platforms for broadcasting, but I’m not sure that they’re all that great for genuine connecting.
Gunnars: What do you see in the future of connectivity? Will we all have communication chips in our brains?
Amy: I already do. You didn’t get yours?
Gunnars: Not yet, though I might not know if I have. They can be sneaky like that. So basically, you’ve been able to turn social media into a full time job, how does that feel?
Amy: Most days it shocks me, but then I get on a call, begin talking, and find that four years of working in this space has converted me to someone who actually belongs in this space. My first steady job in social media came in November of 2008 when a new site hired me to write for them and manage their blogging team. At the time I was a stay at home mom looking to bring in enough income to not feel guilty about buying a new pair of jeans at Old Navy. Now I’m the one hiring bloggers and will pay them six figures over the course of this fiscal year alone. That feels fantastic.
Gunnars: That being said, do you see any issue with people spending more time staring at their devices all the time?
Amy: Before I answer this question, I need to add the caveat that I once almost walked into a deer and off of a bridge because I was tweeting while exercising…
Gunnars: Wait a second, walked into a deer?
Amy: Yes, walked. Both me and the deer were surprised. So to answer the question, before I signed up for my first social media platform and years before I bought my first smart phone, I used to sit on the floor playing with my toddler and talk to my sister in law on the phone all day while I stacked peek-a-blocks and pointed at animals in books. Those of us who are social creatures are going to continue to plug in and engage with others whether that is done in a conversation sitting in the same room, while talking on the phone, or via Twitter. The problem is when the devices become a hindrance to real face time (not the kind that involves an apple product). But I actually socialize with my friends in real life more since becoming active in social media. I’m sure there are some people sitting in basements who only talk via their computers, but social media and smart phones didn’t create them. They were hiding behind a device back when their communication was short wave radios and they’ll still be hiding out long after we all get our communication chips in our brains (you seriously don’t have yours yet?). Most of us take our devices and get out pretty often.
Gunnars: Even if we get out, do you think we still tend to be a bit over connected?
Amy: I’m sorry, I couldn’t answer that question. I was answering an email, a text, and a phone call. I think we’re only over connected if we allow ourselves to be. I suggest occasionally going somewhere where there is no cell service or WiFi.
Gunnars: That’s crazy talk.
Amy: Well, you have to get out every once in a while. Connect with nature, run into a deer.
Gunnars: Ha. So how come every one isn’t running Twitter parties? What makes you so freaking great?
Amy: Actually, lots of people are, and that used to bother me. It doesn’t anymore. We provide the results clients want, we genuinely enjoy working with and serving our clients, and we hear that we’re not so bad to work with. The people who enjoy partnering with us will continue to do so and will tell others to do the same. Other companies will connect with the other fabulous hosts out there, and there are getting to be a few who I would recommend in my absence. But to answer why everyone isn’t running twitter parties, it’s because not everyone enjoys speaking in 140 snippets at rapid fire pace for 60 minutes straight. It is madness. It just happens to be madness that I enjoy.
Gunnars: On that note, what is so freaking great about Twitter parties? What kind of demographics do you see? Are you reaching your intended audiences?
Amy: We are reaching our intended audiences for the most part, although we still struggle to get the dads in social media to engage in the same way as the moms. However, we’ve learned that usually the moms are greatly influencing the purchasing decisions of the dads anyway, so looks like we may have that covered after all. We have held Twitter Parties for everyone from moms with their children to young women planning their weddings to grandparents planning their retirements, all of them successful. Just don’t ask me to tweet to the teens. Please.