AC/DC Tacoma WA
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Kamloops Fire Rescue needs your Facebook love

They’re so close.

So close.

Kamloops Fire Rescue needs — at the time I hit Publish — just 33 Likes to hit 1,315 Likes on its Facebook page by New Year’s Eve.

What’s the big deal?

KFR is in a race to get 1,000 new Likes, meeting a challenge by the Kamloops McDonald’s franchises. In exchange, McDonald’s will hand over $1 for every new Like up to $1,000. It all goes toward KFR’s new inflatable safety house.

The story goes back a few years, says KFR’s fire safety educator, Capt. Shel Guertin. (Sidebar: his email says Sheldon but he called himself Shel in our Facebook message exchange, so that’s what I’m going with.)

KFR had this clunky old trailer they carted around from school to school, teaching the local kids about fire safety. But you know, Kamloops is all hilly and twisty and turny and stuff. The bloody thing became a right old pain in the ass to get places. KFR pulled it off the road in 2003.

“When I became Fire Safety Educator in 2009, I was asked to do something about it,” Shel says. “What could I do? I thought about putting the trailer on a permanent mount but then who would pay for the kids’ bus rides to the trailer? And what school is going to let them be out of class for four hours, including bus rides and the two hours of learning?

“We had to take the education to them.”

What else was there to do? Enter the internet.

Shel did a search and came up with an inflatable fire safety house. I don’t know if this the right one but it sounds an awful lot like the one Shel described:

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Cool, huh?

Shel says he went for the Binford model (insert Tim Allen grunt here) that’s about 7,000 square feet and has a second floor with a slide. Throughout the house are fire safety messages about candle safety, cooking safety and more. The kids get to the top floor and slide out. If they want to go back in and learn more, they have to tell Shel one thing they learned while they were inside.

“It’s fun, it’s safe and it’s interactive,” he says. “It’s a great place for the kids to learn how to stop, drop and roll, or how to crawl under the smoke. It’s one thing to have a truck and talk to kids about fire safety, but who wants to stand around and listen to me the whole time.”

Now he just had to figure out how to come up with the $33,000 to get it — that includes the dolly, a generator, some tables and some other stuff.

It’s Kamloops. People are naturally generous. Interior Savings Centre came up with $10,000. Other organizations dropped off amounts of $5,000 and $2,000. Along with the impending McDonald’s donation, KFR has enough money pledged and they’ve ordered the house. It will be here the first week of January.

The idea for the Facebook challenge came from Aleece Laird of Fresh Ink Marketing. She’s done work with Shel before and she proposed the  idea.

Shel had already recognized the power of social media — we’ll get to that in a minute — but, boy, is he having fun with it now.

Especially as he watches the Facebook Likes climb towards the 1,315 milestone for the full McDonald’s donation.

“You know, I took all these courses about social media and the two big rules I learned was ‘never self-promote’ and ‘never hijack other brand pages,” Shel says. “I break both those rules all the time.”

Whaaaaaat? Breaking rules? Perish the thought, I says!

Negative. Rules are made to be broken. In fact, I’ve long believed there are few — if any — rules to using social media.

Shel agrees.

“I’m all about shameless promotion and I’ve gone on the Blazers page, TRU and others asking for support,” he says. “Our Likes go up every time.”

Oh, the power

Yep, we owe Tim Taylor a prop here.

Shel didn’t just go for the Binford model of the fire safety house. He knows there’s power (if I knew how to type out a Tim-esque grunt here, I would) in online networking.

He uses Facebook and Twitter to talk about fire safety.

“Facebook is a great way to reach people and promote our safety programs,” he says. “We get people thinking about fire safety.”

And more power?

The numbers.

“Oh, I love tracking the stats … male vs. female, age groups … the insight is incredible,” Shel says. “It tells me what posts people like and any negative feedback seems to come from our popularity and showing up on everyone’s walls as a Like or a comment.”

His audience skews heavily female (63%) and young adult (25 to 34). Since his programs typically reach young kids and senior citizens, Facebook is letting him hit one of the ‘holes in the middle,’ he calls the demographic.

The analytics also let him prove the value to a once-reluctant management level. (Don’t worry, Shel. We’ve all been there.)

And then there’s Twitter. The KFR account, @KamFire, 756 followers.

Shel uses it to post quick, newsy messages. He likes that the media can follow him, so he’s not constantly answering phone calls when there’s a fire. The reporters can just check his feed — he even posts pictures and videos — and give him a shout when it’s out.

And, since he’s right on the scene, we’re guaranteed to get the most accurate news.

“It allows me to correct a lot of misinformation that gets out there,” he says. “Some people Tweet from the (police) scanner, so they don’t really know what’s going on. That happened a lot for the Glenview fire.

“But I’m on the scene. You can get a picture of what’s really happening from me.”

More, please

The more Shel uses social media, the more he wants to use it.

It would be hard for me to disagree with him. Facebook and Twitter are addictive tools and, when you’re doing it for professional reasons, you get so driven by the numbers and the engagement, always wanting more.

“The more I use it, the more I wonder what I can do with it,” he says. “It’s great that if I’m at home at night watching Duck Dynasty, my phone will buzz and I know that someone is asking a question that needs answering … like your Facebook message for this interview.

“It’s just a fun way to do my job.”

Now, since Shel only needs 33 more Likes to get to the goal, I’m wondering what you’re still doing here. Go click a button, eh? Let’s get them there. Today.

And … if you’re in the Kamloops and B.C. Interior area and want to promote your social media campaign, hit me up with an email.

Sssssshhhhh … happy birthday to me

I did it.

I kept my birthday a secret.

A secret to Facebook, that is.

I took inspiration from my lovely friend Sarah, a.k.a. I Speak Canadian. She wrote an Opinionehted.com post about birthdays and the muddled mess of inauthentic wishes one receives on the good ol’ Facebook.

When I read her post in the spring, I thought ‘hmmmm … let’s just take the old birthday date off the wall and see what happens.’

Very little happened.

And it was lovely.

My 41st belly button day, as Sarah calls it, went unnoticed, unacknowledged and unposted by many. The first recognition came as a bit of a surprise. An old friend from my four-year stop in Gander, Newfoundland, posted in the morning:

Happy Birthday to you!!! Today is your Birthday??

A handful of messages straggled in, mostly from people who did know when my birthday was. My cousin for whom I was often mistaken as a child (and vice versa), my brothers, former teammates (and forever friends) at Shaw, some childhood friends.

And then I went about my day. I was in the States with My American. We spent the afternoon on a drive through the country, heading to the Ice Age landmark at Dry Falls, WA.

That means my phone was off. No roaming charges for this old broad and, thus, no network access.

We got home, made dinner and spent the rest of the day relaxing in front of the TV. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect birthday.

I posted a Facebook status:

I woke up next to my beloved and then we made breakfast, went to visit an Ice Age landmark, came home and had cold beer, made dinner and spent the rest of the night watching Chopped and Sweet Genius. That’s a perfect birthday.

Posts started coming in then. I ‘liked’ each one as a ‘thank you’ for their good wishes. Many commented on my status that they didn’t know it was my birthday.

And that’s OK.

What was I trying to achieve? In the beginning, I wanted to see how many people remembered my day without a prompt from the behemoth that is Facebook.

In truth, I’m guilty of it myself. I remember the birthdays of my mom, my brothers, my boyfriend and my dog.

We don’t need to remember special occasions or phone numbers or the little details of life any more. We have Facebook or calendars on our smartphones to remind us.

And ultimately, it reminded me of a valuable lesson.

That life is better served living. Instead of letting Facebook remind everyone when my birthday is and spending the day ‘liking’ or commenting on post after post after post, I was out doing stuff.

Not paying attention to Facebook and the notifications bar on my phone.

But paying attention to me. And my boyfriend.

And life.

Friends off

Dear Naughty Monkey,

I’m afraid this is the end of the road for us.

It’s been quite a ride, really. I first learned of you several years ago when my friend Jill extolled your virtues on the internet discussion board where we met. I bought a pair of Live Wires off ebay. I was especially drawn to them because Live Wire is also the name of my all-time favourite Motley Crue song.

Every time a pair of shoes or boots was delivered to my door, I let out a little squeal and shared my joy by posting pictures of my new prizes to Facebook and Twitter. Several friends were turned over to your brand as a result.

Your style was fun, colourful and yet wearable for the everyday professional.

Over the last few years, I have amassed quite the collection of Naughty Monkey footwear, even drifting over to your sister brand Not Rated for a couple of times.

Engaging with your social media accounts was enjoyable. I even won a pair of red Emerald City pumps during a Valentine’s Day promotion in 2011.

That ended this week.

Sadly.

I sent the following email to your brand director and marketing director earlier this week:

First, let me introduce myself by saying I have been a loyal customer of Naughty Monkey shoes for several years. I have been a brand advocate, turning several of my friends onto the name and ensuring they engaged with your social media accounts.

I was a bit taken aback this afternoon when your social media representative posted on your Facebook timeline what I thought was a whiny post about the new Facebook timeline. She found it ‘soooooo confusing.’ I posted a couple of links to help her out.

I have been involved with social media for several years. I was the social media strategist for a national telecommunications company in Canada. I kind of know a thing or two about Facebook and the timeline, especially that the timeline for brands has been known since last September. This timeline thing should not be taking anyone by surprise or confusing them.

I posted to my Twitter account that I found it funny Naughty Monkey would be ‘whining’ about the Facebook timeline publicly when it’s likely the reason the person has a job. Harsh? Maybe so. But I like to expect bigger things from people in my own industry of marketing and communications. A conversation with your social media representative ensued. She has since deleted not only the Facebook post but her Twitter replies to me as well.

You can see her replies to me here:

You can see my end of the conversation here:

One of the first rules of social media marketing and engagement is to be yourself. The message I received from Naughty Monkey today is that it is snarky and flippant. And while I — of all people — respect the ability to be snarky and flippant, I sure don’t expect it from the brands I follow. Instead, I expect a level of professionalism and an ability to be ahead of the trends, not to be so confused by them.

You may not agree with my perspective on the matter. That’s OK. That’s what opinions are all about. For now, however, Naughty Monkey has lost one of its biggest champions in Canada. 

I received a reply this afternoon.

Dear Angela,

I thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. Your email to Jay was probably not answered in a timely manner because  a group of us were traveling overseas and our internet access was inconsistent.

Now for the issue at hand, I will bring it up to our social media person. It is not our intention to insult our fans who have helped us get to where we are. The continued support of our fans whether they be big or small matters to us and losing a brand supporters like yourself hurts no less.

Regards,
Ismael “Mike” Cortez
Marketing Director
Naughty Monkey

I think Mike gets it. I thanked him and let him know I thought it should be of great concern that his social media person deletes her comments in an attempt to cover her tracks.

Many of of my friends know this goes against the very grain of the authenticity and transparency that social media represents.

Oddly enough, in a completely unrelated incident, my friend Chelsea — whom I’m assuming knew nothing of my interactions on Tuesday — addressed the Naughty Monkey Twitter account with a language error in one of her Tweets.

Chelsea — smart, beautiful, creative, ambitious and destined to rule the world — received this Tweet in response:

When Chelsea, another professional trained and experienced in corporate use of social media, called the account out for being snide, the Tweet was deleted.

Now some of you may see this as a whole lot of nothing, but it does speak to the importance of ensuring the tone and voice a company wants to express to its followers and fans.

I will always take issue with corporate accounts that designate the content to someone who has a tenuous grasp on the English language.

And I will always take issue with corporate accounts handled by people who see everything as a big haha, no matter how flippant or snarky I can be on my personal feeds.

Companies need to aim higher, no matter how small or large they are.

And they sure as heck need to be better prepared (and trained) to handle negative feedback.

That being said, I’ve looked at the new spring line for Naughty Monkey. I’ve realized I’m no longer your target demographic. That has nothing to do with my age but more with my fashion sense.

If anyone is a Snooki wannabe, however, I do suggest checking out the new styles.

And yeah … meow.

Yours in footwear,

Angela