I pick up pennies. I even pick up tarnished, nasty dirty pennies. “Find a penny pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck”, my grandparents used to say this to me all the time in my childhood – for them (coming of age just before The Great Depression) a penny had value. At some point in our collective global society the penny has lost value, some of my friends think it an eccentric tick of mine, why bother, it’s a penny kind of thing. Yesterday morning, as I headed out of my place to ‘walk my errands’ and reflect upon my various blessings of the last 48 hours, I spied a salt encrusted penny on the asphalt, I picked it up, said the refrain of my youth, dropped it into my rucksack and went on my way with a knowing smile in my heart.
Regular readers of mine know that I find great joy in small things, and these will often bring me to tears. So for those of you who are new ‘to me’ allow me to express that some 10 weeks ago I unwillingly returned to the United States after spending 88 days in Croatia. I promptly experienced epic level culture shock as well as a profound ache so deep that it feels as if nothing will ease this – save for returning. Soon.
On the morning of 7 April I was handling the Twitter accounts for a couple of my social media clients and saw that @CroatiaWeek had just Tweeted out a story about @VisitIstra having a contest to win a trip for two to explore the quietly understated, yet exquisite Croatian version of Italy’s famed (and heavily touristed) Tuscany – oh, #ShareIstria! My heart leapt in both recognition and hope. When faced with winning such a thing it’s best to have a plan and keep one’s expectations in check. My friend, my best and most consistent cheerleader, Ken Herron was who I called – immediately. I understood that to make a success of this (on all the levels I needed to for my heart to be satisfied) that my partner must be a supremely capable marketing professional with an industrial strength social media tool kit, be a true bon vivant and someone with the flexibility of character and schedule to make this happen. The Visit Istria ‘application’ was limited to 250 CHARACTERS. Anyone active on Twitter will tell you that initially the platform is a challenging and painful limitation but eventually it becomes an art form to hold your communications to 120 characters including hyperlinks and photos. Even as Ken and I both Tweet with Haiku precision we were a bit flummoxed on what would get us ‘in’ as candidates with a mere 250 characters including spaces. And so, we strategised. I took the ‘what we brought as a combined team’ and Ken picked my brain about what I knew about Istria because he was going to be certain that while playing by the rules we also wanted to demonstrate what we were bringing to the table; a sample of our value proposition as it were. So he created a meme based on my five minute brain dump, then tweeted and added said Tweet to his 250 character application. I am sharing this in the midst of the campaign because we view our role as being active partners with Visit Istria and its sponsors. Because I know after 88 days in Croatia three very critical points – that elements of the Croatian government support Big Oil in drilling in the Adriatic and if they are successful it will destroy the tourism sector across Croatia, and threaten Slovenia, Italy, and Montenegro in the process, that the unemployment rate hovers around 23% nationally (considerably higher amongst those under 30) and that the growth of sustainable tourism in combination with the development of a green economy is the only way forward for Croatia; where there are challenges, there are opportunities. That this effort is the equivalent of a social media Amazing Race meets DWTS (Dancing with the Stars) and not one of the other candidates is leveraging their candidacy to expand the brand of Istria which (in our opinion) means that the other candidates have completely missed the point of the campaign in the first place. This is SO NOT ABOUT our winning a lovely trip or the promised prize money at the end, though both are motivating factors, our role in this is about creating value for our hosts (just as we would for a client). Our efforts began with this Tweet.
These are the metrics taken 22 days afterwards – the Tweet is still pulling RTs and impressions which benefit Visit Istria on the whole, not something specific to this contest, but against their objective (perceived, not stated, for the record we haven’t spoken to anyone on their team as yet). These are pennies, bright shiny pennies in my view.
You know what else are bright shiny pennies in the often anonymous world of social media?, votes from complete and utter strangers. Peeps and Tweeps alike with whom we have no other relationship, who often actually do lovely supportive things that even our best friends (in real life), work colleagues and our family members won’t. People who reach out to their friends because they respect who we are, that our work provides value to them so they are most happy to ‘help with the heavy lifting’. Yesterday morning as I received message after message of “what can I do to help?” “have shared with my friends” “the website is not letting me vote” and then with the abundance of ReTweet and Favorite Tweet love received I sat humbled at my computer. In watching Ken’s and my profiles on the ShareIstria website, side-by-side for most of the morning swapping positions as most of each of our social media circles voted not just for one or the other of us but both of us I cried tears of gratitude. It’s largely the reason I left the house, to be bathed in cerulean skies and huge puffy white clouds, to be at one with being ‘of service’ and connected to all of the universe, to be grateful for following my messages and leaping into the void where magic happens and having a special friend to drag along with me, to find myself having made the short list of candidates to help a region of the country that I desperately wish to make my permanent home, to see my Croatian friends again, all of them, to drink thick hot chocolate with insanely gorgeous desserts, or revel in the oh-my-god most amazing gelato on the planet (BELIEVE ME – far better than the Italians can muster and without the attitude), to think about eating grilled octopus salad while quaffing the breathtaking scope of Istrian wines… oh yes so easy to pick up a nasty, wintered over penny and whisper to myself, “…all the day you’ll have good luck!”
Here are our links:
And so I now get to introduce @kenherron to my beloved Croatia and we are the #ShareIstria team #IstraKT and you can, and should, follow us on Twitter, here on my blog, on Instagram and Facebook, Periscope et al. We’d love your social media love, and we have plans to give away cool swag because even though we “Wish You Were Here” it’s the least we can do to include you. Join Us?
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