Get the wit and gift it this holiday season, y’all! If you do, maybe we'll make a real logo for it!
Knock Knock has had a number of slogans over the years: “We Put the Fun in Functional” is the most elemental and lasting, but we’ve also used “We Give Good Gift” and “Avid Supporters of the No. 2 Pencil Since Sometime in 2002.” This holiday season, we’re reaching out with “Gift the Wit!” (exclamation point included, because we’re so exclamatory).
The “Gift the Wit!” campaign is about helping Knock Knock fans give the holiday gift of wit to their friends and loved ones. (See? We really do care. So buy our stuff.) But for me and this November Head Honcho Hello, the phrase brought to mind that Knock Knock also gifts the wit to you through our social media activities. We try hard to broadcast interesting, funny, beautiful, and/or informative messages across the platforms, on topics that we ourselves enjoy, but with the hopes of putting a (likely sardonic) smile on your face. Plus, every once in a while we throw in a gratuitous puppy picture. The remarkable thing is that you also gift us back in your comments and shares and likes.
A favorite Facebook moment—while I was traveling, my friend and dogsitter (and professional dancer) SaraAnne posted this great snap proving that Paco was having a better time with her than he does with me.
It turns out that I love social media, or at least I loveFacebook (feel free to follow or friend me—I’m the public kind of Facebooker, and I don’t have kids or believe in taking pictures of food, so that’s a relief, right?); I’m starting to love Instagram; and I’m trying really hard to love Twitter. Plus I had an extramedial affair with Pinterest for a while. As a not-too-frequent networker, I totally don’t get LinkedIn, especially when people I don’t know endorse me for something. Also, do I really need another inbox? Oy, they all have their own inboxes.
Each platform is its own nut to crack. Professionally, it’s been important for me to understand what these networks are and how they operate, who participates in them, etc. Does Knock Knock need to be on all of them, or just some? How much effort should we put into each? And so on and so forth.
My 92-year-old grandmother chose this Instagram filter herself.
It’s probably not news to you that social media is a big part of corporate marketing these days. I do a surprising amount of thinking about social media—what it means in our lives, both personally and professionally; whether it’s a waste or good use of time; the difference between my social media personality as the head and founder of Knock Knock vs. Knock Knock’s social media voice as a company. For those of you who don’t have much involvement in branding activities, yes, these are the kinds of things into which we brand mavens put quite a bit of thought.
The thing I love most about Knock Knock’s Facebook and other social media activities is the interaction with customers and other kindred spirits. Since 94 percent of our business is wholesale, i.e., to retailers and buyers, that means we have little contact with our end consumer. When we’re trying to analyze who our customer is, I liken it to typing with mittens on, because we’re at one remove from the real people, and most of the information we get is anecdotal, from retailers and buyers and sales reps.
An example of my efforts to succeed at Twitter.
Some of you may have participated in a survey we did recently to find out more about you—thank you! The results were fascinating, but much seemed more likely to apply to our 6 percent direct-to-consumer customers than to the mysterious brick-and-mortar 94 percent. Ergo I love watching comments and conversations on Knock Knock’s social media to get a sense of our community’s texture and nuance (though of course that population is self-selected, also).
I’m so active on Facebook that sometimes friends comment, “How do you get any work done?” or “What the hell do you do all day?” Thanks for that, people. But it’s also a valid question. I have Facebook open all the time and refer to it constantly. Somehow, it has folded seamlessly into the background for microbreaks and check-ins. One of my jobs as CEO and semi–executive creative director at Knock Knock is to know what’s going on—news, memes, zeitgeisty stuff. Not only am I one of the major contributors to Knock Knock’s social media content (sending articles and links, etc., to Mel, our incredible digital and marketing coordinator), but I get book and product ideas from cruising the culture. I follow various business publications, which give me fantastic entrepreneurial guidance. Beyond the ongoing conversation with others like myself who like fleeting chat, I basically use Facebook as an RSS feed for what’s going on in the world.
The Pinterest pin of mine that got the most repins. I haven’t been on Pinterest much in the last few months. It may have been a passing fad.
There are many who disparage social media as a superficial time suck (I don’t want to give the ever-annoying Jonathan Franzen any more play, but he’s the most recent whiner; I’d much rather read about the ever amazing Jennifer Weiner’s wonderful Franzenfreude campaign; and besides, I totally couldn’t get through Franzen’s interminable novel Freedom). I’d possibly be a more focused person without social media, though I can’t point to any pre- and post-social-media differences in my work habits. I’m a quick reader and a quick typer and, I think, mostly a good multitasker, even though that’s becoming an oxymoron in the popular press these days. There’s also evidence that our brains are changing to accommodate the Internet and all its exponents. Because contemporary life is so busy and complicated, with so many things vying for our attention, every once in a while I do entertain the idea of deleting my accounts and going cold turkey. But I do actually believe that my online activities are a benefit both to me and to Knock Knock. So is watching the Real Housewives of Anywhere Except Miami, but that’s a justification for another column.
I wish I’d thought of punking LinkedIn, but Conan beat me to the very successful punch. This is, as far as I can tell, the best use of LinkedIn ever.
The natural question then arises whether I would allow Knock Knock’s employees the same engagement with social media throughout the workday. The answer? It depends. For those whose job is being in on the cultural conversation on an ongoing basis, it’s necessary. I would expect that they not do a whole lot of social communication during that time. I myself mostly don’t, instead focusing on reading articles and sharing them and thinking of things and making quips and all the things that actually go with my job description.
So, those of you who ask me whether I get any work done with all the time I spend on social media, here’s your answer: YES. And maybe even more than you.
Ever take a photo of your filled-out Knock Knock Nifty or Sticky Notes? Or a photo of your new Knock Knock folder sitting happily atop a pile of paper? Or maybe you always spot our stuff in your favorite boutique store each week? Then you’ll want to enter our weekly photo giveaway to win $50 worth of Knock Knock stuff! The giveaway will take place each Wednesday of the week (for the next four weeks), because: 1. Wednesdays need more excitement. Weeks feel long, you guys. And 2. To hell with “Hump Day”! “Win-It Wednesday” just sounds better.
We’re accepting photo entries for our Show Us Your Knock Knock Stuff Giveaway through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so check below for rules!
Attracting over 2,000 attendees from around the west coast annually, BayCon is the largest science fiction and fantasy convention in the San Francisco Bay Area. And lo and behold, our Phobophobia book was included in their guests of honors’ gift baskets this year—Great Scott!
In reference to the current year, BayCon 2013’s theme was “Triskaidekaphobia,” or the fear of the number 13.
Our "Phobophobia" books look right at home in those gift baskets!
As sci-fi lovers ourselves, we’re ecstatic to have our books selected as gifts!
For those curious about next year’s BayCon, check out the event’s website and Facebook page for more information.
RC Jones, is a “witsmith”—our invented term for a person who can seamlessly mold wit using just words, a pen, and paper. It’s no wonder that when our head honcho, Jen, first stumbled on RC’s Coolness Graphed Tumblr, she became instantly smitten with his hand-drawn graphs. Now, with the release of his book of the same title, Coolness Graphed, you too can bask in what’s cool and what’s definitely not. Also, this Idahoan-now-Chicagoan was named Time’s 2006 person of the year. Just check out his “résumé of sorts.”* Isn’t that incredible?
RC shares his book with a friend.
1. Why do you use bar graphs and not—dare we ask—pie graphs? Pie graphs sound delicious. But they work better for showing how percentages of a whole relate to each other, whereas bar graphs compare individual amounts that are somehow related.
That’s a complicated way of saying it. An example: Pie graphs show what percentage of animals released at weddings are doves and butterflies. Bar graphs compare things released at a wedding and show what’s best and worst. (That would be the Kraken and prisoners, respectively.)
Plus, I’m much better at drawing straight lines than I am at circles.
2. Top three Internet items that made you laugh today?
RC at his desk, surfing the Internet and breaking Safari.
3. Now the age-old question: dogs or cats? Cats that act like dogs. My cat is very down-to-earth and doesn’t have any cat attitude. She greets my family at the door, follows us around the house and sits next to us. I’ve never had the feeling she’s plotting to kill us.
4. Any hobbies outside of writing and updating your blog? I have a blast making up stories and silly songs for my son. He’s four. We are roughly at the same maturity level.
RC toasting the "Coolness Graphed" book with his son. We'll toast to the adorableness of this photo.
I also get plenty of kicks from climbing onto the roofs of buildings in Chicago. The Chicago skyline is beautiful, and I just can’t let all those rooftops go to waste. To clarify, if there’s a sign that says “No trespassing” I “no trespass.” But if there isn’t a sign, it’s fair game. Someday I will probably get in trouble for this.
RC climbs buildings in Chicago. Don't worry, RC. We won't tell.
5. In the Coolness Graphed book’s intro, you wrote that one of the reasons you created the blog was to channel “creative frustration.” Do you have any organizational tips or words of wisdom on how to creatively de-stress for our fans?
Other than “Buy this book and it will help solve all your creative problems”? One way to de-stress is with everyday tasks, like doing the dishes or going to the laundromat. Those things don’t require much thought, so you can let your imagination wander. I get quite a few ideas that way, certainly more than if I sit down in front of a blank piece of paper and say “NOW I’m gonna think of ideas.”
Start a side project. There’s something to be said for side projects being on the side. And from my experience, those are the ones that become popular. I’ve worked in advertising for five years, but none of the billboards I’ve written have ever come close to getting the same amount of attention as my two side projects: Coolness Graphed and Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters.
With both of those projects, not having to account to anyone was key. The best kind of side projects leave you in charge, accountable to no boss or client. That way you’re free to make art you enjoy, which is crucial. It’s a creative pressure valve that releases pent-up frustration and irritation in a productive and creative way.
RC exploring this mural of Chicago and perhaps petting this statue drawing.
6. What’s your favorite Knock Knock product and why? (Aside from your book, of course!) My coworker and friend, Tara, gave me the Crap Stamp three Christmases ago. I wore it out. It was my first Knock Knock gift. What a great introduction.
7. If you could cook breakfast for any fictional or real person, who would it be and what would you cook for him or her? I’d cook pancakes for Jimmy Fallon. I’m not a very good cook, but I like making pancakes. I feel like Jimmy would be a blast to hang with. If The Roots could make it over, that’d be great. Justin Timberlake, too.
Bonus question. In “Coolness Graphed” form, please doodle your opinion on cheese.
One last, parting note
Make a couple of creative friends to bounce ideas off of if you don’t have any. And, when you think it’s ready, share your work with other people. None of my side projects would be what they are today if I’d kept them to myself.
RC and "Coolness Graphed." Pretty rad indeed.
RC Jones is a top-notch, senior copywriter at Arc Worldwide. Read more of RC’s thoughts on Twitter at @likethecola.