Contemporary Expression


reBlog from altitudebranding.com: Rules and Education Aren’t the Same
February 5, 2010, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Guest Blog Post, social media

you need a good team ....

I found this fascinating quote today:

What are you hoping to gain from participating in social media, or at least paying attention to it? What are you projecting will happen, based on your research or strategizing? What worries you and what are the potential risks? How do these goals trickle down to the people in your organization? Do they agree with you or not, and why? What’s the plan for execution?altitudebranding.com, Rules and Education Aren’t the Same, Jan 2010

You should read the whole article.



It Takes A Garden ..to grow a community
January 17, 2010, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Balance, Garden, Living An Artful Life, social media


Joan and I have had a several gardens, some small succulents, some large herbs, some tomatoes, plenty of flowers. Our current garden started the week we moved into the house. Our process: rope it off, plan it out, think about the soil, think some more about the soil and get started tilling and planting.

Our perennial garden is full of bulbs from Brecks and everything else … everything else …  is from Bates Nursery. Nashville is fortunate to have several high quality nurseries in the area but  we have found a consistency of reliable variety to be a big factor in our choice of Bates Nursery.

If you have followed Contemporary Expression for a while, you’ll not be surprised that I strongly feel that everyone should have some form of a flower or vegetable garden as part of  living an artful life. The act of gardening brings a balance and a peace to me that nothing else really is able to do.

I have enjoyed reading David Bates’ blog since his return to the family business it’s filed under News on the website, I get it in the newsletter  form.  When we celebrated our 20th anniversary in the spring of 2008 the kind folks at Bate’s had no problem taking us on under their gift registry as a same sex couple. They had to sorta rig it – but it worked.

When I started following Bates on Twitter I was maybe one of the first hundred or so that found them.  As of today’s post they have nearly 19,000 followers.  Because of the social media consultation work that I have been doing for both corporate and non-profit businesses in Nashville, I quickly acknowledged this success and sent David a tweet to see if he’d spend a little time with us on Contemporary Expression.

Here were his responses to my questions:

  • 1.      What one or two things do you attribute to your large follower base for your Twitter account?  Diligence.  I spend probably 2 hours daily working on my Twitter account.  It all comes down to “The Law of Large Numbers” essentially.  Follow new people, Un-follow people who have not followed back; repeat…Over and over.  I also encourage new followers through our e-newsletter and my weekly radio show.
  • 2.     Do you know what percentage of your Twitter Followers do not live within range to purchase your products?  Currently it is around 80% of total followers.  I have worked very hard at attracting as many local folks as possible, but it is nearly impossible to gain purely local followers.  There are still great opportunities for local growth.  If only 3200 of our followers are local, that represents only about 1% of Twitter users in Nashville, TN.  I do plan to have marketing opportunities through our website in the future, so hopefully there is a way to gain some benefit of this large percentage of “outside” followers.  Again, “The Law of Large Numbers” applies.  If I know I get 20% local followers from all follows, I will need about 80,000 total followers .to just reach 5% of current Twitter users in Nashville.  That is a substantial number of potential local customers, somewhere in the range of 15,000.  We should be able to reach that amount within 9 months, at our current rate of growth.
  • 3.     Do you have a social media strategy as a business?  I have only begun making a push in the social media realm.  I am planning to incorporate a video “how to” presence on YouTube (as well as our up-coming revamped website).  Admittedly, our strategy to this point has been largely “seat-of-the-pants”.
  • 4.      What are your plans to grow your FaceBook FanPage? FaceBook is a different animal than is Twitter.  Twitter is in my opinion decidedly more business friendly.  FaceBook fanpages for business have built-in control mechanisms that Twitter does not have.  I already spend so much time in the Twitter arena, I have sought to find the means to merge all of my social endeavors, Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn accounts.  FaceBook required me to create a personal fanpage to make this work.  I’m not really crazy about that.  I don’t mind having a FaceBook page personally, but it is essentially an extension of my business fanpage. Our email address that was originally associated with our business fanpage, is now associated to my personal page.  I really want these to be separate. I have solicited help on this issue from knowledgeable persons; haven’t found a viable resolution… yet.  Until I am able to find some way to make a FaceBook business fanpage work better, I’m a bit stuck there.

David’s responses were enlightening to me. Diligence and Awareness are part of the life of a gardener. With this insight, I began to realize just how much a good social media strategy is so very much like planning an tending to a garden.  The best fertilizer is a gardeners footprints.

So how does your garden grow? –

*tips for Facebook –

a: Use the two free INVOLVER tools to add your Twitter and YouTube Channel as Tabs.

b: Visit the News for Page Administrators for Quick and not so Quick Tips.  If you are an administrator of a Page, you will be able to choose a username for each Page at http://www.facebook.com. There will be an interface for you to choose usernames for the Facebook Pages you administer.



reBlog from altitudebranding.com: 7 Social Media Roles You Haven’t Considered
January 16, 2010, 11:55 am
Filed under: Guest Blog Post, marketing, social media

I found this fascinating quote today:

When you think of social media roles, chances are you think of a community manager or the oh-so-generic “social media manager”, which is usually some function of the marketing department managing strictly social media programs. But there are loads of other potential roles that can integrate or represent social media alongside other business areas.altitudebranding.com, 7 Social Media Roles You Haven’t Considered, Jan 2010

You should read the whole article.



What’s Your Strategy?
January 13, 2010, 9:23 pm
Filed under: branding, community building, social media

Read more about how to build community for your business, nonprofit or organization on my SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY PAGE



The Non Profit Facebook Panic of 2010
December 16, 2009, 11:22 am
Filed under: arts funding, change, community building, marketing, social media

Wow – you would think that Facebook had announced that all Fan Pages were being removed.  The  panic being  invoked by Non Profit Tech 2.0 and Wild Apricot and The Chronicle of Philanthrophy and others, is really premature.

Yes – there are changes coming, there will always be changes coming. The problem is, too many non-profits are still treating their social media tools like bull-horns.  The answer to all change will be strategy. Facebook and Twitter are viable tools for non-profits only if the  friends, volunteers, loyal volunteers and advocates  of that organization are telling their own social networks about the work and progress of the organization(s) they support.

Don’t forget that Facebook generates revenue from all that direct advertising and it may be time for non-profits to stop free-loading and  put a little investment dollars in providing the tools to your supporters to build that network.  Its time to stop using social media because it’s free. Use these wonderful tools because it is part of your strategy.

Are you ready for change?



Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Voices Are Symphonic
December 13, 2009, 1:34 pm
Filed under: community building, Equality, flip camera, Immigration, social media


When Sam Davidson, co-founder of Cool People Care, asked me if I was willing to present a workshop a the 7th Annual TIRRC Annual Convention I was eager to be helpful.

The coalition is the only statewide entity in Tennessee working to create a voice in the public area that is truly representative of the interests of the “newest Tennesseans.”  They help by creating unifying support to organizations that are services based, the empower the grassroot leaders to effectively advocate for policy changes at the local, state and federal levels.  They guard the freedoms of Tennessee immigrants and refugees by educating individuals about ther rights and organizing communities to address alleged cvil liberties/civil rights abuses.

The workshop:

We Want You! (Online) – How to Recruit and Retain Volunteers and Activists Using Social Media

o In this interactive workshop, participants will learn about the latest trends when it comes to nonprofits using social media, particularly when it comes to using these free tools to find new volunteers and activists. Whether you’re curious about getting your organization on Facebook or ready to maximize Twitter to reach a new generation, you’ll leave this workshop with ideas and a strategy to begin to recruit people for your cause.

There was valuable discussion about how individual activists have a responsibility to organize themselves and have a strategic plan before they take on the responsibility of leading others.  The entire conference was rewarding.  It was like a small UN of cross cultural unity building.  I heard four languages spoken while I was there and there was a Spanish interpretation of my workshop.

The TIRRC Convention was like a symphony of ideas and passion and organization, each instrument building and bring new texture to the progressive goals. It was a pleasure to participate and I hope to continue to be helpful.

Action Plan:

The Dream Act (H.R. 1751) The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act was introduced in March of 2009. The bill would provide qualified undocumented immigrant students access to higher education and the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency.  Yearly about 65,000 Us-raised students who call the United States their home face barriers to higher education, can not work legally in the U.S. and fear being sent back to a county they no longer call home.  It’s time we gave all our children a chance to succeed by providing a path to legalization for undocumented children who had no choice in coming to this country.

Contact your U.S. Representative Today and ask for them to support H.R. 1751

In Nashville?  TIRRC will be delivering a symbolic holiday tree to Rep. Jim Cooper  to ask again for his support of The Cream Act.  Thursday afternoon December 17, 2009  For more information, please contact (615) 294-2203



Get back to the music

Watercolor by Nancy VanReece - "Creative Direction"

Over the course of the last 28 years, my work has been all about advocating creative opportunities for my community to achieve it’s potential.

25 of those years 1982-2007 I worked in the music business – all of it: Marketing, Promoting, Managing, Advocating, Soliciting, Encouraging, Guiding, Buying and Selling, Licensing and Negotiating.

When I jumped off into the non-profit sector it worked out well.  I was able to take my understanding as a painter and my experience working with musicians and lawyers into a new sector.  Bringing creative and practical business practice to a non-profit organization was a good thing.  As a business person, I could speak “the language” of the potential donor easily.

I learned quite a bit the last three years.  I learned that “development” means “fundraising” and that customers were not always the folks that paid for the product. It was, and remains, a fascinating sector of our commerce.

I also learned a lot about social media strategy and community building and the new, always evolving, 21st century tools of marketing, communication and sales. A lot of these things are excellent resources to lead me into the next adventure.

I may remain in the non-profit sector. I might go back to the music business. I may be painting and  putting together marketing and social media consulting work for a season.

One thing I know; I will always be looking at art and listening to music for divine creative direction.

“I’m saving all my lovin’ for someone who’s lovin’ me…” Gloria Gaynor

“There’s a cry asking why, I pray the answer is up ahead , ’cause I know where I’ve been… there is a promise we must make, worth the risk and the chances we take. There is a a dream in the future..’Cause just to sit still would be a sin.” .. Hairspray Soundtrack