Week 4: Our Social Tribune , Story Block Media

Week 4:  Two Locals, Two Businesses

Creating value-adding services

This week at 52businesses we will be launching two businesses. That’s right. TWO. Both of these ideas come from local New Orleans entrepreneurs and could potentially add tremendous value to the community and our organization.

(Read about Our Social Tribune below or Continue to Page 2 for info on this week’s second venture, Story Block Media.)

OST logo

We will be working with Megan Hargroder and her business Our Social Tribune, which has something to do with social media, as you may have guessed.  Megan has been a solo social media & marketing consultant for a couple of years under her brand Conversations.  Her desire for self-improvement has led her to take many social media continuing education courses.  Unfortunately, she has found that they often are not worth the expense.  Fortunately, this experience has inspired her to address the gap in quality resources. She envisions Our Social Tribune as “a hub of quality, curated continuing education resources for social media and community managers” and “a space where we can gather, ask each other questions, and learn from each others successes and failures.”  We couldn’t be more excited to get Megan started up and eventually use her service ourselves.

Megan Hargroder

UPDATES!

(Reblogged from Megan’s site Conversations.)

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For the past few months, I’ve been planning a new business idea “The Social Media Manager Network,” which was recently accepted into the 52businesses Program (which is helping a new business to launch each week for a year).

And today was day 1 of my week!

devin sign cropped

 So I woke up early to meet the team on Freret St. at the 52businesses bus. We discussed plans for our projects and outlined our major challenges and opportunities.

Social Tribune

My inspiration for launching this project:

As a solo social media manager for the past few years, I’ve invested a lot of time and money into continuing education resources.

Why?

So that I can be awesome.

Have they all paid off?

Definitely not.

For the thousands of dollars and countless hours I’ve put in, a lot of it has been a bust.

So that’s where this new project comes in. Not only will it be a hub of quality, curated continuing education resources for social media and community managers, but it’s also going to provide a space where we can gather, ask each other questions, and learn from each others successes and failures.

Major challenges:

1. Creating a membership-based site that is exclusively for professionals to maintain the integrity of the give and take support system – but without isolating small businesses and bootstrapping startups who are also looking to learn.

2. How do I set this up? As an LLC? Should I run through my existing company or create a new one?

3. The name “social media manager network” is WAY too long and NOT sexy. So we need a new one.

So after the meeting we grabbed lunch and started tackling the name issue, which took us well into the afternoon where we reconvened on the roof of the bus:

Megan Hargroder

 The end result: 3 very badass potential concepts:

socialtribu.ne ”The Social Tribune” – the idea being that the social media manager of a tribune is someone chosen by their clients/employers to protect the online reputations of the brands they represent.

pros: good story element

cons: still not very sexy name: available

sexysocialmedia.co ”none of the bullshit, just sexy,curated, resources and ideas.”

pros: SEXY

cons: confusing

name: available

theSocialCoop.com / theSocialCo-op.com “a curated membership-based marketplace for social media managers” pros: interesting + story/tie in

cons: some people could read “co-op” as “coop” and could be confusing?

names: available

So I’m going to sleep on those, and just sent them out to my amazing team of curators – the top social media experts that I know – who signed on to help ensure that this project is top notch. Once we’ve got a consensus, it’s on to step 2: business formation and name claiming + new logo.

If you’ve got some thoughts or ideas on which would be the best fit, I’d love to hear from you!

Stay tuned – it’s going to be a rad week:)[/toggle]

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On Monday evening, I sent out 3 potential new names for the Social Media Manager Network to the Curator team, convinced they would love “Social Co-Op” as hard as I did.

What happened was: literally no one chose “Social Co-Op.”

But everyone loved “The Social Tribune.” So we have a name, y’all!

Challenges:

– thesocialtribune.com is unavailable and being held for ransom for approx. 2k

– socialtribune.com is ALSO unavailable and being held for ransom for approx. 2k

But I WAS able to secure:

– tribunesocial.com

– thetribunesocial.com

– social-tribune.com

IS THAT GOOD ENOUGH?? I don’t know. But this whole picking a name thing is HARD.

But we only have a week so I’ve got to keep moving.

So I went ahead and set up my new LLC, since the 52businesses team and I decided I’d need a separate formation and bank account for this new business.

Here’s how I did that: 1. Go to the Secretary of State Website

2. Hover over “business services” and then click “start a business”

3. On the left sidebar click “file original documents”

4. Select your filing type – mine was “Domestic LLC Reg. Articles of Organization” ($100)

5. Fill out your info and submit!

It took about 5 hours to get my final confirmation via email, and on Wednesday I’ll be meeting with my new business banker (Karim Massequoi, who is also very handsome) to get a new account set up so that I can connect the paypal account that is connected to new member intake on the site.

Meanwhile, my designer is working on a new logo/branding so that I can replace “social media manager network” with “social tribune” and I’m still contemplating other potential domains that would work well for this concept.[/toggle]

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Yesterday we had a name and an LLC.

But then today – based on a bad dream and some feedback from the curator team: I’m not so sure.

How can I call this thing the Social Tribune when I don’t own socialtribune.com?

And worse: what if someone else does something weird with it and sabotages my whole project? Won’t people automatically type in “socialtribune.com?”

Advice from Max: “Bite the worry bullet now and the financial bullet later. Focus on making the site amazing and building your SEO so you won’t have to worry about that other domain. Then, when you’re generating revenue, go ahead and buy it.”

In the mean time, we discovered another domain to use as the main site address:

OurSocialTribune.com

Which, I actually like a lot better because it instantly feels like a community.

::wipes beads of sweat from forehead::

Moving on, we talked through the pay structure of having members sign up annually, but the problem being that the content in the member area is not yet worth that amount of money (we still need more resources) and that since we are essentially selling a COMMUNITY, the community has to be there before we charge people for it.

SO: we’re closing it down and rolling into beta.

Which, feels like a few steps backwards BUT we’re doing this the right way with the goal of building something really fucking awesome.

So we decided that the current testers (10 or so people) can still log in and access all of the features as they’re built, request resources for things they want to learn about, submit posts and resources, get feedback and ideas from each other on the forum and basically decide what this is going to eventually “be.”

In addition to those 10 people, we’re opening up a wait list for people to sign in to join the beta, and taking about 10 or so new people per week so that we can grow slowly and learn about all of the initial members.

Pay method: we decided that anyone participating actively at this level should have a forever free membership, and we will cap this group at 100.

Threshold to go live: 24 resources, 24 blog posts, 100 active beta users, 500 people on the wait list.

AND – we developed a new logo! Ta daaaaaa:

OST old logo

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I AM SO TIRED YET SO EXCITED

Look at this….

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 1.18.22 PMOur Social Tribune is now a fairly bare bones but completely working platform, including a members area with downloadable resources, a learning blog, job board, professional forum and a few other awesome things.

But it’s more than just a pretty face: we have a direction now.

So yesterday I set some goals with Max (my amazing 52businesses coach) and today I’m going to be reaching out directly to professionals who I think would be great beta testers and contributors – with the goal of reaching 100 users by the end of April, and 500 people on the waitlist by the end of May.

Depending on what the community likes/doesn’t like / asks for, we’ll make adjustments and then invite in a new batch of users.

Rinse, and repeat.

So: although we’ve come up with some long term goals, plans and ideas – Our Social Tribune is a community, so the next step is establishing users, listening to their ideas, and making their social media dreams come true.

Because at the end of the day, this is about dreams, y’all.

And I’m getting to watch one of mine come true this week.

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Day 5: It’s all coming together…

We’ve got 16 active beta members and 50 people on the wait list for Our Social Tribune!

Today we’ve been reorganizing the back end of the website and building out some new functionalities as well as discussing the best options for creating a true community where major decisions about the direction of the site can be crowdsourced.

So we looked at a few platforms:

Loomio seems promising but is still in initial development. However they are planning for it to be open source, so it might be a good system to integrate down the line.

Rank Tab is in existence but the visual setup and process is a bit confusing.

VoteIt seems like a perfect fit, so we sent a message to get more info about the Enterprise level and have our fingers crossed that they will want to work with us!

Also – we have been on this bus for A REALLY LONG TIME

Selfie Break

So here’s the goals for tomorrow:

1. Create affiliate links for all curators and active beta members to invite 5 more people into beta

2. Set up profile customizations and prompts for new beta members to be guided through the initial process of getting into the membership area and exploring the resources and user forum

3. Consider other strategic partnerships that could push our efforts forward as we build this community of professional social media managers – one badass member at a time

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Don’t forget to check out page two for the Story Block Media story and updates!