A Non-Programmer’s Adventures In The Internet Of Things

Besides re-vamping my office setup to allow standing as well as sitting at my desk, I’ve also been working on outfitting my home with lots of Things — Things as in the Internet of Things (IoT).

It started, I believe, with our need for a new garage door opener. Rather than do the simple thing and just buy a replacement, I decided to complicate matters and determined to automate the door’s opening and closing. The idea: whenever myself or my husband pulled up in one of our vehicles, the garage door would open automatically. When we left, it would close automatically.

Handy, right? Well, it started me down the path of Home Automation, which is working out as either amazing, revolutionary and wonderful or frustrating, broken and time-consuming. How I feel about it depends on the particular day. Continue reading “A Non-Programmer’s Adventures In The Internet Of Things”

Baking Social Media Success

I’m a little bit jaded, and, most of the time that I look at social media efforts, it’s as a professional. I think, “how engaging is this call to action?” “How well have they managed to encourage user participation?”

But this week, I got hit right at one of my passion points, and was dragged into participation myself. The campaign is called Bake2Share, and it’s for King Arthur Flour, one of the more premium flour brands that’s based in Vermont. This is a brand that caters to serious bakers, but also offers easy-to-use mixes, including a line especially for baking with kids. And it’s making a significant commitment to e-commerce. Internet Retailer named kingarthurflour.com one of its Hot 100 retail Web sites for 2009, and the company just won top honors from the DMA and Multichannel Marketer as best online food retailer.

It’s also a brand that is sharp about social media. They have a blog, whose RSS feed I subscribe to, and, of course, a very active Twitter account. I’m a big fan of King Arthur, and, though I don’t order from them all that much, I open their e-mail newsletter pretty consistently. Tuesday, I opened an e-mail from them that contained some pretty compelling language:

It’s part of our mission to inspire community-building through baking. When we bake and share, we forge honest, caring connections that help create and sustain a vibrant community. We believe that baking and giving go hand in hand. We want to encourage you to bake and share with family and friends, neighbors, and your community. To get you started, we’ll send you a 2-lb. bag of King Arthur Flour – absolutely free. We simply ask that you bake it forward. We’d love to hear your bake2share stories, and invite you to poste them at kingarthurflour.com/bake2share

And then, at the bottom of the e-mail, there were links to Twitter, Facebook, delicious and StumbleUpon, with the directive “Share this email”.

Nicely done. It practically oozes with brand values — giving, sharing, community — and even the call-to-action is about sharing and community-building. Not to mention that the free bag of flour — free shipping included — was a pretty pleasant little gift.

When I signed up, there wasn’t yet much on the site. But now — the day I received my free bag — it’s been updated to say they gave away 5,218 bags, all in fewer than 24 hours. They list 106 participating bakers and 4,189 recipients of baked goods. No stories have yet been posted, which is a little disappointing, but also understandable. Another thing they did right: they made submitting a story very very easy. There are fields for what you baked and who you shared it with — stories and photos are optional. This will help them gather plenty of input — both from casual participants (like I probably will be) — and from those who go all-out and document their experience both in text and images.

I’m impressed, King Arthur Flour. I already was pretty fond of your brand, but this has tipped me over into passionate brand advocate territory. Now, off to bake those blueberry muffins.

UPDATE: I’ve finally baked my cupcakes and have been trying to submit my story, only to discover a major social media FAIL in this campaign. Every time I hit submit (and I’ve been doing it over and over again), I get a Network Error message: “The server at ecomm2.bos.kingarthurflour.com is taking too long to respond.” Not good, but a good lesson for others to take note of.