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.
It turns out that I love social media, or at least I love Facebook (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.