The Couch Potato Chronicles: Alive and Buzzing Periodically On BeBee.
In 1998, there was no such thing as social media in the way we know it today. But there was media and it was social.
It was email. Everybody I knew had it and we communicated regularly with it.
Since I was the guy who was the most plugged into movies and TV, my friends would often contact me during the week to ask me about a movie or a series that had just come on video that they were interested in.
Back then having a movie to watch meant a trip to the local video store or the big Jumbo Video in the same building as my local Loblaws. It also meant a lot of reading of descriptions on video boxes and generally a bit of a leap of faith to rent the video, because if it sucked, well there went your evening.
So a fair bit of the non-work email correspondence I carried on back then had to do with giving people encapsulated little movie reviews and opinions.
Being a writer and not being a complete fool, I saved these little reviews so that I wouldn’t have to re-write them each time somebody emailed me with the same sort of question.
One day, while out walking the dog, it occurred to me that I could get way out in front of all this time consuming emailing by simply creating a summary of the stuff I saw that week (which I was doing in pieces anyway) and putting them all into one document that I could email to everybody.
This universe of ‘everybody’ consisted of about 100 people give or take. So I sent everybody an email and told them that was what I was going to do. Everybody loved this idea and a few of them wrote back and said that if I did that they would be happy to forward it to some people on their email lists.
I thought that was a cool idea, because, hey, the more the merrier. and it was no skin off my nose, so to speak. (This request for people to forward the column to their friends became part of the sign-off of every column I would send out.)
The Couch Potato Chronicles - The Brand
The first thing I did besides the writing of the reviews was to create a little logo that would identify my column and create a bit of a brand for it. I also added a little blurb to the end of my business emails to get my clients, associates and suppliers to sign up too. I mean, why not?
I chose the name the Couch Potato Chronicles simply because I liked the sound of it. I knew relatively little about art direction back then but I did know a few desktop publishing tricks and had some cool clip art and what you see here was really my first mash-up.
It hung together pretty well and has not been messed with since day one.
The second thing I did was decide on a format. At first it was really nothing more than a Word file saved as a PDF, with links to the IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) page for whatever I was writing about.
But as I moved forward, I started adding features like a Spud Rating system, and some editorial content that was more industry as opposed to movie or TV series specific, and quotes from readers who would invariably email me back with their opinions/reactions.
As I evolved my desktop skills, I started building the columns in Quark Xpress to give them a little more style and give me a good format to work in.
I Was Blown Away By The Response
Within a couple weeks of launching this column to a database of around 100 people, I started getting a steady stream of signup requests from a number of people not on my list.
These requests were coming from all over the world. So I started building onto my database. Going from 2 groups of about 50 people each to about 13 or 14 groups within the first year.
It was at this point that I started to understand the real power of email marketing combined with social networking .
Things went on this way for close to a decade. Because I’m not a stats person I had no real idea of just how big my circulation had grown. But I knew I was doing something right because one day, after reviewing the Steven Spielberg movie, AI, I got a two word email from Amblin Entertainment. It simply read: “Thanks…Steven”.
Through writing this column on a weekly basis (2000-3000 words), and having it distributed widely in, among other places, the Toronto advertising community, I was able to develop several very good client relationships.
This was not an expected benefit because I was just doing this as a personal creative project. But it just goes to show you that if you have an idea and a focus and you are consistently out there, you will inevitably end up in somebody’s buying cycle at some point.
Real Social Media – What A Relief
By 2008 when I joined Facebook, I had written over 500 columns. When I saw the potential reach I could have on Facebook. I retooled and wound down the email-based column into a series of shorter posts on Facebook.
This eliminated the drudgery of keeping an email database current and also the physical act of emailing out to a core group that had grown to be about 7000.
There was a beauty and a high level of writer satisfaction for me in creating all those long format posts. It certainly got me inured to the process and that has served me well both on LinkedIn (until it went to hell), and currently here on beBee.
So as of this week I will be adding Couch Potato Chronicles mini reviews to my beBee posting repertoire. This will cover TV series, movies, music, sports, books, web sites, and pretty much anything else I think is interesting enough to write about.
They won’t be long Publisher posts, because I already have a focus and plan for those.
Hope you will look for it and enjoy it. Just look for this CPC logo and accept no substitutes.
All my profile and contact information can be accessed here
All content and images copyright 2016 Jim Murray. All rights reserved.