Lessons from the Carpool Line

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As school routines are starting to take shape this August, I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate the procedures and emotions of carpooling. With 5 kids at 4 different campuses across the Triangle, opportunity abounds for this analysis. With all this time at my disposal, my mind started drawing parallels with my work in social media:

Communicate Often

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If the staff posted outside is not able to effectively relay messages to those in the building assisting the children, carpool deteriorates at an alarming rate.

Similarly, if the social media content manager does not notify their client about current promotions and online conversations, customers (and possibly the client) are quickly lost. The importance of being able to keep in contact continuously and frequently must be understood by both parties before the agreement and program plan is laid out.

Keep Things on Time

Reaching customers through social media is highly time-dependent. First, they must be available (“Must be Present to Win!”), and next, they must be open to the message. That timing is very sensitive and variable, and the effective social media manager must always be attuned to it.

Well thought-out and executed carpool timing keeps smiles abounding on the faces of the school staff, parents, and children.

Be Attentive

From the children’s point of view, staying attentive to their teachers directing them out of the classroom and to their cars not only makes for a more efficient carpool, it also makes for adults who are appreciative of the respect it imparts.

Chipmunk Being Attentive

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Staying attentive to both your client’s needs and their customer’s concerns makes a smooth road for everyone in the wild world of social media.

Remember your Manners

Patience with the children in the classroom after a long day, poise with other parents who are not always making the best judgements, and politeness to the staff, keeps everyone on an even keel.

Keeping the ship afloat in your relationship with your client, and enabling the good vibes between a business and its customers, is best propagated with the use of common polite and patient interactions. If you find your emotions getting the better of you, step away from the office until you can collect your composure and a fresh client-side perspective.

Plan for Success

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Without a calendar of planned media content, the social media manager will be left scrambling and fumbling when a client’s customers are ready to listen. A client is often not  available for a spontaneous promotion or idea, even those that are perfectly innovative and mind-blowing creative.

An unplanned carpool route, schedule, or faculty assignment is a sure disaster for any school, no matter the size or complexity. Carpool is not the time for improvisation.

Web Design & 7 Kids

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Most of my clients know that my husband and I are raising a large family—7 kids ranging from 20 months to 17 years. We currently have kids in all the ranges of childhood: 1-year-old getting into everything dangerous, 5-year-old ready to start kindergarten, 8-year-old in the midst of reading, writing, and arithmetic, 11-year-old dealing with all the angst that comes with middle school society, 14-year-old entering high school, 16-year-old learning to drive, and a 17-year-old who will soon be the first child out of the ‘nest’.

How do I maintain a relationship with clients in the midst of all this? Bottom line, I keep it simple and focus on what I can manage.

Simple and Slow

My clients have come to me through word-of-mouth. I’m not in a position now to market myself beyond the workload I currently have. This happens naturally—business owners find me through referrals or direct knowledge or my current work. So the websites I build tend to be on the simpler and smaller side, but they are done with great care and attention to detail.

Patience and Faith

Some days I struggle with how to meet an upcoming deadline when I am needed to get my 15-year-old to Violin, my 13-year-old to her EOG test, volunteer for the 2nd grade school field trip, drive my 17-year-old to his lifeguarding shift, and keeping my 1-year-old supervised by someone older than my preschooler. All this while hoping that my 8-year-old manages to get something to eat other than Ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and my 1-year-old does not lose her eyesight from staring 24/7 at her iPod. On these days I try my best to remember that the logistics of managing a busy household schedule will not always be so complicated.

Household Schedule

It is also important to realize that the creative process is a process. Sometimes it requires faith that taking a step back will be beneficial for the solution. There is definitely something to ‘sleeping on it’ that enables a higher quality outcome than just pushing through.

Gaps in the schedule will come. A new way of looking at a solution will come. They will come in time to meet the needs of my clients. They will come in time to meet the needs of the project. And if not, there is always coffee and early-morning stillness to buckle down on a deadline that can’t be put off.

coffee in the morning

Be Upfront with your Clients

For those times that a deadline just cannot be met, I have found it best to just be honest. Clients appreciate knowing when and what to expect from me on their project. I give them a thoughtful assessment of when I can start and finish, if there is a delay, or if an unexpected cost creeps up. If I’ve built the relationship on a solid foundation, which is a priority with every client, this goes without any problems.

Ask for Help when you Need it

Many times I’ve asked for help—whether from my husband to take the kids to the pool so I can have some focused, quiet time, from my 15-year-old daughter to cut the grass, from my 13-year-old daughter to plan and prepare dinner, or from my 17-year-old son who knows quite a bit more about computer hardware than I do. I don’t try to be that mom who handles all the child care, housework, and taxi services while also running a web design business. And my children benefit from learning those skills on their own. All of my children know full well how to operate a washing machine!

Laundry Chores

Take Time for the Mundane

Everyone needs an escape from the brain. Some ways to stop focusing on academic and stress-ridden thought is through exercise or good old-fashioned work. I like to dig dirt and weed; our yard provides plenty of opportunities. No thought involved. No worry involved. And dirt gets moved where it needs to be.

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Dancing Squares around Facebook

Dancing around Facebook
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Teaching Old Dogs…

Many people have the impression that square dancers are from an era long, long ago, and have no place in the Internet generation of today. A couple of years ago my husband and I took a series of dance classes with a club in Garner, NC. Not only did we learn some calls, enough to hang with any club doing ‘Mainstream’ level dancing, we met a lot of neat couples and were able to maintain a regular date night in the midst of all the chaos of family life raising 7 children.

If you’re an old dog yearning to learn some new tricks as well, I can definitely hook you up with some great trainers!

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Our Class Graduation Ceremony – I was in my 3rd Trimester with our 7th!

Reaching an Older Generation Online

One gentleman we met, Suptei Rogers, uses social media to both promote his career as a caller and the pastime of square dancing in our modern American (and even International) culture. He uses his business website, Circle Left Productions, and a Facebook page to connect to his audience; Facebook is particularly suited to a demographic of ‘experienced’ Americans. He engages his audience with regular posts about his whereabouts as a caller (as far away as Washington State, and most recently in the New England states). Private groups can contact him easily through his page to schedule events. Estimating that he spends around 20 minutes a day with social media, he makes sure to respond to every comment and inquiry with near immediacy.


Suptei’s Facebook followers include dancers from all over the world. He converses with dancers and fellow professional callers. Even though square dancing does not know state or national boundaries, North Carolina locals can still use his page to find out where and when dances are happening in the area. He also utilizes the Triangle Square Dance Alliance website and Facebook page. His accessibility online ensures that both new and old dancers are never left feeling ‘square’.

Networking with other Facebook Pages

Like us on Facebook
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I recently was trying to figure out how to like the Facebook page of one of the franchise stores from the brand page of a client. This blog article was a big help:

http://socialnicole.com/facebookfriday-how-to-like-another-facebook-page/

Nicole has a lot of great beginner guides for Facebook that walk you through different procedures step by step. After I liked the franchisee’s Facebook page, I could then tag the page when composing a relevant status update (another helpful blog post from Nicole guided me through this as well).

Personal, Affordable, Dependable

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Rather than growing wild and unhindered, the espalier is carefully and painstakingly tended to produce the most magnificent and productive fruit. It is to this standard of relentless personal care that I strive to serve my clients.

As I embarked on my web & graphic design career in 2008, my primary focus was to help a local school establish a presence on the web and develop a community of families. The school served children that had developmental and academic challenges and who needed a welcoming and charitable environment of teachers and parents. As my technical skills grew, so did my desire to work with people on a personal, long-term basis. I have come to realize that dependable, enduring relationships are the best vehicle for an organization’s success.

Today I work to serve small businesses and organizations with affordable, customized web designs and develop programs for online content management that will enhance a company’s traditional marketing efforts. My work schedule is flexible and I am able to respond responsibly and efficiently to my clients’ requests. Most importantly, I get to know my clients and their business and am accessible by phone, text, email, Facebook, or for in-person meetings.

Please contact me for a personal, affordable, and local web design or social media content management project today!