CIA Tweet and Langley headquarters

CIA’s First Tweet: Why it’s Brilliant

The CIA officially joined Twitter on Friday, June 6, 2014. Some might have said that they’re late to the party—other agencies have been on much longer—some might have thought their content would be dry and only of interest to policy and intelligence wonks in D.C. But with their very first tweet, they proved any would-be doubters and critics wrong. They didn’t use any links or trending hashtags. And they did it in just 61 characters!

Here’s what they posted:

This is brilliant on so many levels—as evidenced by the 240,000+ retweets, 140,000+ favorites and 457,000+ followers that it got them in just over 24 hours and climbing rapidly.

How the CIA’s first tweet “won” twitter:

  1. It’s instantly recognizable. The line has become such a standard term in politics, especially when it comes to government intelligence, that everyone around the world now uses it in many variations; from presidential administrations to celebrity publicists.
  2. It’s got personality. For the CIA to come out of the gate with a play on a line that they are infamous for shows personality and even humanity. For a large faceless organization glorified and vilified in movies, media and the general zeitgeist, it just said “hey, we get it, we’re people, too.”
  3. It’s authentic and unique. The phrase might now be ubiquitous, but it was invented by the CIA in the 1970s. No other agency could have opened with that line and gotten the same response from the twitterverse.
  4. It’s got history. You don’t have to know the history of the “Glomar response” to appreciate the humor, but if you do (or if you happen to have listened to this recent podcast by RadioLab) this just takes on fathoms (pun intended) more meaning and humor—and makes you feel like an insider.

Added up, it starts to tell a story that engages their audience. It promises something unique, intelligent and fun—three words that most people would want associated with themselves, and therefore retweet/favorite/follow for the borrowed “cred” of being connected to this story.

Congratulations, CIA social media team! Of course, now you’ll have to keep delivering on the high expectations you just set…but that’s a great problem to have.

upgrade website photo

Is it Time to Upgrade My Website?

The common metaphor for a website 10 years ago was “your virtual address on the internet.” And while that’s still true, today it’s so much more. It is a delivery system that transports your business to a customer’s computers, tablets, phones and increasingly more connected devices. In fact, an apt analogy would be to compare your website to a car—a digital, virtual car that drives your message, cause, product or service to the minds of your customer, supporter, and anyone else in the world interested in your offerings.

What does your car/website say about you?

Old dilapidated car
Your car is a reflection of the person who drives it: your values (performance, luxury, safety, family-friendliness), your ethos (gas guzzler, post-consumer ethanol, all-electric), even your personality (bobblehead in the rear and dice on the mirror say a lot). In short, it reflects the image you want to present when you arrive.

An old car (and we’re not talking about classics here) starts to say something about how much you care about—or are able to invest in—your presentation to the world. Personally, you might not care what people think of your car, but this is business. And if you show up to a power lunch at a high-end steakhouse in a 1988 Ford Fiesta, certain assumptions about your success and ability to execute on valuable tasks will get called into question.

So how often should you upgrade your car/website?

Features—­safety features, standards, environmental impact (mpg), technological bells and whistles—get updated on new cars regularly. You can retro-fit some things and live without others for a while, but eventually the investment to keep the car running starts to exceed the cost of buying a new one.

The same holds true for your website. New features and technologies are constantly being developed. And while very few brands need to appear to be on the bleeding edge of the latest tech, not keeping up affects SEO rankings, and new platform compatibility (think what happened to Flash since the debut of the iPhone and iPad). Even basic things like social media integration have evolved quickly over last few years (Facebook’s best-practice standards alone have changed a dozen times in the last two years). All of these factors affect the public’s perception of your business.

Don’t leave your websites (or your cars) unattended!

Abandoned car stripped of doors and windows
If you let your car sit idle for a long time the battery might die, your tires may deflate, the pain will degrade, leather might crack, and, if the wrong people notice, it might get broken into or stolen. Websites are no different. I learned this lesson the hard way. I once let a few of my personal sites run unattended for over half a year. One day, I opened them up and they were all blocked for “security purposes.” They’d been hacked. Code was injected that was potentially dangerous to people visiting the sites. This was NOT the image I wanted to present to the world.

It took a couple of days of wrangling and some (limited) assistance from my hosting company to get it resolved, then another few days for Google to clear the warning that my sites were dangerous. If these had been business sites, it could have cost me a lot in perception and lost revenue. Lesson learned.

New websites can help your business

…and save you money.

Today, it’s vital to monitor your site metrics on a regular basis for SEO, conversions and interactivity. Updating the underlying technology, social media tools and the content that sits on top of it is mission-critical to the success of your business. And, just like cars, every few years, it’s worth considering upgrading to a new one entirely—not only does it improve image and performance, it also gives you a chance to really revisit the content and the message that you’re sending to the world.

The good news is, technological advancements often make upgrading easier and cheaper than whenever you built your current site. Recently, one of my clients who was struggling with mounting developer costs to keep updating his ecommerce site that they had custom-coded for thousands of dollars just two years ago. Imagine his surprise when he learned that the same type of site could now be done (better) with a $60 template—plus some time and developer costs to customize it just the way they want, of course—and already includes all of the updates he wants and more.

Of course, the other question we love to get is “How much does a new website cost?” Hint: We’re going to compare it to cars again.

Is it time to update your website or build a new one? Contact us to