Kate Trgovac is a social media and digital marketer who describes her role as “helping companies not be jerks in the on-line space”.
Trgovac is the 40-year-old, Texas-born president of LintBucket Media, the boutique marketing agency that she cofounded in 2007. She publishes the Internet marketing site One Degree and blogs about marketing and technology at My Name Is Kate.
Four years ago, Trgovac started reviewing “funky, chic and cool” laptop bags at Squidoo. Now, she reviews them on her own site, Funchico, and is designing a laptop bag, which she hopes will be sold on-line starting in November.
The Georgia Straight reached Trgovac by phone at her home office in Vancouver.
What’s the point of an oil company having a Facebook page?
That’s a great question. I don’t know that an oil company, as an oil company, would have a Facebook page, because I don’t know that anyone wants to friend, you know, Exxon or Petro-Canada, in my case. I can see certain components of the brand of an oil company having a Facebook page—perhaps their loyalty program, because people are fans of a loyalty program, or perhaps some of their community engagements.
What’s the secret to successful social-media marketing?
In 50 words or less? Well, the secret is kind of knowing what you’re trying to do with it and what you’re trying to use it for. It’s not a sales channel. It’s a way to—and it sounds really corny—engage with a certain part of your customer base that wants to be more involved in your product. First of all, I think every company should take that as a gift. If someone wants to be more involved in what you do, that’s a real compliment.
But the secret is kind of knowing what that audience is and knowing how to engage them. So, not everyone’s audience is on Twitter, not everyone’s audience is on Facebook, not everyone’s audience is on LinkedIn. So, you have to figure out where your audience is and how they want to engage with you. Sometimes they just want to yell at you, and that’s fair.
It seems like social-media consultants add me everyday on Twitter. So, is there a danger that social media is going to become saturated with marketing material?
Yeah, I think about that every day. I think that social media is really just the same word as a place for marketers to hang out. So, I try to spend time with my friends who aren’t in marketing and understand how they’re using social media, and also to be part of communities that have nothing to do with marketing and how they use social media. That helps me keep social media’s prominence or lack thereof in perspective.
How do you use virtual worlds?
There’s personally how I use virtual worlds, which in some ways is just kind of fun. Virtual worlds kind of range from anything like a Second Life, which is sort of the quintessential big virtual world, to even things like on Facebook. You could make an argument that some of those games are virtual worlds, like Pet Society or even like Mafia Wars. So, there’s kind of a whole spectrum of virtual worlds. To me, it’s a more immersive experience than just visiting a Web page or just visiting a discussion forum.
So, virtual worlds I’ve used to get together geographically dispersed people to have a meeting. In Second Life, I’ve done that a number of times, and it’s actually quite a powerful thing. I’ve seen it used for education. It’s also a creative outlet, in the worlds that allow for content creation. People use it to create some really amazing things. So, they’re architectural or fashion or kind of programmatic things. So, there’s a lot of uses for virtual worlds.
They’re certainly out of fashion right now from a marketing point of view, which I think is not a bad thing. Marketers tend to jump on bandwagons. “Can we use this? Can we make money? No? Okay, next one.” That’s not very useful for the evolution of tools like virtual worlds.
What’s interesting to you about identity in virtual worlds?
Well, it’s not just virtual worlds. It’s really anything on-line, and crafting identity is really interesting to me. You know, the anonymity that the Internet brings is a blessing and a curse, right? If you’re a victim of someone who is attacking you from an anonymous perspective, obviously it’s problematic.
But if you can go on-line and try to explore different aspects of your personality or your way of going through the world—in my case, in particular, I think it’s very helpful for people who are exploring their sexuality. So, young kids, teenagers, young adults who aren’t maybe out yet. As a lesbian, I didn’t go on-line to kind of come out. But I do know that, in certain societies that aren’t as open as Canada is, that can be very helpful to just try to explore that and figure out what that means.
So, I think, yeah, in virtual worlds that’s very helpful, because you have kind of the interaction, particularly in worlds like Second Life, where they’re embodied virtual worlds. You embody a 3-D space, and that’s a very powerful thing.
What does your dream laptop bag look like?
I’m designing my dream laptop bag. Yes, I’m actually working with a designer in Texas. We are about to go into production, and I have my fingers crossed that it will be ready for this holiday season.
Where will this thing be sold?
We’re going to sell it on-line through the designer, Rainebrooke Designs. So, we’re going to be selling it through his store—his electronic storefront. Yeah, I’m really excited. I think it’s fun, and it’s a little girly. It has kind of a little vintage theme to it that I think is not out there yet, and it has an interesting shape, and it’s checkpoint friendly. So, I can’t wait to see it.
Is this like a purse-style laptop bag or something?
No, if you can imagine—and this is a real sneak peek here, because I haven’t told anybody this—it’s loosely styled on the old vintage hat cases that women used to take on trains.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.