Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe got an early holiday gift yesterday, two days after Thanksgiving. President Obama and his daughters, Sasha and Malia dropped in around noon to do a little book shopping…
The President declared to the crowd, which included his press pool, “This is Small Business Saturday. So we’re out here supporting small business.” Kramerbooks was a great choice of venue for this message, as they are a single-location, independent, unique business.
The Associated Press swiftly distributed coverage of the event. Immediately, the story, a set of photos and the video were zapping around the world. While story text didn’t include the name of the store, photo captions did, so wherever the photos ran, the name of the business appeared. Coverage from AP and other services ranged from our immediate neighborhood’s excellent news website, Borderstan, to USA Today, to Obama Foodarama (the official White House food blog), to The Daily Mail in the UK, to Reuters India and (probably) thousands of other large and small, US and international news sites.
As I was wrapping up my everyday routine of coffee and social media postings for clients, my day suddenly careened into a 14-hour, mind-blowing voyage on Tweetdeck. Posting my regular, daily tweets for clients, I saw a tweet from a Dupont Circle neighbor mentioning streets by Kramer’s were blocked off, speculating that the President might be inside Kramerbooks. (In DC, we’re accustomed to streets being blocked for Presidential security.) I called the Cafe to confirm, and before I could ask her, Ann the manager said, “Um…You’re not going to believe what I am looking at right now!” I said, “Could it be the President?” And, there went the rest of the day and night… and today.
After getting that confirmation from Ann, I tweeted for Kramer’s: “Very exciting that President Obama has chosen to support local business & #indie bookstores by shopping w/us today! #SmallBizSat”
After I saw the first AP photo posted (by doing a Google search that yielded an AP photo posted via INM, an Irish news agency), I tweeted again: “Thx to Pres. Obama, & Sasha & Malia for shopping w/us today! #SmallBizSat Photo via “AP Photo” via Irish Independent bit.ly/rw9hQY”
Using the hashtag “#SmallBizSat” brought its own considerable audience. That effort, advertised for weeks by American Express, was extensively promoted on social media all day, to help boost small businesses (and AMEX usage), as opposed to the “Black Friday” retail effect of the previous day, which is traditionally dominated by the corporate, big box stores. Including #SmallBizSat in my tweets introduced Kramerbooks to many new eyes who followed that stream, and prompted many old friends of Kramer’s to discover them on Twitter as well.
It occured to me that I should look to see if the official White House Twitter account, @WhiteHouse, was mentioning this visit, so I looked at their feed. I was utterly stunned to see that there were two retweets of my tweets from @kramerbooks in their feed!
The screen grab above shows my (cluttered) desktop, with my Tweetdeck dashboard. In the righthand column is the @WhiteHouse timeline showing their icon, miniaturized and superimposed on the @kramerbooks ampersand logo icon. Apparently, the White House tweeter used the auto-retweet button, so I hadn’t realized my tweet was retweeted. So glad I thought to look at this timeline. The White House has 2,518,163 followers. The retweeted @kramerbooks 2x. I had hit PR/socmedia geek gold!
(FYI…Social media expert Sree Sreenivasan (AKA @sree), my professor at Columbia School of Journalism, always recommends manually retweeting—and including the Twitter handle—for this reason: If you say something nice for/about someone, it lets them know!)
I kind of stopped counting potential Twitter exposure for @kramerbooks after I got to the 5 million of the two @WhiteHouse mentions… And, just when I thought things couldn’t get any crazier/better, @WhiteHouse decided that one of the AP shots would be “Photo of the Day”!
Announcing this, they @-mentioned @kramerbooks in their own tweet—so my own unofficial counting method totally jumped the shark to almost 8 million. (I did notice that tweet via my @-mentions.) In my Tweetdeck screen grab, the top of that @WhiteHouse tweet is just visible on the bottom of the @kramerbooks “Mentions” column next to the @White House timeline column.
I thought I was hallucinating at that point. I may, or may not have done a cartoon double-take and rubbed my eyes… So, I made a screen grab of it. I guess that makes me an official social media geek/dork and bit of a braggart. (In my spare time—ha—I may actually Storify all this—thus elevating me to super-geek status.)
This attention brought many tweets, retweets and comments from all over the world (mostly very nice), from: our excited, loyal Dupont Circle neighbors and customers; other indie bookstores, US and international; nostalgic longtime customers now living far away; and anyone with a social or political axe to grind (Obama supporters and haters). Even the US ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenney, and the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur retweeted the @WhiteHouse Photo of the Day tweet!
Meanwhile, on Facebook, the conversation was also buzzing. I posted links and shared them via my own biz page and personal profile accounts (It was the *President*! So, I was excited, OK?!). The posts garnered many positive comments from all over the world (US, Denmark, Ireland, France, etc.) and were shared by several other people and pages.
On Twitter, @kramerbooks gained 283 new followers within 24 hours. On Facebook their page gained 24 new fans in 24 hours (usual rate has been approximately 10 new FB fans per month). I created bit.ly links to track most of the urls I shared. They were off the charts, compared to the usual traffic. My first photo link has had 3,722 clicks from at least four countries: https://bitly.com/rw9hQY+
Especially exciting to this geek was the mention (w/a link to Kramer’s website) on Mashable Business in their own coverage of social media and Small Business Saturday! Of course, they also tweeted from @Mashable w/a link to their post (which was retweeted x 100+).
What did the Bookstore and Cafe staff members think about this exciting event? I think they are too swamped with the usual weekend brunch and book-shopping traffic (made heavier with the holiday weekend and the publicity)! But the video shows the excitement among the Cafe staff on the line (barely visible behind the pastry case facing into the bookstore) when the President greeted them. He reached over the glass case filled with cakes and pies to shake hands with the cheering workers, even commenting on how the food looked “pretty good back there”!
Responding to an email from Cafe manager Denis (with the subject line, “Obama was here” ), co-owner, Henry Posner, vacationing in Paris, commented, “Cool—did you offer him an Obamlet?”!
Denis replied, “I could not get past the secret service, and we don’t have the Obamlet on the menu today…It was very cool.”
(“The Barack Obamlet”, above, is a rotating brunch special omelet, made with the Obama Family Chili: Café ground beef shoulder; onion, pepper & red beans; cumin, oregano, turmeric, basil, chili powder; tomato; w/cheddar, red onion, scallion; sweet peppers & sour cream).
Henry replied, modestly, “Great news for the bookstore—and the cafe.” Indeed!
WAMU 88.5, DC’s NPR affiliate covered the event in their story on small business and quoted bookstore manager, C.K. Penchant. Summing up what seems to be the sentiment of the #SmallBizSat groundswell I observed, C.K. said that the book-buying visit from President Obama, and Sasha and Malia was “a welcome surprise at a time when many brick-and-mortar bookstores are struggling.”