Thin Pig Media - Latest Trends & Social Media Best Practices
Thin Pig Media (TPM) is a full service boutique marketing agency with extensive expertise in the hospitality and entertainment industries providing a wide range of services, including traditional media, digital media, and social media marketing.
In the past, part of making a company brand included a fairly core item, a letterhead. This was a design that went onto your company stationary and was used for documents and letters. The letterhead usually contained a few basic components such as the company name, contact information, and some graphics. The letterhead was useful for contracts, RFPs, and similar documents, because all the necessary contact information and company logo was right there! However, today the traditional letterhead is a much less used item. In today’s’ era of digital communication, companies no longer print their stationary to keep on hand.
However, the letterhead hasn’t disappeared all together, it now comes in varied formats and places. Below I’ve gathered a couple different ways of how to use letterheads and what makes the individual files slightly different than the others.
Preferably high res JPG
300 dpi is ideal
Google Sheets or Word (not intended for print)
Digital resolution JPG or PNG
72 DPI, but when printing, use the previous letterhead file for the design or it will come out blurry and pixelated
Power Point, Google Slides, Keynote or InDesign
Cover slide, general slide, commonly recurring slide design*, thank you slide
If there is any data/information your company may use for a sales pitch, or in review sessions, it should have a special template that can be easily reused. Unless you have a dedicated presentation designer, you can’t always have a perfectly designed presentation. However, the more page layouts and styles you have created the more flexibility you will have in the future.
Email signatures are an easy way to keep your contact information together for easy access. They are also associated with most documents sent out of your company. The best and most reliable email signatures are text only signatures due to the different email browsers out there. Most companies prefer to include an image of their logo, or the entire signature as a well designed image, which is beautiful, as long as the person receiving it is on a browser that displays it properly. It is common for those images to come through as an image attachment at the bottom of an email and are not opened.
These are just a few simple ways to keep your brand throughout your documents both internally and externally!
En Thin Pig Media tenemos una amplia trayectoria en la industria hotelera y su relación con los medios digitales. Hoy en nuestro blog vamos a hablar de cómo se puede crear contenido de valor para hoteles a través del famoso “Storytelling”, una técnica basada en experiencias que nos muestran ese lado humano y emotivo que nos inspira en redes sociales. En esta ocasión tomaremos como ejemplo uno de nuestros más recientes viajes a Colombia, donde nuestro objetivo era capturar contenido relevante para alimentar los canales virtuales de uno de nuestros clientes de la industria hotelera. Una de nuestras herramientas para esto es el ‘Storytelling” cuyo objetivo consiste en conectar emocionalmente a través de una historia, con el fin de crear relaciones duraderas de confianza y fidelidad de las marcas con sus usuarios.
Para aquellos que se preguntan como es posible utilizar esta técnica para promover el hospedaje, la respuesta es simple, utilizamos situaciones reales de consumo, en este caso para los hoteles. Nuestro destino en esta ocasión fue Cartagena de Indias, un lugar a orillas del mar Caribe que esconde una gran riqueza cultural e histórica. Así que decidimos capturar contenido de esta ciudad como destino turístico, ¿Dónde hospedarse? ¿Qué hacer? ¿Qué comer?¿Qué lugares visitar? ¿Con quién viajar?. Nos metimos en el papel de turistas con nuestro Piglet viajero de principio a fin, y esto fue lo que encontramos. Empezamos por tomar fotografías y videos donde se pudiera mostrar la respuesta a las preguntas anteriores y donde se resaltara además la belleza de este maravilloso paraíso tropical. Es un destino perfecto para parejas, grupos de amigos, planes familiares o viajes de negocios.
El primer día lo dedicamos a descubrir esas diferencias únicas que tiene el hotel Hyatt Regency Cartagena: Excelente ubicación, variedad de amenidades, restaurantes propios, piscinas infinitas, spa con vista al mar, gimnasio, arquitectura moderna, habitaciones de lujo y servicio al cliente de primera clase. Con lo anterior ya teníamos suficiente contenido, sin embargo queríamos ir más allá y mostrar una experiencia completa, así que decidimos organizar una serie de actividades recomendadas por el concierge del hotel.
El segundo día nos desplazamos hacia las islas de Cartagena, se trata de un archipiélago con 23 islas y cayos, ideal para quienes buscan playas hermosas con arena blanca y aguas cristalinas. Salimos desde la marina en bote, apreciando la belleza natural de esta región, practicamos snorkeling lo cuál nos permitió disfrutar de un fantástico arrecife coralino en las Islas del Rosario y de un ecosistema marino bastante diverso.
Posterior a esto nos dirigimos a almorzar a una de las islas, por su puesto nuestra elección fue comida de mar, la cual puede acompañarse con una refrescante cerveza helada o una piña colada. Para la entrada ordenamos un exquisito ceviche de pescado fresco de la región y como plato fuerte el tradicional arroz con coco, acompañado de pescado con mariscos, patacones y ensalada.
Después de un día de exploración en las islas, regresamos a la ciudad con energía y deseos de descubrir mucho más. Lo primero que visitamos fue la ciudad amurallada. Cartagena sufría constantes ataques de piratas, razón por la cual se vio obligada a protegerse y construir las murallas en el siglo XVII. Caminar entre las murallas es como un viaje al pasado, ideal para sacar unas buenas fotografías de la ciudad, el mar y los antiguos muros de defensa.
La puesta del sol es imperdible, una mezcla de la arquitectura española antigua con la arquitectura moderna del barrio Bocagrande y las impresionantes vistas del mar Caribe son la combinación perfecta para culminar el día. Una experiencia inolvidable para los enamorados, visitantes internacionales ó nacionales, grupos de amigos y grupos familiares.
Luego, cruzamos una de las entradas de las murallas, y así pasamos a un mundo colorido adornado por casas con hermosos balcones de madera, flores y diversos colores, además de sus iglesias y plazas. Este recorrido se puede hacer tanto de día como de noche. Los faroles y edificios históricos le dan un toque muy romántico a “La Heroica” nombre popular con el que se le conoce a Cartagena de Indias.
Como si fuera poco, en Cartagena también encontramos arte, música y gastronomía de clase mundial. Las plazas son cuna de esculturas y estatuas de artistas colombianos. En el barrio Getsemaní nos deleitamos con hermosos murales elaborados por artistas locales, además arte callejera donde se destacan cantantes, bailarines, vendedores de cuadros y dibujos de la ciudad.
Terminamos nuestro recorrido disfrutando de la vida nocturna, que ofrece un sin número de opciones ya sea para cenar, bailar o disfrutar de música en vivo. Hay alternativas para todos los gustos. Lo anterior es una muestra de cómo los hoteles pueden hacer Storytelling, contando historias reales que nos inspiran y motivan a visitar nuevos lugares. La idea principal de nuestro viaje como estrategas digitales fue promover el turismo de Cartagena y resaltar el acompañamiento de una marca hotelera que brinda un servicio completo a sus huéspedes desde el primer instante en que hacen check in. El concierge les motiva a conocer la cultura, historia, riqueza natural y animal, gastronomía local y arte para que vivan una verdadera experiencia de viaje.
Es importante aclarar que con el fin de aumentar la interacción en redes sociales, las marcas deben pensar y esforzarse en ir más allá de mostrar sus productos o servicios, necesitan ofrecer experiencias inolvidables, esa es la clave para tener éxito en el mundo online. Los usuarios están cansados de ver anuncios publicitarios, flyers, imágenes con mucho texto o comerciales. Es hora de hacer una transición donde el objetivo principal de las marcas sea ofrecer contenido que entretenga, inspire y ayude a los consumidores a tomar decisiones de compra.
¿Necesita ayuda en la creación de ideas y estrategias para promover su marca o negocio en el mundo digital? Contáctenos, en TPM tenemos un equipo de profesionales altamente calificados y listos para asesorarlo.
3D photos are the latest post type to launch on Facebook, and at Thin Pig Media, we’re already having fun posting them to our feeds to test out this new feature. If you’re wondering how to post these amazing 3D images yourself, you’ve come to the right place!
How to Take 3D Photos
For now, 3D photos can only be taken on the iPhone 7+, 8+, X or XS by using “Portrait mode” in your camera app. Portrait mode uses the dual cameras on these phones to mimic a smaller depth of field, making your subject appear clear and crisp while slightly blurring the background. Follow these tips to capture the best portrait mode photos to upload in 3D:
Portrait mode photos will tend to look better when they have a distinct foreground (like a person, pet, or an object) and background. Make sure your foreground object and your background aren’t too close together, or you’ll get a flatter looking image.
Make sure your subject is in focus by tapping on it on your phone screen.
Stand far enough away from your subject (at least 3-4 feet). Your iPhone will give you a warning if it seems like you are too close.
Keep contrast and lighting in mind. If your subject is the same color as the background, it may not pop as well in 3D mode. Similarly, if your photo is too dark, the layers of depth may not be as obvious.
Objects that are clear or too shiny may not work well in 3D photos.
How to Upload 3D Photos to Facebook
On your iPhone, tap into the status update box on your profile, page, or group. Scroll down the list until you see 3D photo.
Facebook will bring up all the “Portrait” photos in your camera roll. Choose the one you’d like and wait for Facebook to generate a preview.
Move around the image to check for any irregularities or artifacts created in the 3D-ification by Facebook.
Hit the next button, then add any text, tags, emojis, etc that you normally would to a post.
Hit the share button!
Tips & Troubleshooting
Portrait mode photos cannot be cropped before uploading, so frame your photos well to begin with.
Some photos we tried yielded weird artifacts in the background and around the edges so it is probably best to have a few options to make sure at least one photo looks good. Black spots or blurry patches are the most common issues.
Objects may look better than pets or people because the distortion can make faces look a little odd.
Right now it looks like you are not able to post multiple 3D photos in one post. You also cannot post from desktop.
Right now it also appears that 3D posts cannot be boosted or turned into ads, although this may change in the future.
As the social media environment continues to evolve, people continue to look for new ways to connect online. From Instagram Stories stickers to sharing feed posts directly into Stories, Instagram is keen to stay ahead of the curve. This breakdown of updates will help you know what to focus on in 2019, where the industry is headed, and how you can sharpen your Instagram skills for the year ahead:
1. Fun Stickers In Instagram Stories
Back in October, Instagram introduced its Poll sticker to Stories. In 2019, expect even more fun stickers like Countdown, Questions, and Polls to help brands engage with their followers through Stories.
The countdown sticker is the perfect feature to gain traction with your events and sales. Now when you share a story about an upcoming in-store sale, product launch, or event, you can add a sticker that counts down to a date and time that you set. Your followers can subscribe to your countdown event, which will send them a reminder when the time is up and your countdown is complete! This is a great strategy for engaging with your Instagram followers and getting your audience to opt-in to exciting special events or promotions.
Your followers deserve to be heard. Instagram offers your followers a unique way to share their thoughts and opinions with you on any subject you can think of with a Questions sticker. This feature allows users to answer questions in an open-ended format, dramatically increasing the potential for followers to provide you with their thoughts and opinions.
A new poll sticker allows you to ask your followers to provide a rating with an emoji. For example, you can ask “How much do you love this dress?” with a smiley face emoji and your followers can slide the emoji left or right to cast their vote to mimic a scale of 1-10.
2. Quick Reply Messages In Instagram Direct
Do you ever have frequent questions that you answer with the same type of responses? Now you can create Quick Reply messages that answer all of your FAQs and make it easy to respond! Quick replies are formatted responses you set up and then insert into a direct message to avoid having to type the same response time and time again to different people.
The average, everyday Instagram user likely does not have a need for this tool, which is why Instagram has limited this feature to business profiles. Businesses and marketers will find it extremely helpful and efficient to respond back to their followers in a timely manner.
3. Voice Messaging in DMs
The social media giant has added a voice messaging feature to its Direct Messages. This feature allows users to send each other audio messages up to one minute long in private and group chats. Users with the feature can record messages by holding down the microphone button. It will automatically send when you release the button, so if you don’t feel confident about sending it or want to re-record, you can slide your finger over to the trash can button to delete it!
With voice messages quickly becoming the preferred method of communication on messaging platforms like WeChat and WhatsApp, this new addition may be a welcome feature for some users.
4. Sharing Feed Posts In Stories
When you come across something in your feed that inspires you — like a post from a friend raising money for a cause or a photo of a new design from your favorite brand — you can now quickly share that post as a sticker to your story for your friends and followers to see. Any post shared to a story will include a link back to the original post and include the original poster’s username.
Only posts from public Instagram accounts can be shared to stories. If you have a public account and would like to opt-out from letting people share your posts to stories, you can do so within Instagram’s settings. Here’s how you can share a newsfeed post directly to your stories.
Select the share function (looks like a little airplane) from the original post
2) Select “Add post to your story”
3) Add a frame, re-size, add text, gifs and stickers to your story.
4) Tada! Your shared story is complete!
Tip: Any post shared to a story will include the original poster’s username and a link back to the original post. Users can simply tap the story to be taken to the source.
2019 is sure to be an exciting year for Instagrammers and brands using Instagram marketing. There are more ways to promote and sell your products, more ways to create exciting content, and more ways to get your audience to engage and take action.
What are some of the biggest Instagram trends that you’re excited about this year?
If you’re like most people, by this point in the year, you’ve either completely forgotten about your New Year’s resolution or you failed it by January 2nd. Don’t worry, it’s not too late to regroup and start one (or multiple) of these 5 resolutions you can keep.
1. Be More Productive
Easier said than done, right? But to be more productive you don’t have to flip your work world upside down. Start small with easily achievable goals and build from there. If you typically start work at 8am, move it up 15 minutes to 7:45am. You can use these extra 15 minutes to organize your day. If you currently make 10 sales calls a day, start making 11. This will quickly become the new normal. By achieving these smaller goals you will build confidence from the successes and be more productive in the long run.
2. Be Healthier
This can be achieved in many different ways. The obvious way is to start eating better. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go vegan or Keto or Paleo. Start by packing your lunch or meal prepping at the start of the week. By consciously making your own lunch, you can think about healthier options and not be stuck going out to eat every day. Secondly, schedule time for breaks or physical activity. Take 10 minutes in the morning and afternoon to take a walk around the office or have quiet time to yourself (no phones allowed). Getting your blood circulating and your mind focused will help relieve stress. Lastly, have a positive attitude. In the working world you might not always like your job, co-workers or clients. Looking at the positives can make your day more enjoyable and eliminate stress.
3. Clean Up Your Physical and Digital Clutter
It’s as easy as it sounds. Take a few minutes each day to make sure your desk and your computer are organized and setup how you like them. This can be different for everyone. As a designer, I like to have a lot of space on my desk for my hands to move around. This way I can easily jump from my keyboard to my drawing pad and have plenty of space for the mouse. With that being said, I also like to have things in my work space that inspire me and make me happy. This includes my Seattle Salmon Nut Cracker, Pete, pictures of my family, and artwork from some of my favorite designers. Lastly, take some time to clean up your digital world. Organize files and emails into folders where they can be easily found and keep your Inbox and computer desktop neat and tidy.
4. Learn New Skills
I’m a firm believer that the more you are learning and growing the happier you will be. This applies to the work world as well. Think of how excited you were and how much you enjoyed your job when you first started. That’s because everything was new and you were constantly learning. If you’ve hit a lull or are unhappy, this is your chance to change it. No matter what field you are in there are always opportunities to learn new skills. Take advantage of any classes your company might offer or look into opportunities within the community or online. It doesn’t always have to relate specifically to your job either. Taking classes to better understand what your colleagues or clients do will help you serve their needs. Also, it’s okay if it’s not work related. Take a cooking class after work or dust off that old ukulele and take an online tutorial. Keeping your mind active and growing will make you a better you.
5. Send a Thank You Note
This might seem like a silly resolution. But when working with clients or colleagues, there is always someone that deserves a “Thank You”. If hand writing a note is too old school for you, take a few minutes to send a quick email. By letting the people you work with, or for, know you appreciate them, your work relationships will become stronger, which will hopefully lead to more business coming your way. Also, it feels nice to make people feel good.
It’s not too late. Set a resolution you can keep and make 2019 your year!
Facebook sure has been in the news a lot recently and not for good reasons. The topic that put Facebook and other tech companies on the front page of newspapers was the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. As the news cycle moves on to newer and more shocking stories, Facebook and the other companies have been removed from the limelight.
In the eyes of many, Facebook didn’t do anything explicitly wrong. Instead, they did not put into place certain precautions to prevent bad actors from, well, acting bad. Facebook didn’t affect the elections, they just weren’t careful enough to prevent others from affecting it. So, Facebook made some promises that they will be better and that is that.
In some ways, I think the 2016 election scandal has actually shielded Facebook from smaller but much more troubling scandals.
Facebook is not upfront about this practice. In fact, when I asked its PR team last year whether it was using shadow contact information for ads, they denied it. Luckily for those of us obsessed with the uncannily accurate nature of ads on Facebook platforms, a group of academic researchers decided to do a deep dive into how Facebook custom audiences work to find out how users’ phone numbers and email addresses get sucked into the advertising ecosystem. […]
The researchers also found that if User A, whom we’ll call Anna, shares her contacts with Facebook, including a previously unknown phone number for User B, whom we’ll call Ben, advertisers will be able to target Ben with an ad using that phone number, which I call “shadow contact information,” about a month later. Ben can’t access his shadow contact information, because that would violate Anna’s privacy, according to Facebook, so he can’t see it or delete it, and he can’t keep advertisers from using it either.
The lead author on the paper, Giridhari Venkatadri, said this was the most surprising finding, that Facebook was targeted ads using information “that was not directly provided by the user, or even revealed to the user.”
It's hard to argue how Facebook is not stealing Ben's info in the above example.
The exchange was intended to benefit everyone. Pushing for explosive growth, Facebook got more users, lifting its advertising revenue. Partner companies acquired features to make their products more attractive. Facebook users connected with friends across different devices and websites. But Facebook also assumed extraordinary power over the personal information of its 2.2 billion users — control it has wielded with little transparency or outside oversight.
Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.
The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.
Then a man named Yul Kwon came to the rescue saying that the growth team had come up with a solution! Thanks to poor Android permission design at the time, there was a way to update the Facebook app to get “Read Call Log” permission without actually asking for it. “Based on their initial testing, it seems that this would allow us to upgrade users without subjecting them to an Android permissions dialog at all,” Kwon is quoted. “It would still be a breaking change, so users would have to click to upgrade, but no permissions dialog screen. They’re trying to finish testing by tomorrow to see if the behavior holds true across different versions of Android.”
Oh yay! Facebook could suck more data from users without scaring them by telling them it was doing it! This is a little surprising coming from Yul Kwon because he is Facebook’s chief ‘privacy sherpa,’ who is supposed to make sure that new products coming out of Facebook are privacy-compliant. I know because I profiled him, in a piece that happened to come out the same day as this email was sent. A member of his team told me their job was to make sure that the things they’re working on “not show up on the front page of the New York Times” because of a privacy blow-up. And I guess that was technically true, though it would be more reassuring if they tried to make sure Facebook didn’t do the creepy things that led to privacy blow-ups rather than keeping users from knowing about the creepy things.
It is fascinating that as more and more stories come out, you almost start to think Facebook is a criminal enterprise. Not only are they stealing but they are self-aware enough to know that what they are doing is creepy.
"In the study published today in PLOS ONE, researchers at the University of Michigan, Tufts University and Kenyon College in Ohio say they’ve calculated the potential cost of leaving Facebook - that is, what existing users feel they’d need to be paid in order to deactivate their accounts - based on a series of auctions. In each auction, groups of people or individuals offered bids for an acceptable payment to get them to deactivate Facebook. Participants got real money when they showed proof.
The price tag? An average of $1,000, enough to give new meaning to the GoodFellas-line-turned-Millennial-adage, “F*ck you, pay me.” Corrigan says he’s experimented in the past with auctions as a way to estimate what items like e-cigarettes and GMOs are worth to people. Auctions are an ideal place to assess perceptions about worth, because the people participating face real financial consequences for their decision-making."
So although they knowingly track who people call and text (and know that it is creepy), have become the arbiter of global speech, and straight up steal people’s information, it doesn’t seem like people are going to stop using the service.
Which brings us to the most difficult part of the conversation — what do we do about this? I wish I had the answer. Maybe that is the most frustrating thing. We don’t like what they are doing but we don’t have an alternative. Whether you are a grandmother who wants to see photos of your new grandchild or are a professional social media marketer, you are stuck using a service that makes you uncomfortable using.
I guess all you can do is go into it wide-eyed and skeptical. You need to be keenly aware of the relationship between you and the service provider. You need to understand that you are not the customer and Facebook is not the product, you are the product and advertisers are the customers. You need to be cognizant that Facebook is aggressively mining all of your personal data and selling it or even just giving it away to other companies. Proceed with caution, friends.
New social media apps and platforms are launched often, but not all get the same amount of coverage. I’ve been receiving email newsletters about ‘the hot new app agencies are eyeing’: TikTok. So, in an attempt to save you a little time doing research about this ‘new’ app, read my coverage of what TikTok is, how it’s used, and if Social Media Marketers will be scrambling to use it for their clients or brands.
What is TikTok
TikTok is the latest video-sharing app gaining popularity in the U.S. It’s actually not all that new of an app; it’s just been re-branded. Long story short — TikTok used to be musical.ly but was acquired by ByteDance, who already owned an app called TikTok. So, they merged musical.ly and TikTok into one and kept the name TikTok.
TikTok is kind of like the once popular Twitter-owned app, Vine, in the sense that it allows users to post quirky short videos. However, TikTok is a bit more robust in that it allows users to watch musical clips, lip-sync to songs, and edit their videos with built-in special effects, filters, and stickers. There is also a feature called “duet” in which users can create a new video side-by-side with an existing video.
The New York Times described TikTok as “a quirky hybrid of Snapchat, the defunct video app Vine, and the TV segment, Carpool Karaoke”.
How Popular is it?
TikTok currently has more than 500 million users worldwide. It has skyrocketed to the top of the charts in Apple’s App Store, beating out Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat as the top free app. Celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Khloe Kardashian, and Nick Jonas have helped spread the word about the app, too, which has definitely boosted its popularity.
Despite increasing popularity and a large number of downloads, TikTok is still far behind its social media competitors when it comes to active engagement. According to tubefilter.com:
TikTok: 28.56% engagement rate
YouTube: 94.91% engagement rate
Facebook: 95.5% engagement rate
Instagram: 94.99% engagement rate
Snapchat: 94.98% engagement rate
It’s always fun to make predictions about the latest social media apps and how they’ll fend long-term. I’m looking at you Google+, Peach, and Ello. It feels like we’ve come to rely on the big 4-5 platforms we use in our daily lives, but do we have room to add one more? Is TikTok it?
All-in-all, I think TikTok has potential to be successful as a niche app, but will it pack the same social media power as Facebook or Instagram? Doubtful.
As a user, it may be a fun way to blow some time, especially for the younger demo. It’s kind of like one of those apps you open on your phone because you’ve already checked all of your other social media accounts, but are still bored and have some free time.
As a marketer, I don’t see it being something brands will come to rely on or integrate into their social strategy on an on-going basis — at least not in its current state. Perhaps if you have a younger demo and a strong interest in collaborating with an influencer, some sort of sponsored video would be worth trying - but that only translates for a small percentage of companies.
I should mention that as of now, TikTok has no paid advertising. The app makes money by in-app purchases. Users can purchase digital gifts and special emojis to share with TikTok users during live streams. And without any direct paid advertising opportunities, smaller brands may hold off on jumping aboard TikTok, much like they have done with Snapchat.
I’d love to hear what your predictions are for TikTok and how you feel about the app. Tweet us @ThinPigMedia
Photo used with permission by the Minnesota Historical Society. (Image Identifier MI8.9 GR2 r6)
I had the good fortune of growing up in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. We had a forest for a backyard, surrounded by rivers, mountains, etc. It was perfect. Growing up in an extremely rural setting (in the pre-internet days) meant that a trip to the city (Seattle in this case) was quite exciting and eagerly anticipated. One of my favorite parts about the trip was getting to see my Aunt Carolyn, who also became our tour guide and interpreter on these occasions. She introduced us to another world that left lasting impressions.
My brothers and I loved to visit Carolyn’s apartment. I don’t believe there were any buildings over two stories near my hometown, and to my knowledge there wasn’t an elevator within a 70 mile radius. The sites, sounds and smells of the city were quite a thrill. One of the many indelible memories that really jumped out to my brothers and I was a plaster bust of Hiawatha that Carolyn had atop her bookcase. Something about it was very captivating and part of the total sensory tapestry that was ‘the city’ for us. Carolyn, a gifted writer and storyteller was more than happy to regale us with the story of its origin.
My Great Grandfather Calvin ‘Cal’ Gilman was born in Maine in 1863. By the early 1890’s he had migrated west to Seattle. He met a gentleman there named Daniel ‘D.M.’ Gunn who convinced Cal that there was opportunity in Minnesota, more specifically in Grand Rapids, the northernmost point steamboats were able to navigate on the Mississippi River. Grand Rapids, incorporated in 1891, was a natural hub for the timber industry, as the river provided conveyance for the timber to a good chunk of the country. Cal followed Mr. Gunn east.
Daniel ‘D.M.’ Gunn, 1907?, Photo Credit Minnesota Legislature Reference Library
Gunn purchased the Pokegama Hotel in 1892, soon after the railroad had arrived. The hotel, located just two blocks north of the Mississippi River promptly burned to the ground a year later. Undaunted, Gunn rebuilt the hotel, which reopened in 1894 on Thanksgiving Day. It was a big event; guests who came from far and wide were entertained by the Duluth Orchestra. Grandpa Cal tended bar in the saloon.
Hotel Pokegama Saloon, Grandpa Cal may be one of these guys. Photo Credit: Foursquare.com
Another hotel employee was Christine Severina Johnson, whose parents had immigrated from Luster County, Norway in the 1850’s. (Their name had been Johanson prior to arrival in the USA) Bored with the rural farm life in Wisconsin, she left home around age 15 to become a ‘dining room girl’ on the riverboats. She took the same position at the Hotel Pokegama a dozen or so years later and met Cal. She would become my Great Grandmother in the process.
Christine Johnson (left) with her sister (middle) at the Norwegian Settlement at Mondovi, Wisconsin, ca. 1879.
The dining room girls of the Pokegama ca. 1895. Grandma Christine is second from the left. Photograph by Adry Carlson.
Mrs. Gunn (left) and Grandma Christine (right), were undoubtedly the height of fashion in Itasca Country at the turn of the century. Aunt Carolyn seems to recall that they made their own hats.
As the timber industry began to boom in earnest, Cal determined that there was enough business for him to start his own saloon. This was a move apparently supported by Gunn, who was reportedly an investor in the venture. The Royal Buffet opened around the turn of the century at 210 Kindred Avenue (now NW 1st Ave) just a block from the hotel. Christine gave birth to my Grandfather Benjamin around the same time in 1903.
Royal Buffet, Kindred Avenue, Grand Rapids, Minn ca. 1900-1905
The Royal Buffet, sometime between 1900 - 1915. Grandpa Cal is on the right.
In the photograph, you can see that the saloon was quite elaborate in its decor, highlighted by punched tin, mirrors, ornate woodwork and of course, the plaster busts of native american leaders. By all accounts the Royal Buffet was successful; it remained open for at least a decade and was a popular watering hole.
Grandpa Cal’s business card. Aunt Carolyn found it in Grandma Christine’s blanket box and eventually gave it to me. I particularly enjoy his phone number.
But it wasn’t meant to last. Minnesota, which saw contentious debates over prohibition well before the the Volstead act in 1919, passed a ‘county option bill’ in 1915 which allowed each county to determine its prohibition status. Itasca County went dry, effectively putting the Royal Buffet out of business several years before prohibition was enacted nationally.
Page from Cal’s detailed ledger. This particular entry is for his business partner D.M. Gunn. We can note that wine cost significantly more than ale, Mr. Gunn was credited $17 for lumber, and he was a significant investor in the business.
Cal had been very generous in extending credit to his clientele (which were also his friends), and was certainly owed a fair bit of money from his regulars. Most of these people were recent immigrants themselves from Scandinavia or Eastern Europe with little to their name…except their name. But when your name is all you have, you take it seriously. These customers made sure to square things up with Cal by whatever means they had at their disposal. That came in the form of rolling cigars for him, or trading him items such as a shotgun, a pocket watch, or in one case, a baritone saxophone. And most memorable to our family is the one customer who gave him a 40 acre piece of lakeside land to forgive his debit. That parcel remains in the family today; I remember ice fishing there with Grandpa Ben in my childhood. And all those customers remained friends with Grandpa Cal for years to come.
Calvin ‘Cal’ and Christine Gilman’s wedding portrait. March, 1903
I like this story for several reasons, not the least of which is that it involves my colorful ancestors. My Great Grandmother rising from an immigrant settlement to become a businesswoman and landowner with nothing but determination and moxie. My Great Grandfather moving across the country twice to find a place to stake his claim. But I love reading about a time when one’s name was their biggest asset and that with hard work and determination, anything was possible. And of course the idea that a family heirloom with limited financial value can become the string that keeps the history and memory of those that came before us alive and well. And if there is a little embellishment along the way...even better. History (and family) should be interesting.
In an era where the US household debt rose to a record high $13 trillion at the end of 2017, the idea of paying off a bar tab to a friend with a saxophone seems like a quaint notion. Or maybe not. But it makes me proud to be Cal’s great grandson either way.
Oh, and I almost forgot about Hiawatha...you are probably wondering how his bust ended up in Seattle. It was discovered in Christine’s attic in the late 1940’s by my mother and her sisters. While originally in possession of my Aunt Nell, Aunt Carolyn would eventually lay claim and take it with her to Seattle. And if she hadn’t, I suppose it’s possible that I would have never learned the story of Grandpa Cal and this valuable lesson on personal responsibility. I hope that you have a similar heirloom in your family that makes you look back and smile.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Thin Pig, and may 2019 be the best ever for you and your family!
Special thanks to my mom and her sisters, Nell and Carolyn, for sharing their memories with me and answering all my questions to put together this post!
Thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society for the use of the cover photograph. This picture and much more on the history of the North Star State may be found at: http://www.mnhs.org/
The holidays are just around the corner and many of us will be taking time off over the festive season. However, working in social media makes it hard to be completely off. With the help of a few social media scheduling tools and a little bit of planning, it’s feasible to have at least a few hours to put your feet up and sip mulled wine with the rest of your family.
Planning ahead is key if you want that uninterrupted break. Make sure you have appropriate and timely boards with relevant content that reflects how your fan base takes in the season. 87% of Pinterest users make purchases because of the social media platform so make sure your URL links are up to date. Pinners use Pinterest to build dream boards for vacations, wardrobes, weddings, holidays, new houses and much, much more. It’s up to you to create images and boards they want to follow and pin back to their own boards, thus sharing with their own followers in the process. Images with a white or blank background and close-ups are great for products you want to stand out, but be sure to also use in-context and lifestyle images to show off your brand vision. This allows the consumer to get a feel for your product and to help them decide how to use it. As Pinterest is used for both inspiration and planning, you will optimize your reach by having a good mix of both.
Once you have your pins ready and you have created your boards, it’s time to schedule. Tailwind , Viraltag, Hootsuite, and Buffer are all great scheduling tools. Tailwind is my favorite for its many features, extreme ease of use, and advanced pin analytics. Don’t forget to optimize the prime Pinterest times and days of the week for optimal reach. If you use Tailwind, you have the added option to link to your Instagram account, which allows you to pin your Instagram posts directly into your Pinterest account for extra holiday exposure.
Ready Set Go
You are now all set up and on your way to a hassle-free holiday break, Pinterest wise at least. And while we can’t help you with perfecting your eggnog, if you would rather skip Pinterest planning and scheduling all together feel free to give us a call at Thin Pig Media.