It's Good To Be Tackky!
How a little known Startup that you should know about made my day with a delightfully handwritten hallmark card and some "Tackky" swag to go with it.
It All Started With Being Rejected... Well, Sort Of.
So about three weeks back while working on a web project and testing out the tools inherent here on Tackk (more on that in a bit) , I decided to go through some of the previous posts and listing, in hopes of finding work that may be fitting of what I am looking for here. After all, one of the most fun and responsive CVs I have was created and hosted through Tackk.
Anyhoo, I came across this application form the San Francisco (CA)/Cleveland (OH) based company had put out looking for [[[POWER TACKKERS]]] , a sort of energetic mystical persona [aka a Brand Ambassador] that can embody the type of media savvy and reach Tackk really needs to breakthrough the endless.ly expanding ranks of Social Media/ Micro Blog/ Web Page hybrids that have Tumblrd Yahoos and Storified Pinterests, Tweetfaced our GoogleBooks, Top 10'd our News Feeds and on and on and on and on... The Web and Social market is both an over-saturated and substantially anemic rainbow that can feel over crowded one minute and a place with billions of people still missing with room to grow, but I digress...
As I clicked through the [[POWER TACKKER]] application form, one thing became glaringly obvious at the first tab: I am not in the age bracket for their Ambassadorship Program.
The other questions in the form made it even more obvious that the folks at Tackk were looking for a type of someone I very obviously did not fit as, and I started to feel kind of awkward halfway through the first couple of questions, but I figured, what the heck, I will be myself anyway, press send and never hear back from them, or simply receive you standard boilerplate "DEAR APPLICANT , THANK YOU BUT -" rejection letter when I did. So I hit send, expecting this moment to slip into the millions of other hours slipped in the back of my mind when-
Lo And BEHOLD! A Direct Message From Tackk's Community Manager!
Now I am the type of person that the web algorithm and social metric gods have deemed as "Worthy" for companies to send samples to and eagerly wait while I write a few blurbs about them. It's not something I have ever been able to really turn into a full blown career like some other folks on the web, and I kind of stopped doing a while back while needing to dodge a lot of life rockets fired my way.
With that said, I do consider myself the type of guy who is always peeking into the "New Economy" type of web companies and businesses and have had my share of things to praise, express disappointment or experience direct heartbreak from- but I've never had a moment where I was gently let down while also feeling both awesome about it... AAAND have it come off where I end up doing a free full fledged write up of the whole experience to express my gratitude of how Tackk's Community Management Lead, Jane, handled the response to my letter.
She And Her Team Did It By Being Genuine... Genuinely Tackky*.
Now I may not be a fully accredited expert on this subject, but it feels like in this day and age where most web based companies and Startups are competing to own a large market share of user's time and money, doing something that can come off as "tacky" is akin to a Kiss of Death in the Silicon Valleys of the internet world- where you open yourself up to all sorts of derision and ridicule from Valley Wag and Tech Crunch.
The need to maintain appearances and in how companies interact with the world at large is so fraught with pressure of being "Cool" or on the *gag* "Bleeding Edge" of web interactions that it feels the more a Tech Startup is on the "cusp" of breaking big, the more it is expected of them to retain an icy veneer of impartiality.
I for one miss the old school charm of being responded to in fruit baskets and cheap glittery ribbons, and though I may be reading too much into this, there is something to be said about having the following happen after you check the mail:
I MEAN SERIOUSLY! WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME A COMPANY YOU LIKE HAS SENT YOU THEIR SWAG WHILE INCLUDING A HANDWRITTEN- I REPEAT- HAND WRITTEN NOTE ON A STORE BOUGHT HALLMARK CARD?!!!
NEVER! THAT'S WHEN!
It really may be silly the more I think about it, but in all the years of me being marketed to by countless web banners, screaming tv ads, neon banners and direct marketers, I've never had any of it come with a evidence of an actual human being putting ink on paper by hand accompanying it, esp from a stationary that is not advertising their "brand". I don't know why, but of all the "One Weird Tricks" I've been exposed to while peering through the monitor screen, that little note went straight to my heart and made me feel special.
Which is why I am bothering to write about Tackk at length here, and do think they deserve your attention along with all venture capitalists and journalists of the world to make sure they succeed as a business.
Now I hope by now you should be asking
Ok, That's Great Sia, But-
What The Hell Is Tackk, What Makes Them Different and Why Should I Care About Them In The First Place?
Well, the "About" section of the site has a pretty great intro about how these guys came to be, but the answers are pretty simple:
While their mission statement has grown and become more focused, Tackk wants to be the internet equivalent of the "Flyer" notice people "tack" on boards in real space. It is a platform where you can whip up an impressive collection of media content from third party sources and bring attention to whatever your heart desires in a fashionably finish and immediacy only possible in the 21st century.
What makes it different than say Tumblr or Storify (both of which are solid platforms in their own right) is that it's FAST, and even lets you get to work without being logged in or signed up with an account (with some limits, of course) - AAAND not to mention that the buttons and tools to create a post are quite easy on the eyes and surprisingly varied in terms of how you want to present your post.
Now, what should make you care about them in the first place? Well, you mean other than them sending me a handwritten note with some swag?
Well, this is a bit of a tricky answer, but still a very important one. Tackk is, from my experience by far the first and only Social Media company actively putting kids, teens, young adults, teachers and "Education" as their top priority and core user base. They even went as far updating their T.O.S last week to include stronger and more re-enforced language dissuading the use of explicitly violent or pornographic material on their platform.
Now as a visual artist who has had a very unusual collection of content, friends, and digital footprint over the years, it could be strange that I'm drumming support for Tackk due to the traditionally conservative "It's For The Kids!" values they have sutured on their sleeves.
For the most part my work has leaned on the side of encouraging Free Speech featuring content that could raise more than just a couple of eyebrows at a PTA meeting, not to mention the whole PTA business is something I consider "Tacky" but think about this: First, they are not stopping anyone from making Tackks that are not related to children and education, BUT have recognized that a large part of their user base for one reason or another are people who deal with children and education, and Second, it's a not only a niche, but also a tool-set that the Social Media has yet to successfully help serve much needed demand for.
Normally a company or platform is out for the "Youths" or the "Grown Ups" responsible for them, but rarely have they made something where they can walk up to both and say "Here, try this." and take a step back while both age sets start sorting through and make their own. That is a very fine and blurry line with hard generational gaps in between for a tech company to walk, and the fact that the founders of Tackk have become aware of this in the short years since Launch is both admirable and quite a bold undertaking. And while I may not be the right "Ambassador" with a "Pep Rally Pizaz" I do recognize there is something to be said about this "Tackky" approach these folks have got going in their two inter-state offices.
With all that said, I am proud to be wearing this shirt and have my likeness representing these guys with a thumbs up looping to infinity.
Thanks for the Swag, guys! Keep on rocking!
Note to the Tackk Marketing folk, I really hope someone has coined the term "It's good to be Tackky" already, if not, I say go for it! Promise I won't say anything if that ends up as a trade-marked by-line in the future ;)