The first Giga-Event draws 8,000 Munich attendees

[This blog post was originally posted on the Geocaching.com blog on October 7, 2014

On August 16, 2014, the world’s first Geocaching Giga Event took place. Annie, Andrea, Raine and Annika traveled from Geocaching headquarters in Seattle to the Bavarian capital of Munich to witness this historic moment. Below is a trip report in the Lackey’s own words:

The first-ever Giga was a blast! In geocaching terms, Giga means 5,000+ participants, but Mia San Giga 2014 had well over 8,000 participants!

A Giga would not be complete with a whole weekend of mega entertainment. The night before the giga, we attended the “ochsenessen,” where a whole ox was roasted on a spit in true Bavarian style. This was a chance to sit down and chat about local ‘caching customs. We learned that German cachers refer to each other using “Du” instead of “Sie” (both meaning “You.”) Normally “Du” is reserved for family, extremely close friends and sports teammates. This is an example of the instant community geocaching creates.

Saturday was the big event! The doors opened at the Munich Olympic Stadium and hundreds of visitors to our shared lackey/volunteer booth started flowing in. We enjoyed the wide selection of options available from vendors, including geocaching socks, Geocoins, and T5 gear. The food stalls, beer garden, and stage also provided constant entertainment. Particularly fun were the bavarian-themed games for kids of all ages including a stein lifting contest, a “cow” milking contest, and a coaster toss (the target was a barrel.) All the while geocachers ziplined overhead across the stadium and toured the rooftops of this architectural marvel.

On Sunday we rounded out the weekend with a great finale at the breakfast event in the festive hall of the famous Munich Hofbräuhaus. Together with hundreds of cachers we enjoyed a beer and white sausages for breakfast followed by a tour of the most interesting places in Munich thanks to 30 lab caches.

We would like to thank all the friendly geocachers from all over the world for the fun, the insights, and the opportunity to participate in the geocaching community. A special thank you goes to the giga organizers and all the volunteers for their hard work in creating such a smoothly running and memorable experience.

Want more? This video immerses you in the experience (and it’s only 3 minutes!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IvdlzMI9Y0


Nightcaching at Sweden’s largest Mega-Event

[This blog post was originally posted on the Geocaching.com blog on December 10, 2013


Editor’s note: Geocaching HQ staff are joining geocachers at Mega-Events around the world to celebrate and share the adventure of geocaching. Andrea Hofer attended Sweden’s oldest and largest annual Geocaching event – FUMBLE AFTER DARK 2013. This is Andrea’s account of her trip.

Andrea, representing Geocaching HQ. Photo: Marcus Bengtsson

After attending Florida Finders Fest, I hopped on a plane and made my way to Fumble after Dark in Sweden, getting a chance to see two different communities back to back! Sweden in November feels much like Seattle in November – short, drizzly days and long, chilly nights. That’s why Fumble after Dark is so great: 900 participants come together to embrace the long nights and make them into an opportunity for amazing geocaching!

Photo courtesy of Marcus Bengtsson


The event was in Sodertalje, a one-hour drive from Stockholm. After my 22 hour travel from Florida, I gratefully settled in at the adorably Ikea-esque Scandic hotel. A few fun facts about driving in Sweden:

  • You have to keep your Headlights turned on 24/7 by law.
  • Traffic lights briefly turn orange after red to warn that green is coming.
  • In a Peugeot, “A” means “drive” and when you brake, the motor goes completely silent.

The Fumble After Dark event ran from 10 AM to midnight. Noon to 5 was reserved for presentations, which included puzzle cache tips, a fascinating presentation on “lost places” (especially Detroit), and cache hiding tips from the Swedish Reviewers. I gave a presentation focusing on what the Geocaching HQ Community Team does and our plans for 2014. I also learned that the majority of the attendees are on Facebook and completed the entire #31in31 August challenge!

Swedish reviewers presenting. Photo: Marcus Bengtsson

Next it was time to load up the night caches’ GPS coordinates (including the 10 lab caches) and head out into the woods for 3-4 hours of spooky excitement celebrating All Souls’ Day.

Setting out. Photo: Marcus Bengtsson

The only light is the one you bring. Photo: Marcus Bengtsson

A knot-based puzzle off-trail in a forest.

Climbing to get the find code for one of the Lab caches. Photo: Marcus Bengtsson

It was utterly dark, chilly, off-trail in a forest, muddy, hilly, scary, and exciting, and I was glad to have been invited to tag along with the Swedish Reviewers. Much of the cache terrain was higher than one would see at a similar event in the U.S. and the geocaches were all clever, especially the haunted kindergarten lab cache:

Many thanks to organizer Fredrik Wellener and all the geocachers who helped create this very special experience.

Click here to see more pictures from Fumble After Dark.

Have you ever gone nightcaching? Share your best experiences with us in the comments below!


Sonic Chat Recap – Holiday Trends with Michelle Phan

Sonic-Chat-Recap-with-Michelle-Phan-125x125Our December 18, 2012 was full of great holiday style and beauty tips from our fans. We had the pleasure of co-hosting with Michelle Phan, a beauty and fashion blogger.

She chatted holiday trends and shared some tips for a healthy, stylish holiday season.

We pulled out some of our favorite tweets to share with you: 



Here are the topics we discussed along with some of your great responses:

Q1: What are your tips to stay cozy but fashionable in the winter?

  • @Gucchie23: “I love the over sized sweaters with leggings. fashionable and comfortable.”
  • @labyo2do2do: “Layering clothes, wearing skinny jeans & knee high boots, scarf too.”
  • @jeevonkay: “comfortable boots and infinity scarf.”

Q2: What are you looking for in your dream holiday party look?

  • @MichellePhan: “Lace! I love how lace gives your entire look a romantic classy touch.”
  • @MardelD03: “Shimmer and glow!”
  • @amyl12: “A flattering style, probably navy blue, and some sequin and sheer material.”

Q3: What beauty products must you have in your purse during the winter?

  • @kygurl62689: “Nivea A Kiss of Shimmer Lip Balm and a moisturizing lotion/hand cream.”
  • @etfani: “Red Plump lipstick.”
  • @amyl12: “A really good lip balm and hand lotion, also some loose face powder.”

Q4: What are you asking Santa for this year?

  • @LSAS1: “For a healthy and happy family. We are blessed.”
  • @mcgraw14me: “Would love to have some new jeans, boots and a @Clarisonic Mia!!”
  • @MardelD03: “Patience and makeup!”

Q5: What is the best gift you’ve ever given or received?

  • @momUNblogger: “Best gift I ever received was my barbie corvette back when I was little. It was so, so exciting.”
  • @PaulinaChills: “A pair of diamond earrings I wear them all the time.”
  • @idontlooksick: “Engagement ring designed by my husband w/ stone from his great-grandparents. he gave it 2me 1 yr ago yesterday.”

With 198 participants, a twitter reach of over 27 million people, and trending nationwide, this was our best #SonicChat yet. Join us on January 22 to try and make the next one even better!

How the #SonicChat works:

  • We’ve already set up a tweet chat “room” that you can use to participate here:http://tweetchat.com/room/SonicChat
  • Many people also like to use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck for tweet chats. If this is the case for you, you’ll just need to set up a column with the hashtag #SonicChat.
  • Join in any time during the hour. The more the merrier!
  • We will ask a series of questions, each beginning with “Q1,” “Q2,” and so on. If you’d like to answer a question, just tweet back with “A1,” “A2,” etc. to the corresponding question.
  • Feel free to RT great comments from @Clarisonic or other participants in the chat, and interact as much or as little as you like. Just be sure to include the hashtag #SonicChat in all your tweetsso everyone can keep track of the conversation!
  • Most of all, #SonicChat is about learning, sharing, and having fun.

Last Week’s #SonicChat Recap!

CS-Blog-Image-125x125We love chatting skincare and beauty in our bi-weekly #SonicChat, a one-hour tweet chat that includes tips, special guests, and prizes!

Our November 27, 2012 co-host was Stacy Mackler, VP of PR at Lancôme. She chatted holiday prep and how to make the holidays bright!

Topics included:

  • How do you stay healthy during the holidays?
  • What are some of your favorite skin and body products to give and receive during the holidays?
  • Do you have any special holiday looks planned? Fancy new dress, metallic eye shadow, pink Christmas tree?
  • What are your favorite holiday traditions/plans?
  • How are you giving back this holiday season?
  • What does an ideal holiday party look like to you?

We pulled out some of our favorite tweets to share with you. They got us in the holiday spirit, and we hope they do the same for you:


With 154 participants, a twitter reach of over 11 million people, and trending nationwide, we were certainly busy!

We will be at it again on Tuesday, December 11th at 11am PDT. Join us!

How the #SonicChat works:

  • We’ve already set up a tweet chat “room” that you can use to participate here:http://tweetchat.com/room/SonicChat
  • Many people also like to use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck for tweet chats. If this is the case for you, you’ll just need to set up a column with the hashtag #SonicChat.
  • Join in any time during the hour. The more the merrier!
  • We will ask a series of questions, each beginning with “Q1,” “Q2,” and so on. If you’d like to answer a question, just tweet back with “A1,” “A2,” etc. to the corresponding question.
  • Feel free to RT great comments from @Clarisonic or other participants in the chat, and interact as much or as little as you like. Just be sure to include the hashtag #SonicChat in all your tweetsso everyone can keep track of the conversation!
  • Most of all, #SonicChat is about learning, sharing, and having fun.

Photo by Ellen Moran via GettyImages


marketing · Tips and Tricks · Uncategorized

Twitter Dos and Don’ts

TwitterI think Twitter’s features are not explained well, which scares some people off. Examples of common misunderstandings:

  • Starting a tweet with a twitter handle doesn’t broadcast to anyone but that twitter handle. Even some influencers that I interact with still make this mistake.
  • Put your commentary in front of a RT, or you’ll end up like ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who recently made Cardinals running back Beanie Wells look like he was smack talking his own quarterbacks.
  • Hashtags help people search for things on Twitter, see what topics are “trending” or popular,  or filter a conversation on a topic such as an event or tweetchat. Don’t overuse them.

I recommend that twitter offer better training when you sign up.


Recap: MarketMix 2012 conference



Last week, Amy Rainey and I went on behalf of Banyan Branch to the day-long MarketMix conference on “Thriving in the Conversation Economy.” This event is the largest annual gathering of marketers in the Pacific Northwest. We got to hear marketing strategy from speakers like Ben Huh, CEO and founder of Cheezburger and Ted Rubin, chief social marketing strategist at Collective Bias.

Here are some of my major takeaways from the conference:

“CEOs talk ROI but decide budgets on a feeling. Social media is about feeling.” – Ted Rubin of Collective Bias

It’s easy to get focused on daily tasks and forget about the bigger picture. At Banyan, we have our eyes on developing social trends, influencers and social buzz for our clients every day. This information represents a constant opportunity to get the right feeling across. Save those supporting facts and great shout outs and be sharing them whenever possible with your clients.     

“Social media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, loyalty correlates directly to increased sales.” – Ted Rubin of Collective Bias

Clients want to see ROI and agencies should make this a goal. However, if marketers focus on sales but overlook engagement and loyalty as metrics of success, they miss the long term effects of developing repeat customers. Relationships are the currency that keeps paying off.

“80% of people watching TV are mobile multi-tasking: e-mail, text, talk, or social networking. 15% are using phones the entire time they are watching TV.”- TV break-out session

Social TV is here to stay. Marketers in the entertainment field need to engage with viewers on multiple platforms, or someone else will. With tools like TV Everywhere popping up, marketers are expanding beyond household information. Today we are learning about individual users, right down to who is using what kind of content on what kind of devices.

“57% of companies have acquired customers through a blog.” – Andy Boyer of Relaborate

Some clients aren’t yet willing to give a blog the attention it needs to thrive and support ROI. Marketers have a responsibility to prove blogs’ value and to offer a content development strategy. Success requires a collaborative approach. Developing Q&A templates can help to extract key insights from thought leaders within a company which a content manager can then craft into a SEO-optimized post. 

“Make sure you have your social properties and social campaigns on clients’ email unsubscribe page.” – Laura Ashley of TailoredMail

View client email unsubscribes as an opportunity to connect in a different way with customers. Just because a customer doesn’t want to receive brand emails doesn’t mean they don’t want to continue the relationship. Highlight social campaigns, contests, or giveaways – more often than not, the customer will forget to push the unsubscribe button at all!

“The Internet has created more drive for people to connect IRL, not less. Like at conferences, like this one.” – Ben Huh of Cheezburger

Never lose sight of the user experience. Social succeeds where it facilitates connection, relationships, and experiences. There’s nothing like a campaign with an in-person element to drive online buzz.

Outdoors · Tips and Tricks · Uncategorized

Alligators vs. Crocodiles: Tips and Tricks

Why Learn the Difference:

According to alligator wrestlers, there is no such thing as a bad wrestler because if you’re bad, you’re dead. The normal gait of alligators and crocodiles on land is the “belly crawl,” but they are the only reptiles who can bring their legs directly under themselves in a “high walk.” In this position, the front and back legs move as synchronous pairs to launch the alligator at prey at speeds of 30 mph for short distances. There are some differences in how to handle an attack. Growing up in Florida, the only place in the world home to both alligators and crocodiles, I have an interest in distinguishing between them.

Alligator and Crocodile Comparison:

American Alligator

  • Black, Broad snout.
  • Teeth of the upper jaw visible when jaws closed.
  • Powerful jaws closing, yet are so weak in opening that that even a child can hold an alligator’s mouth closed.

American Crocodile

  • Olive brown, Narrow snout.
  • Teeth of both jaws visible when jaws closed.
  • Powerful jaws both opening and closing, even a grown man can’t hold shut.

Safety Tips:

  • Never feed alligators or they will associate you with food.
  • Leave babies and eggs alone, because any adult alligator will respond to a distress call from any youngster.
  • Don’t run in zig-zag patterns to avoid a charging alligator. This is based on the myth that alligators can’t turn. In reality an alligator is very agile and faster in short distances than a human. Run in a straight line away from the alligator, since an alligator has low endurance on land.

Fighting an Alligator:

  • Try to get on the alligator’s back and put downward pressure on its neck.
  • Cover the alligator’s eyes to make it more sedate.
  • If the alligator gets you in its jaws, try to avoid it shaking you or rolling over, as this will cause severe tissue damage.
  • Punch it on the snout. It may let go and back off.
  • Try flipping the alligator over. When you flip over an alligator, a disconnect occurs between the vestibula aparatus of the inner ear and the brain and the pressure put on the brain puts the alligator in a coma-like state.
  • Another technique was used by the Seminole Indians for solo alligator hunting. They would have a rope around their waist and once they were on top of an alligator, they would place their chin under the alligator’s lower jaw so they could free their hands to tie the alligator’s mouth shut. Be very certain that you are wrestling an alligator. If you try this on a crocodile, there is no way you can keep its mouth shut, so this would be a fatal mistake.
  • Afterwards, seek medical attention immediately, even for a small cut. Alligators have a huge number of pathogens in their mouths


Pinterest for Designers

What is it:

Pinterest is way to create moodboards of ideas, items you love, and things that inspire you. It’s also one of the fastest growing social properties on the internet. Pinterest lets you engage with design-minded consumers, run Pinterest campaigns, and generate site traffic.

How to use it:

Pinterest “Pin it to Win it” contests generally utilize Facebook to share the rules and winners, and in some cases contestants need to submit a link to their pinboard on Facebook for consideration. Pinboard entries should include hashtags and/or @mentions of the brand to ensure virality. Winners tend to be chosen either by the contest sponsor or by popularity, i.e. how many likes, comments, and repins it gets. Influential winners can be added to a shared pinboard – a highly valued prize.

Some great brands and campaigns on Pinterest include:

Real Simple – Pinterest drives more traffic than Facebook for Real Simple. Real Simple plans to integrate Pinterest more deeply into RealSimple.com, starting with ‘Pin it’ buttons on the website, which make it easier for fans to pin product images. Any image pinned from a site links directly back, a potential source of revenue.

Nordstrom – Nordstrom uses Pinterest to see what trends and styles the community likes based on engagement  – likes, comments, and repins.

Seahawks  -The Seahawks’ Pinterest contest requires users to start a Seahawks themed pinboard for a chance at winning 12 prizes. Contestents’ pin boards must include their tagged #favoriteseahawk, #FavoriteSeahawksPhoto, and #musthavegamedaygear. The rules and prizing were managed through a Facebook tab.

Lands’ End – In their “Pin It to Win It” Pinterest contest, ten fashionistas won $250 gift cards to Lands’ End Canvas by creating pinboards re-pinning their favorite Lands’ End Canvas products from Lands’ End pinboards.

High Point Market – High Point Market recruited home fashion trendsetters to capture images of their favorite finds as they walk the High Point Market, listing the exhibitor name and showroom number with the photo. The trendsetters also present the exhibitor with a sign that highlights the Style Spotter’s name and a QR code and URL for the Pinterest board. Everyone can vote or comment on their favorite pinboards and the most popular pinboard wins that Style Spotter a free trip to the next High Point Market.

Gilt Home – This one is a little self-promotion. For my client, Gilt Home, I use Pinterest to introduce our audience to our in-house home industry experts, promote contests and events, and share pinboards with design influencers on creative ways to decorate your home, which allows cross pollination of readership.

Other great Pinterest boards to check out: Klout, Cabot Cheese, Bergdorf Goodman, Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, BHLDN, Feterie, Etsy, VandM, Rue, Lonny, and Nina Garcia.

Visit me on Pinterest!

marketing · Uncategorized

Tweet Chats 101

Tweet chats, also known as Twitter parties, are a great way to find influencers in your industry on Twitter. Think of them as an online cocktail hour. These organized chats are identified by a hashtag (#) and tend to take a set time of 1 or 2 hours. Some tweet chats are weekly, while others are monthly or quarterly. There are hundreds of Tweet Chats, so you’re sure to find one in your area of interest. Whether you’re tweeting as an individual or as a brand, and whether you are planning to just participate or considering hosting your own Tweet Chat, here are some tips to help you get the most out of the experience. With regular participation, you will be able to:

  • develop relationships with customers and influencers
  • increase engagement
  • grow organic following on twitter
  • increase your  tweet reach
  • cross promote other platforms or campaigns

What you’ll need:

  • List of Tweet Chats: http://bit.ly/o1BFZP
  • Tweet Chat room: http://tweetchat.com
    • Displays only tweets with the selected hashtag to help you put your blinders on to the twitter-sphere
    • Tweets made in the Tweet Chat room will automatically add the hashtag and the room auto-updates.
    • You can use other twitter platforms (i.e. Tweet Grid, TweetDeck), but then you’ll have to add the chat’s hashtag to each of your tweets
    • Advanced tip: To control the quantity of tweets flying by, check “block retweets” (under the user control tab)

Tips to participate in a Tweet Chat:

  • Read about the topic and the moderator’s scheduled questions ahead of time to have prepared links/responses
  • RT the moderator’s questions after they post them to help others keep track of the conversation
  • RT and/or comment on others’ tweets
  • Tweet Chats tend to be personal in nature, so decide if you want to tweet as “I” or as a brand
  • Prepare tweets about any campaigns you are promoting, but tailor them to the conversation. Tweet Chats have a very authentic tone, so spam is an unsuccessful strategy
  • Follow participants to reinforce the relationships you are creating
  • Consider offering a prize to randomly selected chatters at the end of the hour. (This will have to be pre-approved by the moderator)
  • Moderators do not typically ask for payment to be a guest host on their Tweet Chat. Consider the ROI carefully if anyone suggests this to you.

Tips to run your own Tweet Chat:

  • Participate in Tweet Chats before running your own – there is no substitute for experience!
  • Pick a short hashtag to save characters
  • If you have a guest host, make sure to provide a how-to sheet
  • Publish a blog post explaining Tweet Chats to your readers. (Example: http://www.gilt.com/blog/?s=tweetchat)
  • Direct people to the right link in promotions: http://tweetchat.com/room/YourHashTag
  • Make sure any guest host promotes you on their social properties ahead of time using the hashtag in tweets (Example blog post- Decorati: http://access.decorati.com/2011/08/creating-an-alfresco-oasis-shane-reilly-on-designtv-tweetchat)
  • Imagine yourself as a host of a party, so make sure that you welcome people to the Tweet Chat, don’t spend too much time talking with any single individual, and make sure everyone is included
  • Solicit self identification of participants in the chat (Example: “Glad to see everyone here at #AppleChat, please share your website and bio.”)
  • Select 5-6 questions ahead of time, and post them during the hour at regular intervals to keep the conversation flowing. Make sure to label them Q1, Q2, etc. to maintain clarity (Example: “ Q1: What are some simple holiday entertaining tips?”)

Have fun! Tweet Chats are a great social experience

Blog post reprinted on the Banyan Branch blog.

Uncategorized · Wellness

Rainbow Candles

I’m a huge fan of rainbows due to their ability to cause smiles.

Rainbow Candles

To make these rainbow candles I just needed wax and wicks from a craft shop, assorted glasses (this is a great way to reuse flower vases), skewers for stirring/wick-holding, 8-pack of Crayola crayons, empty metal can, and favorite fragrance (Gucci #2). Optional: packet of stearine powder to slow the burn and make the colors more true. I got the powder because, hey, might as well make the candles I’m spending all this time on good. Indispensible: Laptop for recipes and for tunes to melt wax by.

Wicks are go

Directions: Prep your glasses with wicks twisted around skewers to keep them centered.

Hack chunks of wax and place in can with a crayon and some stearine powder.

Put that in another pot with boiling water and melt everything, stirring frequently.

Pour your layers and spritz with scent, allowing time to cool between each layer.

Trim your wicks, and you’ve got rainbow candles, suitable for gifting, meditating on chakras with if that’s your thing, or in my case showing them off and smiling.

In photo: My sister as a kid