understanding your digital footprint | cayci banks

Cayci Banks | 1000 Feathers

Hannah: Hello everyone and welcome back to DWGTV. I’m Hannah, and today I’m joined by Cayci Banks who is the director of communications at 1000 Feathers. Today we’re really going to be talking about understanding your digital footprint and how that can set you up to create a digital strategy with longevity with your business. Thanks for being here Cayci!

Cayci: Yeah. Thanks for having me. 

Hannah: Of course. Could you start off by sharing what 1000 Feathers does and what your role is there? 

Cayci: Sure. 1000 Feathers was launched in 2016 by Forrest Alton and Heather Brandt so we’re almost three years old. As a consulting firm position to break down the barriers between the nonprofit sector, those who fund them and the communities they’re serving. We were seeing a real big disconnect between those three players in the nonprofit and social service field. Our tagline is “Vision. Strategy. Results.” and I really think that sums up what we do in a nutshell. We are working with organizations and clients to set a vision, work towards that strategically and then help them get to the results that they’re seeking. Some of the work we do is strategic planning, some involves community assessment and larger problem-solving. Because of my background in communications, we’ve really expanded our communications and marketing clientele over the past 2 1/2 years. 

I’ve been involved with the organization since it’s launch in 2016, as the director of communications. Forrest and I actually worked together at the South Carolina Campaign to prevent teen pregnancy. We were both there at the same time for about 10 years before I slipped away to have children and to expand my family. I had twins in May of 2016, so at the time I had stepped away from the organization. Just a few months later, Forrest stepped away to launch 1,000 feathers. He called to see if I would be willing to go into this venture with him and of course. Because of our working relationship and really the exciting clients that he was bringing on board right at the launch, it was a hard offer to turn down. I was really excited. 

My twins were only a couple of months old at the time, and I was actually thinking that I was going to stay home with them for a while, but when he called like I said, it was too good of a deal to pass down. I was like, “Yes this sounds so fun and so interesting.” We began in 2016. We have clients all over the country really. From our work with nonprofits in South Carolina to community-wide assessments in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Wako, Texas, so we’re really all over the place. 

Hannah: That’s awesome. And it’s so impressive that y’all have such a far reach just being around since 2016, so that’s really incredible. 

Cayci: Yeah, it’s really taken off, and we’ve been so excited and just rolling with it. We’ve been blessed with the clients that we’ve had so far. 

Hannah: That’s amazing. So outside of your role at 100 Feathers you’re also really involved in your community it seems. You have a lot of experience in the communications realm and also have held a lot of leadership positions. Has that always been something you’ve been passionate about being involved in your community? 

Cayci: I think so. Because of all the people that have really invested so much time and energy into me, I feel like it’s my duty and my responsibility to do the same for others. Most recently, I have been a professor at Newberry College and I really feel like that has been my way to pour back into students who will one day be out in the world as P.R. professionals, or communications professionals. Being able to take my experiences that I’ve learned in the field and combine that with what they can learn in [audio breaking up 00:04:52]. I do feel like that’s a little bit of the way that I’ve given back to the community here. But just being a leader is something that I am very passionate about. Whether that goes back to my days on the basketball court and tennis court way back when I used to play sports, to being a director at a statewide nonprofit and leading a team there and then most recently as a professor in front of a classroom of students. I always encourage students and colleagues to take leadership roles because I really do believe that that’s when we become our best selves. When you know that others are looking to you for advice and they’re looking to you for that leadership, you’re going to step up and you’re going to be your best self. I always encourage students and colleagues to take leadership roles when they’re offered to them. 

Hannah: Absolutely. That’s great advice. It’s really impressive. You’re doing a lot. You’re a director at a statewide nonprofit, you are a professor, you are a mother. How do you balance it all? What does a day in the life of Cayci look like? 

Cayci: Wow. How much time do we have? “Is there a typical day,” is the best question to ask because I really don’t think there is. Yes, I have a large family. My son is nine, his name is Lukas. My daughter is five, Mclain. And then we were surprised with twins there at the end, so Mary Georgia and Anni will be three in May. Each day starts a little crazy, it ends a little crazy, and then there’s a lot of hard work and determination in between. But the process of just getting four tiny humans out of the door every morning I think is a feat in of it of itself. 

As far as work goes, there really isn’t a typical day in the consulting space. In the space of 1000 Feathers, of working with multiple clients on multiple issues and I think that’s what really excites me. Having a creative brain, it really gets my juices flowing when I’m not just solely thinking about one issue anymore. When I was at the South Carolina campaign for teen pregnancy that was one issue for about a decade. An issue I became extremely passionate about, and loved every minute of working there. But it is exciting now to get to work with clients across the spectrum. Everything from working on still some teen and unintended pregnancy prevention projects to rural health in South Carolina, to early childhood education in North Carolina, to telling the story of a five-year-long colorectal cancer project for the American Cancer Society. So literally no two projects have been the same. 

One day I might be co-facilitating a strategic planning retreat in Waco with a public health district there, but the next I might be designing internal employee documents for a corporation. I don’t always know what the day is going to hold and I think that is what excites me the most. 

Hannah: Yeah definitely. It’s always nice to be able to dabble in a lot of different areas with your job. I know that’s how my role is too and I really appreciate that. 

I know that we discussed that conducting digital footprint reviews is something that you do as part of your role. Can you walk us through what that process looks like? 

Cayci: Sure. Digital footprint reviews are a way to take a look at a client’s digital presence. And that includes everything from their website to social media properties that they have to e-newsletters if they have one of those. Any digital properties that are touching their sphere of influence, we want to take a look at and see what’s happening there. I’m really passionate about this part of our work because as a former director of a statewide nonprofit I know what it’s like to work for a nonprofit. I was blessed that by the time I left the campaign, I had a four or five-member communications partner. That is not the norm at most nonprofits. Some nonprofits don’t even have one communications person on staff. To think that they’re going to have the time when they’re wearing so many hats a nonprofit to stop and really take a breath and look at their digital footprint, for most nonprofits that’s just not going to happen. 

It’s become a passion of mine to be able to go in and get a look at what’s happening on the digital footprint and then be able to give some recommendations to the nonprofits based on what we’re seeing. We take a look at Google Insights. We go into the backend of their website, and look at everything from the audience, who is that audience, the traffic, how are they getting to their website, what content are they consuming while they’re there? Any of the great data that is supplied by Google Insights we take a look at there. And then going on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, they all have the insights and the analytics piece built-in. A lot of our clients sometimes don’t even know that there was that insights portion of Facebook, or that they can access the information. We’re able to go in and see who is that audience? Who are they engaging with the most on Facebook? Because on Facebook we know that engagement is really what keeps you in others’ feeds. If you’re not getting that engagement, your posts most likely aren’t even being seen by your followers. 

We try to help them better understand who it is they’re talking to, what messages are being consumed and the messages that are really resonating with that audience so that they can push more of that messaging. Sometimes when we tell them who that audience is, they have this lightbulb moment where they’re like, “That’s not even who we thought we were talking to.” So their messaging might need to shift or they might need to start doing things that will attract the audience that they really are wanting to see, or it might be that they’re on the wrong social media platform altogether. That they thought, “Oh this is the new, shiny platform. We’ve got to be over there,” when really it might not be working for them at all. It’s been a really interesting aspect of our work and a really important piece of our work that we’re bringing to our clients. 

Hannah: When you’re conducting those, what is one area of digital marketing, digital strategy that you find organizations don’t have a good understanding of. I know you mentioned they might not be spot on with who their target audience is. Are there any other aspects that you find they don’t have a good grasp on? 

Cayci: I really just think it’s the strategy. When you say digital strategy, I think a lot of times organizations don’t have that strategy. They just think, “We’ve got to be on social media,” so we’re going to jump on Facebook, or Twitter because that’s where everybody says we should be. But there’s no strategy in place; there’s no goal. What is your goal when you and your organization get onto Twitter? Each platform should have a goal, should have an audience that you’re trying to reach and if you cannot pinpoint what those goals are. If you can’t pinpoint what you’re reaching in that audience that you need to be reaching, you may not need to be there at all. I think that strategy is key. Instead of just doing doing doing, have we really stopped and thought about where we need to be and why we need to be there? I think that the question of ‘why’ is really important for organizations. If they tell me, “We’re on Snapchat,” why? Why are you on Snapchat? Who are you trying to reach? I think it’s the strategy piece. 

Hannah: That’s super interesting. When you basically collect all this data and run essentially an audit on their digital marketing, how does your team then take that data and create a plan of action for the organizations you’re working with? 

Cayci: We always end each digital footprint review with a set of recommendations. So a concrete set of recommendations, whether that’s four, five, or six, for the client. Depending on what I’ve found I’m able to make those solid recommendations on what they could do or should do. For example, in some clients, with Google Analytics, we’ve seen speed issues where organizations don’t even realize this but their website is taking fourteen-sixteen seconds on average to load. Well, you and I know that no one is going to wait more than two-three seconds for a page to load before they click out and get annoyed. Think about how many times you’ve been on your phone and you’re like, “Oh it’s taking forever to load,” when really, it’s been two-three seconds and you click out of it. So, for some clients, it’s as simple as that. You need to work with your webmaster to figure out why these page load times are so high and we really need to condense that because we’re seeing people exit your site and the bounce rate being extremely high, and that’s probably one of their reasons. So sometimes it’s as simple as that. Sometimes it’s messaging issues, or that we didn’t know that was the audience that we were reaching and now what do we need to do to shift some of our messaging to better reach that audience. It really depends on what we’ve found but we always come up with some concrete recommendations that they can do moving forward. 

For an organization that may or may not have anyone working on communications, we found that it’s really important to give those concrete steps of, “Here’s what you need to do. Here are five things that could really help your digital footprint right now.” That’s been very helpful for our clients. 

Hannah: I can imagine that’s super beneficial having those recommendations laid out for them. 1000 Feathers is working with government agencies, nonprofits, other community-focused type organizations. How have you seen those industries shifting since your time working with them? What would be your recommendations for how those types of industries can shift to respond to that in order to be sustainable moving forward? 

Cayci: I think we’ve seen a deliberate shift to outcomes. In other words, more attention is being paid to impact, whereas in the past nonprofits were like checkboxes. “We’ve done this, we’ve done this, we’re doing this.” They were counting things, but that’s not really happening anymore. It’s about what impact those things are making on individuals and communities and its so data-driven now. And funding is more tied to outcomes I think more now than ever before. As a result, organizations must be able to tell their story, and that’s where communications come into play. You have to be able to explain to funders and potential donors and current donors why your work matters, what impact that work is making on the community and the greater the impact that it’s having at all. We’ve got to be able to help clients and people need to understand how to tell their story better and to show that what they’re doing is actually working. 

Also, we see more emphasis on digital communications, obviously in 2019. Shifting away from hardcopy newsletters, you’re using digital platforms, for example. But organizations need to continue to realize that this takes deliberate effort and skill, kind of that strategy piece I was talking about earlier. It’s not enough just to say, “We’ve got a Facebook. We’ve got a Twitter,” and then post on it four times a month. There has to be deliberate and strategic effort behind these platforms or they’re just not making sense for you. 

Also, I always tell clients that social media is meant to be social. If you’re just continuously pushing out your own agenda and it’s all about ‘me me me,’ and you’re not embracing and lifting up those around you and community members and talking about your volunteers and bringing the larger community into some of your messaging, I think you’re missing your boat. It really was built and meant to be social, so if we’re not listening to others and interacting with others and we’re just solely pushing our own agenda, I think we’re missing out on what social media could really be for us. 

There’s also been a shift in focus to collective impact. I don’t necessarily mean the strategy because the collective impact is its own brand of strategy, but more so the concept. There are so many nonprofits in a more crowded than ever funding environment that they need to find creative ways to work together and leverage resources. This is true across sectors, including nonprofits and government agencies, we see now more than ever communities coming together to address an issue. Not silent off doing their own thing, but government agencies and nonprofits and community leaders really tackling issues and more of that collective impact type strategy. 

Hannah: That is really interesting and I think definitely what you said that it’s not just about checking the box anymore. “We have Facebook. Sure we have an Instagram.” It really is important for everyone to take a step back and make sure you’re being intentional with everything you’re doing with your digital marketing. There are so many options out there and so many things that we think that we should be doing. But if it’s not right for our goals and our intentions as an organization then it’s not right for us. I think that’s super valuable advice that you just gave. 

For an organization looking to expand their digital presence, where would you recommend they start? 

Cayci: I always recommend you start with who is your audience. Public relations and communications that’s kind of ingrained in us. Who are you trying to reach? Digital marketing is no different. Who are the key publics that you’re trying to reach? What motivates those publics? It’s not enough to know who they are, you’ve got to know what motivates them. What makes them want to get involved with your nonprofit? What makes them want to volunteer? What makes them want to donate to your organization? And then, where can you find those publics? So again, not just hopping on every social media platform that comes out but deliberately knowing who that audience is and where they are. If you’re trying to reach a 15-year-old, it’s a much different platform then if you’re trying to reach a young mom with young kids. We’re all doing our own thing and going in different directions digitally, so you need to understand who that public is, what motivates them and where you can find them. You cannot be all things to all people. 

One of my least favorite terms is we’re going to reach the general public. No, you’re not going to reach the general public. I just wish everyone would take the general public out of their vernacular because you have to know that specific audience that you’re really trying to reach in order to reach your goals. 

Hannah: I know here at DuBose we’re huge on defining our personas for both ourselves and all of our partners so I definitely that’s super valuable and definitely the best starting point for someone looking to expand their digital presence. 

Next, I like to do this with everyone I interview, just some rapid-fire questions, just so we can get to know you better. What was your first job? 

Cayci: My first job was at the Blossom Shop in Bishopville, which is where I’m from, Bishopville, South Carolina. It was the Blossom Shop so it was my aunt’s florists, and it was my favorite job. I got to do deliveries and help her in the store, answering phones and working with customers. I learned a lot from my aunt during those years working with her in the summer. 

Hannah: That sounds like a lovely first job. 

Cayci: It was. Just the smiles that I get to see every day delivering flowers for people on their birthdays, and Mother day and Valentine’s day. It was a really great job. 

Hannah: What are you currently reading or listening to? 

Cayci: My husband and I went on a cruise a couple of weeks ago and I started ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama and it has been an awesome book that I highly recommend. I’m not finished yet, but I’m about halfway done. So I’m ready that right now and guilty pleasures, I’m binge-watching The Americans. I know I’m late to the game on that one. Also, the documentary that’s on HBO right now following up on the Adnan Syed case. It became really popular by the podcast Serial. It just finished this Sunday, so I won’t spoil it for anyone who might not have seen it. I’m now back obsessed with that case. I listened to Serial when it first came out and now I’m back obsessed with Adnan Syed and his case. So that’s what I’m watching and reading right now. 

Hannah: Where did you go on your cruise? 

Cayci: To the Bahamas. It was my best friend’s 40th birthday so we took an adult cruise down to the Bahamas for a few days. 

Hannah: What is the coolest thing that you’re working on right now? 

Cayci: I’m going to take your word ‘coolest’ and change it to most fulfilling. We really have been working with some amazing nonprofits right now who are changing the game in their respective fields, so I just want to give them a little shout out. We are working with Camp Happy Days in Charleston, which is kids kicking cancer, it’s a camp down in Charleston. I’m really excited and we’re just kicking off with them and I can’t wait to learn more about that organization and work with them. Momentum bike clubs, which is a youth development organization in Greenville, who uses bicycling as a way to mentor young people, they are a phenomenal organization. We’ve been working with them probably about six months now and I am just loving everything that they do. Future minds, which is a statewide educational organization, in South Carolina, they’re doing great stuff and we’ve really just kicked off with them recently. And the free medical clinic in Columbia. So, lots of different issues that we’re getting to put our brains on which is so fulfilling for our firm. 

Hannah: I love that. I’m sure that’s so inspiring to get to work with organizations like that that have such a powerful mission so that’s really awesome. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? 

Cayci: I feel like that’s a loaded question. But this is easy for me because my dad has always said to me to take one day at a time. He’s been telling me that since I was a little girl, so I feel like it’s just been ingrained in me since I was little. It’s advice you really need to take to heart because we can’t erase what happened yesterday and we don’t know what will happen tomorrow but we can live in the moment and we can take today in this little chunk of time that we have. This is what we’re promised, is today. If we can just take it one day at a time, I think we’re all better off. 

Hannah: That’s great advice. My last question is, who inspires you? 

Cayci: This is probably the hardest question that you’ve asked me because there are so many people. I could literally list off a number of names for you. Obviously, my mom has always been a big influence in my life. My dad. My parents have been such inspirations to me. But instead, I’m going to take this a little bit different direction and more so give you a group of people. I think this working mom’s job is not easy. It’s often filled with lots of guilt and the inability to be in multiple places at one time. I was just in Waco, Texas a few weeks ago and I missed my son’s soccer game. So, there are doubts about, “Am I doing the right thing?” But it’s also super rewarding and in the end, I think I’m showing my three daughters that they can be powerful in many different ways. They can be Rockstar moms, but they can also kill it in whatever it is that they decide to do professionally. I hope I’m being a role model for them.

I’m inspired by other working moms that I see out there and really this community of support that I’ve started feeling more and more for working moms in my sphere of influence and how we’re really starting to support one another. Because we do understand the guilt that is felt from being a working mom. And I’m going to get in trouble because I am going to say a few names, but I could list off a lot more than this. But my friend Meghan [00:27:18], who is a principal of a middle school in Lexington while raising boys, while also working towards her Ph.D. I mean wow, that’s inspiring that you can juggle all of these things at one time. My friend Ashley, who started her own PR firm and a single mom of two young girls and is just building her business and wow. Inspirational. Rosalyn Goodwin, who I’ve looked up to for a long time, she was a board member of ours at the South Carolina Campaign to prevent teen pregnancy. She has two small children, she’s the vice president at the South Carolina Association and her daughter is now one of the youngest entrepreneurs who has started her own company of GaBBY Bows and has taken that nationwide. I am inspired by these and many many other working moms and so proud of the support that we’re all giving one another through this. 

Hannah: That is such an amazing answer. And I’m inspired by you, just talking to you today, hearing everything that you have on your plate and how you’re just rocking it all. I love that answer and I’m definitely inspired by working moms as well. Our creative director is a mother of two and I literally sat her down one day and was like, “How do you do it? Because I just don’t know how you do it. How you continue to show up every day and be so awesome.” 

Cayci: It goes back to that, what was the best piece of advice? Take it one day at a time. with four children and a job and everything else you definitely just have to take it one day at a time. 

Hannah: That’s the only way to do it. That is all of the questions that I have for you today other than just where can people go to learn more about 1000 Feathers? 

Cayci: Sure. We are online at 1000feathers.com and we would also love it if you were to follow us on social media. We are @1000_feathers on Twitter and Facebook.com/1000feathers. 

Hannah: Awesome. Thank you so much for being here, Cayci. I think that this was such a great conversation and I hope that our viewers are getting some great value out of this. It was great talking to you. That’s all we have for you today everyone. We will be back on DWGTV soon. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram where we’ll be giving you updates as to what we’re doing, sharing our blogs as you’ll find out when the next episode of DWGTV is. Give us a like there, follow along with us so you can find out what we’re up to. I hope you got some great value out of this conversation today and thank you again Cayci for being here today. 

Cayci: Thank-you so much for having me. I really enjoyed it.

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