Talking Domains and Social Media with Public Interest Registry’s Malleana Ruffin | Episode 31

For today’s episode of the Future.Bible Podcast, DJ Chuang sat down with Malleana Ruffin, the Social Media Manager of Public Interest Registry.

Listen as Malleana shares some background of Public Interest Registry and what it does.

Did you know you can catch-up on past episodes of the the Future.Bible Podcast, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, TuneIn and wherever else you go to download great podcast content.

Personal Contact Details:

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @LeanaShenise  

LinkedIn: www.Linkedin.com/in/malleanaruffin

Website: www.malleanaruffin.com

Company links:

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – @piregistry

LinkedIn- Public Interest Registry

TRANSCRIPTION:

DJ Chuang:    Welcome to the Future.Bible podcast. And today I am going to be with Malleana Ruffin. She is from Public Interest Registry and of course on social media management she has tons of experience at a very young age. We are so overjoyed to have her with us. How are you doing today, Malleana?

Malleana Ruffin:    I’m doing great, DJ. Thank you. How are you?

DJ Chuang:    I’m doing well. I’m so delighted that we can finally connect. I know you’ve had travels and I’ve had a crazy schedule and we got to meet in Las Vegas at the Names Con conference. We had a delightful conversation over lunch and we’re like, “oh, we got to have her on the Future.Bible show because she’s at a vantage point, two vantage points that are really really valuable to those who are nonprofits and ministries and organizations that are interested in technology and the Bible and social media as a space. So let me give a little background on Malleana and we’ll get into our conversation today. Malleana brings her extensive world outlook and passion for doing good and experience to social media in order to connect with people. But she loves building relationships with all the different groups, both within the domain and nonprofit industry and across the .org community. Malleana is known among her colleagues as the office sunshine. Because of her personality and genuine spirit. Her motto is, “Everyone you come in contact with is your customer.” Excellent. And so let me introduce Public Interest Registry just briefly and then you can explain it and elaborate that more as you would like. So Public Interest Registry is the registry operator, so bear with the technical explanation here, but they run the entire internet infrastructure in space for domain names that end in .org. So nonprofits, many nonprofits that are either churches, faith communities, ministries, community service, animal rights, what else? All kinds of goodwill, all kinds of nonprofit fundraising, they’re all part of .org, right?

Malleana Ruffin:    You know what, it’s not just for nonprofits, it’s actually for any organization that has an intent or the intention to do good or improve the world or community at their core. So basically, we run .org, that’s the biggest one because it’s one of the top three TLDs, but we also have .ngo and .ong under our belt as well. And, so you know, .org is definitely built for organizations that are dedicated to improve the world and through Public Interest Registry, we work with registrars to get them (the orgs) up and running online, help them to maintain their online persona, if you will, and also to empower them to continue their mission to do better, and make the world a better place in their own way.

DJ Chuang:    That’s fantastic. And it’s certainly, it’s a huge space on the internet and it’s really connecting a lot of people together to do good as well as to be a part of fundraising, as well as raise awareness and advocacy, and all kinds of aspects of doing good. And that includes communicating through social media. So let’s start with you. How did you get into social media and digital marketing?

Malleana Ruffin:    So, I got into social media and digital marketing… I’m going to go ahead and say through my personality, because I used to actually work on the entire opposite side. I was working at Allstate in the corporate office and I was creating curriculum for the new hires, and teaching courses, so I was in the call center first and then I went into home office. And when at our home office, I was doing a lot of analytical work, a lot of sales, a lot of building, working behind the scenes to create the formulas and build out the prices for policies. I mean I was okay at it. I mean I’m good at it. It was a job, but it never really became like a love or a passion of mine. It was just kind of, you know, going through the motions of getting up and going to work because I have bills to pay. And in that environment I ran across a lot of people who found that, you know, I have what I’ve been told as an infectious personality and I’m very sociable when I have to be, or just by nature, and, we actually became, or I actually became a part of an employee group within Allstate that put me in charge of the communications. And so that’s where I fell into communications and we worked primarily via email and the internal internet or the intranet and I built out a social space on the intranet for that. And I ran that and that was fun. And I was like, man, this could thing for me.

DJ Chuang:    Can I pause? Some of the organizations that are listening to this podcast have a pretty large organization and maybe has an intranet. How in the world do you create a social space on an internal network?

Malleana Ruffin:    So you kind of have to collaborate with the event. If you’re organization or the people in your organization do anything from seminars to people speaking on panels to events where the members can come, you’ll want to have those pictures available, readily available I should say, and real time updates as far as what’s going on at those events on your intranet and on your social site or whoever your audience is. If it’s for just your employees, then it would be on the internal intranet but then if it’s for everyone then you might want to put it on your Instagram or your Facebook or something like that, just so that people can see what they “missed” and feel like they were a part of it even though they weren’t physically there.

DJ Chuang:    Ah, very good. So it’s like building a website with up-to-date information for just for your employees internally. And were you able to also add some social elements like discussion boards or what is it, Yammer I think, on Microsoft we can have kind of a chat room, Twitter kind of thing internally.

Malleana Ruffin:    Well, it was very much blog focused when it was at Allstate because it was an older platform and an older build for the intranet. So every time something would happen I would kind of write, “here’s what’s about to happen” blog and open up the comments and then encourage people to comment if they were coming, what they were planning on doing there, if they had a part in the assembly or in the event at all. And while it was happening, there would be small blog updates, little blurb kind of like Facebook updates or Tweets except on the intranet, and then people will comment, “oh we have an opening at 2 o’clock and you have to be there”, and it would come through and I would answer or somebody else on my team will answer. And then post events, that would kind of be like a look back. Like, this is what happened, this is what we learned, what we plan on doing better next time, here’s some pictures. Just kind of giving people that high level of what happened throughout the event just so they feel like if they couldn’t make it, then they definitely want to make to the next one. And it actually grew membership and engagement of the current members for the employee advocacy group that I was involved with at Allstate. That’s what made me really pay attention to marketing seriously because I actually saw the benefit of it.

DJ Chuang:    That is fantastic. That’s exactly what organizations and managers and kind of the C-level executives want to see you as kind of the results and the impact of the social efforts that sometimes may seem difficult to understand the metrics beyond number of followers or a number of views. So that’s excellent. Cool. And I really love how you explained that you use blogs to communicate events and give people a window into what happened there and that draws people in for the next one. And I think blogs are a much easier entry point in some ways or those that are older organizations because blogs don’t demand the daily updates.

Malleana Ruffin:    Exactly, yes, they’re not daily. It’s not as real time as social media. It’s not as definitive as Twitter. Like you can go on Twitter and you can pretty much see what’s happening at this moment right now anywhere in the world, same with Facebook. But then if you look at places like LinkedIn, you know, it’s a little bit more ‘suit and tie’ where you’ll see things that are happening in your industry or you know, within your work, but it won’t be so much as “this is happening at this moment in this time”. And you’ll see those immediate updates, but it’s not as frequent as Twitter or Facebook or Instagram for that matter.

DJ Chuang:    Yes. So let’s continue with the story. So how’d you go from there and into digital marketing and more of the real time social media things that we have, that has become part of a society with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram?

Malleana Ruffin:    Okay, so from there I actually worked at an online media company called Urban Broadcast Media. It’s based in Chicago. I did an internship there as a social media manager, but also as a personality on a few talk shows, podcasts, which they’re now called- but they were called talk shows back then. And, so I learned a lot of both the front and the back end, of how to connect our audience on digital with what we’re doing online. So it kind of broadened my scope of skill and like what I wanted to do for companies should I move in that direction because at this time I was still unsure if I wanted to do digital marketing or if I wanted to do broadcasting at this point in my life. But I fell into digital marketing just because like I understood the science behind how it works, and how to read the audience. I take much of what I’m reading from the audience online and put it into ideas for our next event or ideas for our next content or ideas for our next show, because it’s all in line with the people that are listening to what we’re saying in the industry, even in nonprofit, people that are listening to what our thought leaders and our leadership team is saying, nine times out of ten, they are following up on one of the four social sites that we’re on,

Malleana Ruffin:    so all of the ideologies should be consistent across the board, and they should kind of feed and play off of each other. And when we’re listening to what they want and what they’re interested in, that should then kind of feed us ideas on things that we can do better, things that we can, you know, improve on, things that maybe we should pull back on, ideas or feelings as far as like any changes that we’re planning on doing organizationally, if that’s going to possibly cause a problem, then we could be prepared for problems. I’m the one that kind of picked up on all of that really quickly. And it was easy for me to pick up on. It wasn’t difficult. So I put a little bit more effort into digital marketing. I did a lot on my own as an independent contractor. I’ve worked with Shepherd Medical Products. I’ve worked with Iconic Life Global out in LA. I’ve worked with a company that was medical products again, worked with the CDC, worked with lawyers in their agency, worked with a marketing firm for lawyers. So I have a huge net of learning because I took all of these roles and I dipped my toe in all of these industries on how to communicate with different groups of people and how to read different groups people and how to take what I learned from them and you know, help whatever business I’m supporting at the time to be more successful online as well as in real life. Eventually, I landed at Mcdonald’s on their contract through JeffreyM Consulting. I was there for a year and a half and that was probably the best year and a half in my career because it taught me so much. I started out as just a community manager, which means basically when people would tweet or message to McDonald’s global online or on social media, I should say, I was the one person that was responding to them.

Malleana Ruffin:    And I was at the same time listening, using social listening tools to read the temperature of the conversation and relay it back to my manager. I did that for like three months. And then, I actually got, I don’t want to say promoted, but it was pretty much like they built a role for me as a supervisor. So I had a team of six to 12 that worked under me that did the job that I just spoke that I did. But, in my position, not only would I oversee them, but I would also create their responses. I would create the organic messages that McDonald’s global would put out and how it would work with the McCafe brand and all of the little brands in the region like McDonald’s US, McDonald’s Asia, and everything like that. Like if they had any campaign or anything going on, and then with the global campaigns, I would work the campaign manager to make sure that the visuals were in line with what we were doing globally across the board, which was kind of difficult because, America, you know, we say things differently or certain words mean different things in different cultures and stuff like that.

Malleana Ruffin:    We have to make sure that we were consistent with the brand voice, but also make sure they would get the message of the campaign across. And then I would bop around to different departments to find stories to tell. So like there was a sustainability story and nobody really knows what Mcdonald’s does to try to do their part to keep the earth healthy. Most of the stories about McDonald’s food is bad here in America. So what can we do to kind of change people’s ideology of the brand? What is Mcdonald’s actually doing? So that became a campaign. So it taught me a lot that I’m grateful for and then I bring with me to PIR.

DJ Chuang:    Well, that is amazing. So I want our listeners not to miss this. We’re, talking with the voice behind Mcdonald’s. And that is an incredible experience. Thank you for sharing a bit of the behind the scenes and just how big of a thing that you’re managing and congratulations on getting a role where you got to supervise a team with people. That’s really speaks well to your skill and your instincts. And I think if I were to summarize some of the things that you have said in your growing experience is consistency of voice across the channels, and listening well to how the audience responds. And I’m guessing also looking at analytics to see what people do respond better to in terms of likes or retweets and add comments and then you’ve got that built in instincts which might not be as reproducible but might come with more practice. And maybe there’s some other things that we’ll discover as we talk about your role now at PIR. So how long have you been with the PIR and how are you trying to develop a strategy or a way to engage the audience that would be interested in .org?

Malleana Ruffin:    I’ve been with PIR since May of 2018, I transferred, or relocated, in that month from Chicago. I actually took on the role because volunteering and working with a company that has integrity and shows that they have integrity for their employees is extremely important to me. So, it was an easy decision to join the group, especially after all of the discussions that I had with the executive team and leadership and everything like that.

DJ Chuang:    So now that you’re there and it really fits your personal values and your heart for doing it and philanthropy, I saw that in your social bio, how is it that you’re using social media to engage your audience of .org people?

Malleana Ruffin:    So our audience, it’s a really interesting audience for .org, because you know, we are not only talking to the people that use that .org, we’re also talking to people that visit these .org websites. Also, now we’re talking to the registrars, the GoDaddy and Name.com. We have a plethora of audiences and now that I’m onboard I plan to not only focus on the registrar but also focus on the registrant, so the end users and people that buy on behalf of these organizations that are on .org. And the way that I’m trying to do that is by tapping into their conversations, communicating with them. I’ve already started by randomly liking something that is posted and doing research that fits into a social day or a social month, social week that’s happening. For instance, this last February was Black History Month, so I found six organizations that focus on advocacy and improving the black community and highlighted them for a week. And then this month is National Women’s Month / Women’s History Month so I found .org’s  that focus on advocating women and I highlighted them.

Malleana Ruffin:    So, and then also in February it was Valentine’s Day, so I did a whole bunch of stuff around love and there’s a lot of .orgs that promote love in different ways throughout the community, I highlighted them. It’s just that type of connection that I’m trying to build through social media. In addition, we’re researching events that the registrars and the end users attend throughout the year and we’re really trying to build into not only the social strategy, but just a strategy period, visiting or having some type of presence at these events so that we can raise awareness that .org is not just for nonprofit organizations. If you have an organization and you have for profit or you are a for profit organization, but you have in your core values intention to help the community, help the world and better the community, then .org might also be the place for you. You can be a part of the .org community too.

DJ Chuang:    That’s a good thought. Yes. Because I think if I’m not mistaken, Google has a .org. Right? For their community service and some of the social good works.

Malleana Ruffin:    There’s a lot of community, you know, organizations that have .org. People don’t, they don’t connect the dots like, “oh, this isn’t a nonprofit, but you know, because it’s doing good it will fit with .org”.

DJ Chuang:    That’s so neat. And so you’ve got very different audiences and one of the first things you did is join the conversation that they’re already having, which is great. Add value to that. And then as you listen, you can, as you listen and as you reach out, you can find stories that may tie it together along a theme or things that were happening during that year. Even compelling stories to illustrate the good someone is doing through the digital engagement, but also on the ground engagement. And I love that your team, I got to meet your team there at the conference in Las Vegas that you’re putting a human face to technology and sometimes technology can be kind of inhuman because it’s behind a screen. So, appreciate you’re doing it.

Malleana Ruffin:    We’re definitely trying to get our people out more from behind the desk and out of the office. That’s an effort that we’re working towards now, especially with new leadership. So I’m excited about that. And then, additionally we’re also working for, well I should say working for creating and building a Youtube channel for .org that will include highlighted organizations that are doing amazing things with their website or using their website to, you know, push and let their mission flourish within a community, we’re working on that this year too.

DJ Chuang:    Well, that’s a great opportunity and very exciting indeed. So I’ll close with one last question as we’re wrapping up this episode. So, from your experience in the corporate world and now in the nonprofit world, what kind of differences or similarities have you seen?

Malleana Ruffin:    Differences, I would say there’s a lot more complaining in corporate world on social media. People use social media as like customer service. You know, if something happens, they run to social media to tweet to the company. It’s an obligation to respond to them and hopefully take it offline so that it can be fixed or they can get or put out some type of, you know, message explaining what happens having something like that. And then with nonprofit it’s more heartstrings. Like I find that a lot of people gravitate more toward, you know, highlighting this is what the organization is doing and is promoting good in the world and you know, here’s how you can actually utilize social media in your marketing strategy so that you can boost the awareness of your mission or your mission or intent for your organization. They really find that information to be helpful for them. So it’s not, you know, just sharing articles and just writing blogs, just because you want to fill space, it’s actually content that all of the audiences, registrars, as well as the end user find helpful to them and their organization. That’s the difference that I’ve seen- the biggest one I should say.

DJ Chuang:    Well, that is beautiful. So glad you are there and getting to do what you’re doing. And it was a really neat connection to meet you in person there and to chat with you on this podcast episode. So if people want to connect with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Malleana Ruffin:    Well, for Public Interest Registry, you can find us at @PIRegistry on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. And then Public Interest Registry on LinkedIn.  And then my personal social media is pretty simple – I’m @LeanaShenise across the board, so it’s Instagram and Twitter, and Malleana Ruffin on LinkedIn.

DJ Chuang:    Very good. And of course I will add those links in the show notes so you can one click onto all of those at Future.Bible. And one last trivial question, so between Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which one’s your favorite?

Malleana Ruffin:    Instagram!

DJ Chuang:    Alright, Instagram. So you definitely want to follow @LeanaShanise on Instagram. We’ve been talking with Malleana Ruffin here on the Future.Bible podcast. Thank you so much for being with us. And we want to connect with you listeners and what this is audio only episodes. So please drop us a line at Future.Bible or on any of our social channels as well. We would love to have your ideas and your comments on what’s happening in your ministry and your organization so that we can together develop the future of internet and technology. So I’m signing off, DJ Chuang and remember to be a blessing and to do good.

HIGHLIGHTS:

02:47 You know what, it’s not just for nonprofits, it’s is actually for any organization that has an intent or in the intention to do good or improve the world or community at their core. So basically, we run .org, that’s the biggest one we because it’s one of the top three TLDs, but we also have .ngo and .omg under our belt as well. And, so you know, .org is definitely built for organizations that are dedicated to improve the world and through Public Interest Registry, we work with registrars to get them up and running online, help them to maintain their online persona, if you will, and also to empower them to continue their mission to do better, and make the world a better place in their own way.

04:08 So, I got into social media and digital marketing… I’m going to go ahead and pay through my personality, because I used to actually work on the entire opposite side. I was working at Allstate in the corporate office and I was creating curriculum for the new hires, and teaching courses, then I went into home office. And when at our home office, I was doing a lot of analytical work, a lot of sales, a lot of building, working behind the scenes to create the formulas and build out the prices for policies. I mean I was okay at it. I mean I’m good at it. It was a job, but it never really became like a love or a passion of mine. It was just kind of, you know, going through the motions of getting up and going to work because I have bills to pay. And in that environment I ran across a lot of people who found that, you know, I have what I’ve been told as an interesting personality and I’m very sociable when I have to be, or just by nature, and, we actually became, or I actually became a part of an employee group within Allstate that put me in charge of the communications. And so that’s where I fell into communications and we worked primarily via email and the internal internet or the intranet and I built out a social space on the intranet for that. And that was fun. And I was like, man, this could thing for me.

07:22 Well, it was very much blog focused when it was at Allstate because it was an older platform and an older build for the intranet. So every time something would happen I would kind of write, “here’s what’s about to happen blog” and open up the comments and then encourage people to comment if they were coming, what they were planning on doing there, if they had a part in the assembly or in the event at all. And while it was happening, there would be small blog updates, little blurb kind of like Facebook updates or Tweets except on the intranet, and then people will comment, “oh we have an opening at 2 o’clock and you have to be there”, and you would come through and I would answer or somebody else on my team will answer. And then post events that would kind of be like a look back. Like, this is what happened, this is what we learned, what we plan on doing better next time, here’s some pictures. Just kind of giving people that high level of what happens throughout the event just so they feel like if they couldn’t make it, then they definitely want to make to the next one.

09:37 Exactly, yes, they’re not daily. It’s not as real time as social media. It’s not as definitive as Twitter. Like you can go on Twitter and you can pretty much be what’s happening at this moment right now anywhere in the world, same with Facebook. But then if you look at places like LinkedIn, you know, where you’ll see things that are happening in your industry or you know, within your work, but it won’t be so much as “this is happening at this moment in this time”. And you’ll see those immediate updates, but it’s not as frequent as Twitter or Facebook or Instagram for that matter.

12:13 So all of the ideologies should be consistent across the board, and they should kind of feed and play off of each other. And when we’re listening to what they want and what they’re interested in, that should then kind of feed us ideas on things that we can do better, things that we can, you know, improve on, things that maybe we should pull back on, ideas or feelings as far as like any changes that we’re planning on doing organizationally, if that’s going to possibly cause a problem, then we could be prepared for problems. I’m the one that kind of picked up on all of that really quickly. And it was easy to pick up on. It wasn’t difficult. So I put a little bit more effort into digital marketing. I did a lot on my own as an independent contractor. I’ve worked with Shepherd Medical Products. I’ve worked with Iconic Life Global out in LA. I’ve worked with a company that was medical products again, worked with the CDC, worked with lawyers in their agency, worked with a marketing firm for lawyers. So I have a huge net of learning because I took all of these roles and I dipped my toe in all of these industries on how to communicate with different groups of people and how to read different groups people and how to take what I learned from them and you know, help whatever things I’m supporting at the time to be more successful online as well as in real life. Eventually, I landed at Mcdonald’s on their contracts through JeffreyM Consulting. I was there for a year and a half and that was probably the best year and a half in my career because it taught me so much. I started out as just a community manager, which means basically when people would tweet or message to global online or on social media, I should say, I was surprised no one was responding to them.

15:50 We have to make sure that we were consistent with the brand voice, but also make sure they would get the message of the campaign across. And then I would bop around to different departments to find stories to tell. So like there was a sustainability story and nobody really knows what Mcdonald’s does to try to do their part to keep the earth healthy. Most of the stories about McDonald’s to this is bad here in America. So what can we do to kind of change people’s ideology of the brand? What is Mcdonald’s actually doing? So that became a campaign. So it taught me a lot that I’m grateful for and then I bring with me to PIR.

19:17  So our audience, it’s a really interesting audience for .org, because you know, we are not only talking to the people that use that word, we’re also talking to people that visit these .org websites. Also now we’re talking to the registrars, the Godaddy and domain.com. We have a plethora of audiences and now that I’m onboard to not only focus on the registrar but also focus on the registrant, so the end users and people that buy on behalf of these organizations that are on .org. And the way that I’m trying to do that is by tapping into their conversations, communicating with them. I’ve already started by randomly liking something that is posted and doing research that fits into a social day or a social month, social week that’s happening. For instance, this last February was Black History Month, so I found six organizations that focus on advocacy and improving the black community and highlighted them for a week. And then this month is National Women’s Month so I found .org’s  that focus on advocating women and I highlighted them.

24:18 Differences, I would say there’s a lot more complaining in corporate world on social media. People use social media as like customer service. You know, if something happens, they run to social media to tweet and complain about something. It’s an obligation to respond to them and hopefully take it offline so that it can be fixed or we can get or put out some type of, you know, message explaining what happens having something like that. And then with nonprofit it’s more heartstrings. Like I find that a lot of people gravitate more toward, you know, highlighting this is what the organization is doing and is promoting good in the world and you know, here’s how you can actually utilize social media in your marketing strategy so that you can boost the awareness of your mission or your intent for your organization. They really find that information to be helpful for them. So it’s not, you know, just sharing articles and just writing blogs, just because you want to feel safe, it’s actually content that all of the audiences, registrars, as well as the end user find helpful to them and their organization. That’s the difference that I’ve seen.


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