Lots of people say they are digital or social media experts. Few can claim to have been there in the beginning of it all, running one of the first solely social media campaigns. But Tara didn't rest on her laurels. She continued to stay ahead of the curve and push her own growth as well as work for the betterment of the web.
Here are 5 Reasons to Hire Tara:
1. She Built a Startup from Scratch (+ raised $.5 million for it)
Why highlight a 'failure' at the top of the list? Because most people don't even try.
Buyosphere was a lovely site ahead of it's time. It was created to scratch an itch that Tara had: fashion search was not adequate. Her and her two co-founders came together to create a site to fix this. The first iteration was poorly named (shwowp!) and they tried to solve the search issue with data, but found out quickly that fashion is too nuanced to be left to the machines. Buyosphere became peer-to-peer shopping recommendations. Like Quora, but for fashion.
The reason it's at the top of the list is because most people don't realize the amount of work and the learning curve that goes into building an entire social platform from scratch. They also don't know what goes into pitching for investor money, or how to run an entire company with employees and shareholders. For three years, Tara and her co-founders built Buyosphere from scratch, got lots of press, ran an online community, raised money, managed a business, and learnt more than any MBA could teach.
2. She Ran the First Super Successful Fully Social Campaign (in 2005)
See that lovely crew above? That was Tara and the guys at OJOS/RIYA/LIKE.COM and she was the ONLY marketing person on the entire team. Everyone else? Developers or sys admins. They worked in an office that was around 800 ft2, including the kitchen, which doubled as a server room. When Tara started, the code was barely baked and the company name was Ojos (meaning eyes in Spanish). She was told there was no budget for paid, conferences, travel, or anything else.
This was before the term Social Media was even coined. There was no Twitter, no Facebook, YouTube was very very young, no Snapchat, no Instagram, no tools like there are today. There were blogs and wikis and MySpace and Flickr, and Tara didn't much like MySpace. But she spread the word about Riya (the name changed a few months in) via blogs, wikis, meetups, Flickr, and any other form of social networking, online and off. And in 6 months between August 2005 - Feburary 2006, she grew it to the point that, upon launch, Riya had 20,000 registered users and over 1 million photos uploaded within 24 hours. Within 3 more months, there were 80,000 registered users and 10 million photos uploaded, even though the site didn't work particularly well. All of this, in an environment where super early adopters were the only ones reading blogs.
Because of the lack of business model, Riya pivoted into Like.com and was acquired by Google. It is now part of product search for Google.
3. She Created the Social Strategy for Justin Trudeau
The above photo was taken about halfway through the campaign. Tara hadn't met Justin until that day. She was recruited by Tom Pitfield, Justin's good friend and CTO. They needed a better strategy to really make an impact, and Tara was recommended as the person who could deliver. She took the job because she thought it would be cool to work with someone in line to be a future Prime Minister. She hadn't ever voted Liberal previously.
The day of the photo, Justin broke from the crowd and said, "Tara! I get to finally meet you!" The look on her face was elation that he realized she was working behind the scenes. He told her, "Of course I know! You've taken my social presence to new levels. I would be a fool to miss that."
Tara worked on Justin's campaign until he won the Liberal leadership race with 85% of the popular vote. A lack of desire to move to Ottawa and the opportunity to move to Toronto prevented her from moving forward on the campaign that would win the federal election and make Justin Trudeau Canada's 23rd Prime Minister. However, on the night of Justin's majority government victory, Tara received this message:
"Thanks Tara. You were a huge part of getting us into the game. Thank you. Thank you."
4. She Wrote One of the First Books on How the Social Web is Changing Business (2009)
Though the term social media had been coined in the 1990's and the Social Media club was started in 2006, there were very few mainstream publications that explained what was going on, how it would affect business (or already was), and how to rethink your approach.
In 2007, Tara was approached by a literary agent who told her that her revolutionary thinking coupled with her sizeable audience were the perfect combination for selling a book to a major publisher. She sat down over the next six months and came up with the thesis: The major shift that businesses would have to understand about the social web is that it is SOCIAL capital, not FINANCIAL capital that drives participation.
In the summary, she used a metaphor from a book she had recently read called "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" by Corey Doctorow. The sci-fi book was all about a future where there was no money, but there was a currency called Whuffie, which resembled social capital quite a bit. Crown Publishing bought the book almost instantly and Tara spent early 2008 writing it.
It came out in 2009 in English in North America, with French, Dutch, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Korean, Italian, and Indonesian versions to follow. Tara traveled all over the world to speak about and promote the book and even did a cross-country karaoke roadtrip to promote it in North America. The hardcover edition sold out in most markets.
5. She Was One of the Founders of a Worldwide Movement: Coworking
Wework, the hottest concept in shared office space, was born from the Coworking movement. In 2005, Tara, along with Chris Messina, met with Brad Neuberg who was running a collaborative work club out of a community space a few days a week. He called it Coworking and Chris and Tara loved the name and idea. They wanted to grow it to be a full-time, fully accessible space. The worked with Brad and a group of others to open The Hat Factory in May of 2006, then Tara and Chris broke from the group to open Citizen Space, the first "work only" Coworking space.
Their open process and online documentation led to a growing membership of the Coworking assets. Within months, there were spaces opening up around the world. Within years, it took on a life of its own. Tara spent a bunch of time in the early days traveling from space to space, offering consultation and mentorship for free to new Coworking space owners.
Tara was a strong figure in the early days of Coworking and, though she's not actively involved any longer, is still part of the Coworking community.