They Made Social Media Fun: Lava Row

Lava Row helped make social media “cool” in my book.

It started as an idea. A simple idea.

How do you teach companies and entities how to use this new thing called “social media”?

Since 2007, Lava Row went out and taught companies and corporations not only how to use social media, but to learn about how powerful it can be…for good…and for bad.

Hillary Brown (Blue Compass)

Lava Row was no ordinary company. Never stale, rigid, they made social media sound and looked cool. I can attribute that to people who were behind Lava Row: Nathan Wright, Hillary Brown, and Norah Carroll.

This past Wednesday, Nathan announced that Lava Row will end its operations, as he has accepted the position of Digital Marketing and Innovation for Hy-Vee, Iowa’s largest grocery chain. Lava Row did what it was intended to do, but it did more than that: it put a face on social media.

They made it easy to embrace social media and get past the fear of it. From education to branding, Nathan, Norah, and Hillary made it fun and interactive. Even their pets got in on the act: Arlo the Corgi, Weezer the Beagle, and Woz the Hedgehog. There was always something interesting going on at Lava Row, and everyone wondered what was next.

Norah Carroll (Drake University)

It was either Nathan describing two guys at a suburban bar “popping collars” before a scrum, Weezer rooting for Iowa State and Hillary’s love for gymnastics, or Norah being wowed by a certain guy who got a crowd to stop talking at an magazine unveiling party (to paraphrase, she tweeted “that was so badass.”)

If not for Lava Row, individuals and companies would continue to wander in the wilderness, trying to make sense of how to market themselves, connect with a new niche of customers, and learn what not to post on Twitter.

Secondly, if not for Lava Row, all three (Nathan, Hillary, and Norah) wouldn’t be sought after social media experts in the Silicon Prairie, especially in Des Moines: with Nathan heading to Hy-Vee, Norah recently heading to Veridian, and Hillary going to Integer and now working for Blue Compass.

Nathan T. Wright (

Social media is not a form of science or convoluted procedure. It is an avenue, a form of communication to interact with people, gauge their interest, converse about like-minded interest, and to engage them in what they like, detest, and observe.

As companies move forward, it is imperative for them to open access to all lines of communication to their customers, vendors, and to their own employees, to foster ideas, address issues, and promote goodwill. Our society evolves with every new idea, an idea that is destined to make it better for us to communicate.

We’ve gone a long way from the Pony Express and telegraphs to blogs and iPhone Facetime to connect to our world.

Hopefully as the final chapter is written about Lava Row, it would be said that Lava Row was one of the leaders who helped with the creation and cultivation of the Silicon Prairie, assisted in the building of a community of collaboration, and importantly, the way we use social media in our daily lives.

As the signature logo, the Lava Row iguana, prepares to hang it up, let’s remember, for the good times, how much fun it was and the lessons we have learned and put it to use when it comes to social media.

Thanks Lava Row for making it cool.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Thanks so much Romelle! This means a lot to me. See you at the next Des Moines Scenester gathering.

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