Posts Tagged Facebook

The schizophrenic marketer

Crazy HomerSchizophrenia – noun – a severe mental disorder characterized by some, but not necessarily all, of the following features: emotional blunting, intellectual deterioration, social isolation, disorganized speech and behavior, delusions, and hallucinations (dictionary.com) 

Sound like anyone you know? How about us marketers? Well maybe not you, specifically, but I’d argue that many of our peers seem to be showing signs of schizophrenia. See if any of these sound familiar…

Exhibit 1: Company X wants to promote a new mission or vision or product. So they hit up Twitter with some spiffy new hashtag. At first glance Company X is ready to proclaim the short endeavor a success but then realize the only ones using the hashtag are employees. Moreover, it is the same few constantly talking among themselves, or more to the point, to themselves.

Exhibit 2: So Company X decides to give LinkedIn a try. They’re a B2B firm and they know from market research that their target segment is actively involved on LinkedIn. So what do they do? Duh, start a group. Start yet ANOTHER LinkedIn group. But this one will (of course) stand out because it has THEIR brand on it. Who *wouldn’t* want to be part of a conversation sponsored by their brand. Knock knock, it’s reality. Please come on back.

Exhibit 3: My favorite still is the Facebook promotion. Company X starts promoting a Facebook page. “Like” them and earn a chance at a winning some prize, or get a 5% discount on your next order. I’m probably in the minority, but my loyalty or endorsement has to be worth more than that. And even if it’s not worth more, human nature is to assume that it is. Now as for the “like” sluts out there (you know who you are), does Company X really even want those endorsements? The “like” button has become a hyper-inflationary currency. Marketers can’t print it fast enough, and the more they print the less valuable it becomes.

So my dear marketers – I beseech you to do the following…

1) Stop talking to yourselves out loud. Frankly, it’s weird and uncomfortable.

2) Stop assuming that the conversations you start are necessarily going to be the most relevant.

3) Don’t act so desperate. It’s not becoming and certainly isn’t going to drive customer loyalty.

Instead – be sincere. Go to where the conversations are already taking place. And for goodness sake, you don’t have to do all the talking. Listening from time to time may also be helpful.

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Making a mockery of movement marketing

Today, on Facebook, I saw at least 5 pink ribbon videos, articles, symbols, etc. And then I saw one for rescued animals, and then one for substance abuse recovery. Don’t get me wrong, these are all GREAT causes. But I submit to you that social media has let out the air out of movement marketing.

What was once an actionable and noble thing has now become an overplayed and misrepresented form of brand association. And it’s not just big companies that are doing it (though they are probably the worst perpetrators). It’s us as consumers, as friends and as neighbors.

Let’s have less talk and more walk.

Less on awareness and more on action.

Less 30 second Facebook posting and more 30 minutes volunteering.

Social media has made it too easy for us to feel good about ourselves that we’ve forgotten the point behind movement marketing – and that’s to move people.

Will 50,000 virtual thumbs up change someone’s life? Maybe. Would just 50 people giving up an hour to help their community? Abso-freakin-lutely.

Put another way, how much movement are you really doing by posting that FB badge on your profile saying you believe animal abuse is wrong? I mean – I should hope we all feel that way. We need to do more than just give ourselves a pat on the back.

1) Bring people together to become change agents. And a FB page does not mean you’ve brought people together. I work for a giant, complicated organization and one of the things that often frustrates people is how difficult it can be to move the needle. That said, it’s also amazing to see what can be accomplished when the masses are aligned. I’d argue there isn’t a problem we couldn’t solve by working in concert. So don’t just hand out ribbons – bring people together.

2) Don’t make it about YOU. The blatant co-branding with the pink ribbons has become out of control. The pink ribbon isn’t about your fried chicken. It isn’t about your brand. (See my earlier blog about why your brand should come second) The movement is about the people and the cause, not your brand.

3) Give it away. Nothing irks me more than seeing “$.50 cents of every purchase will be donated to blah blah blah”. To me that’s nothing more than the same discount or coupon you’d give to the customer if there wasn’t a charity. That doesn’t move me and I doubt it moves you. Instead of marking it down – GIVE IT AWAY. You don’t have to do it for a month, or even a week. Denny’s gave away breakfast for a day costing them about $14 million in sales but bringing in about $50 million worth of free advertising (source).

Hopefully I’ve successfully turned my rant into something a bit more productive. My fear in all this co-branding is that we’re doing more harm than good, not only for big brands but for the movements themselves. People feel like their part of the movement when in reality they’re just as disengaged as they were before – except with a page on their FB profile. HOW TERRIBLY UNINSPIRING!

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The perils of social media

e-Books? Dude!

Musician dogs are just that much cooler

Over the weekend my friend Kris and his family (yes, that Kris) came over for some dinner, some good conversation, and some better than average peanut butter cookies. Somewhere along the way, Kris and I got into a discussion about the new Amazon Kindle. In search of an e-reader that’s not an iPad, Kris was interested by the recent announcement of the Kindle 3 WiFi and its seemingly bargain-basement price.

And so we spent the next few minutes discussing the new Kindle. Apart from the massive selection of books and magazines in the Kindle Store, the Kindle also has the ability to pull web pages from Instapaper and display them as text-only on the Kindle, a feature that’s great for those that subscribe to multiple blogs and news sources and want to read them in a convenient newspaper like format (see here for more on how to use Instapaper)

Later that evening Kris went home and asked for Kindle opinions via Facebook. Predictably, the very first comment was “Dude! Get an iPad!!” (said in your best Bill S. Preston, Esquire voice). Round and round they went, the commenter and Kris, never quite seeing eye to eye; Kris said repeatedly that he was looking for a dedicated e-reader that hit a lower price point and functionality combination than the iPad; the commenter kept repeating the phrase “game changer,” somewhat unwilling to accept the premise that anyone could want something other than what he wants.

Being sheeple

And thus underlines one problem with social media: often the most basic elements of segmentation are overlooked by the online vocal minority. They complain about the iPhone’s lack of “advanced functionality,” even though the iPhone seems to be targeted at the fat part of the adoption curve (translation: the larger, less technically adept segments). They make sweeping statements like “Everyone wants a Verizon iPhone!!” and ask questions like “Who would want a Wii when you could have a Playstation 3?!?” They generally forget that there are groups of people out there completely unlike themselves, people who want phones that make calls, email that’s intuitive, and an e-reader that has access to hundreds of thousands of books, magazines, and newspapers. And while they understand the iPad and its coolness, they don’t really care enough to actually buy one.

But …

My point here is that its easy to get lost in the echo chamber that is the blogosphere, to get swept up in the pomp and circumstance that leads many to believe that everyone must be just like them. But the world is a bit more interesting than that. Just like there’s no one perfect spaghetti sauce, there’s no one perfect e-reader solution, and its important for us to remember that.

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Peer Endorsements Revisited: A look at Toyota’s fan base

In my last blog post I discussed a study that brought into question the validity and credibility of individual consumers as reference points. I’m revisiting this topic because of a recent post I read in AdAge about how Toyota is “winning fans” through Social Media, correlating this to Toyota winning over public sentiment about the quality/safety of their cars.

According to AdAge “the automaker has actually grown its Facebook fan base more than 10% since late January, around the time of the marketer’s Jan. 21 recall announcement and its Jan. 26 stop-sale date…the automaker has been somewhat surprised by the large number of customers who have leapt to Toyota’s defense in ‘an authentic way.'”

OK…Let’s for a moment acknowledge Toyota has discovered social media and suddenly finds themselves with “fans”. Now consider that Toyota resale values plummeted 5% within the first week of the recall announcement. Consider that most of the sentiment in the media and cyberspace at-large has been largely negative.  Finally, consider that Toyota’s “large” increase in fan base has meant a growth from 72,000 to 80,000, and contrast that with a total recall count in the millions.

I’m not saying any of this to undermine what Toyota has accomplished, for in fact, I think they are a great organization that will overcome this. But I’m bothered that certain experts would have us believe that Toyota is already on the road to recovery because it has a few fans. As I discussed in my last blog…most fans or other peer endorsements lack objectivity and credibility. Let’s assume I drove a Toyota, one that was recalled. I get it fixed, but my intention is to sell it in the next 6 to 12 months. Wouldn’t it be in my favor to endorse Toyota by becoming a fan or offering up some other form of peer endorsement (especially if that meant convincing the discerning eyes of AdAge that Toyota has everything under control as evidenced by an extra 8,000 fans).

And lets not forget that becoming “a fan” isn’t exactly an arduous task…we all have friends who randomly become fans of anyone and anything for whatever reason, the least of which happens to be actually believing in the product itself.

What we really don’t know (though I would like to know), is for every “fan” Toyota gained, how many completely wrote off buying Toyota for at least the next few years? Something tells me Honda and their 300,000 Facebook fans would gladly take more into the fold.

*AdAge’s piece, The Cult of Toyota, can be found here.

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