Social Media: Dunked

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cross-posted from YouShouldOnlyKnow.com
Social Media is one of these super weird disciplines where – if you’re at the right company? It’s awesome. It’s creative, nimble, respected and is intelligently integrated into an overall marketing strategy with concrete, deliverable goals. When it’s not done well? Well, it’s the worst.

This? This is done very, very well.

OreoKitKatTwitter

What I Love About It:

1. It’s orchestrated without being TOO scripted. The timestamps show a delay in responses, so it’s possible whomever did this had to get approval for it. This may have gone through some upper-level admin (legal, brand managers, etc.?) but it didn’t try to get the full, complete tagline in there, or include a coupon offer.

2. It’s to a real person, who presumably was caught unaware. No celebrity promo here. Just someone mentioning their favorite treats.

3. Whomever found the tweet and decided to respond obviously had the ear of not only whomever had to approve it, but also creative resources. Whether they were edited, or given free reign – this was done by a trusted marketing professional, on both sides. This is likely not an intern who is give some vague objective to “get more followers.”

4. It’s win-win-win. Sure, it looks like Oreo took this round, but Kit-Kat gets major points for the first volley, and for playfulness. And LauraEllen is a minor internet celebrity for all the right reasons. And — I bet you she gets some free chocolate! (a girl can dream…)

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Don’t do anything an exec wouldn’t do.

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People get excited about social media. Finally, executives have stopped thinking that digital engagement is just a crazy fad, or hiring their teenage nephews to launch platforms and strategies. The pendulum has started to swing in the opposite direction!

There appears to be a perception of “If we build it, they will come.”  And for many brands – that may be true. Because of an overall, effective, integrated marketing strategy – there are some companies that are almost guaranteed some digital engagement on their Facebook pages, and blogs. Tweets will be re-tweeted, and and there will be comments on updates.  But for others? Simply starting a blog or releasing a podcast or video just isn’t enough.

And executives remain baffled. They’ve bought in, they’ve heard the success stories – so why isn’t anyone creating new “viral” videos to promote their medical supplies? Why isn’t anyone blogging about their new pencil, or entering the essay or photo contest about sock research.  Why isn’t community spontaneously forming around our product?

And alas, the poor, beleaguered digital strategist tries to engage.  “Well, you see – we need content.  Real, authentic content. Can I film you using the new product? Or can you respond to some of the tweets in a livechat?  Have you signed up for the community and blogged about your experiences with the product?”

And so often, the answer is “no.”  No, the executives don’t have time to tweet, or blog or create a profile. They are busy people, it’s not “worth their time,” or they can’t figure out how to participate.  

So, the idea dies on the vine. And the community fails, and everyone scratches their head. Where are all of the promoters and fans creating content and engaging?

Why is that senior management expects that their fans have the time to tweet and engage and create content around their product, when they don’t have the time to do so themselves?  Why aren’t more executives leading the charge around social engagement?

Now, this doesn’t mean that in order for a campaign to be successful that the execs need to be involved – far from it! But what I am trying to say is that in order for a campaign to really take off, the expectations need to fall in line with reality. Sure, executives and senior management are often comprised of very busy people. But, so are your end-users. They are single parents, or caregivers, or executives of their own organizations. They have scheduling issues and different levels of digital-savvy.

Create campaigns that people want to be involved in. Be authentic and real, and don’t ask more of your customers than you would ask of your biggest internal fans.

The Best Interview Question You Wish You Weren’t Asked

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Any experienced interviewer or interviewee usually has a few in-the-pocket great questions to ask, or ones that they’ve rehearsed and prepared for (the infamous greatest flaw, to wit.) But sometimes, you come across an interview question that just throws you for a total loop. You stammer through it, hope that you will be hit with a flash of genius, or magically find the ability to use a “pass.” They’re also the kinds of questions that would make great dinner table conversations!

There aren’t any “right” answers of course, but even when you go home, and you think about all the things you should’ve/would’ve/could’ve said and … still nothing.

I came across a few of these recently. And I’m still not sure what I could’ve said that would have been both accurate and portrayed me in the light I’d want to be seen.  I’m also pretty sure I’ve mentally blocked out what were my real, not-so-hot answers.

How would you answer these questions?

  • Do you consider yourself a lucky person?
  • What belief do you have, that you think no one agrees with?

Would you be able to come up with a great answer, on the spot?

The BBB Has a Serious Racket Going

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It never fails – more often than not, after a bad customer service experience, the aggrieved party will threaten to call the BBB on the company, or a friend gives them the advice to report the company to the BBB. And I think back in the olden days before social media and crowd sourcing – they may have not sounded like such an empty threat. But now? It just doesn’t strike fear into the heart of this marketer.

When was the last time you checked the BBB for a review on a product or service before you purchased? If you are under the age of 40ish, I’m going to guess the answer is “never.”  You may have checked Yelp, or did a quick Google search or checked the review on Amazon, but the BBB? Never. And yet, I hear people, even my own age offer the BBB as a potential effective recourse.

Why?

I think there’s a mistaken belief that the BBB is some sort of government or regulatory agency, with the power to shutter a business or issue sanctions. When in reality, from what I understand – it’s just a proto-Yelp. A proto-Yelp that a business owner needs to pay for for an accredition.

Now, that doesn’t mean a business shouldn’t be concerned at all about their ranking. No one wants negative press about their company, and you should strive for positive reviews in all consumer-accessible media. And given the knee-jerk reaction to call on the BBB for help, I think a BBB logo on the website counts towards respectability. But as a consumer, if you really want to get your point across that you mean business and want the world to know – don’t invoke the BBB. It just makes you look out of touch.

I’d love to hear some counterpoints on why the BBB is still a relevant avenue for consumer complaints, or why retailers should care!

Stop Blaming Social Media

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I get it, social media is the new kid on the planet. He wears his pants a little tight, and why the heck are his glasses so big? But do we really have to blame poor social media for every bonehead public relations move?

It seems like celebrities  and businesses alike have a nasty habit of saying something incredibly stupid and then when the inevitable backlash comes, there’s a half-hearted apology and then they go kickin’ the new kid. “We’re just learning how to use social media” or they take their ball and go home  … and hire a firm? (I’m lookin’ at you Ashton @aplusk!)

Take the recent horror show that is Boner’s BBQ. A restaurant complains about a customer on their Facebook page in a particularly nasty fashion and then gets called out on it. And what do they do? Blame Facebook, of course. They need to learn how to “better use social media.”  As if they forgot to read the  training manual that comes with new social networks that explains to business owners not to publicly trash their clientele.  Perhaps they explained to their employees that yelling at customers isn’t okay, but forgot to give the marketing guy that memo?

And then there’s celebrities like Ashton Kutcher who say dumb things on Twitter about child abusers, and then when he gets called out on the idiotic comment, he evaluates, takes himself off social media and then hires a firm to tweet his most authentic thoughts. Methinks the point got missed.

Sure, there’s lots of things to learn about how businesses and personalities can best use social media tools, and a lot of things aren’t intuitive. But, if you are prone to making dumb decisions or saying things that will bite you in the butt – it’s not social media’s fault, it’s your fault for giving yourself such a broad platform.

Why User Testing Matters

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I was in a Lane Bryant the other day, trying on some stuff and I was actually doing pretty well in terms of finding stuff.  I could almost see the dollar signs adding up. Luckily, the insert on the dressing room door was about ways you can get coupons.  In addition to becoming a fan on Facebook, and scanning a QR code, you could also text them. I decided to do that. I whipped out my trusty iPhone and texted the code they provided.

And then … I cracked up. Like, laugh out loud in the dressing room, cracking up.

On the iPhone?  LBTXT autocorrects to ….

Rub it in, why don't ya?

Obese.

Not the smoothest move for a store catering to plus-size women.

Once I recovered, I brought up my purchase to the register. The cashier was very friendly, and I told her about my crackup in the dressing room. She also thought it was hysterical, and while the code they texted back (in a double opt-in!) was generous, she was even more generous with the discount she gave me.

See? Every once in awhile it pays to be friendly and engaging.

And as I write this, I just remembered something else Lane Bryant did that made me raise my eyebrows. I was recently emailed a code for 40% off. The code? GET40LB. Obviously, LB was meant to stand for Lane Bryant, but I couldn’t help but think they were trying to fatten me up so I’d stay in their demographic.

Hey Lane Bryant, if you need an extra set of eyes for your marketing team – let me know! I need some new suits. Let’s work something out!

That’s the sound of my forehead hitting the desk.

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“Any press is good press,” right? Wrong.

I am sure someone will prove me wrong and post all sorts of graphs and figures and numbers that show that even when a company makes a really bad PR move or says something really, really stupid – numbers go up. And they may be right. But … there’s got to be more to it. And if there isn’t, there should be. At least, that’s how I’m going to play the game.

Kenneth Cole recently tweeted. Great, he’s using social media, he’s using hashtags, and from what anyone can tell, because he’s “signing” his posts, the posts may actually come from him. Doesn’t really make a difference to this particular incident, but at least it speaks to an attempt at authenticity, if not actual. There’s a personality behind the social media campaign. So far, so good.

But then, he tweets this:

And then my heart hurts. Sure, he made an apology and tweeted it and deleted it and posted the apology on his Facebook page (integration!) but even the apology was kind of a nightmare. First it said he didn’t mean to make light of the situation in Egypt, then it said that the joke was in poor taste, which implies that he did intend to make light of it and it’s just … It was a bonehead move.

I can’t boycott Kenneth Cole any more than I already do, in the sense that I don’t think I own anything by Kenneth Cole, so it’s not as if he lost me as a customer. But it was just an unsubtle reminder that there are real people behind any marketing campaign. And sometimes those people are really, really stupid.

Sometimes authenticity means letting the world realize you are kind of an idiot.