Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

Droid™ vs. Android – Examining The Nuances of SmartPhone Marketing

They are often used interchangeably when referring to ever-growing & increasingly popular line of smartphones that run on Google technology. The difference, for most purposes, is one of legal definitions and intellectual property. Android simply refers to the operating system and software that powers phones built by any of number manufacturers, including HTC or Motorola, and that run on any of the major carriers.

Droid, on the other hand, is a term coined and owned by LucasFilm Ltd., the licensing rights for which Verizon had to purchase in order to brand their specific line of Android Smartphones.

You’d think the difference ends there, but those two little letters have had a much bigger impact that one might predict.

Now, what this essentially boils down to is how Verizon markets Google smartphones versus how every other carrier does, might, would, or should.

Just for comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at the Sprint HTC EVO 4G & HTC Incredible TV spots and the new & Droid X teaser for good measure.

What’s the difference? In my eyes, Sprint is trying to say too much, and to the wrong audience: Tell a story, tout 4G, claim market primacy, compel viewers to think “what could I do with 4G,” with their multiple calls to action. Oh and the phone has a kickstand…

I wouldn’t say it’s a terrible spot. What is it then? A traditional broadcast commercial promoting a very nontraditional piece of technology to an anti-traditional audience.

The consumer they’re trying to reach (or should be) doesn’t care about narratives. The audience that buys first-to-market smartphones, that understands “4G,” either already knows the EVO basics or can read about them online. In that respect, the messaging is (potentially) redundant. They spent money on that air time and could have created something bigger, rather than list the features of their phone.

Verizon got that (or their agency did). The commercial is thus about creating a brand, one built around a single defining concept idea – DOING (or ‘does’). Because they know their audience and their audience doesn’t care how pretty an iPhone is that can’t multitask or support USB, or if EVO’s run on a new and almost nonexistent 4G network.

And Note – Verizon’s tactics transcend manufacturer. The execution for the HTC Incredible is strategically aligned with that of the Motorola Droid X. That’s what building a brand is all about people.

So, where does this leave the other carriers? Should they emulate Verizon and try to build their own proprietary brand around Google technology, or is it too late for that? Do you disagree and think their spot would have been more successful if the phone itself wasn’t such a dud?

Disclaimer:

I used to work for the agency that represented, until recently, Verizon Wireless. I won’t go into the gory details of the McCann – Verizon – McGarry-Bowen situation, mostly because I don’t know them and don’t care to. I did, however, out of respect for my former employer, refrain from posting this until after I left (today being my first day at Advertising Age).

Disclaimer 2:

Any Thoughts Contained In This Blog, In Any Post, Are My Own, And Do Not Reflect Any Employer, Current, Past, or Future.

…I said, shooting myself in the foot. Though, not technically accurate, the phrase “Social Media” as we use it today, is, for all intents and purposes, meaningless. How did I reach this conclusion? Well, for starters, all media is by definition social, according to the oxford English dictionary anyway, which defines a medium as “a means by which something is expressed, communicated, or achieved.” So, unless one is communicating only to him or herself, all media is then intrinsically social.

And then we have to acknowledge the fact that all social interaction takes place via a medium of some sort. That is, unless you can provide me with an example to the contrary. Thus, “Social Media” becomes a term that doesn’t actually refer to anything but some sort of self-defining, circular, concept we’ve all agreed it refers to, possibly out of a collective laziness or lack of effort to actually identify and define the novelty we aim to discuss. The phrase insinuated itself into industry jargon because it was convenient and has since found its way into pop culture zeitgeist nomenclature, despite not actually meaning anything.

The thing is – social media isn’t new. When prehistoric man painted pictures of spears and buffalo on cave walls – guess what, that was social media. When town criers would shout news from atop pedestals in the marketplaces of ancient Rome that too could easily be referred to as social media.

We use the term to differentiate the dissemination of content on blogs and networking platforms from traditional outlets where information was conveyed in a more unidirectional manner. But even newspapers, TV, and radio are all social media.

What’s real and new (and what we’re all fascinated with) isn’t the vehicle itself, but how the medium allows us to alter that content as it’s shared. Every time a single datum changes hands, every time I pass on a link, or an article, or anything else, I’m imparting my own personal flavor & commentary.

To be fair, this isn’t really novel either. When a journalist tells us a story, he/she inevitably contributes a style and/or an implicit opinion (no matter how hard they may try not to). Traditional reporting is still social, regardless of how outdated it may seem to be – one party is relaying substance to another party – newscasters, radio hosts, reporters – they aren’t talking to themselves. Whether you like it or not, all media – from blogging to storytelling to skywriting – is qualitatively social.

What we are actually enamored with when we reference ‘social media’ is the quantitative aspect – the degree of socialness – not the social nature itself, as well as the subsequent reach and additional impact made possible by, and predicated upon, the repeated context-specific deconstruction and reconstruction of a given message.

Due to the fact that these platforms & emerging tools, those we’ve dubbed “social media,” or that which falls under the auspices of the “social web,” allow content to be propagated from one person to the next and between people at such an extreme rate, that the subject matter becomes malleable – living, breathing, evolving – taking on new meanings and relevancies as a result of the emotions and experiences of the person transmitting it and the context in which it’s being transmitted. Traditional media, while still retaining social properties, limits the amount of plasticity, as the route from source to reader is such a short and direct one.

So I hereby propose we stop using the term social media (though, we can still discuss social networks, platforms, or vehicles), and start referring to living, breathing, evolving dynamic media, because that’s what it is.

When we talk about the virality or memetic qualities of a video – whether organic or a component of a PR or marketing campaign – the ripple effect that we aim to recreate isn’t one of simple social transmission. I don’t want someone to just see a video and send it to a friend who sends it to a friend, et al.  Superficially, that sequence of events may appear to be an effective means of increasing reach, but every time I retweet an article or show a friend a funny video, or post a product review or campaign analysis on my blog, I’m not just restating existing content – I am reconstructing it, which is so much more impactful than simple reiteration. Furthering its spread, yes, but irrevocably altering it in the process, and thus making it my own. And when I, or more importantly, when consumers can claim partial ownership of content – such materials become more influential over behaviors, both social and commercial

We – marketers, publicists, ad execs, media producers, digital strategists, think – how can we add value to conversations, how can we create content that people want to share – good questions, but not the most potent one, as those focus on the social nature, not the living, dynamic nature. The key is to provide users, consumers, with inherently moldable content, subject matter that can exist on its own – that has innate appeal – yet is receptive to reshaping and reinterpretation, along with the tools to do so, so that consumers can take branded content and create something personally meaningful from it.

This brings us back to the Tabula Rasa approach. Provide a branded but blank canvas for consumers to express their pent up creativity – only not. At this point, that tactic, though tried and true, is worn and destined for obsolesce, lest it be revived vis-à-vis dynamic media. Some might suggest that the masses have desensitized to the blank slate. I would argue that the “waiting canvas” concept affords the public too much freedom and choice, making it less appealing, in the same way that children think they want freedom, but unknowingly crave discipline and direction.

While persons are driven and intelligent, people are lazy and stupid, (Hat Tip – Men In Black) and that entails a very precise paradigm for the successful employment of dynamic media for branded or commercial ends. Namely, people don’t want to create content from scratch. We live in the heart of remix culture. Intrinsically valuable materials need to be provided to consumers, accompanied by both the means to impart a personal, individualized meaning – the added value, be it emotional, contextual, cultural, or otherwise – and the tools to easily share their product. But keep in mind, while they may cherish their creation, consumers are producers too, and when they propagate such a construct, one parented by the individual in tandem with the brand, the consumer is aware of, and expecting, the next person in the chain to impart his or her own contextual significance onto the borne product.

Yes, this is SOCIAL but so what? The opportunity for brands, and with it our focus, lies within exploiting the dynamic quality of such content. The mere fact that this content evolution it might happen through social transmission is interesting and yes, does lend the social realm reason for analysis and investigation, but it is only a means to an asymptotic end.

One corollary of all this would be the discussion of what is classically associated with Word-of-Mouth marketing and the attempt to generate (the over-and often-misused metaphor) viral content (memes) and the accompanying image of a wave as ripples through still waters. But that analogy is only representative of the dissemination of static content, not living, breathing, evolving entities.

Whether we look at viruses, as they infect cells and replicate, using their host’s own mechanisms as it’s means of proliferation, or the outermost waves of a ripple in a pond – we are observing the conception of clones – the replication of identical entities – even if the potential growth and reach of such replication is now exponentially greater (as it is with social networks and outlets). In its place, I suggest we think of dynamic media marketing as a game of telephone. Brands must prepare for and embrace the idea that it’s initial narrative will get distorted and refashioned at every stop along the way. Instead of trying to control the final outcome by carefully & strategically crafting that first idea – one designed to affect the end product – the ideas and messaging should be devised, from the outset, to welcome that loss of control. Because the truth is, control is something brands never really had to begin with.

In the same way that misdirected efforts, those overly centered around a specific platform like Facebook or Twitter instead of the underlying message or behavior, will face transmedia obstacles, so long as brands and those representing them continue to focus on the “social” facet of emerging media, their attempts at capitalizing on all that the digital space has to offer will be limited, if not hampered entirely, by overemphasizing and over-attending the wrong element.

This is not so say that there isn’t a place for the term “social.”  I’ve already mentioned the platforms & vehicles, the “media” designed for the most basic and fundamental of social behaviors, namely, simple communication, conversation, dialogue, the exchange of information between 2 or more parties.

But the real opportunity for brands and producers is to do one of two things:

  1. Blur the lines between offline & online behaviors by creating a virtual or digital counterpart for a real life process (and vice versa) to the point where no such boundary exists.
  2. Alternatively, take a traditionally personal or individual behavior and impose an artificial progression that would effectively socialize the behavior.

Couple these precepts for the most intensive approach – taking an analogue, private activity and creating – then owning – it’s online, social counterpart.

For example, if networking, conversation, and information exchange are the basis for the existence and employment of social networking sites, then, social gaming would be one example of a successful branded enterprise in which a behavior was effectively transitioned into this space. Presently, in the throes of the holiday season, we’re seeing brands attempt to recreate traditional shopping experiences with social e-commerce parallels.

This approach is in direct contrast to those that seek to leverage or exploit preexisting behaviors, such as Facebook applications and campaigns that capitalize on users’ affinity for posting pictures and videos to social networks. It’s easy to analyze Facebook data and discern common behaviors across users in a target demographic. It’s much more difficult and innovative, however, to identify behaviors that have become outdated and abandoned, or with which we have become complacent, with the potential for social, digital reincarnation. As a result, such innovation carries with it greater weight and promise for the coveted return on investment.

One last thought. I’m not actually trying to convince you that social media doesn’t exist. I’m simply attempting to separate two discrete concepts (and opportunities) that we’ve lumped together under one label that doesn’t do them justice. If we do want to focus on the platforms’ socially enabling features as a vehicle that allows for the evolution of media and content – that would be amazing. But the tools to study this field transcend analysis of Facebook and Twitter and trendspotting platform-specific behaviors and desires. That analysis is necessary of course (I’ve dedicated many hours to it, in fact) but that really requires a manufactured evolution of consumer behaviorism to adopt and incorporate technological innovation and social psychology – confirmation bias, attribution bias, labeling effect, self-fulfilling prophesies etc. People behave (read: shop, interact with brands…) differently when alone than when in groups. Every action is different, whether on or offline. Understanding how people act in social situation is KEY for marketing in general and is not limited to digital media.

I’m not trying to undervalue the “socialness” the brand’s need to grasp. 2-way, Brand-Consumer conversations are imperative at this point as the masses are increasingly demanding this form of engagement. I’m only trying to point out that from a marketing standpoint, assuaging that need for brands to be social and create social opportunities is different from strategic planning and planting content that is designed to be dynamic and ever-evolving. That part goes hand-in-hand with brands coming to terms with the fact that they never had control of their brand identity – a systemic flaw in most messaging that is exacerbated by the exponential rate at which a given message, and with it, objectives, mutate.

The applications of dynamic media are as limitless as social. We just need to remind ourselves that there are two independent (however intertwined or overlapping) phenomena that require our attention.

Thank you for reading my tirade, I’ll try to keep my future posts to 140 characters or less. And please, feel free to disagree with everything I’ve just said – that’s how we learn!

A quick shout out to Faris – My boss and mentor and source of inspiration for this topic. Also – Check out Shamable – The New No BS Social Media Guide! 

So…By now we’ve all seen or heard about Burger King’s New “Shower Cam” Microsite. If you haven’t yet, well, check it out, but not at work.

My first instinct was, a simple, “wow, I can’t believe they did this” reaction. Followed by a “wow, this is getting some incredible buzz, brilliant!”

That’s problem with transitioning from PR to Advertising – two internal, often conflicting, perspectives on these types of stunts.

So, in order to reconcile these to ideologies, I often pose questions to myself, to gauge the success of such endeavors. For example:

BK Shower Cam

What purpose did it serve?

Does this site aim to generate buzz? If so, has it been positive or negative? Or does that not matter?

Was the site designed to drive traffic to stores, and with it sales? If so, did it succeed?

How did the campaign affect public perception of the brand? Is the stunt consistent with the brand’s previous messaging?

I’m sure perception of the site will differ based on gender, so I can only speak from a guy’s point of view, but I can clearly understand why men and women alike would consider this to be a tasteless & misogynistic ploy that in no way relates to the brand.

Yes, Burger King is known for their controversial stunts, like when they offered free burgers to Facebook fans who unfriended people, aka the Whopper Sacrifice. But this, IMHO, crosses the line as it alienates 50% of the population (women).

Furthermore, as a branding strategist, I have to ask, yes, guys (and some girls too) love watching women take showers – with or without bikinis on – and I’m sure plenty would love to win a date with the Shower Babe – what the fuck does it have to do with burgers? I see absolutely no connect to the brand’s core goal of increasing store traffic & selling food, thus reducing this site to a cheap, desperate stunt, predicated on the exploitation of women and sex. So why stop there BK, why not dive headfirst and have her go bikiniless – that certainly would have generated even more of the same buzz, and clearly you’re not afraid of backlash and/or employee zero women with any clout or influence on decisions. And no, I won’t take “well, this was launched in Europe, so you have to consider the cultural divide” bullshit. That doesn’t fly when you launch a website internationally viewable  – regardless of the “.co.uk” in the URL.

So, back to my questions. I’m still at a loss as to what purpose this site serves, other than to create buzz and incite some feminist groups.

Yes it generated a ton of buzz – but around what? This isn’t a new product launch. There’s no breaking news or promotions affiliated with the shower babe.

Are there any deals available through this site not available elsewhere? Not that I know of…but correct me if I’m wrong.

As for the public perception of the brand – I’m not a frequent patron of the chain, but if anything, this distasteful maneuver would discourage me from partaking in any whopper related foodstuffs in the future.

Adage’s coverage of the stunt included this tasty little quote:

Sarah Power, marketing director U.K. and Eire for Burger King, said in a statement: “Our shower-cam gives hungry Brits the chance to watch the BK Shower Girl singing in the shower every day to help them work up an appetite for our fantastic new breakfast range.”

Um…so you’re an idiot? That’s all I took out of that statement.

Maybe I’m overreacting here – But I really don’t see the point of the site, other than incurring some modest hype and with it, backlash. I don’t foresee any positive impact on store traffic or sales – making it an ROI fail.

It doesn’t promote or achieve anything that couldn’t be done without begging for the negative press.

If the objective was to create semi-pornographic that has absolutely no place in the brand’s larger messaging and digital strategy, well then I suppose they’ve succeeded, but perhaps they are unaware of billion or so other websites that have showcase ACTUAL pornography.

So again, what added value does this site offer? It’s not innovative content or entertainment, it’s doesn’t drive sales, and it doesn’t inform. If you can think of any please let me know.

Here are some thoughts from my twitter friends on the issue. As usual, please weigh in; I’d love to hear your thoughts and counterarguments.

First Came Chris Daughtry, Quickly Followed By Weezer, MGMT, Eric Cartman, And Now, IMO, Topping Them All (Except Maybe Cartman’s Rendition, It’s A Tough Call) The One & Only Christopher Walken. What Do They All Have In Common? They’ve All Spoofed Lady Gaga’s Hit Single “Poker Face.”

So…What is it about Lady Gaga, and this song in particular, that lends is self to such memetic mimetics? There is something undeniably unique about The Lady & Her Music. Her Style, Performance, The Catchyness of the tune…all of which make for User Generated Recreations. But it’s rare, and a privilege, when other artists or media producers spoof one’s work. Even in jest, most blatant mockery subtly suggests some degree of respect and admiration. If Family Guy or South Park ever made fun of one of my creations, I’d take it as a compliment.

Marketers & Advertisers Strive To Impart These Qualities On Their Content. To Provide A Template On Which Consumers Can Build, a Body of Material Ripe For The Creative Masses To Restructure, Remix, Reinterpret, Re-contextualize…and spread.

So what is it that she (or her team of producers and publicists) does, to lend her brand to such virality?

My Good Friend Rachel Feigenbaum, A CUNY PhD Student, Has An Interesting Thought:

When a person hears it [Her Music] you can’t help but admit that it’s catchy and fun. But when you realize what the lyrics are, what you’re singing, it’s embarrassing that you actually enjoy something that sophomoric, so to cope we make fun. [It’s a] Social Defense Mechanism. People find that humorous it’s why she’s successful. She’s crazy and out there, but its fun and funny. It’s being so ridiculous, that it’s entertaining. For Her, Tactful Talentlessness becomes true talent and she’s thus she brings  a new dimension, and with it success, to an otherwise superficial music career & by superficial I mean a lack of lyrical and musical depth.

When I asked My Friend & Colleague Jess Greco that same question, she responded:

Historically, pop culture is pop culture for a reason- it is constantly being referenced. She’s original, shes doing things that are slightly ridiculous, and thats what is getting her attention. And these are the things that often turn into the internet memes that we’re so obsessed with nowadays. And a big part of this are the the references, just like The Office and The JK wedding dance video. Why Other Artists & Producers? Maybe Because they want to be part of the phenomenon? I dont know. They want to play off someone else’s attention to get their own? But I  feel like that applies to any person, not just celebs.

Personally, I get excited when celebs reference other celebs. It compounds the impact on the consumer/viewer and makes them feel like they’re part of this inside joke.

Could it be that simple? Is this authentic originality engendering producer-to-producer parasitism? Or is this something much more a psychologically complex? Is her brand Built, from the top down, to be so well suited for spoofing and these cultural memes, arguably one of marketing’s holy grails?

Watch The Videos…& Please Let Me Know What You Think!

And MGMT at 3:15 into the clip…

First off, here’s one video and two ads that I think are amazing:

Secondly, Obama Campaign Aside (Thanks Ken), I Have Some Advice For Reluctant, Hesitant, Ignorant, Brands: & The Rest Of The Universe (Marketers Take Note)

Dear Universe: Email Marketing Is DEAD. D-E-A-D DEAD. Eaten By Worms & Resorbed Into The Internet From Whence It Came. Accept It!!!!

When’s the last time you received an email from a store and that actually motivated you to get off your ass and go to the outlet or even spend money on their website. Social Media has slain the Monster of Direct Email Marketing. Not That It Doesn’t Have It’s Spammy Counterparts – Auto-DMs, Facebook Messages From Branded Fan Pages…etc.

Here’s how it’s going to work – You Exist. Online. As Long As I’m AWARE of where you exist (which is another matter altogether), rest assured, if i want to be updated on your company news, I’ll opt it by subscribing to your twitter feed, read your blog, or fan you on Facebook. And then I’ll visit you when I decide. Not the other way around. End Of Story. Disagree with me all you want, it won’t make you any righter.  And if it’s not clear that this is the future you’re resisting, just give it a few months.

Brands that don’t embrace Social Media as a way to reach their goals (no, you don’t have to give up) will fail. The purpose of, and results once generated by, email marketing, can still be accomplished – Except now through this new and scary interface call the interwebs. Traditional BROADCAST Advertising still has it’s place. But Email just isn’t one of those. In My Mind, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this way –  An Email from McDonald or Starbucks or  The Gap (I haven’t thankfully, I’m just arbitrarily choosing widely recognized brands for argument’s sake) is equivolent to the spam I receive about Acai Berry Weight Loss, Penis Enlargement Pills, And Cheap Watches – Garbage.

And I’m being nicer than I should – I’m 24, I’ve seen successful email marketing. But try emailing a 15 year old & they’ll laugh at you. That’s not how people engage brands anymore. Truth. Statistics be damned.

On a less frustrated note, here are some awesome reads you should definitely check out:

Times’ David Pogue blurs journalism lines

Death by Social Media

Social Media Marketing Strategy

Six Reasons Companies Are Still Scared of Social Media

Three Top Ways to Damage Your Brand With Social Media

Firing housekeepers creates PR mess for Hyatt

Have A Fantastical Weekend

Sorry To Break It To You Sears, But Putting Brett Favre In Your Commercials Would Have Been A Better Idea 4 Years Ago

A Proven & Long Standing Method of Branding has been to align your brand with a celebrity. An icon whose image you aspire to emulate or whose image you’d like consumers to associate with your brand.

I could mention a few examples, but there are so many I wouldn’t know how to choose. Athletes, Hollywood Stars & Starlets, Models, Musicians…Even Lindsay Lohan in the crux of her fall from grace, found her way into a Fornarina Spot (Whatever Fornarina is).

Bottom line – Iconic, Celebrity Spokespeople can do wonders for selling you brand and your product. But choosing the right person to endorse your business – Identifying the persona to which your target audience will relate & figuring out who you want associated with your brand – Therein Lies the Difficulty…Apparently…

It doesn’t seem like such a tough thing to do. I didn’t think it was. But Sears has proved me wrong. This past Sunday – Amidst My 8 Hours of Football Fandom (Jets HUUUGE Win over the Pats & The Terrible Cowboys Loss to the Giants) I saw, several times, as Sears’ Electronic Blue Crew (terrible name, IMHO) attempts to sell a one, Mr. Brett Favre, Legendary, Record Holding QB, Formerly of the Green Bay Packers, Formerly of the New York Jets, And Now Of the Minnesota Vikings, a new TV.

For those who’ve been living in an igloo up in Siberia for the last few years, Brett Favre has retired and unretired from the NFL what feels like 2 dozen times in the last few years (hyperbole acknowledged). Yes, I get that they’re playing off this fact in the spot by having Mr. Favre act a bit wishy-washy on his decision to purchase the TV and ending with a “No Regrets” Line”

I think that line of thinking is topical, relevant, and creative. The only problem is that when I see Brett Favre, I no longer think of someone who I respect and admire. I see Indecisive, Fickle, Desperately-Trying-To-Stay Relevant Douchebaggery.

Even Vikings Fans don’t seem to like Favre These Days (Feel Free To Correct Me If I’m Wrong). The Man Is A Legend Who Has Spent The Last Couple Of Years Tarnishing His Own Reputation With Ongoing Capriciousness. These ARE NOT QUALITIES I WOULD WANT TO REPRESENT MY BRAND.

Maybe you disagree…maybe you see the sears commercial and say, “Oh Brett Favre Wants to Buy From Sears…Oh, The Sears Blue Appliance Crew is Helping Ol’ Fickle Here Make Up His Mind…I’ll Buy From Sears.

But For Me – I see Brett Favre, and it evokes frustration, disappointment, even a bit of anger & lost respect. Now, I associate these emotions with Sears…

So where do you stand? Bad Play Calling By Sears to Star(t) Favre? Or Will Consumers Look Past His New-found Personality Flaws To His Glory Days – Making This A Win For Sears?

Facebook Stunts: Only Half The Battle. The Superficial Half.

Facebook is free media, great. Brands want to be there, they want fans and followers. Good, especially considering that Half of Social Media Users Connect With Brands.

But “how” to do this is the question Publicists, Digital Strategists, Marketers, and Advertisers have been asking themselves. And while no one tactic has been perfected, there is one guideline to follow when engaging (yes, I hate that word too, but unfortunately there are times when it’s appropriate and its use, unavoidable).

Longevity. Dedication. Commitment. Whatever you want to call it. Don’t just start a conversation, don’t just jump in when you feel like it. Don’t assume that your presence on a platform will automatically attract consumers. Initiating a relationship is only the first step. Rewarding the consumers who participate in that relationship; acknowledging those ‘loyals’ – fostering and growing that relationship, turning fans and followers into brand advocates – that’s where the greatest potential lies.

Having fans or followers is a great ego boost for a brand but it only OPENS the line of communication. What you do next, how you capitalize on that following, is what will make or break your social media initiative.

Take TGI Friday’s new “Fan Woody” Campaign. They want followers, for obvious reasons. So what do they do? They give something away. I mean, who doesn’t like free shit? I know I do, to the point where I’d friend Woody even though I’m not a particularly big fan of the brand (no pun intended there).

So yes, they’ll probably reach their goal of 500,000 fans by the end of September (not such a lofty goal for a nationally recognized brand, but I guess it pays to set the bar low).

But swag is easy. It’s the cheap way of getting followers. Effective? Duh. Would I advocate it, of course, it gets the job done. But it does nothing for the brand in the long term. The big question is, how will TGI Friday’s capitalize on this new audience? I don’t know about you, but I’m quite curious to see what their next move will be.

Stunts are great, but what comes next?

IMHO, effectiveness and distinctiveness in the social realm means catering, not just to our fondness of swag, but to our desire to create and produce. What do I mean?

Step one: Build a base – as exemplified by countless brands (chick-fil-a & others) give something away – get their attention.

Step two: Give this new audience the opportunity to contribute by offering them a vehicle or outlet for user-generated content. Whereas promotions say “we appreciate you because you give us money,” soliciting user-generated content – something like “Design an appetizer to be featured on our menu & we’ll have our fans vote for the favorite submission” – would say, “We value your input and creativity and we want you to help make our brand better.”

Ultimately, this is what consumers want. A free burger every now and then is cool but that won’t do shit for establishing a relationship with your existing or potential patrons. Consumers, especially young consumers, want input and control over your brand. A scary notion, but one that brands must accommodate if they want to appeal to the newest generation of consumers.
What do you think? What comes after “The Stunt?

(Thanks to Aaron Levy for helping inspire this post)

While You’re Here, Check Out These Other Interesting Posts/Articles:

Clear and Present Danger of Social Media for Ad Agencies

How Social Media Does Hostile Takeovers: Facebook vs. Twitter

Social Media / 10 Brands Doing it Right

Twitter expands rules to allow advertising

Twitter Gives Spam Apps a Thumbs Down, Ads a “Maybe”

Top 5 Web Trends of 2009: Internet of Things

Have a Great Weekend!

Why PR Firms Should Be The Ones To Handle Social Media

PRWeek Recent Posted An Article Entitled “Report: Social Media Falls Mostly To PR” – You Need a Subscription to Read It…Sorta, A Quick Google Search Will Get You The Article For Free, But For You Lazy Folks, I’ve Included It Below (I Don’t Subscribe Either, Don’t Worry)

Anyway, It’s a great read and something I discussed in a recent post of mine on the topic of People Relations

Here are my Top Reasons Why PR Firms Should Be The Ones To Handle Social Media

1. PR has always been about communicating. That’s been accomplished through traditional media, through events and stunts. Social media is all about communication and conversation – exactly what PR people have been doing all along. Social Platforms are just another means for PR professionals to do the job they’re best at.

2. Look at the alternative – advertising, marketing, sales – people don’t want their social spaces invaded by brands trying to sell them products. If a brand is going to be active on sites like Twitter – it can’t be about marketing or advertising, it has to be about initiating or participating in a conversation and providing new information – adding value – to interested parties – again, something PR has been doing via traditional media outlets all along.

3. Traditional Media Relations – Despite what people are saying, print and broadcast are still far from dead. Many journalists and media outlets have taken to using Twitter and social media as a way to promote their content – turning these sites into glorified News Channels – the environment PR professional are more familiar with than their counterparts at Marketing or Advertising agencies.

4. Blogger Relations – Reaching out to bloggers is an integral part of any modern PR and Media Relations Strategy. These are the individuals most active in the social space and forming relationships with them is no different than building one with an editor or reporter at a newspaper. There are trendsetters and influencers who impact what content will circulate in these social channels. Identifying these individuals and cultivating relationships with them; understanding their interests and providing them with information to share; this is where PR professional excel and have the most experience.

And For Those Of You Without a PRWeek Subscription, Here’s The Article:

Report: Social media falls mostly to PR

Kimberly Maul

August 11, 2009

LOS ANGELES: PR leads digital communications at 51% of organizations, while marketing leads 40.5% of the time, according to the 2009 Digital Readiness Report from iPressroom, Korn/Ferry International, and PRSA.

The study found that PR generally leads several aspects of digital communications, including blogging, where PR leads at 49% of organizations, compared to 22% for marketing. PR also leads microblogging (52% to marketing’s 22%), and social networking (48% to 27%). Marketing usually leads e-mail marketing and SEO aspects of digital communications.

“Social media puts the consumer in control, and PR professionals have always interacted with customers who are in control, also managing the brand reputation and relationship with them,” said Barbara McDonald, VP of marketing for PRSA. “It really is almost a no-brainer that PR would be taking the lead in the social media environment.”

Several industry professionals commented to PRWeek separately that they have seen these findings play out within their work.

“The findings are in line with not only what we expect, but what we’re experiencing,” said Corey duBrowa, president of account services for Waggener Edstrom. “Our industry is utilizing, and in some ways even pioneering the use of, these tools.”

“The way we look at it, social media is a subset of word-of-mouth in many ways, so for us, it’s a natural extension of some of the things we’re already doing on the PR side,” said Greg Zimprich, director of brand PR for General Mills. But, he added, the company works to teach the entire company best practices and benchmarking, saying, “We see social media as a competency that really will reach across the organization.”

Jonathan Kopp, the global director of Ketchum Digital, suggested that PR will continue to lead the way in digital, because “the speed of engagement is changing in the digital space and PR moves faster than advertising and marketing, so it gives them an opportunity.”

He also explained that PR agencies are working with clients to set up social media policies, train employees in social media, and create social media divisions within organizations, cementing their position as digital leaders.

The report also found that social networking skills are increasingly important for PR job candidates. Eighty percent of respondents said knowledge of social networking is either important or very important for a job candidate, compared to 82% saying traditional media relations was important or very important.

The 2009 Digital Readiness Report surveyed 278 PR, marketing, and HR professionals over six weeks in this past spring.

So What Do You Think? Who Should Handle Social Media for Brands? PR Pros? Marketers? Ad Shops? All of the Above? Specialized Social Media Agencies?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Hey Guys. I’m sorry for the lack of new content in the past week; I’ve been swamped with end-of-the-month reports, last minute press conferences, and the usual chaos indigenous to PR & Social Media. I’ve got a few posts in the works that I’ll tell you about later – a teaser, if you will, but my topic today was inspired by my new Twitter Avatar & the resulting comments I received about its ramifications.

My New Twitter Avatar

My New Twitter Avatar

Basically, in the picture, I’m drinking a beer. I’m over 21 (24 in fact) and I was on vacation (not at work) at the time. I use Twitter for a variety of purposes including, but not limited to, professional networking, developing relationships with journalists and media personalities, personal branding, promoting by work & blog…etc, and of course, keeping in touch with friends (mostly those I’ve met through work or twitter).

So the question remains – Can a simple beer preclude employment opportunities? Will it damage my personal brand and growing reputation as a credible authority in my field? Will it drive away followers and readers?

I posed the question to my friends and followers and received a mixed bag of responses.

Beer in Avatar - Good or Bad?

Beer in Avatar - Good or Bad?

This isn’t like I’m at a recent grad looking for a job with pictures of me doing half-naked kegstands littering Facebook. There is nothing blatantly unprofessional about the picture, yet, to some, it evoked a weariness and sense of hesitation. My question is why? Yes, Twitter, for me, is primarily a professional tool – but professionals enjoy a beer every now and then – does admitting that really contaminate my hiring potential or personal brand in some way?

Please share your thoughts – weigh in. Should I change my Avatar? The consensus seems to be “I don’t think it’s bad, but you should probably change it just to be safe.” The thing is…I don’t like to do things to “be safe.” I base my actions and decisions on logic and reasons – and at this point, though I can acknowledge the potential for damage, I’m not convinced that there’s a significant chance, at least not enough for me to compromise my principals. Fear & the “just in case” mentality aren’t how I operate…at least not yet.

Also, I must credit Lauren Fernandez with opening this conversation, in her post:

The Line Between Professional and Friendly in the PR World

Thanks for listening & Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

By The By –> Upcoming Posts Include: “My Blog is Your Blog – Comments vs. Content” & “Hoodies & Headphones – Hyperconected Youth Need an A/V Oasis”

Today’s Top Posts and Articles – Everything Social Media, PR, Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Twitter, Internet, Media & TV.

If you have any other articles or posts you think should be on the list – email me or @/DM me on Twitter.

Enjoy:

Beer Sales Sputter During Key Fourth of July Holiday – AdAge

‘Family Guy’ abortion episode unlikely to air on Fox – Life Feed

Deloitte network melds expertise, social affinities – Ragan Report

Could this be the end of electric power cords? – Los Angeles Times

Facebook Makes Baby Steps Towards Its Twitter-Like ‘Follow’ Feature – TechCrunch

Three words every PR pro should ban – PR Daily

Lab Watches Web Surfers to See Which Ads Work – New York Times

AOL Webisodes Put Kids in Space – AdWeek

HOW TO: Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn – Mashable

CNN’s iReport Vandalized Again With False Report Claiming CEO’s Death, Coke Binge – Business Insider

It Doesn’t Matter if the Client is Ready for Social Media – PR Squared

Grifters defraud artists in twist on ‘Nigerian scam – Portland Press Herald

Facebook loses sizzle for Martha Stewart – CNET

5 More Things You Do To Get Business On Twitter – TwiTip

Top 10 Tasteless Ads – Time

NPR’s Digital Makeover: Can the mainstream media learn anything from National Public Radio’s new look and business plan? – Newsweek

You Know You Have a Communication Problem When… – Little Pink Book

Q&A: Probing the Amazon-Zappos Deal – BrandWeek

Social entrepreneur finds money-making power of Crowdsourcing – Chicago Tribune

Use Your iPhone to Track your Happiness – Fast Company

105 Twitter Applications for PR Professionals – Everything PR

Is ‘kick-ass’ appropriate for a press release? – AdFreak

Yahoo Refines Image Search to Trump Google – eWeek

Bing to Power Yahoo Search? – Mashable

Tappening project takes on the truthiness of bottled-water ads – BrandWeek

19 Guerrilla Social Media Marketing Secrets – Closing Bigger

The Future of Twitter – Time

Full Disclosure: Sponsored Conversations on Twitter Raise Concerns, Prompt Standards – PR 2.0

The 10 New Rules of PR – Jeff Bullas’s Blog

Tweetmeme accuses Retweet.com of stealing its code – TechCrunch UK

How to pitch USA Today’s bloggers – PR Daily

What Social Media Can and Can’t Do for You – Future Now

73 Ways to Become a Better Writer – Copy Blogger

LaunchSquad – Best Time To Be In PR – Silicon Vally Watcher

PayPal Case Study – Social Media Ignorance – Social Media Today

Time.com brings news to BlackBerry – CNET

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine