Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Consumers Follow Social Brand Referrals
http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007630

Consumers Follow Social Brand Referals

National Study Reveals How Teens Are Shaping & Reshaping Their Wireless World: Study Sheds New Light On Teens’ Cell Phone Habits, Expectations & Dream Phone Wishes
http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/allnewsbydate.asp?NewsID=1334

Man uses briefcase GPS to draw self portrait across the whole planet
http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/man-uses-briefcase-gps-to-draw

Glympse Brings Real-Time Location Sharing To Facebook
http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/15/glympse-brings-real-time-location-sharing-to-facebook

KFC Puts the SPIN on the Double Down Sandwich
http://www.spinsucks.com/advertising/kfc-puts-the-spin-on-the-double-down-sandwich/

What is GEOFocus, and Why Did We Launch It?
http://www.ianschafer.com/2010/04/what-is-geofocus-and-why-did-we-launch-it.html

Hoodie Updates Your Facebook Status With Gestures
http://www.geeksugar.com/Hoodie-Updates-Your-Facebook-Status-Gestures-8110276

Yahoo Scientist Questions ROI of Kardashian’s Sponsored Tweets
http://adage.com/digiconf10/article?article_id=143301

Google Suggest Becomes More Local
http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/16/google-suggest-becomes-more-local/

My Primary Sources Of Info:
http://twittertim.es/Aerocles
http://www.emarketer.com/RecentArticles.aspx
http://mashable.com
http://techcrunch.com


Last night I received an email from Klout, the Twitter profile analysis tool and website, asking if I’d like to participate in a new program in which they pair big brands with influential Twitterers; specifically, the program is designed (or claims to be) so that the particular promotion is directed toward – not just Twitterers with a large number of followers or those with many retweets and @mentions – but those whose posted content indicates a some sort of authority or influence or maybe merely an affinity for discussing the topic related to the brand and promotion in question.

Klout - Starbucks eMail

In this case, I apparently tweet often about coffee (guilty), and I assume, to some extent, those tweets incur replies and conversation, enough to warrant an offer for some free Starbucks coffee, anyway.

Take a look at the email and offer signup – [Screenshots included somewhere in this post]. What do you think of this program? I kinda like it – but then again, I’m getting free coffee 🙂

Have you received any offers like this? Starbucks is fairly social media savvy and have been undergoing a rebranding process for a while now – between the unbranded stores in Seattle to taking on the instant coffee market with Via to the successes of @Starbucks & My Starbucks Idea, so I’m not surprised that they’re’ paving the way in this arena. I’ve tried Ad.ly, My Likes, and Sponsored Tweets, but find their models a bit spammy. My gut feeling is that this is the closest we’ve come to a real step forward in a twitter ad/marketing model. The idea follows something I learned at a recent ARF event during social media week. The presentation was about the Science of Social Media, and one of the speakers, a brilliant man from Yahoo Research whose name escapes me at the moment, informed us that research indicated that a user’s influence on twitter couldn’t be predicted by followers or numbers alone. Rather, in order to determine if a tweet will cascade,  you’d have to combine those figures with the specific area of expertise that the person has and whether or not the content posted falls within that area of authority. — This certainly seems to fit with that theory…

What do you think?

Klout Offer SIgnup

This is my first article in a series of posts that will focus on applying social psychology to social media marketing. Little did I know it at the time, but spending 4 semesters in a social perceptions and behaviors lab in college DID come in useful! (I know, I was shocked too). I’m going to start with the Overjustification Effect

Overjustification Effect, simply put, is a description of what happens when someone offers an external incentive for a behavior already found to be intrinsically rewarding.

Lesson One: Overjustification Effect & Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET):

Overjustification, or the undermining effect, occurs when an act that is initially driven by intrinsic motivation loses its behavioral grip as it is replaced by an additional, extrinsic motivator.

Take the example of a young child in grade school – his grades are slipping. The parents immediately recall the hyperbolous discourse surrounding positive reinforcement and tell their child, “Son, for every A you get in school, we’ll give you a dollar.”

Seems like a good deal for everyone involved right? The parents successfully motivate their child who, consequently, strives to achieve better results through the remainder of that rigorous second grade curriculum.

But what if the child already liked school – and thus was already motivated to succeed?

Sounds crazy, I know. But what if…? Well, social psychology would tell us that if the child initially enjoyed learning on its own merit, the subsequent external monetary reward would, while boosting performance in the short-term, also act to devalue the initial motivating factor – the child’s innate affinity for academia.

Now, I ‘m not going to protest the concept of positive reinforcement (surely, it beats corporal punishment) and I certainly can’t argue with years of successful marketing that tells us these types of external rewards (often in the form of deceptive or pseudo-monetary coupons, rebates, points, free samples, contest entries…etc) can influence behavior. I will, however, assert that any impact these endeavors have will be short term, and, when used within the social media landscape, are antithetical to the inherent functionality and opportunity afforded by these social platforms and the brand-consumer interactions they facilitate.

Case in point, Fan Woody. I’ve spoken out against this campaign before, so I won’t go into detail here, except as it illustrates my point and typifies an industry-wide failing. That is to say, TGI Friday’s created a fictional character (also an adversative notion when dealing with social media – which generally serves to augment the human-esque qualities in a brand, as opposed to extending its shadowy anonymity, seemingly embodied in the creation of fictitious characters like Woody), who proclaimed, “Become my fan and get a free burger!”

These sorts of brands propositions can yield a large influx of new fans – short-term, albeit deceptive & superficial, success. These new fans are not brand advocates. They are not invested in the organization. They signed up to get free shit.

I don’t think I need to ramble and rant about quality vs quantity here, but I will (I’ll keep it short, don’t worry).

When advising brands on how to manage a twitter account, the question of ROI always comes up, and it’s intricately linked to the management strategy, specifically, how you decide with whom you should follow and engage. The concern often regards numbers – “But I can only talk to X amount of people a day,” “There are a million people mentioning my brand, how do I determine which ones I should follow?” “How many followers should we aim to have at the end of the campaign?”

This is where I scoff pretentiously and say, you would rather have 1000 followers that are excited to interact with you and actively advocate for your brand, than have 10,000 followers who you garnered by giving away a free vacation to someone who used your hashtag. [Again, not trying to say these types of promotions don’t have their place – they do, and it’s usually when launching an account and should be designed to raise awareness. But that’s all – and that’s not usually necessary for big – household name – brands.]

So what about when you’re not launching a campaign or raising awareness for a new social media presence? What about the preexisting fans and followers – the ones who decided to interact with a brand on social platforms because they actually like the brand – the products, the philosophy, what it stands for? The ones social media is really all about.

Well, all that goes out the window when extrinsic drivers usurp those, valuable, authentic, sincere, innate motivators. A consumer can relate to a producer based on that organization’s brand, not overtly obvious tactics designed to influence purchasing behaviors. The consumers that relate to your brand are the ones that will advocate for you and are therefore the people to whom your efforts should cater, at least insofar as that you don’t abuse their patronage or dismiss their value in light of the appealing and alluring mega-growth (read: meaningless numbers) factor.

Based on the overjustification principal, I would go so far as to say that superficial external rewarding hinders the true potential that social media offers to brands. By actively devaluing the intrinsic motivation that drives consumers to fan or follow (or otherwise engage and interact with) brands (and their content) in the first place, there is a conscious sacrifice of quality for the sake of quantity. Artificial, manufactured growth via fast and easy methods in lieu of the organic growth achieved by brand evangelists who can, and do, influence their peers and legitimately impact consumer behaviors.

The idea of rewarding and incenting behavior probably predates any formal study marketing. However, in my opinion, gimmicky rewards have become so commonplace in social media marketing, too often are brands relying on them as long term strategies instead of for what they actually are, namely, conversation starters.

If I am going to follow a brand on twitter or fan one on Facebook, 9 times out of 10 it’s because I am already familiar with the brand and wish to augment my relationship with that brand by adding a social dimension. The benefits of such an enhanced association can include customer loyalty & CRM programs that may be partially comprised of para-monetary rewards. But when brands offer up nonsocial incentives, like TGI Friday’s now infamous Fan Woody campaign, as the basis for the interaction, yes – there is an instant and tangible ROI – but they lose out on what social platforms do best – connect brand lovers – active, consumers evangelists, with the brands they love and feel connected to.

So I beseech the marketing community – enough with the gimmicks. If you want real results, focus on enhancing the users experience with your brand, offer utility and content that allows the consumer to get the most out of their relationship with you, programs that have something to do with why these individuals are real life fans of your brand to being with.

This is what I’ve gleaned from my personal, professional, and academic experiences. But what about you? Do your experiences as a marketer speak differently? Do your experiences as a consumer reflect what I’ve discussed here?

A version of this post, written a couple of weeks ago, can also be found on the Shamable Blog, Here.

It seems like every day I see another group of posts populating my news feeds and Twitter stream touting an easy to implement social media strategy, a social media mold, readily adapted to your brand or business, or a list of social media MUSTS, things that every company needs to know about and act on – regardless of what exactly your goals or business model might be, the most recent example being Mashable’s “3 Things You Need to Know About Social Media Strategy” (pardon the run on).

Not too long ago, I wrote such posts and sometimes I’ll still retweet them, if only because within their laziness-enabling premise, there are, occasionally, bits of truth and relevancy. But that cold reality of the matter is that these cookie cutter social media plans and strategies, these molds that can be made to fit any organization, are crap. Why? Because for the most part, they simply state the obvious, repurpose other people’s content, and are designed for clueless executives desperate to jump on the bandwagon or their underlings looking to make a good impression – both of whom know next to nothing about the social space and the nature of dynamic content.

For example, lets look at this Mashable post. The article opens by explaining,

“Companies large and small are rushing to understand and get involved in social media. But most of the agencies and consultants who are being paid to establish social media campaigns for corporations are afraid to tell their clients three things they don’t want to hear.”

She goes on to list and elaborate upon these 3 topics:

  1. Everyone must work together
  2. Top Management Must Be On Board and
  3. Don’t Expect Overnight Success

I’m sorry, but I have to be blunt here when I say “DUH!” When are these 3 postulates NOT true in the business world? Should you ever expect overnight success? Does anything good ever come out of NOT working together? And don’t get me started on the involvement of top management.

I’m not trying to call out B.L. Ochman; in fact, I am a huge fan of hers and the What’s Next Blog. I do, however, feel an obligation toward my job and protecting the reputation of my profession. Posts like these feel lazy and dumbed down. Truisms they are, but they have nothing to do with social media, and framing them in that context makes it seem like anyone can do what we do, which is certainly not the case.

I’ve grown to despise these posts because the foster laziness and ignorance, they enable procrastination and poor tactics, and mostly, because they tarnish our burgeoning industry, instead of validating it.

Case in point: I recently spent several weeks assembling a comprehensive short and long-term social media and digital strategy for a client. I surveyed the landscape – what has the brand done until now, where have they succeeded, where have they failed, and what can be improved. I looked to align their existing brand objectives with social media objectives and further specified how those objectives might be reached differently as they take advantage of each social platform’s unique offerings. I audited their competitive set and looked for areas where these competitors were doing well – indicating the brand’s need to catch up – and where the competitors were failing – indicating an opportunity for them.

I looked at trends and predictions. Which brands are best-in-class and how could we emulate them, improve on their models, and innovate and lead? I did my due diligence and amassed tomes of research – what are their target audience’s most common existing behaviors on social networks? What type of engagement does their audience want from these brands and how could they provide it?

After weeks of intense research, meetings, writing and revision, I flew across the country and presented a 57-page strategy and action plan to the client, the first in a day full of nonstop meetings. Not once did I mention that “Top management must be on board,” or that we “shouldn’t expect instant success” – had I done so would have almost certainly damaged my credibility in front of an audience of established and experienced executives.

For what it’s worth, they loved it. The client was happy, thus, my bosses were happy. I thought to myself, with a big smile “Great, mission accomplished.”

But that smile was quick to fade as I realized that my weeks of work and research weren’t nearly enough. I spent the rest of the day listening and learning.  Competitive analysis, reports and reviews of the last 2 years worth of marketing, advertising, and public relations efforts.  There was talk of focus groups and the precise ROI of spending on individual efforts on different media and campaigns.

By the end of the day, I had realized something that I had known intuitively for a long time but was reluctant to acknowledge – social media does not exist in isolation. Nothing does in marketing. Everything is tied together in an intricate web of objectives, metrics, communities, budgets, messaging, and brand images. My 57-presentation was amazing, yes, but it was just the tip of the iceberg. I could have spent another month – and probably will – figuring out how to tie-in my 57-page tactical outline with the rest of the organization’s plans.

UPDATE: Since then, my presentation has led to an action plan, identifying and delegating individual tasks & responsibilities – in order to take my strategic vision into the more realistic world of actionable and executable possibility. Overarching themes and long term objectives were boiled down into a time-line of assignments and iterations of platform-specific mini-objectives, prioritized based on ease of implementation, production costs, time frames, and urgency. This has not been easy, and I’ve yet to find a post outlining a quick and simple methodology to reach this stage of strategic planning, let alone, finding any mention of this process in the “5 Social Media Strategy Musts” types of posts I’ve seen.

The reason these one-size-fits-all “social media stratagems” are bullsh*t and will never work and the reason most enterprise 2.0 consultants fail to actually back up their talk and improve a brand’s efforts to be social and become dynamic, engaging content producers, is that it takes a LOT of time and effort to understand the inner workings of a brand, especially a big business. These lists are fodder for inept and executives too lazy to expend the time and effort necessary to understand and learn about the social evolution of businesses and dynamic nature of today’s content. They are easy to write and even easier to pass off as legitimate plans.

For such endeavors to actually have merit and potential for the brand, they must be customized to the business from their inception, built to align with the companies overall objectives, and most importantly – COMPLIMENT – NOT SUPPLEMENT – existing marketing efforts. There are no MUSTS, no absolutes – what’s right for one brand may be disastrous for another. Social protocols and norms evolve so rapidly that these lists, for whatever value they may have when they’re written, become obsolete before they’d ever have any actual impact. So people, please stop relying on cookie cutter approaches because you are too lazy to devise your own. Stop trying to force your business into a mold that will only impose limits and hinder the true potential new media actually offers.

I’m writing this post – not to crap on Mashable or B.L. Ochman, but because I hold them to a high standard. People look to them, relying on these influencers and industry leaders, for valid, sound, advice. This is an example of parties that hold a clear opportunity and authority to further our industry – and flaking on their responsibility to do so. As such, I would be remiss if I let that happen without calling them out for it. I’m not even saying that I’m any better, but we need to rally, as an industry and as a community, to create more valuable content and do away with lazy “filler” products. We can do better folks.

Thank you and good day!

I am a Social Media Manager & Emerging Media Strategist based in NYC (though I’ve come to prefer Social Media Monkey). You can find me on Twitter as Aerocles and on my blog, the Legends of Aerocles.

Guest Post by Jess Greco. Similar Version found in her column at the PR Breakfast Club (PRBC).

Jess Greco

As I get ready to leave the job that I’m currently at and embark on a new and incredibly exciting opportunity, I’ve decided to do a little bit of reflection at the suggestion of David, one of my closest friends and social media mentors. When I took a position as an “intern” at the small NJ agency that I worked at during my senior year of college, I had no idea how much I would learn.  Since it was my responsibility to teach the rest of the company about it, I had no choice but to throw myself head-first into the world of social media.  It’s a good thing I ended up becoming a shameless Twitter addict who reads Mashable in its entirety, every morning (not that these things alone make someone a social media fanatic, but you know where I’m coming from).  As I think about all my experiences since then, I realize how many lessons I’ve learned since my love affair with social media began.  I can say with confidence that these lessons have allowed me to become a better professional overall.

So here they are, some of the most valuable social media lessons I’ve learned (and as obvious as some of them might be for you, believe me, they’re not for other people):

Social Media Takes Time and Effort

For those of you who really understand social media, this one is a big DUH.  Unfortunately, I’ve encountered far too many people who think social media is a quick fix, especially because it’s so simple to use.  And I’m not even just talking about clients who don’t understand how it works and therefore end up making your life hell.  I mean all sorts of professionals who have ventured into the space hoping to enhance their personal brand and businesses. If you think that your time is far too valuable to dedicate some of it towards actively participating in social media and interacting with fellow industry thought-leaders, then you might as well not even try.  Having your assistant update your status and ignoring the people who @ reply you makes me question why you’re even using Twitter at all (and the same goes for any other platform).  If you decide that you’re interested in embracing social media, make sure that you realize the investment it takes to be successful- or be prepared to fail.

There Is No Such Thing As a Social Media “Expert”

Whenever a new industry springs up that looks like it has the potential to be great, it’s inevitable that there will be a rush of people who jump on the bandwagon in hopes of becoming a big name in the business.  Social media, because of its overwhelming trendiness, has produced far too many of these people.  As a young person who was just starting to learn about this world, I was tricked by more people than I care to admit- and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.  I now know to take these “expert” claims with a grain of salt.  I also understand the importance of really getting to know a person’s work before making them someone I look up to for advice and new ideas.

Social Media Needs to Be Customized

When I first started using social media for my clients, I unsuccessfully tried to use the same program for every one.  After some experimentation, I realized that each product or service benefited from different things.  Blogger outreach proved to be really successful in creating buzz for one client, while it totally fell flat for another.  It’s very simple when you think about it- if every company or person is different, shouldn’t their strategy be too?  Unfortunately for those looking for something fast and easy, social media is not a cookie cutter.

Social Media Can Get You a Job

Networking through social media is the greatest thing since Jersey Shore (OK, so social media came first, but still).  Social media is like a 24/7 networking event- you will always be able to find people in your industry to talk to and get help from.  It also allows you to showcase your resume and experience and show people the way that you think (through LinkedIn, a blog/website, etc.).  I was fortunate enough to get my last job, as well as the one I’ll be starting next week, through people who got to know me through Twitter.  I love telling that to people who think Twitter is completely useless.  A cohesive online personal brand can do wonders.

Knowing Social Media Can Get You Far

It’s difficult to realize this, because if you’re anything like me, you live in a bubble with people who live and breathe it.  However, many companies out there understand the value of social media but just don’t know how to use it.  If you’re a person that DOES, you could be a huge asset to one of those companies.  Make it your job to read industry blogs and websites, experiment with it, and talk about it with other people.  Believe me, it sets you apart in job interviews.  You could be one of those hip, young kids that an old company hires to make themselves modern 😉

Social Media Can Make You Some Great Friends

This is my cheesy way of signing off.  But it’s completely true.  Some of the people that I’ve met through social media have become the people that I go to on a daily basis for laughs, advice, and a place to vent.  And most of this was completely by accident, so keep yourself open to it.

I’m sure that I’ll continue to learn more social media lessons throughout my career.  What lessons have you learned?

This is a great video. And by great, I mean there are parts of it I actually like. Sorry for my snarkiness – it’s Monday morning and this is looking like it’s going to be a crazy week. Enjoy the video:

…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.

A little while ago, I wrote about Tweeconomics. Seems I’m not the only one under the impression that social media has pervaded almost every outward facing facet of modern business. The ROI debate – “Is there?” “Isn’t there?” “Does it matter?” “Do different rules apply?” “How do we adapt our ROI paradigm?” “Is it even possible to calculate?” – has been going on for centuries. OK, maybe not CENTURIES – but it certainly feels like it’s been going on for a while, and with no end in sight. I can’t argue for the validity of this video, and I’m still not convinced of EVERYthing conveyed in it, but for the most part – I love it. What do you think?

 

In this Age of Infinite Market Research – That Results From The Limitless Demographics, Data, & Consumer Behavior Pulled from Facebook, That of Instantaneous Customer Service & Corporate Feedback Demanded On Twitter – Many, Myself Included, Have Come to Advocate the Growing Need to Custom Tailor Marketing Tactics, Advertising Strategies, and the Like, to Increasingly Niche Audiences & Interest Groups – Microtargeting to the Highest Possible Degree – As the Way to Best Utilize the Insane Amount of Emerging Media at our Disposal.

One Brand Can Build A Bland, Uniform, Ad Template – Yet – When That Ad Reaches My Eyes – It Will Be Significantly Different Than The Ad Served To My Neighbors, Coworkers, Family & Friends. The Message Suits My Desires, My Behaviors, My Media of Choice – That’s Where we are.

Yet, there are times when big brands should NOT follow this paradigm – times when they should blatantly disregard a consumer advocacy group’s pleas. Case in point:

Today, BrandWeek Reported “AFA Calls for Gap Boycott

The story reads as follows:

The American Family Association is calling on consumers to boycott Gap Inc. and its brands, which include Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, this holiday season. The Christian organization alleges that the retailer’s ads censor the word “Christmas.”

The boycott, according to the AFA, is in response to Gap’s holiday advertising and in-store promotions over the years, which have stayed away from recognizing any specific religion. The AFA—which had boycotted other retailers like Sears and Target in the past for their holiday ads—claims the San Francisco-based Gap has “received thousands of consumer requests to recognize Christmas.” But Gap has continued with its neutral standpoint.

“The Gap is censoring the word Christmas, pure and simple. Yet the company wants all the people who celebrate Christmas to do their shopping at its stores? Until Gap proves it recognizes Christmas by using it in their newspaper, radio, television advertising or in-store signage, the boycott will be promoted,” the AFA said in a statement.

The boycott is running from Nov. 1 through Christmas Day, and the AFA is urging consumers to sign a Gap pledge on its site. Gap was not available for comment at press time.

The ads in question this year are part of Gap’s “Cheer Factory” campaign, via Crispin Porter + Bogusky. TV ads feature a group of male and female cheerleaders donning Gap apparel and calling out the different holidays that are celebrated this season (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza). There is also a viral piece, which allows consumers to create personalized holiday cards at Cheerfactory.com. The site, like the TV ad, takes a religion-neutral approach and offers cheers such as “Happy Whateveryouwannakah” and “Mo’ Mistletoe.”

This is a developing story and will be updated soon.

This is just ridiculous. I’m not a huge fan of the brand(s) in question, but they can’t cater their messaging to accommodate everyone specific tastes. If they mention Christmas, then they also have to include Hanukkah and Kwanzaa right? And what about those Pagans celebrating the Winter Solstice? Don’t the deserve recognition too? And the Atheists and Agnostics who are participating in the Seasonal Gift Giving Spirit but without any religious motivation to do so – should the ads celebrate their beliefs too?

And if Gap did do all this – they’d just end up with some other self-righteous organization breathing down their necks for recognizing the concept of religion at all. Sorry but the AFA are a bunch of idiots and while I don’t care for Gap, Old Navy, or Banana Republic – I REALLY Hope they don’t cave. Doing so would set such a bad precedent – every brand will be flooded by complaints (as if they aren’t already) to the point that next year’s thanksgiving ads will end up being directed to the Australian-American Jedi Knight Association or the AAJKA. Ri.di.cu.lous. Ridiculous.

What do you think? How Should They React, If They Respond At All? Can Brands Really Be Expected To Simultaneously Cater To Multiple, Potentially Conflicting, Ideologies? Should They Continue Their TV Spots as Planned & But Tailor Facebook Ads To Reflect The Religious Views Noted In The Consumer’s Profile?