The old saying “Any publicity is good publicity” might hold true in the recent Burger King social media debacle. Sure, no one wants to have their account hacked, and then given the imagery of your closest competitor, but it could have been worse. They could have served a finger in a set of nuggets, or possibly put our some bigoted press statement dictated from the top down. But they didn’t, instead they fell pray to what is becoming a normal occurrence, a gang of merry pranksters hacked their account and had some fun.
It wasn’t the end of the world, though I am sure the social media marketer in charge of this channel was having a rough day. Even McDs had sympathy and tweeted out their support. Though some replied with “you smug bastard” comments, I genuinely think that social media marketers were truly sympathetic. Sure they had a few good laughs, but after those chuckles died down the fear of “what if” probably set in. And there is no reason that fear shouldn’t be present. I have the fear every time I press the publish button, so why wouldn’t other have the same about what could potentially happen to their accounts.
Now I am not writing to preach on having a strong password, or being mindful of the NSFW links you click on while at work. I am more or less writing to say, “Shit Happens”, cause it does and will continue to happen. It’s how you handle it that makes all the difference. As of now I have no idea how Burger King will handle its defacing. In my heart of hearts I hope they run a promotion that highlights the lighter side of the hacking, and helps bring in loyal customers. That would be the best way to make lemonade from these sour grapes. Take your publicity, whether negative or positive, and make it work to your advantage.
That is the goal of this article. I think they made a movie recently called “Silver Linings Playbook“, no idea what the actual plot is but I can guess it is about taking the bad and making the best of it. That is what you have to do as a social marketer! Every time you hit submit, send, tweet, post, or make public, you are exposing yourself and your company to the follies of the world around you. And to be sure, the world around you can be a funny, cruel, kind, and mischievous place. So be prepared to face whatever may happen.
I myself run the social media side of life for a few start-ups and so far, knock on wood, I am not a victim of misinterpreted posts or tweets, but I know it will happen. So to prepare I am constantly looking around, and observing how the big guys deal with their mishaps. You can learn a lot, good and bad, from corporations and how they respond to social media blunders. Some have a sense of humor, and spin it to their benefit. Others collapse upon themselves in a corner, smelling of urine and fear. Don’t let that be you. Make the most out of every situation. Be smart about your messages, and keep things in perspective!
Keep Calm, and Market On!
Connecting the dots,
Maybe you’ve seen the video, the one of the spiders spinning their webs while on different forms of illicit drugs. If not, here waste some time! But the main message is, a sober spider does his duty correctly. It will not make bad webs, ill-concieved attempts, or waste its time. So you should be a sober spider, especially when building out your website, and increasing your SEO.
Right now there is a running question/answer article on ExploreB2B that discusses “debunking” SEO, and what the future of content creation should look like. I view SEO work similar to a spiders web, when everything is connected (linked) together properly, key words used strategically, and content is created with a purpose, you’ve done your job correctly. Like a spider on drugs, there are too many sites out there with dead links, unoriginal/boring content, and are haphazardly connected to unrelated sites. And like a spider on drugs, they don’t get much done.
I could speak to this topic for hours, and point our exactly where some go wrong and others go on to be legendary, but I’ll keep it brief. Don’t want to bore you, and I am sure references to drug using spiders could keep you hooked, but I don’t want your pity. I just want to go to Google search relevant key words to what I want, and be led to your site to learn from, experience, or pay for the service you offer. If I can’t see your company on the first page, chances are I am not seeing your company at all. Not to say I won’t look past the first page, but after all if the all-mighty Google doesn’t deem your content first page worthy, than chances are I am not going to either.
But don’t fret or give up hope. All is not lost. Just stop taking the drugs, put down the spider, and get to work. Easy steps, do your links all work? If you say yes, skip to page 74 in this choose your own adventure, but if you said no….why did you say no? Make them work, or delete them. If you deleted all your links than maybe it’s time to find new sources of content. Where is your customer? Find their trusted sources, and share those sources until you yourself become a trusted source.
Back to where your customer is looking for info, are you there as well? Can you say with a straight face that you actual submit quality information to be gleamed by those in your chosen industry, or are you a spammer, joining only to self-promote? No one liked the kid on the playground that spoke only of how awesome he was at everything, and no one likes a company that offers nothing more than “Buy Here, Buy Now” commentary. Be smart about your interactions, because in todays world your interactions can reach around the globe and back.
So stop being the spider on crack, get up and do your research. Otherwise risk being looked over when others do theirs.
Connecting the Dots!
I like my little world of designer toys, and pop culture creativity, but there comes a time when your network or core audience just won’t suffice. A time when your brand or company has saturated your current market…or worse yet, you can’t get traction at all. What then? Where to turn when you are putting out product and it isn’t going out the door? Cross-branding, if done right, can get you traction and take your company down new avenues.
While I can give hundreds of examples of cross-branding done right, and probably a thousand examples of it gone awry, I want to speak specifically to the success of a company I am familiar with. This post will attempt to tie in the hard work of Vannen Watches to my point of how good cross-branding can open up new doors. To no fault of their own Vannen Watches started off on a rocky, but positive, start. They had amazing artists, a fresh idea for new accessories, and what seemed like a perfectly timed launch to beat out competitors who were planning the same move. But despite all of the good intentions, and well timed placement, they struggle at times to move these gorgeous time pieces out the door and onto adoring fan’s wrists.
After the launch of Artist Series 1 and 2 Vannen increased the size of the watch face, which helped expand the market and gave artists a bigger platform on which to display their work. Some amazing watches were produced using this new shape, but things really took off when the brand decided to collaborate with the Descendents. Those of you familiar with the world of punk know who these gentleman are, and there in lies the genius of this collaboration. Sure Vannen had talented artists, but who outside of the designer toy world knew this whole designer watch craze was happening? I am guess not to many, but when you combine your product with a band who’s fans span the globe and cover over 3 generations…well then you may get some traction in places you least expect it.
All of the sudden Vannen went from being relegated to toy blogs to being talked about here, and here, and here. So suddenly you are not only a designer watch brand you are a brand that is making product for several genres, ages and genders. Almost immediately the success of the cross-branded collaboration was visible. More tweets, more fans and a lot more positive press surrounding a company that had some struggle when it came to launching its watches. Now all of the sudden they have traction, and as you’ll see it only helped propel the brand into it’s next working collaboration.
Their next few cross-branded watches reached out to an entirely new market through collaborations with AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. AMC is no light-weight and their fan base reaches far and wide. Vannen’s decision to suggest this collaboration was insightful and well thought out(or we will assume it was). Here is a watch maker that was kept within the confines of designer toys and artists, but now their brand is being worn by collectors and fans from all age groups and genres. Cross-branding collaboration is not always the best move for a brand but in some cases it ‘s what’s needed to breakout of saturated markets and increase your fan base.
Cross-branding is a double-edged sword that can not only play against you but also those who choose to partner with your brand. So always, always, always be open and honest about what you wish to achieve through the collaboration. The last thing you want is for your co-branded product to get panned by your partners in crime, or to have them disavow the project all together. Vannen has been particularly good at building out exactly what they planned to achieve.
Oh no, you attempted to do some clever marketing through your brands twitter or facebook page and it went horribly wrong?! What happened, you had such high hopes for these free marketing channels but it hasn’t produced the results you asked for? You mean people actually turned it against you?
I can’t help but laugh when a company tries their hand at social marketing and it blows up in their face. Then again, I can’t help but laugh when brand successfully launches, maintains, and grows a social marketing campaign. I love social media, schadenfreude and all. As a kid I was one of those little bastards in the AOL chat room manipulating code, and using scripts to ruin all your fun chats about A,S, and L. I quickly learned that the internet is a wild place, one where your best intentions can be misdirected or abused by other users from around the world.
Now with that in mind I approach the social media space with both excitement, I love to share information, and trepidation, because I have seen the wit of other users permanently ruin a brands attempt to promote their company. Most recently I even willfully participated in messing with Mitt Romney’s misguided attempt to skewer President Obama’s policy success. Mitt’s team gladly purchased and promoted several hash tags. One such tag was #failingagenda, and I must admit on the surface it had promise.
Imagine a million, nah 100 million tweets all lambasting President Obama with his failures accompanied by the hash tag #failingagenda! Oh the joy and glee the GOP would have had using those 140 character quotes in their attack ads, that will air between now and November 6th. But, when that hash tag hit the ground running it didn’t bring back the results they intended. Instead of positive anti-Obama fodder coming back by the millions, they saw the true risk of social media marketing.
The quick-minded intellectuals of the internet immediately seized upon the hash tag, using it to berate the same people who had gladly paid for this promoted tag. Lesson learned, we hope, but how and when do you use social channels to promote your brand?
Imagine your brand as a person. Is it approachable? How is your corporate culture? Are your employees preaching the good work you do, or if given the chance will they register false accounts to attack your fan page or twitter feed? Be careful when opening the Pandora’s box of social marketing where your message exists to be interpreted and manipulated by everyone from anywhere. Social media may not be the best idea if your strategy doesn’t take into account that a PR disaster could be right around the corner. Just ask Sweden, who (in good jest) let their citizens run their twitter, until one citizen decided to use it as a self-promotional soap box.
You can use the channels for what they are meant for, and increase your brand loyalty plus communicate directly with your customers, who are the best marketing you will ever have, or you can try to manipulate the natural order, creating risk and possible loss from your efforts. Those of us consuming media and marketing via Facebook or Twitter are usually inclined to spot and call out a phony attempt to gain our trust or attention, but that doesn’t stop companies from still trying. So next time you hover over the “post” or “tweet” button, think back to what you have learned…because once it goes out, it is out of your hands.
Nah… never mind. I don’t need an introduction, I found their twitter handle, email address, facebook page, G+ page…or any other various source of direct contact. Gone are the days of having to know someone, that knows someone, that knows a person that may be able to put you in contact with the people you are looking to connect with. No longer are we limited to our own circles, in our own close proximity, within the industry we work.
Social media, the internets, and cat videos have connected us to everyone, to everyplace, at anytime. If you want to connect to person that you admire, respect, or want to work with it is all possible now, and from the comforts of our computer. Want to speak to an artist in Germany that you admire and want to work with…not to worry. How about a B-list actress you think would be amazing to photo with your new clothing line, no problem you can at least reach out and pitch the idea.
Now the true question is, will they respond? If your only reason to reach out is a self-serving, egocentric, narcissistic need that you are trying to fulfill, than I hope for their sake they don’t give you the time of day. While this new age we live in makes it easier to connect to people around the world, it also means you need to be cognizant of what your true intentions are for these connections. If you are not giving as much as you are taking, then you are not getting the point of how to properly connect with people in the 21st Century.
It is a double edged sword. You can reach anyone, at anytime, but that also means you can be disconnected at a drop of a dime. Not only that, but you can quickly garner the reputation of a person who’s only goal is to use people for your own gains, and if you think you can connect to people quickly…than you won’t be surprised at how quickly you can be cut-off as well. If others feel you aren’t interested in providing useful information, than what use are you?
Be responsible, be courteous, be connected, but for the right reasons.
That use to be a question we would ask when we looked for resources or information, where do we go to find it? That is gone the way of the old story, “when I was your age, I walked two miles both ways”. We don’t need to walk anywhere anymore, thank you Segway, and we don’t need to ask where to find it any longer. You know where to find it, Google.
As much as I love being a smart ass, the phrase “google it” infuriates me. Sure I could look it up easily, but that is words on a page, and maybe I am looking for some personable interaction with this info. Or maybe, just maybe, I want your opinion on the subject (probably not, but you never know). So with the new “google it” response to any question you may have, where do you go for the personalized opinionated interaction with the information you are searching for?
As we move towards making our lives fully digital, what is going to happen to the interactions we use to have? I already find myself saying “text me”, forget calling me. I won’t answer. Why? Hell, I don’t know. I use to speak with you over the phone but now I just don’t want to communicate that way, but is that the best way to move forward? It’s impersonal, it creates communication errors(sarcasm sucks via text), and feels cold and calculated.
So as marketing moves to include more of the online tools and social media platforms we all use, how are you going to replicate the human interaction that use to be involved in building a brand? Will you still go to events and conventions? What if you stopped going to physical locations and started doing everything from Google+ hangouts?
Don’t stop focusing on new technology and reaching people where they spend there time, but consider what you are adding to their life besides Megabytes of data and some 1′s and 0′s to their retinas. Keep in mind we are still human, we crave affection and interaction. Despite what your Facebook friend count says, you don’t really have that many close encounters with those people.
Keep it honest, keep it personable, and keep connecting on an emotional level.
Who really loves NYC? Sit in Time Square for any period of time and you are for sure to spot a tourist or two. Shooting fish in a barrel really, but what I noticed was that the international tourist population shifted. I understood why Europe was flooding our stores in 2008, cause when 5th Ave is costing you the same as what a trip to Tijuana would, why wouldn’t you take advantage? But when the euro dropped and everyone was supposedly broke I still noticed larger amounts of foreign tourists and just as many shopping bags. This time they weren’t European, but that didn’t mean they were any less likely to drop some serious cash on NYC.
This switch and constant movement had me puzzled but I figure it goes with the territory of tourism. Until I read an article recently about how NYC & Company, a Bloomberg affiliate, had generated a tourism marketing campaign. It didn’t target domestic tourists, but marketed to whichever country is on the come up financially. This explained clearly why there was a change each season in which international visitors were in town. It wasn’t the natural selection of tourism, it was marketing at it’s finest.
With a goal to reach 50 million tourists annually, Bloomberg and NYC & Company started a marketing campaign to entice the world to want NYC. Strategically targeting countries where the middle class was making more and willing to travel further. Starting in 2010 they kicked off their ad campaigns in Brazil and Australia, but did so through strategic partnerships with corporations with a vested interest (American Airlines, American Express, At&T, Travelocity, Nickelodeon). It was successful; cause what campaign wouldn’t succeed with Dora the Explorer and half price airfare in their corner.
No matter the corporate connections, and access, this was a smart campaign. It went into emerging markets that didn’t have a history of traveling to the northeast of America, and ushered in a new era of travel. Success was achieved not because of the money that could be spent, but by the co-branding connections and the avenue’s in which it was marketed. Leveraging the vested interests of other companies has led to the success of the campaign is probably driving tourist numbers closer to 50 million than some ad in a magazine or newspaper.
The reason I point out this campaign is because it capitalizes on some of the marketing strategies I hold dear to my own heart. Keep your eye on the future, always look for what is next and not what was. Be informed about your product or client and search for others that carry the same value or hold the same goals(making money is not always the best thing to have in common). Co-branding is a strong platform to get your message to those whom it is meant for, so be prepared to work around the goal to reach the target.