Mashable says brands don’t belong on Twitter

December 15, 2008

Mashable sparked an interesting debate on Friday when Dr Mark Drapeau made the bold statement that Twitter should ban brands from the site.  In the post “Do Brands Belong on Twitter”, Drapeau stated that:

Thinking about what might be best for people, in my opinion Twitter should not only not charge brands for membership, but also ban them altogether. Not unlike Facebook and other sites, every account would represent a person using a real name, location, and picture.

Drapeau explains his stance by arguing that a brand must have a person behind it:

Twitter is about people sharing information with other people. So how do one-dimensional organizational brands fit into this mix? When you really think about it, they don’t. As an analogy, when you call customer service, a human answers the phone (eventually) and tells you their name – and you’re not talking to “Sprint” or “Dell” but rather “Steve” or “Danny.”

Now while I completely disagree with that statement that Twitter should “ban brands altogether”, I do see the rationale that Twitter is about sharing information with other people.  I actually think the brands doing Social Media right are the ones that base their strategy off of this simple point.  If you just throw up your brand logo on Twitter (or any Social Media platform) and expect to have a conversation with consumers, you are doing it all wrong.  You are just trying to act the easy way out with one-way communication.

Brands belong in Social Media, but you need to humanize the brand

On the same day that Mashable said brands should be banned, the folks at iMedia highlighted “How to be a Twitter All-Star.”  Focused on brands like Flying Dog Brewery, Zappos and Southwest Airlines, the article proves the point that brands can enjoy great success on Twitter or any other Social Media platform.  But doing so requires them to humanize the brand by putting a person behind the logo.  And requires them to work with a different set of rules.

Christi Day, the Social Media face for Southwest Airlines, explained their approach as follows:

“Twitter empowers us to be authentic.  Getting real means being empowered, engaged and prepared. It is necessary to have the person in the Twitter role equipped to handle news management, customer communications, to be able to write compelling tweets and be willing to be engaged at all times.”

Let’s face it, this isn’t the type of marketing approach that most Brand Managers are use to.  But Twitter is just the latest technology to force us to think about change in our jobs.  If you haven’t sat down and thought about the impact of Social Media on your brand (and your career), maybe it is time you did.

NOTE:  Michael Brito from Intel joined in on the discussion with a great post on why brands do belong on Twitter.

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Congratulations Motrin. You just proved why every brand needs to understand Social Media

November 16, 2008

Are you still trying to convince your management why your brand should be monitoring Social Media?  Well if you are a Consumer Packaged Good brand (or any brand really), just look at what happened to Motrin over the past couple of days and the reaction of Motrin Moms.

A simple search on Twitter of #motrinmoms will show you that they pissed off a lot of people with their latest ad around “babywearing.”  Mommy Bloggers are not people you want to mess with and you sure better understand the sandbox you are playing in if you do them wrong.  For instance, just look at this Consumer Generated Media that has already popped up in response.  Not exactly brand content you want at the top of search results.

The Lesson for Brand Managers:

Motrin screwed up.  It happens.  But in today’s world of Social Media, the place they really screwed up was in not monitoring what people were saying about the brand.  This PR disaster is happening underneath their nose and no one on the brand is responding.  Not their advertising agency, not their Public Relations group and not the brand itself.   The unfortunate fact is that company’s haven’t trained Brand Managers to respond quickly to situations like this.  That needs to change….and it needs to change fast.

People are going to be talking about your brand, with or without the Brand Manager‘s permission.  This simple fact is reason enough that you should be monitoring the conversations around your brand.  Motrin is just the latest brand to learn this lesson the hard way.

UPDATE – Well it looks like Motrin is trying to respond.  If you commented on their website, it looks like their VP of Marketing has a response that is being sent out (Thanks to Amy Gates for the lead).  And the Motrin.com site has been taken down for now, but thanks to the power of YouTube, you can still see the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmykFKjNpdY (Thanks Bill Seaver)

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Forrester Research is a tremendous partner for Brand Managers to keep their marketing edge

November 11, 2008

2008 Forrester Consumer Forum

Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2008 Forrester Consumer Forum.  While I have worked with Forrester for several years, it has only really been the past few months that I have started going deep with their research.  After reading through several of their reports and seeing their analysts speak at the Forum, I have come to the conclusion that Forrester Research should be a trusted partner for every Brand Manager out there.

That probably seems like a pretty bold statement so let me explain.  First, if you aren’t familiar with Forrester, here is their description on their website:

Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) is an independent research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology. Forrester focuses on the business implications of technology change. Uniquely, Forrester guides marketing executives, business strategists, and IT professionals to create a unified technology plan that gains business advantage.

Now what makes Forrester such a strong partner for Brand Managers (and business leaders overall)?  Well a couple of things have really stood out for me:

  1. An experience tailored to your business needs: Unlike many of their competitors, Forrester custom tailors your experience based on your role at a company.  You can choose from 19 different roles ranging from Marketing Leadership to Consumer Market Research to CIO.  Doing so allows you to quickly see what research & info is most important to someone in your role.
  2. Timely research to help you answer the tough questions: Has your management been asking you how your brand will survive and thrive in the market downturn?  Did you have an answer to their question?  If you were working with Forrester, you would.  Right now they are providing Market Downturn Alerts on research that can help you gain a strategic edge while competitors are scrambling.
  3. Analysts that push you to think about “what’s next”:  Anyone can give you facts and figures.  Forrester is unique because their analysts take research and then use it to push you to think about what’s around the corner.  Just in the past few months, they have published such great reports as Brand Matters To Socially Connected Consumers, Fight the Recession with an In-House Agency, and Ubiquitous Marketing.

When times get tough, management is going to start asking the difficult questions about every decision a Brand Manager makes.  Having a strategic partner like Forrester Research in your corner gives you the confidence (and the numbers) to back-up your plans.   And with that confidence, you can take advantage of the downturn to gain market share and take your brand to the next level.

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Welcome to the Social World

October 30, 2008

Solid presentation on Social Media from the folks at Razorfish

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10 bloggers who inspire Hard Knox Life

October 29, 2008

At last count, I read around 150 blogs every day through my RSS.  Of course this includes the A-Listers like Seth Godin, Mashable, Jeremiah Owyang, Guy Kawasaki and ReadWriteWeb.  But it also includes several others who I find to be real inspiration for what I write on Hard Knox Life.  If you are looking for some great new reads, you should check these guys out (in no particular order):

Pete Blackshaw – Consumer Generated Media: I’m lucky enough to call Pete a good friend and mentor.  But he is also one of the best voices in Social Media today.  This guy is bursting with energy and it shows with his writing.  Cincinnati is lucky to have him as an adopted son.

Alan Wolk – The Toad Stool: I think Alan has managed to be one of the most referenced people here on Hard Knox Life thanks to his terming of “NASCAR Blindness.”  He is self-described “tradigitalist”– an advertising creative director and social media consultant with the rare ability to speak Web 2.0 and TV 101 – often in the same sentence.

Bob Gilbreath – Marketing with Meaning and The Challenge Dividend: Bob is another guy doing Cincinnati proud with his writing.  As Chief Marketing Strategist for Bridge Worldwide, Bob is a P&G Brand guy who made the switch to the agency world.  He’s been writing The Challenge Dividend since 2006 but just started Marketing with Meaning as a platform for some of the work he is leading at Bridge.

Ian Schafer: Ian is the CEO of Deep Focus, a digital shop who is doing some of the most amazing work I have seen (just check out their latest with Entourage).  Ian is always willing to push the envelope.  For instance, a couple of months ago he auctioned off the sponsorship of his Twitter profile to anyone willing to bid.  Keep an eye on what he is going to do next.

Peter Kim – Being Peter Kim: Former Forrester Analyst and current Commissioner of the Social Media Fantasy Football League, Peter is a guy that just gets it.  When he was at Forrester, he wrote several reports on the future of Marketing that are dead on.  I’m talking stuff that could shake up the industry if we are brave enough to follow his advice.  I can’t wait to see what he does in his newest venture.

Kevin Dugan – Strategic Public Relations: The 3rd Cincinnati resident on the list, Kevin is a guy who is really making things happen in our city.  He’s been blogging since 2002 and is one of the driving forces behind the Cincinnati Social Media Breakfast.  In his most recent post, he says he is feeling a little burned out…let’s hope that passes quickly.

Paul Isakson: Paul’s day job is Senior Strategic Planner for space 150 and he puts together some of my favorite presenations on marketing.  My only knock against Paul is that he doesn’t blog enough.  His site has the tagline of “Provoke, Prod, Inspire – Building a better future for brands” and he does just that every time he writes.

Darren Herman: I first came across Darren when I picked up his book “Coloring Outside the Lines: Confession of a Digital Native.”  He’s a guy that walks the talk, having founded IGA Worldwide, where BusinessWeek named him one of the top entrepreneurs under 25.

Matt Dickman – Techno//Marketer: Matt is a VP, Digital Marketing at Fleishman-Hillard in Cleveland.  Though he isn’t exactly based in a city that is a technology hotbed, I would argue he is more in tune with where technology and the consumer will meet than any Silicon Valley/Alley based blogger.

David Armano – Logic + Emotion: Armano nearly makes the “A-List” classificaton but I decided to keep him humble.  I have been following Dave’s writing for awhile and have been fortunate enough to get to know him over the past several months since his agency (Critical Mass) works with P&G.  Dave is a true visual thinking and he is able to use pictures to simple get across concepts that most of us need hundreds of words to explain.

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Why design should matter for Brand Managers

October 28, 2008

Thanks to Chris Brogan, I stumbled across this amazing presentation on the importance of design.  Over the past several years, design has emerged as a powerful force at P&G.  This presentation does a great job capturing why design is an important element for every Brand Manager to consider.

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Politics aside, Wassup 2008 is a brilliant marketing video

October 25, 2008

I’m not going to say where I stand on the political spectrum, but I have to give props where they are due for a brilliant piece of marketing.  Election 2008 will go down in history as the year politics forever became Brand Marketing.

Thanks to Mitch Joel for the tip.

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