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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Why won’t someone develop a decent Twitter client for the Blackberry?

November 30, 2008
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image by via CrunchBase

On the trip to the parent’s house this weekend, I was bemoaning the fact that Twitterberry is not exactly a stellar Twitter client for the Blackberry.  And I appear to be in good company since Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures complained about the same thing on Friday.

So why is a smart developer not paying attention?  After all, RIM announced in September 2008 that they have over 19 million Blackberry subscribers.  Compare this to the Nielsen estimate that there were 3.6 million iPhone users in October 2008.  So while there are 5X as many Blackberry users, the only decent option is Twitterberry while iPhone users have Hahlo, Tweetie, Twitterific and a whole bunch of others.

And this lack of options is coming out clear in Google as well.  If you search “Twitter for Blackberry” you get 4.2 million results.  But if you type “Twitter for iPhone” you get a staggering 10.3 million results.

Blackberries (not iPhone) are the tool of the trade for most marketers and Brand Managers out there.  If Twitter is going to catch on with this group, it would help to have a solid Blackberry option for them.  As Twitter’s popularity grows, Blackberry themselves would be smart to develop a killer Twitter app and stop giving corporate users any excuse to switch over to the iPhone.

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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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Seth Godin: The Marketer’s Attitude

November 12, 2008

Seth Godin remains one of my favorite writers.  He was the first “marketer” I ever read and I have promo copies of both Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside sitting on my desk at work.  Needless to say, I’m a big fan.  His latest post was one I had to share in its entirety. The bolds are the parts I liked the most.  I wish more marketers thought this way.

Here’s what I’d want if I were hiring a marketer:

You’re relentlessly positive. You can visualize complex projects and imagine alternative possible outcomes. It’s one thing to talk about thinking outside the box, it’s quite another to have a long history of doing it successfully. You can ride a unicycle, or can read ancient Greek.

Show me that you’ve taken on and completed audacious projects, and run them as the lead, not as a hanger on. I’m interested in whether you’ve become the best in the world at something, and completely unimpressed that you are good at following instructions (playing Little League baseball is worth far less than organizing a non-profit organization).

You have charisma in that you easily engage with strangers and actually enjoy selling ideas to others. You are comfortable with ambiguity, and rarely ask for detail or permission. Test, measure, repeat and go work just fine for you.

You like to tell stories and you’re good at it. You’re good at listening to stories, and using them to change your mind.

I’d prefer to hire someone who is largely self-motivated, who finds satisfaction in reaching self-imposed goals, and is willing to regularly raise the bar on those goals.

You’re intellectually restless. You care enough about new ideas to read plenty of blogs and books, and you’re curious enough about your own ideas that you blog or publish your thoughts for others to react to. You’re an engaging writer and speaker and you can demonstrate how the right visuals can change your story.

And you understand that the system is intertwined, that your actions have side effects and you not only care about them but work to make those side effects good ones.

The cool thing about this list is that it’s not dependent on what you were born with or who you know. Or how much you can lift.

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Zappos.com: Building a Brand that Matters

November 8, 2008
Web 2.0 Summit 2008 Day One - Tony Hsieh of Za...

Image by b_d_solis via Flickr

Last week at the Web 2.0 Summit, Tony Hsieh gave a stellar presentation that detailed how the Zappos.com brand has been built into the company that it is today.  As always, Tony amazed me with his openness.  For instance, not only did he offer to give a tour of their Las Vegas office to anyone that was interested, but he also offered to send a free copy of the company Culture Book to all that emailed him.  How many CEO’s of a billion dollar company would make those types of offers?

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Upcoming guest writers on Hard Knox Life

September 28, 2008
Cincinnati skyline

Image by joseph a via Flickr

Over the next week, I will be making the move to Cincinnati to start my new assignment in Procter & Gamble Corporate Marketing.  Since I haven’t yet mastered the art of mobile blogging, I have asked a few of my peers and closest friends to keep the fires the burning here at Hard Knox Life with a series of guest posts.  Special thanks in advance to these guys for lending a hand during the move.  I have a feeling you are really going to enjoy reading what they have to say:

Depending on how long it takes to get everything set up at the new home, I should up and running again by October 6.  In the meantime, these guys will do an amazing job of providing interesting reading and I should be relatively active on Twitter.

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Social Media doesn’t show any signs of slowing down

September 18, 2008

The good folks over at Mashable just put together a nice post on the growth of key social media sites over the past 12 months based on Nielsen Online data.  Facebook and MySpace get all the love in the space but there are some other key stats that Brand Managers need to pay attention to:

  • “Twitter recorded 2.3 million unique visitors in August (US-only), an increase of 422% from the same period last year.”  More importantly, I would say this is a highly concentrated group of influencers, especially in the technology and media world.  There has been a ton written about how you can start using Twitter for business so I highly advise you start listening.
  • “LinkedIn grew 146% year-over-year to 10.8 million unique visitors.”  If you are in the world of business, you need to join LinkedIn asap.  And send me invite in the process.
  • While massive in the tween set with ~4.5MM users, Club Penguin only grew 15% year over year.  More importantly, average time on site dipped 22%.  Not good numbers for Disney’s purchase.
  • MySpace growth seems to be flattening and Facebook is rapidly playing catch-up