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Should a Fast Food Outlet Employ an All You Can Eat Strategy in Social Media?

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Burger King Norway has decided to “Think Outside The Bun” when it comes to social media. Wait, that’s Taco Bell’s tagline. Ok, let’s just say BK Norway is taking a decidedly unconventional approach in regards to their Facebook page. FastCo.Create has the details. The short version is that BK Norway offered followers to their Facebook page a coupon for a free Big Mac – the key product of their chief rival! – to those people who would unfollow BK Norway. That’s right, they gave away somebody else’s signature item in an effort to lose followers. Why on Earth would they do that?

Social Media strategy, brand loyalty and community engagement all put to the test

Social Media strategy, brand loyalty and community engagement all put to the test

Here’s the thing about Facebook “likes,” especially for brands: Likes are a cheap, and I would say frequently arbitrary and misleading metric. Especially when you lure an audience with free goodies and coupons. Those are fans of your brand, those are fans of a brand called “Gimme Free Stuff.” Listen to what Burger King Scandinavia marketing director Sven Hars said in explaining the rationale for the move:

“This campaign gave us the opportunity to get rid of all the fans that just liked us because of freebies,” says Hars. “We stopped focusing on how many likes we had, and put time and resources into finding out what to talk about and how to engage our fans.”

Bingo. Several key insights here. Let’s break ‘em down:

1. They got rid of the “fans” that were just there because of the freebies.

Those people are going to be nothing but a drain on resources. They’ll want to know when they are getting their free food, and then they’ll likely complain about the quality when they do — both in public. Don’t believe me? Go ask TGI Friday’s.

2. They stopped focusing on “likes.”

Quick, go to your Facebook profile and review the brands you’ve “liked.” My bet is that you can’t remember ever “liking” about 30% of them, you have patronized another 30% in the last year (or ever) and then there’s another 30% that you do use/buy, but their Facebook presence has nothing to do with it. Focusing on “likes” is a never-ending race to nowhere. What’s a successful number of “likes” to have? One million? Ten million? Who knows. Likes are a result of doing the right thing, not a means to and ends.

3. They decided to do some research and focus on the people who matter

Most brands, especially in this category, just pump out product promotions, but Facebook – and by extension social media – isn’t, or at least shouldn’t, be about that. It should be about understanding how people live, what they really want, and being part of culture. Then figure how your brand (not your product) fits in.

Yes, BK Norway has a lot fewer fans on their Facebook page. But these are people who, when given the choice, declared they would prefer to stay loyal to Burger King over their chief rival. Now BK has set up an us vs. them situation, just the type of thing that can be the catalyst for building a true community.  Again, here’s Hars on the results of the move…

 “There are so many more conversations going on between both us and the fans, and the fans in general,” he says. “Focus on quality for us has led to a dedicated and loyal fan base, and has also made it easier for our fans to connect to the brand.”

Conversations are a better way of measuring than mere “likes.” In a category where quantity usually trumps quality, at least when it comes to products, it’s great to see a brand focus on the latter.

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8 Tips for Hashtags

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Digiday’s Saya Weissman has a piece today talking about brands and hashtags. It’s a good piece and a strong reminder that brands employing a GMOOT (Give Me One Of Those) strategy will often be disappointed in the results. So, with that in mind, here are 8 things to remember when thinking about using hashtags as part of your communications strategy:

1. Keep the consumer in mind

Ask yourself the following:

  • Would I use that hashtag?
  • In what context?
  • How does it connect to my life?
  • How often would I use it?
  • Is this hashtag just our strapline, or does it mean something more?

If you’re going to implement a hashtag and it’s only serving the brand I think you’re going to be in trouble.

2. Do you really need to create a new hashtag?

Every day there are tons of existing and new hashtags being tweeted, is yours adding anything new or different to the cacophony? Maybe it would be better just to engage people around hashtags they are already using. Check out hashtags.org to see what’s already going on.

3. Is this hashtag going to be hijacked?

There is no excuse at this point for a brand to be surprised when something like this happens. A hashtag is a type of user generated content and we’ve seen time and time again what happens when brands open up like this. So ask yourself, is your brand currently facing some dicey PR issues?

4. Understand culture

Before launching your hashtag make sure you’ve done a cultural audit. If you’re ad campaign shows to young women sharing a delicious, fresh-brewed tea, #2Girls1Cup is a very bad idea.

5. Connect to culture

The Super Bowl (all sports really), reality programming and awards shows tend to generate a lot of activity on Twitter. How can you leverage this with your hashtag?

6. Support your hashtag

In some ways a hashtag is more like a product itself than a communication tactic. You have to promote it with earned, owned and paid media if you want to see it grow roots and thrive.

7. What’s the longterm plan?

You’re putting a lot of effort into making a hashtag work, but is this campaign only going to last a day or a few weeks? Think about the longterm viability of your hashtag.

8. For God’s sake, measure!

Whatever you do, don’t go to all the trouble of creating a whole plan without having a measurement plan. Understand what you’re trying to accomplish with this hashtag. What does success look like? Use something like Hashtracking to get some analytics on your efforts.

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My Son the Achievement Hunter

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I love my job. I love it because I get to think about what incidents like last night’s might mean. Maybe this one is meaningless, but my hunch is that my friend Grant McCracken would see something interesting in it. Here’s what happened:

My 14-year old son was excitedly showing off a new t-shirt he just acquired:

That's the shirt, but that's not my son. My 14-year old doesn't have tats.

That’s the shirt, but that’s not my son. My 14-year old doesn’t have tats.

So, kind of an odd shirt, right? Some dude with a full beard and glasses, and the semi-cryptic, pseudo-aspirational ‘achieve.’  The image is a representation of Jack Pattillo, Editor of Achievement Hunter at Rooster Teeth Productions. Yes, I recognize that ‘Editor of Achievement Hunter at Rooster Teeth Productions’ means absolutely nothing to you. Rooster Teeth are one of those companies that didn’t, couldn’t, exist in the previous century.  Their YouTube channel boasts over 3 million subscribers and over 1 billion views!

Rooster Teeth are one of those 21st century companies that is shaping our culture in stealth mode – at least as far as the mainstream understanding of culture goes. But here’s the thing that I really found amazing in talking with my son. As I did a Google search for Jack Patillo his LinkedIn page came up so I clicked on it. As I was looking at it my son noticed the “People Also Viewed” group on the right hand side of Jack’s page. My son pointed to every single person on the list, all Rooster Teeth employee’s, and said, “I know who that is.”

Producers, web designers, VPs, show creators, you name it, my son could have told me all about them. What sort of advantages does this give Rooster Teeth? In building a relationship with their fans, in recruiting talent, in building a larger audience? I’m not sure but when I was my son’s age the only employee at a company that I would have known was Tinker Hatfield, the shoe designer from Nike. Yeah, I was that much of a Nike nut then.

From a marketing perspective I see the vast, yawning cultural chasm between the current C-Suiters and the kids that are my son’s age. Next time you are talking to a brand manager ask them about companies/people like Rooster Teeth, Valve, Tobuscus, Minecraft or Freddie W. My guess is you’ll get blank stares. In the next couple of years you’re going to see an explosion of brands and media companies (there’s a difference?) that will catch those in charge by complete surprise. It’s going to be fun to watch if you’re on the right side of things, but very messy if you’re not.

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Coca-Cola, Intel: Social Media Approaches

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I came across two interesting stories today. First, Ad Age reported that Coca-Cola had issued an RFP for an agency to handle social media listening. The piece notes that, “Kerry Tressler, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, said some 20 agencies have been involved in the selection process. She noted the company is looking to select a single agency and expects the decision will be made “fairly quickly.” She also said that roster shop 360i is among the agencies participating in the process.”

As an agency guy, and a social media guy, this is concerning. In general, I think less agencies is better than more agencies. Yes, you want best in class but at some point the task of managing a dozen agencies across your marketing department can outweigh their individual skills. I’ve been involved with a lot of big brands, for a number of different agencies, and getting them to communicate and work in harmony can be an effort, even when there roles are clearly distinct. But today, clearly distinct roles is a thing of the past. What agency doesn’t think it can handle the social media duties? Now Coca-Cola is going to add a social media monitoring agency?

Econsultancy.com seems to support the notion, stating in an article on the Coca-Cola RFP: “Just as, for instance, an analytics guru who identifies a problematic page correlated with shopping cart abandonment is likely not going to be the person who fixes the usability or copy problem responsible for the abandonment, an agency that is capable of helping a client engage effectively with consumers through social media isn’t necessarily going to be the most capable of analyzing social chatter and applying the results to social and other marketing channels.”

No, they aren’t necessarily going to be able to, but they could. I don’t believe getting another agency is the answer, rather getting the right agency is the answer. Surely there are agencies that can use the wide variety of tools now available to monitor social media conversations, and then execute against the strategies to engage or convert or whatever is the appropriate action.  I would be concerned about the potential lag time between Agency A identifying an opportunity to engage (or more seriously, identify a potential crisis) and Agency B taking the appropriate action. I’m sure the “listening” agency is going to have ideas about how to respond that may be different from Coke’s other social media agency. In all, I see more potential problems than benefits.

The other story came from Andy Sernovitz, who looks at what Intel is up to with their social listening and engagement program. Interestingly, Intel’s Becky Brown talks about the need to “[c]entralize, consolidate and focus.” Here’s her full presentation from BlogWell:

 

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Intel’s approach is inline with what I heard from Ethan McCarty, Sr. Manager, Digital and Social Strategy at IBM, in my interview with him (Part 1, Part 2).  Intel, like IBM, is evolving into a Social Business.  Getting all departments and all employees on the same page. Harnessing internal experts and leveraging them to engage with consumers/customers will be essential for businesses. Those, like Intel and IBM who are moving in that direction now will have an advantage over their competitors.

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Don’t focus on Social Media, focus on shareable ideas

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What exactly is “social media?” By one definition, it is “the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.” True, but what if I share a graphic novel with a friend, and over lunch we have a discussion about it? Perhaps we haven’t fulfilled the first part, but we’ve certainly generated interactive dialogue.

So the question is, are you more worried about the former or the latter? If you’re focused on web-based and mobile technologies, here’s what you’re going to end up doing:

  • Measuring how many Facebook “likes” your status update received
  • Checking your Twitter followers
  • Seeing how many people circled you in Google+
  • Counting how many Foursquare badges you have

Now here’s my question: What do those have to do with your brand? Unless you’re in the selling Google+ circles or Facebook Likes business, probably nothing.

But what about the other half of that definition? The interactive dialogue part. That has plenty to do with your brand. If you’re interested in developing that, then you are interested in fostering:

  • Product reviews
  • Roundtable discussions
  • Heated debate
  • Recommendations

These are softer metrics. Qualitative metrics rather than the merely quantitative. These support opinion, passion and preference – things that are shareable. So what are you doing to generate those? When you run promotions to get people to “like” you on Facebook, you’re not generating shareable ideas.  When you offer a 10% discount just for checking in on Foursquare, you’re not generating shareable ideas.  Instead, try something like this:

  • Post something provocative on your Facebook page, and give a prize to the comment that receives the most “likes”
  • Create a hashtag on Twitter and reward everyone who uses it with a coupon
  • Got a product on Amazon? Challenge your customers to write a review in haiku format
  • Own a restaurant? Offer to ut the best Yelp review on your menu
  • Reward people on quora.com with the highest rated responses to a question in your industry with an opportunity to write a guest post on your blog

You could probably think of a dozen more. The point is, these all create shareable content that is relevant to your business. But more importantly, don’t become fixated on the platform. Create a print publication or a physical badge instead of a digital one. Reward people with content that can be shared in more intimate, personal ways, not just via a Twitter blast.

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Social Network Marketing: 6 Things Social Sites Can Do To Keep Users Interested

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As noted in my previous post, Five Tips for a Better Beta-Tester Strategy, I try to check out as many new platforms, tools and services as I can. The vast majority of the time the technology is good enough and the idea is good enough, but the enterprise ends up falling flat for me. I’ll play with it a little bit, explore the different elements, but ultimately I find myself pulling away and going back to other places on the web. In thinking about it further, I’ve come up with a check-list of six questions that go into determining if this is a place I should be spending my time:

 

1. Who’s there?

Just about every site let’s you connect with or invite your friends from Facebook, Twitter, etc. Great idea, makes sense. Or at least did make sense. But now I start to ask the question, “If s/he is my friend on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, Quora and Facebook, why am I connecting with them here as well?”  There doesn’t seem to be any context, it’s just random friend tapping.  Sure, sites can benefit from the network effect, but the failure to add a layer of relevancy makes this a hollow exercise. Rather than trying to ramp up with volume, I’d rather see sites incorporate Klout or PeerIndex to say, “these are your friends from other social networks who are experts/influencers/interested in the topic that this site is all about.  Real world example: Why doesn’t GetGlue tell me “These are your Twitter friends who are really passionate about TV/Film/Books/Music.” That would end up making the GetGlue experience better because I’d either be following or inviting my existing friends who will actually use GetGlue.

2. How does it connect with my life online?

Every site allows me to push content to my Facebook or Twitter streams. But a good majority of the time I don’t want to do that. To paraphrase Jesse Eisenberg (as Mark Zuckerberg) “If I wanted to post on Facebook, I’d be on Facebook.”  Surely there must be other ways to connect your site to my online life. Many sites off widgets and badges (see examples on the right hand column of this blog), but that’s rather low end. I don’t have an answer here, but I’d love to see someone come up with something beyond the basics we see now.

Online and offline connect via the Speedo Pace Club

3. How does it connect with my life offline?

Here’s where Nike+ (and the new Speedo Pace Club) have done a great job. It’s not just about checking-in via a Location-Based Service, it’s about integrating what I do offline with an online experience. Also, it’s niche, but a passionate niche. I’m not going to see everyone of my Twitter friends in these, only the ones that are really into running or swimming or whatever. I think these type of sites have a real chance to grow and survive.

4. What’s in it for me?

So many of these young sites gin up the interaction with gamification, but have an incredibly small payoff.  How many digital badges and stickers am I going to collect? Why exactly do I want to be at the top of your leader board?  Foursquare works well here because I’ve received plenty of real world rewards for my efforts – free appetizers, 20% off merchandise, etc.  More sites need to figure out how they can reward their users in more tangible ways. I’m not going to run around telling all my friends they have to check out a site because they can earn a badge.

5. How are you connecting with me?

I get plenty of emails with news about the latest updates or metrics milestones from sites, but very few emails asking me about my user experience. I rarely get offers to speak with the engineers or developers or executive team (most of my CEO interviews come from my pro-active efforts). I wish more sites would show an interest in me. Surely there must be a way to search my online content and then communicate with me in a way that connects who I am with what your site is in a more meaningful way.

6. How are you surprising me?

Instead of another badge, how about something like, “For our first birthday, we teamed up with our friends at Ben & Jerry’s. Free ice cream for all our members, go print the coupon here!” That would be unexpected and quite welcome. I’m sure I could come up with a dozen ‘surprise and delights’ in about 30 minutes.  Give me a reason to keep coming back, make me want to know what might happen next because of my connection with you.

Bootstrapping an online venture is tough, I get that, but don’t forget to think about your potential user as much as you think about the offering itself.

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