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Transparency Dictates We Grow Thicker Skins

March 14, 2011 2 comments

Last week Chrysler made a social media faux pas. They accidentally dropped the “F” bomb. Well…the social media company they hired dropped the bomb. Actually somebody at the social media company did.

What was the offensive tweet? (Fair warning, adult conversation with adult words is about to happen.)

@ChryslerAutos – “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive.”

As a result of one word, the employee lost their job and a few days later, the entire agency was fired. Meanwhile at the Academy Awards, everyone thinks Melissa Leo’s passionate blurting of the F bomb was no big deal.

Ironically Chrysler’s new spokesman is Eminem, a Detroit rapper famous for his profanity laden rhymes. But the social media person is the one that got fired. They’re the one that didn’t meet the standard of

Chrysler Group and its brands do not tolerate inappropriate language or behavior, and apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this communication.

I don’t care. Most adults don’t. That’s the reality of social media. We now see things transparently. The stereotypical 50’s families like Ozzy and Harriet never existed. Clever Hollywood types presented this illusion of perfection as reality, but it’s not. Reality is full of curse words, alcohol, sex and all sorts of other things adults have proven over and over to be able to handle.

Chrysler is making a bigger ass of themselves by making an issue of this. If you’re going to fire this company, fire Eminem too. Transparency shines a light on everything good and bad.

In the transparent age, we need to be more forgiving. Not only is Chrysler hypocritical for firing their social media company, they’re hypocritical for firing them for a genuine mistake. How many cars does Chrysler recall each year for mistakes? I’ll bet it’s more than one!

We no longer live in a sanitized world. If we crave transparency, we have to accept everything that light illuminates. America elected a President with a DUI. We tolerated Dick Cheney’s off mic profanity. We’ll just have to accept an accidental F bomb from the car company Eminem reps.

Oh the humanity…

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Search and Social are Colliding!

December 3, 2010 1 comment

On my podcast in the summer, we discussed an interesting phenomenon in Europe…more visitors were using Facebook than Google.  Back then, it was an interesting sidenote, but today that phenomenon isn’t exclusive to Europe.  It’s becoming more and more apparent the future, indeed the present, of marketing is through social contacts.

90% of consumers online base their decision on the recommendation of a friend.

The online marketing industry is taking note.  I was recently made aware of a multi-day conference where the entire subject is search/social convergence.  Several recent articles I’ve read discuss social site results showing up on search engines.  Businesses are rushing to create social profiles for the purpose of selling products and services.

Unfortunately, many of these businesses are going to step on some toes and incorrectly sell on social sites.  When we engage on social sites, we don’t want to be pitched or sold.  If we’re in the market for a product, we’ll ask!  So why should businesses have a social presence for sales if people don’t want to buy?  Several reasons.

1.  Facebook is a far more effective sales platform than a website because of the potential to extend influence to friends of your customers.  Activity on your Facebook page can be spread throughout the platform with very little effort.  Social activity can also be added to non-Facebook sites.

2.  Buyers want to stay on the platform they’re using.  Why go to a third-party site when you can make your purchase on a site you already trust?

3.  Searches for buying signals for your brand can be set up on Twitter and Google alerts.  For instance if you’re XYZ widgets you can set up searches for “XYZ widgets” and “buy XYZ widgets” and “XYZ widgets sale.”  Not only can you monitor your brand, but you can monitor people who want to buy your product or service.

I recently “asked Twitter” for a recommendation on telephone tracking numbers.  Within five minutes a vendor responded.  Of all the companies in that space, only one responded.  Are their competitors missing out on business?

The worlds of search and social media are definitely colliding.  As this new medium evolves I think we’ll see social media become more and more effective as a sales tool.  Search sites must adapt or they will be left behind.

Social Media Blunders – Please Don’t be an Ash

June 25, 2010 1 comment

Some companies are extremely fearful of social media because people can actually say what they want – good or bad.  Yesterday, I watched a negative social media interaction unfold before my eyes.  Another Utah SEO Company, SEO.com made a post on their Facebook page and a disgruntled client responded.  SEO.com could have responded in several ways:

  1. Ignore the post,
  2. Delete the post,
  3. Engage the complaint.

They made the right choice.  They engaged their client and even offered to re-examine their account.  Perfect response.  I posted it here as I love to see how businesses handle social media when it goes “wrong.”  This blog posts to both my personal Facebook page and my Fan page

Some of my friends commented on the personal page including my podcast co-host Janet Thaeler.  Some people from SEO.com found out about it and commented on the post over here, but I guess they found Janet’s comments through Facebook and read what she wrote.

As you know, my policy on Facebook is I don’t friend people I don’t know.  When two SEO.com employees sent friend requests, I sent back my standard reply to connect on LinkedIn.  Turns out they wanted to comment to Janet through my personal page. 

One of them, Ash Buckles, decided he didn’t want to do that.  Instead, he registered a website in Janet’s name and posted an article that libeled her and called me names!  Then he posted it all over Twitter!  Bad form Ash.  Do you do that with clients that leave you?  Absolutely unacceptable.

Janet was attending a conference and began texting me and then she called because not only did he put up this site, he direct messaged her some unkind words on Twitter.  Janet’s friends began standing up for her.  I decided cooler heads should prevail and tried to call Ash, but couldn’t get through on SEO.com’s phone directory.  So I tweeted my phone number to him to call.  By that time, I noticed the site in Janet’s name was down.  Thank goodness!  But the damage had already been done.  Thousands of people had already seen this unfold publicly.

I spoke to Janet again and Ash called her during our call.  Apparently he offered half an apology, because he thought he was right and apparently the VP of Marketing at SEO.com had made the suggestion as well as making him take down the site.  Then he called me, because of my tweet.  No apology.  He suggested I friend him and then unfriend him so he could comment on my page.  No Ash, that’s not the way I do it.  If you want to respond, copy and paste the conversation to a public forum like my fan page or my blog and respond there.

I told him he needed to publicly apologize to at least Janet.  This is what he said:

FTR: I apologized to @NewspaperGrl. HUGE misunderstanding. Everybody can get on with their Friday.

So the moral of the story is be really, really careful about how you use social media.  Hijacking someone’s name and then calling them a plagiarizer is not good business, especially when they didn’t do anything wrong!

I think Ash should take the new domain in Janet’s name and put all her social media contacts on it until the name expires next year.  At that time, he should let Janet decide what to do with it.  That would be a fitting apology.

Nestle Makes Butterfinger Move on Facebook

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Add Nestle to the growing list of big companies that have been embroiled in social media scandals.

In this situation, Nestle is taking heat for two things.  One involves environmental protestors and deforestation for the palm oil the chocolate maker uses to make its candy bars.  Not too big of a deal.  All businesses get complaints from time to time.

The other regards their policy of using their logo online.  In a heavy handed statement last week, the company announced on Facebook

Again, not so bad.  Even though the future of the web is “open source” old school brands like Nestle like to think they still have control of their logos and intellectual property.  One of the things I love about Facebook and Twitter is they let people create with their logos.  Is it any wonder they’re growing as fast as they are?  Google is also creative with their logo by having their home page image changed for holidays and events.

The true sin Nestle is guilty of is how they actually responded to criticism.  Besides deleting comments they didn’t like, they were snippy in responses.  Again this article captured the mistake –

One company that stands out to me for handling criticism is Sears.  Last year a franchise store driver accidently ran over a dog during a delivery.  Though the franchise owner did nothing, once Sears corporate heard about the problem, they took care of it.

As a business, you can’t bend over backwards to every extreme demand, but you can recognize that you listened.  That was the lesson from Sears and the squished pup.  Nestle’s social media people are listening and fighting back.  You can’t win fighting people online.  Don’t try.

The Nestle battle is still going on.  This Australian article claims 4,000 Australians have fanned Nestle’s page…to post negative comments.  It will be really interesting to see how this gets resolved, if at all.

The One Question All Your Advertising Should Answer

December 30, 2009 4 comments

For years advertising has tried to answer the questions of “what” and “how much” and that’s been a fine way to advertise.

However, we’ve reached a level of marketing saturation that has made those methods that used to work obsolete.

To be really successful in today’s highly competitive marketplace, we need to start answering a different question in our advertising…”why.”

Consider the fast food hamburger as an example.  There are a lot of different foods competing for our dollars when we’re in a rush.  The super easy choice is a hamburger.  The big three are McDonalds, Burger King and Carl’s Jr.  They all make and sell hamburgers.  They all cost about the same.  So how can they gain market share?  By answering the why.  Of the three places, I admit I eat at McDonalds and Burger King more than Carl’s.  Of those two, I like Burger King the best.  Why?  Because of the flame broiled burger.  I think BK makes the best mass-produced hamburger in the country, if not the world.

I drive by a tune up place in Murray fairly frequently that has a message on its marquee saying, “Follow us on Twitter.”  Every time I think “why?”  I can’t think of a reason.  Maybe they’ve got one.  They probably wouldn’t go to the trouble if they didn’t, but it’s not being communicated.  A better message would be “Follow us on Twitter because you can get a free tune up.”

I tell people to read my blog because they’ll learn how to use Twitter and Facebook and blog in a profitable manner.  More importantly other people say the same thing. 

The key to answering the “why” question is to include the word “because.”  I got this idea from Copyblogger, but I’ve heard it from other sources too.  Your because can be anything, just use the word because it answers the question “why.”  I like Burger King burgers because they’re flame broiled.  The question of “what” is answered by the product and the question of “how much” doesn’t matter because it’s the best tasting burger out there and the price differential between my other burger choices is nominal.

Answering the question “why” removes the price question altogether so long as consumers are clear on what your product or service is.  Your “why” should be your competitive advantage or unique selling proposition.  Price doesn’t have to, nor should it enter into your advertising, if you answer the question why.

Last year I had the opportunity to test drive a Bentley.  I always wondered why someone would spend over $200,000 for a car when a perfectly good BMW or Mercedes costs a fraction of that price.  Once I drove the car, I understood why.  Other than the fact I couldn’t afford it, price didn’t come into play at all.  From the massaging seats to the powerful engine to the hand stitched interior that looked so well put together it could never fall apart, I learned the “why.”  I would have bought the car on the spot if I had the money.

We’re not all out there selling Bentleys, but if we answer the question of “why” in our advertising, we’ll never have to answer “how much.” 

What is my “why?”  I make websites successful.

Analog Marketing Using Send Out Cards

December 20, 2009 5 comments

At the end of October I had the opportunity to visit the Send out Cards facility in Salt Lake City.

What I like about this business is it allows people and businesses to send out their message in a form people will open – a greeting card.

From a marketing standpoint it’s analog marketing at its finest.  The company takes advantage of technology to provide personalized printing solutions and distribution for a very low per unit price.

Two things allow Send out Cards to do what it does;  technology and efficient systems.  For example, the company orders paper in certain quantities so it doesn’t age or dry out.  This “just in time” ordering allows a quality product to go out every time.

The technology driving the company is mind-boggling.  They can print one custom card or post card, score it, fold it, stuff it into an envelope and stamp it for less than $2.00 per unit. 

Think about what that means for a small business that uses direct mail for marketing.  You can send out a direct mail campaign with a mouse click, have someone else do the work and actually reach your customers because most people will open a card!

How important is this in today’s digital world?  Very much so.  Consider this example from Andy Sernovitz:

We have a member of our team who got hired because she sent a great cover letter in the mail. It was the only paper resume we got, so we noticed.  We weren’t even hiring, but the letter was so great we had to grab her before someone else did.

In today’s highly competitive marketing world three things need to happen for you to be successful; be found, be noticed, be remembered.  Do you think Send out Cards can do that?  I do.

Having done targeted direct mail for a mortgage company, I see immense value for any company that sends out small quantities of direct mail.  In addition, I see the open rate for greeting cards to be superior in every way. 

Consider that with a traditional direct mail campaign, a good response rate is going to be 5%.  95% of the people who get your post card, coupon or letter are going to throw it away.  Most will do it without even reading your message.

For a message wrapped in a greeting card, the numbers are much different.  Another Send out Cards representative told me he put together a campaign for a local restaurant and they saw a 30% response rate to their offer in a card.  If you do any direct mail, I think Send out Cards has to be part of your tool set.  I know it’s a part of mine.

It’s easy to start and set up.  I sent a dozen Christmas cards to clients and family this afternoon without licking an envelope or buying stamps.  If you’re in the insurance business, mortgage business or real estate business and not taking advantage of this amazing tool, I highly recommend you get started today.

Utah’s Top Blogger Current Standings – 10-24-2009

October 24, 2009 1 comment

topbloggernomineemedWe’re down to the final week of the Utah’s Top Blogger contest.  The nominee list was finalized last Friday and it’s now up to you to vote.

Nominees should still be putting the badge or telling their audience about the contest.  That’s the reason “Mormon mommy blogger” Brandy Roth is beating Dooce.  Here are the results to date…

Current Standings

Brandy Roth – 73%

Bob DeLong – 16%

Heather Armstrong – 10%

Janet Thaeler – 2%

19 other nominees – 0%

If you haven’t yet voted in the contest, take a look and pick a nominee to vote for.

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