Driving Social Business, Championing Innovation, & Inspiring Creativity

Why Do Marketers Ruin Everything?

There has been a tremendous amount of buzz as of late about the future of social media, in particular as it pertains to the corporate world and how brands are leveraging this medium. As a professional in this industry it pains me to see social under the scrutiny that it is today.  As social leaders we had an obligation to hold the line and keep things clean with the hopes that it wouldn’t fall victim to the same hack marketingScreen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.46.19 AM practices of the channels that came before it.

Direct Mail. Ever wonder why your mailbox is full of flyers, offers, and straight up junk mail?  Easy, it’s marketers.

Email. Your inbox is likely full of spam, and unwanted messages from brands, prescriptions at prices to good to be true, and adult entertainment messages?  Well, you can thank marketers for the cannibalization of your email and the creation of an industry of spam emails.

The Web. Ever go to your favorite website, only to be barraged by display ads, home page take overs, pop up advertisements, etc? We all have, and while it’s a highly lucrative and profitable form of marketing for brands it can feel a bit intrusive and overwhelming as a consumer.

Social Media. Chances are your social newsfeeds are overflowing with content from brands just trying to push messages to drive “engagement” in the form of likes, comments, clicks, RTs, etc.  It’s gotten so bad social networks are being forced to weed out this noise with aggressive algorithm shifts pairing down the content users of these networks actually see.  Mad at these networks making these aggressive shifts and ultimately moving to a pay for play model? Don’t be; as marketers we did it to ourselves.

Some would argue that marketers have a tendency to destroy everything they touch; but it doesn’t have to be this way if we start to think differently about our approaches.  I’m not saying that all brands are failing here – but I think it’s time that all of us that are responsible for managing the digital relationship between a brand and consumers take a step back and rethink about how they are showing up in the space.  Are we truly putting the customer first?

Now is the time to re-evaluate strategies, check, and adjust.  While we’ve got an obligation to help our companies grow and be more profitable, we also have an obligation to protect the integrity of social media.

Our industry is not going away anytime soon and there are still many ways brands can leverage social technologies for both connecting with consumers and providing significant value to their companies.  I’ll get into that conversation in a follow up post.

Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/dmgtty

Corporate Culture’s Role in Innovation


One of my all time favorite quotes is – “Culture eats strategy for lunch” by Peter Drucker.

It resonates with me for many reasons – but hits closest to home around the idea of innovation.

I hear a lot of businesses talk about how innovative they are or how they are approaching innovation at an enterprise level. They’re preparing for the future – looking ahead at how they might ride the next trend, or even get out ahead of it.  They’ve got an “innovation” team, so clearly they’re set up for success. Right?

Not so fast.

Successful innovation doesn’t begin with a team that is responsible for the ideation and execution of new ideas.  It begins with a corporate culture that is ready and willing to embrace innovation. They are open to new ideas, challenge each other (respectfully of course), collaborate, and take calculated risks.  Corporate culture is not an easy thing to change. But without a culture that embraces the above characteristics, your journey to be an innovative company will face headwinds on a consistent basis. Even the greatest of strategies can fall victim to a poor corporate culture.

While you mull over where your organization sits on the culture continuum, here are a few tips that can at the very least be directional as your business looks to be more innovative.

  1. Include everyone. Encourage all parts of the business to innovate – not just the “innovation” team. Great ideas can come from anywhere – including the front lines. [Nice use case for enterprise social collaboration tools right here].
  2. Live in beta. Be open to testing new programs and ideas all the time. Use these betas to learn. A lot.
  3. Fail fast. Not all of your ideas will work out.  Quickly identify why your idea is not working, course correct or scrap it and move on.

Do you have other ways that you or your company view innovation?  I’d love to hear how you approach the topic.

Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/99UsVX

The Hashtag: From a Simple Conversation Aggregator to a Pop-Culture Phenomenon

The Hashtag. It’s gone from a simple social conversation aggregator to a pop culture phenomenon in a very short period of time.  Today most social networks have adopted this functionality, however the users of these social networks are scattered all over the adoption curve when it comes to leveraging a hashtag within their communication. From those who aren’t familiar with the term or how to leverage it (i.e. my mother), to those that hashtag everything – and I mean everything – variety continues to be the spice of life when it comes to hashtag use in social channels.


This skewed consumption of hashtag usage begs me to ask a couple of questions of of social network users.

How can we begin to entice those not leveraging this powerful conversation aggregator to start dabbling with it? In doing so, these non-users would have the opportunity to uncover new information, insights, ideas and the potential to make new connections with people all over the globe, around topics that matter to them. I see this as a real value add.

How can we get the over users to dial it back a bit (or in some cases a lot)? We’ve all seen this before – #the #ones #that #hashtag #simply #everything. What is the point?  They are certainly not leveraging this conversation aggregator in a productive way, unless that is they are trying to follow every possible variation of the conversation they are entering with the picture they post, the tweet they send, or the status they update.  I would guess probably not; and that it’s just a ploy for attention. Or it’s a poor tactic to gain more meaningless followers through over exposure.  It certainly opens up some new comedic territory for exploration – as seen by this great skit from Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake.

I’m not sure I have the answer to the above questions I posed – it’s something I am pondering though.  What are your thoughts? Are non-users missing out? How much is too much?

PSA: Moderation is key with just about everything – even with #hashtags.

Smart Social Marketing or Stupid Decision Making?

If you’ve been online in the past 48 hours I am sure you’ve heard the buzz about a band of digital assailants that are hijacking several notable brands Twitter accounts.  It all began yesterday with the Burger King Twitter account falling victim to a hacker(s) that turned the channel into a faux McDonalds account for several hours.  The hacker(s) we’re quick to turn out some degrading content which would make any brand squeamish to be associated with.  From the looks of things it appears the hackers might have caught Burger Kings social team and or social agency off for Presidents Day, due to the fact that this account was left compromised for several hours before Twitter was notified to go in and disable it. If you’re curious to see how the Burger King debacle played out,  give this play by play from My Community Manager (www.mycmgr.com) a quick perusal.

I am happy to report that later that afternoon Burger King was able to regain control of their Twitter account and responded to their fans (including 30,000+ new followers gained in just a few hours) with a touch of class and humor.

While the burger giant was now again in control, it appears that this same hacker(s) was able to commandeer the Jeep Twitter account this morning, and deploy a similar set of renegade tactics (posting inappropriate images, posting vulgar commentary, and claiming that Jeep sold out to Cadillac) which caused yet another internet swirl.  For a brief synopsis of this web heist check out Business Insider’s story on the event.  I applaud both Burger King and Jeep for the fun and supportive back and forth between brands that occurred after both accounts were restored to their rightful owners.


It appears that some brands we’re all too eager for the opportunity to “get hacked” at took it upon themselves to plan their own Twitter heist. MTV and BET (both owned by Viacom) thought they would cash in on the social conversation by planning a hack of their own.  At some point this afternoon both Twitter Handles swapped branded imagery, and began tweeting that they’d been hacked.


This timely ploy by marketers at both networks certainly allowed them to jump in on the social chatter around hacking, but it quickly backfired.  Much of the sentiment around this stunt turned sour quickly once it was discovered that this was farce, and in the wake of other brands who had just been hacked for real.  In my opinion the only humorous thing that transpired from this MTV / BET botched marketing tactic was this reaction from the Denny’s social team.

The last 48 hours in the social space has given me a couple of things to think about.  I feel strongly that current social media environment requires brands to think smarter, act more quickly, and produce content which gives them a seat at the table within relevant main stream conversations.  I do not believe this new “real time” social environment means that brands should forget about acting ethically and with integrity at all times.  While the intentions behind the MTV / BET faux hack were more than likely innocent, I still question the decision making around this stunt, and why a brand would chance painting itself with the brush of negativity in the era when social media can make sentiment around a brand pull an about face in an instant.

What are your thoughts on the recent Twitter hacks?  Real or Faux?

How do you feel about MTV’s /BET’s attempt to garner a share of the social conversation through this timely stunt?


Super Bowl 47, Social Marketing Evolved

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