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The Badass Customer

The Badass User

This is a great presentation getting at some subtle truths about the relationships between customers, products and brands. Or more particularly how the customer sees themselves, how they want to be seen and the brands and products that are part of the process. Kathy Sierra does a great job spelling this out in extremely concrete terms. It's a lengthy presentation but very entertaining.

I don't want to give away the real magic here but when we talk about igniting conversation the role that we as brands and agencies need to play is often a lot humbler than we'd like. And occupying the right space means coming at the situation in ways that we're often not used to.

#SocialMedia success is not a result of social media excellence 

There’s a big difference between a brand simply engaging in social media, and a brand altering its overall strategy and mindset, to that of a social one.  I believe the most effective social media strategies, campaigns and tactics are actually an extension of an “upstream” strategy to change the overall approach the brand takes to marketing.

Take a recent Fast Company piece that lists 5 brands as mastering social media branding potential. 

Please note, I’m not knocking Fast Company here, I’m a huge fan of their writing and perspective. I just want to expand upon their evaluations of these 5 brands. 

#1 Ford 

According to Fast Company, Ford has done the best job at using social media to regain ground with consumers.   The article points to a specific example about their FiestaMovement.com campaign.  

While this was essentially a social media campaign, Ford has embraced a greater, more fundamental strategy.   They understand that consumers can tell the story for the brand – and at a significant scale.  But as a rule – the brand must contribute real and authentic value to the consumer and the culture they participate in.   This isn’t social media; this is a fundamental, top-level brand strategy that Ford is pursuing. 

 #2 CBS


Fast Company points out that The Big Bang Theory’s producer Bill Prady and actors from the show started to use Twitter to give fans’ a unique insiders’ view of the show.  And they even looked to fans to crowd-source props for the show.   The effective use of social media has helped to build a strong following, and has helped to build The Big Bang Theory into one of CBS’ strongest assets.    

To me, the folks at The Big Bang Theory understood a fundamental aspect to the brand to consumer paradigm shift in that the line between brand and consumer is blurring.  No longer can brands operate solely in a vacuum while they push their messages and products (or in this case content) outward.  Smart brands realize the relationship between brand and consumer is dynamic, fluid and is based around an exchange of conversation, insights and ideas.  

#3 Pepsi


The Pepsi Refresh Project was a social media project created by GOOD Projects, PepsiCo and TBWA/Chiat/Day that gave $20 million in grants in 2010 to causes for social good. 

While social media was the engine behind the project, this wasn’t about social media.   This was about a brand committing itself to helping to build and rebuild the communities that surround its brand.  It’s about a brand returning to fundamentals and contributing positive value to the culture of its audience

#4 Best Buy

Most people in the digital marketing space have probably heard of Best Buy’s Twelpeforce.  If you haven’t, Twelpeforce is a program in which nearly 3,000 Best Buy employees actively offer advice to people who tweet questions about electronics.

The Twelpeforce obviously relies on social media, and in particular Twitter to execute this program, but the decision to launch Twelpeforce extends much further and deeper in the Best Buy organization than social media.  Best Buy has realized social media has given the organization a never-before-possible opportunity to activate its “employee Army”.   Best Buy has realized that not only are consumers an integral piece to the brand building process, but all of its employees are as well.  And what’s really impressive about Twelpeforce, is that it demonstrates Best Buy’s trust and confidence in its employees to be the voice of and represent the brand. 

#5 Old Spice


You’d be hard pressed to find many people who haven’t been exposed to Old Spice in some way or another.   They have been one of the most innovative marketers and top of mind brands in recent years.  I think the best way to sum up their success is a mastery of viral marketing.   While they can certainly claim social media excellence, credit needs to be given to the most senior brand levels of Old Spice.  In order to have any chance in seeing the “viral” success of Old Spice, brands need to go “all-in” on the fundamental belief that Conversation = Commerce.  I don’t think there’s any doubt that Old Spice has fully embraced this philosophy.

The silver bullet for these brands isn’t social media mastery.  The silver bullet is embracing the monumental paradigm shift between the brand to consumer relationship that innovations in social and mobile technologies have created.

New Ways to Argue

I'm a huge Clay Shirky fan. However I didn't find myself watching his latest TED presentation as soon as it was released. The title "How the Internet Will (One Day) Transform Government" seemed like he was bitting off more than he could chew. It also sounded like well worn ground. I should have had faith. He tackles this earnest, critical question with humor and, as usual, original and practical insight. 

I won't give it away but I was pleasnatly surprised to find that a core part of the talk was about one my favorite code tools—Git. Silverfox recently migrated our development to github. Git is a version control system that is in the most concrete way possible "post modern".

Take the video for a spin. It will make your day. 

Why Facebook Engagement Matters #$750vs$11250 

If you’re in the social media business, digital marketing or any field of marketing for that matter, how many times a day do you hear about fan engagement?  “It’s not the quantity of your Facebook likes, it’s the quality”, as the email subject line goes. 

Inherently, I think most rationale people would agree with this statement, but why is that statement so true? I haven’t really heard a simple, pragmatic explanation why, so here it goes:

A brand’s consumer connections, or likes, on Facebook can serve two primary functions.  1)  Facebook has become a CRM platform.  A brand’s Facebook posts can be used to keep customers informed, convert likes to customers, up-sell, cross-sell, strengthen loyalty, etc.   2) Facebook is an earned media platform.   When likes engage with your posts, that activity is broadcast to their friends’ newsfeeds.  Your Facebook likes essentially become a media channel creating unpaid media impressions. 

With regards to #1, engagement isn’t necessarily a requirement of success.  For 24 Hour Fitness for example, if we develop a series of motivational Facebook posts to help people set fitness goals, overcome barriers and stay committed to their fitness, there doesn’t need to be any engagement with those posts to be considered a successful member communication program.    

But with regards to #2, you absolutely need to have engagement with the posts to generate results and be considered successful, because engagement is what creates the value.   Let’s do some math:

Scenario A:  Acme Brand posts on Facebook every day for a month.  They have 100,000 likes.  During this month, 1% of their likes engaged with 1 post throughout the month.   This created 1,000 engagement activities that are broadcast in their friends’ newsfeeds.   Let’s say each one of those likes has 300 friends and 50% of those friends saw the post in their newsfeed.   This means that those 100,000 likes generated 150,000 media impressions for Acme Brand.  If we assign a $5 CPM to those media impressions, the value of those brand posts, and their 100,000 likes generated $750 in unpaid media.  

Scenario B: Acme Brand posts on Facebook every day for a month.  They have 100,000 likes.  During this month, 5% of their likes engaged with 3 posts throughout the month.   This created 15,000 engagement activities that are broadcast in their friends’ newsfeeds.   Let’s say each one of those likes has 300 friends and 50% of those friends saw the post in their newsfeed.   This means that those 100,000 likes generated 2,250,000 media impressions for Acme Brand.  If we assign a $5 CPM to those media impressions, the value of those brand posts, and their 100,000 likes generated $11,250 in unpaid media.  

$750 vs. $11,250

But, keep in mind; engagement activity is a function of two variables.  1) The quality of your fans and 2) The quality of your posts.   Not only do you need quality, engaged likes to drive media value, but the brand needs to invest “upstream” in a social strategy that will provide engaging Facebook posts.   And by investing “upstream” you’re killing two birds with one stone.  You’ll attract organic, authentic likes, and those likes will engage with your strategically sound posts.

Mobile, The Granddaddy of Digital Trends

I recently put together a digital trends presentation for a client and something struck me that I hadn’t really thought about before.   One of the charts in the presentation showed that by 2014, mobile Internet usage is predicted to take over desktop Internet usage.  I looked through the list of trends I was building slides for and it hit me – Mobile usage is a fundamental phenomenon that is creating the powerful ripple effect that is driving nearly all other digital trends.

Below is a list of digital and cultural trends that are being driven and directly influenced by the ubiquitous mobile adoption across the world. 

1.  THE SOCIALIZATION OF REAL LIFE

The last 5 years was an era that saw the socialization of the web; the next 5 years we will experience the “trans-media” era – where digital-based socialization will seamlessly extend into real life and vice versa.

In the upcoming video game “The Human Element” for example, players will be able to heal their character by checking into their local pharmacy.

2.  GENERATION CLOUD

We humans are a mobile species, and our personal content needs to be mobile as well.  Gartner predicts the Personal Cloud will replace the Personal Computer as the center of users’ digital lives by 2014.

As such, brands should start to change their mindset from deploying initiatives via a website or a mobile app(or both), to creating and deploying initiatives that are rooted in the cloud.  

Nike Plus is a great example.  It’s not hardware or a website, or a mobile app.  It’s a platform.  A platform that is accessible and functional across multiple devices.

3.  THE VISUAL WEB

Mobile behavior and social services like Instragram and Pinterest are influencing the visual landscape of the entire web.  As we begin to use our mobile device as a primary means of web access, we are expecting that same experience via all of our web devices – more visual, quick bites, app-like navigation.

4.  THE DYNAMIC PURCHASE PATH

The always available, real-time accessibility that mobile devices provide are beginning to have a significant impact on the purchase path.   From mobile coupons, to check-in deals, to in-store research or couch-browsing, mobile devices are quickly becoming a critical tool at any or for some, all stages of the purchase path. 

5.  SHRED YOUR PLASTIC

The way we pay for things is changing, and the act of completing mobile payments has finally begun to move from science fiction to reality.   Square and LevelUp are a driving force, but even service-specific apps like Uber and PayByPhone that are tied to your credit card, are pushing the mobile payment movement forward.