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New Pepsi Challenge Flat.

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I was just reading about the new Pepsi Challenge. It will take place primarily in social media, using Usher, Serena Williams, other personalities and web denizens. From a strategy point of view the only thing I can glean is that the goal is to blend “social responsibility with social culture.” Forgive me but isn’t this “Pepsi Refresh” 4 years later? This time just with expensive spokespeople? Packaged using an old campaign line from twenty years ago?

It almost feels like they rushed the story to market half-baked to beat some Coke announcement or poor earnings report. The effort is going to cost millions globally and, no doubt, will do some good. It may even sell a few cases. But the whole campaign feels very social media bandwagon and derivative. More importantly, it’s non-endemic to the product. Something McDonalds could easily do.

I’m not feeling this marketing effort and suspect it will be nice window dressing for the Pepsi corporate offices and its ad agencies; as for taking a chunk out of Coke’s hide, not going to happen. What’s the Idea?

Peace.

PS. For WTI posts on Pepsi Refresh, click here. 

 

Social Media… the new marketing selfie.

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Many marketers using social media today are underperforming. One of the problems is that the programs are run by interns and tyro marketers – those recently out of school with dexterous fingers and, maybe, a marketing degree. More likely, a political science degree. People at keyboards without an in depth understanding of selling or buying. The second problem is the posts, tweets and promotional ideas are way too random. That is, not governed by an “organizing principle, anchored to an idea,” aka brand strategy.

Random social media programs can and have worked. Toss enough out there and positive increments will happen. But marketing is not R&D. You can’t just spill some chemicals and invent Post-It Notes.  Just as good branding requires planning, execution and sticktoitiveness, so does social media marketing.

No one loves the potential value of social media as do I. But today, social is to marketing what the selfie is to mobile phones. A picture of oneself, with little value to others. Peace.

Tchotchke Comms.

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An oft-mentioned Goodby Silverstein mission suggests they focus on “making stuff people care about.”  It’s not an uncommon mission these days, especially as more ad and marketing revenue is tied to buildables. For Goodby, this seems to be working as a mission. It’s fun and memorable. But the reality is, it’s the job of marketers to make stuff (products) people buy. Agencies, therefore, need to make stuff that encourage people to buy. Knowing Goodby Silverstein as I do, they get this. They get that caring is a first step toward buying. I’m not worried about them. But a cottage industry of shops has been allowed to grow up building tchotchke communications that get attention, likes and pass-alongs but are light on buy.

cash register

I love social media and digital marketing. Done well. I believe digital advertising has the potential to far outpace traditional, half duplex (one way) advertising because it puts at consumer fingertips the ability to experience all the steps to a sale in a minutes. This, thanks to devices, media twitches and mobile connectivity. But the main body of practitioners are not there yet. They are still focused on trying to make stuff people care about. And that’s a shallow view. Once they make stuff that make people buy – that’s when the whoosh is going to happen. Can’t wait. Peace.

 

4 Uses for Social Media

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Social media programs typically fall into four categories: brand building, customer care, promotion  and smiley noise.

Brand Building requires that a one actually has a brand plan (brand idea and three proof planks). So long as you’re creating and sharing content that is on-idea and embodies one of the planks, you are making brand deposits — caring about what your customers’ care about and at what you are great.

Customer Care is all about listening.  But this listening has created a cottage industry of kvetchers who have been rewarded for using social to air grievances, as I did this week when tweeting that my Nokia 928 has had to be returned 7 times due to a faulty ear piece.  The fact is, customer care is an important part of social when properly handled.  It also provides metric for the c-suite. And if a company uses it as part of a CRM program all the better.

Promotion is the top reason customers unfollow brands in social media. Data suggests 70-80 percent cite “too much marketing” as why they ban brands on Twitter or Facebook.  Again, many companies are conditioning the market to look to social for deals, just as they sometime reward kvetchers. Promotion is an important part of marketing,. It builds trial, helps hit slowed sales goals and creates rewards. But using social to fire hose freebies and to-fers is not a good lone use of the medium.

Smiley Noise is just what it sounds like.  People think it’s okay on social, because, well, it’s social. But smiley noise would never make it as an ad. It’s noise built pass along. Or to create likes. Or to fill the social air. Here’s some smile noise from Penn Medicine. 

 penn medicine tweet

Social media isn’t a static thing. It needs to live and breathe. It needs to be current and friendly but also important. Social doesn’t get the strategic oversight it should or the respect it should. But it will, oh it will.  Companies with real brand plans are the companies doing it best.  Those are the companies doing all the other stuff best, as well. It pays to have a plan. Peace!

Posters Get Short End.

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There’s a neat media newsletter service I’ve used a number of times in marcom plans called SmartBriefs.  It’s an aggregator of articles, sorted by topic, sent to subscriber email boxes.  It is a great one-stop free-shop. One such newsletter I subscribe to deals with social media.  The ironic thing about this one is that very few of the articles it highlights points to actual social media posts, meaning blogs.  They are mostly items from USA Today, Washington Post, WSJ, Adweek, etc.  They hit the occasional Mashable piece but do not do a good job or finding true web Posters. Posters are original content creators and bloggers whose love of the topic goes way beyond a job.

Posters may be good writers or bad and may not have made it through journalism school, but they are the backbone of the web. As a brand planner, I’m always on the lookout for big time posters in the categories I study.  They engender loyalty and lots of comments. They are analytical and love to share the goodness that is their area or interest.

Poster beget Pasters (curators and info sharers), ergo community.   

I’d love to see an aggregator service that only focused on blogs. Craft economy people in the woodworking business like the Wood Whisperer. Melting Mama for the overweight and obese. Boogie2988 for gamers.  Kandee Johnson for the young fashion conscious. Emo Girl. There are thousands of them out there.  An occasional snark would be fine too, but the more positive the better.

This is the future of the web. Where there is avoid there is an opportunity.  Maybe SmartBrief will start one. Peace.

 

One Voice for Social Media

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Social media is still primarily a tactical rather than strategic effort within companies. Years ago while at a meeting and doing introductions a young social media maven offered, “Hi I’m Rebecca, I work at Tribal DDB and I teach clients how to use Facebook.”  You just remember this stuff.

This Technorati link shares some interesting data points on social media and confirms my strategy vs. tactical point.  Only 51% of company social media programs are managed out of the marketing department. And let’s face it, many marketing departments are tactically rather than strategically focused themselves.  Sure they keep an eye on sales, but mostly they measure acquisition tools, traffic, engagement and, lately, activation.  The strategies driving these things, the value-based claims, are not measured. There is also some data on top three social media careabouts for the coming year, none of which are strategic – even though they are ironically identified as “strategic objectives.” 

Measuring awareness of the advertising line “Hope Lives Here” is not nearly as important as measuring attitudes towards “physician who know the latest protocol.”

With a plan, social media can soar. With a plan social media can prime the attitude pump. With a plan, not only the 51%, but all others, can be a chorus of harmonious business-building voices. Peace.

Cull the Follow Herd.

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I’m a big Lindsey Vonn fan.  It borders on creepy but not creepy enough to visit her Facebook page. Yesterday, Lindsey announced she pulled out of the Sochi games.  I learned about it on Twitter. She in in my Facebook feed, I think, but doesn’t show up so much as she’s kind of busy.

As an adult and marketer, I have started to coalesce my thoughts on social networks. Readers know I’ve long said Facebook is for friends and school peepsLinkedIn is for people with whom I have done business (ish)Twitter is for all of the above plus likeminds and admirees.  Twitter is where I share my total persona. Some politics. Some personal philosophy.  Some troll-able business scat (not the dung).  It is where I hope to learn from others, often those unknown. Twitter is my most expansive social network.  

Facebook is only as good as the shares — and sharing is magnified based on how close you are to the person. I’m not going Gaga over a 7th grade crush showing pictures of her kids in Clearwater (Facebook). Your feed is watered down if it has too many uninteresting posts. Burger King is offering $4.00 duck burgers. That said, I really don’t cull the “follow herd” and that’s an issue for Facebook.  Too much noise in the feed.

What to do about it.

Remove unwanted friends, peripheral people and brands from your Facebook community.  You can always add them back.  You can always find the brand if you need it. Play LinkedIn by the book and only connect with those you have done business with. The rest is spam.  And fly like a birdie on Twitter. Note to Twitter: don’t extend beyond 140 characters.  Where does this leave marketers? Better off. With more traffic to their own sites and ads that are more powerful because they are ads – not friends. Peace.

 

Scott Monty, keep running those fingers.

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I dig Scott Monty, yet I don’t really know him. Well I know him in a half-duplex sort of way.  I’ve seen him on YouTube.  He came out of the ad business, he’d contributed to Ford’s turnaround – a brand I’ve railed about and at different points lauded, and he has really done stuff — not just talked about stuff.  He got Ford CEO Alan Mulally not only to recognize the power of social, but to fund and personally participate in it.  

Mr. Monty’s first blog post, near as I can tell, was in Sept of 2006. He’s very prolific – running his fingers, if you will.  Mr. Monty posts a lot and shares a lot. His blog also contains what might be a new feature — I’m not sure – called “This Week in Social Media,” which is something a number of media socialist do.  Readers of WhatsTheIdea? know I refer to this as “Pasting.” Pasting other peoples’ links.  Pasters who do so while providing analysis are moving the ball ahead. Much love. Pasters who simply aggregate OPC (other peoples’ content) are moving laterally.  Most Pasters enjoy routing topics with numbers in them, e.g., “7 critical rules”, or “5 habits of…”

Mr. Monty is no Paster, he’s a Poster. He loves original content and has built businesses and his personal brand providing original ideas and content.  We loves us some Posters.  Stay original Mr. Monty. Peace

 

Google and Mobile Apps

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Google’s brand strategy used to be “organizing the world’s information” or putting the “world’s information one click away.”  Larry Page, seeing that his market share slipped 1.2% last year has decided to change that. He’s renamed the search division the knowledge division.  This, ironically, is the Microsoft Bing strategy – so eloquently presented in the “information overload” campaign developed by JWT a couple of years ago.  The difference between “information” and “knowledge” being that the latter takes you closer to a decision — closer to a sale.  This is a mistake.  The strategy did not move the market significantly for Bing and won’t for Google.  Google needs to stick to owning search and leave our brains to us.

cave art

What has disrupted search on the web is the smart phone. (See cover story in the NYT today for excellent piece on this.) Mobile phones are not built for full screen search, so app developers and VCs have set their sights on specialized, robust search and retrieve mobile experiences that remove the chaff and get us to information right away.  These apps, by specializing and using geo-location, trump Google and search on mobiles. They are hot — but proper monetization still isn’t happening. Ads on mobiles are still cave art.

Let’s solve the mobile ad thing by 2015.  Any ideas?   Peace.

Coke Journey and Facebook Envy.

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The Coca-Cola Corporation marketing story is simple but has many layers. The latest layer is the Coca-Cola Journey — a website built to engage, entertain and build loyalty among the family of Coca-Cola brand drinkers and enthusiasts. It’s a corporate website so you can find Minute Maid orange juice, Sprite and other family members represented. Coke learned through its Facebook experience that if it could dally with drinkers and they dallied back – the result would be nice lifts in traffic and presumably consumption. So Coke now fancies itself in the content business. Ding dong, Bud TV anyone?  A business goal, one might surmise, would be to draw users back from Facebook to the new Coke Journey site. Normally, I would applaud this activity, but not if it is going to change the business. Not if it promotes non-endemic brand experiences and cross-product ones at that.

You might say Coke is using only 5 or 6 full-time employees as content creators/curators – so how does that change the business?  I say these 5 or 6 may have large reach. And a few altered cells in the DNA can be a problem.

Were I running this show, I’d continue to host sites for each unique brand. I’d add the full-time content creators to each site, but make the content specific to each brand promise. Have them support the “motivation” behind each promise. If AOL and Yahoo! can’t get content creation to run on all cylinders, why would Coke be able to? This is another story of Facebook envy. Mr. Tripodi, I think you went a little bit off-piste with this journey. Peace.