social media guardrails

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I wrote yesterday about implementing brand strategy on social media.  “Hit your proofs,” I wrote, and you are not only complying with brand strategy, you grow it.  

I’ve been paying attention to the cold-pressed juice category since speaking with the Love Grace people a number of years ago.  One Love Grace competitor is large, nicely-funded Blueprint, now owned by the Hain Celestial Group. Blueprint does social right. Here’s an example of an Instagram post.

The brand strategy for Blueprint is unknown to me, but the evidence – bread crumbs laid down leading to the strategy, are pretty obvious. Organic cold pressed juices are amazingly natural. People who buy them like natural. In Social Media Guardrails, one of the first suggestions is “Be interested in what your target is interested in.” Blueprint does not sell avocado on pumpernickel, but it’s natural (plank).  And it is what the target is interested in. In social media marketing you don’t always have to sell. You just have to be on strategy. 






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I play Google like a Stradivarius. But it helps top blog a lot. Actually blogging is foundational to how I play my violin.  I was reading Thomas Friedman today and in his Op-Ed column he suggested readers Google “power drills to the head and Shiite militias in Iraq.”  Please don’t, I‘m just making point.  Mr. Friedman knows how one can direct people about the web by simply offering key words or key phrases. I’ve been doing the key phrase thing for years. And key wording them in my daily blog for years.  In many cases, in the branding world, they have become memes.

It’s heaving lifting and takes commitment. It’s also cleaner than white or black hat SEO manipulation. When I direct people to my definition of branding as “An organizing principle for product experience and messaging” they find me.  When I tell prospects to Google “social media guardrails” they find me. “One claim three proof planks” is indexed by Google straight to me.

Are you hearing that violin? Back pat, back pat.



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I posted a presentation on SlideShare called “Social Media Guard Rails,” that was created for a Social Media Club of Long Island in 2011. Its subtitle was “14 Dos and Don’ts.” Good strategy work is timeless and future proof, but only a fool would say things don’t change. As I reread the 14 points I stick by them all.  There is one new “Don’t” I’d like to add at this point which was born out of the law profession:

“Don’t ask questions you don’t know the answer to.”

Many managers of social media programs like to engage audiences by asking questions. Ask a good, funny, category-endemic question, the logic goes, and you’ll engage people. You’ll start a conversation.  When Ronzoni asks “What’s your favorite healthy pasta dish?,” the sharers will share and you get some SoMe traction.  By caring about what customers care about, you’re in a positive ballpark.

But if the questions are too open-ended you may get McDonalded. They asked followers to tell stories about McDonalds using hashtag #McDStories — and it didn’t work out so well.


If you have a brand strategy (One claim, 3 proof planks), and manage your social media program with the intent of putting deposits in the brand bank, you should be okay. Then, you will be asking questions you know the answers to (ish).


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Early on ad agency Strawberry Frog jumped on the smart positioning of creating cultural movements. As someone steeped in the strategy business, I understand how powerful movement ethos can be. Movements are easy to talk about and aspire to, not so easy to create. 

Sales of flat bottled water grew last year by 11% according to Beverage Digest. Sales of sparkling water, sans sweeteners, grew 20%. If you are in the carbonated soft drink (CSD) market, you are smart to see that double digit growth as a movement. A healthier-for-you consumer push. Look at year-over-year store register receipts at McDonalds for further evidence.

Scott Goodson, founder of Strawberry Frog was prescient, with his movement positioning. He knew advertising, done well, can spark a movement. But he really understood it is not the best way to do it and he saw social media coming.

One of my Social Media Guard Rails is “Don’t Sell.” Advertising can’t help itself. It has to sell. Social media, done poorly, also asks for the order. But social media with a consumer-biased motivation — with an organized, well-plotted field of persuasion is a movement waiting for a place to happen. And if you support the movement with not too heavy handed advertising – making it easier for consumers to participate – you have a win. And a new agency revenue model. Peace!




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