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Archive for the tag “#social media”

Mary J. Blige: More and More Drama

This year, Burger King dropped to the third largest hamburger chain behind Wendy’s and of course, McDonald’s. This drop has caused BK to break into a new marketing campaign to recover their lagging sales. As part of their new marketing campaign, they have enlisted celebrities including Jay Leno, Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara to endorse certain menu items in commercials. The most popular commercial starring David Beckham.

Photo courtesy of theweek.com

Unfortunately, BK seems to have hit a snag in their rebranding trail. In their most recent commercial, BK received some help from the Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul, Mary J. Blige. Considering Mary J. is one of the biggest singers of this generation, that’s not too bad. What is bad, is that BK can make even Mary J.’s loyalist fans turn their backs on her for her singing!

About a week ago, BK released a small clip of the commercial to local TV stations and then posted it on their YouTube channel. In the clip, Mary J. Blige was shown standing on a table singing about the new crispy chicken wrap. The new fried chicken crispy wrap to be exact. Within a few days, the controversy began. Many called the ad racist and stereotypical of the black community.

Fans were hitting up blogs and their social networking accounts to express their disappointment and anger towards Mary J. and the burger chain.  Mary J.’s career was attacked with comments saying how low she’s sunk to get publicity. Other comments questioned her morals in signing on to do a controversial ad such as this one. While Mary J. was getting backlash from fans, BK was taking a hit from fans, customers, critics, advertising experts and everyone else who had an opinion.

Photo courtesy of eurweb.com

Last week, the ad was removed from TV and the Internet. While most say the ad was removed because of the backlash, BK citied “music licensing problems” as the reason. After the video was removed, Mary J. finally released a statement to address the controversy. She had a slightly different view on what happened with the ad:

I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence. Unfortunately, that’s not what was happening in that clip, so I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you’re a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw to go out.

OK. BK says their having licensing problems and Mary J. says the spot was unfinished and that she would have never approved it…

So clearly there were some communication issues with the releasing of this ad. You would think BK’s marketing team would make sure everything was settled and approved before releasing a video that connects their brand and a big name artist such as Mary J.

Burger King eventually released a statement the same day and go as follows:

We would like to apologize to Mary J. and all of her fans for airing an ad that was not final. We know how important Mary J. is to her fans, and we are currently in the process of finalizing the commercial. We hope to have the final ad on the air soon.

Connecting to the younger generation seems to be the route for a lot of fast-food chains. We have McDonald’s trying to use Twitter to connect and failing completely, not to mention they also have questionable commercials showing African-Americans singing about chicken nuggets.

These brands need to take a step back and educate themselves. With the help of social media, this generation has the power to damage a brand and its reputation, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can’t just jump in and hope you float. Learn how our generation communicates so that you can effectively join the conversation at the right time with the right tools.

For more on the story check out this article on Yahoo!News.

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Listen, Learn, Participate, Repeat

Chapter 18 of Brian Solis’ book, Engage!, focused on how brands can use the conversation prism to create the social media map perfect for their brand. He covered a lot of information this chapter so I will only touch on some quick key points.

One of the first things Solis mentions how companies were so focused on profit that they were pushing away their consumers. At that time they hadn’t realized that the long-term value of interacting with their consumers rather than leaving them to an automated machine or outsourced service lines. Solis mentions a survey authored by Jonathan Whitaker that showed directing customers to these services negatively impacted customer satisfaction. Being one of those customers, I agree with these findings. It usually makes the situation more complicated than it needs to be leaving me dissatisfied. The quote below stood out to me:

A happy customer tells several friends and an unhappy customer tells many more.

It’s so true! People are more inclined to tell their friend about how long it took to reach someone at Comcast than to speak about new channels. Solis says that sometimes brands stop seeing the customer’s viewpoint and only see the dollar signs. Taking a customer’s experience into account will give brands the opportunity to connect better with their consumers.

This connection can be strengthened by actually talking to consumers when they have a problem. I think what Solis said about brands bringing information and solutions to the conversation so that the conversation can be on their terms. I also think it was important that Solis said brands should “experience the nature, dynamic, ambience and emotion of the dialogue” instead of just talking to say you talked.

The last part of the goes into the nitty-gritty of the Conversation Prism and how brands can use it to identify where the most important conversations are, when they’re happening and how to gather this information for a presentation for the bosses.

Photo courtesy of briansolis.com

He touches on adaptation as well and how it will help your brand “evolve and increase in relevance, both online and offline.” Overall, the chapter was really informative but a lot to take in and understand upon first reading. I’ll leave you with this simple statement:

In the end, we are measured by our actions, and our words.

Brands, What Do You Have to Say for Yourself?

Photo courtesy of cleanreputations.com

Chapter 15 of Brian Solis’ book, “Engage!” was pretty interesting. The main focus of the chapter is about distinguishing yourself and the brand you represent, yet being able to bring them together. One of the first things Solis talks about is how your reputation precedes you. At one point he says, “go Google yourself” and view what you see through a stranger’s eyes. What will the results say about you? I think this is a perfect way to see what the social objects you share online say about you. He then went on to say that, “Your actions and words online are indeed extensions to how people perceived and react to the brand you represent.” This is where a lot of brands get into trouble. When your name is associated with a certain brand, your mistakes become the brand’s mistakes, which can really put a brand indirectly in hot water. This is why some brands ask employees to reframe from posting things about their political affiliation, religion, etc. While you may not intentionally say something hurtful to the brand, people will see it that way. I also enjoyed Solis’ concept about social economy and how the relationships we create online serve as the ‘currency’ individuals can invest in their personal portfolios. It’s really an easy and cool way to look at it.

Photo courtesy of demandforce.com

Another great point Solis brought up was crafting a “constant profile that conveys what it is you stand for and the value you bring to the table.” I think this is something brands should definitely pay attention to, especially when there are multiple representatives online. It all relates back to Chapter 12 and the Brand Reflection Cycle. The last point I want to bring up is how you create the foundation of your online reputation by “listening and observing where, how, and why the conversations are taking place.” From there the brand can determine “the tone and nature of the dialogue” and see where they fit in the conversation.

A great line to sum up the chapter is,

With social media comes great responsibility…

Chapter 16 focused on how with enough learning and experimenting, a brand can use social media more effectively. Solis talks about how building a presence online requires “social architecture, engineering, and empathy.” He once again stressed the importance of using these tools to build bridges between the brand and its publics by using channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn for “listening, learning, and participating.”

A statement that really stood out to me was when Solis said, “As social media becomes accepted and practiced industry-wide, change will also stem from outside pressure.” I think we’ve already begun to see this within the last few months with the rejection of SOPA and Susan G. Komen’s reverse decision regarding Planned Parenthood.

One of the last points I want to bring up is one that I think is essential for brands to learn. Solis says, “It’s a matter of “being human” versus “humanizing the story.” He says not to necessary carry your brand as just anyone, but to humanize your brand enough that people can relate and sympathize with it. The brand has to know how to balance distinguishing themselves as a brand while not alienating themselves from their public.

Brands have to remember,

You are the voice, spirit, and mind of the brand and the people and culture that define it.

Both of these chapters had great information for brands and their reputations.

Check out my blog post on the Susan G. Komen crisis and join the conversation!

emupublicrelations

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is not only the nation’s largest breast cancer charity but one of the most well-known and well-loved nonprofit organizations. So what’s got its longtime supporters quitting the race and calling them a disgrace? Read on.

On Tuesday, January 31, 2012, Planned Parenthood broke the news that the Komen Foundation would be cutting their funding to their Planned Parenthood affiliates. The $680,000 in funding being cut would have been used by Parenthood to provide breast cancer screenings for 170,000 low-income women. Komen then revealed that the new policies they were putting in place would not allow them to fund any organizations under investigation. Planned Parenthood, the country’s most prominent sexual and reproductive health care provider, is currently in the middle of an investigation by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-FL regarding government money possibly being spent on abortions.

Background Bit: Last December, rumor spread that Komen and Planned Parenthood were in…

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The Cover Page to Your Brand’s Story

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Since Chapter 12 of “Engage!” focused on companies creating their online identity, I thought Christine Erickson’s article, “20 Facebook Page Cover Photos to Inspire Your Brand,” would be a nice follow-up blog topic. Facebook recently unveiled the new Timeline for brands and companies are wasting no time in implementing new strategies. Now, when a potential consumer goes to a brand’s Facebook, their first impression of the brand is going to be their cover picture, right? Yes, so that means companies now have another opportunity to make a social media impression. Companies have to ask themselves: What do we want to show our page visitors in the first 45 seconds we have their attention? While the timeline cover photo is not the most important thing to a brand’s identity, it can make the difference on whether the viewer is intrigued enough to go further.

These are some of my standouts from the list.

Photo courtesy of Coca-Cola

Photo courtesy of Coldplay

Photo courtesy of Toyota

Photo courtesy of Lexus

Photo courtesy of The New York Times

Photo courtesy of Kate Spade

Photo courtesy of Sports Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty cool pictures, right? Tell me your favorite in the comments.

My message to the brands out there: Get creative and make those 45 seconds count!

 

The Dealio on SMO

Unlike last week, these chapters took me a little while longer to get. In Chapter 10, Solis introduced the topic of social objects and how they have become the connection between us and others. I guess you could say that social objects in any given network are the conversation starters. As a company, it’s important that this is recognized because without interest, there aren’t any opportunities to engage. Therefore, without engagement there are no relationships formed and no new customers gained.

Solis then went on to talk about social media optimization (SMO). This whole section was new to me. I had heard of the SMO, but never really understood it or its purpose. Now I know it basically means using the tools you have to get the most of social media searches. One of the first points Solis brings up is that you aren’t guaranteed a million hits once you upload your content. As he mentioned in an earlier chapter, content is not viral, it’s the people who make it viral. Companies have to find a reason why people would want to share the content they put online or as Gina would say, “So what? Who cares?” Solis specifically describes the concept as this: “We have to integrate digital seduction in the objects we wish to earn attention and notoriety.”  A company wants to give their consumers a reason to ‘favorite’ something so that it shows up in their feed and in turn catches the attention of the consumer’s friends.

Photo Courtesy of hubspot.com

In order to really get the most of social media, companies need to utilize the titles, tags and descriptions of their social objects. I was not aware that these three things that we sometimes pay no attention to, can make such a huge difference. The examples given by Solis of how to really use the three areas, helped me understand how paying attention to key search words and the terminology of your audience can essentially give your content legs.

Chapter 11 talks about the other aspects of SMO. This is where it got a little more confusing for me. I was able to distinguish the difference between synchronizing and aggregating, but it was the application part that lost me a little. My first thought for synchronizing was a company using HootSuite but I wasn’t really sure. Solis does mention that the process of synchronizing and aggregating can be complicated and I agree.

Something I was able to follow along with is the section about defining the journey for the consumer. A company has to know the best destination for their consumer to go so that the interaction and discussion can continue. The company needs to create bridges between their consumers and their social objects. Solis says an important part of that is leading the followers to resolution.

The last thing I found really interesting but not surprising was the fact that 54 percent of companies link back to Twitter instead of Facebook. I can understand this because while Facebook has more users, Twitter is able to reach more people in a shorter time. Smart.

Overall, I thought these two chapters were great content wise. I just think it’s going to take me a bit before I can fully grasp it.

How Businesses Can Socialize in Micro-Size

Photo courtesy of danpontefract.com

I enjoyed reading Chapters 8 & 9 of “Engage!” I thought the chapters were easy to follow, yet had very relevant information. One of the main focuses of Chapter 8 was the “personal broadcast systems (PBSs).” The author, Brian Solis, used this word to describe the trend of microblogging and microcommunities. I thought it was a great way to describe networks like Twitter because that’s basically what it is. We’re ‘broadcasting’ our lives to our followers every time we tweet. That’s why college students should be selective in what they tweet because future employers are in the audience. Another great part of the chapter was the top 21 tips for Twitter and other social media. All of them were relevant because I see examples of it every day. Sometimes being used effectively other times being pointless. Some points that stood out to me include:

Number  1: “The trick is to concisely introduce the value up front.” When you’re only working with 140 characters, this is important in catching the audience’s attention. Whenever you’re creating promotional materials for an event that involves free stuff or money, you have to make it seen. A lot of times they say words like ‘free,’ ‘food,’ ‘win,’ and ‘money,’ should be the most noticeable words on the flyer. You only have a few seconds to get their interest before they’re on to something else. Make it count!

Number 6: “There is a major element of Twitter that’s about listening and learning.” While a business’s success in social media is sometimes dependent on engaging with the audience, another important aspect is listening. If you don’t listen to what they’re saying, you can’t contribute anything of importance to the conversation. Also, listening can help prevent crises in the future. 😉

Number 7: “It validates us more when other people talk about us than when we talk about ourselves.” Someone once told me that if you’re a good person, you won’t have to say it because others will say it about you. I think that applies to businesses too.

Number 20: Social media has become a powerful vehicle for fundraising. In 2010, Alicia Keys recruited some of her celebrity friends to help raise money for her organization Keep A Child Alive for World Aids Day. The celebrities suffered a ‘digital death’ where they weren’t allowed to tweet until the organization was able to raise $1 million dollars in donations via Twitter. They reached their mark in two weeks.

Chapter 9 talked about mobile location networking, widgets and videos. One of the main things I took from this chapter is that you have to make sure your content is relevant to your target audience. Just because the different tools are out there, doesn’t mean that every one of them will fit your message and audience.

Very good chapters!

Bloggin’ the Blog

After reading Chapter 4 of Brian Solis‘s book “Engage!”, I’ve noticed he uses the word ‘bridge’ a lot when discussing social media. He stresses the importance of having bridges to allow the two-way interaction between the company and its publics. The time the company contributes to building those bridges is going to determine if social media becomes an opportunity for failure or success. He also points out that since it’s a two-way information flow, the company’s choice to ignore it or embrace it will not stop the conversation, it’s going to continue either way. Solis said, “We contribute to our perception through absence and participation. We contribute to our presence.” In other words, the amount of time and effort you put into developing your social media presence is going to reflect in your company’s image. The best method is to be immersed in the conversation so that if negative things do come up, you’re there to put out the small fires.

Another theme that comes up is the notion of ‘earning’ success in social media. Just because you create an account doesn’t guarantee your brand success. Solis stated, “…reach is not prescribed; it must be earned.” Yes, you may have the initial followers, but if you don’t keep them engaged you will lose them just as quick. Once again, the time and effort you put into communicating with your publics will determine how many people you reach.

In this chapter, Solis highlights the several different forums. The first was blogs. I’m not an avid blogger, but I do read a lot of them to catch up on the latest entertainment news. To be honest, I don’t really associate blogs with companies because sometimes they’re just miniature billboards. Solis brought up a great point when he said, “The best corporate blogs are genuine and designed to help people.” Readers don’t want to read pages of ads; we see enough of them on TV every day. I think a good method some companies use when blogging is having experts as guest bloggers. It keeps the blog fresh and it attracts different audiences.

Podcasts are amazing! I‘ve subscribed to a few channels for my favorite shows. It’s basically commentary from the producers and writers of the show. Every episode, they record a podcast to explain why they shot a scene a certain way or how the idea for a certain line came about. I really enjoy it as a listener and viewer because it lets me into their world.  It makes me appreciate the product (TV show) more because now I know what goes into creating it. I think podcasts are another great way to make the consumer feel like they’re getting exclusive information. It keeps them engaged.

Lastly, IBM’s Second Life virtual community sounds really cool! The fact that they effectively used the tools available to them and saved so much money (between $320,000 -$350,000 according to reports) is awesome. They recognized a way to connect all of their employees and executives from around the world, which was groundbreaking at the time.

Follow this link to a short video about the virtual community. Very interesting.

Another great chapter!

Where They Went Wrong…

I came across an interesting article on Clinkz.com that related back to Chapter 3 of Brian Solis’s book, “Engage.” The article highlighted the five biggest mistakes businesses make when using social media in marketing. I wasn’t surprised to find that every one of the mistake identified had been brought up in my social media class and Solis’s book.

The first thing that caught my attention was that the author brought up the major difference between traditional marketing and social media marketing that companies seem to forget.

“It involves speaking with people instead of at people.”

This is the biggest issue with some companies who try social media; they don’t understand the ‘social’ aspect. All they see is another easy way to bombard a large audience with more of their ads and specials. Solis mentions in his book that social media backfires on so many companies because they don’t take the time to recognize the difference between mail advertisements and Twitter. Until companies realize understand that difference they won’t see the true benefits of a powerful tool like social media.

Photo courtesy of jonhoward.typepad.com

While some companies are having difficulties understanding social media, there are plenty of companies who have done the research and are doing well. Let’s take a look at the top mistakes of companies who don’t do their homework and what the article suggests to fix it:

5. Talking at People and Broadcasting Versus Engaging – Don’t just follow the conversations, initiate them.

4. The “If You Build It They Will Come” Mentality – Just because you join, doesn’t mean they’ll come running. “Create a plan to attract and retain them.”

3. Obsessing Over How Many Fans/Friends/Followers You Have – I think this is very common with companies and people in general. A PageLever study showed that only 3 percent to 7.5 percent of Facebook fans actually see your posts. Rather than focusing on how many likes your page has, focus on quality relevant content and moving the engagement up.”

2. Not Being Prepared for Questions or Issues – Most companies wait to be surprised by consumers who actually ask them question or have complaints regarding their products. Don’t be that business. “Make a list of the top 10 questions you’re asked on the phone. Also make a list of the top 10 PR crises that you have had in the past five years. Be prepared to handle these on social networks.”

1. Not Having a Clear Plan – Once again, just having a Facebook page as another place to post ads and things is not going to bring much success. Know who your audience is and target their wants and needs.

Of course there are more mistakes being made, but I think the mistakes discussed in this article are a great starting point.

Cherese

I’m Ready to “Engage”

Let me begin this post by stating the obvious. Social media is no joke and Brian Solis, author of “Engage,” does a great job explaining why. Within the first couple of chapters I realized just how much I have to learn about this tool and Solis says as much in Chapter 3. It’s a continuous learning process and you have to be ready to go with it because if you don’t, you get left behind. In relation to jumping on board the ‘new media’ train, Solis mentions just joining a network is ‘child’s play.’ You have to know how to use it for your advantage or you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. You MUST put in the work!

A major point Solis made is that once you begin participating and interacting with your audience, your organization becomes more humanized. Solis said, “People don’t participate in conversations with brands: they converse with the people who are the ambassadors of the brands.” More companies are getting rid of the automated recordings and actually having representatives communicate one-on-one with the consumers. This is where you begin to form the relationships or the build the bridges between the organization and its publics, which is something Solis brings up a lot. The public feels like they’re being heard and the fact that you’re taking time out to respond or converse with them shows that you care. Continued participation can lead to trust, loyalty and long-term relationships, which should be one of the company’s main goals.

At one point Solis stated that social media is “an opportunity and a privilege.” I never really thought of it that way, but it makes sense. It relates back to the ‘child’s play’ concept that anyone can join without having a purpose. Social media is such a powerful tool and can really open up several new opportunities for companies to expand their reach or improve their product. It’s definitely not something companies should abuse.

Chapter 3 was a great chapter and I was able to take a lot from it. It’s definitely got me excited to read the rest of the book!

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