Be Your Authentic Self…no, not THAT Authentic Self!

Marketers talk a lot about how companies can form deeper connections with customers through social media. Part of building this connection, the thinking goes, is demonstrating what the company stands for and showing that those values are similar to the values of their customers. I’ve seen this referred to as “Authenticity.”  One of the ways that companies show off their authentic selves is by having representatives on sites like Twitter share information about the brand, interact with people and show people through a constant stream of comments and interactions, what the brand is all about at a very human scale. That sounds good right? Then you get stuff like this:   Looking at the stream for Pabst Canada you can see that the person managing this account is clearly enthusiastic about beer and seems to be joyfully interacting with folks in a very non-corporate way that I think some folks would describe as “Authentic.” But somewhere along the way he forgot that he couldn’t be COMPLETELY authentic because he’s representing the point of view and values and attitudes and beliefs of his employer. Needless to say, the above Tweet doesn’t represent the values of Pabst Blue Ribbon or PabstCanada, just the point of view of the (stupid jackass, sorry) that runs (or used to run) their Twitter account. Authentic, but in an Corporate kind of a way? But as you might imagine, folks were offended and they weren’t just mad at the guy that posted the Tweet. They were pissed off at Pabst. Which just goes to show you that all of this authenticity stuff is fine as long...

The Twitter Butterfly Effect

Over the past year I’ve had 2 interesting experiences where I’ve tweeted something that seemed insignificant at the time and those tweets went on to have a life of their own to the point where almost a year later they continue to pop up in the strangest places like evidence of some sort of bizarre Twitter Butterfly Effect. Here are 2 examples: #1: The One Where I Land on BusinessWeek’s list of Top 15 Notable Twitterers with Kanye West, John Cusack, and Larry King The most recent example of this was my inclusion on BusinessWeek’s “Notable Twitterers of 2010”.  When I first saw the list I was amazed – there are only 15 people listed including Kanye West,  Sarah Palin, Jonathan Schwartz, Bow Wow and ……me?  Seriously? My “tweet of note” gave me a clue of how I landed there.  It’s a cheeky comment I made about Umair Haque’s interview with Twitter founder Evan Williams at South by Southwest Interactive back in March.  There had been rumours that Twitter was going to make a big announcement at the show so expectations were high for the session. While there was an announcement, the details were thin and the format of the session (think fireside chat more than keynote talk) was pretty low on energy given it was hosted in front of a huge audience.  People complained over Twitter (because that’s what audiences do these days, particularly at SxSW) including me with what BusinessWeek calls my “Tweet of Note”: “I’ve seen more energy at a lawn bowling tournament” The irony of someone using Twitter to criticize a session featuring the founder...

CEO’s and Social Media: Opportunity or Threat?

Last week I did an interview with Canadian Business on the subject of social media and CEO’s. The reporter asked me this question (I’m paraphrasing): “But shouldn’t you be worried that your CEO might say something that has a negative effect on the company? What if he/she does something offensive in public?” I can understand why people would worry about things like that but frankly it’s a doomsday scenario that just hasn’t played out even though social media continues it’s march into the mainstream. Can you name me a single example of a CEO that has gotten into serious trouble because of their use of social media? Not that I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.  I can give you dozens of examples where a CEO has put his/her foot in their mouth in traditional media so why would social media be any different?  We don’t question that our CEO’s should engage with traditional media (even though there are risks), because we understand the benefits.   While I don’ t believe that every CEO should have their own blog or Twitter account, I do believe that every company should have a social media presence of some sort and that the CEO should occasionally use that forum to share their views with the world.  Like traditional media, the benefits far outweigh the risks in my opinion. The full text of the article is here. What do you think? If you enjoyed that, you should subscribe!  You can sign up for email updates, subscribe via RSS or follow me on Twitter....

Influencers Suck

This post is a cautionary tale for marketers thinking about running influencer campaigns.  It’s harder than it looks. Virgin America and Klout did an influencer campaign in Toronto to promote Virgin’s new Toronto to San Francisco route.  Klout is a tool that measures how “influential” a person is on Twitter.  Influential Twitter users were offered a free flight to California and invited to a party to be attended by Sir Richard Branson himself.  I was selected as one of those lucky folks.  At first I thought the campaign was a stroke of marketing genius.  Do something really remarkable for a bunch of noisy people and you can pretty much guarantee that we will tell everybody we know about it.  Oh, if only life were so simple.  That’s the dirty secret of marketing – ideas are easy, it’s the execution that’s tricky. As you might expect, folks not offered free flights complained about the selection criteria, the tool, and that Klout was “buying Tweets”.  More invitations were issued and word spread that complaining about not getting invited might actually get you invited, spawning an additional wave of complaining.  Influencers who did not register for the party within a 1.5 hour window were un-invited.  More complaining. At the pre-party meetup, Klout employees didn’t seem to know any of the chosen influencers and a distracted Klout employee walked away from guests mid-conversation.  Complaining.  The launch party invite email had errors.  Complaining.  Influencers were not VIP enough to enter the VIP area at the party.  Complaining.  Each misstep was very minor but taken together, a campaign that had started out with great buzz...

Twitter: Is Marketing Doing it Wrong?

Marketers love Twitter these days for a list of reasons including using it converse with customers and influencers, sharing content and driving traffic to websites.  There has been so much talk about Twitter in Marketing circles, you would think that everyone would have it figured out by now.  I’m not claiming to be a Twitter expert but I have been a fairly heavy user for the past couple of years and here are a few things I see folks doing that I believe are just wrong: 1/ Focusing on followers instead of engagement – Social Media folks have been saying “it’s about the conversation” over and over for years now but this is still a stumbling block for a large number of marketers.  There are plenty of tools out there that for a fee, will follow people based on keywords, unfollow those that don’t return the favor and follow some more until you have thousands of followers.  That’s great, right?  It is if your only goal is to try to impress people (who know nothing about Twitter) with the number of followers you have.  If your goal however is to drive some awareness or action, 15,000 followers could well be the same as 100 if none of your 15,000 ever talks to you or shares your stuff.  There are some interesting tools coming to market to judge how “influential” a Twitter user actually is.  Klout seems to be the most sophisticated out there, creating a score that takes into account how often people respond to you or share things you’ve posted and how influential those people are.  Topsy (the...
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