Cut the Crap – No More Lofty Social Media Terms

So we’ve been just as guilty as the next for using those lofty and abstract social media terms that drive everyone mad: transparency, engagement, content generation, conversation monitoring, blah blah blah. I think it is time we all shut up.

I don’t mean that we stop talking about social media or social influence marketing. I just think we need to re-evaluate the way we speak about it. We (as marketing professionals) need to move from the general to the specific and actionable. We need to move from “motivational speaker” to “business coach.”

Step back for a moment.

While we’ve got more and more people jumping at social media, we’ve also got some seriously bad lingo that follows. Let’s look away from jargon and look to stimulating specific, strategic social media dialogue. Saying that each client is different doesn’t cut it anymore. Let’s take these lofty ideas and break them down.

There are countless more ways to impact your audience: Need a flashmob? Don’t know how to pitch bloggers? Want to see how geo-location features can help your business? Need some social media resources? We try to give you resources to see how social media really works, and if you can’t do it yourself, well, that is what we are here for.

Setting Proper Expectations & Follow Your Plan

As an agency, its important to take a look at what is on our plate and strategize. Who is the client? What do they need? Are we working with a Business to Business (B2B) client? We can use social media tactics to locate key influencers in that company. Working with a Business to Consumer (B2C) client? We can locate their audience online by doing an in depth online audience scan and find their consumers, whether it be on blogs, forums, or Facebook, and leverage that community.

So can we please stop talking about lofty, abstract social media terms? Let’s cut to the chase and get working.

The Wave of the Future: Geo-Networking Services (and thus local advertising opportunities)

In the marketing and advertising world, we must admit that we are always looking ahead for the next big thing. A few years ago, it was text marketing. Now, it is social media and mobile marketing. Emerging slowly, but with some force, is the use of geo-location services to reach and reward our audiences in new and unique ways.

Geo-networking Platforms

The combination of location based services and social networking are now represented on platforms such as FourSquare and Gowalla. And according to an article in the May 10 edition of Advertising Age, Facebook is setting up its very own location based capabilities. And with a platform as large as Facebook, which adds millions of users each day, location based marketing might take off on an entirely new level.

McDonald’s is said to be one of the first to sign up, allowing users to “check-in” at restaurants and share their food choices with their networks. This function will be going live shortly after Facebook releases its location based functionality.


While location based marketing is still in the experimental phase, it brings great advantages to marketers. It gives you the power to communicate with an audience on an entirely different level. You can reward them for “checking in” with promotions, offers, or coupons at your store location (a la foursquare). You can also give them the ability to share what they love about your brand, service, or product with their friends, while they are at your brick-and-mortar locations. This helps your customers pass the word on even faster (beware: even if it’s negative!). Geo-location services are turning physical places into virtual avenues of communication.

Location based services are great for local businesses, too, allowing small business chains to reward their most loyal customers. They offer special promotions and offers to those that come into their store or restaurant the most often. It is a brilliant idea for driving foot traffic into the store, and making that experience an interactive one.


While Facebook’s upcoming implementation of location based functionality might mean big things for marketers and consumers, there are some serious privacy concerns for users. With the overwhelming amount of negative feedback that Facebook received for their default privacy settings and Open Graph idea, we can conclude that users might not like the capability of letting their entire network know where they are and what they are doing. But hopefully, Facebook will allow share options once the location functionality goes live.

The Future

In most cases, location functionality is opening the door for further communication between marketers and an audience. More so, it attempts to bridge the physical gap between a company and its consumers. With the increasing interest in platforms like FourSquare, and the soon-to-be released Facebook location features, we may be looking at a new marketing phenomenon that will become part of the communication norm.

The Reach of Social Media: From Runway to Twitter

This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending a little known thing called New York Fashion Week, which started last Friday and runs throughout this week. Because of some amazing friends and once in a life time opportunities, I attended the Christian Siriano Fall 2010 Collection, as well as Naomi Campbell’s Fashion Show for Haiti Relief. But aside from shoes and dresses, everyone seemed to be armed with something that, until now, was unrelated to fashion: tools for social media.

Once inside the tents, I was amazed to see how much the fashion industry has grasped the digital era. Forget digital cameras: girls in stilettos snapped pictures on their iPhones, instantly uploading to Twitter. Members of the press were interviewing fashion celebs, recording  questions and answers on their cell phones instead of tape recorders, shooting emails to their editors simultaneously. I had a friend Google a celebrity’s name to see his picture, to ensure she was taking a picture of the right guy. There was even a section dedicated to fashion techy gurus, sitting on benches with their Mac books open, balanced on their thighs. Above them, a screen displayed a real time feed of tweets featuring the New York Fashion Week hashtag (#nyfw), constantly updating and changing.

But the fashion industry goes beyond just the diffusion of fashion week news through social media. This was the first year that typically industry exclusive shows like Marc Jacobs or Rodarte were being shown digitally, bringing access to anyone with a computer. Even more than that, designers are embracing social media on an entirely different level. As mentioned in this recent Mashable article, the industry has begun to accept “outsiders” by inviting them in, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, or the blogosphere. They’ve become more open, tapping an a huge audience that had, until recently, been completely ignored and unheard.

Like in all other industries, some have chosen not to adopt social media as a new and influential practice. And just like in all other industries, they are going to be left behind. Those that adapt will stay relevant, and ultimately, in front of consumers.

We’re With Stupid…

Okay, well not literally, but we have been captivated and intrigued by Diesel’s recent Be Stupid campaign. You’ve just got to check out the website.

There is some pretty strong stuff going on there. The website and campaign message are both unique and well-built, especially for Diesel’s existing (or intended) audience base. The creative is bold and in your face. And there is also a sweet contest and the chance to check out the clothes that represent the campaign.

Despite all the awesome stuff they have going on, we found their overall social media integration a bit odd (and you should know by now that we’re pretty passionate about integration). Diesel gives web site visitors the opportunity to check out their social networks, but their presence on these seems a bit out of tune with their message and campaign. Their Twitter page is geared toward music, not toward their Be Stupid campaign or general brand message. Their YouTube page, although featuring their Be Stupid video, hosts mostly music, too. Even their Facebook page carries a seemingly different air than their website message. We do, however, applaud their effort to allow consumers the chance to share the creative process via social networks.

And this is as good a time as any to continue praising integration, but this time, we’re taking it to the next step. Don’t just use the tools so you can claim to have a fully integrated campaign. Tailor them each specifically to your message, making each fit together like a piece of a puzzle, or else their existence will serve no purpose.

But overall, we applaud Diesel’s big idea. It is cutting edge, different, and definitely grabbed our attention. We just wish they could have carried it over to their social networks in a more efficient way. What do you think?

Oh, 2009, You Were Good To Us…

Well, 2009, we bid you adieu. This past year has been many things for us as an agency. We’ve survived a recession, gained some new clients, and celebrated our 20th anniversary as a force in the industry. We’ve also continued to think outside of the box, living and breathing creativity.

Now that this hectic year is over, we’re taking a moment of reflection, thinking about the things we learned (or re-learned) in 2009 and applying them to our future in 2010, which we welcome with open arms. So now that 2010 is officially here, we wanted to countdown 5 of the most essential lessons that our clients learned this year. (OK, so maybe we learned a couple things too)

5. Interaction and Participation: Actually Do It.

Both interaction and participation are important for social media to really work. It doesn’t help just to sign up for a Facebook account. Yeah, that may mean that you are technically using on social media, but it doesn’t mean you are using it the right way. To gain all the benefits of social media, you’ve got to be ready to participate, plug in, and converse with others. That is just the way it is. You’ve got to give to get.

Comcast is a great example. They have taken the time to embrace social media, allowing it to help their company connect with its consumers

4. Tools & Strategy that Work.

Lately, we have noticed a lot of social media obsession. Basically, we have experienced a lot of this: “I want a Facebook!” or “Can you create a Twitter page for me?” We call it Facebook-itis and Twitter-itis, and it is a serious, serious affliction.

You know that saying “there is a time and place for everything”? Well, this rings true here. Yes, Twitter and Facebook are powerful tools and can work, but they aren’t always the right option for our clients. We have developed our ability to assess clients individually, giving them the social media tools that match their specific strengths and that they need to achieve their goals. Sometimes this will include Facebook and Twitter, sometimes it won’t. Either way, we have learned to remain focused on tailoring social media strategy that is specific to each of our clients.

3. Campaign Integration

In 2009, we learned a lot about integration. Social media tools are great, but rarely stand on their own. We knew this was important, but after taking a look at some pretty integrated campaigns (like this one), we came to appreciate integration in that it must go across all platforms, whether that be between social media tools or fully integrated strategies, from creative to marketing to social media. In 2010, we are sure to see more campaign integration, which makes us happy.

2. Relationships = End All, Be All

Social media is about listening to people. Conversation monitoring and participation is at the center of this emerging industry, and we have really learned to listen this year. We now have a tool that allows us to gather discussions from all social media based on the keywords and parameters that we set. That means our clients can gather and sort through larger amounts of relevant conversations, and use them to expand their footprint and find their target audiences.

Take the Comcast example (again). You have a problem with them? Router not working? Tweeting about it will help get your problem solved. They may even tweet step-by-step directions at you. We call that strategic tweeting; fielding and solving consumer complaints has gotten the Comcast brand name pretty far in the minds of consumers on Twitter.

1. Social Media is Legit: It’s the Real Deal, Folks!

We wouldn’t say it’s something we learned, because we knew it all along. But we are thrilled that some of the largest companies are embracing and verifying it; social media is more than a trend and a hot topic. It has officially arrived as a moveable force in the advertising industry. New technologies, like Google Wave, have been created to take advantage of social media. Big time companies like Starbucks or Wachovia are embracing it as part of their marketing strategy. Even the government has acknowledged its influence. Take Obama’s Twitter page or his recent public address on YouTube as an example of this. The FTC also took a part by creating laws and consequences for misuse, which talked about here.

So overall, we feel great. We love what we do and are excited for a very social 2010. Happy New Year!

Digital Reputation Management

Last night I had the opportunity to attend an event held by the Advertising Association of Baltimore about Digital Reputation Management. There were speakers from companies such as Google/YouTube, Pandora, and Wieden + Kennedy, and they provided useful tips for shaping the way we look at social media.

One of my favorite examples of an excellent use of social media and word of mouth was from Kris Hanson at Wieden + Kennedy. He gave this example of how they used integrated communications and fresh ideas to promote a different type of movie.

I found this example especially poignant because often clients come to us to “get into this social media thing” and  give them a Facebook page and a Twitter account. We are happy to help them enter this sometimes-ambiguous and ever-increasing opportunity for communication (and we’re pretty darn good at it if I do say so myself), but we encourage a more holistic and integrated look at communication with audiences. Take the example above: if W+K had just sent the boxes to bloggers and that was the entire promotion of the movie, it would have helped, but it wouldn’t have had the epic effects of the more integrated approach that they actually used. Social media is growing, and clients do need to enter the conversations, but not as a seperate effort from traditional advertising and PR. And don’t worry, that doesn’t always require storefronts, newspapers, and TV promotions – just some creative thinking!