Social Network Ignorance

March 18, 2008

DISCUSSION TOPIC:  Marketers Don’t Get Social Networks


Social networks are all about relationship building. Yet marketers are continuing to use mainstream advertising ploys – including hammering home messages – in targeting the medium rather than just having conversations.

“Frequency of message is not the idea here,” Rick Murray, president of Edelman digital, told Advertising Age. “Frequency of contact is.”

Charlene Li, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research, agreed that marketers haven’t seemed to figure out that this is a channel where consumers actually want to be spoken to.

“[Consumers] are asking questions on these sites that go unanswered,” she said. “You can’t ask for a better environment. And what do marketers do? They say nothing and put up another ad.”

Discussion questions:  What’s the difference between mainstream marketing techniques and efforts targeting MySpace and other social networking sites? How should mainstream advertising be tweaked to work on social networking sites?

My post:

Few retailers or brands have taken the time to research how to best use the social networks for marketing efforts.  Therefore, most efforts have been to slam their regular mainstream marketing onto these sites – a huge mistake.  Retailers and brands would do well to research the many quality “how-to” sites for social networking entrepreneurs. These sites provide excellent lessons on how to write compelling content for blogs, social networks, etc.  Key points:

  • Remember: These are conversations not ads. Talk, engage, but don’t sell.
  • Who will do the postings on blogs, MySpace, etc.? They must speak with an authentic voice, aligned with the company’s voice.
  • Can you commit to regular updates? If not, don’t start.
  • Have you prepared for the inevitable complaints and bad comments about your brand/product?
  • Give stuff away. The way you gain trust with your audience and get them to buy your product eventually is to prove that your stuff is worthwhile. This method is used to great advantage in information marketing and should be utilized in product marketing.
  • Test, test, test, and test some more. This medium is continuously evolving and the best are always looking to tweak their approach.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist



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Should Retailers and Brands Run Ads Promoting Social Causes?

January 21, 2008

American Apparel Rallies for Immigration Reform – 1/21/08



American Apparel has been running ads over the last month charging that the U.S.’s immigration policy “amounts to an apartheid system” and should be overhauled to create a legal path for undocumented workers to gain citizenship. 

 American Apparel certainly doesn’t skirt controversy. Many critics claim its ads featuring scantily clad young women are pornography. But Dov Charney, founder and CEO of American Apparel and himself an immigrant from Canada, said the issue reflects his personal ideals around freedom. And while other large companies privately lobby the government over various policies, he would rather be open about his position. 

Discussion Questions: Should retailers or consumer brands be coming out with ads promoting social causes? Are certain topics okay (e.g., fighting aids or breast cancer, environment) and others too divisive? Has American Apparel crossed the line in this case and what will this campaign mean to its business?

My post:

 The point is that American Apparel has a very clear vision which includes being controversial and outspoken.  This ad is congruent with that vision and their values.  Therefore, the ad is appropriate.   

I do not think that most brands would do well with stepping out boldly on social and political issues.  Not because it is inappropriate for companies to get involved in such discussions, but rather because it would not be congruent with most companies’ vision and values. The most important thing a company does is define itself: purpose, vision, mission and values.  Every day in every way companies must behave in accordance with their true selves or risk confusing and alienating employees and customers alike.  Whether we agree with American Apparel’s positions or not, I think we can agree that their behaviors are consistent and congruent with their values.  Good for them. 

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! Strategist