Friday, November 30, 2012

Why so mean, Social Media?

Have you ever stopped to read the replies or comments posted on one of your favorite brand’s Facebook pages or twitter accounts?

WARNING: Offensive Content

Do it sometime.

And I thought I had no friends!?

Incoherent, whiny requests; negative and downright offensive language; even the most beloved brands fall victim.


There’s a certain anonymity about social media that encourages users to more freely speak their minds.

Unlike real-time verbal altercations in the physical world, where going face-to-face with brand reps can quickly turn personal, virtual brand stewards are able to digest onslaught opinion and respond with a delay.

And so, their responses are ALWAYS cool, calm, and collected (which, when you’re fired up, only provokes a deeper rage).

You don’t want to host your own brand roast.

These types of environments are no longer positive. They aren’t conducive to brand building – even with your strongest advocates. The bulk of dialogue has turned petty and reactionary.

So what should you do when you’re not feeling the Social Media Love?

1. Start by practicing self-regulation
I know – the last thing you want to do with an angstful group of followers is start deleting posts. You fear removing their comments will only lead to their posting 5 more – accusing you of being anti-American, anti-free speech, etc.

LEGO has the right idea. Consider validating regulation by establishing a vague set of “house rules:” 
Playing it cool...
Sure, as a toy manufacture catering primarily to children; monitoring social media is a bit more justifiable. Still, offensive language and distracting content is something you as forum owner should NOT be afraid to remove.

But mind the fine line.

Don’t delete EVERYTHING that feels negative
People should be able to post legitimate gripes. They’ll respect you more for leaving it – and be more interested to hear your resolve. In that respect, social media can serve as a think tank for constant improvement.

2. When monitoring fails, scale back completely
Forget what you’ve heard – not everyone has a reason to be active on Facebook and Twitter.

If the bulk of your posts (business and non-business alike) are met with hostility, just BAIL.
Keep place holders on all the big players. Consider making social media’s sole purpose the dissemination of “emergency information” – (issues affecting coverage, outlet closures, etc).

Bottom line: Social media efforts should bolster brand affinity, not disparage it.

Don’t play host to a growing community of disgruntled customers.

If it feels like it’s not enhancing your relationship with customers – scale back.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A week till black Friday and the (Target) dog is out of the bag…

The ad actually debuted Monday; in a nutshell:
  • Cheap TVs (but good luck getting your hands on the 2 or 3 that are in stock)  
  • Apple products come with gift cards (because heaven forbid they go on sale) 
  • $5 DVDs are now $4 
  •  Scrabble is on sale for $7; Words with Friends is full-price (why we have both to begin with) 
  • And (still) nobody cares about sales on clothing

Are Black Friday ad previews the new normal?

Last year we had to wait until Thanksgiving morning to know who had what on sale when. This time around Target blew the lid off a full 10 days early. Why?

Because it gives shoppers enough time to prioritize without giving competitors enough time to one-up on price.

When it comes to Black Friday, Target knows it’s not all about the price, heck – they make their living everyday under that guise!  No, it’s about the total mix; mass efficiencies gained with one stop.

Promoting the spread a week before game-time gives customers ample opportunity to weigh all variables before deciding whose doorbusters they’re going to bust doors for.

But where do retailers go from here?

Is it only a matter of time before Wal-Mart’s ad is just a single page?

Bring us anyone’s Black Friday ad and we’ll match their price.

It certainly would be easier than trying to build plans around multivariate intra-store pricing plus the likelihood of available stock. Come armed with every competing ad, cart up your hit list, wait two hours in line and you know you’re getting the very best deal available.

So where are you going Black Friday?

Screw hitting the stores early! Armed with the ad in advance, I’m off to stash a few wants in Target’s furniture displays tonight. Expect me to mosey in and collect around noon Friday. ;)

PS: Before we sign off, what’s this, a new start time?!
GAME CHANGER: Open primetime, Thanksgiving night
We're guessing that "IT'S ON!" will light up come 9 pm next Thursday - cute.
We talked last year about the on-going battle of rolling start times – this year Target is kicking Black Friday off 3 hours earlier, starting at 9 pm Thanksgiving. (Will the mounds of turkey dinner even be settled by then?) 

It’s been met with much debate  – accused of encroaching on employees’ time with family. Work/life balance aside, it threatens the very existence of Black Friday. If all the hot-ticket items stocked are likely to be depleted 3-4 hours before midnight Friday, more and more people will cave to peer pressure and get their start before even clearing the Thanksgiving table. 

Will Thanksgiving soon dethrone the BIGGEST shopping day of the year? 

Only time will tell…


Thursday, November 15, 2012

The best ads say it all without saying anything…

While exploring the blogosphere, I stumbled across this brilliant ad by Rep/Grey out of Bogotá, Colombia for AKT Motos.

Sometimes it’s better to just let the picture do all the talking.

Now, I’m not about to buy one of these motor scooters or anything – but the point is still well taken.

Who can’t in a moment of earnestness admit their spending too much [empty] time on social media?

By transforming the Facebook and Twitter logos into traditional architectural renderings, we’re reminded how detached a life lived solely through social media can be.

We need balance. We need the real world!

To really drive the notion of isolation home, I would have liked to have seen no doorway out of the logo.

(And if I were in the market for a new place, Facebook is totally the cooler pad).

Same point, different execution

Now that I’ve got my creative juices going…picture it:

Frame 1: A dark, lonely room, the only light is what’s emitting from a computer monitor. Crouched over it, a tired, worn subject staring blankly at the screen. Right hand on the mouse, left hand propping up his head. In his glasses, the reflection of the Facebook/twitter interface.

Frame 2: Visually dynamic, bright surroundings – the same subject now rejuvenated, smiling – his sunglasses (snow ski goggles?) are reflecting the spectacular real-world that sprawls out before him.

[Logo] – Thumb through the life of others or live one of your own.

Just off the top of my head. :P

The whole pitch is an interesting concept – as the feature isn’t in direct competition with either social media platform. And yet, it resonates as an aspiring alternative.

Whether you’re actually in the market for a motor scooter, ski/beach trip or not, it’s a play we can all relate to – spend less time trolling social media!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When it comes to Christmas Trees, more of less is more…

At least according to The Wall Street Journal.

In an article posted last week in Life & Culture, WSJ chronicles the dawn of a new era in tree trimming.

When I was growing up, we had just one. It was the perfect artificial cone – a bit over 6 feet tall and every bit as wide. Like clockwork each year, the weekend after Thanksgiving it came down from the attic. With just four fair strings of colored lights, (the pinks having long faded to pale orange and yellow); there it stood fireplace-adjacent.

Every December my brother and I would join Mom at Hallmark and carefully select a shiny new ornament to add to the collection.
If you’re in your late-20s/early-30s and got your rearing in the Midwest, I’m guessing your story is much the same.

Not the case today.

More and more households are leaving Santa in a Christmas morning quandary.

Where does one leave the gifts when there are trees in both the family and living rooms!? And what’s Kris Kringle supposed to do with the two flanking the dining room hutch or the one standing at the end of the kitchen counter?

As with jeans, ties, and lattes – ‘skinny’ is in.

And like our low-cal peppermint mochas, the skinnier the tree, the more we think we can afford to have.

While the WSJ article cites several probable reasons for the skinny tree endemic (cheaper, easier to decorate, less evasive in tight, urban dwellings, etc.), this blogger sees something less conservative at play. And, in name of full-disclosure, I couldn’t be happier!

Christmas trimming companies are taking full-advantage of our inherent need to overdo it.

With lights being replaced every 5+ years and only two or three new heirloom ornaments added each year, there was more than cookies and milk being left on the table.

And so, product lines got extended (a few times over).

Today lights come in practically thousands of combinations, once single ornaments have become themed collections of 20+.
"World's Largest Christmas Store" - Bronner's Christmas Wonderland - Frankenmuth, MI
Retailers know that for many of us, Christmas triggers instant salivation and delight; it stimulates dormant, fond memories of food, family and fun.

We see Christmas and we want it now. And in today’s superfluous world of over-doing, the more really is the merrier!

So we keep our original “family tree” (it’s the one with junky, school-made ornaments hanging from it, Santa – go put the gifts there). But just to show off to the neighbors, we also have ones to match the décor of both the living and dining rooms. We have one in the kitchen, dressed by mom with gingerbread men, spoons, spatulas and peppermint print ribbon. We even have one in the finished basement for Dad, complete with sports and poker-themed ornaments.

Today, we have it all, we change it often and the industry continues to grow.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to put the finishing touches on my designer pencil tree of deep mahogany and garish gold, already some 1800 lights strong. :P