i’m here — hope you are too

If you’re reading this in your rss feed reader, then you’ve made it with me to the new blog.

As I said in the last blogspot post, I should have done this a long time ago and really should have done it from the start. I always hesitated doing it because I feared I would lose some readers and all those inbound links from over the years. And I have lost those links and I’m sure some people will get left behind, but this needed to be done. I’m hopeful that 2009 will be a big year because of a project that I’m working on that will launch late summer/early fall (see www.brandzeitgeist.com for details)

You shouldn’t build a house on land that you don’t own. A blog on a free platform presents the same problem. What if blogger/google pulled the rug out tomorrow? The blog issue is easy to solve like I just have — but think about all the people building their online brand equity in places like twitter, linked in, facebook, and a hundred other places online. Is your entire online brand resting on something that could be gone tomorrow?

Anyway, the process of the switch was easier and quicker than I thought it would. Toughest part was that I had to manually transfer several of my old comments (pre-2006) when I was using Haloscan comments instead the Blogger commenting.

All the posts made it except one from two years ago that came over as a draft for some reason. All the comments came except 3. I have no idea what 3 they were. I hope they weren’t profound observations.

And all the old labels/tags came over as categories. It will be a joy to clean those up.

Thanks for coming along to the new digs.

sacrifice your friends for free meat

This month, it will be six years since Crispin Porter + Bogusky took over the Burger King business and started serving up quirky and viral campaigns that have been critically acclaimed by those in the ad biz. Coq Roq, Whopper Virgins, the Subservient Chicken, the resurrection of the “king” and more — it’s all from CP+B and has definitely brought the buzz to BK.

And yet — six years ago, Burger King was the #2 fast food outlet in the US. Today, Burger King is the #2 fast food outlet in the US. Advertising admired by the advertising community is not always the key to success.

But there’s part of me that actually likes the concept behind CP+B’s latest creation. It’s a Facebook application called Whopper Sacrifice. (Find the microsite at http://www.whoppersacrifice.com/)

Basically, you load the app; delete 10 of your “friends”; and BK sends you a coupon for a free Whopper. The app also lets those “friends” (please use airquotes) know they’ve been deleted for a burger to perpetuate the viral effect. It’s top notch Burger King classiness.

I think BK and CP+B have tapped into the Facebook backlash that’s simmering under the surface of the masses. Everyone has a few pieces of dead wood that they could let go.

And just in case you do actually need all your “friends” (airquotes again) or if you’re like me and just like to scam corporations doing little tricks like this — there’s already a group of people on Facebook who are willing to be your “friend” just to be sacrificed.

Obviously, there have been viral campaigns played out on Facebook before, but none aimed so directly at the Facebook experience. It will be an interesting one to watch.
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UPDATE 1/14/09: Facebook has removed BK as a friend – http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/01/14/facebook-blows-a-whopper-of-an-opportunity/

old vs new

According to Emily Post, the classic correct formal introduction is along the lines of:

“Mrs. Jones, may I present Mr. Smith?

Of course, that devolved into either introducing oneself or something casual along the lines of:

“This is my friend, Chris.”

Today, the basic introduction goes along the lines of:

“omg facebook says we know each other … Wanna 2b friendz?”

tweet checks

You’ve probably already heard about the Zuckerberg interview fiasco at SXSW. If not, here’s a good overview and Jarvis has some insight.

After spending years in marketing and media, I’ve learned a few things that are showcased in this particular incident:
1) Every interviewer has an agenda. And every interviewee needs a plan. Sure, they’re going to ask you questions. You just give the answers that you want to get across. Politicians do this too well.
2) In most interviews, journalists already have most of the story written and just need some quotes to fill in the holes. You may have to slap them around (figuratively, of course) –but make sure that they’re getting your story right.
3) Most interviewers don’t listen to what you’re saying.
4) Don’t ever tweet in anger.
5) The audience has always controlled the conversation. If you insulted them in the old days, they canceled their subscription or changed the channel. Now they bite back.

I don’t think people realize how much communication has changed. We’ve all been in a conference where someone was doing something stupid on stage. Everyone winced individually and went on to the next session. Maybe later in the exhibit hall or somewhere else did the WOM occur that negated the presentation. It now happens in real time. You can have an angry mob on your hands and not realize it. Presenters often have a person in the audience who watches their time or body language. You now need a plant to give you cues on the meta-conversation and how the natives are feeling.

People get freaked out when this social conversation happens in a microcosm like a conference so you can actually see it. But this is happening everyday. Not everyone is in the same room. But when your company, you’re media outlet, your celebrity, your politician, or your product messes up, everyone is out there talking about it to each other.

And 99.999% of companies are doing what this interviewer did. They say I’m giving you what I think you need instead of what you’re telling me you want.

artificial networks

Both online and offline, there’s been a surge in the concept of “networks” as a marketing tool. And websites and groups have sprung up to capitalize on the phenomenon. As people clamor to build their personal networks for business, they need to be careful. I’m seeing many people waste lots of time and energy into false networks that may not net any gain.

Don’t get me wrong. Your personal network is one of the strongest marketing tools you have — especially if you’re in a B2B field. And it also works to your advantage in a B2C field causing word-of-mouth trickle down.

But the network and the relationships have to be real in order to be effective. Many of these new groups and websites develop artificial networks. It’s like most other things. People are always looking for the quick and easy way to get rich, lose weight, or win market share. And all those things take time. Developing a network of relationships is no different.

There’s a fairly new phenomenon of “speed networking”. These events should be called “speed business card exchanges” because that’s all they really are. You’re into self delusion if you think you’re coming out of one of these events with 50 meaningful business relationships. Obviously, you can use the contact info from those quick meetings to develop a relationship later with a few of the people you met. But it will still take time to develop those.

I know several people who are involved locally in a national business networking organization. And it seems that every one of them has drunk the Kool-Aid (or more accurately the Flavor-Aid) I’ve been invited to a few of the meetings and each time it felt like I was getting involved in some sort of scheme. Fostering that sort of feeling is not the best way to develop relationships.

Clearly with weekly meetings, there’s time to develop relationships. But the problem with these types of groups is that the relationships are forced and sometimes unnecessary. How can the “stock broker” and the “carpet cleaner” in the group really have a meaningful business relationship? Have you ever had this conversation?

“So you advise that I put 50% into mutual funds and 50% into bonds? OK. Now, where do you suggest I get my carpet cleaned?”

Both the stock broker and the carpet cleaner would be better off spending their time developing real relationships with other businesspeople that have customers with adjacent needs.

And then the internet makes everything easy. I see people who have hundreds of contacts on Linked In or Facebook and wonder if they feel their network is actually that deep/wide. Accepting a friend or contact on one of these sites is not equivalent to developing a relationship with them. It is a great way to manage and stay in contact with relationships you’ve already developed.

But you can grow your network online. I consider some people that I’ve never met “face-to-face” as some of my closest business allies because of the relationship we’ve had online.

Here’s the kicker. Relationships and networks are built with two things: time and trust. True networking relationships come from actually having a relationship with someone.

Like with most marketing activities, just doing something doesn’t mean that you’re making any progress. Spend time and energy developing your network. Just make sure it’s real.

And of course, the best place to network is a funeral.

Reality Check

Recently, I spoke to a group of late teens/early 20-somethings about online media. These students were in an honors class in one of the top journalism schools in the country.

In all, they threw me for a loop on what “the online generation” is doing.

Granted, it was only about 90 minutes with 18 people. But perhaps before you invest heavily in online platforms, you should get your head out of the blogosphere where “everyone” knows all about the potential of Web2.0 and you should drop in on a few of the people out in the real world.

Media and Marketing in a Tragedy

A few observations about the events this week at Virginia Tech…

Change of the Guard
Where did all these kids immediately turn to for information? They didn’t huddle around a radio. They didn’t gather around a TV. They didn’t even pick up a phone. It was all internet and Facebook. What medium are you using to reach a 22 year old?

Content not Production Value
Some in the media have looked unfavorably at the cell phone footage of the shots being used on the air. But it has become CNN’s most viewed and downloaded clip of all time.
The truth is that it no longer matters what it looks like. It matters what the content is. Look at most of the stuff on YouTube. If it looks like it was “produced”, it’s not as well viewed while the amateur looking stuff is gangbusters. It’s going to take a major realignment of the thinking of media and marketers (including me) to get to the point that polished delivery is not always what the public wants to consume.

Branding
Why did he send the package to NBC? The only major network address that I can rattle off the top of my head is 30 Rockefeller Plaza, NY, NY. What about you? That’s an example of a long term brand strategy. A peacock is just a logo.

Media
NBC gets a double whammy of good and bad. On one hand, I’m sure they saw it as an exclusive delivered right into their lap. But on the other, it’s a curse. What do you do with it? Holding it makes people mad. Airing it makes people mad. They picked one of the two bad choices they had.

Citizen Journalists
The kid who shot the cell phone footage and the kids who taped the S.W.A.T team through the peephole have provided content that hangs in the realm of battlefield journalists. People and cameras will increasingly become more prevalent and high profile as time goes by. How long before a “scandal” of improper use of citizen journalism? How long until a citizen journalist becomes injured or gets killed while holding up a cell phone camera?

You can’t own information
A colleague and I were discussing the Virginia Tech student newspaper website today. They have stripped it down to bare bones updates (because there really is only one story on campus and to help handle the server stress.) But there is a legal disclaimer at the bottom of the page about having written consent to reprint/republish/etc their intellectual property. He had actually sent them an email suggesting a Creative Commons license.
Trying to hold on to content is now useless. You want people to take what you’re creating and spread it. Your lawyer wants you to place hurdles in people’s way. You need to make it easy as possible.

There are lots more points on media and marketing about all of this – Jeff Jarvis has made some good ones.