Tomorrow is 9/11 and the brands I play a role in managing have decided to take the day off of social media out of respect. Our opinion is that the objective in social media is to add value and engage people in our own little way. It just doesn’t seem right to talk about ourselves on a day where we are remembering so many people that lost their lives and the others who sacrificed their life to fight for our freedom.
In fact the more I think about it, I think brands should actually look for days where they “go dark”. Who said it’s mandatory to post something on Facebook everyday anyway?
I’m interested to see how other brands manage themselves.
What are your thoughts on how brands should manage their social media profiles at times like this?
This is a serious question: Is there such a thing as a “Employee Exchange” program?
I work for a small, entrepreneurial company and think that some of the junior level people on my team may benefit by spending some time getting experience in a different kind of environment.
Does anyone else think this would be a benefit to someone on your team? I get that it would be tough to send an employee away for a week and take on someone else, but I also see how there could be a ton of value and experience gained by doing something like this for a week. Think about the insights that someone who spends a week working in a completely different environment would bring back to your team. Think about how much more impactful it would be to have that person share those experiences with their peers rather than YOU (the boss) telling them how it should be.
If anyone is interested in doing something like this let me know. I am specifically interested in partnering with a bigger company that has a very fast-paced, meeting driven culture. In exchange, I could offer a small, DIY, entrepreneurial, get your hands dirty and do it yourself environment.
If you’re interested, leave a comment or connect with me on Twitter: @nealstewart
Didn’t get to go to Austin for SXSWi? Don’t worry, you probably have better things to do and most of the good stuff ends up on the internets anyway.
Here’s a video of a panel that I think Oreo put on where they could talk about how awesome their Super Bowl social media activation was. As it turns out, the Oreo people didn’t talk all that much. The good news is at Gary Vaynerchuk did and he shared a couple good insights:
1) Social Media is all about adding value. Simple as that.
2) He created more buzz this year by meeting with 200 people individually rather than being a keynote speaker in front of 4000 people.
Scale is important. We all want to get our message to a lot of people and sell a lot of stuff. But gathering the biggest crowd for your message isn’t the only way to do it. These days, it’s more about a truly providing value to a highly targeted audience and then letting them translate it in a relevant way to their audiences.
Btw, watching the whole panel is a bit tedious. Only about 5% of the conversation is worth the time. There’s a lot of smug in the room.
Back in 2004, I was the Pabst Blue Ribbon brand manager and we sponsored a bunch of events at SXSW. We partnered with the likes of Vice Magazine, Urban Outfitters, Bloodshot records, the now defunct Arthur Magazine and supplied beer to their un-official SXSW parties. This was before every brand under the sun was guerilla marketing the event and getting into the “side parties” was a big deal and only the real influencers were in the know.
Although I can’t say for sure, I don’t think we paid any money for the sponsorships. If we did it was minimal. Our biggest expenditure was simply product, which I believe was somewhere in the neighborhood of 400-500 cases. At the time, a lot of people at the company thought I was crazy for giving so much beer away.
I remember talking to one of those partners at the end of the weekend and marveling at the number of people consumer connections we made. PBR spent less than $10 and literally owned all of the insider parties. I can look back at those sponsorships and say that connecting with the influencers who attended SXSW was worth the $8000 (ish) investment.
Although I’m not at SXSW this year, I have been back several times since that year and I’m amazed at how many brands have jumped on the bandwagon looking for ways to create buzz at the annual event. It’s become so ubiquitous that every time someone wants to create buzz with hipsters or social media geeks, the first question is “what can we do at SXSW?” as if no one has thought of that.
Here’s the problem with the SXSW buzz plan: everyone is doing it. There is so much marketing clutter in Austin for the two weeks of SXSW that no one knows who is sponsoring what. They just know there is a party and everything is free.
What may seem like a shortcut to reach all of the right people all at once is really a mirage. If you really want to connect with “influencers” (and that word IS played out) you need to consider three things:
Can you get their full attention? It is literally impossible to do this at SXSW because so many brands are talking. Do you really think any one remembers what brand of Pino Noir they drank at Gary Vaynerchuk’s Secret Wine Part last night? When PBR sponsored those parties back in 04, we were the exclusive beer of every event and the can became a badge that people carried around. Even without obnoxious banners and swag to give away, it was hard to escape the branding.
Are you invited to the party? If you don’t have a legitimate reason and permission to be there, you’re probably trying too hard. Too many brands just show up at SXSW because they want hipsters to like them. That doesn’t work. When PBR sponsored events at SXSW, we were already part of the culture and all of the event organizers picked us as their beer sponsor. This resulted in consumers were both surprised and appreciative we were part of the events.
Will they remember and recommend you? The whole point of generating some “buzz” at SXSW is to reach influencers, right? Too many brands forget that the role an influencer is supposed to play is one of recommending brands and services to others. Will they be in a position to do that after they fly out of Austin? Do they know enough about you? Did they get a memorable experience?
If you can’t check the box on these three things, you may want to look at other ways to get the word out on your brand. If you can’t come up with any other ideas, get in touch with me. I’ll help you out.