Tag Archives: socialmedia

Even if you can’t stop them, you have to plan for Detractors

Coach Punked by PETA

Warning: Graphic Image Not Suitable for All Viewers

Last week Coach got punked by PETA in Facebook. Under pictures of Coach purses PETA posted dozens of pictures of skinned animals and an occasional bunny in a cage. Activists also took their beef to the brand’s wall posts. Ana Andjelic‘s tweet about the incident brought it to my attention and hours later Coach had still not taken action to remove those photos and reclaim their page. In SocialMedia–or, in other words, in today’s real-time media reality–5-minutes in this kind of a case is too long. Hours to respond is unacceptable. The response time makes me believe there was something missing in their approach.

I don’t understand how this surprised Coach. Earlier this year PETA made their intentions known through a board resolution. Coach has an active Facebook page with nearly 1.2 million likes/followers. There are clearly dedicated social media strategy and resources. Let’s also assume they have a leading monitoring mechanism in place. It’s hard to understand how this caught Coach by surprise, but a similar outcome doesn’t have to happen to you.

Working with large companies and brands, we can see how wires can get crossed between multiple departments, agencies and stakeholders. All the more reason for a plan and to create greater coordination in all aspects of consumer communications. Here’s a minimum roster of roles that need to be involved in planning and coordination:

  • PR/MarCom/Communications
  • Digital Marketing
  • Customer Service Response Team
  • Media Buying and Planning
  • Legal


Issues like the one Coach experienced are accountable all the way to the C-suite, but more likely the line-item accountability is with their PR or Communications function. PR and communications have been classically trained and historically handled matters of crisis communications, message management, media outreach, buzz and influence. For generations PR companies have been the real-time “voice” of companies and brands. This fact and how they’re compensated–largely on professional services fees or Full-Time Employee (FTE) allocation, which by no coincidence is how Social Media looks & acts–are two primary contributors for PR’s early dominance in Social Media.

As a result, most media monitoring services are designed to excel in PR-like organizations. FWIW, we find this orientation to be major limitations for our needs, but that’s an opinion for another post. The point is that any of the top monitoring services would have caught hundreds of tweets including Ana & mine about the Coach/PETA crisis in the making.

Digital Marketing

Whether the Digital Marketing team is an agency, in-house support group or core business function, most are geared to respond immediately to breaking challenges. From broken code to hacked sites, they’re on call and can respond at both Strategic and tactical levels to inform your action plan. In developing assets for a program, consider having them develop alternatives for quick replacement of graphics or messages if needed.

Customer Service/Response

Most large companies have Customer Service Response centers and facilities. Some of these are actively managing their company’s and brands’ FAQs, Facebook pages and related message boards. More often now they’re proactively responding in public areas or in Web 2.0 business and brand sites. Examples of these include Facebook, Get Satisfaction, Google and Yelp.

Media Buying and Planning

At a minimum companies should have budgets earmarked and available for search term to get ahead of how consumers and reporters research related activities. It’s a paid placement to tell the company’s story. Take a look at how Coach is handling it’s search terms: “Coach” and “Coach Leather” returns a sponsored link from the company; “Coach Fur” and “Coach PETA” returns links to PETA and specific actions they want you to take against Coach. So, you see insult to injury in the Facebook attacks.


We’ve worked with every range of legal resources and the best are those that keep the company’s best interests prioritized while still trying to achieve sales and marketing goals. The worst are caricatures out of Dilbert with MBAs in CYA. If you’re working with the former, they’re a huge value in planning for contingencies and appropriate responses.

If you don’t have an advocacy-enemy or organized detractor today, that’s great. You’ve avoided the inevitable to this point. Pulling together a multi-disciplinary task force to discuss potential threats, response initiatives, ownership/accountability and escalation paths will help you either avoid or better deal with a Coach scenario.

If you have active detractors that are organized, I’d add another session to your planning that covers dealing with these specific threats. Ask yourself how Greenpeace or PETA would campaign against you. You will need to meet them with equal intensity, strategy and tools to neutralize their actions at a minimum and keep them from disrupting the smooth operations of your business. Chances are you’ll also give new tools to your advocates in the process as well.

Any thoughts or constituents I’ve missed here?

Social Media Gurus

For your enjoyment. NSFW/Kids–mild language.

Live a Refresh Challenge

Last month I got the chance to get involved with a Pepsi Refresh cause to raise money for a great cause, the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. The prize is $500k–between the $250,000-level funding from Pepsi Refresh and a matching grant from The Pioneer Foundation–just for tweeting and texting. We came in third in a race that changed hands several times on the last day of voting and in which only the top two vote earners win funding. Through the process of supporting this cause I earned an intimate view of the idea, mechanism and vision of Pepsi Refresh. We’re in the running again this month, leading the voting so far. I’ll share some impressions below and invite you to get familiar with the program as the new rules of marketing require every brand to have some form of Social Mission in its brand expression. Pepsi Refresh is the gold-standard expression.

Clear Call To Action

Please get familiar with the Pepsi Refresh project by signing up today now. You can login with your Facebook account or create an account using email. Go ahead. We’ll wait. When you are done voting, please return and post your action and any impressions in the comments below. See instructions below for voting daily as well as sample tweets you can use to promote this to your network.

To get the full impact of this program, go beyond voting to promoting. When you do this you’ll see an emotional connection that happens in the process of helping out a worthy cause. More than the brand impressions enhancing their Share Of Voice in SocialMedia, I believe Pepsico is benefiting from the positive brand transference of this emotional association and connection.

About Pepsi Refresh

Pepsi Refresh got famous as news outlets picked up on Pepsico’s decision to skip a Super Bowl ad for 2010. Media reports implied Pepsi used the marketing dollars to fund the Refresh Everything initiative instead. Moving funds from TV to SocialMedia was unheard of and considered bold, visionary and as with any marketing innovation, was also met with some skepticism. Nine months, 160 funded ideas and nearly $7 million in charitable grants later the evidence is falling on the side of vision over skepticism. Pepsico has announced plans to roll out Refresh Everything globally and support the program in the US for at least another year. In a recap post for this challenge I’ll share more of the mechanics and an interview with Pepsico’s Bonin Bough about the program.

About IRSF:

The International Retts Syndrome Foundation funds research to cure this tragic disease which strikes 15-months to 12 years old girls to various degrees with autistic-spectrum afflictions. As it progresses girls lose speech, motor control and eventually can not live unassisted. The amazing thing about IRSF is that their efforts in funding medical research has actually produced to my knowledge the first –identified marker at the chromosome level which advances this from the “needle in the haystack” research activity to a focused drive to a cure. Breakthroughs for IRSF will also likely open doors more broadly for the treatment of neurological diseases.

On a personal note: Christian McMahan and John Corpus are two friends with daughters the same age as mine. Each as wonderful, both with Retts. We need a cure.

Small acts, Short time, Big deal:
We can make a big difference by getting our networks to vote for the IRSF cause on the Pepsi Refresh Everything program. The prize from Pepsi is $250k and IRSF has secured an additional $250k in matching grant from The Pioneer Foundation. So, you have the ability to raise $500k for this cause just by doing what we do.

There are a lot of worthy and motivated causes gunning for the two top $250k spots. We don’t take any of their resourcefulness or networks for granted. We need help getting people to do two things:

  1. Go to http://www.refresheverything.com/rettresearchtoreality and vote every day for our cause between now and September 30
  2. Text 100842 to Pepsi (73774) on any mobile device; standard text messaging rates apply

We’re confident with your support we can maintain our top spot (see http://www.refresheverything.com/leaderboard) and win the prize.

Here are a couple of potential tweets for you to use in promoting:

  • Join me in finding a CURE for 1000’s of girls w/Rett Syndrome by voting now! http://pep.si/4irsf & txt 100842 to 73774. pls rt!
  • Vote IRSF @Pepsico Refresh daily to 9/30 we can win $500k w/matching grants! http://pep.si/4irsf & txt 100842 to 73774. pls rt!
  • Vote to cure Retts @Pepsico Refresh now & daily to 9/30-we may win $500k for a cure! http://pep.si/4irsf & txt 100842 to 73774. pls rt!

About Friends, Facebook & Curfews

John Battelle, CEO of FederatedMedia and a long list of pioneering publications and books on new media and Search, posted about how he “blew it on Facebook” by exceeding the platform’s Friend limit of 5000. He goes on to comment about how his use of the platform has changed and a little about what the nature of friends are. In this post I’ll share some thoughts on these issues and about how I use Facebook.

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Hiatus Explanation

As those following me in Facebook, Twitter, delicious, slideshare and Friendfeed know, I’m not lacking in things to share, learn about and connect around in SocialMedia. And I’m spending the same amount of time as before, but the blog–an important platform for “Search Signals” and visibility in SocialMedia–has fallen behind. There was a recent NY Times article and a TechGeist follow that asserted that most blogs are ghost towns because the content is most often navel-gazing about mundane daily life. Funny, that’s what they’ve maligned Twitter with since it’s inception. In fact, my wife still calls Twitter the “wiping my posterior” medium in less polite terms.

My hiatus has been on account of time, prioritization, a little hunkermania and heavier use of other forms. But mostly the latter. Twitter’s replaced a lot of this activity and between @-replies on twitter and comments in Facebook and FriendFeed I get more immediate and frequent commentary than you’ll see in the area below. It also takes the commentary into some open spaces as well as behind the doors of SocialNets giving participants an opportunity to react in their preferred communication forms and levels of dynamic personalization.

So, while the blog platform’s been quiet lately the Search, SocialGraph and other SocialMedia channels have been as active as ever. Looking forward to connecting here and there. Cheers!

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Ben and Jerry’s Killer Facebook Ad Integration

Facebook Election '08 Application/PageCheck out this page. It’s content right? This is the Election ’08 page on Facebook.

It’s got your voting booth location mash-up powered by Google Maps, some info graphics and even a gift/badge for you to wear your colors–Red or Blue. It showed volumes in real-time as people clicked the “I voted” link on their Facebook profile page after visiting the polls. I tweeted about the page in the morning of election day when 1.1 million people had already been counted and watched the numbers swell each hour until the polls closed. Nearly 5.5 million acted making it one of the highest daily-use apps to date (think about how few YouTube videos get that much play in a single day, let alone month for comparison).

The genius is in the Ben & Jerry’s map/application integration. This is content, but it’s also a delivery mechanism for the advertising sponsorship by Ben & Jerry. Simple. Natural (as in additive and not interruptive). Brilliant.

In this case you were able to find the local Ben & Jerry’s store to get the free icecream cone they were offering for those that voted IRL and in the integrated link you could also send a “vote cone” virtual gift to your friends in Facebook.

For Ben & Jerry’s it’s a win across the board. The association is perfect for a brand that has in its roots social change and political activision. That future analysis will likely attribute SocialMedia and Facebook’s influence on 14mm new young voters heavily skewed to Obama as a determing factor in the race can’t hurt the brand. And the message was party-neutral regardless of the results. These are the kind of brand-fit filters every connection planner should find: Content, Context and mission.

As a campaign tracking mechanism, free cone redemptions will be an easy metric. Virtual gift talleys will also be telling as will traffic to the Election ’08 page. Without a doubt, Buzzmetrics and other influence trackers will be tallying total blog mentions and related viewership. And, I’d love to see the total impressions this campaign earned from the SocialGraph as well. We’ll reach out to Facebook, the brand and related agencies to see if we can get the numbers. And, if you’re related to the brand and know, feel free to share below.

Ben & Jerry’s won big on this campaign–even before all the numbers are in–by hitting the right tone of placement and pitch. I learned about new retail locations in a relevant way. I also didn’t feel like they were selling me. In fact, they were offering a number of value-exchanges I couldn’t get without them entering my social interactions on Facebook. Consider how different this is from the “Market Stall” approach of fast and casual food retail where the strategy based on ad spend (shout louder, sooner and with a better offer than your competitors) dominates their consumer communications. The Market Stall has 90%+ of ad spend concentrated on TV and traditional media in a cluttered, interruptive market place. Ben & Jerry’s essentially opened a new market away from the noise, clutter and lack of relevance of the traditional approach.

Every brand marketer should be asking themselves and their agencies: What’s our occasion(s) that should be so integrated with Facebook? And then buy the date to lock out your competition and outplay them.

Added: was reminded that I previously posted about Lee LeFever’s Common Craft show,  “SocialMedia in Plain English” and it was the metaphor told via Ice Cream retail. Fun conincidence. All our SM Answers Haz Ice Cream.


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