Monthly Archives: June 2011

This Week in Social Media

– Mobile marketing took a big step forward when American Express announced a new partnership with Foursquare. The social networking app allows cardholders to link their Foursquare profiles to their cards, giving them access to specials without the need for coupons. When a cardholder sees a special they want, they check in to the location and “load” the discount onto their card, and their credit card statement confirm it. While only available at three merchants so far, I predict this innovative partnership will spread to other credit card companies and to other social networks, including Facebook.

The takeaway: Mobile is the next great frontier in shopping, socializing, and job searching. Is it part of your social media strategy?



– UP2U, a new stick gum from the makers of Mentos, launched an aggressive social media campaign ahead of its product launch. Though the gum isn’t yet sold anywhere in the US, the UP2U Facebook page neared 100,000 likes this week. Mentos offered free gum to the first 1,000 people who liked the page, but even after that milestone was hit, the promotion continued to go viral. The campaign should hit a whole new level next month when Mentos asks its Facebook fans to provide the name of friends who would like free samples.

The takeaway: Even without a product, UP2U has created fun, opinionated community by asking questions on its Facebook wall, all of which include the phrase “it’s up to you.” Chew on this smart blend of branding and engagement.

– Jason Valdez, an ex-convict in Salt Lake City, found time during a 16-hour police standoff to update his Facebook status. Friends and family members responded to him in real time, offering everything from pleas to “do the right thing” to, in one case, alerting Valdez to a SWAT officer hiding in the bushes. The standoff is over and the hostage is safe, but SLC police are still trying to determine if anyone who commented on Valdez’s Facebook wall should be charged with obstruction of justice or hampering a police investigation. Authorities are also debating whether Valdez’s posts themselves are a crime.

The takeaway: Social media is changing every type of interaction, and no one is totally certain what the new rules are. We’re all pioneers, so don’t be afraid to try.



– Lastly, this week my company BRANDEMiX partnered with the US Open to promote their July 7 job fair, where the National Tennis Center and all its hiring partners will be accepting resumes and conducting interviews to fill thousands of positions at this year’s tennis tournament. For this project, we created a microsite, a Twitter account and a Facebook Page.

The takeaway: Check out our Team US Open sites and tell me what you think!
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Social Media Superstar: PepsiCo

As I travel around the country giving my presentation “Socialize Your Talent Strategy,” I’m always on the lookout for companies using social media in innovative ways to attract job applicants.My latest unbiased SoMe (if you don’t know what that means, sign up for my next Webinar) Superstar discovery is PepsiCo, the family of brands that includes the famous soft drink, Quaker Oats, Frito-Lay, Gatorade, and Lipton. True, a few weeks ago, Pepsi lost out to Coke in my head-to-head competition of consumer-facing social media. But when it comes to social recruitment marketing, Pepsi has some fizz.Here are 4 reasons why:

  • The company maintains one digital employer brand. 
  • The company offers iPhone, iPad, and Android apps solely for job-seekers. 
  • The company manages a separate Twitter account just for job-seekers and a fully optimized LinkedIn Careers tab.
  • The company speaks to the next generation of workers by posting in Spanish, highlighting PepsiCo’s jobs perks, and emphasizing its environmental and charity efforts.

Employer Branding: “The Power of Possibilities,” and four value propositions: Culture, Benefits, Diversity, and Development are featured on their Careers Site. (Memba when I called them out on this:http://bit.ly/mrhzNr?) Job-seekers can also watch four well-crafted videos that each tell a story about a different employee. This section includes download options for Pepsi’s mobile jobs applications (which I believe is the future of best-practice recruitment). 

Many members of Generations X and Y claim that salary isn’t as important to them as working for a company that does good. PepsiCo addresses this issue on their YouTube channel, with videos such as PepsiCo Feeds America and PepsiCo’s Global Water Goals. The employee profile videos are also here, for candidates who don’t visit the main site.

PepsiCo’s careers Twitter profile has over 4,700 followers and continues the “Possibilities” branding. True to my philosophy of providing interesting content, the company’s tweets include recipes (“Spice Up Your Snacking with Mexican Shrimp Cocktail Fritos Pie”), answers to applicant questions (“Hello, Gunther. Make sure your contact and work history are current…), and even posts in Spanish, which broadens its applicant pool.

But it’s on LinkedIn where PepsiCo really stands out. The Careers tab is branded with the “Possibilities” logo. There’s a video message from the CEO, a list of employee benefits (including an on-site gym and café), three testimonials from employees, introduced by a particularly powerful employer value proposition for the marketing and communications positions that PepsiCo is trying to fill: 

We entrust our marketing and communications experts with creating our message, positioning our products in the right markets, understanding what consumers want and building demand for our products. They are the curators of our message and the guardians of our brands.


So, we raise our glass of soda to Pepsi,  BRANDEMiX latest unbiased example of a SoMe Superstar!

Social Media PR Disasters: “United Breaks Guitars”

Social media has given brands unprecedented access to its customers, but we may forget that the customers also have access to those same communication tools and are able to broadcast their messages to the world.

Sometimes those messages are critical of a company. How do brands respond? Over the next few months, I’ll look at the way brands have missed, or exploited, opportunities for good publicity. This week, what happens when a little-known musician takes on a major airline?

The Brand
United Airlines

The Incident
In 2008, on a United Airlines flight at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, the Sons of Maxwell, a rock group led by David Carroll, witnessed baggage handlers throwing their guitars on the tarmac. When Carroll arrived at his destination, he found that his $3,5000 Taylor guitar had been broken. Carroll pursued compensation from United for nine months, but the company never took responsibility and ultimately denied his claim.

The Problem
Carroll wrote a song about the incident and posted the music video on YouTube. After three days, it had received over 500,000 views. (It currently has over 10 million). The song became a hit on iTunes as well. Carroll promised that two more songs about United’s poor customer service were on the way.

The Response
After just 18 hours, United began offering apologies through Twitter. However, the airline’s Facebook Page made no mention of the incident, and the Page’s press release tab, an obvious platform for communicating the company’s official response, provided no additional information. The United Airlines YouTube channel quickly filled up with negative comments, which the airline neither replied to nor removed. Eventually, the airline made amends by donating $3,000 to the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute (at Carroll’s request), but that action didn’t indicate an improvement in baggage handling or a change of policies.

The Result
Carroll’s second song, a faux love ballad for a United customer service rep, was less successful but still a modest hit. His third song, in which Carroll describes being contact by other passengers who had had poor experiences with United, was more conciliatory. Carroll eventually began giving speeches on customer service to corporations around the country. He even flew United again – though on a flight to Denver to give a presentation, the airline lost his luggage. And Social Media Today, following an analysis of the story, concluded that “United Airlines did follow the first rule of crisis communications by apologizing and trying to make amends.  It’s their failure to leverage and integrate their online channels that is at issue.”

The Takeaway
So what are the lessons from “United Breaks Guitars”?

Drive people to your own turf. United had the platforms to control the flow of information, but neglected its own Facebook Page and YouTube channel, letting critics take over.

Respond immediately. How many views must a critical video get before a company responds? Carroll’s song became popular so quickly that many companies would have struggled to keep up. But United had at least some of response before two days had passed.

If necessary, make the change: Look at how Delta changed its baggage policy for military personnel after an Army reservist posted a video about having to pay a fee to check a fourth bag on a flight home from Afghanistan. Other airlines quickly eliminated their own fee. The entire story took only a few days to be resolved.

As “United Breaks Guitars” shows, while great customer service rarely stays with us, bad customer service drives people to vent their frustrations online. Some of the most vicious – and popular – content on the internet involves consumers taking their revenge against brands that have wronged them. But brands can swing public opinion back in their favor by acting with speed, grace, and humility.

Social Media PR Disasters: “United Breaks Guitars”

Social media has given brands unprecedented access to its customers, but we may forget that the customers also have access to those same communication tools and are able to broadcast their messages to the world.

Sometimes those messages are critical of a company. How do brands respond? Over the next few months, I’ll look at the way brands have missed, or exploited, opportunities for good publicity. This week, we’ll see what happens when a little-known musician takes on a major airline.
The Brand
United Airlines
The Incident
In 2008, on a United Airlines flight at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, the Sons of Maxwell, a rock group led by David Carroll, witnessed baggage handlers throwing their guitars on the tarmac. When Carroll arrived at his destination, he found that his $3,5000 Taylor guitar had been broken. Carroll pursued compensation from United for nine months, but the company never took responsibility and ultimately denied his claim.
The Problem
Carroll wrote a song about the incident and posted the music video on YouTube. After three days, it had received over 500,000 views. (It currently has over 10 million). The song became a hit on iTunes as well. Carroll promised that two more songs about United’s poor customer service were on the way.
The Response
After just 18 hours, United began offering apologies through Twitter. However, the airline’s Facebook Page made no mention of the incident, and the Page’s press release tab, an obvious platform for communicating the company’s official response, provided no additional information. The United Airlines YouTube channel quickly filled up with negative comments, which the airline neither replied to nor removed. Eventually, the airline made amends by donating $3,000 to the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute (at Carroll’s request), but that action didn’t indicate an improvement in baggage handling or a change of policies.
The Result
Carroll’s second song, a faux love ballad for a United customer service rep, was less successful but still a modest hit. His third song, in which Carroll describes being contact by other passengers who had had poor experiences with United, was more conciliatory. Carroll eventually began giving speeches on customer service to corporations around the country. He even flew United again – though on a flight to Denver to give a presentation, the airline lost his luggage. And Social Media Today, following an analysis of the story, concluded that “United Airlines did follow the first rule of crisis communications by apologizing and trying to make amends.  It’s their failure to leverage and integrate their online channels that is at issue.”
The Takeaway
So what are the lessons from “United Breaks Guitars”?
Drive people to your own turf. United had the platforms to control the flow of information, but neglected its own Facebook Page and YouTube channel, letting critics take over.
Respond immediately. How many views must a critical video get before a company responds? Carroll’s song became popular so quickly that many companies would have struggled to keep up. But United had at least some of response before two days had passed.
If necessary, make the change: Look at how Delta changed its baggage policy for military personnel after an Army reservist posted a video about having to pay a fee to check a fourth bag on a flight home from Afghanistan. Other airlines quickly eliminated their own fee. The entire story took only a few days to be resolved.
As “United Breaks Guitars” shows, while great customer service rarely stays with us, bad customer service drives people to vent their frustrations online. Some of the most vicious – and popular – content on the internet involves consumers taking their revenge against brands that have wronged them. But brands can swing public opinion back in their favor by acting with speed, grace, and humility.

The Navy Markets to, and Redefines, Women

I often give presentations on social media marketing, where I preach transparency, casual friendliness, and acceptance of negative feedback. One organization notknown for those qualities is the United States military. Which is why I was so surprised to see that the US Navy had a Facebook page that encouraged recruits, and potential recruits, to openly discuss their concerns and challenges.

Even more surprising is the fact that the page isn’t for everyone considering a career in the Navy; it’s specifically for women, who have had a difficult history in our country’s armed forces.
The page is called “Women Redefined,” and it provides an interesting example of gender branding and recruitment.
Women Redefined offers as its mission, “Applauding women who define life on their own terms. Intermingling the stereotypically feminine and masculine. Women in the Navy are amongst those paving the way in redefining femininity in the 21st Century. Show your support or share your story.” Clearly, the Navy isn’t shying away from women’s concerns that joining the military would make them less feminine.

They’re allowing women to ask some pretty tough questions, too. “How is it for you when you leave your boyfriend?”… “Did you have regrets in the beginning?”… “Do single mothers enlist in the navy?” Women in the service, or in training, reply to these queries, and the conversation is posted online for all the public – and all the world – to see.
It’s not just potential enlistees that are raising the questions. The page administrators recently posted on the Wall, “What are your biggest concerns when thinking about joining the Navy?” The query garnered 90 responses, such as “I’m too old” and “I won’t get the job that I want.” Interestingly, the administrators never responded; the question was most likely an exercise in market research. Perhaps soon we’ll see an ad that tells women “You’re not too old to join the Navy.”

In my opinion, this takes engagement of job candidates to a new level. By allowing women to ask each other questions, share their stories, and support each other, the Navy is fostering a community like any other brand. And they’re doing it well.

Women Redefined points those seeking more information to navy.com/women, whose front page offers a live chat feature, where women can speak online to a recruiter. Such open and proactive communication would have been unheard of a few years ago. In fact, navy.com/women also features over a dozen individual Facebook pages for the Navy, including one titled “Navy Latinos.”

That
branding deserves an article of its own.