Twitter as a Focus Group? Think Again.

Check out my terribly unscientific research (Sources include Twitter Grade, US Census and Edison Research.  And before you check my math, I've been very liberal with rounding numbers for the sake of time).

  • 33% of the US population has a HHI > $50K.  47% on Twitter exceed that threshold
  • 19% of the US population has a 4 year college degree.  30% on Twitter.
  • 65% of the US population is white.  51% of Twitter's population is white. 
  • 14% of the US population is 25-34 years old.  33% of Twitter users fall in that range.
  • Somewhere around 30% of the US population is > 45 years.  19% of Twitter users.

Twitter clearly represents a wealthier, better-educated, more ethnically diverse, contemporary group than the general US population.

So here's a simple man making a simple point to advertising insiders (agencies, trade media):

You are barking up the wrong tree if you think Twitter is a proxy for the US population.

Think about this next time you wring your hands over the Groupon spots (How dare they make light of social causes so near and dear to our hearts?  They've comitted brand suicide!  How can they still be running these spots days later, after all the outrage!?). 

And also when you're tempted to speak on behalf of all Americans when expressing outrage(!!) over GoDaddy's, Teleflora's and PepsiMax' 'lowbrow' approach.

Guess what folks, there's a whole lot of space between NYC and LA ... flyover country as people like to say. And those 290 million or so people think differently than you do about scantilly clad women, boob jokes and getting knocked silly by a can of soda. 

And while I'm sure they'd all love to save whales and Tibet, they are still worried about stuff like money, which is exactly what Groupon helps them save.

There is still such a huge degree of NASCAR Blindness (a term I will be forever grateful to Alan Wolk for coining) going on in the ad industry.  I said this in November of 2009 and it holds true today ...

I don't think it's going out on a limb to say that Dana White and Brian France could walk down Madison Avenue without causing much of a stir.  Which is too bad because one could easily argue that White and France - along with Vince McMahon - know the American consumer landscape better than anyone in the "industry."

Motivations Behind The VIP Experience

Vip-logo Lately I've been thinking about the notion of VIP. 

In my job I spend a lot of time helping brands develop and execute remarkable and exclusive experiences for digital influencers.  These experiences take many forms ... physical interactions with a product (or the people behind a product); access to private events; the opportunity to help shape a product in its development phase; etc.

But what I've specifically been thinking about lately is the motivation behind desiring the VIP experience. 

In my case, I love music.  And I've been fortunate to always have very close friends in the music business.  This has afforded me access to "sold out" shows, back-of-house, greenrooms, VIP lounges, box seats, etc.  All the things/places not normally available to the general public. 

It might sound like I'm bragging.  And if I wrote this post 10 years ago, I would be.  Because 10 years ago the value of the VIP experience to me was social capital.  Yeah, I was backstage at Jay Z ... that would have made me feel good and, among my similar aged peers, would have been a big deal.

But at my ripe old age, I'm not even remotely interested in bragging rights. 

These days my motivations are far more pragmatic.  The VIP experience means - among other things - not having to plan as far ahead, no lines, more room, easy exit, and occasionally a free beer.

So for brands, I guess what I'm trying to get at is that while you may design a VIP experience for a group of your influencers, don't forget to think about what's motivating each of them to participate.  And be sure to highlight how your experience pays off on their specific motivations.  Influencers are in high demand ... it's not enough to assume that they'll jump at every opportunity to interact with your brand.  It must be as bespoke as possible.

By the way, I scored VIP access for Lollapalooza this year.  I'm just saying. 

If The US Navy Can Do It (Social Media), So Can You

I came across a video presentation from Scott McIlnay, the US Navy’s director of emerging media integration, about the Navy’s social media operations.  It runs about 35 minutes, but is worth the time. 

U.S. Navy: Social Media Integration & Strategy, presented by Scott McIlnay from GasPedal on Vimeo.

Bottom line ... if the US Navy - with all its layers of hierarchy and security concerns - can be moving forward on social media, so can your organization.

In addition to Andy Sernovitz' takeaways, I've highlighted a few things that stood out to me (in no particular order). 

Strategic Framework: Scott calls out the Navy’s strategic framework of Listen, Plan, Engage –the same basic framework Ogilvy's Digital Influence team has used for some time [we've added a few key steps since it was first developed, like Amplify, Optimize].

You're Not Alone: The Navy’s social media challenges sound remarkably similar to many clients':

  • IT security
  • Policy development and implementation
  • Training
  • Measurement
  • Leadership approval.  As Scott says, his team builds support with Navy leadership one best case at a time. [I love this approach!]

3657942692_c5a22c3177 Engage The Troops: It’s interesting to hear how a large and decentralized enterprise manages social media.  Clearly it’s a work in progress – Scott admits as much.  But he also points to things like:

  • Weekly emails to leaders within the organization to update them on latest news, successes, challenges.  Interesting - using email as a compliment to social. 
  • They’ve created a central online destination to house all policies, guidelines, best practices, FAQs, case studies, etc.  In other words, they are removing barriers for their stakeholders to find relevant information.
  • They’ve simplified their entire social media policy down to one pithy phrase that immediately makes sense … Loose Tweets Sink Fleets.  Brilliantly telegraphic and simple.

Counterpoint: Tiger's Played This Perfectly

Update:  Since I originally wrote this post on December 1 the story has only gotten more sordid and bizarre.  Not sure the post is still relevant, but I'm not pulling it as I still think it's worthy of discussion.

There are a few things bothering me about the Tiger Woods coverage thus far, including:

  1. The instant presumption of guilt;
  2. The high-and-mighty tone of the media coverage;
  3. The rush-to-criticism of how he's handled the situation. 

Perhaps it really is the worst PR hatchet job ever, BUT I don't see anyone bothering to argue that perhaps Tiger's handled it perfectly.  A few thoughts ...

  • Have any of your friends and family expressed real disdain for Tiger's alleged dalliances?  I haven't.  Why?  Because we all do stupid things and unless you're a grandstanding politician or member of the 4th estate struggling for eyeballs, we know better than to judge.
  • How many people do you REALLY believe will stop buying Cadillacs, Wheaties and every other piece of merch featuring his name or likeness?  Here's my guess ... 1% drop-off.  And over time he'll gain that back.
  • What explanation does he owe anyone?  Where in the celebrity-fan social contract does it say he's on the hook to come clean?
  • None of us are privy to the legal ramifications of going public.  Someone in his position might have more to gain by letting the rumor mill stir rather than telling his story to us.
  • Why do we care so much about what he does in his private time?  Why is it even worth his time to indulge our gossip-loving fanaticism? 
  • I keep hearing people say that if he just went public right away, this would all have blown over.  Nonsense.  This story has legs regardless of his participation.  Nothing he could do would dampen the volume or tone of coverage. 

To be honest, I'm not sure I'm buying my own argument.  But I guess the point of this post is that we should always force ourselves to look at situations like this from every angle - not just the most obvious or convenient.

Brand Partnerships

Picture 1

(CC by ooh.ooh)

A few years ago I was thrilled to be nominated to lead the global brand partnership strategy for the then-fledgling Nokia NSeries brand.  I was the first person at big blue to ever have a job dedicated to this pursuit.

My remit was essentially to identify lifestyle brands whose customers were attractive to NSeries, define a mutually beneficial value-exchange, and "pitch" (for lack of a better term) my partnership ideas.  It was a dream job ... it took me to far off places to meet and work with some of the world's most admired brands and interact with a ton of smart marketers.

For a number of non-important reasons I was recently thinking about that time in my life, and the valuable things I learned on the fly.  I've never really memorialized those lessons, and my memory isn't getting any better.

A bit of a laundry list, but perhaps a nugget or two you can use to get off the blocks a bit faster ...

  1. Before you do anything, you must articulate the objective your partnerships will support.  Sales?  Brand awareness?  Competence in a specific area?
  2. Think about the benefits of a brand partnership, including (but not limited to) marketing efficiencies; access to the passion people feel towards your partner's brand; access to new audiences; amplifies your own brand's values.  Be sure to clearly articulate these to internal decision makers.
  3. Take an honest assessment of everything your brand has to offer ... audience, reputation, distribution, physical assets, media, etc. Remember, partnerships must be mutually beneficial.
  4. This depends on your specific case, but make a list of desired partners, segmenting them in a way that allows you evaluate and prioritize.
  5. Remember that partnerships come with risks, including (but not limited to) less control over the message; slower decision making processes; you take on the reputation of your partner - good and bad.  Proactively develop a risk-and-response plan.
  6. While partnerships are often thought of as consumer or industry facing, don't forget what they mean to your internal stakeholders.  Build in some kind of benefit to your rank-and-file ... a discount, exclusive access to some content, etc.
  7. Long-term partnerships tend to fare better than one-offs, but require dedicated resources to manage and optimize.
  8. Related to the above, partnerships based on a single product or service can be fickle, and don't give the relationship time to blossom.
  9. If done right (and with the right brand) partnerships can not only amplify the good things about your company, but also help mitigate negative perceptions.

Any lessons you care to share from your experiences?

Hotels for Professional Travelers

CitizenmDirectly from Luxist:

The latest hotel brand promises "affordable" luxury" for travelers on the go. Citizen M is a new Dutch hotel group which takes its name from the idea of mobile citizen. The rooms include a super king-size bed, a wall-to-wall window for plenty of natural light, a flat LCD television, ambient lighting and a rain shower. Each room can be customized with mood, light, temperature and music preferences. The lobby is stocked with Vitra furnishings and canteenM offers a 24-hour choice of sandwiches, salads, sushi, warm dishes and more. In-house baristas prepare coffee and other beverages and there is a bar for cocktails in the evening. The first citizenM hotel will open at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam with 230 rooms at the beginning of 2008 and rates will start at 69 euros a night.

The "Out of Touch" Award Goes To ...

1621632_2Paul Quirk, co-chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association.  Reacting to Prince's decision to give away his latest album with copies of the Mail on Sunday:

"The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behavior like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores,"

Sorry Mr. Quirk, but I somehow doubt Prince or many other artists of his wealth and ilk care about / care for your threats.