Making Sense of Social Media

I love Social Media.  And if you’re here reading MY blog, you must too, because I’m not exactly at the top of them thar Google pages.

And, if you love social media, I’m willing to bet you’re on Facebook, Twitter, have posted some YouTube videos, occasionally save stuff to Delicious and maybe even write a blog of your own.  In other words, you understand social media and how it has become an important way to connect with consumers.

But how do you make sense of social media to other people?  How do you “sell” it as an important part of your marketing plan?  I think it’s totally fair for people to ask the question, and it’s our job to prove its value.  Here’s how I’m doing that:

  1. In the beginning, go rogue. It will take a little time to build a meaningful base of Twitter followers or Facebook fans, so do it on your own in your spare time.  Once you have some impressive numbers, start to share the story.
  2. Connect the online conversation with real-life events. Use social media to promote events or promotions and show your internal audience how you increased traffic by using social media.  A tweet-up is a great way to do this.
  3. Find and send out articles about brands using social media to grow sales. Duh, right? But the important part here is that you have to keep doing this.  You’re not going to convince anyone right away.
  4. Conduct your own training. You might have to tailor your training to the type of person you’re talking to.  The Common Craft videos are useful for a variety of audiences.
  5. Get people to dip their toe in the social media pool. Convince them to gign them up for various social networking platforms and see what sticks.  One person may love Facebook, another might love Twitter.  But if they’re not living it, they’re probably never going to get it.
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Technology Can Be a Real Bitch

For the last 6 months…no for the last 8 months… we have been working on a summer sales promotion here at Flying Dog.  It was going to be a really good promotion.  We were going to give consumers the chance to win Flying Dog swag by simply sending a text message to a special number.  It was going to be a great promotion because:

  • We cut out all of the headaches of relying on our distributors and retailers to execute the promotion by hanging “neckers” on one bottle of each 6-pack that would hit the shelves within the promotion period (June and July).
  • We cut out all of the professional sweepstakers that send in countless entires to promotions that rely on tear pad entry forms.
  • Finally, all of the product was arriving in the market at just the right time and both distributors and retailers really liked it because they didn’t have to do anything and in their mind, it used just the right amount of technology that would resonate with young adult consumers.

Then: disaster.

Two days before the promotion launch date, I get a call from the agency who was working on this program and they tell me that the “aggregator” that we were going to use went out of business and there was going to be a delay to the launch of the campaign.  oof.

And there I am, stuck with 100,000 promotional pieces hitting the market and not being able to do anything to fix the campaign over the weekend and get it back on track.

I don’t have any lessons or advice on how to prevent this from happening.  All I can say is that technology can be a real bitch sometimes and leave you with very few options on how to resolve a really bad situation.  The only thing I would have done differently is had more contact with the text messaging vendor, but even that may not have changed anything.

We spent today on damage control.  We posted information about the promotion on our website home and promotion page.  We also posted information on our blog.  We are also offering consumers the opportunity to email us if they want to know when the promotion goes online.

Does anyone else have any nightmare promotion stories out there?

The world isn’t going to end and no one is going to get hurt, but it sure does suck when things like this happen.

On-Premise: A Promotion Wasteland

I was entertaining some out-of-town guests last weekend and they wanted to hit some bars in “LoDo,” which is an entertainment district in Denver that attracts the 21-30 crowd.  LoDo isn’t really my thing, but it was interesting to see the flood of on-premise promotional activity from a variety of beer and spirits brands.

It reminded me of my days trying to create and execute on-premise promotions, which was always a difficult task.  The knee-jerk rection was to create a “canned” promotion that satisfied all of the marketing objectives (build awareness, create a brand experience, sample, etc.)

Canned on-premise promotions don’t work.  There are too many factors at play:

  • type of bar (club, tavern, bar & grill, sports bar, music club, etc.
  • owner/operator preferences
  • consumer demo
  • consumer moods and level of intoxication

The trap is that it makes total sense to try and build image and volume at key on-premise accounts where consumers are more susceptible to trying new brands via promotional activity and canned promotions are cheaper on a cost per impression basis.

The challenge is to create a program that is adaptable to different types of venues and marketing occasions while engaging consumers in a REAL way – which means TALKING to people.

Here are my Top 5 Canned On-Premise Adult Beverage Marketing Concepts That Never Work:

  1. Hot chicks passing out samples – gets product in the mouths of consumers, but typically fails to make a meaningful connection with consumers.
  2. The energetic promo team – brands that want to reach both males and females like the male/female promo cheerleaders.  This works for people who are already drunk, but this concept is almost a sure-fire failure at happy hour, restaurants or low-key taverns.
  3. Characters and mascots – brands who have a icon like to create an environment where consumers can interact with their brand mascot and get their picture taken with it.
  4. Trash and trinkets – Ahh yes…Consumers love free crap. Give-a-ways can get your foot in the door with the account and get you a little attention from the crowd.  But when you think about it, how often does a t-shirt, keychain or ballcap take a consumer from awareness to loyalist?  Not very.  In fact, I would guess that more harm is done when some consumers walk away empty handed.
  5. Generic carnival games – SPIN THE PRIZE WHEEL! Unless your brand is Carnival Cruise Lines or Animal Crackers, I doubt the participants are walking away with a memorable experience.