The Gorilla in the Room: Brands Must Look Inward to Discover a Social Strategy

Here I go again – I just returned from my afternoon run and I can’t control the stream of ideas. Today while on my run, I was listening to another great audio-book titled Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – Narrated by Patrick Egan . In it the author shared a story of the Selective Attention Test conducted in 1999 by Simons and Chabris.  In the experiment (which you can view here) – participants were asked to count how many times individuals in the experiment who were wearing white passed a basketball. They were then presented with six individuals (three in white, and three in black tee-shirts) zig zagging around slowly passing the ball to each other. This is a difficult task that takes a great deal of concentration.  At the end of the task the people observing the zig zagging participants are asked how many times they saw those in white pass the ball (the correct answer is 15). They were then asked if they saw the gorilla?

What? A gorilla? Yes, a gorilla.

In the middle of the experiment (while the participants were heavily focused on those three participants in white shirts) a person dressed in a black gorilla suit walked into the frame amid the participants, pounded it’s chest and then walked off unnoticed.

So what does this have to do with social media?

Brands are so heavily focused on defining their social media strategy via external social media networks, consultants and technology that they have lost site that their social media strategy is an INTERNAL event, and cannot be defined by looking outward. Brands are blind.  And effectively blind to their blindness.    

They are counting the basketball passes and they are missing the gorilla in the room.

Social media consultants, technologists and essentially anyone in a position to make money from these brands in their quest to count the basketballs are dropping the proverbial ball.  We should know better. We should help brands to see the gorilla.  We need to help them see that their social media strategy cannot come from us alone. They must define their social media strategy internally.  Social strategy comes from the culture of your company, the products you make, the feeling people have when they engage with your company your products or your services.

Now what?

Start with an introspective view before you engage in social media. While it’s certainly OK to jump in and start to engage in social media, you’ll be better served to slow down.  Start with why your brand exists (that’s another audio book I love) – Start with Why.  Understand why your brand is here, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and the social ecosystem will rise up to you. It may tell you that every social media outlet won’t work. It may tell you that you need technology to support your social endeavors. Or it may tell you that you need to hire a strategist like myself.  Either way, you’ll be on the right path.


The Power of Reputation: The Brian Solis Effect

The 6 Pillars of Social Commerce

Brian Solis's 6 Pillars of Social Commerce

My mind has just been blown. First let me start by saying this – I think Brian Solis is brilliant.  Not that obtuse, out of reach brilliance reserved for the Einsteins of the world, but real, everyday, brilliance. Brian has the uncanny ability to break down ideas into easily digestible bits, and present them in such a way that you smack your forehead and say “I knew that to be true, I just couldn’t articulate it.”  I love his books, I admire the way his brain works, and I love reading the content he publishes on Social Media Today.  

Which brings me to the point of my post:

This afternoon I noticed something that I’ve suspected before, but never really had it so clearly illutstrated for me until now.  Apparently Brian created a blog post called The 6 Pillars of Social Commerce: Understanding the Psychology of Engagement.

At the time of my viewing Brian’s post it only had 1 read (it had just been posted), yet it had already been shared numerous times (176 times to be exact).

Which begs the question –

Do people automatically share content that someone of Brian’s stature creates before reading it?

And if so – has he built a reputation so air tight that it happens with all of the new content he generates?

I’m not really sure where I stand on this, but I do know it’s a fascinating observation, and I’m interested in hearing from you. What do you think is happening here?

I also find it hugely ironic that Brian’s post that was minimally viewed, and hyper shared contained content that described the very behavior that the post experienced.  Like I said in my opening line – my mind has been blown.

Maybe this is just our social media version of the Halo Effect?  Certainly well deserved, and most certainly fascinating. Brian – I’d love to hear from you on this.

The Three Pillars of Social Media Success

Recently I was contacted by a large consulting firm who asked that I be a part Three Pillars of a study they were compiling on social media.  They told me that I would remain anonymous in the report, and expressed an interest in learning what I would recommend for businesses engaging in social media.  ”How should businesses staff for social,” they asked.  While we were chatting I said something that made me laugh out loud (I tend to do this when I’m on a role, and chatting social – I just GO …). I was talking about my firm belief that there must be internal advocates within any organization that are serious about social media.  But that’s not the part that made me laugh. I told them that companies should ask their employees who would be interested in being part of a sort of social media task force – this is when I stated ”The creme will be the team”….I felt like Mr. T had taken over my body for a second- which is why it made me laugh.

It was funny – but I really believe this.

The creme of the crop in your organization (if asked) will most certainly step up to aid in a social media task force.  If nothing else – ask.  I know you’ll be surprised what comes up.  I’ve worked with clients who assure me that their team members have no interest in social media, and when they finally get around to asking if anyone would be interested in helping to generate social media content we’ve discovered Mommy Bloggers, and Twitterhaulics!

That being said – here are (what I believe) are the three pillars for social media success:

1. Internal Team 

Even if you’re paying an outside agency to help with your content creation and distribution you must have internal buy-in and advocacy with social.  Content creation becomes easier the more your team understands how social media works. Ideally you want at least one point person to help aggregate content on your behalf.  An internal team will most certainly be an asset in supporting the content that an agency assists with generating – they can comment, like, re-tweet and generally get the content in front of your brand advocates.

2. External Help

This certainly sounds self serving – well it’s my blog post so I can write what i want – if you disagree, I’d love to hear from you. Actually, I’m kidding – please only post if you agree with me.  Kidding again.  I believe that many companies are too close to truly see the potential they have to compete in the social places.  An outsite agency (if they’re doing things properly) will ask the right questions and help the brand to better understand themselves, their goals in social media (KPI’s), and how they want to be percieved in the social media ecosytem. It doesn’t hurt to have an external agency to help with social media policies, and guidlelines as well

3. Third Party Technology

This is a tricky one.  While I’m not advocating that everyone go out and spend thousands of dollars on social media technology, I am saying that as you grow, you will need technology to support your social media efforts. It can be as simple as using Hootsuite, or as robust as using Engage121 – whatever your choice the technology solutions are out there, and will certainly enhance your companies social media endeavors.  As you grow you will need technology to scale.

So there you have it – the three pillars of social media success.  What do you think?  Add comments below, or find me on Twitter @cdessi

What Social Media Marketers Can Learn from Rosa Parks

I make great use of my afternoon lunch breaks.  Daily, I run 4 miles. I take advantage of this time during my runs by not only exercising, but by also listening to audio-books.  Mostly, I listen to nonfiction. More times than not these audio-books are business related.  I’ll listen while running, and then by the time I get back to my desk, I’m ready to take on the world. I have new ideas, and I feel great. I’m in the midst of one audio-book that has my creative juices flowing, and has me thinking about habits – both good and bad.  I love when this happens.  While I’m running and my endorphin’s are popping, synapses are firing and BOOM – ideas start to flow.

Right now I’m listening to The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by  Charles Duhigg.  This book is riveting.  In part three of the book – The habits of Societies, Duhigg takes on understanding the real reason why the Montgomery Bus Boycott started by Rosa Parks’ refusal to give us her seat on a bus – worked.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

The book recounts numerous similar incidents that had occurred in Montgomery. Each of these related incidents happened, and then fizzled out.  People had been arrested for the same violation before.  So why was it different when Rosa Parks was arrested?  Why did Parks refusal spark the modern civil rights movement? The conclusion, and the reason why I’m writing about Rosa Parks on a social media blog is because….drum roll please..

Rosa Parks had a thriving social network.

This network was her power. This network is what started the revolution. This network is what allowed the leaders in Montgomery to mobilize otherwise passive civilians. Rosa Parks has spent her whole life giving to her social network. Serving them, and helping them thrive.  So when she was in her darkest hour, and in need for support, they snapped into action.

Wikipedia helps to tell the story –

“Rosa was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers’ rights and racial equality.”

So to be clear – Rosa already had a social network of people and organizations that were aware, organized and could mobilize large groups of people by simply mentioning that she (Rosa Parks) was in need.

By no means do I want to trivialize what Rosa Parks has done for our culture, and our nation. I just want to extract what I feel is an important lesson for us as marketers.  I want to point out is that Rosa understood what it meant to be a good human being – by giving of herself. This giving, social interaction and strong social network of friends, colleagues and family is what made her arrest the keystone event in the civil rights movement.  Had she been a loner, without this social network she would have not been the Rosa Parks we know today.

So give back, enrich your community, share, don’t ask for anything in return and allow for yourself and your clients to thrive in our modern day accelerated version of Montgomery.   Stop seeking what’s in it for me, and just produce great content – and then – one day when you need it most you may be able to mobilize a network of like minded people to help you.  Just makes sense, doesn’t it?

It’s up to us as social media marketers to inform our clients to give more.  It’s up to us to give more ourselves. Never before in history have we been able to reach more people with the click of a mouse, or keystroke. So take a breathe, curate your content, and give. Give until you’re blue in the face.  I’m not asking you to start a civil rights movement – just keep this story in the back of your mind the next time you create a blog post, or tweet, or Facebook status, or Pinterest board.   How is your content helping someone else?

Let me know what you think? Am I way off the mark here? I’d love to hear from you – Tweet me your thoughts – @cdessi or comment below.


The 5 Keys to how Littlemissmatched Doubled their Facebook Community

The past year has seen many successes in social media for my client Littlemissmatched.  We’ve doubled our Facebook community, grown our Youtube following, Twitter following, FlickR, Google+ and Pinterest…and we’ve done it all organically! Littlemissmatched

So how did we do it?

1. Review the Data

We have identified the influencers in each social network based on careful demographic analysis. (Drive Action Digital uses Hootsuite). In the early stages of our working relationship, our assumption was that the demographic on our Facebook page would be Tweens.  However we quickly discovered that the majority of interaction came from the Mothers’ of said Tweens.

2. Lighten Up

The discovery that mom’s were driving the conversation on Facebook allowed us to find our true voice.  It has helped to drive our content strategy throughout the past year and reaped many rewards.  Some examples include a post that was simple, and spoke from the voice of a parent

“When there is a 3 yr. old in the house and you hear the toilet bowl flush coupled with uh oh, it’s already too late”….

This post remains one of the most commented, shared, and liked posts that we’ve added to Littlemissmatched Facebook page.  We continue to learn from the audience and review the data to deliver the most appropriate conversation.  The meteoric response to this simple/silly post has set the tone for our interactions with our Facebook community.

3. Mix Silly with Promotional

There is a sense of trust that we will not only push offers via Facebook and Twitter alike.  We have been able to strike a balance of humor, silliness, coupled with contests, promotions, customer service, and just plain fun. This balance of content and engagement has become our hallmark.  Facebook friends have expected our humor, and share with their communities.  When it’s time to sell, these same brand advocates share the most and engage/comment.

4. Act quickly

Our ability to react quickly has reaped dividends.   This past summer, moments after the earthquake Drive Action Digital proposed the idea of arranging Tonner Dolls to indicate they had felt he tremor, but were OK.  This resulted in huge fan engagement while offering a soft sell of the Tonner Dolls on our Facebook page.  See photo. 


Littlemissmatched Tonner Dolls Girls Shaking in their Boots

This dance between Drive Action Digital and the Littlemissmatched team has facilitated a fertile environment for fan engagement that is appropriate, cute, and effective.  This idea went from conception to execution in less than 30 minutes. As we know – in social media timing is paramount.

Facebook has been the central point of congregation for the LMM community, and as a result has become a flash point for customer services issues that arise.   Earlier this year Drive Action Digital was able to “man the Facebook Page” until late in the evening responding to complaints peppered around a LMM promotion code that was discontinued due to certain customers taking advantage.   We offered direct emails for them to reach out to, and followed up with phone calls. While the customers were certainly upset, having an outlet on the Facebook page for them to vent and our allowing for this conversation to take place diffused what could have been a colossal public relations nightmare.

5. Make it a team effort

As we continue to seek out more creative ways of engaging our community it’s become clear that managing Facebook for Littlemissmatched has evolved beautifully into a team effort.  For example; Tori Banu (VP of Marketing) informed the Drive Action Digital team that there was a puppy on Facebook receiving lots of attention.

Apparently a reality star had indicated that she felt the dog was the cutest thing she’d ever seen.  Together we decided to post the attached photo with a reference and page tag to this cool, hot trending puppy. The post received a flurry of activity – 53 likes, 12 shares and countless comments.  Being on the finger of the pulse of pop culture, coupled with knowledge of the LMM brand identity and having all hands on deck at all times, has facilitated a perfect storm of execution on our Facebook page.

Matching is Over Rated

Matching is overrated