Revolutionary Measures

Social Media – what’s the worst that can happen?

12-ounce Dr Pepper can sporting the new logo
Image via Wikipedia

It’s the time of year for the publication of Top 10 lists – from the worst gadgets of 2010 (though not sure that Google Wave should technically count), through Top 10 Tweets, to my own personal favourite Top 10 Weirdest New Animals of 2010.

Leafing through Marketing Magazine’s Top 10 Marketing Mishaps it is obvious that for certain marketers 2010 has been a year to forget. ITV switching to an advert when England scored one of their all too rare World Cup goals, Eurostar’s inability to communicate when its trains were stuck in the Channel Tunnel and MAC’s idea to base a new cosmetics collection on a town in Mexico famous for high rates of female murder all stand out in the hall of shame.

What struck me though was the growing number of social media faux pas – from Nestle pressuring YouTube to remove a Greenpeace ad that criticised its sourcing of palm oil – and then heavy-handedly policing its Facebook page, to Dr Pepper’s inappropriate takeover of Facebook status updates. There were plenty more that didn’t make the top 10, such as homophobic tweets from Vodafone amongst others.

And pretty much all of these cock-ups came about from not understanding social media and the consequences of wading in and getting involved without thinking things through. Despite what expensive social media consultants may tell you, a lot of these crises could have been averted with a bit of common sense and planning. Time for marketing departments to put ‘Create social media guidelines and crisis management plans’ at number one on their list of New Year’s resolutions.

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December 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Waving goodbye and Crossing the Chasm

Image representing Google Wave as depicted in ...
Image via CrunchBase

The news that Google is canning its Wave product has the online world in a bit of a tizzy. In my opinion it suffered as people weren’t really sure what it did (email? Instant messaging? Document collaboration? All of the above?) and it was launched by invitation – hardly the way of building a mass audience quickly

So, if the likes of Google can’t convince us to use new tools, have we reached the end of the road for social media innovation?

I think not, but as social media moves more mainstream new services need to convince people (not just early adopters) to invest time and effort in trying something new.

Let’s go back to marketing science. Social media has crossed Geoffrey Moore’s famous chasm, so to gain interest new services have to appeal to the early majority, rather than just visionaries and early adopters. It doesn’t matter that social media tools tend to be free – what costs (and puts people off) is the amount of time they need to invest in learning them and the potential payback.

The early majority aren’t interested in tech for tech’s sake, they want something that will solve a problem or replace a tried and tested solution. And it has to be easy to use and not take up too much of their time to set-up. Wave failed on pretty much all of these points, meaning it was always destined to be a niche technology. So rather than a big bang launch Google would have done better to define what it did, build a community of early adopters and then go mainstream.

Given the number of products Google launches the death of Wave isn’t a crisis, but is the perfect illustration that marketing strategy applies equally to social media as any other sector.

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August 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments