What's Wrong With Social Media



Sometimes the Hard Way Is the Only Way

Check out this social media conference:

In one day you'll become an expert in:
  • How to get people to "like" your brand
  • Developing a winning content strategy to engage your followers
  • Measuring the impact of your Facebook initiatives
  • Creating your Facebook dream team
  • Mastering Facebook’s latest features and adding a new gear to your PR efforts
  • Integrating Facebook into your overall communications plan

At least they're not over-promising.

Have you ever become an expert in anything in one day? What about six things? If it were that easy, would you really need to attend a conference about it?

The real promise of social media is that it helps human beings create a more connected, more creative world. The promise for brands is that they get to participate in that world and more importantly thrive in it.

But it isn't going to be easy.

If you think it's about a one-day seminar, you are sadly mistaken. If you think it's about having the receptionist, intern, or PR person load your TV commercials into YouTube, you are in big trouble. If you think you can outsource it and forget it, you had better forget it.

Social media is not a new media channel that companies can buy, like the way they buy billboard space. I know it would be SO MUCH EASIER if it was, but it just isn't. It's a new way of having relationships with customers, and non-customers, and people who may never be interested in your product at all but might have something to add to a conversation that makes it more interesting for everyone else.

What the marketing world needs right now is not seminars and white papers that purport to make everyone experts. What if they said:

You know what, this is hard stuff. You're not going to get it right over night. We can help you ease the pain and make sure you get it right over time and avoid the potential disasters along the way.

I guess if they did that, they'd sound a bit like us and ticket sales would surely be affected.

4.5 Million Fans! So What?

You've got 4.5 million fans. What are you going to do next? Take the summer off.

As marketers we evaluate a partner's social media profiles and compare the tangible numbers -  views, fans, followers, you name it. What are these numbers worth if these partners aren't using these media to move their crowd?

Trust me, I'm a fan of Nutella in a bad way. Ask anyone who's eaten at my house. But I'm not a fan of their social media strategy. In January of 2009, Nutella's Facebook page was ranked No. 4 in a contest for the most fans with 2.1 million "likes." Apparently, they slipped to #25 in the same contest the following year, still with little to no updates since they joined Facebook. Oh, but they're not shaking in their boots about slipping. Two weeks ago they "combined" their fan pages into one international profile that has a whopping 4.2 million fans and then they went on summer vacation and closed their wall. Ummm, ok.

Perhaps there's nothing to announce. No cause to get behind. No change up in the recipe (thank goodness). It just seems like a missed opportunity to have an audience of 4.2 million fans and no content, no voice to express. Could they have cross promoted their giveaway or  branded gear? Could they have told us the history of how the company came to be? Maybe fans would have shared Nutella recipes after they saw some great ideas posted?  Maybe there's a strategy to it and now, since they're back from summer vacation, we'll experience the brilliance.

If you need help optimizing your social media profile, call a Rebel.


Tasty 100% Blue Agave Tequila? Check.

Taco truck fitted with a bumpin' sound system? Check.

Tequila infused menu created by a world-class chef? Check.

Delicious free Mexican food all summer long? Check and check.

Wait, wait...what???

We hope you didn't miss it. Yesterday was the last day of a summer-long promotion featuring free food courtesy of Famila Camarena Tequila. But we don't want the free food to distract you from what's really important… the tequila baby! Prominent Los Angeles food blogger Street Gourmet LA says "Its the best tequila at its price point!" and Rebel is delivering the samples.

Familia Camarena and Rebel enlisted chef to the stars and owner of Recess in Glendale, Chef Sevan Azarian to create an original tequila-infused menu that was served from the truck. Asada, carnitas, and pollo, all marinated in Camarena Tequila. What ever you want, we got it (well almost). Even a veggie option!

The truck was sent rolling around greater Los Angeles from June through August hitting shopping areas, nightclubs, and lifestyle events like: DTLA Art Walk, World Cup screenings at Nike Montalban Theatre, the LA Street Food Fest, and was even featured in Static Revenger's new video for Vega$. We also did a private house party with a performance by Bruno Mars.

Check out more pictures here: Camarena Taco Truckin'

As you might have guessed, the truck was extremely well received. I mean c'mon, who doesn't want free tacos? The free food is definitely an attraction in itself, but again we're here for the tequila. Just ask Elvis, he's down with Camarena.

The story doesn't stop here. The GPS on the truck let Angelenos find us anytime, anywhere. And we also broadcast our whereabouts on Twitter.com/CamarenaTequila & Facebook.com/TequilaCamarena

The truck is going on hiatus for fall, but something tells me you'll see it again somewhere.

Special thanks to Orion Car Audio for the crazy sound hookup.


Twitter How-To

As Mashable explains in "How Twitter's New Media Blog Aims To Teach By Example," Twitter is taking a pro-active role in teaching users how to make the most out of their service.

For all the folks out there — haters and otherwise — who continue to question the validity of Twitter as a communication medium, y'all need to pay attention.

media.twitter.com isn't just a blog. It's an important step forward in the evolution of technology-based communication.

MySpace started us off on the wrong foot by building a massive audience and not knowing quite what to do with it themselves. Let's assume they did their best to learn on the fly how to turn their website into a marketing platform, and as it goes with trial and error, success was very hit or miss (with lots of emphasis on "miss"). Most importantly, in typical old-media fashion, the assistance they provided was for serious advertisers only and it involved swarms of sales support teams and conference calls to help you figure out what to do to reach their crowd.

Then Facebook came along, with its brashness and anti-corporate attitude. Kind of like, "we don't care, you figure it out." It's taken years for them to come around, and even now most of their assistance is human-based. And it's mostly around advertising programs, rather than community building.

So now here's Twitter, putting it all out there on a blog for anyone to see. Their open style is the way of the future. They're giving us tips and case studies. It's almost like they want us to be successful using their service. What a crazy concept!

I'm not arrogant enough to predict where social media is heading, and I'm not here to say it's going to be all about Twitter. But I am certain that as things continue to get more complicated, the companies who take an active role in creating win-win relationships between marketers and their audiences will have a huge advantage.

An Open Letter to Marketers: Buy This Company

This TED Talk is from Eric Giler, CEO of a company called WiTricity, which has developed a technology that will power and charge our electronic devices, wirelessly. This is a company that could change the world.

Think about it. Our phones, computers, gadgets, and cars are increasingly complex and powerful. The one thing that holds them back is power. iPhone's battery life is terrible. So is MacBook's. Electric cars may be the future, but they have to be plugged in, which sucks. This limits our mobility, our productivity, and possibly the resulting happiness that comes from things like mobility and productivity.

Where am I going with this?

Imagine if Coke had bought Twitter a couple years back. Its >70 million users would be exposed to Coke branding that many more times than they already are. Think that would be significant for Coke's business? Damn straight. Now think about Facebook, Foursquare, Google, and the other companies that are changing lives and societies on a daily basis. What if instead of spending billions of dollars to advertise on these networks, major consumer brands spent just a fraction of that amount in early-stage investment capital to fund these companies? Guess what:

  1. They'd have a better understanding of consumer behavior
  2. They'd make money, possibly lots and lots of money
  3. They'd earn the goodwill of being positioned as forward-thinking and innovative
  4. They'd have countless opportunities for integration and cross-promotion

Back when I started the Rebel Organization, the premise was that major corporate money should go to investing in culture. The vision was that brands could fund records, create works of art, invest in movies. Instead of waiting for an act to become huge and then spend for a tour sponsorship that nobody cares about, put the money in early to support artist development and have a fan for life in the artist, and that artist will tell all of his fans.

We were somewhat successful in that endeavor, but we've never brought it to the scale it deserves.

Russell Simmons recently called social media "the New Hip Hop." I agree completely, and that idea is reshaping my vision for a future where in addition to (or instead of) investing in culture, brands should also be investing in social technologies.

Heed my word: smart marketers will gain tremendous advantage over their slower competitors. Which one are you?