Archive for Twitter
“RT @MalikYoba: RT…Twitter makes me like strangers I’ve never met and Facebook makes me hate people I know in real life.”
I couldn’t help but agree but I didn’t know why. That was until I received a copy of Grant McCracken’s new book, “Chief Culture Officer”. This is an excellent read named one of the best Innovation books of the year by Business Week and one of the best Big Idea books by CEO Magazine.
But I digress.
In “Chief Culture Officer” McCrackan references the old Nike ad “Tag”. I remember the ad vividly.
In it is a live version of tag played out in the middle of the day on urban streets. Mr. McCrackan offers a few theories on why this ad resonated and what it meant to us culturally. The third of those theories is what he calls the notion of the “generous stranger”.
Although referring to the ad, he might as well be referring to Twitter as well in saying,
“’Tag’ evoked a third trend we might call the ‘generous stranger’. For many of us first notice came in the form of a bumper sticker that read ‘Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty,’ a phrase so influential it now has its own Wikipedia entry. Several thousand years of cultural practice and religious teaching had encouraged us to think of generosity as a personal gesture that passed between known parties. The ‘generous stranger’ trend suggested that it was better when things passed between perfect strangers. “
And thus Twitter suddenly makes perfect sense.
In his article he cites examples of two brands. One which seeks to try and corral perceptions of its brand the other who seeks to let its brand run free.
The brand that seeks to corral the perceptions of its brand does so fairly unsuccessfully while the brand that lets it brand run free seems to find organic success. These may not be apple to apple case studies but nevertheless, the former it would seem could learn something about perception, identity and aligning business, product development and marketing strategy.
The example of the brand allowed to run wild is MIT, in which there are 11 student blogs featured on the admissions office web page. They are central to the schools communications efforts. The premise was simple. The school is confident enough that in having some of the greatest scholars of the world grace its campus, why wouldn’t they be capable of presenting a cogent dialogue on a variety of topics to the world thus demonstrating why you would want to attend MIT.
On the other side of the spectrum is Hummer.
Mr. McCafee starts his piece…
“You’ve probably heard by now that ‘your brand is no longer yours.’ The assertion’s based on simple math. In the era of blogs, discussion boards, Facebook, Twitter, and other Web 2.0 tools, virtually everyone can get online and talk about your company and its offerings. As a result, the amount of information your marketing and PR departments can generate is only a small percentage of the total volume of content on the Internet about your firm.
What’s more, if some of the external voices become as popular, or perish the thought, more popular than your official voice, then they’re going to show up high in organic (as opposed to paid) search results. For example, I just typed “Hummer” into Google. The second result is the Wikipedia entry about the vehicle, and the fourth one is a site full of user-submitted photos that are not likely to please the brand’s owner.”
Let’s talk about the fourth one. On that site there are 5092 submissions of people flipping the bird to passing Hummer H2s. That’s a lot of angst.
When one thinks about Hummer’s past advertising, it often portrays young, good-looking, hip and adventurous 30-something individuals utilizing their Hummers to create their own adventures seeking out the most remote spots on earth.
Granted a great degree of Hummer’s spots are automotive eye candy in shot in places like the far reaches of New Zealand. However when there are people in the ads, the folks and imagery used in Hummer’s spots are really not at all representative of the actual Hummer consumer. And these days, I don’t think there are many people in America who want to be seen in a Hummer. The people portrayed in the spots of old courtesy of Modernista! are no doubt beautifully art directed and shot. But the people in the commercials look a lot like, well the people in agencies like Modernista! And what I know about people like these is that most of them wouldn’t buy a Hummer. They’re probably more likely to buy a Mini. And the hardcore outdoor folks that you might find riding their bikes to their boutique agency are design/brand snobs and extraordinarily eco-friendly. I might personally resemble this last remark.
This is where the opportunity lies for Hummer for North America. If they align the business strategy, product development and marketing effectively they could actually carve out a nice little niche for themselves.
While current brand perception is negative, I would predict that if you dug down to the brands core you’d find perception about the brand is probably still pretty well respected for being a vehicle that can pretty much get anywhere.
I have no idea what the new owners are considering for Hummer, but how about thinking of this for a second. Develop smaller than H2-type vehicles with less bling, powered by clean diesel (the magic word is torque) and provide functional utilitarian packages aimed at various affinity groups (outdoor enthusiasts).
This is where I wonder if Hummer can have its own Hyundai moment. Any marketer with a subscription to AdAge knows that Hyundai is the marketing darling of the industry these days and rightfully so. However it wasn’t marketing that created Hyundai’s turnaround. It was the company.
As Mark Allen Roberts said in response to the AdAge’s “Marketer of the Year”article on Hyundai, “What they did brilliantly was on the front end.”
I don’t suspect Hummer will be as universally captivating as Hyundai because it will always be a niche brand but I do feel that there’s a tremendous opportunity for Hummer.
Recently, John Battelle of Federated Media and author of the book, Search posted a tweet with data alluding to Twitter traffic flattening.
Oddly enough about a week ago, I was with a friend who is the President and COO of a company called Best Doctors. He’s very active on Twitter and within the blogosphere. He uses both to expand and educate people on health care issues and connect with other professionals in his business.
I suggested to him that I thought Twitter seemed to be slowing down. I didn’t have the sophisticated data that Quantcast has. My conclusion was purely observational. I use a Twitter app called TweetDeck. Call it a Twitter dashboard if you will. One of the several features to TweetDeck is a column called TwitScoop that shows what people are talking about and how popular those topics are. Other Twitter applications offer similar features. Several web sites such as Yahoo have similar features generally based on search activity.
What I noticed with TwitScoop was that what people were talking about on Twitter were for the most part niche topics.
When I first started using Twitter what I discovered was that Twitter is essentially a place to begin a conversation with like minded individuals or as I like to say, “affinity groups”. You’ll of course see anomalies. A timely example is the passing of Patrick Swayze in which lots of people will post some commentary on a popular event. I myself posted “Pain don’t hurt”, a quote by the Swayze character Dalton from the movie Road House.
My belief is certainly that Twitter is here to stay. However, I predict that it’s finding its stride as a very effective tool to connect to various affinity groups and begin meaningful conversations globally, not just a place to tell people what kind of sandwich you’re having.