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When privacy settings are not enough

October 16, 2012

I am not typically real paranoid about privacy and social media. I try to limit the identifying information that I post. One thing I’ve really been educated on this week is the notion that no matter how much I try to protect my own online brand and privacy, my friends and family members can destroy all of my efforts with one simple click.


An article in The Wall Street Journal chronicles the experiences of two college students who thought they had done everything right in keeping their most personal secrets safe. –  When the Most Personal Secrets Get Outed on Facebook.


A mutual friend simply added them to a group on Facebook. That simple click of the mouse broadcast the students’ memberships in the “Queer Choir” thereby  announcing to anyone who had any level of access to the student’s Facebook walls the student’s sexual orientation.  Both students went through very difficult times after their membership in the group was announced without their consent.

You see, Facebook Groups are set-up so that your friends can add you to any group that they create without your consent. There is no way to opt out of this feature. There is no way to block friends from adding you to any group. So your buddy may think it’s funny to create a group called  “We Kill Bunnies” and add you to the group. If you don’t visit Facebook you may not even notice for a while that it’s happened, until your grandma one day calls you irate because bunnies are sweet, fuzzy creatures and she is offended by your membership. Yes, this is a silly example but I hope you get my point. A group can be called anything and anybody can add you to the group.


One of the readings for this week points out that often our own actions are “rarely enough to protect privacy in the interconnected world of the Internet.” Clearly this is the case with this Facebook privacy, “loophole,” what do you think?  Why on earth would Facebook not change this to allow individuals more control over their own information?


Social media lovers, help me understand!

October 15, 2012

I totally get that social media is merely another form of marketing. I understand how to evaluate traditional marketing using qualitative, quantitative and ROI metrics. But I am struggling to understand how to do the same for social media specifically.


I am also taking IMC 641 Social Media and Marketing this semester. At this point in the semester, I admittedly should have a better handle on this, but I do not. My professor posted a link to an article where one of Twitter’s co-founders discusses “the dream metric.” Twitter cofounder Ev Williams was quoted as saying, “The thing I think would be more interesting than followers is… retweets.” According to the article Williams clarified that a simple measure of followers “doesn’t capture your distribution,” rather he characterized the dream metric as, “how many people saw your tweet.”


I get the idea of wanting to know how many people saw your tweet, but I guess I don’t understand how retweeting something helps you to know how many people saw it. My other challenge is that, I always thought one of the major keys to social media measurement was engagement. Does retweeting something count as “engagement?” I have shared things on Facebook that I found funny, obnoxious or helpful, but I don’t know that I would classify my re-sharing of a graphic or link as necessarily being engagement? What do you think? Do you have a better way of helping my brain understand this whole issue better?


Who’s On First?

October 10, 2012

Social media sometimes reminds me of the old Abbott and Costello schtick about who’s on first, what’s on second and I don’t is on third.  Think about it as a customer do you want the social media efforts handled by customer service experts? Or should the sales people be in charge? What about the public relations or marketing folks, should they be in charge?


If you have a problem with a product, do you think a PR person can really help you or do want a customer service expert?


What if you are doing research and have some questions, would the marketing person be helpful or would you rather talk to a sales person? Or maybe even a research and development representative?


Working in several marketing departments over the years, I know there is quite often angst between the graphics folks and the copy folks with regards to printed pieces. How does that translate to the social media realm? Surely logos and images are used in social media efforts, but can the graphic designer really help answer customer questions?
Is it really possible for everyone to have their hands in the proverbial social media pie? One of the readings for class this week spoke to this question. The author wrote: “Each department, whether it’s PR, Marketing or Customer Service all have good reasons why they might feel they should lead an organization’s social media initiatives. The truth is that all departments have key roles to play in this burgeoning field. Try to foster a collaborative point of view on working with other departments”


How does your organization divide the pie?

Controversy in the Kitchen

October 4, 2012

I admit I did not watch the Presidential debate last night. I had a migraine and figured all the name calling and mudslinging would make it worse. So when I checked my e-mail this morning I was shocked to find Kitchen Aid in the midst of a Twitter controversy. I mean they make kitchen appliances. If the kitchen truly is the heart of any home, Kitchen Aid is the blood flowing through that heart.  How on earth someone from Kitchen Aid thought it was okay to post a Tweet about President Obama’s dead grandmother is beyond me.


 I don’t care who you are or what your political affiliation is, tweeting what is basically reminiscent of a “your momma” joke is not a smart brand move.  I know one of the keys to social media success is humanizing your brand. We as marketers are encouraged to get to know our customers. Talk to them on their level. Engage and build a relationship. But there is clearly a fine line between humanizing the brand and talking like you would to your buddies at a bar. I can only assume that maybe the person who tweeted the now infamous tweet was tweeting for multiple accounts and probably forgot they were still using the  Kitchen Aid “voice” when they shared that little snippet.

Unfortunately for Kitchen Aid, this is a tough lesson to learn. I would imagine they had a pretty non-newsworthy social media effort going before last night. I love my Kitchen Aid mixer and blender, so I hope they recover from this. They are doing the right thing so far with Cynthia Soledad, the senior director of KitchenAid’s brand and marketing division, becoming the new voice for Kitchen Aid. She is talking. She is taking responsibility. And she is apologizing. Only time will tell what, if any impact this gaffe will have on the brand. If nothing else maybe one of my colleagues can apply for a now open position at Kitchen Aid.

Social Media for heartbreaking news

September 25, 2012

I read an article today about  a mother who learned of her daughter’s death via Facebook. I was heartbroken and shocked when I read the mother’s account of what happened and how he daughter’s friend posted a tribute before the police had a chance to even notify the mother.

It got me thinking about the number of times I have learned about marriages, divorces, births, illness, injuries and yes even death on Facebook. Last week our family’s pastor passed away after a very short illness. It was shocking and heartbreaking. Soon after I was notified, I noticed some friend from church posting tributes to him online. I struggled with this one. I was grieving. I was sad and I would have loved some comforting words from friends but I felt weird announcing my sorrow on Facebook. Now I have no problem telling the world when my child puked all over the car or when the dog’s gas is enough to chase me from the room. But talking about the death of my pastor and friend, the man who baptized me when I was 13 and who performed my marriage ceremony 10 years ago; that was a tricky call.


You see I also maintain the church’s Web site and am one of the admins for the Facebook page. In the days following his death, many people were visiting the church Web site. Normally we only have about 20-30 unique visitors per day. We were up to about 100 (that’s a lot when you consider the average age of our congregation is probably about 60).  We also noted a handful of new “likes” on our Facebook page. I knew that we needed to acknowledge his passing, but wasn’t sure of the timing. I certainly didn’t want to be the one announcing to former church members the devastating news, but at the same time clearly the people who heard the news were looking for something on the Web site and Facebook page. I’ll probably never know if they were looking for confirmation, comfort, fellowship or who knows what. I just knew they were visiting the pages.


I ended up waiting a few days. He passed away on Wednesday. I waited until Sunday, after worship service, after it appeared in the Sunday morning bulletin and after the obituary was printed in the local newspaper to post anything about his passing. I don’t know it that was the right time or not, but that’s what my heart and gut told me to do.


What do you think? Is it okay to post about deaths on Facebook? Would you tweet the news? Would you just keep quiet?


In the original article I read, the police officers involved were quoted as saying that it was a “’sad indictment of society.”  I wonder if that’s the case or just a case or horrible timing for this mother.

Mobile Ads, Do They Move You?

September 24, 2012

I have a smart phone – an iPhone to be precise. I use it to make calls (imagine that!), text, check e-mail, look at Facebook and play games like Song Pop and Draw Something. I don’t use it to shop or receive coupons and special deals.

In our reading for this week in class, the lesson notes the very personal nature of cell phones; Which is precisely why I don’t want ads on my phone. According to InsightExpress mobile ads perform five times better than Internet ad placements. Joy Liuzzo, Director of Marketing & Mobile Research at InsightExpress, explained  at the   OMMA Mobile opening keynote, Morning Metrics  that “This is not to say that mobile is better than online, but for an emerging and evolving media channel, we can definitely demonstrate that mobile is having a positive impact on brand metrics.”

Throughout many of my IMC classes, I have felt like a bit of an anomaly. I don’t like mobile ads. I don’t touch them for more information and quite frankly I find it kind of creepy if one somehow pops up on my phone. It may be a sign of my age, once again. While I like to think I am pretty technologically savvy, maybe I am not. I admit I giggled a little when I read a quote from Matt Cohler, an early Facebook executive, who noted,  “The same regions of the brain light up when someone touches their smartphone as when they touch a family member or a pet.”  Really, is your phone that important to you?

Love to Hate Them? Or Hate to Love Them?

September 17, 2012

How many times have you been interrupted while reading an article online or searching for a recipe? You know that moment when you finally find what you are looking for, start reading and then BLAM!  A huge flashing pop-up ad has  suddenly taken over your screen. There are words flashing, voices talking and you cannot find that elusive little “x” to close the darn thing. Despite popup blockers and other software, it still happens all the time.

Online advertising is huge business. I used to think that popups were so annoying there was no way they would ever catch on or become successful. Clearly I was wrong. According to an article from emarketer, online ad spending in the US this year will exceed the total spent on print magazines and newspapers for the first time. Advertisers will spend nearly $40 billion on online ads.

There are many different types of online ads – popu-ps, widgets, banner ads and my personal favorite pop-unders ( those sneaky ones that open under your browser so often you don’t notice them until you close everything else). In the readings for my class this week, the lesson compares online ads to junk mail or telemarketers. As our lesson stated, no matter how much of a bad taste these tactics leave in your mouth, they work. If they didn’t they would go away. But you still get junk mail almost every day, don’t you? And despite being on the “Do Not Call” list, somehow the telemarketers are still getting through. Thank goodness for caller ID!

It’s not just brands and corporations that have turned to online advertising. As we get closer and closer to the Presidential election, the proliferation of political themed ads will only increase. In July Huffington Post noted that the Obama for America campaign had already spent $26.9 million on digital ads through May 2012. That amount was 3.5 times much as Mitt Romney’s campaign had spent. I suspect the closer we get to November, the higher these numbers will go.

What do you think about online advertising? Love it? Hate it? Is it a necessary evil or the way of the future for marketers (and politicians)?