Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Leafs Get Social

Dave Fleet’s going to a Leafs game, makes an off the cuff tweet about it, then gets an @reply from @mapleleafs followed by a direct message from the Leafs new  inviting him on a pre-game behind-the-scenes tour of the ACC given by Jonathan Sinden, the man behind the @mapleleafs and a member of the Leafs interactive marketing team.

Surprised and delighted, Dave blogs about the experience. Looking at the comments, some people are suspicious, (as was I). Dave’s blog is well read and he has lots of followers. In a way, this seemed like they were scanning twitter to see who was tweeting about the game and then approached Dave because he had a large follower count. As it turns out, that wasn’t the case. Jonathan Sinden had the idea of giving an enhanced fan experience to one of the Leafs twitter followers and Dave just happened to tweet at the right moment. That’s what he wrote in his comment on Dave’s blog and I believe him because the comment sounds very sincere and doesn’t sound like it was cleared through legal.

I like how this turned out as a rapid response initiative rather than part of a tight strategy (and this coming from a strategist). What I mean by that is, I can’t envision a long discussion at MLSE over how this is going to further business objectives and generate a great ROI. This had a “Hey I have an idea to enhance the fan experience that won’t cost us much, let’s try it out” kind of feel and that’s something more businesses should start doing more often. Leafs tickets are among the most expensive in the league and rightly so given demand in this hockey mad city and as a result, there seems to be a lot of corporate types at the games (well, at least in the platinum seats). With a random acts of kindness like this, one feels that the team does care about the average fan.

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I’m not really friends with [brand name]

So Razorfish puts out a new FEED report and all marketing 2.0 punditry is aghast.  All the happy hippie, trippy things we’ve been telling brands to do like authentically engaging our consumer in a meaningful dialogue using social media because it’s, er, social has been all for naught. Turns out, when people ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ brands, they’re really just looking for a deal. All that time and money spent trying to figure out this social media thing could’ve been spent on coupons?

Folks, the sky isn’t falling.  Take a look at the data:

Reason for Following a Brand on Twitter

Reason you friend a brand on Facebook or MySpace

56.5% of those who follow a brand on twitter and 63.1% who friend a brand on Facebook or MySpace do it for some reason other than getting a deal. Deal seeking was the plurality of rationales but not the majority.

Second, what did you expect? Did we forget our 1% rule? Our Forrester technographics? It only takes one click to follow or fan a brand, it takes a lot more effort to evangelize. That’s why there’s more joiners and spectators than creators and critics. Not everyone in your digital embassy is going to be a brand ambassador. Like a real-life embassy, some functionaries are there because the job pays the bills and offers nice benefits.

Third, yes they want a deal but they still might be exhibiting a preference for your brand. What the study should have done is ask those who indicated that they were looking for a deal, whether they friended or followed a brand’s competitor as well. I’d be curious to know how many Coke fans are also Pepsi fans, how many Nike fans also follow Adidas. True deal seekers, the ones a brand wouldn’t want to be friends with, are brand agnostic; they’ll take whatever’s the cheapest. A person who genuinely prefers Brand X and sees an opportunity to join “club brand” due to “special offers” might be thinking, “I’m a good customer, I deserve something special from you, Brand X, in return.”

Whoah, whoah, wait a minute. Is that how to treat a friend? You’re only friends with that guy with season’s tickets so he’ll take you to a game? What about his winning personality? You’re shared values? Please forgive the marketer trained on “brand personality”, “brand as a person”, “personae development” and “personal brands”  for forgetting that brands are not actually people. They are representations of something to be purchased so our relationship to them is fundamentally a business transaction. Sure there are people who worship at the altar of your brand logo but those valuable customers are the exceptions. Here’s the deal <bad pun intended 😉 >, the deal may be the impetus for them becoming a “fan” but providing them with an engaging experience afterward might convert some into “true fans”. Deals bring them in, experiences keep them coming back.

A corollary to this, maybe we’ve infused the word “brand” with too much meaning and associations. Maybe we need to back to a simpler definition. How about, “the intangibles that cause people to prefer and value one product/service over others”