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May 18, 2008

Letting Customers "Own" Your Brand - A Lesson from Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty

By Li Evans

Vulcan_death_grip Relinquishing the slightest bit of control over a brand, is a very difficult thing for most companies to do.  Public Relations and even some Legal departments have a strangle hold on "brand integrity" so much so, that it can be depriving precious "oxygen" to the brains of the brand.  In today's world, of new medium marketing in places like social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, forums & message boards and blog, keeping a death grip on your brand could be the worse thing you can do if you want to continue to grow your business online.

The internet makes it easier now, more than ever, for consumers to demonstrate their brand loyalty. Of course its also just as easy to show off how upset you are too, as I explained in the "Troll vs. Upset Customer" post from last week.  So how is it that some companies can so easily "Let Go"?

Well, it's a change of thinking, and that's a definite culture shock for a lot of bigger companies, that's for sure.  But it's also a change in acting, and communicating, basically it is a culture change from the very top that needs to be passed down throughout the company.  These changes aren't done overnight, nor are they something companies can enter into lightly.  It's also knowing just how much control to hand over to your audience or customer base.  Companies cannot hand over full control of their brands to their audience because customers and audiences still need to understand what the boundaries are and still need to be guided.

Take for example the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.  While at the WOMMA WOMM-U event, I got the opportunity to learn a little more about the campaign.  While I knew it was wildly successful, I didn't realize just how successful it was, and what a change in culture this had to be for Dove.  Carla Hendra, CEO of Ogilvy, who's company filmed the "Evolution" Video and launched it out on YouTube, explained they learned a lot through this campaign, as well.  The video itself cost very little to shoot and create, but in return it gave back millions in brand value.

Not only was the brand value monetary for Dove, it was also huge in perception.  Dove, mostly known for its soap, was the third most transformed brand in 2007 behind Google & Yahoo.  Folks, this is a soap brand, soap is not sexy, soap is not tech, soap cleans your face!  But here it is, Dove, ranking 3rd behind two "sexy" tech / web companies.  That's saying something.

So how did this spread?  Dove loosened their grip and allowed this video to be owned by the audience.  Not only that ,they allowed themselves to have a sense of humor.  By being able to do both, the rewards they reaped were beyond their wildest expectations.  This goes far beyond caring about gaining a link, or a search engine ranking from social media sites, that wasn't even in their minds when this campaign was set loose on YouTube.  What Dove accomplished by using Social Media to launch their Word of Mouth campaign is really at its heart what Social Media is all about.

Dove allowed users to be "Social" with the video, if you do a search for "Dove Evolution" on YouTube you see this video isn't in just the Dove/Ogilvy creator's account, it is many users accounts.  If you add up all those accounts this video has been played more than 12.4 million times on the first set of results alone.  Then you also have to remember, this is just YouTube.  This video Dove made is also out on MetaCafe, Yahoo Video, AOL and several other video sharing sites.  That's brand exposure and active engagement that no search engine result nor a commercial on the Super Bowl can give you. 

Along with being free with the video in a manner that allowed others to "own" it in their video accounts, Dove allowed themselves to have a sense of humor.  When the parodies started to appear, unlike James Blunt's record label squashing a Weird Al parody, they let the parodies remain.  This only helped to strengthen Dove's public perception.  When the "Slob Evolution" hit, this further strengthened the brand with pubic and just got the audiences talking all over again about Dove.


It's tough for big brands to release their death grip on their brands.  It's scary and it's a culture change that can make any legal or PR team of these big brands turn colors paler than ghosts.  However, in today's society with the internet, with the culture that has only just begun to form - customer can and do own your brand.  It's only when brands wake up and realize these conversations are going on, become active in the conversation and loosen the death grip do the rewards come like they did for Dove.

Fun Photo Fridays: Mark Condell & Liana Frey Enjoying the Fun at Big Fish During WOMM-U

By Li Evans

I am a few days late with the weekly picture, life it seems, gets the better of me and time just slips by.

However, I do have a picture this week and it features some brand new friends I met at WOMM-U.  In fact, one of my new friends has the exact same spelling as my first name - which, trust me, is rare!  It was one of my goals to meet Liana Frey of Dell, when I went to WOMM-U.  I wasn't disappointed in any way, she's sweet, gracious and fun!  I envy her - getting work on Dell's marketing team with all the Social Media initiatives they are putting in place is just awesome!

I also got the pleasure to meet Mark Condell, from the marketing side of Virgin Mobile.  He tolerated my questions about Sir Richard with such grace and a great smile, and we had a great time while networking at the event at Big Fish in Miami.  Later after the 2nd networking event down in South Beach he ventured with Simon and I up to the beach and watched as I acted like a kid in the waves. 

Fun Photo Fridays: Mark Condell & Liana Frey at Big Fish During WOMM-U

If you like this photo of Mark Condell & Liana Frey at Big Fish During WOMM-U, feel free to comment and favorite it as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at WOMMA's WOMM-U Event, there's over 175 photos to view.

May 15, 2008

Trolls or Upset Customers? Do You Know the Difference

By Li Evans

Fairytaletroll Shining a bright light on a troll isn't always the wisest thing to do (especially when they are certifiably crazy, or have had issues in the past).  You have to be careful because sometimes they will steal your goat, or steal your baby (as those old fairy tales would tell us) or they will flame you in a community or even write nasty blog posts about you, your product or service.  Trolls do that because they have a limited scope of view, most only see the world through their own tunnel vision of how they demand the world to work. 

Then you have customers, customers who are vocal, and customers who are passionate.  These customers aren't certifiable, they are normal everyday people who've been wronged in some way or some form by your company, your employees or maybe your product or service.  At times, their passion can be mistaken for something that's "troll like", but if you take the time to look, you'll definitely see the difference 

How do you tell the difference between the Troll and the Upset Customer?  I've been asked this by many clients stepping into this new online world that includes social media and search marketing.  With fears of negative comments, blog posts or being flamed in a community, understanding the difference between a passionate (but upset) customer and a troll can mean a huge difference in time spent on resources to defend accusations and opportunities to turn a focused detractor into a passionate advocate.

Here's a few tips to tell the difference:

  • Look at their past conversations in the community.  Does the person seem to contribute in a conversation?  Have they asked sensible questions in the past, and have the participated in a manner that shows there's the ability for a normal conversation?  If so, you likely just have a passionate customer on your hands.

  • Are their past conversations on the community are consistently accusatory of other members of the community?  Are their past conversations seemingly self centered, or focused just on one thing?  If someone disagrees with their point of views and they claim "hurt" right away?  This is really "Troll Like" actions, so be forewarned, you're most likely dealing with a troll.

  • Take a look at the person's blog.  Do they constantly seem to invoke drama?  Do they announce that they are leaving their blog, and then few hours or days later they announce their triumphant return and apologize for the drama?  Do they flame others and then take down the posts?  Do they lambaste people in their comments who disagree with them?   You are most likely dealing with a troll in this case.

  • If you look at the blog and it seems like the blog is engaging in great conversation.  Informative posts, interesting opinions and great conversation in the comments, this is when you'll want to stand up and take notice if they are writing a post about you that isn't so nice.  You've got a passionate customer on your hands.  Take the time to notice they've taken the time to write about their experience and engage this person in professional manner to help resolve the situation.  You could turn that angry customer into a passionate brand evangelist.

  • Look around the communities to see if this person who's speaking "ill" of you does the same things on each community.  Are they constantly crying "foul".  Do they have inappropriate conversations on professional marketing channels?  Do they stir up drama wherever they go on the social media sites?  Do they seem like attention hounds on the sites?  If you can answer yes, then you've likely got a Troll on your hands.  They feed on the attention of inappropriate comments on Twitter can get them, or the constant change of relationship status on Facebook garners them.  Don't waste your time on feeding the Troll.

  • If the person engages in normal conversations on the various social networks and communities, leaves normal comments, or updates at what seems like a normal rate on Facebook and then all of a sudden now starts chatting up how bad their experience was with your brand, you might want to pay attention to this person.  This is a passionate customer and you've got an opportunity to fix the wrong.

Trolls are time and resource wasters, really you should just leave them under the dark bridges where they live.  Knowing how to spot them can not only help your bottom line, but can also allow you to spend more time focused on helping those customers who've truly been wronged by an experience with your brand, product or service.  Customer Evangelists are what every company wishes for, all you have to do is listen for the opportunity to create one!

* Illustration Credit (Troll under bridge):  Mitchell Cotie

May 14, 2008

Overstock Terminates All New York Based Affiliates

By Michael Abolafia

Months before the Former Governor of New York, Elliott Spitzer was in the news for his scandalous behavior he was making news for his potential major impact on e-commerce.  The buzz was from his attempt to pass legislation that would make it necessary for online merchants to collect taxes on Internet sales made by New Yorkers.  Specifically, the legislature would make it necessary for merchants to collect taxes from New Yorkers if they work with any Affiliate Marketers based in NY.

Current NY Governor, David Patterson has move forward with the Spitzer plan.  Starting June 1, 2008 merchants will be required to collect taxes or face repercussions.

On May 2, 2008 Amazon filed a complaint in State Supreme Court in Manhattan objecting to the law.  Amazon is challenging the constitutionality of the law.  According to a New York Times Article, Amazon states, "It is impossible,...for it to determine which of its affiliates are actually in New York State".

Yesterday, Overstock dealt with this issue by removing all New York based affiliates from their program.  Below is the email sent to their affiliates.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  How will other large online only retailers react?  Will other states follow suit?

ABestWeb, a forum for Affiliate Marketers has started a conversation on this topic.


*Image credit - downtown ecommerce blog


May 13, 2008

Online Marketing Tips: Conversion Types - Purchase, Email Sign-ups, Time on Site, & Page Views

By Li Evans

Last week Brian presented our Tuesday's Tips in Online Marketing and spoke about Web Metrics for your website.  I'm back this week with our next edition of Tuesday's Tips in Online Marketing, taking that web metrics theme a little further by bringing the post about Conversion Rates I did to video.

This will be a two part series, this week I discuss 4 types of conversions you can track for your website.  Keep in mind, different types of websites will want to track different types of things, so not every conversion type discussed is something every website will want to track and measure.


Full video transcript after the jump....

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips: Conversion Types - Purchase, Email Sign-ups, Time on Site, & Page Views" »

May 12, 2008

Twitter Policy - Do You Have One In Place?

By Li Evans

Usando mi camisa twitter - Picture by Flickr User: LuisdrkTwitter is growing at a phenomenal pace.  There's no doubt that as more and more companies adopt new communication platforms like Twitter into their marketing strategies, as well as allowing their employees to use them, some rules should be set up along the way.

Back in December I wrote a piece about "Is Twitter Really Dangerous?", which was prompted by Michael Krigsman's "Twitter Is Dangerous" article.  I was reminded of this again, when I happened upon TwitterLocal.net  (shout out to Drew Olanoff for the tip), and I stumbled across a local user in my area, who actually had his own Twitter policy.  He's just an individual blogger, but he has a link right in his profile on twitter to his policy about who he will and won't follow, and what his guidelines are.

I don't want to put a finger on this person, as I believe he does have a right to privacy, but I just found it fascinating that this person actually took the time to write up his own Twitter policy.  Here's just two of his disclaimers:

  • If you’re twittering more than 10 tweets a day, I may have to stop following just so I can keep up with other folks.
  • If you add my feed, I will certainly check to see who you are, but if there’s zero identifying information on your profile, why would I add you back?

And he's got a few guidelines he himself tried to follow:

  • I’ll post links to things only now and then, since I know Twitter is very often used in (and was intended for) mobile contexts; and when I do, I’ll give some context, rather than just “this is cool …”
  • In spite of my best intentions, I’ll probably break these guidelines now and then, but hopefully not too much, whatever “too much” is.

Now why do I find this so fascinating?  Mostly because major brands are out here on twitter and haven't even taken the time to define a Twitter policy. There's a lot of things to consider when you start an account on a place like Twitter or even Facebook or MySpace.  Thinking about the following items might help you come up with a decent Twitter policy that can define it very easily to your audience how you intend to communicate with them.

  • Who will you follow?
  • How do you hold conversations?
  • What will you talk about?
  • Who is the account with? (Who Owns The Account?)
    • Is it a company representative?  If so who's the rep?
    • Is it a number of company representatives?
    • Is it an authorized twitter account from the company?
  • What's the twitter account's purpose?
    • To hold conversations with an audience?
    • Get feedback on products / services?
    • Promote special sales or events?
  • Why do you "unfollow"?
  • How many tweets do you tweet a day?
  • How do you respond to direct messages or replies? (@'s)
  • Do you promote others on twitter?
  • Is your blog part of your twitter account?

As you can see these are just a few things that companies should think about.  Heck, even popular individuals probably should think about having a twitter policy.  This can help to head off a lot of hassles, headaches and misunderstandings a head of time.  It can also lead to a much better conversation with your community if they understand where you are coming from in the first place.

Twitter Art by Flickr User: jmtucuWhen big companies start a Twitter account these days, sometimes its because they see it as the "latest" thing they should be involved in.  Without even thinking about some consequences, before they know it things can spiral out of control. 

Quite the opposite can happen, like in the case of Delta Airlines.  Delta Airlines has a twitter account but it's not the official account from the company.  Its actually kind of sad, because it is such a great tool and it's just an employee, not an "official" channel Delta customer could speak with.  If you are a big brand, or a popular brand, you should at least snag up that twitter account name so well-intentioned employees don't do it for you.

Twitter is a great way to hold a conversation with your community.  A great way to make sure the conversation stays on track and doesn't get derailed or ended, it to put a Twitter Policy in place.

*Twitter Shirt Picture Credit: Luisdrk, Twitter Art Picture Credit:  jmtucu

May 10, 2008

Fun Photo Fridays: Cindy Krum Doing a Tea Trick at SES Denver Training

By Li Evans

At the beginning of this week, I had the pleasure of doing the Social Media training in Denver for Search Engine Strategies Training event there.  It was a lot of fun, and was also my first time in Denver.  Those of you who follow me on twitter, saw how I was shocked about how far off in the "boonies" the airport was!

While there, Denver local, Cindy Krum of Blue Moon Works, entertained a few of us.  The first night we met at the Blake Street Tavern - formally the Flying Dog Brewery.  For anyone going there, try the Scratch Ale, it's great!  Then, Tuesday night Cindy took us to Mataam Fez, a Moroccan restaurant that was just a great experience.  Cindy even did a tea trick for us - Cindy, not only are you brave, but you rock! :)

Fun Photo Fridays: Cindy Krum does Tea Tricks at SES Denver Training

If you like this photo of Cindy Krum doing a Tea Trick at SES Denver Training, feel free to comment and favorite it as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at SES Denver Training, there's over 60 photos to view.

May 09, 2008

WOMMA WOMM-U: Jen Gulvik Presents Houlihan's WOMM Case Study

By Li Evans

Jen_gulvik_houlihans_womma_case_s_2 Houlihan's went through an entire restructuring, down to even changing the forks and the music.

Half the people who live within a 3 mile radius of the restaurants, have never been to a Houlihan's or were lapse customers.  The only people who really knew about Houlihan's was employees, current customers and a "few" others.  They do limited mass media advertising.  They really win their customers over one at a time.  They are in an environment where their competition have millions of dollars to spend in mass media.  That climate made them look at other ways to work with marketing.

They started with emails to 100,000k members.  Customers are focused on culture.  And Houlihan's focuses on the customer.  The CEO reads every single customer comments, Jen responds to 70% of them.  What they have noticed lately, they have been getting more fan mail.  She believes this is because of the change in the environment, that customers want to help take control of the brand.

They get a ton of fun, funny comments.

Continue reading "WOMMA WOMM-U: Jen Gulvik Presents Houlihan's WOMM Case Study" »

WOMMA WOMM-U- Pick a Charity Workshop Results

By Simon Heseltine

Following on from the Pick a Charity Workshop sessions yesterday and this morning, the ideas and results for each of the 3 different charities were presented over the lunch sessions.

Overall, some interesting solutions were generated and presented, with ideas ranging from generating basic awareness to eco-terrorism.

So here's what each group came up with, just to give you an idea of how the thought processes differed within each group:

Continue reading "WOMMA WOMM-U- Pick a Charity Workshop Results" »

WOMMA WOMM-U- Jordan Corredera Keynote

By Simon Heseltine

Dsc_6289 With the previous keynote running 10 minutes over it's timeslot, and technical issues further delaying the start, this keynote shrank from a 45 minute presentation to a 30 minute presentation, which as it turned out was probably a good thing.  Unlike the previous, more polished / rehearsed presentations, this one came off as more like a time filler.  Which isn't to say that there weren't a few interesting pieces of information, but they did tend to be few and far between. 

The presentation was given by Jordan Corredera of Carnival Cruise Lines, the Head of the Interactive Strategy Team, and was moderated by Ted Wright, the founder of Fizz.

Continue reading "WOMMA WOMM-U- Jordan Corredera Keynote" »

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