Friday Fun: Marketing Irreverence


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Recently, Fard Johmar, Path of the Blue Eye, told me he liked the sometimes quirkiness of Diva Marketing and the dash of irreverence and fun -- especially on Fridays. Since life is too serious these days .. Friday Fun is back .. at least more often than not. 

For today's Friday Fun, let's take a look as some slightly different, slightly off the wall marketing, customer loyalty (sort of..maybe..we'll see) campaigns and an in your face ad site. 

Do the airline over-booked bump! Cha Cha Cha. Delta Airlines, my home town airline, has a new approach towards appeasing customers if their flight has been over booked. No more first to run up to the gate agent with a bag full of Dunkies or Krispy Kremes donuts wins.

Nope, when passengers electronically check in they can join an auction. People indicate how much money they'd be willing to accept to change flights. Delta, of course, will choose the lowest bidder. Question: what's the value of a "free"airline ticket and more time spent at the airport? By the way, don't bother searching details on .. no where to be found.  WSJ

Your ad will change the world .. not! It's rare to find an ad copywriter who isn't in love with his own words. Rarer to find a creative director who doesn't totally believe her concept will win the next Addy, create world peace and get Jimmy Choo to name a shoe after her. 

Things Real People Don't Say About Advertising is a cool site that looks at the ad game with humor and reminds us not to take it too seriously. Here's my fav!  Advertising what people dont day Toss of a pink diva boa to BL Ochman for link to the site.




Here I come .. ready or not! Winter + Films + Boots = Fun & Games! Seems to me that as we "mature" we often loose the sense of play. Perhaps that's why marketers turn to fun & games as a means to differentiate. The scavenger hunt, a game that is centuries old, is a favorite to morph into a experience brand campaign.

The lastest scavenger hunt is sponsored by Sorel, a company known for its beautiful boots that "take care of you." I rather like that tag line.   

Sorel logo The 2011 spin that Sorel created includes a virtual scavenger hunt through augment reality. It's complete with the social and tech stuff like QR codes and Facebook .. of course. The coolest part is the venue .. the Sundance Film Festival. Players will look for the logo bears all over the city. Maybe a photo of Robert Redford will earn extra points! 

For Sundance fans .. here's an app for you!

Sidebar: Why oh why don't brands include their cool social media campaigns on their websites? Home page presence above the fold would be a very good thing.

Customer Service Social Media Style: A Pulse of the Industry View Part 1


What do people do on social networks and blogs? They "talk" of Service_photo_e3mh course! They talk about what is important and what is mundane. More frequently, however,  those conversations are directed, not to friends or family, but to the people who represent brands. These chats are about service and product concerns.

"Social (media customer) service" and the "social customer" are impacting how business is being conducted and will be conducted.

In preparation for the BlogWorldExpo panel I spoke on last week, Creating Customer Loyalty Through Social Media, I was curious to better understand the social customer's expectations of the new social media kid on the blog .. "social service."

So like any good social media diva I dropped a question on a couple of social networks:

More companies are using social media to support their customer service strategies. What are your expectations of "social service?"

30 people responded. While this may not be statistically valid research, the responses from these early adopters provide valid learnings. Many thanks to all who shared their insights.

Interestingly there were a few similarities to the Pulse of the Industry research I conducted on Blogger Relations. The two most significant were:

1.  Customers want to know they matter

2. Customers want to engage with people who want to build trusted relationships

Although social service may not have reached mainstream adoption, those active in the social web have come to expect to be accommodated in this channel.

I expect companies to address my needs in the channels of my choosing. -  Teresa Caro.

It's a great access ramp to getting a problem solved without the typical customer service brush off; however, I think the number of people using Twitter to complain about their cable service for instance, is small compared to the number of people going through the traditional channels. - Marianne Richmond

I think many consumers (those active social media users) have come to expect a response. Smart companies have gotten out in front of the customer service through social media curve and have spoiled the public into thinking that all companies should respond that way. - Jason Falls

The benefits of social service were varied and ranged from building relationships, building trust to gaining a competitive advantage, increasing personalized service and saving money (from responses seen by others who have similar concerns).

When combined with traditional marketing, social-driven customer service can be a force for more credible problem-solving, less expensive customer service, product ideation and customer lifetime value. - Dennis Dunlap

Gives us an opportunity to answer a question or solve a problem while reinforcing in a broad forum, our willingness and desire to do so. - Brendan Hurley

Real time brand building, loyalty extending and responding time enhancer. - Jody DeVere

Responses fell  into nine broad topics:

i. I Matter

Social Service comes down to one thing: treat me like a person. I am a valued customer, not just a user. - Michael Rubin

Positive, direct honesty from service provider; not just one-way marketing communication speak. - Jake Aull

Social networks give companies an incredible opportunity to make things right and retain their customers, turning them into brand ambassadors. - Elaine Fogel

Loud and clear people want to know that they are important to your organization. Notice me, talk to me, acknowledge me was the the mantra for many.

Too often it seems that social media service reflects the philosophy of George Orwell's Animal Farm .. some people are more equal than others. The more Followers, the higher your Google ranking .. the more likely you are to capture the attention of a brand.

Lesson learned: Your best customers may not appear to be social media 'influencers.'

Challenge: How do you scale social service to acknowledge all or most people who take the time to engage with you?

 ii. Real People

How well they can embody your brand's spirit and use common sense vs. a script goes a long way. - Mary Hunt

For all this to happen, all staff have to know the game thay are now in. May be (probably will be) need for cultural change. Snooty waitpersons whose idea of fun is to insult the customer need nto apply. - Des Walsh

I expect a company to show the social customer service by putting a person out front, not an anonymous company reply, who understands the brand. - Rob Peterson

I would expect proactivity, not just reactivity, and a more "human" less scripted and fake exchange. - Debra Semans

As with every other use of social media, our customers expect to use this channel talking people-to-people Not person-to-logo. There is little patience with those companies that are using social service as another messaging opportunity.

Those reaching out through the social web to solve a problem or ask an important question, don't want platitudes. These people are using social media to build long-term, trusted relationships with the people behind the brands.

Lessons learned: Customers expect personal conversations that are not scripted.

Challenges: Knowledgeable people placed in positions where the exchanges take both the customer and brand values into consideration.

iii. Understand the Social Media Culture

She obviously had no idea what Twitter is. I was not submitting a complaint to BofA I was mad and I was vetting to my friends and followers. - Sally Falkow

Social media is the only strategy (yes, I do think it is a strategy, but that's another post for another day) that I know of that is built on a culture. e.g., value driven, transparency, authenticity, conversations versus messages and throw in a some passion too.

If the people participating in social media don't understand the vernacular of the platforms there is a disconnect between the brand's customer service reps and their customers.

Lessons Learned: Customer service reps engaging in social media must understand the cultural norms and response/engagement expectations.

Challenges: Providing the right training for all employees who interact with customers in all service channels.

iv. Response Time

We live in a 24/7 world. Companies simply can't wait to respond. - BL Ochman

Set the expectations by listing response time on the selected social media touch points could be a solution. - Rajesh Lawani

Social media customer service is held to a higher standard than traditional customer service channels. Customers want Fast response and problem solving. However, there is no standard to what is meant by "fast." Fast ranged from 3-4 hours to within a day.

Lessons Learned: The bar is set higher for social media responses than for traditional channels.

Challenge: In order not to disappoint, customer expectations must be managed. The extent of resources (people, processes, technology, finances) will of course, impact response time.

v. Non Presence

Some of my favs are not on Twitter or Facebook yet, or their presence is silent on those sites. I'm beginning to question their commitment to me as a customer. - Yvonne DiVita

Not engaging with your customers in the social web is beginning to hurt brand goodwill. As Jamie Turner puts it, " Using social media as a customer service tool isn't an option anymore." 

Lessons Learned: Organizations that are not listening and engaging with their customers in the social web are missing opportunties to expand the brand experience and create brand champions. 

Challenges: It's critical that resources are in place if you plan to scale listening and engagement in social web conversations. As important is determining who will listen, how will they listen, what will they listen for and who, how, what will they respond to in the digital worlds.

vi. Keep Promises

Customer service cartoon
One time a brand did interact; they promised something that they never fulfilled so that just reinforced my annoyance with the company.
- Laura Bennett

Although the social customer service tweet or Facebook status update is directed at One person thousands maybe listening. The social service channel becomes a public exposure of how your company handles problems and relates to customers. You can WoW or your can stumble and fall.

Lessons Learned: A broken promise or a brush off response can result in more than one 1 lost customer. Promises kept can result in a new brand champion who influences segments you many have access to at this time.

Challenges: Servicing the individual customer, on a personal basis while being aware of the immediate impact on many.

vii. The Social Customer

I want to bear witness to change. - Jane Genova

A Tweet reply from a real person, with an invitation to DM them for follow-up assistance. - Debbie Weil 

I do expect that if they offer an outlet online, they should be able to back it up online. If I mention something in a post or a tweet - it's always nice to have them acknowledge it - even if I didn't @ them or use a #. If they ask if they can help me, don't disappear after I say yes, here's the problem. - Sue Rodman

The social client can be vastly different from a client that utilizes other channels. The issue types that are observed via social media sites also tend to be ones that are escalated and to add to that tension, now the whole world is watching to see how you answer. - Bianca Buckridee

I do not want push communications through social media channels regardless of how they set up the use of these tools internally. If you put your brand out there, you should be ready to engage on all levels. - Donna Tocci

The social customer is not only an early adopter but sophisticated in terms of understanding how to leverage technology and the social web.

Although conversations may begin online as CK Hurley says, " I don't mind moving off social platforms (such as Twitter) on to email/phone as that's many times necessary given space limitations and sometimes it's necessary due to regulated industries."

 viii. Impact on the Enterprise

All the well-intentioned listening in the world won't make a difference unless you fundamentally change the way your company does business and start respecting your customers giving them a voice and a chance at a satisfactory experience. - Alan Wolk

The customer service companies that utilize Facebook Open Graph to segment their messaging will be ahead of the game in proactively using social as a service tool. - Erika J. Brookes

Customer Service Reps: As we discussed above not only will social media reps require additional training in how to communicate in the social web e.g., no messaging allowed!, but understanding the culture is as important.

Infrastructure: Are the right processes and systems in-place including cross department communication? Has the impact on resources been analyzed? Are service levels across ALL channels consistent?

Lessons Learned: Social media impacts all aspects of the enterprise especially those who have contact with your customers.

Challenges: Change in the internal culture to allow people to not only participate in the social web conversations but to empower the customer service reps to publicly respond and WoW. 

viii. Companies doing it right

Dell, Southwest, Comcast, Best Buy, AMC, Marriott, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Whole Foods, Jet Blue

We're in the business of making people happy and exceptional customer service from real reps in a totally unscripted environment makes people happy. - Melissa Lacitigonola

ix. Companies doing it wrong

Bank of America, Schwab

But at the end of the day does it really matter which channel you use to service your customers? The goal is consistency across all channels. As Dan Dooley put it, "The key driver is to not distinguish "social" customer service from any other - it's all social, it's all service."


Creating A Two-Tiered System of Customer Service 

Social Media Mission Control, THe Contact Center Must Evolve 

The Social Customer Engagment Index White Paper

Using Social Channels To Show Customers You Care

 Pink boa Toss of a pink boa to:

Dennis Dunlap, American Marketing Association

Yvonne DiVita, Lip-sticking

Laura Bennett, Embrace Pet Insurance

Rob Petersen, Barb Raisers

Jane Genova, Speechwriter Ghostwriter

Teresa Caro, Razorfish

CK Hurley, CK's Blog

Alan Wolk, Alan Wolk

Erika J. Brooks, Virture

Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer

Rajesh Lawani, BlogWorks

BL Ochman,

Marianne RIchmond, Resonance Partners

Des Walsh, Des Walsh dot com

Debbie Weil, Debbie Weil

Sally Falkow, Meritus Media

Donna Tocci, Ingersoll Rand

Melissa Lacitgnola, Zappos

Sue Rodman, Field Trips With Sue

Mary Hunt, In Women We Trust

Michael Rubin, Michael E Rubin

Elaine Fogel, Solutions Marketing and Consulting

Brandan Hurley, Goodwill of Greater Washington

Jody DeVere, Ask Patty

Jake Aull, Zen of Brand

Bianca Buckridee, Sun Trust

Jamie Turner, 60 Second Marketer

Dan Dooley, Mullen

Brent Leary, The Social Customer

Tom O'Brien, MotiveQuest

Debra Semans, Polaris Marketing Research

Rockin' With Social Customer Service


Two years ago Becky Carroll, Customers Rock, invited me, along with 
Tony Hsien, Frank Eliason and Brian Solis, to participate on a BlogWorld Expo panel about a fairly new, innovative use of social media. Fast forward 24-months and "social service" is on its way to becoming the new darling of social media.

Becky thought it would be fun to do an encore of that panel: Act 2 of Creating Customer Loyalty with Social Media, A Look 2 Years Later I am at #bwe10, Las Vegas, with Becky Carroll, Frank Eliason and this time representing Zappos -- Melissa LaPointe.

As I told the packed room (thanks to everyone who attended!) in 2008 we were so innocent .. or perhaps a better word might be naive.  Although in 2008, we were seeing an up-swing in the use of social networks, today participation has escalated to include segments and "tribes" that were just tip toe-ing through the social web. Add to that more shiny toys to play with like FourSquare and apps and peer-to-peer on-line engagement is on a course that will take us who knows where!

In thinking about adding social service as an additional avenue to support customer care, consider a 2-sided model: internal (company) and external (customers). Balancing expectations for both sides of this see saw ride is not always simple. However, when it comes to digital social customer service it is critical to get right.

From the perspective of the company

It's very clear that my pal Shel Israel was spot on when he told me in 2005 that social media cannot be contained in one corporate silo. Conversations that impact the brand continue to evolve on social networks.

Don't be fooled by what might appear to be seemingly casual chats. These conversations can impact brand goodwill and every aspect of the enterprise, especially those that interface with our customers.

Even the first step of a social media strategy, listening, grows more complex. There are many decisions must be reached and questions answered. Who takes ownership of the listening and of the direct customer engagement? Will you be proactive or reactive? What do those terms mean to your company? Who will take ownership of what? How will internal communication be structured? Organizations are exploring involving multiple departments. What that looks like will differ for every organization.

From perspective of the customer

I was very curious to understand what this new channel of service meant to people. Were expectations different in new media versus tradtional call centers? I dropped a question in a few social networks and received some fascinating responses. People expect a human approach not a logo response.

Although a company (or a person from the brand) may respond directly to a customer, in what may appear to be a 1:1 conversation, the brand experience extends to whomever maybe watching the exhange. The digital brand/customer service experience is more reflective of the in-person "corner grocery store" exhange versus that of eMail or the call center. 

More on the Pulse of Social Service next week. In the mean time, think about what Dennis Dunlap, CEO American Marketing Association told me ..

Done well a social media customer service approach can augment strong phone, email and online support.  But it requires a commitment to managing heightened expectations of customers engaging in digital channels.

Customer service has sure come along way bebe from when, in another life time, I was a rep for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts!


Social Media Redefines The Brand Experience


Brands abc blocks  Random thoughts on a late summer afternoon. How do you define a "brand experience?" 

It seems to me .. the traditional "brand experience" is evolving into what it might be more appropriate to call .. the "human experience." It seems to me .. brand experience goes beyond the customer use of the product/service, ad messaging, PR spins or slick logos that are all wrapped up in a beautiful bow of consistency across all communication channels. 

It seems to me .. that while those elements may be important to build the structure of a brand promise, they become part of the new brand equation. Add to that a not so minor detail of peer-to-peer influence.

Example: What makes Zappos a great brand? It's not so much its offering of a zillion different shoe options or even the free return policy. It's the commitment to customer care which begins with its trust in its own employees. Employees are encouraged to take good care of its customers, as well as, to build people-to-people not brand-to-people, relationships from call center exchanges to tweets.

How odd it seems in 2010, to build a relationship with an inanimate object when people (employees & customers), who are really the heart of a brand, are out from the shadows.

Your thoughts? 

 Sidebar: Zappo CEO Tony Hsieh's, book Delivering Happiness, is worth a read.

Learn more about social media and branding in Chapter 7 of my free eBook Social Media Marketing GPS. Listen to an expanded conversation with my guest interviewees Beth Harte and Dana VanDen Heuvel on the AMA sponsored podcast series ~ Social Media GPS A Road Map To Social Media Success.  

Social Media Idea Management: An intellectual capital hustle?


Idea light bulb Imagine this scene - You've invited me to your home to discuss my ideas that may help you .. fill in the blank .. do your job better/make a better product/write a job description, etc. You also invite lots of other people. We find our way to your house. Instead of drinks together in your living room or coffee around your kitchen table you show us to separate rooms.

Then you walk away. However, naive that we are, we assume you are listening, care about us, that we matter to you.  So we happily share our creative ideas. Although our thoughts echo in our empty rooms we smile pleased to be of service to you. Every once in awhile some one wanders by and chats briefly. But rarely if ever is it you. Not even to say "thank you." 

Where are you? You're sitting behind an online dashboard gathering our intellectual capital as if it were digital diamonds. No girlfriend, it's not a focus group. Or maybe it is. Maybe this is the social media version of a focus group but with less honesty and less transparency. It's called IdeaXYZ or IdeaFireStorm or My(your brand) or ShareYourIdeas ... But don't expect anything back other than the satisfaction you derive in a bit of ego boosting on a brand site with some people who might vote you up or vote you down.

Are The Brands exploiting customers in the name of "engagement?" Are we so excited that The Brands have given us a way to directly and easily express our opinions that we clamor to give mega brands our creative ideas without even expecting a "thank you" in return?

Or is this simply the way that Brands approach the interaction of social media. Is it the way they view their role in the "conversation" of social media? Is it naivety or is it digital social media ineptness on how they perceive what is appropriate to build and nurture relationships?

Social media has two aspects. The first is digital research. That simply means reading posts and tweets of your customers to better understand who they are, what they care about and what they say about your brand. I think of it as raw, informal, qualitative, real time or what should be the  "first listening post" in your marketing research strategy.

The second aspect is something that is unique to social media. Other than trade shows, there are no business initiatives that I know of where marketers can hang out with their customers. Like any person-to-person exchange it's rarely structured. It can get messy and to make it work there has to be genuine interest on both sides.

  • Establishing an authentic presence in social media is where many marketers fall down. "Most brands aren't doing it successfully." Shiv Singh, vice president/global social media lead Razorfish (study)

Then there is a new kid on the block - Digital Idea Management or Viralsourcing - which seems to me a mash-up of these two concepts. Although based on the user group experience this has a stronger social media overlay. Customers are invited into a special company-based website to talk about what would make a better computer or latte or retail experience.

It's highly social since comments are open, often voting of each idea is encouraged and of course every post comes with the opportunity to be Dugg, Tweeted, Facebooked (new word) etc. One would naturally assume that the people who are on The Brand side would pop in to offer encouragement, provide feedback, say thank you. In other words to join in the conversation or as Shiv Singh says, "Establish an authentic presence." Rarely happens.

 If I were a bettin' diva I would say that Digital Ideology sites will become more prevalent across industries and sectors. Maybe even to engage in real exchanges. For now it seems that companies are using it in a traditional media/marketing way.

Dell is exploring this model and sharing learnings. This presentation from Dell details their Idea Management strategy behind IdeaStorm.  On slide 12 Dell outlines customer expectations as positive experience, action taken on ideas and recognition. With tactics on How To Address including: timely feedback, clear status updates, thank you mechanisms.

Happy to help you out dear brands but I expect you to join in tThank-youhe conversation with me and at least say 

Social Media Makes The Customer Experience Personal


LavenderThe recent rains awaken the heady scent of the lavender bush at the front of my house. I pass by it every day. I planted it several years ago but today the scent was exceptionally strong .. almost intoxicating. I had to stop what I was doing for an extra moment or two. Sometimes what we see all the time, what is in front of us can be overlooked.

This afternoon an email popped into my in-box from a favorite dessert company - Dancing Deer - from Boston. I send Dancing Deer gifts all the time. Somehow I feel connected to the company for a number or reasons: Boston, my friends love their presents, the site is graphically whimsical, frequent coupons, they have "heart" in giving back to the community.

The subject line "Sweet deals and ice cream cookie sandwiches" caught my eye (it's summer and I'm making ice cream .. there goes the diet again!) and I opened and clicked into the site to find out more. The click took me to a blog. Way cool! I had no idea. Dancing Deer and I had yet something else in common - social media. Must be new I thought. Nope .. it's been around for several months.

I went back to the home page - no mention or link. I went back to the blog and searched a round some more. Oh my .. the owner, Tish Karter, was in Atlanta in April for the start of a 1500 bike ride " engage the public in a conversation about how to end homelessness." She blogged and vlogged her journey.

Awesome but why did I not know about this? I guess I missed the email? Surely I would have noticed that email. I mean come on .. Atlanta, social media, a bike ride from-to the 2 cities I've lived in. They reached out to bloggers - some of whom are friends. They never talked to me.

Now I'll tell you something that you might think is rather silly .. I felt a little sad. Isn't that odd? I've never met Tish, homeless is not my "cause" but If Dancing Deer had reached out to its customer base, If they had told me about their blog or that they were tweeting I might have been able to help. Not only that there would Dancing deerhave been a significant brand experience creating not just a fan but a raving fan.

Adding social media to your communication strategy you give your customers more than an email, or a press release or even a free cookie. You are inviting them into your world beyond the spin of advertising or PR.  Odd as it may sound - when you talk to your customers it becomes personal for them. 

Sometimes, like with my lavender bush, what we see all the time, what is in front of us maybe overlooked. Developing All of your strategies with your customers in mind becomes increasingly critical if you step into the world of blogs, vlogs, twitter, Facebook, podcasts .. social media marketing.

Motrin: A Case Study In Social Media Marketing - Part 2


Update: 11-18-08; Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing apologizes on the home page of Motrin. This is the follow-up post to one I wrote on Diva Marketing on 11-17-08 on how social media changed the direction of a Fortune 500 company's marketing campaign.


As is always the case in a slide down the slippery slope of social media, there are lessons we can take away from the Mortin Moms Social Media Case Study. I've reached out to Bonnie Jacobs, VP Communications and Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing at McNeil Consumer Healthcare offering Diva Marketing as one platform to tell their story. (Btw .. would not be surprised to see someone from the Morin marketing team making the conference rounds.)

The influence of "just" a few thousand people changed the marketing direction of a Fortune 500 company's multiple channel advertising campaign (McNeil Consumer Health is a division of Johnson and Johnson). Within hours of  social media conversations a website had been taken down and put back up with an apology. Plans were in the works to pull print ads and perhaps other initiatives that were set to launch were halted.

Listening to, what went beyond the sentiments of "just" a few thousand bloggers or tweeters, but perhaps reflected a signification segment of Motrin's target audience, may have saved the company some hefty dollars in terms of ultimate goodwill and stopped the ooze of brand erosion before it could spread further online and off.

The social buzz is that the brand team could have responded faster. Perhaps. But for their actions to a Sunday Social Smackout McNeil Consumer Healthcare gets a gold star from Diva Marketing.

In trying to understand what happened, we don't have a lot to go on .. We don't know what research went on prior to the launch of the campaign. We don't know the infra structure or the communication that most certainly flew from site to site to phone to office meetings. We don't know when Mortin's marketers begin to "listen" in on the tweets and blogs or when they first found out. Nor do we know when the decision was made to send the letter to Amy Gates at  Crunchy Domestic Goddess and why Amy and who else received Kathy Widmer's email.

We can only guess the impact that this had and will continue to have on the human resources at McNeil Consumer Healthcare and their marketing parners as they execute their new strategy. We can assume that it will cost a pretty penny in terms of dollar investment.

We also don't know the end of the story. Or perhaps it is really the beginning of the story. What lessons did the Morin marketing team take away from the Mortin Mom's Sunday Social Smackout? What counsel is their agencies giving? Will they embrace the women and men who Helped them avoid an even bigger blow-up? Will they participate in the social media conversations? Currently Motrin's people are messaging one-sided .. there is no dialogue that I can find.

Morin's social media experience reinforces that social media marketing is a complex, multi-faceted strategy.

  1. It is critical to have strong communication systems in place that integrate muliple departments: marketing, PR, customer service, legal, sales, operations, etc.
  2. It is critical to listen and participate in your customers' online exchanges.
  3. It is critical to be humble.

The end game to this post: There is value in the asset: Mortin Moms. Mortin marketing team .. what will you do with that one?

Sidebar: Thanks to Mark Story for posting the updated Mortin website.

Motrin: A Case Study In Social Media Marketing


Subtitle: Motrin's  We Feel Your Pain Ad Campaign Targeted To Moms: Proof of the Influence of Social Media


Today sipping my morning coffee I clicked into Twitter and was intrigued by a tweet from @chrisbrogan.


What I found was a video that was apparently an element of Motrin's We Feel Your Pain campaign that was targeted to moms. <the link to the page has been taken down>



Script: "Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion. I mean, in theory it’s a great idea. There’s the front baby carrier, sling, schwing, wrap, pouch. And who knows what else they’ve come up with. Wear your baby on your side, your front, go hands free.

Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience. They say that babies carried close to the body tend to cry less than others. But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t. I sure do! These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders. Did I mention your back?! I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid."


Surfing over to #MotrinMoms (a summary of tweets tagged with #MotrinMoms) I was overwhelmed. At that time there were 65 pages, with 15 tweets per page, or 975 posts. I can only imagine what the team at McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson and Johnson,Tshirt_2 must be feeling.

The majority of tweets were from moms who were Passionately outraged about the video. They felt hey and their babies were being disrespected. 

So passionate that Mamikaze designed t-shirts, mugs, buttons and bags for sale at CafePress. So passionate that Katja created a video of what she felt was should have been the message. In social media style it was uploaded it to YouTube. Before this post went live there were 2014 views.

People are wondeWarrenwhitlock_real_lesson_2ring ..


So .. I've been thinking .. if McNeil Consumer Healthcare were a social media marketing client how would I advise them?

  • First I'd say, especially to Bonnie Jacobs, VP Communications and  Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing - McNeil Consumer Healthcare - take a deep breath and be prepared for some long nights.
  • Second I'd say "listen" to the angst of what should be the community of Motrin Moms.

Sadly, you will learn that you have lost some customers.


You will learn what went wrong for these moms and how they felt.



You will learn from women who were so upset that they took online, tweets and blog posts, offline to main stream media, advertisers and friends.















You will also learn from women who generously offered ideas on what McNeil Consumer Healthcare could have done with the campaign that would have added value and increased brand appreciation.


Laura Fitton aka Pistachio wrote a detailed post that includes a few lessons for the Motrin marketing team:

But not tuning in while you launch a new tactic borders on gross negligence, in this day and age. Rolling out a new tactic is THE most important time to lend an ear.


From Sarah Browne, Guru of New, more lessons:

The lesson here for corporate America? This didn’t have to happen. All you have to do is ask and Moms will help — with your creative, your research, your buzz.

  • Third, I'd say join the conversation sooner than later. That is the challenge.

Neither Motrin or McNeil Consumer Healthcare have a presence in social media. However, there is the Johnson & Johnson blog - JNJ BTW and the social networking community Baby Center where they could tell their story. Perhaps Twitter is an option .. if they can put people resources against it

How do you reach out to over a thousand people who have written about you? Do you invite a handful of mommies to corporate headquarters and wine and dine them? How do you determine the "influencers?" No matter who you tap there will be hurt feelings.

How do you give back to a community? Maybe you make amens by identifying moms in need. Maybe you do something Big that is Important. Maybe you ask the community's help in identifying what that should be.

The big lesson that we continue to learn

Not stepping into social media especially when a significant, vocal, powerful segment of your market .. IS stepping into social media.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."  Charles Darwin

Update: McNeil Consumer Healthcare Responds to Amy Gates, Crunchy Domestic Goddess. Amy posted the email:

   Dear Amy -

    I am the Vice President of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare. I have responsibility for the Motrin Brand, and am responding to concerns about recent advertising on our website. I am, myself, a mom of 3 daughters.

    We certainly did not mean to offend moms through our advertising. Instead, we had intended to demonstrate genuine sympathy and appreciation for all that parents do for their babies. We believe deeply that moms know best and we sincerely apologize for disappointing you. Please know that we take your feedback seriously and will take swift action with regard to this ad. We are in process of removing it from our website. It will take longer, unfortunately, for it to be removed from magazine print as it is currently on newstands and in distribution.


    Kathy Widmer
    VP of Marketing - Pain, Pediatrics, GI, Specialty
    McNeil Consumer Healthcare

Update: 11-18-08; Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing apologizes on the home page of Motrin. Part 2 of Motirn: A Case Study in Social Media.


Life Happens


... life just happens.  However, every once in awhile when you round a corner, when you least expect it, you bump into something  that causes you to pause. No where is that more magical than in New York City.

Peny_park Big bronze pennies leading to whimsical art, created by local sculpture Tom Otterness, was one of the many little surprises that my friend Kate introduced me to during our walk along Rockefeller Park (Battery Park City) this weekend. I found it interesting that the name of this wee park is The Real World but the children call it Penny Park. I couldn't help but think .. what's real and what is play and how as adults we loose our sense of wonder and miss the moments of delight.

It's only a description of what I see in New York: the constant clash between people walking on the same street, living in the same world. I see small vignettes of meaning, but the connection between the events is beyond my understanding. Tom Otterness

Later that night Otterness' words would ring true for me. In a NYC taxi my aunt lost her purse. Panic set in as she was told by the 311 operator that due to the holiday weekend no one would be able to help her for 7 long days. Her lost money and cell phone were not so much a concern as her identification. How much of a hassle would it entail to get through TSA security? Life can be so complex.

The cabbie had found her purse. Taken the initiative to call several people from her phone list who in turn called family who was with my aunt. Happily ever after occurred when this good samaritan took time out from his job to return her pocket book.

I see small vignettes of meaning, but the connection between the events is beyond my understanding.

What might this have to do with marketing, or branding you may ask? In my way of thinking it is a reminder that be it taxi rides or art it's the people who we touch .. who we connect with who matter.  For me social media marketing is making that happen more so every day. Because business is personal.

Virtual Book Tour: A Conversation With Sybil Stershic


It is with great delight that Diva Marketing is a stop on the virtual book tour for my dear friend Sybil_stershic_2_2 Sybil Stershic's  first book .. Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care published by WME.

Take Aways: Easy to read, Sybil's passion for the subject is evident, From concept to how to do it, Smart, Elements of social media e.g., transparency, inclusion - breaking down silos, conversations critical, A must read for everyone in management and those who aspire to those positions.

I hope you enjoy reading my conversation with the author of Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care - Ms. Sybil Stershic.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The phrase “Internal Marketing” sounds so .. well warm and fuzzy .. not very strategic. However, from Chapter 1 you set the stage that Internal Marketing is grounded in ROI with this quote from Francis Hesselbein – “Dispirited, unmotivated, underappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.”  Let’s set the record right. On a high level, what is Internal Marketing?

Sybil Stershic: Internal Marketing is a strategic blend of marketing and human resources focused on taking care of employees so they can take care of customers. While that still sounds warm & fuzzy, nonetheless it’s critical because if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers!

Toby/Diva Marketing: How does it differ from Internal Branding?

Sybil Stershic: Internal Marketing is based on the self-reinforcing relationship between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, whereas Internal Branding is based on making the brand part of the organization’s operations to ensure employees deliver on the brand promise.  While management may use Internal Marketing to address employee and customer satisfaction and/or retention, internal branding is more likely to be used when launching a new brand or revitalizing an existing one.

Those differences aside, both approaches recognize “the brand walks around on two feet” and, as a result, are focused on engaging employees for marketing and organizational success. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: Your book not only details the many aspects of Internal Marketing but provides a tangible work path, from an Internal Marketing audit to where people can develop a customized strategy. a beginning audit to an Internal Marketing Action Plan. Looking at the Internal Marketing Audit checklist where do you find companies fall short? Why? and can you offer a few suggestions?

Sybil Stershic: Surprisingly, they fall short in remembering to communicate the organization’s overall goals and what’s expected of employees in helping achieve those goals – reinforcing  where each employee fits in the scope of the company and how the employee impacts its success.

For most companies, it’s an issue of time and, in some cases, inertia or neglect. The company gives out job descriptions to new employees, introduces them to the company in orientation, and then it’s back to business as usual. The company keeps plugging along and assumes that employees are up to speed with what’s happening in the organization. Meanwhile, face-to-face staff meetings have become almost nonexistent as they’ve been replaced by a barrage of e-mails.

Here’s what I suggest: managers need to develop a checklist of information that new employees need to know (especially in firms too small to offer a formal orientation) PLUS a checklist of regular information that all employees need to know, such as where the company is headed and what its strategy is for getting there, etc.

Managers who aren’t sure where to start with this can ask employees (those who have been with the company for a while and those who are relatively new): What information do you think new employees need to know about the organization? What do you know now that you wish you learned as a new employee?  What type(s) of information do you need to stay updated with what’s happening in our company?

Toby/Diva Marketing: What have you seen is the biggest challenge, from management’s viewpoint, in developing a successful Internal Marketing program?

Takingcarecover_2 Sybil Stershic: The reality is Internal Marketing is more than a program – it’s an ongoing effort. And it’s one that’s best implemented gradually rather than introduced as a new “flavor-of-the-month” management initiative.

I find it ironic that many companies who do Internal Marketing well aren’t necessarily aware that they’re using Internal Marketing. These are companies with a workplace culture and operations committed to the value of both customers AND employees.

For managers and employees who are not part of such companies, the challenge is to apply Internal Marketing despite members of management who don’t get what it’s all about. The good news is you can still have a positive impact by applying Internal Marketing on a “micro” basis – at the department or division level – if not throughout the organization.

Toby/Diva Marketing: You provide great examples of companies who are doing it right. Many are using recognition and rewards as part of their strategy. Sometimes a plaque or pizza party feels like a patronizing platitude. How can recognition and rewards be perceived by employees as a heartfelt “thank you?”

Sybil Stershic: It depends on the manager or management involved. Recognition is genuine when it’s given by a manager who is respected by employees.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s look at Internal Marketing from the employees’ viewpoint. How can employees contribute to the success of an Internal Marketing strategy?

Sybil Stershic: Great question, Toby, and it’s somewhat difficult to answer because Internal Marketing is really seamless.  As mentioned earlier, Internal Marketing is inherent in a workplace culture truly committed to customers and employees – beyond the usual lip service given to employees as a valuable “asset.”

Whether applied formally or informally, Internal Marketing includes any and all initiatives, activities, and programs that connect employees to three levels: to the organization, to customers, and to other employees. For example: orientation, recognition programs, customer or employee roundtables, training, departments coming together for a combined staff meeting, job shadowing, customer and/or employee appreciation events, etc.

Back to your question on how can employees contribute to the success of an Internal Marketing strategy.  They can best contribute by being open and honest with management regarding how they feel about the organization and what they can do to help it succeed; in addition, they should also share any feedback they get on how customers feel about the company and its brand(s).

Toby/Diva Marketing: It seems an exciting benefit of an Internal Marketing strategy is, call it a cross pollination among traditional corporate ‘silos.’ Would you please talk a bit about how that occurs?

Sybil Stershic: Earlier I talked about employees needing to know where they fit in the ‘big picture’ of the organization and how they can contribute to the company’s success. This is not done in a vacuum, however, as employees need to know how their work impacts others within the organization, including “internal customers” – employees whose needs must be met in order to serve the company’s customers. 

So I advocate opening up communications within as well as across departments. Some companies do this by encouraging employees to trade places or ‘shadow’ another employee to better understand that person’s job function. Departments can also host an “open house” (in real time or online) to showcase what they do. At a minimum, you can begin to break down organizational silos by opening up your staff meetings to other employees. (There I go again pushing staff meetings!) Seriously, such activities serve to create empathy and appreciation for other employees.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s wrap this up by talking about the next generation work force. How do you think the Millenniums will impact the future of Internal Marketing? Do they expect a different work environment then the XYers or the Boomers?

Sybil Stershic: I believe there will still be a need for Internal Marketing as the work environment and workforce continue to evolve. Here’s why.

Despite different generational attitudes in the workplace, companies will still need to engage their employees. And that’s where Internal Marketing comes in – enabling organizations to communicate and reinforce a sense of common purpose, a sense of belonging, and a sense of being part of something special, particularly in workplace that’s becoming increasingly insular. Internal Marketing will continue to be relevant as a ‘high touch’ people-centered management approach in a ‘high tech’ world.

Thanks, Toby, for allowing me to share this with your readers.
Thank *you* Sybil!

Special Discount! WME is kindly offering a 20% discount when you purchase Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care from the WME online book store. Please the code 107VBT on the checkout page.

On The Virtual Book Tour - Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care

Lisa Rosendahl, HR Thoughts, posted a great review.
Chris Bailey, Bailey Work/Play: The Alchemy of Soulful Work, shared insights in his review.
Kevin Burns, Burns Blogs Attitude, provides his views about about Taking Care of the People. 
Toby Bloomberg Diva Marketing (moi!) a conversation with Sybil Stershic
On June 6th, Becky Carroll,  Customers Rock!, gives us a two for one .. an interview and a review.
On June 9th, Paul Hebert, Incentive Intelligence, will review Sybil's new book.
On June 10, 2008, Phil Gerbyshak will post an interview on Slacker Manager

Diva Special Treat! The first person who drops a value-add -to-the-conversation comment (as determined by Sybil herself!) will win a copy of On The Virtual Book Tour - Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care.

More Sybil: Catch Sybil on the Diva Marketing Talks  podcast when she dished with me and Nettie Hartsock about being a new author.