Social Media Marketing Musings .. What If ..


Silhouette This morning I was standing in line at the post office when a senior women caught my eye. Her long beige checkered dress reached almost to the floor, her yellow flats would not have made their way into a Miss Meghan post but it was her hair carefully placed in an old fashioned hair net that caused me to pause in my thoughts.

Until the man in front of me turned to complain about the long wait. Although his white shirt was slightly damp from the Georgia humid morning air it still had the look of being freshly pressed.

Our conversation broke when we both turned to look at a little boy who was so very carefully carrying a large package to the clerk. His mother reached down to place it on the counter for him. Then she took his hand and together they left the post office.

Four random people conducting business in one place. Strangers for sure whose lives were unlikely to cross paths again. I wondered if it would have made a difference to any of them if they knew the clerk behind the counter. I wondered if they would have bought more stamps, shipped more packages or been more patient if they had read a Postal employee's blog. I wondered if it would have colored their world if the United States Post Office Service had a social media network. I don't know. Maybe yes .. probably not.

Social media does not work if there is not a common interest.

A mass marketing USPS blog or social media network would probably fall flat. But what if .. what if I wondered if the USPS created philatelic blog or a Facebook page for stamp collectors. Wonder if the USPS knows there are at least 65 Facebook groups about stamp collecting. What if .. what if I wondered if the USPS created a travel social network for parents where they could bring their their children.

The United States Postal Service does not need a SEO strategy nor does it need more awareness. However, it might benefit from building relationships with its customers. It might benefit from a look at Becky Carroll's blog Customers Rock or Stowe Boyd's post about web culture and relationships or the insights from Jenny Orr, a college student, who understands how the next generation will related to brands. What if .. what if I wondered if the USPS thought a little differently.

Img_0049jpg_parade__3_2 Ever watch a parade not from ground level but high above in a sky scraper? As appears to be tradition, yesterday the rains came down as the fun and colorful Atlanta Gay Pride Parade began. Instead of watching the festivities on the street Don and Peggy graciously opened their 16th floor home, in the newest of Atlanta's glass condos - The View, for an impromptu party. Doing things differently. Perception is reality.

My experience standing on line ?? in line ?? at the post office set off musing about taking the USPS "Social" .. but it could have been any brand, any company, any organization. Musings .. can take you to a place where you color outside the lines .. and that Girlfriend is a very good thing. Just ask Liz Strauss about social media and  crayons!  


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When Tom Peters asked the steel company in Ohio how they could function with 1200 employees, no job descriptions, and make a profit -- when all other US Steel companies were dying -- the president of the company said, "We trying a new management strategy . . . we talk to each other." :)

Great post, Toby!

Posted by: Liz Strauss on Jul 7, 2008 8:29:08 PM

great post Toby, I thoroughly enjoyed it and can relate to it. They lack the human touch. Wish they were more like Doug from IPS (King o' Queens anyone?).

Posted by: Prashant Kaw on Jul 7, 2008 10:57:29 PM

so @Liz .. the simplest of strategies are the most effective and (sadly) the most revolutionary.

@Prashant - ah so many lessons we can learn from Sitcoms .. really we can. Never know where the next spark of imagination will come from.

Posted by: Toby on Jul 8, 2008 12:35:12 AM

Wonderful post Toby!
It all comes back to the conversation - and learning to listen.
And thank you Liz, that comment could go a long way in some newsrooms these days ...

Posted by: Charlotte-Anne Lucas on Jul 8, 2008 10:22:27 AM

Great post! It's a really fascinating way to look at social media planning. So many times we get caught up in the process of the social networking outreach that we forget to take it outside the box (which is truly is, anyway - marketing and communicating outside the box).

Thanks again for sharing and making us all put our thinking caps on a little more!

Posted by: Meredith on Jul 11, 2008 12:49:10 AM

It all comes back to engagement, no mater what tool you use. In my small town (where my wife and I have lived for six months) the Postmaster knows who we are and we have had several conversations over the counter. When Istarted my small business and my checks were delivered to the wrong PO Box (check company misprint) the person who received them brought them back in and it urned into a discussion about the name of the biz (see my website). When I next came in to the PO, the postmaster and I had a very nice chat about what I was doing, and now it seems everyone in town knows about it.
Kind of a social, non-media marketing...

Posted by: @Stephen Productivity in Context on Jul 12, 2008 5:47:10 AM

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