#twitterbirth - the birth of a social media baby

contractions have already started (5:15 CST). #twitterbirth

With that post I began the process of updating the twitterverse on the pending arrival of Torry and my new son, Logan. In addition to keeping a running journal on twitter of short updates I continually updated my Facebook status for our friends and family.

Why did I do this? I am not really sure.

It helped calm my nervous tension - it helped connect so many people to one of the biggest moments of our lives - it gave us something else to focus on - it gave me a personal log of how I was feeling at any given time during the 23 hour process - and there is a lot of downtime in that 23 hour process.

But in truth, to me the biggest point was the connectivity. I was able to push out messages and emotional status and I had many people (mostly on Facebook) thanking me for the updates - I am sure there were just as many wanting me to shut up, but the great thing about social media is that you don't have to act on a conversation unless you want to.

I first became aware of the #twitterbirth hashtag on August 7 in a post from @icelander as he and his wife were preparing for the birth of their child. I thought it was a cool idea so I decided to give it a try - if it seemed odd or intrusive I would have stopped - but it didn't, it was actually pretty fun.

In the process I also read about other people in the twitter world having babies at the same time, some examples were @kellytirman and the birth in the first family of twitter @ev and @sara.

There are so many uses for social media, but in the end it is about connecting people and sharing what is important or valuable to you - to me, the birth or #twitterbirth of Logan is as important as it gets.

Welcome to the world Logan, you have a great big brother in Bailey and the worlds greatest mother. I am already in love.


I said I was done, but I guess I am back for more

OK, you know it, I have slight twinges of hippie – shocker. And I am going back to a topic I thought I would never touch again on this blog… diapers.

Why am I doing it again, because I think when studies are done and presented surrounded by ads of one of the key beneficiaries, I just don’t like it. Even as a marketer.

What am I talking about? A WebMD piece that claims to be solving the diaper dilemma, but did they?

The biggest issue I have with the piece is that it does what other industry sponsored pieces have done – hype up disposable advantages (in this case diaper rash and day care usage) and basically poo poo’s (heh) any advantage gained in using cloth.

The article, or center, is funded by Huggies. According to WebMD center funding means:

Content under this heading is funded by a third-party and independently created or chosen by WebMD. This content is subject to the WebMD editorial review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the supporting company except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the WebMD sponsor policy.

OK, I can be cool with that – you say it is balanced and objective by your editorial review – but it is funded by a third party – in this case one of the big winners in the piece. :/

Now since it is WebMD of course they don’t want to touch on the financial differences in choosing cloth vs. disposable – I can look past that. But the fact still remains that this cannot be seen as objective analysis the way it is presented.

On the topic of diaper rash, the winner for disposables, only one pediatrician is quoted? Where is the actual data to back this? That is what people want, not just opinion. In the end it may be true, but at least be fair in the assessment. I know from the experience when our first born was in diapers – he came home from day care with diaper rash often. He wore disposables. Does this make it fact that kids who use disposables and go to daycare will get diaper rash? No, obviously. So I won’t try to make people believe that, if I had scientific fact to back it then I would.

But this is not even my main point – my point is this information is pushed out as fact because there are big bucks supporting it. If WebMD had published this piece without tying Huggies name to it I might have given it more credit – but they didn’t, so I can’t.

Like I said in an early post on this topic, and to its credit the article does too… this choice is really up to the parent. People have different lifestyles, different values and different views. This is a good thing – but if we do want to make a choice and want to research it first it would be nice to have noncommercial examples to help inform us.

Really, I think this will be my last diaper post ever (until I get another bug up my butt that is.)


The Danger of rushing in to Social Media

As an advocate of how social media can be effective when incorporated into a corporation’s larger marketing program, it is painful for me to see when companies do it wrong.

A recent example of this was Marsh supermarkets and its Facebook Coupon. Marsh sent a $10 coupon to their Facebook Fans thinking that they would forward it to a few people – the result, mass produced coupons and some being sold for individual profit… Question here, what is the going rate for a $10 coupon?

As a result Marsh has decided not to honor the coupons resulting in an expected backlash. A Marsh statement reveals that this is one of the company’s initial initiatives to use social media as marketing.

This should serve as a lesson to any corporation jumping into social media (be it Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc) – make sure you have a solid plan in place, and like all marketing initiatives think through the campaign completely before launching it to the public. Something KFC hopefully learned from the Oprah debacle.

Social Media is hot, and it is smart for corporations to get in on it now… but only after you have decided what your desired outcomes will be. I think the Marsh coupon idea was a smart idea, but in my opinion they should have limited it to the actual Fans.

I don’t think Marsh should suspend future Social Media plans, but I think they need to realize the power of viral before launching the next campaign. I also think this should serve as a lesson for any other company wanting to jump the gun without having a plan in place.


Brand Bombing on Twitter

This past Friday I came across an interesting question on LinkedIn posted by Emily Luiz - The question was: Calling attention to negative review of competitor product via Twitter: Cool or not cool?

The post in question was tweeted by Red Mango and said the following: "OMG - The New Worst Drink in America Cold Stone Creamery PB&C Shake, with 2,010 calories + 131 grams of fat!!!!" The tweet linked to this article in Men's Health.

I will admit that I have never heard of Red Mango prior to this, so in a way it did a good job by raising awareness, heck, they are getting a blog post by me out of it - but, the question Emily posted is a very good one, is this a cool strategy or not?

A look at the answers to the questions shows that people view this as a bad move and in poor taste. But is it any worse than when Subway calls out Burger King and McDonalds in their ads, and on their napkins - spelling out that Subway is the much healthier choice and if you chose the other options you are basically a cow?

For the most part we accept this tactic when it is used in traditional advertising, of course Subway never starts and ad with OMG or calls a Big Mac the Worst Sandwich in America (that would be a straight out lie, at least to this dough boy.)

But is social media different? Is a move like this a poor attempt at a brand bomb? And in a case like this are you actually doing more harm to your brand than that of your rival?

Social media, twitter in this specific example, has become a place for brands to interact directly with consumers and prospects - it has changed advertising from interruption based to an actual dialogue where the end user has a voice - The brand takes on a living breathing role, there is a person running these accounts and it is no longer just a pushed message from the faceless corporation - that is why this specific brand bomb resonates.

I am sure the folks at Red Mango had to love the fact that a rival got called out, a few high fives at corporate were probably had - but to post the link to twitter, from your account, directly tied to your brand? That does hit a little low - because it is no longer the cold faceless corporation and an ad agency - it is your social persona, and your persona just came off as kind of a dick.

In reality, is a move like this any worse than what Horizon Group did when they sued a tenant over a tweet? To me they both are poor examples of how to participate in the message community, one example happened to get picked up by the MSM, the other just kind of passed through the Twitter silo.

I think this does give an opportunity to open the dialogue on what should be expected out of brands as they migrate to social media. Let me know what you think - was this brand bomb laid out by Red Mango a smart move? Or is it in poor taste and an example not to be followed?