Category Archives: Marketing

When guest posting can tarnish your brand (or The night a pro sports team bullied me)

I’ve been a fan of the Los Angeles Kings for as long as I can remember. My family went to games at the Fabulous Forum, enjoyed the sport, the players, and the team long before Wayne Gretzky joined the team, and cheered (and cried) when he led the team as close to the Stanley Cup as he did. Winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 was a moment I shared with my brothers and dad – from three countries, two U.S. states, and three time zones. But in one moment, my relationship with the brand was ruined. As a marketer, I know how hard it is to build those relationships. I now know, first hand, how easy it is to lose them too.

When a brand or individual has a guest poster, whether that’s on a blog or social media feeds, it is a representation of the brand and the person you’re handing the keys to, needs to reflect the brand. A fitness blogger wouldn’t let someone who brags about their inactivity guest post, because it simply doesn’t match with their brand. A recipe blogger wouldn’t let someone who doesn’t cook guest post. I could go on and on with examples. Making sure your community, who has signed up for something specific from you, knows about the guest poster and the content the guest is sharing matches with their expectations is key, or your community is given the right to disagree (publicly) and unfollow, without repercussions.

Sadly, my beloved team didn’t let that happen; they let a bully take over.

When the Los Angeles Kings tweeted that Kevin Ryder (of Kevin & Bean fame – a Los Angeles radio show that’s been on for more than 20 years and I find crude and not funny at all) would be taking over their feed during the second period of a playoff game, I replied to the team and said I’d unfollow for the duration. That’s my right. It wasn’t what I expected from the team, it felt like a stunt and I said so. As a fan, I expect news from the team and content about the game from their feed. I expressed that opinion and sadly, the fallout from my expression of my opinion has forever tarnished my relationship with the team.

Spending the second period of a hockey game getting vilified by someone I chose to disagree with, being blasted by people who disagree with me (and that’s their right), calling me names I can’t (and won’t) repeat here, and generally ruining my enjoyment of the game simply because I expressed an opinion, makes them bullies. It attaches the brand to those people, those names, the bullying, and will reflect on the brand, forever.

So if you’re thinking about guest posters for your channels or communities, think hard about who they are, if they fit with your brand, if the content they’re sharing is what your community expects, and whatever you do, DON’T let them attack people for deciding to tune out your content while they’re in charge. They are a reflection of your brand, your brand will suffer the damage if it goes awry, and rebuilding those relationships will likely cost you more than what you gained.

I’ve forever lost respect for the Los Angeles Kings, as a result of Kevin Ryder. I’ve forever lost the love I had for a team because they let a bully take over their feed and didn’t rein him in when he started attacking fans. It’s sad. It really, really bums me out, because the Kings have brought so much to my life over the years, that to lose it in an instant at the hands of someone who isn’t even a member of the team, feels like such a waste.

I know I’m just one fan and who cares if the team loses one fan, right? As a marketer, I know the team should care, because relationships with fans (or readers, or consumers) take time and a lot of effort to build and to have it ruined in an instant means all that effort was wasted. What it would take to rebuild the relationship, is likely more than it ever cost the brand to build it in the first place.

Now excuse me while I go cheer for the San Jose Sharks (oh wow, typing that just pains me).

POSTSCRIPT: It seems I’m not the only one who took issue with the Kings’ decision to hand the keys to the kingdom to Kevin Ryder: Deadspin didn’t think too highly of it. I’m small change compared to that, since I’m sure legions of fans are pissed at the team now. And rightfully so.

The Shoemaker’s Son (or what happens when a social media manager has a blog)

I started this post the other night while doing three things at once: eating dinner, paying bills, and cooking bacon for this soup (YUM!). Dinner wasn’t anything remarkable but I very nearly paid my phone bill twice because I wasn’t focusing on any one thing. The TV was on too, but what I was watching, I have no idea…it often just serves as background noise. But that multitasking to the point of distraction is so typical. I’m always juggling, I swear. If it isn’t work and school, it’s school and sleep, or work and the whisper of a social life i have these days.

With so much juggling going on, it’s no wonder that some things never get done. Like updating this space. It’s clear that my blog gets neglected, since the last time I posted was when I was off my bike for weeks after my crash. And that post was about my crash since I used the space to explain it to anyone who asked instead of having to repeat myself a hundred times. But back to the point: this blog really is the embodiment of the shoemaker’s son. I spend all day developing social media strategies and content for the brands I love at work, that by the time I get home and get the basics of life under control, I don’t have many (any?) brain cells left to pour into this space. It gets woefully neglected and I go four to six months between posts just because I create content all day, and coming home and doing it for a few hours at night isn’t relaxing.

The sad part is, I have a list of ‘posts I’d like to write’ scribbled on my bathroom mirror (with Crayola’s Window Markers that I ADORE!!). I’ll see the list before I get in the shower, and actually write snippets of posts in my head in the shower, but by the time I get to a point where I can either capture the thought or have a clear enough head to focus, it’s gone.

So how do you find the time to update your own personal space when you do it for others all day long? What motivates you? How do you make sure it’s a priority (or at least getting some of your brain space) when there are so many other things that need to be done? Please share your tips, links to your own posts, and ideas because I clearly need some help.

And when you come by and the most recent post is six months old, yeah…that’s cause this blog belongs to someone who works in social media.

A vocal minority killed the logo star

So today’s lesson in social media comes via The Gap, you know…The Gap, Baby Gap, Gap Kids, Gap jeans, Banana Republic and Old Navy.  Just last week, Gap introduced a new logo (Google Search: New Gap Logo).  Gone was the iconic blue box:

 

 

We now had to live with something ‘modern, sexy, and cool’:

 

 

Fine. Big deal. People didn’t like it.  Personally, I wasn’t in love with it, but does my opinion really matter? No, I’m not an investor (at least, I *might* be, but I don’t pay enough attention to my mutual funds to know if I am or not).  I’m also not much of a Gap shopper anyway – used to be, but not in a long time.  I’m also not an employee, or someone important enough to be asked for their opinion. 

But the self-appointed logo police started talking about it online and derided the new logo.  Chatter was all over the place, people were making fake Gap logos using their names (isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?!), and there was probably more conversation about the brand in the last week than there’s been in YEARS.  Even if some of it was negative, anyone actually engaged in social media should realize negative conversation happens and can be expected.  Without having access to The Gap’s reporting (were they even doing so?), it’s hard to say how much was positive to negative, but some negative conversation should have been anticipated (and a good team would have responses ready).  And besides, who was commenting – was it really Gap shoppers?  This conversation actually got me to think, “Huh, I haven’t been to The Gap in years, wonder if they have anything I’d like?”

And let’s remember, people weren’t sure about Twitter when it first got started. Or automobilesOr women wearing pants.  These things didn’t exactly go over very well in the beginning. 

So happened?  What went wrong?  Why did The Gap issue this statement last night?

Ultimately, we’ve learned just how much energy there is around our brand. All roads were leading us back to the blue box, so we’ve made the decision not to use the new logo on gap.com any further. (Gap, Inc. Press Release) 

The Gap caved!  They folded (to quote @adamkmiec).  They gave in to people trashing their new logo. 

Why?  Because occasionally, social media runs amok. 

The vocal minority became a little too self-important and entitled.  Does a store logo really impact whether or not you shop there?  Did all of the people who commented online really matter?   

I think if Gap had truly listened to the ENTIRE conversation, they probably would have seen the “outrage” stemmed from a small group of very loud individuals.  As @robsaker pointed out to me, something like 80% of consumers didn’t even know the logo had changed. 

Last Thursday, three days after Gap unveiled the logo, Ad Age asked Ipsos Observer to take the pulse of consumers on the issue. The independent research company polled consumers overnight Thursday, garnering just over 1,000 responses by 10 a.m. Friday.  

All told, just 17% of consumers were even aware Gap had changed its logo — some 80% said they had no idea the logo had changed (the remaining 3% said they didn’t know what Gap was). (Ad Age)

So does the online conversation really represent the opinion of all Gap stakeholders?  As Tech Crunch points out when they asked “What did it take to get The Gap to reverse its logo redesign?”, there was a lot of negative stuff out there.  But this is only one side of the conversation.  The other side simply hasn’t been discussed – those people who A. don’t care, or B. don’t think they can object to a company (they don’t own) making a strategic decision or C. actually, maybe kinda liked the new logo.  I understand, The Gap may be worried about the immediate hit they took in the stock market.

Yeah, it was ugly.  But was it really due to the logo or was it due to a weak August sales report? The cause of the stock dip is not anything I can (or want to) diagnose.  From a larger, business perspective, I think The Gap’s investors (and therefore The Gap) should be worried about something other than their logo and the conversation surrounding it.  If I was “The Street,” or did the investing/stock market sort of thing (never, ever), I’d be watching The Gap closely and/or selling it off.  To me, this makes management look weak.  It makes them look soft.  It makes them look like they don’t know what they’re doing.  And in today’s economy, even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you certainly need to act like you do.   

So will I reconsider my thought above about shopping at The Gap?  You betcha.  I think they’re a weak company, who isn’t listening to the entire conversation and who gives in to a small, but vocal minority.  And there are plenty of other clothing retailers out there with strong leadership I’d rather support. So does The Gap owe me anything or need to do anything for me?  No, not at all.  I’m not the vocal minority who believes just because I say it, it should be.  

In social media, you need to be listening.  You need to know what’s being said, and often more importantly, what’s not being said.  And if The Gap had taken a step back and looked at the entire conversation, do I think we would be having this conversation?  Would I be cursing @bsniz for driving me back to the computer on Monday night to translate a scattered email conversation into coherent thought/a post?  Nope. We’d have a new Gap logo and lots of conversation, positive AND negative, around a leadership team willing to do what they had to do for a brand that (IMO) needed a makeover to effectively compete in today’s retail environment. 

THAT probably would have driven sales and really given The Street and consumers something to talk about.