5 Lessons for Old Marketers After @Applebees #SpiritedChef

Attention Era, Bravery, Changing Times, Creativity, Failure, Marketing, Social Media No Comments »

If you haven’t heard of the #SpiritedChef campaign from Applebee’s, click here to learn more.

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Applebee’s launched the Spirited Chef social campaign during their holiday menu.  It’s a brilliant social media play, and I think “old marketers” can learn something from it.

Old is just a state of mind.

Applebee's Spirited Chef Video - Minecraft Box Mask

They hired 19-time world champion flair bartender Christian Delpech to help them make the best video ever by their fans.   Their growing online community was invited to tweet suggested tricks, stunts, costumes, and pretty much anything else they’d like to see this amazing performer do, using the #SpiritedChef hashtag.

After a couple weeks, the #SpiritedChef hashtag has gotten millions and millions of impressions on Twitter and Facebook.  Many suggestions were made and the film crew headed out to Las Vegas to film the video the fans wrote.

Here it is the original video:

Here is the sequel:

I was honored to direct the video production and became fascinated as I watched the social media strategy unfold under the brilliant guidance of Jill McFarlandJonathon Brewer and the BTC Revolutions team (Applebee’s digital agency).

Here are five thoughts for “old marketers” that might need a little nudging into the new era.

 

1) Fear Will Lead to Failure

Our world is changing so fast.  If you want to keep up, you have to do things that are unknown and unproven.  Risk is part of leadership and leadership in a changing world is the only way to survive as a brand (just ask Circuit City).

Besides that, people are weird.  If you want to relate to people, sometimes you have to be a little weird too.

One of the things that Applebee’s does exceedingly well is keep an open mind and interact with their customers in a personal manner, no matter what sort of online sub-culture they belong too.

There’s a very large group of men that enjoy My Little Ponies.  They’re called Bronies. By some estimates, there are about a million of these gentlemen out there.

The Chili’s restaurant group decided they wanted to engage with their Brony customers and designed a Chili’s My Little Pony.  They then tweeted it out asking what were the Bronies’ favorite things to eat at Chili’s.  The responses got ugly and Chili’s quickly retreated and deleted the tweet.

Now nobody was happy.

Chili's Tweet about Bronies - My Little Ponies - MLP Bronies

Later on, Applebee’s had a customer ask if the Spirited Chef liked ponies and they engaged in their typical personal fashion.  The Brony tweet made it into the above video.

The community of Bronies responded and 12,000+ views came from blog posts on My Little Ponies related sites.  One group in Manhattan even went so far as to throw a party at the local Applebee’s to thank them for not being afraid of the topic like Chili’s was.

This is just one interesting example of success due to “brand bravery”.  When you watch the video, you see all sorts of other sub-cultures involved from Minecraft and unicorns to Corey Pieper and One Direction fans.

Lesson learned:   Don’t be afraid to engage with your customers on their turf, even if their turf involves a little pony. 

 

2) Keep Things Simple & Specific

Applebee’s tweeted many times about this project and I noticed that some types of tweets got more responses than others.  More people (20 people in top tweet vs 3 people in bottom one) added suggestions after the call to action made a specific ask (second tweet below).

People don’t really care about much, so don’t ask for much thought unless you have a huge payoff.  Keep it simple.  Keep it specific.

Lesson learned:   It’s okay to vary your posts and get more specific if you’re not getting the volume of responses you want. 

 

3) Transparency Builds Trust & Ownership

To add a level of transparency, the group was streaming live video from behind the scenes during production.  Not only did this combat the usual “camera trick” conspiracy theorists, but it made the hundreds of people watching the live broadcast feel more involved.  They got a chance to see instant replays, as well as interact with the Applebee’s brand on Twitter.

Feel free to watch the recording of the production:

Luckily we didn’t make too many mistakes, but even if we did, we’d probably get a lot of leniency from a world that appreciates honesty and transparency.

Lesson learned:   You build trust and ownership from customers when you open up and share the process. 

 

4) The Future is Social

TV commercials don’t usually translate well to social media and YouTube because they are one-way messages in a two-way social media world.  People expect to be engaged and entertained in social channels and if you do it right you’ll get tons of exposure through earned media and the subscription base you’ll build.

Keep pushing traditional broadcast commercials on your YouTube channel and you’ll keep getting the same poor results.  After switching styles, Applebee’s saw subscriptions rise by 20% in the first month of the #SpiritedChef campaign.

As long as they keep creating social video content, they’ll have those fans for years to come.  No advertising dollars needed.

More about that in this article.

 

5) Social Networks Aren’t Transferable

Despite having 5,000,000 fans on Facebook and 250,000 followers on Twitter, this video by Applebee’s only got 100,000 views in the first week.  Why’s that?

Each network has it’s own flavor and quirks.  On Facebook people statistically don’t like to leave the ecosystem when they’re browsing.  They may watch the video, but won’t generally click to the native YouTube page to comment or give a thumbs up.

This can get frustrating.

Why then do tons of YouTube video channels have thousands of comments?  It’s because they’ve built a YouTube specific community that waits for their videos, that comments on their videos, that shares their videos with others in the YouTube ecosystem.

Lesson learned:   In order to consistently get lots of views on YouTube videos without a huge advertising budget, you need to build a community of people that watch videos.  That takes time, and it takes consistently great videos that make people want more.

Applebee’s is finally on their way.

Think like them night,

Aaron @Biebert

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3 Gifts for the Entrepreneur in Your Life

8pm Warriors, Attention Era, Family, Giving, Goals, Loneliness 14 Comments »

What to get the entrepreneur in your life?

For my birthday (which is today) or Christmas, loving family and friends sometimes ask what they should “get” me.  Last year, I asked for support in digging a well for a village in Africa.  This year I’m asking for something closer to home.

I get to work with some of the most talented video artists on the planet.  There are even more waiting eagerly in the wings, demo reels in hand.  It’s my job to keep them busy and it’s never easy.

For my birthday, I’m asking my friends and family for their help.

Below are three ways you can help me and other entrepreneurs chase their dreams:

Aaron at Milwaukee Art Museum

 

1) Seek to understand their chase

 

Just like it’s nice to understand that a farmer needs rain or an athlete needs to win, entrepreneurs appreciate being understood too.

Leadership can be lonely.

Many of them are risking their retirement, friendships, and health to follow their dreams.  If you care about them, join them on the journey.  Follow their business on Facebook.  Subscribe to their blog.  Have discussions with them more than once a year on their birthday.

(Personal note:  this is my life goal if you want to understand what drives me every day)

 

2) Share their story

 

In the Attention Era, even well funded marketing campaigns get lost in the shuffle. Small business owners don’t have a prayer without help from their family, friends, and happy customers.

If you see a friend of yours doing remarkable stuff, share it.  We all lose when we let great work go unnoticed.

(Personal note:  for my friends looking to help, it will make my day if you share one of our videos with your network)

 

3) Refer people to them

 

In the “old days”, it would have been unheard of to travel to another town’s general store if your own town had what you needed.  We have to stick together and referrals are one way to do it.

Since I don’t sell to consumers, I personally don’t ask my friends or family to buy our video production services.  However, I do love when my friends tell their marketing friends about me.

Many people prefer to buy from people they know and trust.  Help your friends know and trust your other friends.

  • Make introductions
  • Write Linkedin recommendations
  • Encourage people to shop locally

 

The entrepreneur in your life doesn’t need more sweaters, ties, or birthday cards.

They need you…to care more…not just on their birthday.

Give a great gift tonight,

Aaron @Biebert

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You can’t change where people look. All you can do is move.

Attention Era, Goals, Leadership Thoughts, Marketing, Social Media 7 Comments »

Call me crazy, but it still irritates me when people don’t see me or respond when I’m trying to get their attention.

Time to look in the mirror.

 

I’m not proud of it, but I miss a lot of important people or things that are right in front of me too.

8pm Warrior - You Cant Change Where People Are Looking

It’s the same with your potential customers, employees, or others that really ought to know about you or your company.

Why are they ignoring you?

Why won’t people respond?

Why aren’t they seeing the updates, blog posts, tweets, videos, emails, etc you’ve worked so hard to create?

It’s because they’re not looking in your direction.

For better or worse, I sometimes miss what’s in front of me because I’m looking too far ahead. Other times, I’m intensely focused on something close.  Sound familiar?

In the same way, your customers might be focused on cute cat videos instead of your funny commercial. Your email might not be returned because they’re looking forward to vacation.

We all have blinders on.

The key is doing something about it:

  1. If they are focused on the future, write and share big picture content
  2. If they are intensely focused on solving a problem, help them out
  3. If they are addicted to cute cats, put cute cats in your videos
  4. If they are focused on vacation, talk about their vacation pictures

In the Attention Era, you can’t change where people are looking.  All you can do is move.

That’s why the best leaders are always moving.

Thanks for seeing me tonight,

Aaron @Biebert

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Thoughts Are Not Actions!

Attention Era, Bravery, Changing Times, Failure, Goals, Motivation 18 Comments »

“I should have dinner with her.”

“I really ought to spend time on that.”

“I must stop doing this.”

It seems like our society has never had more thoughts and less action.  Instead of action, let’s tweet our thoughts or Facebook poke our loved ones.  Right?

Here’s one fellow 8pm Warrior’s brilliant thoughts:

“The reason I think life gets harder as we get older is that we get used to thinking that a thought is an action.  We lose spontaneity.

When we were little we had a thought and ran out and did it. But we learned to sit still and be careful.  

But when you learn to be careful about some things, you become careful about most things, even important things.”

- Betsy Cross on the “It Doesn’t Get Easier” post

 

Don’t wait until someone dies for a visitation.

Don’t wait for the perfect time to do what you love.

Don’t wait.

Do something crazy tonight,

Aaron @Biebert

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3 Reasons the “ROI of Social Media” Debate Continues

Attention Era, Changing Times, Leadership Thoughts, Marketing, Social Media 23 Comments »

After years of case studies showing social media’s power to connect people (customers, partners, and employees), you would think the debate would be settled.

It’s not.

In fact, it’s just beginning in some companies…now in a new way.

While nearly everyone is probably willing to admit there is some value to social media and that “it works”, a new question is arising.

Exactly how much is it worth?

This video parodies what’s going on in some companies as the new year begins.

How do situations like this happen?

Sometimes decision makers are not educated enough on what they were buying, had their expectations set too high, or don’t have patience to see it through.  It might even be a combination of all three.

Here are three big reasons why leaders are beginning a new round of debates about the value of social media in the marketing mix:

1) Poor Education


Leaders are not being educated on what they are buying, how long it will take, or what it actually does.

Sometimes, overzealous marketing leaders used the “Everyone’s Doing It” pitch and got approval without explaining that social media is a new kind of war, not a single battle.

2) Wrong Expectations

Have you heard or said things like:

  • “Social media is free advertising!”
  • “Social media will make sales explode!”
  • “Let’s make it go viral!”
  • “We won’t have to spend money on other expensive marketing routes.”

In reality, using social media is only one part of building a modern business.  Setting expectations too high, too fast, or too easy makes for trouble.

3) Lack of Patience

Some leaders have been properly educated with correct expectations, but just don’t have the patience.  Their ADHD leadership tendencies make them lose focus or patience and they withdraw support so they can focus on their next great strategy.

 

Social media is not a strategy.  It is a method of communicating.

Communication can be good.  Communication can be bad.  However, for most industries there is no way to calculate return on investment of communication.

It is everything.

If you choose to do social media poorly, you are choosing to do business poorly.

Don’t stop something you’ve started because you’re impatient or afraid.  This social media stuff isn’t going away and your competitors are only spending more time and money each quarter on finding ways to connect with your clients.  Ignore it for too long, and your clients may begin to ignore you too.

Finish the debate tonight,

Aaron@Biebert

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When You Have Someone’s Attention: Don’t Waste It!

Attention Era, Changing Times, Family, Leadership Thoughts, Marketing, Social Media, Time 6 Comments »

A couple quick thoughts at the end of the week.

Humans are no longer limited by a lack of information.  We’ve never had more Wikipedia articles, Google search results, emails, updates, and every other way we get information when we need it.

We even have Siri or other artificial intelligence like Big Blue to do the work for us.

Information is not the problem.

 

We are now limited by the amount of attention we have available.

When you earn someone’s attention, you shouldn’t waste it.  It’s precious!

 

Does your page respect people’s time?

  • Do you dominate Facebook with a ton of trivial posts?  We only have so much time and you’re wasting it.  We will unfollow or hide you.
  • Why are our comments awaiting moderation on your blog? You have a spam filter.
  • Are you deleting Facebook comments that are unfavorable to your brand?  You are asking for trouble.  Comments will go somewhere.
  • We won’t do business with you if you ignore questions or comments on your page.

 

Why are your customers waiting?

  • I spent 3 hours on the phone with AT&T yesterday.  Now I’m switching to Verizon.
  • My favorite grocery store has no parking.  I now have a new favorite.
  • Sam’s Club always has 10 people in every line.  I’m not renewing my membership.

 

How are you one on one?

  • Are you constantly checking your phone?
  • Are you dragging the conversation down by spend too much time on meaningless stuff?
  • Are you actually listening?
  • Do you spam your contacts with unnecessary emails or other deferred communication?
  • Do you say stuff just for the sake of saying it?

 

For the sake of humanity, we must stop.

 

The developed world is out of time.  Relationships are suffering.  People are overwhelmed.

If you want to keep people’s attention in the Attention Era, you must respect it.

It starts by not wasting it.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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3 Types of Human Communication

Attention Era, Changing Times, Failure, Family, Leadership Thoughts, Loneliness, Marketing, Social Media 16 Comments »

Are we truly communicating? Are you engaging people?

Humans are not at their best when sending and receiving messages that are either delayed or blindly broadcast into “the stream”, desperately hoping someone will see it.

It is inefficient, impersonal, and too easy to lose, ignore, or forget in an Attention Era where each day means more new signals.

It will kill our society.

How are you doing business?  How are you leading people?

Here are three ways we can choose to communicate.  As the list progresses, communication degrades and becomes less effective.

 

Concurrent Communication

  • Personal Meeting
  • Skype / FaceTime / Google Hangout
  • Phone
  • Instant Message Conversation

 

Deferred Communication

  • Personal YouTube message
  • Voicemail
  • Text Message
  • Email
  • Facebook Message
  • Social Mentions (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.)
  • Comment
  • Twitter DM
  • Mail
  • Telegraph

 

Broadcast Communication

  • Bullhorn yelling on corner
  • Sandwich boards
  • TV Commercial / Online Video Ad
  • YouTube Video
  • Radio
  • Pins on Pinterest
  • Billboards
  • Twitter Update
  • Facebook Update
  • Social Check-ins
  • Smoke Signals

 

If people are really your people, you need to talk.  Real friends don’t spend years trading delayed snippets of communication with each other.

Communication is more than words. True engagement is harder than you think.

Engage in real communication tonight,

Aaron@Biebert

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News Flash: Pinterest Isn’t Just For Girls Anymore

Attention Era, Business Opportunities, Changing Times, Marketing, News, Social Media 37 Comments »

Pinterest is being invaded by men.  It’s true.

Ready or not, here men come!

 

I first heard about Pinterest.com from a woman who was telling my wife that she and her daughter are addicted to “pinning” things and looking at “pins” all day.  Since I never want to miss the next big thing (addictive is indicative), my ears perked up.

That is until they started talking about the cute hairstyles, pretty dresses, and neat craft ideas they found on Pinterest.

I took a pass and let my wife be the pioneer on this one.
Pin It

However, about a month ago I started paying attention again after hearing that it was the #3 social network for time spent, #5 traffic driving social network (beat out Google+), and had growth of 400+% in the last six months.  On Tuesday, Hitwise tweeted that Pinterest’s visits have grown from 10 million to 17 million in just this month!

I also started noticing more visits to 8pmWarrior.com from Pinterest.com, so I did some research.

This is what I found

 

There are men on Pinterest?!

 

I don’t ever want to be a latecommer to the next big party.  Plus, I was an art minor in college and enjoy graphic design & video production.  Many people (all women) told me that Pinterest was right up my alley.

So I signed up.  Yep.

Once on the inside, I found great infographics, inspiring quotesinteresting real estate, funny stuff, and other suitable “pins” for men.

I also learned how to braid hair too.  (You can’t win ‘em all)

I might get kicked out of the men’s club for sharing these names, but to prove that I’m not the only guy on Pinterest, I’ve assembled the entire list of other men on Pinterest:

If you’re a guy on Pinterest, please post a link to your profile in the comment section below so I can follow you.  The more men I hang out with, the less feminine I feel.

In all seriousness though, I strongly believe this will become something big.

 

As an entrepreneur, I see the potential for businesses.  As a marketing thinker, I see the potential for exposure.  In the Attention Era, I see the best stuff in the world getting attention.

Essentially, it’s a visual version of twitter.  Instead of links, there are pictures to click.

17,000,000 people went on it this month, which puts it in the top 10 social networks in the world.

Pinterest is going to be big.  If I was you, I would check it out.

It isn’t just for girls anymore.

If you need an invite to Pinterest (it’s still private), I’ll send invites to email subscribers of my blog since I already have your email address.  Let me know if you need one.

If you’d like to connect on Pinterest, my profile is http://pinterest.com/abiebert.

Try something new tonight,

Aaron@Biebert

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