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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Are You Proud of Your Battle Scars Yet?

8pm Warriors, Bravery, Failure, Motivation 4 Comments »

I had dinner with my brilliant friend and fellow Milwaukeean Phil Gerbyshak the other night and he showed me the largest scrape I’ve ever seen. It went from his hand up the entire length of his arm…biking accident in Portland. (Wouldn’t be surprised if my buddy Robert Caruso had something to do with it, he’s trouble.)

8pm Warrior - Proud of Scars

It made me think.

 

It’s amazing how people are so proud of their scars once the pain is gone. I know I am.

I immediately dove into the lake the other day after my phone fell out of my pocket and off the boat. I somehow managed to grab it in the depths of the lake before it sunk to the bottom.  The phone was ruined, but I was so proud of it when I came back to the surface.

Proud of my broken phone?

 

Someday will I be proud of my big failures?  Will I be proud of the many mistakes I’ve made?

I’m not sure.  Some of these events are still so painful.  However, I will be proud I kept going…kept fighting forward.  The scars will be proof.  They will remind me of where I’ve been, who I am, and how I got to where I am now.

Precious reminders.

 

If you’re still in pain over your failures, I wanted to drop you this note tonight and tell you that someday you’ll be proud of what you’ve gone through.

We are warriors.  These battles we fight are painful.  Most quit.  We get hurt.  We have scars.

Be proud of them tonight,

Aaron @Biebert

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You (Yes, You) Will Change Today

Changing Times, Failure, Leadership Thoughts, Marketing, Social Media 2 Comments »

Some people fight change.  They think it helps them avoid losing their way, falling, or failing.

8pm Warrior - Move or Get Buried

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Right?

Wrong.

I look at my competitors who are still using elevator music, editing on outdated software, or shooting with old cameras and these words come to mind:

“Today, you’re either going to get better or you’re going to get worse, but you’re not going to stay the same.  So which is it going to be?”

- Joe Paterno

In a world of constant innovation and progress, staying the same is getting worse. Your position is slipping, even if you’re holding still. Everybody is changing.

Getting better is the only way to not get worse.

Lately, I’ve wondered if I’m slipping a bit myself.  I’ve been seeing a lot of time-lapse imagery in TV shows and movies such as House of Cards, Gold Rush, and Art of Flight. We’ve used time-lapse before, but not at the level I’m seeing out there now.

Regardless of what industry we work in, we’re all going to change.  That’s a fact.

Today I’m choosing to get better.  I’m saying goodbye to the wife and kids, jumping on a plane to one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth, and we are going to master the art of time-lapse for our clients.

I want to be the best, and I need to keep moving forward.

(Here’s the link to the video if you can’t see it)

We’ll be using the #MKE2CA (Milwaukee to California) hashtag for Twitter and Instagram, as well as posting photos and videos from the trip on Facebook and the Attention Era Media blog.

If you have time, I’d love to have you along for the journey.  Maybe we can inspire each other.

Let’s all move forward tonight,

Aaron @Biebert

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Dear Loser…

Failure 8 Comments »

Dear loser,

I want you to know that I lose too. We all do.

The difference between a winner and a loser is your attitude.

Succesful People Have Different Answers

Losers let losing define them. They let losing be their judgment, instead of their stepping stone. They spend the rest of their time trying to make excuses, instead of making improvements. Losers don’t win, because they see a loss as the end, not the beginning.

Winners see losing as a way to measure progress and know that they are pushing themselves. Losing means they’re not where they need to be…yet. Losing means needing to make adjustments. Losing is progress.

Winners don’t lose, they just run out of time.

Don’t be a loser tonight,

Aaron @Biebert

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Idiots Hate Applebee’s (and They’ll Hate You Too)

Failure, Leadership Thoughts, Marketing, News, Social Media 50 Comments »

I was super busy all week with two productions and just got to this.

Now that the dust has settled and the real facts are available, I wanted to quickly weigh in on the giant “Applebees Unjustly Fires Poor Waitress” fiasco.

I’d like to get your thoughts on it too.

Here are the facts before I get started:

 

1) An Applebee’s waitress received this stupid note from Pastor Alois Bell on the signed credit card receipt.

It says “I Give God 10% Why do you Get 18″

2) Chelsea Welch, a different waitress (not the one who served the customer), took a picture of that credit card signature receipt with her phone and posted it on Reddit.com along with the caption:

My mistake sir, I’m sure Jesus will pay for my rent and groceries.

3) Customer found out about it and complained

4) Chelsea admitted to doing it and Applebee’s fired her

5) Hell broke loose on the internet.

The media ran to the server’s rescue.  Competitor’s ears perked up, fan pages popped up, and 20,000+ fans commented on Applebee’s first Facebook post about the situation:

“We wish this situation hadn’t happened. Our Guests’ personal information—including their meal check—is private, and neither Applebee’s nor its franchisees have a right to share this information publicly. We value our Guests’ trust above all else. Our franchisee has apologized to the Guest and has taken disciplinary action with the Team Member for violating their Guest’s right to privacy.”

6) Applebee’s social media team tried to engage upset people.

People called them names and accused Applebee’s of hypocrisy for breaching their own privacy policy by sharing a customer’s “receipt”  earlier in the year.

(looks like an informal positive comment card to me)

6) Applebee’s posts a larger update and temporarily hides the old post.

Enraged Facebook fans claim that Applebee’s deleted their comments.

7) Applebee’s unhides the original post and denies manually deleting any negative posts.

8) 20,000+ more comments go onto their Facebook page.

Thousands of people now “hate” Applebee’s

 

You know what this is?

 

We’re witnessing an old-fashioned online lynching.

What we’ve got here is a company protecting their customer’s privacy (I don’t want my signature online) and being dragged through the mud by idiots looking to lynch Applebee’s.

The idiotic pastor’s note was truly stupid.  Great servers deserve great tips.

However, it would take another true idiot to think it’s okay to post a customer’s signature (customer is the key word) online while mocking them, even if what they were mocking was indeed stupid.

No, I don’t think Applebee’s had the perfect response on Facebook.
No, I don’t think there is such a thing.
Yes, I’m calling a lot of names here.

Here’s why:

  • It’s not okay to hurt a business because you don’t understand how to run one.
  • It’s wrong to post nasty stuff about companies or people when you don’t have the facts.
  • It’s easy to play armchair quarterback when it’s not your business.
  • The local owners, people that work at Applebee’s, and their family members are real people who get affected by idiotic boycotts, 40,000+ nasty comments, and all the distractions this has caused.

But this isn’t just about Applebee’s.  It’s about you and me.

I had something like this happen on our Attention Era Media Facebook page last year when we posted this video and asked if people liked their idea:

A large feminist group began saying we supported misogyny and tying women up for commercial purposes.  It wasted a ton of time and hurt our new brand.

For what?

For entertainment.

People like to hear themselves talk on social media, especially if there’s an ignorant mob that agrees with them.

I know people that work for Applebee’s.  This is not amusing.

This is not entertainment.  Don’t kid yourself. Idiots hate Applebee’s and they’ll hate you too.

That’s why we need to stick together.

Have a great night,

Aaron @Biebert

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Look Up, Be Bold, Go Together – 3 Thoughts for 2013

Bravery, Changing Times, Failure, Goals, Leadership Thoughts, Loneliness, Motivation 9 Comments »

It’s the new year and I have three thoughts on my mind.  Thought I would share them with my fellow 8pm Warriors.

1) Focus on the positive stuff.

Yes, the economy has been bad.  Some places around the world, it’s still bad.

However, there are still opportunities everywhere if we take the time to look for them.  Focus on the bad things will only blind us from seeing the amazing people, places, and opportunities that surround us.

For every dark muddy mess on the ground, there is a beautiful sunrise if we just look up.

Keep your chin up.

2) Don’t be afraid to do great things. Don’t settle.

Just because nobody is doing it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either.  Don’t be afraid to be the first.

Stop writing, thinking, talking, and working like everyone else.  There’s a better way if we’re not afraid to be the first.

Yes, you may be wrong. But following behind others your whole life will always be wrong.

Nobody changed the world by copying others.

3) Don’t do it alone.

Amazing work is too hard to do alone.

You will fall…and when you do, you’ll need someone to help pick you up.

If you’re isolated and nobody “gets it”, don’t hesitate to use the power of social media and the internet.  You’re not alone, even if you want to be.

Let me know if you need help, feedback, ideas, encouragement.

8pm Warriors need to stick together.

 

A couple weeks ago, I got this shot of an old man walking on the ocean in Vancouver. He was alone.

In 2013, my goal is to do big, crazy, bold things. I’m going to walk across the ocean if I have to…but I’m not going to do it alone.

Thanks for a great 2012 and I look forward to getting to know you better in 2013.

Have a great year,

Aaron @Biebert

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How to Accomplish Amazing Things With Your Life

8pm Warriors, Bravery, Failure, Goals, Motivation 10 Comments »

I know great people that haven’t done so well over the past five years.

They have no life insurance, health insurance, pension, or 401(k). They get sick, but they don’t go to the doctor. In pain, but they push on.

Some call them crazy. Others call them ignorant.

“Why work 80 hours a week for yourself to avoid working 40 for someone else?” “Why don’t you sleep more?” “Why don’t you get a stable job?” “Odds are you won’t make it anyway.” “You have a one in a million chance.”

The odds are against them. It’s true.

However it’s also true that the odds were against every single person in history that did anything amazing, brave, or beautiful. They were all crazy. They all ignored their odds.

That’s why they made it.

Their odds were one in a million, because THEY were one in a million.

They left the family business to pursue their risky passion for writing, like my brother-in-law. They took big risks in uncertain times, like my friend Claudia did with her dental practice.

If you’re still reading this, you probably have seen similar stories.

You might be having doubts right now. The last couple years have been really tough on leaders and entrepreneurs.

If you’re like me, you’ve had many failures. You’ve wondered if it’s the right course. Yet we press on.

For every “one out of a million” story, there is always a second person who had the skill and passion to make it too. They just quit too soon.

What makes for amazing stories, are the people who didn’t quit when everyone quit on them.  They are the Thomas Edison’s who failed 10,000 times to invent the light bulb.  They fight like Steve Jobs, who got kicked out of the company he started, but still kept on pushing forward.

If you believe in what you’re doing, do not quit.

That’s how you accomplish amazing things with your life.  That’s how you change the world. If you love what you do and passionately pursue it, the rest will take care of itself.

Have an amazing night,

Aaron @Biebert

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Thankful for the Bad Times

8pm Warriors, Failure 7 Comments »

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

I don’t need to list the many challenges we’ve all faced, but the last couple years have been challenging times for many 8pm Warriors.

We’re not dead.

We’re getting stronger.

That’s something I’m thankful for today.

Thanks for a great year of connections, ideas, referrals, and friendship.

I am thankful for you tonight,

Aaron @Biebert

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