5 Lessons for Old Marketers After @Applebees #SpiritedChef

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 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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6 Levels of Social Media Investment

Recently, I wrote that it was time for leaders to get on board with social media.  Some were confused.

What did I mean?

A few people thought I was advocating for huge social media marketing budgets and ignoring the need for a return on investment (ROI).  I don’t like wasting money, so I need to clarify the difference between opening an account on a social networking channel and doing full-fledged social media marketing campaigns with original content.

There are varying levels of investment.

A sliding social media investment scale starts with simply opening an account and ends when an organization is actively creating content and launching innovative social media marketing.

There is no guarantee of a proportionate return on an increasing investment.  The more you invest, the higher chance that you could be wasting resources.  However, the less you invest, the higher chance that you’re missing out on new opportunities.  The most successful marketing leaders will find the sweet spot for their organizations.

To illustrate, here are the 6 levels as I see them, along with some examples:

Level 0) I can’t find you on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin

Level 1) Offering a One Way Communication Channel

Level 2) Listening and Learning

Level 3) Engaging

Level 4) Content Sharing

Level 5) Content Creation

How much do you need to do on Social Media before you begin wasting resources? That is the Billion Dollar question.  Let me know if you come up with the answer for everyone.

What’s your take?

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Hint: You Might Want to Get on Twitter!

Home Decor?

My wife woke me up this morning asking if the marketing team at Menards chose the picture below on purpose.  I don’t think so (see for yourself).  

I was going to privately email or tweet it to them, but they don’t have twitter or a public email address on their “Contact Us” section of their website.

Menards, click here

I figure this is a great teachable point of view for any big companies that are ignoring social media as a way to communicate with their customers.  Menards does around $8 Billion in sales each year, so they should probably be interested in this “new technology” called Social Media.  

(Menards, if you’re listening, email me at Menards@8pmWarrior.com if you’d like some free consulting on using social media to engage, listen, and respond to situations like this one…it’s for more than just marketing. If you’re really feeling adventurous, tweet @Biebert)

Here’s what I tweeted, let’s see how long it takes for them to respond. http://twitpic.com/56c05n

If you wonder if I’m making it up, feel free to check it for yourself on Internet Explorer.  I tried it a couple times, still there:

  1. Go to Menards.com
  2. Click on the “More…” link on the grey menu (far right)
  3. The picture in question is under “Home Decor”


What’s your take?  Is it time for big companies to get on Twitter?

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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3 Problems with Testimonials

It’s hard for me to trust the testimonial on your web page…if I read it at all.

I see three problems with testimonials on your website:

1) Few visitors read all that text

2) Testimonials may seem too self promotional for the social web

3) People trust people, not what they read on traditional websites

People don’t read much website copy anymore.  But when they do, it’s usually not the paragraph you posted about how “John Smith from Chicago” loved your service so much that he will highly recommend it to everyone.

Nowadays, if “John Smith” loved you so much, we’d see his comment on Facebook, recommendation on Linkedin, or review on Yelp.

If you agree with me that Web 2.0 is like an online convention, your testimonials are like loudly bragging about yourself to everyone who will listen at the welcome reception.  We all know how many friends that makes. This isn’t much different.

You must rely on others to tell your story.

The web doesn’t work the way it used to (not that people ever truly trusted the testimonials on your site), and people are now looking to see how your customers interact with you on Facebook, Twitter, and your blog.

Wondering what this looks like?  Here’s how one of my favorite brands is doing it.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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TMI: Two Phone Numbers is Too Much

I’ve been talking a lot lately about personal branding, and it’s time for us to reconsider the way we use phone numbers on email signatures, business cards, and websites.

These days, why does anyone need two or more business phone numbers?

It’s too much information, but at least once a day I see a signature line or business card that has two or more phone numbers.  Here are some of my favorite examples:

Fairly common email signature:

John Smith

Director of Finance

Acme Inc.

Direct: 234-456-7890  x. 4321

Mobile: 234-111-0000

Fax:  914-921-2155

Fairly common business card:

Three phone numbers:

Two numbers, no labels:

Three phone numbers, two emails!

There is no reason a client, colleague, or loved one should have to waste time wondering which number to call, or worse yet, calling both.

Do they leave a message after the first one, or wait until they can’t reach you on the second one?  Should they leave messages on both?  Is it a bad idea to call your mobile phone during the day or your direct number during the evening?

Too many questions, too much information!

It is confusing, irritating, and problematic from a marketing standpoint also.  We’re throwing too much information at each other, and extra phone numbers only add clutter to your email, business card, or website.

Furthermore, we’re just giving ourselves one more voicemail to check.  It’s time to take a step back and reconsider what we’re doing.

I can only think of two scenarios, and both require just one phone number:

1) If you want to be available for your clients when they need you (recommended), share your mobile number.

2) If you want your clients to contact you during your office hours only, share your direct line.

Less is more.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Don’t Steal Your Own Identity

Tonight, let’s talk about the one thing every 8pm Warrior will need for success:

A strong personal brand identity.

Do you think it’s smart for a company to have two names?  Probably not.

Just imagine if FedEx also ran ads for FederalEx.  For so many reasons that would be a disaster!

Why would it be any different for an 8pm Warrior?  In a modern world driven by brand recognition, search, and social word of mouth, it is no longer smart to use a casual name and a professional one.

Those days are over.

If you currently use two names, I highly recommend you pick one name and stick with it.

This means that you shouldn’t go by Mike and Michael, Kate and Kathryn, Andy and Andrew, Deb and Debbie, Joe and Joseph, etc.  If people meet Andy at the conference, they should find Andy on Linkedin, Facebook, or Twitter.  Not Andrew.

It’s okay if you like to be formal (not recommended anymore), you just need to be formal at all times.  With the internet (Bing, Facebook, etc.), it is very difficult to keep your two worlds separated.  We are just too connected and by using two names you are doing yourself a disservice and hurting your personal brand.

It’s hard enough to get people to remember you at all, and making them remember multiple names is not going to work.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Invest in Relationships!

The world is going through growing pains and it’s leaving a lot of people very confused, hurting, and unemployed.

We’re in a new world of “on demand” information and entertainment, and many traditional companies are acting like deer in the headlights.

Not moving.  Not sure.

For them, familiar methods of bringing products and services to market are floundering and they aren’t hiring or growing domestically.  Some are waiting for things to return to “normal”, but we’re living in the new normal right now.

DVRs helps people skip commercials, the internet is replacing newspapers and magazines (I love Flipboard), and only 1 out of 10 people open corporate emails on average. As Gary Vaynerchuk said at a tweetup event last night in Milwaukee, “People aren’t looking at billboards…they aren’t even looking at the ****ing road!”

The same goes for nearly all marketing communications from unfamiliar faces or brands.  Everyone is too busy texing, tweeting, and “facebooking”  to pay attention.

Times are changing and we’re not going back.

We’re now in the Attention Age, and companies are going to have to find new ways to get our attention.  It won’t be easy.  Wives may think husbands are bad at listening, but the modern world is even worse when it comes to traditional advertising.

In one ear and out the other.

Another thing Gary said got my attention.  He said that everything in his latest book “The Thank You Economy” would be irrelevant in 5 years as marketers (like me) find ways to crawl into every successful way of getting our attention.  As they actively seek our eyes and ears, marketers always find a way to ruin what’s working (email, banner ads, etc.) and they’ll ruin social media too.

So what is a safe long term investment?

Relationships.

People are usually loyal to their friends, business partners, and favorite brands.  No matter what happens in the future, if you build real relationships and take care of your clients, friends, and followers, they will take care of you.

How?  If you don’t start using social media tools now, you may not figure it in time.  These tools are valuable for creating and strengthening relationships, but you need to get on it before it is ruined by marketers and the window of opportunity closes.

Seize the day!  Engage on social media.  Invest in relationships.  Do some business.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.” – Unknown

New tools, same rules.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Warrior of the Week: Andrew Syiek

Meet Andrew Syiek, founder of 0260mkg.com and this week’s 8PM Warrior of the week.

Andrew shares my belief that many 8PM Warriors are motivated by an intense desire to succeed.  It’s what drives us to keep going when others rest.

Deep into the quiet night and early morning, we journey into our dreams and ambitions as the motors of our minds continue to whir.  We use the extra time to read, write, think, communicate, collaborate, strategize, and plan.

An 8PM Warrior aims to acquire more personal strength and knowledge to increase effectiveness, provide positive impact, influence colleagues, win clients, and help achieve higher goals; all the while finding better, faster, and smarter solutions.

Andrew is a true 8pm Warrior and someone you will find right there with you along the journey, giving generously and being gracious with his time.

His Background

Time spent and lessons learned in various industries throughout his 25 year career have taught him many valuable lessons.  I asked him to share his thoughts with the group today.

Andrew credits his early career experience at Eastern Airlines as providing a firm foundation in the fundamentals of customer appreciation.

“An important component of my creed is that first and foremost, one must be responsive to the customer’s need, pure and simple.  The minute you delude yourself into thinking it’s about you, failure lurks right around the corner.”

A stint as an international speaker with Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD) helped Syiek develop team building skills and an intense appreciation for both corporate social responsibility and the non-profit sector.  He believes in synergy and that together “We” equal more than the sum of our parts.

In later roles as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Syiek set vision and strategy while developing corporate sponsorships, building corporate partnerships, managing financial metrics, reducing costs and increasing revenues.

His Thoughts

“Every day we open our eyes is cause for celebration and optimism. When you enjoy excellent health, intense energy, full faculties or if you love and are loved by others; the first thing to feel is gratitude.”

Andrew believes that life is best when considered an adventure from which every day provides a springboard for self-improvement as well as an opportunity to improve the lives of others.  Although goals are necessary and important; climbing the steps and scoping views along the way is equally as beneficial as savoring the scene from the top of the tower.

Syiek is also is of the mindset that problems are best viewed as challenges, because problems oftentimes are associated with passive apathy, but challenges are considered surmountable.

A life well lived is a life complete with diversity of perspective and experience. Each new experience provides a valuable new ability that will help you be stronger, smarter and quicker and each new aptitude provides greater available capacity for the next phase of one’s career.

His Latest Project

Today, Syiek is principal of 0260mkg.com. The primary mission of 0260mkg is to provide individuals, non-profit organizations and corporations with a full spectrum of a-la-carte marketing communications services.

0260mkg.com offers comprehensive marketing programs, promotion coordination, photography and digital media connectivity to insure growth, increase visibility and promote brand awareness for start-up, small and medium sized businesses.

You can connect with Andrew on Twitter @0260mkg or visit 0260mkg.com for more details and to get to know how this 8PM Warrior can help you.

Connect with Andrew Syiek