In a wealthy world, they are paraded around the internet “stadium” to get thumbs up on Facebook and YouTube if they are worthy, pinned to Pinterest if they make you look smart, or retweeted so you have something beautiful on your timeline.
But only the few. The loudest. The most fierce.
Only the ones who learn to be marketing agencies and artists at the same time. Only the artists who are willing to spend every waking minute fighting for your attention.
In the end, most die poor and forgotten in a world that likes to focus on no more than 5 people at a time. Just like gladiators.
Artists fighting to the death, are you not entertained?
I am not.
I am sad.
As a manager of musicians, husband to an artist, and filmmaker, I watch with horror as so much talent is wasted and people with gifts are slowly exiting their arena, ending the fight to make the world more beautiful and interesting.
Others strengthen their resolve and give up hopes of having a family, buying a home, or retiring. Instead they live with parents, pack into group apartments and live off Ramen noodles. All so that you can enjoy free music, cheap art, and pretty photos to look at.
This is reality.
We are losing something. We are turning the world into an ignorant land of McDonald’s and Ikea.
“That looks handmade, I’m sure I can do it myself. Will you make a tutorial? Can I get the recipe? Are there free tickets? Do you ever have sales? Will you price match that artist over there? They are cheaper.”
Yes, we have made the world cheaper. Instead of paying our talented neighbors, we mass produce billions of one designer’s product, overseas, as we turn our eyes away from our neighbors and back to our Netflix, top 40 radio, and microwave dinners. The taste makers tell us how things should taste.
This will make us sick. It has made us sick.
Then what shall we do?
Don’t take pride in your cheapness, take pride in what you’re buying. Rediscover craft and the craftsmen. Yes, it costs more, but it is an investment in our culture, a shared sacrifice for a richer world.
Turn off the radio and TV. Listen to something new. Discover an amazing short film on Vimeo. Never buy your jewelry at Target. Stop eating at Subway or Chipotle. Limit the number of times you feed your kids chicken nuggets or Mac n Cheese. Buy something meaningful for Christmas, not just the easy choice from the Top 10 list you saw on the plane.
Know the name of who makes your food, music, art, and photos. Get to know them.
They are dying for your attention. Honor them tonight.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Then today, the editor emailed me this comment asking if he should approve such a nasty comment:
Joseph Rolland says:
“This guy is a fake, along with his media company. I just checked out his Twitter, it’t not hard for someone with a mild knowledge of modern social media to see that this man is nothing he represents in this article.
With a follow to followers ratio of 1-1 having 10,000 followers means absolutely nothing when you follow over 9,000….nice branding strategy Aaron? Not to mention the videos him and his company seem to be associated with (Corey Pieper) have purchased views, disabled statistics and minimal comment interactions, it wouldn’t surprise if the same was done for his twitter account. Not to mention on the Attention Era Media facebook page each post is followed up with comments from himself (he’s first to comment and like his own posts) comments from his partner Ryan and the few others that work in his company. Its the same 4-5 people on each post. Check it out for yourself on their page. Rarely is there a real interaction with someone who isn’t directly associated with the company. And to top it all off the quality of the work is not breaking any barriers and is hardly different then the boring media you get working with minor studios. I appreciate what this guy is trying to do but I just don’t appreciate an article like this promoting someone who is faking his way into things. I hope that people will see this comment and take it into consideration.”
I told him to approve it.
The comment wasn’t fun to read and parts of it stung a bit, especially the stuff about my team’s Attention Era Media facebook page (which was partially correct). However, stuff like this happens when you put yourself out there.
It is true that I’m not very important in the world. That’s why I’ve set a high goal for myself. I’d like to make a big difference with my life someday. Obviously, I’m not there yet.
I appreciate Joseph’s reminder.
Something tells me that Joseph needs a hug. I assume something is really wrong in Joseph’s life for him to take the time to inspect and analyze so much of my work just to write this sort of comment. Maybe he was genuinely disappointed in me after reading Ahna’s article. I’m not really sure.
Regardless, we need to look forward. It’s Christmas and the beginning of a new year soon.
Let’s each hug a troll and help make the world a better (and more encouraging) place. Something tells me we’re gonna need it.
My friend Phil Gerbyshak (@PhilGerb), along with some of his friends (including my buddy Robert Caruso aka @Fondalo), just produced a free e-book to bust a couple social media myths. It’s called “The Naked Truth of Social Media” and I enjoyed the quick read.
Here are a couple of the myths busted:
Myth: Every business should be using social media. Myth: Nobody cares what you had for lunch. Myth: There is a “right way” to do social media.
Some of the brilliant myth busters involved in this project:
They certainly provided some interesting viewpoints that are worth discussion. If you’re interested in this quick read, you can download the e-book here at SocialMediaNakedTruth.com.
Gary Vaynerchuk and I had a long discussion last night about responding to people on social media. Click here to see the conversations. Gary makes some great points, but it got a bit heated at times.
It’s all Jeff Bullas’ fault. (Jeff, I’m just kidding)
If you prefer my leadership posts, this one might not be for you. It’s a bunch of social media theory related to a brilliant guy who has a following of around one million people on Twitter. It will apply to anyone using social media who is crunched for time.
Let’s get started.
Why should Gary Vaynerchuk NOT stop tweeting at his groupies?
The better question is, “who cares?” It’s none of my business.
Gary likes it and they like it.
It’s a win-win.
Gary sells more books, gains more followers. The groupies love the little tweets back.
Everybody seems happy.
Who the heck am I to question that?
My only reservation is that this is just one example of how social media is killing real communication. I think it’s a relevant topic for any leaders that are strapped for time, even if they don’t have that many people following them.
He thinks he’s caring by responding the best he can (I would agree), but I can see how he would feel trapped into a world of meaningless activity. My main thought for Gary was that maybe he should publicly announce a step back from responding to 70% of tweets and focus on building more quality relationships.
Three reasons why:
1) Quality over quantity
I’m having a hard time seeing how hundreds of ultra quick twitter responses is worth much to the non-groupies out there. Gary can tweet at least 10 times per minute. Are connections being made? Would we even know who we’re tweeting at? Honestly, I sometimes find myself doing the quick responses, thank you’s, etc and I only have 8,500 connections. I don’t feel good about that when it happens.
Rather, I’d say pick a couple people each day, get to know them a bit, and have deeper conversations that lead somewhere. You can’t please everyone.
Otherwise, it’s like walking through a busy town of people who all know you and all you do is nod, smile, shake hands, wink, and say hi. More like a politician than a normal person.
If you build a reputation on responding to people and valuing them, then you have to do that. However, when I first reached out to Gary a long time ago, I didn’t get responses and it was irritating because he wrote in his book “Crush It” (highly recommended) that he would respond to anyone who tweeted or emailed him.
Because of his brand promise, I felt like he was being fake for not responding to me. I like building relationships, not chasing stars around like a groupie. Successful people don’t enjoy feeling like groupies. Therefore, it will limit the type of following that he will have. I don’t follow celebs back because I know they can’t engage. I don’t see Gary as being any different.
When building relationships, it’s key to under-promise and over-produce. This seems like another good example.
It may not seem like much, but a couple words to 1000+ people a day takes up a TON of time. I can see why he’s not able to respond to everyone. It probably doesn’t help that Gary and I spent 4 hours chatting on Twitter last night.
Since we’re both business leaders, we have to consider the opportunity cost of random chatter on Twitter with people we won’t remember. Our conversation was enlightening, fun, and a bit entertaining (especially the haters below), but I wonder if the same benefits apply when tweeting back the quick smiley face, three word phrase, or “thanks” to a couple hundred people per day. Probably not.
I’m all for responding to everyone who talks to me. I think it’s rude otherwise. (Yes, sometimes I’m rude and don’t respond)
However, Gary has almost 1,000,000 followers just on Twitter. Gary is a fellow 8pm Warrior, but regardless of how hard he works, how little he sleeps, or how fast he types, he still has 1440 minutes in each day…just like you and I.
At some point you run out of time.
You also run out of brainpower.
I believe Gary is a brilliant guy. However, no amount of passion and effort will lead to quality relationships with 1000’s of people.
We’re not wired that way.
Most scientists say that we have the ability to maintain relationships with about 300 people, max. Everyone else is in one ear and out the other.
Sound like a worthwhile relationship? I can’t see how.
That’s why I don’t follow celebs, weblebrities, pro athletes, etc. That’s why I wasn’t following Gary until today. They are literally incapable of carrying on meaningful relationships online with most new folks like me.
They’re overwhelmed, sold out of attention, and don’t have time to respond. Classic example of Attention Era challenges. I was shocked when Gary responded, and he’s known for trying his best. People like Jeff Bullas and others who have 100,000+ followers usually don’t respond at all and I don’t blame them either.
Each person only has so many minutes in a day. I’d rather have them enjoy fulfilling relationships rather than spending every minute of free time sending winks, haha’s, lol’s, etc.
I remember the good old days when people called friends on their birthdays or hung out.
Now they post a message on their wall, shoot them an email, or leave a voicemail if they have time. I’ve watched people text each other from across the room and once found out about my nephew’s baptism via Facebook pictures. It was 20 minutes away. No society should have families randomly discovering important family events.
If this keeps up, our society is in real trouble.
Social media is cheap communication.
The problem with communicating primarily through social media channels is that it’s primarily deferred communication (more here).
No one actually knows if it’s being seen, and increasingly, it’s not. People are overwhelmed with the number of emails, updates, tweets, pins, messages, videos and other stuff flying their way.
Yet, so many times I hear from friends (especially the younger generations) asking me if I saw their latest update on Facebook.
Nope. I didn’t.
Study after study I see shows that young people overwhelmingly prefer deferred communication to live conversation. It’s easier.
Deferred Communication (Focused, but delayed and distant)
Broadcast Communication (Maybe you’ll see or hear it)
How can you truly know someone or build a lasting bond without seeing their smile, hearing their tone changes, or getting instant feedback during your discussion?
The problem is that concurrent communication is so much harder than deferred or broadcast communication. It requires scheduling. Social media channels make it easy to feel like your communicating with others.
We’re faking it and it’s tearing apart traditional relationships. Especially among young people. As we get overwhelmed by deferred communication, stuff is missed. Divisions are formed.
When “friends” aren’t seeing our updates, people feel lonely. I’m seeing more suicides from very “social” people and the average number of close friends per person has fallen from four to two.
Something must change.
We need to develop real connections with our social media contacts. We need to invest in human relationships. It’s time we meet our fellow Warriors.
With that call to action in mind, I’m going to do something about my concerns. I may disconnect from immediate family members on Facebook so we actually have to talk. Communication between families and friends should be deeper. The same goes for clients and partners.
Also, in the coming months I’m going to host several free live events so we can all meetup.
Other events TBD (I’ll invite email subscribers and Facebook group members)
I just got back from the East Coast, but hopefully you can meet me at one of these remaining events. It’s worth the investment of time.
For the good of our society and as an example to young people, let’s bring our online relationships offline and our family members and friends back where need to be: in front of us, talking, laughing, crying, or smiling.
Social media is only a start.
Let’s find a way to build or rebuild personal relationships tonight,
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.
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.