The Dog Days Of Social Media

As we enter August and our shrinks go on vacation, it would be easy to go crazy over all the dour news related to social media. Fortress Facebook is showing cracks as 170,000 or so 26- to-34-year-olds defected from the network in June, according to Inside Facebook.

Fast-growing Foursquare, which reached its 100 millionth check-in milestone in July, was doused by a Forrester study that recommended a wait-and-see approach. And 24 hours after the most beautifully orchestrated social media stunt since BK's Whopper Sacrifice, several respectable publications were asking, "Yeah, but did it sell bottles of Old Spice?"

Admittedly, I do find the Facebook news a bit troubling because no one seems to know where these young folks are defecting to and if it was a temporary aberration or genuine trend. As for Forrester's study that recommends a cautious approach to Foursquare, I'm delighted since this will leave it open for the innovators while the wait-and-see types sit by the sidelines and lose early adopter advantage.



And just in time to restore order in the creative universe, Nielsen reported that Old Spice sales were indeed up 107% in the last month. All this said, I'd like to offer a little pep talk in what otherwise might be the dog days of social media.

Don't Give Up on Facebook Just Yet

Considering the sheer massiveness of Facebook, it is quite likely your target is still actively engaged on the largest truly global social network. According to comScore, in June 2010, over 130 million people within the U.S. used Facebook. With that kind of reach, it's easy to understand how some brands are using Facebook as their only Web site, while others create ecommerce stores within the network. So the real challenge is figuring out the Facebook strategy that is right for your brand.

Venerable print pub National Geographic has attracted over 1.4 million fans on Facebook by providing a steady stream of interesting factoids. Offering his own pep talk at the Supergenius WOM conference in New York last month, National Geo's VP of Marketing Brendon Hart advised having a "fan first" approach specifically for Facebook. Hart advised testing a wide variety of content in order to zero in on what drives the most likes and comments. If this old brand can make hay on Facebook, certainly yours can too.

Innovative Brands Should Be Testing Location-Based Services

While the installed base of Foursquare users is admittedly small at about 2 million, now is the time for innovative brands -- especially those targeting Millennials to be testing this and other location-based services like Gowalla, Loopt, and GetGlue. Not only will experimenting now give you a leg up on your competition when these services are more mainstream, you'll earn special points with Millennials who love the competitive nature of location-based social networking games.

Ramon DeLeon, the owner of six Domino's Pizza restaurants in Chicago, is a legend in the social media world and an early adopter of Foursquare. Speaking at the Supergenius conference, DeLeon explained that he's had fun experimenting with Foursquare and with letting his "mayors" take charge at his restaurants. Noted DeLeon: "I invite our mayors to do whatever they want, to make their own pizzas or eat for free." Adding Foursquare to his already broad mix of social media including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and a blog was a "no brainer," as DeLeon wants to be part of the conversation wherever his target is talking.

And Yes, This Social Media Stuff Can Drive Your Business

While the Old Spice guy making customized YouTube videos for a select group of his Twitter followers is a spectacularly innovative case, other brands are using social media to drive their businesses every day without as much fanfare. The challenge is to figure out your overall goals for social media and then determine how to make the most of each of particular channel, especially the over-hyped and often misused Twitterverse.

Paul Young, director of digital for, reported at the Supergenius conference that his organization has grown almost entirely through word-of-mouth, raising $20 million in 4 years. As the first charity with over one million followers on Twitter, has inspired a "long tail" of givers, from well-known celebrities to precocious 8-year-olds, all attracted to the mission of providing clean water to the one-sixth of the world that doesn't have it. Young noted that a twestival to create clean water wells in Ethiopia raised $250,000 despite the fact that "[they] never ask for money directly."

The bottom line: don't let the summertime blues affect your vision, use this time to assess your strategy via a social media audit and get ready to break new ground this fall.

6 comments about "The Dog Days Of Social Media".
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  1. Ted Rubin from The Rubin Organization / Return on Relationship, August 4, 2010 at 9 a.m.

    Drew... as usual I agree with you wholeheartedly. Thanks for addressing such a timely topic. Dog Days my a--. We are only scratching the surface here. And even if your audience does abandon a platform "en masse"... so what. Scalable social platforms are not going away, migrations will happen, they always do eventually, but if it is not Facebook or Twitter is will be somewhere else you can reach, engage and interact.

    Going forward long-term brand success will, in a big way, be relative to Relationship Commerce... building relationships and interacting with consumers. Relationships are extremely important. The relationship a customer has with a company can make or break the company’s success.

    We’re hearing (and doing) more and more about “Relationship Commerce” these days — but what does that really mean? Does having 2,000 Facebook “friends” or “fans” mean you have 2000 relationships? Or 28,000 Twitter “followers” mean 28,000 relationships?

    It depends. Any one of us obviously does not have time to keep up thousands of face-to-face relationships at a time, but with the help of social media, we can certainly build and keep substantially more relationships going. However, it takes more than simply sending a Facebook friend request or clicking the “follow” button on another Twitter user’s profile.

    To build relationships online, you (brand or individual) have to offer something in return, such as valuable information, unique experiences, personal introductions to your already-established connections, or even part of yourself through engagement and interaction.

    It’s no longer enough to just suggest that someone should be interested in your product or service. You need to engage your market — ask questions, propose ideas, or simply communicate through social media in a way that gives your followers a chance and a reason to respond. Then when they respond, interact with them to solidify the relationship, or it will just fade out. Directly acknowledge their response, ask follow-up questions, and share their insights with others. Don’t simply be responsive, be incredibly responsive. Always acknowledge those who reach out or spread your ideas.
    As Brendon Hart advises "fan first", so use whatever combination works best for you (experiment). Find what works for your audience and you will quickly turn many of your friends/fans/followers into raving fans and outspoken advocates!

    Bottom line: the more responsive you are to your audience, the more responsive they will be to you.

    P.S. To continue the conversation feel free to reach out to me anytime @tedrubin or

  2. Mark Burrell from Tongal, August 4, 2010 at 2:47 p.m.

    WEll said, both of you!

  3. Suzi Craig from Fathom, August 4, 2010 at 5:04 p.m.

    I attended Supergenius WOM conference in NYC. It was a great event, with some awesome brains -- both speakers and guests.

    The vibe I get, more than ever, is that relying on the tools to drive how we achieve success is a bad place to start. Every story is different, every organization is different and every fanbase is different.

    Facebook is evolving because of the people and activities. They are shapeshifting to catch up to the environment that is already there and it's not the young crowd. It's 30-50 somethings reengaging with old friends/family, small businesses, big brands, nonprofits. They are smart to go with the evolution.

    I see all the tools, all the best ones, taking this path. Co-creation at its finest. I just wish we would see more purposeful co-creation, but maybe most of this has to happen organically?

  4. Drew Neisser from Renegade, August 4, 2010 at 5:46 p.m.

    Thanks Suzi & Ted for your thoughtful comments.
    Suzi--i agree it's not about the tools although it is really important to know how to converse via them.
    Ted--totally agree, exchange of value is essence of any true dialogue.

  5. Heather Lowe from Northern Lights Northwest, August 5, 2010 at 2:56 p.m.

    Excellent exchange of thinking all around.
    What I question is going by a % ie the success measurement of Old Spice at 107%. What's meaningful
    is real numbers and sustained sales over time.
    Lots of $ spent on multiple videos and management. What are you going to do next time Old Spice as an encore?

    Again 107% over what?

  6. Chris Stinson from Non-Given, August 6, 2010 at 4:32 p.m.

    Being a fan on facebook, is like signing up for a email newsletter. You did it, but the initial cost in doing it, is still zero. Not so, for the company who is trying to seem like a person in the social world. Once it takes a marketing budget, it is not social.

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