Category Archives: Social Media

The Pepsi Spot Is Brilliant

Every human in America, seemingly, has piled on in the unending criticism of Pepsi for its “tone deaf, ” “inauthentic” spot featuring Kendall Jenner. I think the spot is brilliant.

What did Pepsi hope to accomplish with the Kendall spot? I wasn’t privy to their team’s planning sessions but my guess is: To generate buzz, to stir emotions and to build brand name awareness. Bingo, bingo and bingo.

The controversial spot features a well-known celebrity who walks away from her photo shoot to participate in something more meaningful. Which cause are the marchers supporting? That remains vague. Is it a “resistance” march? Is it a campus “free speech” march? Is it a “Black Lives Matter” march? Doesn’t matter. People who might’ve marched (or wanted to march) for any cause during the last couple of years are likely to pay attention to the spot.

The payoff comes when Kendall hands a can of Pepsi to a security person. (Maybe a policeman, maybe a campus cop, maybe a private hire—not a threatening hard ass with a billy club.) It’s a nice gesture.

The blowback was instantaneous. One imagines the Pepsi team knew the spot would be polarizing, but not to what degree. In short order, the spot was pulled. But we have seen it again and again on social media and on TV news shows. Exposure was not unlike those Super Bowl spots that are “banned” because they are too controversial or racy. Those “banned” spots then get millions of views on Youtube, as has the Pepsi spot.

The Pepsi spot was parodied this weekend by SNL. An op-ed in the New York Times called it “a spot that says that racialized police brutality is really a big misunderstanding that can be solved with a soda and a Kendall Jenner fist bump.”

However, comments on the K-104 website (KKDA-FM, a Hip-Hop radio station in Dallas/Fort Worth) include these remarks: “BEAUTIFULLY DONE PEPSI, YOU TOOK ON A RELEVANT AND SOMETIMES SENSITIVE ISSUE & MADE IT POWERFUL AND NOT OFFENSIVE,” “I dont see anythin wrong with it… i love it and i am black,” and “Blends all cultures and it’s about togetherness.”

According to several analyses I read about the Pepsi spot, it was not “genius” like that “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke” spot from 1971.

I recall many of us, back in the day, thought the Coke spot was a bunch of “Up With People” mindless “feel good” pap in the midst of the ugliness of the Vietnam War, the Nixon/Agnew regime and unrelenting racial tension in America. (I think the final episode of Mad Men may have something to do with the current renewed affection for the Coke spot.)

To me, the Pepsi spot, despite its many perceived flaws, reflects the culture and vibe of its day more accurately than the Coke spot did.

Once again: Did the Pepsi/Kendall spot generate buzz? Yes. Did it stir emotions? Yes. Did it burn the name “Pepsi” into the nation’s collective consciousness? Yes. But will it help grow Pepsi’s market share? Let’s check back in a few months and find out.

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Is Facebook The New TV?

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Last summer a friend who was about to launch a big venture asked me to give her a quick assessment of major social media channels.

I made this analogy: Twitter is like AM radio. Instagram is like FM radio. Facebook is like TV.

The news, views, noise and chatter that fill my Twitter timeline are similar to what I hear on AM radio. News, political talk, sports talk, intelligent commentary and idiotic commentary. It’s all there on the AM band and on Twitter.

On FM, most stations play music. There’s less talk, generally speaking. While AM has more information, FM has more entertainment. Instagram is a pleasant alternative to Twitter with its focus on the visual. Food, babies, dogs, cats, landscapes and other lighter fare rule. Yes, politics and commentary do appear on Instagram, but more of the posts in my feed are non-controversial.

Facebook is the big dog because so many people go there on a daily basis and because it is, for many, a better advertising venue than Twitter and Instagram. Facebook delivers the noise and chatter we find on Twitter and the AM radio band but also features

Additionally, Facebook has been more successful with its Facebook Live streaming video than Twitter has been with Periscope. The video aspect provides Facebook with TV’s key element.

Much of the news and other info delivered by traditional broadcast media (whether via over-the-air, cable, streaming or satellite) has been verified to some degree, whereas info shared on social may be rumor or hearsay. This fact explains why Twitter is often the best source for immediate news, though not necessarily for accuracy in those early tweets.

Whether these analogies are valid or are just the result of goofy thinking on my part, my main message to my friend was each social channel has its own characteristics. Content that has value on one may not necessarily work as well on another.

The best way to learn about social media channels is to use them.

 

 

 

 

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Blindsided, Via Social Media

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In football, a left tackle protects a quarterback’s blindside. Sandra Bullock explained this in the opening of the movie Blindside, the story of Michael Oher, a young man who became a left tackle at Ole Miss and in the NFL.

Another Ole Miss left tackle, Laremy Tunsil, was himself blindsided last week. Just minutes before the NFL draft began, on his own Twitter account, a video was posted showing him smoking via a bong hooked up to a gas mask. The presumption is he was smoking weed.

Soon after, on his own Instagram account, screen shots were posted that purported to show text messages from Tunsil to an Ole Miss coach in which Tunsil asked for money.

Here’s How It (Might’ve) Happened

Who did it? As a projected high (no pun intended) draft pick, Tunsil had already hired and fired agents, lawyers and other advisors. It is now believed one of those dismissed (and disgruntled) individuals did the deed.

After these social posts, the Ravens, who drafted Oher in the first round in 2009, chose not to select Tunsil with the sixth overall pick. The Giants, picking tenth and needing offensive line help, also passed, due to the posts. The Dolphins nabbed Tunsil with the 13th overall pick.

Some Takeaways From The Incident

  1. Always know who has access to your social media account passwords. If someone other than you is posting on your behalf or that of your organization, pay attention to what they are posting.
  2. Change passwords frequently.
  3. If you leave your phone unattended, use a lockout code to prevent unauthorized access.
  4. Young people in college are likely to smoke weed and/or drink.
  5. People with extraordinary talent and/or extreme physical attributes can get away with certain misbehavior.
  6. Despite dropping down in the draft, Tunsil is still a first round pick who is likely to earn tens of millions during his NFL career.
  7. Of all the players taken in all the rounds, he is the one who has received the most attention, even more that the top pick. Yes, much of that attention was dubious (doobie-ous?), but it all adds up to name recognition.
  8. Don’t blame this episode on “social media,” like ESPN’s Jon Gruden who said, “This whole social media scene makes me sick!” Blame it on the human (or humans) who did it.

 

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Learn How Much You Don’t Know

Knowledge

In 2009, I participated in the St. Louis Public Relations Society chapter’s training program for PR certification. I attended sessions all over town and gathered knowledge and wisdom from a number of PR pros. I picked up and studied the suggested textbook. Yes, I learned a lot. I was unaware of the full scope of public relations. I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew.

Last month I took a course in Web Analytics at University of Missouri/St. Louis (UMSL). As a result, I am now certified in Google Analytics. I learned how analytics can reveal a wealth of information about traffic to websites. In addition to exercises on the Google dashboard, I had the chance to use Adobe’s Omniture analytics setup.

I may not be ready to be a lead analyst, but I now know enough to be a contributing team member. After completing the course, though, I realize there is much more about web analytics that I still do not know.

Even More To Learn!

This month I took a Social Media Strategies course at UMSL. I am now a Hootsuite Certified Professional.

I’ve been a Facebook admin and have used Hootsuite Pro for several years. Although I knew a lot about social media going in, the course revealed many areas I had not ventured into. I learned new ways that Hootsuite can help me and my clients. I gained insight about best practices for Facebook and Instagram. Again, I learned how much I did not know and how much more there is to be learned.

It feels good when you receive significant enlightenment or have an “aha” moment. My younger kids, both digital natives, have given me useful computer tips, generally without condescension. But every time they share, I am also made aware of how much I don’t know. Always and forever, there is so much to learn.

 

 

 

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Pitch Perfect(ly)

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In honor of Pitch Perfect 2, which opens this weekend, I am slipping into my media member persona to list what makes a perfect pitch. Here we go…

  1. Give me something that my viewers/readers/listeners will find compelling. Something new, exciting, happy, sad, timely, nostalgic, fun, heartwarming, heartbreaking, funny.
  2. Give me a fresh, different angle on something my audience and I are already familiar with.
  3. Give me something that’s easy for viewers/readers/listeners to grasp without huge amounts of explanation and background.
  4. Give me the basic info in a paragraph or two or in a few bullet points. (If leaving a voicemail, pitch it in 30 seconds or less.)
  5. If it’s not apparent, tell me why your pitch would be meaningful to my media constituency.
  6. If pitching an interview, give me a person who knows how to answer a question. (Seems obvious, but some people spend two minutes on a yes or no question.)
  7. If pitching an interview, be sure the person you’re pitching is available.
  8. Give me something my boss will be okay with. I may not have to get approval on everything I cover, but I don’t want to hear, “Why’d you do that piece? That was the dumbest, most boring thing I’ve ever heard/seen/read!”
  9. Give me something I can promote.
  10. Give me something that will generate website and social media response.

I’ve scratched my head at some of the goofy, far-fetched pitches I’ve received over the years. I’ve also received many well-conceived, thoughtful items that were just right—pitched perfectly—for my radio shows, websites and social media channels.

An ability to empathize with your media contacts—to consider their needs and wants—can help you craft the perfect pitch.

By the way, the new movie Pitch Perfect 2 is funny and the music is tremendous!

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Don’t You Just Hate That? (Social Media Edition)

Don't you just hate that

In 2004, I picked up a funny little book called Don’t You Just Hate That by Scott Cohen. The book listed things that annoy many of us, such as “accidentally setting your alarm clock for p.m. instead of a.m.” or “finding an old to-do list, most of which remains undone.”

Below is a list of social media annoyances that I’ve experienced, inspired by Mr. Cohen’s book. Maybe you can relate to some or all.

  1. When someone with half the number of followers you have sends a tweet identical to the one you sent three days ago. And she gets 15 retweets while you just got 2.
  2. When you open Facebook to see a huge number of notifications and expect most to be responses to brilliant content you posted to your clients’ Facebook feeds. But they turn out to mostly be game invitations from tangential friends.
  3. When a person or organization whose Instagram posts are compelling unleashes 10 pics in a row. You don’t want to unfollow, but you also don’t want to get bombarded.
  4. When you miss a great play in a baseball, football, hockey, etc. game because you were tweeting about the previous play.
  5. When notification pings wake you from a sound sleep.
  6. When you post a tweet to the wrong account on your mobile Hootsuite.
  7. When you see a famous person listed as a trending topic on Twitter and you immediately presume the person died.
  8. When a foodie or a restaurant posts a pic to any social channel and, while the food looks good, you have no idea what it is.
  9. When a Tweet promises content you’re anxious to see and the link doesn’t work.
  10. When an Instagrammer posts a novel length description beneath his/her photo.
  11. When you see interesting tweets with a certain hashtag but, even after researching, can’t determine what the hashtag means.
  12. When your Facebook timeline is filled with political content. Does anyone truly believe that by posting her/his political likes and dislikes she/he will change someone’s mind? (Can’t wait till next year!)
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Social Media For Small Business Owners

Small business owners who haven’t made the leap into social media may wonder, “Do I really have to?” No, you don’t have to. You also don’t have to have a phone, an email address, a website, a mailing address, etc.

Obviously, social media* offer greater benefits to certain businesses. A restaurant with colorful food may gain more traction on Facebook than an insurance agency. But even “boring” businesses and individuals have stories to tell and ideas/information to communicate.

First, determine your strategy and your goals. Are you looking to interact with current friends and customers? Are you looking to reach out to new prospects? Do you want to focus more on product, service, personnel or another aspect of your business? Do you want to actively promote or do you want to maintain a certain level of awareness?

Who will handle your social media efforts? You? An employee? A relative? An agency? Make sure the person (or persons) conducting your social media is an even-tempered person with some level of maturity. Make sure those who have the duty to represent your company know your values. You, as the business owner, must pay attention to social media content being shared on your business’s channels.

My most important advice: (1) Don’t expect miracles to occur overnight. As with many paid advertising campaigns, it can take a while to see significant results. (2) Be consistent in tone and frequency. Don’t tout your company’s commitment to quality in one tweet and crude humor in the next. Don’t go 2 weeks without a Facebook post, then transmit 3 in one day.

Take advantage of the new opportunities social media provide. Just do it.

*To me, media is a plural term. If you prefer to treat media as a singular term, that‘s okay.