Monday, February 7, 2011

Social Media Isn’t Just for People – Ducks and Dinosaurs Do It Too

The week of February 7-11, 2011, is Social Media Week around the world. So, in honor of Social Media Week, it’s a good time to see who participates as well as evaluate the impact of these users.

While the mainstream media gives the impression that celebrities including Ashton Kutcher, Lady Gaga, and the Kardashians set the tone for social media, that isn’t accurate. The amazing thing about social media is that anyone can set the tone – he or she doesn’t need a million fans or followers. Individuals who promote their personal brands or specialty areas and companies who promote their products or services set the tone. From Twitter to Facebook to YouTube to Flickr to Quora to to LinkedIn, anyone can share content or photos or video – and become an overnight sensation.

Television can be referred to as social media 1.0 because companies promote their brands with commercials and event sponsorships. Consider Geico insurance, Energizer batteries, Travelocity, Michelin tires, and Aflac insurance. These companies appear on a regular basis on television. Consumers recognize the brands and purchase the products. They identify with the brands and make the decision to become brand-loyal consumers or purchase similar products from competitors.

Enter Twitter and Facebook, which I call social media 2.0. Thanks to these two websites, consumers now have an opportunity to communicate with these companies in a much more personal level than ever before. Of course, in the past, people called a company’s toll-free number and waited on hold (on ignore) forever. But, due to Twitter and Facebook, customers can voice their complaints and positive experiences in real-time 24/7/365 – and resolve whatever issue is pending. And if an issue is not resolved, the world can and will hear about it immediately.

Another unique marketing result of social media 2.0 is that companies just don’t assign everyday employees to be their voices. Creativity is the name of the game with social media. Consider these product representatives: the Geico Gecko, the Energizer Bunny, Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome, the Michelin Man, and the Aflac Duck – all of these brand icons have their own Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. Another interesting user of both Twitter and Facebook is Sue the T Rex, the largest and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil currently residing at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. By giving a voice to these icons, companies provide a way for customers to build relationships – and those relationships have the potential to create satisfied repeat customers.

So, does your company have a brand icon to engage new customers and retain existing customers in social media? If the answer is no, perhaps, it’s time to consider creating one.

Connect with these brand icons on Twitter and Facebook:

The Geico Gecko

Energizer Bunny

Travelocity Roaming Gnome

Michelin Man

Aflac Duck

Sue the T Rex

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Feet Aren’t Ugly & Other Things You Can Apply to the Workplace

Sometimes, things are just what they seem. But other times, there are interesting surprises lurking underneath. The book, My Feet Aren’t Ugly, written by Debra Beck, a devoted mentor for teenage girls, is targeted toward girls with the objective to build self-esteem. But, the book is much, much more because it also provides important business lessons.

One question posed is, “Do you talk badly about others or treat people badly?” This question can easily be applied to workplace settings. Consider how often co-workers behave in this negative manner. If this type of behavior starts in childhood, then we all must learn to be cognizant of our behavior as adults – and work to improve it when necessary. How can we be role models for children, teens, and young adults if we cannot control our behavior as adults?

Another theme featured in the book is integrity. How often do we question the integrity of others in the workplace? Unfortunately, the answer is too often. Again, this characteristic is molded early in childhood, but something must happen to warp some people’s integrity as they age. In childhood, lack of integrity may result in copying a fellow student’s test answers or lying to a teacher about incomplete homework, but in adulthood, one may lie about co-workers or even embezzle funds. It is never too late to make changes to improve one’s moral compass, but awareness as to the importance of integrity is crucial.

Acceptance and control are other themes. One can expect acceptance from others ONLY after one accepts herself or himself. If you, as an employee, constantly seek acceptance from co-workers or a supervisor or senior leadership, you may wait forever. You cannot control every aspect of your life. You need to do the best job possible each and everyday, and as a result, your talent will be evident – and you will be acknowledged. And your feet will be recognized for not being ugly (reference to the book’s title).

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