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December 2008

Advertising Loses Face on Facebook

Good article in today's New York Times by Randall Stross on the questionable success advertisers are having with Facebook.  Stross refers to multiple experts that state that brands are having a hard time finding success on social networking sites.  He points to a Facebook page sponsored by Tide and how it only has "18 fans."  The page invites consumers to provide pictures with member ideas.  One comment is particularly interesting where these supposed experts believe that there is a "myriad of difficulties in making brand advertising work on social networking sites. Members of social networks want to spend time with friends, not brands."

The problem is the very statement made by these experts.  Brands on Facebook are imposing themselves on the Facebook culture.  They are not taking that  culture into consideration when the brand definitions are developed.  If a brand wants to fit into Facebook it needs to be redefined in a way that makes it a natural metaphor for the conversations that take place between friends in the network.  To act like Tide is a "friend" is bizarre.  The fact that no one wants to interact with the brand is refreshing and proof positive that the world hasn't gone insane. The one success P&G points to is a promotional campaign for Crest Whitestrips which provided free movie screenings and other prizes for being a fan.  In fact they signed up 14,000 of them.  Yes bribery does work, but does it make your brand look any more than a shill.

I'd suggest that Procter & Gamble rethink the way brands are defined and then determine if those definitions make sense in the way people express themselves on Facebook.  Conducting "interact with my brand and win" type activities are fleeting.
Defining your brand as something important and having impact is not.  If anyone should know that it's the folks at Procter & Gamble....or at least they used to.

Motrin Moms, the Mommy Bloggers and the New Influencers

For those that missed it , the Motrin Mom campaign and consumer reaction is worth a few seconds of your time.  Motrin innocently ran a flash video on their www site that was meant to empathize with moms.  It discussed the positives and negatives of a "baby sling" and the potential pain that comes from carrying around your baby.

The problem was that many mom's enjoy carrying their kids in a sling.  It is part of motherhood.  They take pride in doing it.  Poking fun or even being sarcastic about the child/mom bond didn't sit well with moms.

The campaign immediately sparked a flurry of twitter micro blogging activity. Moms used the hashtag #motrinmoms after every twitter to instantly form an anti Motrin community.  Thousands of "tweeters" joined in sparking negative backlash against the brand, a flurry of negative You Tube videos (see below for actual ad and reactions), and an apology from Motrin (which was hard to find and not very SEO freindly).

Here's the very reasonable apology from Motrin:


Lessons Learned:

1. Know your customer.  The Motrin flash had too much attitude and not enough insight.
2. Track Twitter comments.  Use twitter alerts such as tweetbop to track your brand on twitter.
3. Respond in a way everyone can find you.  Make sure your response is search engine optimized against your brand and the hash mark designation so that eveyrone knows you got the message.
4. Don't mess with mom.