Web Monocle Blog Post

Web Monocle was a software designed to allow employees to time manage their internet use and help them avoid online distractions. A twice-weekly blog was maintained by the company. Ideas were submitted and written by freelance writers.

Written by Jeannette Paule; published June 28, 2012

Image sourced by Web Monocle

Smart Brand Gets Pooped On

(or How to Direct the Message)

The traditional talk in marketing is about “controlling the message” surrounding your brand, be it a product, business or individual’s brand. But when you enter the world of social media marketing, control becomes as difficult to hold as a bar of soap in the morning shower after an all-nighter.

What does this have to do with bird poop? Don’t worry, we’ll get there.

Social Media is a double-edged sword. You can put out whatever message you like, but anyone in the world can post whatever they want about you and your product. The biggest fear of most companies are negative comments; but they are inevitable. Before the internet there were negative comments, it just took longer for the stories to circulate; now it’s instantaneous. Your engagement and response to followers on social media is the key that will make or break your brand’s experience.

Enter the recent social media engagement by smart car USA.

Clayton Hove, an ad agency creative director and off-the-cuff-tweeter posted this in his Twitter feed.

A day or so later, smart car USA posted this response…

…complete with infographic.

The response to smart car is general hilarity at the ridiculousness, and Clayton Hove has been the first to congratulate the brand. 

But what exactly can other brands take from this? Smart car has managed to do a few things with one simple tweet and an infographic.

First, they have engaged the audience. Social Media users like to be engaged. They like to be noticed and responded to. Most of us feel like we’re tiny little beings beside the mass towers that are international corporations, so when a corporation actually responds in a timely and human manner, it leaves a positive impression.

Second, smart cars are now being talked about. They are in the forefront and didn’t have to spend more than bit commissioning a small info graphic. They have press coverage, and people chatting about the brand; the best chance for getting a sale is to get yourself into the minds of consumers.

Lastly, they have responded to one of the major perceived concerns/drawbacks of smart car ownership: size vs safety. Without any expensive marketing campaigns (read: slick, contrived messaging) they have addressed one of the largest obstacles the brand faces in North America with their ultra-small vehicles.

In a neat little package, smart USA have controlled the message. They turned an offhand, (though slightly snarky,) negative comment about their vehicles into an oddly positive message and placed their brand in the foreground.

Rather than controlling the message, brands need to think about directing the conversation.

When approaching social media a slightly different mindset is required. Rather than controlling the message, brands need to think about directing the conversation.  Always remember it is first and foremost a conversation between the brand and it’s followers.

Andy Ridley, executive director and co-founder of Earth Hour, found that when they decided to engage in social media, there was fear within the organization that they would not be able to “police comments surrounding the cause.”

As reported by zdnetasia.com, “”In the end, [the platform] was not abused,” he said. He gave the example of a dissenter who complained on Facebook about the cause for Earth Hour, and the community stood up to explain why they believed in the event.”

Companies need to remember it’s not about them; sales is, always has been (or should be), about the customer first. Seven Oaks Consulting blog offers a great reminder.  Social media is, in the end, not about you or your business, but about consumers and what they want and need to express. Keep on your toes, monitor your campaigns, and be ready to act quickly if they take it in a way that, good or bad, takes it off course.” 

Good work to smart car for offering up a little laugh. And, on a related bird poop note, a recent study indicates red cars attract more bird droppings than any other colour. I wonder how smart could spin that one?