This week, with the Dave and Busters “Juan” tweet yet another social media gaffe made it’s what into the collective conversation. It sparked furious cries of racism. It sparked snickers. It sparked the “holier than thou” media to earn mega points for traffic.

Imagine for a moment, the alternative tweet: “I hate tacos” said no one ever. #tacotuesday.

Imagine what THAT would have caused: crickets.

Which of those  two messages was more brand consistent, more interesting, more compelling and took more courage?

Branding is like getting a tattoo: it takes guts and commitment.

Tweet: Branding is like getting a tattoo: it takes guts and commitment.

This is why brands and businesses must be crystal clear on who they are, what they stand for and who their target customer is. I’m not suggesting that every brand and business rush to the edge of every cultural controversy and insensitivity in order to create some reaction to their message. But in order to make it interesting they HAVE to know where the line is on risk taking. Brands and businesses have to accept that people who AREN’T their customers aren’t going to “get” it and they have to stand with their customers who DO.  If you insist on completely bland copy, messaging and creative, you will get some bland results.

Tweet: If you insist on completely bland copy, messaging and creative, you will get some bland results.

Tweet: Brands and businesses have to stand with their customers who DO “get it”.

I’m actually disappointed Dave and Busters didn’t fire back to the haters with another pun. Dave and Busters is a GAMING VENUE for grown ups. It isn’t a financial company, it isn’t a children’s nonprofit, it isn’t a government agency, it isn’t a church. It’s supposed to be FUN. Taco Tuesdays are supposed to be FUN. I don’t know about you – but I could use a little fun in my tweet stream.

So here’s where we’re at with a collective lack of spine in the social, marketing and advertising world: be creative, be dynamic, create conversation and excitement, but DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TAKE RISKS. Does the marketing and advertising world really want to be known as the analysis paralysis industry whose signature color is beige?

Tweet: Does the marketing and advertising world really want to be known as the analysis paralysis industry whose signature color is beige?

Yes, let’s think through things. Yes, let’s consider context. But let’s stop freaking out the minute someone with 2,000 followers takes issue with an edgy statement. Let’s understand our brands, their purpose, their customers and values and let’s stand by those values even when everyone else doesn’t get it. It’s OK. If you’re brand is truly defined, not everyone will.

Yes, the pain of nasty-gram tweets and email is piercing, they don’t last forever, in fact, in most cases, those very same people are off on an entirely different tangent tomorrow.  Being a wishy washy brand isn’t good for anyone, except dish soap – and those consequences are far longer reaching.

Tweet: Being a wishy washy brand isn’t good for anyone, except dish soap – and those consequences are far longer reaching.
Stand tall. Take smart risks. Stand by your customers. Have some brand confidence. Stand by your brand.

Bet your starting to think about next year’s social media marketing plan. And as importantly, where will social media marketing fall into the mix? Will there be more? Less? The latest Advertising Trust report from Neilsen may offer some insights to help you in your planning process.

One of the strongest reasons to increase your social media is the the number one source of consumer trust and action isRecommendations from people I know”.  Trust and action are often hand in hand, and we can’t discount the value of trust, but its also hard to measure. However, what creates trust and what creates action can be different. For example, consumers report that humorous ads resonate most with them. We know that humor is a powerful tool, especially in social media. It might be more powerful than cats, dare I say <GASP>. However, humor is rarely what makes people take ACTION.

The action taking piece is the one I’m always most interested in looking at more closely. And its really no surprise that word of mouth leads the pack. Ads on social networks have a lower trust score than they do action score. That’s actually true for several advertising types. With respect to social media, there are two key take aways:
1)  Use social to build trust and be very aware of what motivations exist for taking action.
2) The power of your tribe: when they share what you’ve got, its a more credible source. So be very aware of what and why people share on social. Tribes deeply impact our actions.

Now, the challenge with a report like this is that these results are all self-reported. The challenge with self-reporting is that people don’t always really know why they do what they do. I know, YOU always know why you do what you do. Or do you? Your motivations may not always be clear even to you. That’s why I started Captivation Motivation Training. 

Just remember, what type of message you use impacts trust and action. Decide what you’re trying to establish in every single post. Be purposeful in your social media practice and you’ll find that you can actually be more human.

Thanks for reading

 

 

 

PS: If you’d like to download the Neilsen Report for yourself: click here

Listen up: Going viral is a benefit to creating great content, not the goal.

But if you’re really committed to creating a viral video marketing campaign:

Creating viral content is this easy.
And this difficult.
Here’s my fool-proof 3-step process.

Create content that strikes an emotional cord (funny, sad, inspirational) and is distinctly unique and you’re one step closer to viral. 
Create content that tells a story, not a tagline and you’re one step closer to viral. 
If your branding it, make the product part of the story, not THE story. 
Not all that helpful, right? Truly the devil is in the details. Storytelling. More art than science. That’s why there is no Einstein-esque formula for viral. If only “viral” were as simple as math. It takes time to create and make a story. Song writers, ad professionals, photographers, marketers, movie makers, writers, videographers, graphic designers. We’re all storytellers. And once in awhile a storyteller also gets lucky. And viral happens. Think of all the stories out there today. Not too many go viral, but does that make them not worth making? Of course not.

So, in honor of The Story, let me tell you one. About 4 years ago, I talked with Judson Laipply, whose own viral video 2006 “Evolution of Dance” received 70 million views in under 8 months. At the time it was the #1 most viewed video of all time on YouTube (waaay before Gangam Style). Judson’s performance tells a great story in an entertaining, unique way. When I asked him about his own viral video, he said that he put it up on YouTube as a fluke, that in fact, someone in the audience recorded it and sent it to him. Judson was as surprised as anyone at the response, he wasn’t already famous (like some other viral video creators)  and he didn’t have a huge social media following at the time.  Since then, he’s done several follow-ups but none so successful as the original. Today, Judson is a working motivational speaker. The point is, completely of the moment? Yep. Complete accident? Yep. Repeatable? Probably not. With all due respect to Judson, we’ve all been there, and done that.

It’s pretty rare that branded material go viral. If you look at the most popular YouTube videos of all time (YouTube Charts), not a single one is a branded video. Almost all of them are music videos (YouTube being to this generation what MTV was

viral, branding, video,

Bloomberg Businessweek 6/14/2012

to mine). Coincidence? No.  Does that mean that branded content can’t still be powerful? No. Check out the videos in particular categories. The all-time #1 video in the auto & vehicles segment is a COMMERCIAL. The Volkswagen/Darth Vadar commercial that originally aired during the Superbowl 2011 (you don’t even have to go find it do you? You remember it). Notably, none of the other Superbowl ads from that year or this year can claim the number one spot in any category. There were some great branded viral videos in 2012, my personal favorite was the Dollar Shave Club, which was appears deceptively simple, but once you break it down you realize its the product of a lot of talent and planning.

There is a theme here: either viral is completely planned, thought out and scripted or its completely of the moment, off-the-cuff. One is time consuming, expensive and lucky and one is JUST lucky.  Which are you? 

So go forth, my marketing compadres. Create amazing content in whatever medium you wish. Please. But create amazing content because its the right thing to do if your going to create content at all. Because by creating content, you’re saying something about your brand…whether 1,000 people see it or 1 Billion people see it. Create the best, most memorable content you can create. And move on. And remember, sometimes its about quality over quantity.

 Header Image: Creative Commons Karl Jonsson