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Just Friggin' Peachy
Just Friggin' Peachy

business, digital strategy, & life in the #atl

That Time Twitter Won The Super Bowl

If you watched the Super Bowl last night without having someone in the room with a Twitter account, you missed a lot.  Not just when the lights when out at the Superdome but some of the best moments of last night happened off the field and online.

For me, it shows that Twitter is growing up and people are starting to understand the (no pun intended) power of the platform.

There were two key points I want to highlight:

1. When your website can’t handle the traffic, Twitter notices:

Despite having an AMAZING mobile-optimized site, cokechase.com hit some major snags last night.  Slow load times definitely put a damper on what could have been a serious contender for the best online/offline superbowl coke integration, yet.  I loved me some Polar Bears from last year but all the content that went into that site definitely showed that Coke realized that content will get you more eyeballs, longer than novelty, alone.

2. News travels fast…and funny:

When the lights went out, tweeps went to work.  Not only did the power snag elicit some amazing rapid response from Oreo but even the utility company supplying power to the Superdome swung into action:

Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 7.03.23 AM

Now, keep in mind that the tweet above was subsequently deleted and replaced with this one:

I still believe, though that Entergy did the right thing by jumping on the issue.  They were proactive, informative and the only one’s really active.  No matter who was to blame, they used Twitter as a news distribution venue and something tells me it will save them a lot more grief than if they were silent and had a #EntergyNOLAFail campaign started up against them.

For the purposes of this post I am going to ignore some of the brands that dropped hashtags into their ads for the sake of it.  However, I think we’re finally getting to the point where Twitter is not just a platform but an ecosystem that communications professionals of all shapes and sizes are paying attention to.

All hail the tweeps on this one!

The Nature of Innovation

Whenever I sit down with my team to brainstorm we always start with examples of creative executions from other brands and agencies.  This was always something I found a little sketchy because, after all, aren’t digital strategy teams hired to be original?

I started to question whether or not everything I had done had just been an imitation of something that had come before.  It turns out that quite a few of my best ideas were based on something that came before. The twist was that, after seeing what resulted, imitation wasn’t a bad thing.

By starting with where others left off, I was able to actually become more creative.  My ideas began to have their own identity.  The best ones, in fact, inspired imitations themselves.

I guess standing on the shoulders of giants is a good thing, as long as your end goal is innovation.

Nike’s Taking Social In-House: Why It’s Good News For Agencies

Over the last two years, I’ve seen many of my clients more confident in their ability to understand and connect with consumers via social media. Like Nike has just done, many have taken the responsibilities of day-to-day management of their social media profiles in-house.

Many in the agency community will cry that this is the beginning of the end.  They will ask “how are we supposed to survive financially if  we can’t make money managing their platforms like Facebook and Twitter?” I would respond that they’re wrong in many ways.

First off all, the closer you get to the source of the information, the better social media works.  That’s just a plan fact of life reinforced by companies like Comcast, Delta and Zappos that have been managing their social media in-house for years.  By creating systems designed to connect their social media operation with other, customer-facing components of their business like customer service and sales they win with consumers.  It’s as simple as that.

Secondly, going in-house is not just the natural evolution of social media. Also, it’s a good thing for agencies.  Day-to-day management of a brand’s social media presence is fun but it’s ultimately work that takes a lot of time in terms of brand training and the cycle of content creation and approval from the client.  Thought it might be a cash cow for some agencies now, when you look at the time spent versus revenue generated, it’s not the most efficient use of creative talent in the long run.

Clients taking social media in-house allows agencies the ability to evolve to a role that helps brands achieve greater, more complex levels of engagement with consumers.  Instead of worrying about what to post next, agencies can help create CRM systems that aid in making social media conversation more rewarding for the customer and more value-add for the brand.  Simply put – it frees agencies up to do what they do best – dream and execute big.

Though many brands aren’t at the stage that they feel comfortable taking their social media management in-house, I believe we’re going to see more doing this in 2013. The best thing agencies can do is take a proactive role to educate and inform our clients to the point the feel comfortable speaking directly to and with their customers through social media.

In the meantime, those that do fear for the future of their agency model are probably the ones that will not around very much longer.

In 2013, Resolving Myself To The Chaos

I think we can all agree that 2012 didn’t turn out anything like we thought it would.

Whether you’re republican or democrat, rich or poor, gay or straight the last twelve months have thrown us all a couple of curve balls.  We never could have imagined exactly where we would be today when we set those resolutions on January 1, 2012.

In that spirit, I am taking 2013 to make a new type of resolution.   I resolve not set goals for what I want the year to be but to be more appreciative of the journey, itself.  In essence, I am resolving myself to the chaos rather than a specific aspirational goal.

I’m tired of making resolutions that don’t take into account that life changes.  In fact, I not only want to anticipate those changes but I want to learn more from them than I would if life stood still.

I want to spread gratitude for the chance to be a part of those changes and to be a part of something bigger than myself.  I want to give back to the people that enrich my life and allow me to be a part of a support network that helps us help each other manage those changes.

Sure, it might sound like I am getting wrapped up in the changing of the year and even waxing a little philosophical.  The fact is though that there’s only one way to break a resolution to roll with the punches and that’s to quit.

I’m not sure about you but quitting isn’t on the menu, particularly after what we’ve been through in 2012.

Happy New Year, everyone and may all your resolutions be unbreakable!

Georgia-Based BOTANTICA by Design: The “Breaking Bad” of Soap & Lotions

You know those friends that can’t wait to show off their hobby? Scott is one of those guys.  In fact, the first time I visited his home, he couldn’t wait to show off his laundry/mad scientist inventory. It was literally stacks and stacked of  soaps and bottles of lotions – all of which he creates from his own home.

Scott has turned that hobby into a small but rapidly evolving business. Sure, plenty of folks have dabbled at making their own soaps and lotions and many of them do create really….ummm…interesting stuff?

The cool thing about Scott’s creations, which are created under his “BOTANICA by Design” brand, is that they are not only all natural but bring a cool Hawaiian inspired creativity to their blends.  For instance, he created a set of soaps infused with botanical scents like lilac that smell and feel amazing.

Designed as an alternative to major market brands, Scott is keenly aware of how his products not only smell but feel.  His Papaya body lotion, for instance goes on light and absorbs quickly as opposed to remaining heavy and greasy.  Even the scent balances with your own skin leaving a pleasant, sweet air rather than being overpowering.

You can check out more about Scott and his product line at http://botanicabydesign.com/.

Blogger Disclosure: Scott is a friend and he shamelessly forced his product on me. Of course, I willingly accepted and any and all opinions or recommendations are covered by my standard disclosure policy for this blog.

Asked & Answered: What Is Strategy Made Of?

My friends in grad school used to joke that if you didn’t know what you wanted to do with your life, you should just major in “strategy.”  It sounded professional, it sound cool but it was a nebulous enough concept that anyone could be good at it.

Flash forward to real life and it turns out that’s not the case. Not only is strategy not a given skill set in business, it turns out that much more thought and process goes into constructing good (READ: effective) strategy.  I sat down and tried to outline what strategy was made of and came up with two distinct parts:

Part #1 – The Vision Thing

The first element of good strategy is a vision of what could be.  This vision is honed through research, analysis and a detailed consideration of the market conditions surrounding a business. Great strategists spend hours pouring over every piece of data and background documentation they can find.

The goal is to cultivate an understanding of the risks and players in a situation that is so in-depth that the opportunities leap off the page. If this sounds a little hokey that’s because it is.  Great strategists are masters of opportunity.  Osmosis with information, as strange and as intangible as it may seem, triggers a honed set of judgement criteria.  When the “holes align” a strategist’s mind sees the opportunity and that’s what you call “The Vision Thing.”

Part #2 – Organizing & Articulating That Vision

The second part of good strategy is the ability to take that vision and put it into not just words but a relatable model.  More good strategy goes to waste because the concepts don’t resonate or can’t be understood by their intended audience.  Great strategists know how to explain a vision in both words and pictures in a way that can not only be easily understood but easily applied.

Though I deplore the over-use of Microsoft “SmartArt,” it is a powerful tool for communicating strategy.  Using hierarchy, relationships and processes, great strategists can piece together a vision for how to capitalize on an opportunity and a road map for getting there.

Ultimately, not everyone was cut out to be a strategist. Some minds may have one part of what strategy is made of but not the other.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be learned. If you want both sides, find out what you’re good at and identify the areas you need to work on.  Then, go out and find inspiration.  Read books about strategy, visit a museum to see how artists communicate an idea, do anything that allows you to step out of yourself.

Just remember that strategy is not a skill set that comes overnight.  It’s a set of skills, put together, that are honed over many many years and the only way you improve is by doing.

Moving Day…

They say that it is better to lead by example than design.  In the world of digital engagement that often means blazing a path where there was none, previously.

That’s why I am excited to announce my move to Brandmovers Inc., a global interactive and digital marketing agency based here in Atlanta, as their lead digital strategist.

More on Brandmovers in a moment but let me say something about the company I am moving on from…

For a little over two years, I have been privileged to work with the brilliant team over at Brandware Public Relations. We’ve worked hard to build an innovative social PR operation and I couldn’t be prouder of the results.

It’s tough to move on from a great boutique shop like Brandware where your co-workers really do become like family.   However, this move comes at a time when Brandware’s prospects in social PR couldn’t be brighter and I am confident that what we’ve built can transcend any one person.

For me, Brandmovers offers not only the next logical step but also the chance to see how far the envelope can be pushed with respect to results for brands via digital engagement. With a team of over 65 in-house designers, developers, account managers and strategists spread across offices in London, Mumbai and here in Atlanta the opportunities are exciting, to say the least.

Of course, I’ll continue blogging here at Just Friggin’ Peachy but  be sure to check Brandmovers out on Twitter, follow Brandmovers on Facebook and check out the team blog. </shameless plug>.

Stay tuned, folks.  It’s going to be an interesting ride!

Should Your Personal Brand Increase Your Value To Your Firm?

If an employee takes the initiative to build a brand external to company time, does the company still own a piece of that brand?

This is the question I faced last week as I was discussing the future direction of the digital practice at my agency. My boss thoughtfully pointed out that, as much work as I did to blog, tweet, and network there was a part of that value enhanced by having client work to back up my expertise.

Most of my hard-core social media peers will probably argue with me on this.  They would say they brought equity into the company with their brands and those brands grew in tandem with their companies.  The Wall Street Journal, though brings a little more clarity into the picture with an article they published this morning.

As far as the WSJ article goes I am going to take a couple of contrary positions:

1)   If they want their own blog; an employee should have one external to company time and external to company resources.

2)   Employees should make clear delineation every profile whether or not the employee speaks for themselves or for the company.  A simple statement like “All Opinions Are My Own” should be sufficient.

3)   If an employee does need to have a co-branded profile, that profile should a) have the brand name in it, b) exist as a profile owned by the company and, c) subject to the exact same standards of external communication as any other medium.

I love the fact that I can have an external blog to talk about what I want.  However, I am under no assumption that I am going to be paid more because of what I do on this blog.  In my view, I maintain this blog because it helps me remain sharp, hone my opinions and, of course, annoy the bejesus out of my friends.

If you want your brand to be a reason you are paid more then start your own company blog.  Otherwise, as my boss is probably thinking while reading this, quit ranting and get back to work.

How Many Times Must We Explain Why You Should Separate Your Personal And Client Twitter Accounts?!

At some point in time, social media managers are going to realize they need separate programs to manage their client and personal twitter accounts.  Apparently, that point in time is coming too late for the poor soul who was, until last night, managing the @KitchenAidUSA handle.

During last night’s presidential debate a tweet, hopefully intended for said manager’s personal account was published on the official Handle for KitchenAid in the United States:

Of course Cynthia Soledad, KitchenAid’s senior director of marketing, quickly made one of the more tactful retractions I’ve seen given these kinds of mistakes.  However, the question still exists; how can you see something like this, or any number of the instances where this has happened and NOT separate your accounts?!

Here’s a thought, have one program for your personal accounts and one for your client accounts. There are plenty of options out there including ones that allow for the shut off of team access during times of crisis or heightened scrutiny.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to following @FiredBigBird and @SilentJimLehrer.


Dear Conference Vendors: Don’t Call Me. I’ll Call You.

If I had to summarize my experience at Content Marketing World; I would say it was like a really good date ruined by overeager follow-up.

Don’t get me wrong, CMW was an amazing experience.  I met some fascinating people and walked away with some very valuable insights.  Unfortunately the vendors, some of whom I never talked to, walked away with my phone number and haven’t stopped abusing it since.

I realize that they’re only trying to help. For the love of Maslow though, you would think that a conference dedicated to marketing through value-added resources would inspire a little more creativity and tact than exhibited thus far.

Since the conference ended, I have gotten at least 3 calls or emails a week trying to follow-up with me.  Some of them want to sell me new CMS systems, some of them want to talk content syndication services.  They all want to “talk about how they can help.” This is great and I will want to talk to them but, like a date, the timing must be right.

Until then, please excuse me if I must deal first with my clients and then, when ready, I will call you.

Photo Courtesy of Vincent_AF

Polly Wanna’ Cracker? Kellogg Wants You To Tweet For It

There may not be such a thing as a “free lunch.” Thanks to Kellogg though, Twitter users in London can now at least have some free chips…well, almost free.

Kellogg UK has opened up a “Twitter Shop” to drum up buzz for their new Special K popcorn/cracker creation.  Users walk into the shop, tweet about the crackers and they get a free box.  Simple enough but just in case that didn’t make sense, they created this handy promotional video:


Now, this isn’t the first time a company has given away free stuff in exchange for tweets.  I recall Yahoo! did something similar at a conference I attended.  With them, I got to take home a huge, paper dictionary of social media and web terminology…I know, ironic right?

I tend to like this tactic in general and love the guerrilla-style offline marketing execution Kellogg UK created with it. Hey, they were probably going to have to do trials anyway so why not require some buzz creation along the way?  The only caveat I have with this is that there is no online component to this aside from Twitter.

To me, Kellogg is missing a HUGE opportunity to create a microsite with live feeds from the store.  IMO, users would LOVE to share photos of themselves in the shop tweeting or trying the new creations. It would help amplify and multiply the buzz opportunity.

Kellogg USA…send the check to me via paypal ’cause unlike the people in the video, I don’t work for crackers. Toodles!

A Little Green Monorail of Metaphor

I am totally serious, here it is….


No, there isn’t a point. I just saw this little guy on my way home from a run. He was crawling along the railing at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Seems like he has a ways to go…

Anyway, I am sure there’s a metaphor in here somewhere about it being a long road to happiness but it’s Labor Day Weekend and frankly isn’t the photo enough of a statement? Seriously, he’s like a little green monorail of metaphor.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everybody!

Burn All Your Performance Reviews

If you’re like me, you take performance reviews very seriously. They’re a great way to get a read on how you’re doing professionally and they allow you to set out goals for future growth. They are also one of those documents that should be read over thoroughly and then promptly destroyed.

I’m serious. Performance reviews should never be allowed to simply sit around in a file folder. In fact, performance reviews should never exist anywhere where they can be easily reached once they have been initially delivered. This is a truth I had to discover the hard way after keeping all of my previous performance reviews for the last 9 years.

Not only did I keep a digital copy of my reviews; I printed out each of them and stuck them in a manila file folder. This folder sat just beneath my desk and it had a tendency to be pulled out when I was feeling introspective.

Simply put; performance reviews are the last place anyone should be looking when they are trying to determine the best way to move forward. The reason for this is, like many documents, performance reviews are subject to their author’s own personality. This is not to say that my previous supervisors had it out for me. In fact, the exact opposite is true and that was the problem; performance reviews tended to reflect the best way I should move forward AT A SPECIFIC TIME.

That’s why I chose to take all of mine this past week and commit them to the care of my fireplace. I was simply tired of trying to reconcile my current path forward by examining the path I took to travel here. It was like Lewis and Clark trying to find their way through undiscovered wilderness by facing backwards. Every time I tried to make a correction based on what I had previously done, I took my focus on interpreting exactly what was in front of me.

I truly believe that the performance review process has merit and can be incredibly useful when done correctly. The fact is though that when you keep them around for future reference they make really lousy road maps.

If you have any still around, do yourself a favor and just get rid of them. Wish them the best in their future state of kindling, bird-cage lining, or however you chose to use them. Trust me on this one – you’ll be much happier and, without the reverse road-map, you might even get to enjoy the journey.

Photo Courtesy RyanKemmers

AU Brands Held Liable For Facebook Comments, Will USA Follow Suit?

Startling news from down under for social media pros; brands will be held liable for fan comments posted to their Facebook walls.

The ruling, made by Australia’s Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB), stems from complaints made regarding posts to the Australian version of the Foster’s and Diageo Facebook pages.  Essentially, what this means is that, in Australia, user comments on managed profiles like Facebook walls will be held to the same standard as any other advertisement.

The ASB argues that this is an extension of rules currently in place and should not affect actively-managed pages.  However, it does pose a greater threat pages that either don’t have constant moderation or believe that user comments are an extension of free speech and should not be interfered with.

By in large, this should not affect US brands but it does pose an interesting question regarding the future of community management.  The FTC, the closest thing we have in the USA to the Australian ASB, has usually stayed out of social media management questions.  That have set standards for blogger-brand relationships in general but they defer to the specific terms of agreement for the sites like Facebook.

The question is can brands in the USA continue to treat users’ comments as an extension of free speech and should they do more to manage comments on their Facebook walls?

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