About Venetta

am: web junkie, dog lover, social media analyst, novice photographer, constant student. am not: an expert, nor a guru, not even a ninja

Kitchen Aid Tweet During Presidential Debate 2012 – This Shweets Crazy

So there are way too many (embarrassing) examples of a brand’s account being mistaken for someone’s personal account. Who can forget the infamous Chrysler incident?  Some harp on the issue with an anti-intern stance, because “companies might leave all that social media stuff for their inexperienced interns”, some realize that people just make mistakes – people are multi-tasking at rates that, well, shweets happen (my term for “shitty tweets”).

Yikes for @KitchenAidUSA because not only was their tweet “irresponsible”,  it was at the worst time ever: when pretty much everyone on Twitter is talking about the #debate, #debates, etc.

@KitchenAidUSA: Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’.

Screenshot of chatter on Twitter:

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Apology by Kitchen Aid:

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Brands typically don’t take political sides.  And even worse – let’s bring in the dead grandmother of the current President of the United States while the eyes of the entire nation are on the Obama / Romney debate AND talking about it in on Twitter at the same time…

Interested to see how this will play out if they issue any formal statements…

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The real issue with Chobani “Greek” yogurt: from a Greek’s perspective

Cultural marketing, I assume, is difficult.  Especially when you’re trying to take items from one culture and use it to market to the masses.

What do I mean?  Try the Athenos “Yiayia” campaign that caused quite a bit of controversy over the portrayal of the “yiayia”.  Yiayia, in Greek, means grandmother, and typically, this woman is the matriarch of the family.  I’ve made my own pokes at the Athenos team on Twitter, asking them if they actually have a Greek on their team that is advising on how yiayia is portrayed, the things she says, etc. etc.  I haven’t received a response from the brand, nor would I expect to, because – even if the person at the top pulling the trigger is Zeus, from the southern-Greek island of Crete, or Alexander the Great, from the northern-Greek region of Macedonia, themselves –  PR probably won’t let them respond to my Twitter musings because a. they might say something they shouldn’t and there is a possibility someone misconstrues something or b. the fire will be fueled and we will revive the previous criticism they received from The Greek Institute as covered by USA Today.

Okay, that might be hard, but add another layer.  Take from one culture and blend it with negative experiences with another culture… and then… market to the masses!

If you know me, like we’re friends and share-crude-humor-together-know me, you’ll be aware of my passionate distaste for Chobani Greek Yogurt.  I’ve actually never had Chobani nor any of the other cool and hip Greek yogurts because my yiayia’s yogurt is actually Greek yogurt and you can’t bottle and market that.  Anywhoosle… I have a problem with Chobani because it’s “Greek” yogurt (I have the same problem with Oikos, but for different reasons).

The founder of the company, Hamdi Ulukaya (note: not Ulukanis or Ulukanakapolis or Ulukanakis or Ulupapadopoulos) started Chobani. That’s still on their current website. Who cares? No harm.

Okay, so I had to do some searching for this… I had to use the Wayback Machine because since the last time I checked the Chobani website, it has changed (probably because of backlash by Greeks like me).  Good for them (no really, because their marketing team should have done a little more cultural research before going these routes).

Here-in lies the rub:

Their awesome-ly “Greek” yogurt is also made in the hills of… New York???  And by a guy named, Mustafa???? (Wayback Machine capture of chobani.com from June 2012, as it’s currently changed)  Image

According to their (old) website, the word Chobani means shepherd in Greek: “The pair decided on the name Chobani after it came to Hamdi during a three-hour, snowy drive to a meeting.  Chobani, spelled “chopani,” is the Greek word shepherd, and is a symbol of safety and good” (Note: I pulled this from the Wayback Machine too, because someone on their team knew they needed to pull that from the current site, for obvious reasons.)

To me and many other Greeks, this is why this is funny and 100% not cool: there is no CH sound in Greek.  The Greek word is “tsopanis”.  However, (and yes, my family is part of this group) some Greeks from villages tend to bring in the CH sound – but really, no CH sound in Greek.  Why am I honing in on this point?  Because it’s Greek yogurt, claiming to be a Greek word but the founder is Turkish.

Their website went from these descriptions using “Greek”, to removing the descriptions in their entirety as seen here:

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So what, you ask?  Big deal – Chobani used “Greek” to describe their yogurt.  It’s a Greek process (they argue), but who cares?

A lot of people.  We’re talking about 400 years.

That’s the big deal.  And it’s a big deal with Greeks and Turks. As with many feuds between cultures, races, religions, et.al., it’s typically the two in question that understand the unsaid words – no one else cares and it seems “minor” to most, but to those that understand the history, it’s a big deal. What really is lost here and will continue to be lost is the history.  With the web moving at increasingly high speeds, the democritization of media – literally giving everyone in the world the opportunity to create and move content, the very real possibility that not only will we lose history, but people will re-write it and the tragic events from thousands of years ago will be lost.  In losing history and the real events from that history, we’re all at risk of repeating it.  Our ancestors, regardless of their origin, will have fought in vain.

And it’s why the marketers behind Chobani should have known better to promote and market a “greek” product (that’s not Greek in any way – it’s made in New York, founded by a Turkish man).

So then I saw this tweet today:

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Crudeness aside… I’m almost 100% positive that the person representing @Chobani was unaware of the cultural shitstorm they were walking into.  PR didn’t step in because the brand is just responding to tweets…and instead… we rehash 400 years of slavery between Greeks and Turks in the context of… why, of course!, the  “Greek” yogurt of Hamdi and Mustafa.

This isn’t the first time here folks, President Barack Obama was in the middle of a dispute too between the Greeks and the Turks…  about baklava.  Yes, my friends, baklava.  And The Atlantic, covered the “puff piece”, citing it as a “Minor Turkish-Greek conflict“. Turks got pissed, shitstorm ensues, people get worked up about it (including myself on Twitter), no one but Greeks and Turks get why this is not just a “minor” Turkish-Greek conflict – (including The Atlantic, who should have known better or at least researched the history considering the importance of the “event” that Obama was at in the first place).  Well, folks, Obama was at a 25th of March celebration in D.C when he had the baklava.

Who cares, right?

The 25th of March is when Greeks celebrate Independence Day.

… from 400 years of occupation…

From the Turks.

Enjoy Simplicity and Teach The Robot Dance

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I spent a majority of the weekend  with my family, which, with a busy work schedule, is sometimes a feat in and of itself.  I decided to put the Blackberry away and just enjoy the valuable time that we all take for granted when life demands more than seems possible and roadblocks can leave us at a screeching halt.

Enter Robot Dance.

There is no real way to define a robot dance, outside of confined arm and hand gestures, in, you guessed it, robot mode.  Perhaps the gentleman in the red shirt here is doing a phenomenal robot dance, (dance commences at ~ 48 seconds, and the “phenomenal” adjective is according to YouTube searches and video hits) or even this guy here (same criteria as above).

Well, take the concept, add a funny (albeit there is one criteria: robotic) voice and proceed to say “robot dance” over and over and dance like the robot in front of a two-year old.  Despite the initial looks of confusion, chances are, your actions will be mimicked.  I won’t lie and pretend that I have the exact statistics and/or links to childhood development regarding this behavior, but we all know, kids replicate behaviors.  After twenty minutes of trying to get this behavior mimicked, (I mean come on, a 2 year old saying “robot dance” and proceeding to do it, is adorable), great success! Behavior mimicked and we all had a great laugh.

About 24 hours later, and after re-entering the real world of work-life balance, I had long forgotten the robot dance.  And then, enter text messages.  Numerous text messages with pictures of my niece doing the robot dance all day, long after I left their home and long after I had forgotten about it myself.

Back at the office, all of my news and marketing RSS feeds remind me that Steve Jobs died last week as I have been consistently delivered new content with their editorial opinions and new interviews.  Apple set up an email account for the public to share their thoughts and memories.  Google, within hours of his passing, created a simple, yet powerful tribute to Jobs on their homepage linking to Apple’s website (Yes, the companies compete, but competition was put aside to honor one of the greatest visionaries of our time.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can’t all change the world as Steve Jobs might have.  But you can make a small difference.

I’m not a Mac enthusiast.  I own Mac products but I haven’t had the time to fully explore what they can do.  For me, the genius of Apple and of Steve Jobs is the focus on simplicity.  Not all ideas need to be executed upon.  Not all great ideas need to be executed upon.  The art of Steve Jobs is knowing, and having a team in place to help guide the strategy and tactics, to focus on key elements, not on all elements.

Was Apple and Steve Jobs a movement against “the man” (Just Google the Apple vs. Microsoft stances)?  Was Apple and Steve Jobs an example of employee engagement based on truths and passion?  Or was it just genius marketing?

For me, I cannot recall a time in history, at least in my life, in which a figure such as Steve Jobs, moved his consumers to a point where they took the company logo and recreated it in real-life by biting actual apples and leaving them at Apple retail locations all over the world, along with post it-notes and thank you cards at the time of his passing.  From Chicago to Beijing, the simple gesture is quite a powerful one.

Maybe it’s in teaching someone the robot dance – someone that will take the gesture, something that you put mild effort in – and whether it’s groundbreaking, it doesn’t matter.  It’s the thank you, the smile, the laughter.   It’s the simplicity.

Enjoy beauty.  Enjoy life.  Enjoy simplicity.

 

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Speech, 2005 

The ABCs of Social Media Recruitment: Always Be Connecting

Note: This blog post was originally featured on CareerBuilder’s The Hiring Site on June 7, 2011 where I was a  guest contributor. Screenshot of Alec Baldwin is not from the original post.

Chances are high that any salesperson you have met since 1992 can recite lines, if not the entire script, from Glengarry Glen Ross.  David Mamet’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play was adapted to film in 1992 with the likes of Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Al Pacino and Alec Baldwin giving way to memorable quotes, and providing fodder for film buffs and sales trainers alike.

 

Despite the origin of the term – whether or not it was Mamet – Baldwin’s character brings the concept of the “ABCs of sales” to new life and gives entrance to modern sales vocabulary in one of the film’s most memorable scenes: Always Be Closing.

 

As personal online networks like Facebook grow to more than 500 million users and professional online networks like LinkedIn hit audience levels of more than 100 million, it’s evident that when fueled by technology, connectivity is easier and more accessible than ever.  The agents in Glengarry Glen Ross may not have been concerned with the relationships they were building (or not building) in always-be-closing deals; however, as the economy and job market recover today, solidifying relationships between individuals and organizations is crucial for pipelining future talent.

 

Whether your organization consists of five people or you’re part of the Fortune 500, social platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have opened up opportunities to target and attract new candidate streams that are otherwise inaccessible. Despite your industry, user-generated outlets like YouTube and WordPress have given your audiences the ability to sing your praises or sink your battleship with their reviews of your product, process, staff, and service.

 

As recruitment evolves via emerging technologies, how do you make the most of opportunities to push your brand forward? Put a spin on Baldwin’s insightful speech, making your goal to “Always Be Connecting.”

 

Because everyone has their 2 cents
Just as the adage goes – without being crude – opinions are like certain body parts, and everyone has them.  No matter who you are or where you come from, you will think a specific way about a place, interest, topic, etc. Opinions can be formed through first- or secondhand experiences, education, and –although we might not like to admit it – even stereotypes and biases.

 

Sites like Glassdoor.com, Jobitorial.com, and Careerbliss.com provide platforms for past and present employees as well as interviewees to provide reviews of your organization.  If a candidate has a bad experience and feels as though your interviewing process was unprofessional, warranted or not, the candidate has highly popular websites on which to post that opinion.  And with 64 percent of candidates researching companies before even applying to a position, overwhelming amounts of negative 2 cents can add up to serious recruitment challenges, whereas glowing employment reviews can propel recruitment efforts.

 

Because it’s human nature
In just seven short years, Facebook has grown to be the world’s largest online social network, with more than 700 billion minutes spent on the site each month and a 50 percent daily log-in rate. Despite your 2 cents about Facebook, not many can argue that the phenomenon is akin to who we are as human beings – creatures with a disposition to connect to others, validate our thoughts and perhaps self-worth through those that we know, and possibly even play out our innate voyeuristic and narcissistic tendencies. (OK, so this might be a stretch. But keep in mind that photo sharing and photo viewing are top activities on the site en-masse, and the average Facebook user changes their profile picture more than 18 times a year – three times the amount they did only a couple of years ago.)

 

Because everyone is a passive job seeker
In the last six months, I have consulted a handful of Fortune 500 organizations that are launching social media strategies aimed at employment branding for the first time.  These organizations have been active in the social space for years, but they are just now beginning to use the platforms for recruitment and employment branding campaigns.  Just a few weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal reported a similar trend in which some boutique firms have conducted almost twice the amount of employer branding analyses than in years prior.

 

Regardless of whether people will actually label themselves “active” or “passive” job seekers, it’s safe to assume that at almost any given point in time, everyone, no matter how happy they are with their position and organization, is a passive jobseeker. People are typically taught and encouraged to pursue greater opportunities and not accept complacency. Managers don’t accept mediocre performance, and people shouldn’t accept mediocrity in their careers. No matter how sufficed one might be in their career, opportunities for advancement, increases in pay or benefits, better work-life balances, shorter commuting times, and more flexible hours can all be motivating factors for a happy and high-performing individual to move to another organization. As most recruiters and hiring managers know, talent is hard to find and equally hard to keep.

 

As the job market recovers, expect to see more and more companies marketing their organization almost as a product to candidates – a product that is desired, offers value beyond a paycheck and has many other happy customers (in the form of current employees).

 

The future of recruitment truly does transform Mamet and Baldwin’s “Always Be Closing” concept to “Always Be Connecting.”  Social media and employment branding are now part of the strategies for pipelining talent post-recession. Note that social media is not going to take the place of email marketing, targeted advertising, out of home advertising, print, TV, radio or any other platform on which your company currently sees recruitment success.  Instead, it’s a supplement – an ongoing effort. Social media takes strategy and helps forms the right path for conversations.  And while it – like people – may not be 100 percent controllable – social media gives your organization and the individuals at your organization the opportunity to create connections. Through it, you can actually show your company’s value proposition as well as give your employees – real people with unique stories – the opportunity to share how they contribute to your company’s success. It’s these stories from these brand advocates that will give life, reason and passion to why they’re working for your organization and why others should, too.

 

As a company with a growing employment brand, you’ll be able to participate in online conversations where appropriate, engage current and future employees and enthusiasts, provide a platform of information and education for your targeted audience to discuss topics of interest, and truly begin a long-term and evolving strategy for your employment value proposition.

 

People + Content = Social Media Win

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Note: This blog post was originally featured on CareerBuilder’s The Hiring Site on May 3, 2011 where I am a guest contributor. I am not featured on the actual contributor page because I don’t post my photos publicly online (if you look closely at my mini-avatar, you can see me behind my two dogs).  For more insight as to my reasoning on the conscious decision to maintain an online persona with the photo of a dog and the real value of online social networking, click here

The concept of social media is a simple one: people and content. There is nothing new about this.  People have been connecting with each other and content since the beginning of time. With the advent of technology, namely the Internet, it should be of no surprise that human beings have taken their desire for interaction to new heights as they connect with friends and family on Facebook, and with professional colleagues on LinkedIn; share and follow others with the same content interest on Twitter; watch stories unfold via video and photography on YouTube and Flickr; and produce and connect with others via the written word on WordPress and Blogger.

People will connect to brands on social media, too. No other medium has afforded brands the opportunity to build this intimate and innate connection with desired audiences. eMarketer reports that the number one reason consumers connect with brands on Facebook is to let their social network know which brands they support.

Realistically though, how can one define the ROI of “support”?  Will it be in the form of short-term or long-term sales? Will it be in the form of traffic to a website, in which more robust content is delivered?  Is it measured on increased brand equity or sentiment for employment branding? And how does one even quantify brand equity or employment branding?

Building Support
All too often, our team sees that organizations tend to measure the success of social media via likes, followersand subscribers. Unfortunately, “If you build it, he will come,” is quite possibly the biggest social media myth that I encounter and consult against on a daily, if not hourly, basis. (For more insight on how to resist this Field of Dreams whisper, check out Melissa Murray Balsan’s post, How to Launch in the Social Space.) Just because you are there doesn’t mean that people know or have a reason to care.  And just because you invest in content doesn’t mean people will automatically know how to find it.

To begin growing your presence, go to the people that know and love you in the “real world.”  You already have an audience with individuals that comprise your organization as well as those who help keep the lights on by buying your products and/or services.

  • Employees: Assuming you treat them well, with the appropriate message and reason, your employees should be your first selections for brand advocates. Without them, your organization wouldn’t exist. How can their stories be framed to push your corporate initiatives forward?
  • Customers: Assuming you have a good product or service, your current clients and customers are another audience base that you can preliminarily leverage to push your message forward. Again, without them, your organization wouldn’t exist. How can their voices help you with your overarching business goals?

If you are not planning to fund the growth of your social media presence via advertising, how are you integrating and messaging your two core audiences of employees and customers to join you online? If you are not messaging your audiences and giving them a reason to participate, you are missing out on your first brand advocates. How else can you integrate your current marketing and communication materials to make audiences aware of your presence?

Realistically Define Success Metrics
Not everyone will be able to achieve nearly 26M fans on Facebook that consistently sing the praises of the organization, like Coca-Cola has done. Meanwhile, Starbucks has more than 21M fans that not only defend the business against competition but also upload user-generated content and publicly profess their taste preference for the brand.

While 20M to 25M fans might be out of the question for most, every organization can still utilize social media to tell its corporate story. More importantly, social media affords the best platforms to leverage audiences to push that same story forward, like the trend seen on the Starbucks and Coca-Cola pages – everyday consumers publicly “loving” a product. It’s not the simple act of clicking like on a page; it’s the story that each individual shares with his/her 130 friends about your brand.

Get Them Talking
So how do you provide a platform on which those audiences can actively participate with you? Social Media is a visual platform through which people will connect and share content. As mentioned earlier, the heart of this content should tell your corporate story. Understanding that not everyone can be the behemoths of Starbucks and Coca-Cola in size and marketing dollars, Epic MedStaff Services Inc., shares the success it has seen by empowering audiences via social media.

As an organization that recruits only the best nurses in Texas and provides top of the line care for children in their Epic Pediatric Services Division, the relationship that Epic MedStaff has with its employees is essential for its business. By providing a platform for and cultivating these relationships with employees, Epic MedStaff’s Facebook page is a great example of social storytelling. Key tactics include inviting and fostering dialogue with employees. “Social Media has allowed us to cultivate new relationships with our employees,” says Kristian Stevens, corporate recruiter for Epic MedStaff. “By utilizing Facebook, we have created an online platform where we can communicate to our employees and clients without boundaries.”

These new types of dialogues with employees have publicly garnered such commentary:

  • Hello Epic, you guys are doing a great job. Keep it up… You rock!
  • Day 2 of my new employment with Epic. So far so GREAT 
  • Today was my first day orienting at [Epic MedStaff]… I love this job!

So what do these dialogues and public testimonials do for Epic MedStaff? Understanding that what was found through eMarketer’s report, “support” isn’t as quantifiable as traditional marketing campaigns in terms of ROI. However, Stevens tells us that these conversations have helped brand Epic MedStaff in “the online world” in a way that traditional media and marketing hasn’t been able to. Along with corporate and employment branding, these conversations “have created more awareness about who we are and the patients we serve.”

Determine Your Wins
Once you have built your preliminary audience, I challenge you to ask yourself and your colleagues how you can increase your organization’s audience base. When doing so, be sure to concentrate on what current and future audiences will give back to you via engagement and how those stories can be pushed through your current audiences to new ones.

In an ever-evolving business landscape, how can you create success out of a corporate story that you already have? The hardest part sometimes will be determining what that story is, but once you have honed in on it, create the emotional connection with your supporters so they push the story forward within their respective networks. Soon you will be on the path to creating a platform created of brand advocates – individuals willing and ready to publish testimonials to your current and future audiences.

People and content. Social media wins are that simple. What objectives can you meet if you empower your audiences to tell your story?

Social Media Will Not Fix It.

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If it’s not broken, why fix it?  Well, even if you don’t think it’s broken, throw in your audience, give them a bullhorn and they’ll give you a laundry list of to-do’s to fix something they think is broken.  While most of the time you can chalk it up to complaining (because we’re human and we’re more inclined to critique and give our more than two cents than actually praise), there will be trends over a period of time that will indicate that something is, in-fact, broken.

I work on social media engagements with a healthy array of clients – from small –to-mid-sized businesses to the Fortune 100.  I’ve seen a lot.  I’ve seen audience feedback that makes me proud to own a project and I’ve seen audience feedback that makes me send myself bat signals (yes, like in Batman, but I send them to myself) so I can hide in conference rooms and cry.  Okay, the last part of that is a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is that audience feedback can be rough.  And it’s not “social media” that causes the problem.  It’s the company’s actual audience in the real world.  Now, that audience actually has a voice and they have a computer and now, they have power even if they are 350% wrong.  And like it or not, they’re not going to stop.

Yes, that’s right.  Social media is not your problem.  Social media is not your solution.  Social media is also not magic and at the same time, social media will not be your downfall.

Social media is simple.  It’s people plus content.  That is all.    If you have a real-world customer service issue, people will notice.  People will talk.  People will probably complain about your company. People might inform their networks on sites like Facebook or Twitter or post a less than flattering review on Yelp.  If you have a corporately owned presence on these sites, they’ll probably seek you out and let you know directly.  Being present on these sites isn’t going to fix the problem which is the actual customer service issue you have (long wait times, unprofessional staff, etc.).

Just ask PostNet.  Three consecutive posts on a company “page” on Facebook (this means that it was created by an official representative of the company and the content is not auto-pulled by Facebook as the “community pages” are) are less than pleasant.

When you magnify people’s voices, add the immortality of content through the Internet and the action of “screenshotting” – once it’s posted, it has the possibility of living on after it has been deleted.

Unfortunately for PostNet, I screenshotted this page in mid-February of 2011.  When I went back to find the actual page for this for this blog post, it no longer exists on Facebook.  My guess is that PostNet removed the page because they realized that a presence on Facebook isn’t going to be the coupon distribution marketing platform they were looking for (see the last post on the screenshot by PostNet the brand, noting the 10% coupon).

Before looking at the buzz and hype of Facebook to distribute coupons, make sure you’re okay with giving your audiences the microphone.  If you don’t know your audience you’re going to put yourself at the reputational risk of opening the floodgates with no plan (PostNet responded to 0 of 3 consecutive complaints and apparently just removed themselves from the platform).

The real intriguing question here is – what is PostNet going to do about the implications of this audience feedback?  If the service and the staff are true issues,  a problem that needs to be addressed in physical locations is surfacing via social media.

How can you use social media, people and content to identify gaps in your business?  More importantly, how you can take action on those identified gaps in order to push your business forward?

Focusing on the opportunities – how can you move what you do best to a social platform that you can manage?  If you gave your adoring audiences a bullhorn, how can you help shape the feedback that they will give you?

Unlike Christina Aguilera, social media is not a genie in a bottle.  It’s just a magnifying glass.  Listen to it, analyze it, and use it to improve.  We’re not all perfect, we just have to know how to improve and what to concentrate on.  Know your audience (or at least try to), and (gasp!) just ask them.