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…

My (Social Network) Life As A Dog: My Online Elevator Pitch

If we haven’t met in real life, chances are, you only know me physically as a dog.  My avatars and profile pics and whatever other new age words are used to describe the photos next to my online profiles, are those of my dog.  For consistency purposes, I try to use the same dog (I have two), if not the same photo of the aforementioned canine.

I’m a dog person.  I love my dogs.  If you know me personally, you know I am passionate about my dogs and can talk about them forever.  My dogs help drive my motivations personally and professionally.

So what, right?

Well, I’ve always gotten flack about using pictures of my dogs as my personal profile pictures.  Less so with Twitter and with WordPress (in fact, never), but mostly with my LinkedIn picture.

  • “LinkedIn is a professional site.  Why on earth would you risk your reputation and portray yourself as a dog?”
  • “LinkedIn is a professional site.   Considering your profession, shouldn’t you apply some of the best practices you preach?”

I was at a personal branding / social media conference in February of 2010 and we were in the process of critiquing each other’s LinkedIn profiles.  So clearly, Venetta’s dog profile picture really came under attack, of which the above two critiques were the most consistent.  Mind you, I didn’t know anyone there, so this was raw feedback from strangers.  Strangers that did not know my personal passion for dogs and also strangers well versed in social media.  Olivier Blanchard, author of The BrandBuilder Blog, and  Social Media ROI, was a guest speaker at this event, and told us about Chico as I was coming under attack for the depiction of my online persona.  Chico is Olivier’s dog and Olivier used to portray himself as Chico.  It wasn’t until recently that Olivier added his own picture to the blog:

Although I do not know Olivier’s original reasons for deciding to use his dog Chico as his personal persona (obviously, he has since added his own likelihood to his profiles), I do know my initial reasons as well as the evolution of those reasons.

For one, I am a highly private person.  However, I do like to participate in online conversations but I still am not personally comfortable taking the additional step and posting my mug out to the masses.  I don’t think that I ever will be – for me personally it’s uncomfortable, and as most people, I try to avoid any and all situations that are unpleasant. Simply and echoing Barnaby, when it comes it to using a “real photo”, quite frankly, “I prefer not to”.

Secondly, (and this comes from a highly successful sales career), a photograph of a dog has been one of the best conversation starters I have ever had the pleasure of benefitting from.  I will give you an example that has come forth on numerous occasions (these work best when your connections are dog owners or just like dogs).

  • Icebreaker question posed by many clients/prospects based on my LinkedIn profile alone:  “I saw your LinkedIn profile, what kind of dog is that?”

This question usually segways into what kind of dog the other individual has/had/known/etc.  This is a great icebreaker.  I still talk to these individuals based on our common interest of dogs even though we no longer do business together.  It has helped solidify relationships not only professionally, but personally – which is the true testament of “business relationship”.

People don’t typically take the time to read through bio’s on blogs and profiles if you’re connecting based on business.  I do, but I am one of the few.

This is what I have seen:  I know you, we’ve “met” in some professional capacity (typically this starts over the phone), we solidify our professional rendezvous online.  That’s pretty much it if you’re not a recruiter or sales executive that should be going through bios in greater detail.

So, my ten second online elevator pitch is my title, some random cliche words about myself and a picture of my dog.

And the picture sparks the connection.

When is the last time that you were able to non-creepily discuss someone’s LinkedIn profile picture as an icebreaker?

How would that work?

  • That’s a great shirt you’re wearing! (This is just creepy)
  • Oh, you’re older than I expected.  Secondary thought:  Based on your age are you biased towards technologies and communications that are out of date?
  • Oooohhh, you’re actually a lot younger than I expected.  Secondary thought:  Based on your age and possible lack of experience, should I even trust you with my business?

And the one we can all relate to 95% of the time:

  • You look absolutely nothing like you do in real life.  (We all experience this almost all of the time, or at least I do and chances are, the online persona depicted in that profile picture is better looking than the person in real life. This is not an insult to anyone, it’s just true.  You have the time and the care it takes to pick that one picture that makes you look stellar.  And why wouldn’t you – it’s human nature and virtually anyone on the Internet can stumble upon this, so it’s in your best interest to, well, look your best)

The Internet has given us all the most wonderful narcissistic playground.  We perform based on our audience and the platform.  The performance can be in the form of knowledge distribution (because I’m smarter than all of you and my Tweets prove it!), or social photographs (because I do awesomer things than all of you and go to events and have a great time all of the time and document all of this evidence on sites like Facebook!), or professional connections (because I am connected to more CEO’s than you are and my LinkedIn network proves this!) or even associations to specific locations (because my Foursquare check-ins show that I eat better food than you and check-in at the coolest and hippest new places!)

The psychological implications of  social sites and how that ties into our behavior (and the performance of that behavior) fascinates me.  And it is also what hinders me from changing the “dog picture” to a “real picture”.

For one, the picture I would use would be a glorified version of myself that you wouldn’t recognize even if you knew me. But even more so, because social networking, to me at least, is about creating the right relationships based on common interests and nurturing those relationships for future mutual benefit.

Perhaps when I achieve the status of Olivier Blanchard, I can transition away from Chico and bring myself into the picture (pun intended).

But for now, my dogs have served me well.

They’ve solidified relationships and helped start new ones based on common interests – which is the power of social media – just moving the real world online.

Should Social Media Participation be an Employee Requirement?

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This dynamic question was posed on LinkedIn, and to my surprise it didn’t receive much traction. My major theory as to why? Too many companies are looking at the potential of social media for short term advertising and marketing campaigns. (I have a secondary theory regarding the fact that this was a discussion vs. a question and that people are less likely to participate in discussions because they are not published on your LinkedIn profile – for now at least – and therefore there is less social currency associated with, “check out how smart I am and look at what I answered” attached directly to my profile – but I digress…)

“Let’s go to Facebook and fish where the fish are.” It makes sense, do it. The fact of the matter is that not enough companies are carving out the long-term strategic capabilities of what it means to be social. Social is here and it is changing daily. People are people and will continue to be people. Whether or not Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. will suffer the fate of Bebo in the upcoming months or years doesn’t matter. It’s incredibly irrelevant to the long-term because the medium doesn’t matter. Social has taught us that people are ongoing and so is conversation. With technologies in place this will only continue. For marketing and advertising purposes, this is great, assuming that you do it correctly or constantly improve and refine your message.

Reverting back to the question, the following is the two cents I shared on LinkedIn where I was incredibly disappointed by the lack of engagement from those that profess to be in the social “know” and are self-proclaimed “experts” and “guru’s”. Again, to my dismay, no one seemed interested in discussing the potential of “social” for long-term employee engagement strategies to build competitive advantages. I hope that it is not a tell-tale sign that we are more concerned with our current customers than our future employees and future sustainability as an organization.

“It is imperative that all companies start engaging their own employees in social media/ social tools within their organization. But, “requiring” participation doesn’t work either. If something is required, the quality and quantity of content will be subpar no matter what. Transparency is what consumers are looking for right now, and will most probably be able to identify the companies in which the employees are made to participate in some capacity. The key is for companies to effectively motivate, engage and create brand enthusiasts and advocates of their employees so that they want to participate in the external social activities of the company .

Once you tie social media and participation into an employee’s “what’s in it for me” (along with having a product, service, and company worth the buzz), the participation won’t be forced. This is the one of the hurdles.

Another hurdle is that the big buzz marketing ideas and strategies are growing Facebook and Twitter fan bases aimed at engaging their customers. Companies are currently too focused on their external customers and in my findings, are not doing enough with their internal customers, and their most valuable asset: their employees. Social media has been widely discussed and implemented as a marketing tactic and hasn’t been explored enough as a strategic tool within the organization.

When you factor in the mindsharing capabilities that social tools enable companies with, the possibilities for a sustainable competitive advantage increases significantly. Considering the power of networks as well, a strong internal “social network” is also likely to decrease attrition and save companies millions of dollars a year. Organizational development and training is an area that large organizations can benefit from through social tools by harnessing the power of their internal crowd and collaborating on a much larger scale, without geographical (or even “cubical”) boundaries.

We already know the power of social media and companies are finally jumping on the bandwagon to listen to their customers. Most companies have forgotten the power of the employees that they already have and the power that their participation in company sponsored social media/social sites could have on their organization for not only external marketing campaigns and tactics, but also for long-term sustainable competitive advantage.”

-Originally shared (by me) on LI to much disappointment in the quantity of responses considering that many attest to being a “ninja” regarding social media these days
My positioning on whether or not social media should be an employee requirement teeters on yes, but knowing that motivation and recognition factors for human behavior hinder the feasibility of a yes or no answer in terms of implementation, the fact of the matter is simple:
If you have a good company, have a good product, treat customers and employees right, then requirements aren’t needed, people will oblige and participate for the long-term sustainability of the company, no matter what the collective effort is.
But truth be told, how many companies can truly say that they, in Google’s words, aren’t evil in any aspect of how they do business and that anything that they do internally (minus trade secrets, business strategies, and the like) should be published for all to see?