Sure there are success stories among the big companies that have dipped their toes in the social-media water. But the vast majority of giant companies are still absolutely terrified of social media. Given that even corn flakes are part of social media these days, that's a lot of fear.
The mommy meganiche strikes
It seems doubtful that Motrin was anything but fearful when a swarm of thousands of mommy bloggers and Twitter moms attacked their ad about baby slings last week. Motrin took down the ad within hours, substituting a humorless e-mail that Seth Godin described as "the carefully crafted non-statement of a committee." And a missed opportunity to connect to the mommy meganiche to build bridges.
Before you could say "pain in the neck," someone calling themselves "imperfectparent" had posted a funny "Motrin commercial alternative" on YouTube, where it's had 8,000 views in just one day. At least someone had a sense of humor!
Instead of issuing their own good-natured and humorous response, Motrin has remained deadly serious, ending up looking rather silly.
Fred makes a splash
It's easy to see how social media can confuse CMOs and CEOs, not to mention ad agencies. Fred, a 15-year-old boy who sounds like he inhaled helium, snagged 11 million views and 70,000 comments for one of his recent "Fred Goes Swimming" videos. A video featuring nothing more than a pair of "daft hands" gets nearly 26 million downloads and 83,000 comments, and a video of the young men belonging to those hands eating corn flakes quickly got 17,000 views.
|B.L. Ochman also writes the popular What's Next Blog.|
Niche bites man
YTMND stands for "You're the man now, dog," a line Sean Connery said in the movie "Finding Forrester" in 2000. The site, supported entirely by Google ads, hosts tens of thousands of user-created pages that combine a background image, a sound clip and rudimentary animation. According to the site's founders, it gets millions of unique visitors a month, more than 100,000 of whom have contributed pages.
So, big brands: You're the man now, dog, and the woman. You need to engage in some serious research and school yourself on what is happening online that doesn't come from the usual suspects -- you and your corporate buds.
Time to try candor, humor, real dialogue. And to mega-niche or be niched.