Community Management, Social Media Case Studies, Social Media Strategy, Social Media Monitoring

Why You Need to Open the Kimono in Social Media

It’s more about the social, than it is about the media.

It’s easy to forget that when we’re besieged by technology and tools inventions and announcements every single day. But the fact that your company has a Twitter account, or a Facebook page, or uses CoTweet (client), or has a blog doesn’t mean a damn thing, inherently.

Just showing up to the party and treating social media like something else for you to check off your corporate to-do list doesn’t humanize your company. It doesn’t create kinship. It doesn’t drive purchase intent.

You have to focus on how to “be” social, not just on how to “do” social media. And that requires your organization to adopt a more casual, open, tongue-in-cheek, self-aware, and often humorous tone. There is fun and personality inside every company. Stop hiding it. Open the kimono and embrace the human, fun side of your company – because that’s the dimension of your corporate personality in which your customers are interested. It’s also the only side of your business that has any chance of being spread and shared virally.

Companies like ThinkGeek, Kadient, Moosejaw, and Sweet Leaf Tea (all profiled in The NOW Revolution) understand this dynamic. And so does the Boston Bruins NHL franchise.

Today’s Darwin Award Nominee

Last Thursday night, a drunk and idiotic Bruins “fan” and her friend/accomplice shot and uploaded to Viddler a video showing her vandalizing a restroom at TD Garden, where the team plays its home games. Reminiscent of the Domino’s employees incident from a while back, this lady is going to be someone’s Mom someday (shudder).

Humanization in an Instant

Certainly, the Bruins have a pretty spectacular social listening and response program, with a minimum of internal obstacles, because within 18 HOURS they had this spectacular response video posted, which ties in to their awesome Bruins Hockey Rules campaign:

Sometimes, serious results come from being less than serious.

(big thanks to my friend and hockey nut Derrick Widmark from Diablo Burger – named AZ’s best burger by USA Today – for the tip-off on this story)

Facebook Comments


  1. says

    I agree with your points, Jay, but I also think we have to be careful of giving off the idea that all companies need to do to please customers is “be social.” While we’re living in the soup bowl of social media, not everyone is.

    All they’re interested in is the best deal. They don’t care if CEO X is a human being with a life; they just care about “Can I get this for cheaper and spend the change elsewhere.”

    Not everyone’s a bruin – some people just don’t like bears.

    • Anonymous says

      You overestimate human logic. Sure, a lot of people are just in it for the best deal. But a lot of other people want to be treated well, and feel a connection with the human side of what they’re buying, even if that means they’re paying a lot more. RE: buying a bicycle at Walmart (cheap) verse spending the extra money to have an experienced sales person at a specialty bicycle shop. There’s a need for both.

      • says

        I don’t think it’s as much a matter of overestimating as it is being realistic, Tracy.

        Of course people want to be treated well, and for the most part, many brands get this right anyway. But like you mention with your Walmart comparison, you’re agreeing with the point I made about not everyone caring about the experience – that goes with the level of “in” you have at the time and place of purchase.

        • Anonymous says

          Perhaps a better example would be taking a car to the dealership for maintenance, when you could get the same (or better) service for less elsewhere. Yet plenty of people still take their cars to the dealership. This probably has less to do with the effect of marketing than with the force of habit–but is an example of where logic just breaks down, and the less quantifiable factors kick in.

          • says

            That’s a fair point, but it could also come down to being tied into that delaership’s program. Or remoteness of location.

            I’m not saying there’s no such thing as brand-building through the user experience – just that’s it’s not always the be all and end all.

          • says

            It seems like Danny’s argument is only holding weight with low-priced consumer products. People don’t shop around for the lowest local sports tickets. They may look for the lowest priced tickets, but it’s for the team that they’re a fan of – that they care about. Granted, most of us were fans of our teams prior to the organization “becoming social”, but the variety of ways to interact now can turn passive fans into passionate ones.

            As a Boston fan living in Connecticut, it’s tough for me to keep up with my teams live. But the Celtics have done a fantastic job with their social presence, and I am definitely becoming more passionate about my fandom (yes, winning helps too).

            It’s not a sports thing, though. When brands are choosing between marketing agencies, it’s NEVER just about price. Even when travelers are choosing between airlines, it’s not about price either. Airlines like @JetBlue are doing a great job of engaging people, ESPECIALLY when they’re not traveling.

            Yes, price matters, and no, being social isn’t the be-all-end-all, but to say “All they’re interested in is the best deal” sounds close-minded to me. There’s a reason we don’t all stay in Motel 8s and drive Hyundai Accents.

            I like Matt’s previous comment, “But if you are helpful to them, keep in touch often, and you also make them laugh; they may not be as motivated or be easily persuaded to buy the cheaper thing.” That’s what it’s all about. We do business with people we know, trust, and like (props Scott Stratten).

            Jon Thomas

    • says

      I’m surprised to see this sentiment from you Danny, and I disagree entirely. The whole macro trend that makes social media for business viable is that customers DO care where they spend their dollars. The same trend is powering the localvore movement, the sustainability movement, and several others.

      Thus, companies that can build a bridge with humanization can impact brand preference. Clearly, if your products or services are no good, no amount of social media and humanization will save you (as I wrote about earlier this week).

      But I do not agree that consumers only care about price. If that was the case, we really wouldn’t need any marketing, advertising, PR, or social media people in the world. All we would need are coupons.

      • says

        The whole Black Friday and Cyber Monday are perfect examples of people caring only about the price, Jay. The same goes for thrift stores, and bulk purchase outlets like Costco.

        Yes, people want to be treated well by a store, or company. But I disagree that everyone will suddenly stop buying from stores where service is poor to go to one that has a happy manager.

        If that was the case, these businesses wouldn’t be open now and seeing great returns.

        To your point about marketing, if there were coupons for stores and they were all the same price, you still need marketing.

        • says

          Yeah but Black Friday and Cyber Monday are marketing creations. It’s two days a year when everyone competes on price. To me, that’s the exception that proves the rule, not the other way around.

          • says

            Look throughout the year away from these examples then. Take Future Shop and Best Buy, two companies under the same corporate roof.

            Best Buy drills into staff the user experience – they’re the guides to your purchase. Future Shop is all about the sale and commission. They don’t care about making small chat.

            Guess which one has the biggest return?

            Like I say, Jay, I don’t disagree with your post – I just don’t think it’s a global view from every person in a buying position.

  2. Anonymous says

    I’m in the middle of a series of posts along these same lines over at Marketing Trenches! Glad to see another great example of how a little sense of humor can’t hurt. It’s great how interactive and digital marketing gives brands huge opportunities to show off their personalities, and a shame not to take advantage of it!

  3. Anonymous says

    What a very clever response from the Bruins. Bravo!

    I have to disagree with Danny as well (I see you already posted a reply to his comment). Humanization of any organization, no matter the industry or company size, is a really big deal for consumers/clients. We like to feel a connection to other people–it’s basic human instinct. Any company that provides that connection wins out against the competitors.

    • says

      If given the choice, especially is price/quality is equal, we will buy from people we KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST. Danny is right in that social media and humanization is not a sufficient strategy. But, for many consumers, in a tie scenario you’ll buy from the company where you feel comfortable. That’s why referrals and word-of-mouth is so important. It’s all part of the same psychology.

      • Anonymous says

        Ah, touche, Danny! But I think you’re comparing apples to oranges. I think Wal-Mart competes against other big box retailers, like Target and K-Mart, not warehouse-type stores where you can get a 10lb box of corn flakes for $.89. This might actually be a good blog post for you, Jay, as we are now on an entirely new topic….

  4. says

    Competition for where people will spend their diminishing disposable income is getting tougher and tougher. So I agree with you that it will be helpful to build ‘kinship’ (a much closer relationship) with your customers. This kinship can make your company one of the top choices, if not the only choice in your customers’ mind.

    Social media marketing is not just about letting them know you exist and that you’ll give them the best deal. There are many ‘best deals’ online and offline. But if you are helpful to them, keep in touch often, and you also make them laugh; they may not be as motivated or be easily persuaded to buy the cheaper thing.

  5. says

    I would agree. Humanizing large brand identities for the social media presence is one of the best ways to open up a meaningful discussion with your target market.

    This will probably also lead to a lot of goodwill, as well as help out later on if any PR-related crises emerge. Consumers might actually be more understanding of corporations messing stuff up online from time to time, if the corporations themselves have a ‘human feel’ to them according to their online identity.

  6. says

    I get so frustrated with clients that don’t want to have fun, boast and show their personality – why show up to work if that’s not the primary reason you’re there.
    That being said, the videos prove that hockey chicks are hot and bears are funny. That being said, social media strategists should never open their kimonos while on the ice.

  7. says

    I think Danny’s objection is around purchase intent, which one video that opens the corporate culture will not drive by itself. So on the merits of this one incident win’t drive sales, I might agree.

    However, some of my clients are finding that relationships developed with a social media community over time lead to a couple of things: 1) more purchases of specials when they come up in the channel because they are already paying attention; 2) Better qualified traffic from SocMed sites, such as Facebook, that have higher conversion rates when they click (yes, you have to measure this stuff) and; 3) A higher participation in marketing campaigns when they come up, since they see these as an opportunity to “play” with the people they have come to know in a more personal way.

    Love, love these two videos, a very fun illustration of how to do something like this on a one-off basis.

    • says

      Thanks Kami. Great perspective. What’s awesome is that it’s not really
      a one off. They responded as part of the
      campaign, which has a bunch of bear videos. I love that they were able
      to respond overnight, and keep it within their larger campaign

  8. says

    i really like what you have to say about the “social” aspect of social media. Being in this business myself – my clients often have failed at social media practices because they found it too time consuming of just something to be part of – but not really “part of” … and honestly boring and tedious. I agree with your idea of allowing businesses personality & fun side to blossom in your SM practices, so that you everyone enjoys doing it , hearing it and responding to it!
    Sure – there are times when we want to serious about a subject or just get a message out their quickly about a project you are involved in. But, what made Myspace and FB so popular from the beginning was that everyone was sharing fun, interesting and thoughtful information with one another. Yes, a business has “business” news to share – but it should be interesting and enjoyable to read; a business posts should be interactive and passionate as the posts that you share with your friends – thanks !!

  9. says

    I keep telling companies that social media is not a strategy nor a tactic but a way of thinking about consumers. It also says a lot about you and your company/brand. A lot of marketers are having a hard time making the lead from mass marketing to listening and marketing to the individual but they’ll eventually get it or else lose market share and customers.

  10. Nala says

    Great story and a great response video! I love companies that can be free enough from internal restrictions to react so quickly and humorously.

  11. says

    Great post. This is one of the hardest things I have to explain to my social media clients, or maybe the hardest thing for them to accept. No one is expecting (or wanting) stand-up comedy from every business and nonprofit online. But you can show passion, dedication, the human side, too. These platforms aren’t just aren’t bulletin boards for what they feel like pushing out in an overly corporate tone. I had a client who was afraid to post ANY @mentions or have any interactions at all on their Twitter or Facebook pages. But they still want them — go figure! There is so much fear!

  12. letstalkandchat says

    I just found a great company that builds websites for info products. To keep your costs low, they’ll mentor you on how to create your site, design a marketing funnel (one of the guys works in Hollywood and makes really slick videos), and the other guy programmed Myspace. If you’re looking to have professional web design for your small business and not waste any time or money then check their site out. Check them out:

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