Category Archives: Social Marketing

Pickens Charge

Most of the work we do here at MotiveLab focuses on understanding the attitudes, interest and motivations of the people using a product or service. Understanding an audience enables us to design programs for engagement that create trusting relationships.

Occasionally we are asked to design social media programs that alter behavior so that a new service or product becomes desirable. Creating new product categories is not new but it is very difficult because you have to get analysts and the media to agree that we need a new category.

In social media the analysts and traditional media are less important. Changing behavior is about getting a large community of people to agree that a change is necessary or desirable. If you want to see this process unfolding, check out the PickensPlan. It’s a five minute idea for moving away from our dependence on foreign oil and toward natural gas and wind. Energy solution aside, this is one of the most well-integrated and thought through social media sites I’ve seen lately. There are no Hollywood-style movies, t-shirts to make or games to play just solid community building. Click around the web site and you’ll notice two things straight away. The content is just under five minutes – that’s it. I hope more substance will follow but at this point participation is much more important than pushing content. The second thing you’ll see is a host of opportunities to participate. From Twitter to forums they make it easy to link T. Boon into your community.

Granted, T. Boon is not creating a new product category but at the end of the day there is not much difference between convincing people they need to drive natural gas cars and convincing them they need a walkman.

Who Would Jesus Shoot?

I’ve been working with companies on building effective consumer and B2B brands for many years. It’s always interesting to view organizations through the “brand lens”. The church is a particularly interesting subject since it’s so easy to point out inconsistencies in behavior – actions that sit in complete or more often apparent contradiction to the organization’s purpose. Last week Oklahoma Channel 5 News ran a story about Windsor Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City who had decided to give away an assault rifle to a lucky youth participating in a week-long revival. I know, Christians have as much right to protect themselves as pagans but I grew up in church. I went to church camp and confirmation. I just can’t imagine Pastor Wally at my church passing out automatic weapons during youth night.

Transportation and communication technology has been “shrinking” the world for hundreds of years. Social media dramatically accelerates this process through the intimacy of the information, the size of the audience reached and judgment that inevitably follows. It’s impossible to say what the long-term effects of the assault rifle give-away will be for the Windsor Hills Baptist Church. But I guarantee the Windsor Hills board will be asking that question from now until the end of the internet — that alone will change their brand.
Who Would Jesus Shoot

Social Inner-Working

Interesting article today from the Sydney Morning Herald about sharing ultrasound images on sites like MySpace. Social networking with a foetal attraction.

“Many mums-to-be say posting ultrasound photos is an easy way to announce an exciting piece of information to lots of people all at once. But some warn that sharing foetal pictures could be oversharing”

I think this discussion is done. Sharing fetal images on the web is widespread and ironically considered less personal than images of children at play. Even my own 20-something daughters agree they’d share ultrasound images of their children but not photos of their first birthday. A good company to look at for this service is MyPhotoBaby.


What interests me though is where this is going. For an insight I spoke with Steve Corey, an IT executive working with a group of physicians and ultrasound technicians to deliver 3D and 4D images from the Doctor’s office right to your personal web site — without necessitating a non-medical ultrasound procedure.

Steve sees this as just the beginning; “Right now we are giving families the ability to create keepsakes and get to know their child in utero. But in the near future we see people sharing all sorts of medical imaging”

Where does this lead? You guessed it – MyInnerSpace. It won’t be long before people with serious medical conditions are sharing their MRI’s , X-ray’s and other scans with a non-medical network who have experienced similar ailments.

If doctor’s aren’t already jumping off of rooftops out of frustration with patients who know as much (or more) than they do about their diagnosis – they will now. I predict that patients will be showing up to their appointment with problem areas notated on images they provide. Many doctors have been trained in ultrasound diagnoses by the equipment sales reps – who have no medical degree. It won’t be hard for the determined novice (motivated by a life threatening illness) to become an expert.

Some bad behavior is bound to follow but for the most part, the more we know about our own health the healthier we’ll be.

RedCross Uses Social Media to Help Flood Victims

Cross-posted on Marketonomy

ReadWriteWeb has a great story on the impressive mashup of social media tools the RedCross is using to engage with flood victims in the midwest.

The newsroom site runs off of WordPress, and it’s being used to push out press releases, media, and information about shelters. The Red Cross is using Utterz to post from the field, Flickr for photos and for videos, as well as a Slide-powered slideshow widget that allows anyone to upload photos of disaster areas. The site also features a Google Maps mashup that depicts the surprisingly large number of relief operations currently being run by the American Red Cross (hint: click the "view larger map" link, because viewing the informative popups inside the widget on site is next to impossible).

I find this a particularly poignant trend marker. When lives are in the balance, social media shines as a more effective way to connect people than traditional tools like print, radio and television. Social Media enables many-to-many communication that allows citizens to notify each other and authorities of danger zones, people in need of help, and available resources. It’s simply a far more efficient and effective means of communication. It’s only when budgets, rather than lives, are in the balance that the usefulness of social media comes into question. 

Social Networking Antidote

Several years ago I saw a cartoon where an enterprising child was selling 5 cent lemonade to adults passing by. Just around the corner his friend was greeting the customers leaving the lemonade stand — now doubled over in pain — with another stand selling the lemonade antidote for $5. Fast forward to the present day and you’ll find Michael Fertik, selling the social networking antidote at for as little as $29.95 (actually he has to diagnose the problem first for $9.95) I don’t know whether he’s a hero to the small but growing number of people in the back of the tech-boat who are paddling in the opposite direction or a sharliton, selling snorkels to the passengers of the Titanic. Either way his service won’t save you now but it does turn “antisocial” into a viable, and even lofty, business model.

Radical Transparency or Extreme Translucency?

One of the most powerful aspects of social media is radical transparency . Transparency is especially “radical” in the corporate arena where communication is increasingly open, honest and truly bi-directional between enterprises and the individual stakeholders who work at, buy from and trade with each other as interlocking networked communities.

For the companies who embrace and foster transparency it often plays out all the way to the office of the CEO. As a long-time blogger and chief executive posted on his company blog:

“The recent global technology and communications revolutions are allowing for ever-increasing interconnections and transparency in processes on every imaginable level in free societies. The need for the specialist intermediaries, such as professional journalists and lawyers, to interpret, inform, and communicate on behalf of other people is rapidly declining. I love the fact that I can now communicate my own opinions and interpretations directly to people instead of depending upon a journalist to both understand and accurately communicate what I’ve told him or her to other people. It is very frustrating to be continually misquoted and misinterpreted. Now I can speak directly for myself and that is very liberating.”

This new species of corporate communications – unwashed, shoot-from-the-hip, tell it like it is transparency has great appeal. When CEOs “speak directly” they build trust and confidence. Their teams can focus on tracking and monitoring conversations. Spin turns to engaging honestly with the constituent communities and building new communities to promote and defend one’s brand. In fact, we can learn to live without the spin doctors in radically transparent communities. Simply listen and share opinions. Let the most compelling rise to the top.

However, the statement above, in spite of its appearance of transparency, is perhaps more translucent than clear. You see, its author is none other than John Mackey, who has gained a lot of attention for his social-media-savvy communications as the CEO of Whole Foods, but who has also been posting messages for eight years as “Rahodeb” on Yahoo! Finance to promote Whole Foods and denounce a competitor he was setting his sights on for acquisition.

The chronology of events left open the possibility that Mr. Mackey had a conversion, and recognizing the power of transparency, chucked his Yahoo! Finance alter ego and joined the social media band wagon. After all, the Yahoo! Finance postings predate most of his blog entries. But prevailing opinion points in a decidedly different direction.

Mr. Mackey is a successful businessman, of a socially- and people-sensitive company to boot. That usually takes a modicum of smarts and ethics. For some reason success occasionally throws those attributes out the window. How many CEO’s, high government officials, and even highly-respected clergy have we heard of that can’t seem to keep their hands out of the cookie jar or their flies zipped up? The drug of power, the blinders of ego.
Evolving Excellence:Smart? Then act that way.

Credibility and authenticity are what builds trust between people. John Mackey has been inauthentic in posting anonymously on the Yahoo! Finance website. He boosted his own company and criticized his competition without revealing his own identity.
John Cass

So the news that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey posted regularly on Yahoo message boards under the name Rahodeb is shocking. This is a major ethical lapse, and I hope that the Whole Foods board is treating it very seriously indeed.
Felix Salmon:

The best barometer, however, of Mr. Mackey’s translucency is his “own” terse apology. It is ironic that that the man who relished speaking for himself (or about himself and his company) is relegated to a 35 word heavily polished statement with no opportunity for two-way dialogue other than the e-mail address of a company PR contact.

AUSTIN, Texas (July 17, 2007). Whole Foods Market today released the following statement from Co-founder, Chairman and CEO, John Mackey: “I sincerely apologize to all Whole Foods Market stakeholders for my error in judgment in anonymously participating on online financial message boards. I am very sorry and I ask our stakeholders to please forgive me.”

Now the question is, will Whole Foods take a step back from social media or will they use this as an opportunity to become fully transparent in engaging with all their stakeholders? Let us know what you think.