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Posts Tagged ‘Google’

social-overload-big2The thrill is gone!

We know we can connect, but can you affect our regular human everyday lives? That’s where the new frontier is, making us feel better about our existence when we’re not tethered to the computer, tablet or phone.

We’ve got social media fatigue. People have seen the movie, and they don’t need to waste more time.

I remember reading a retail industry study a few years ago which concluded that on average only 1% of total retail businesses actually have a written marketing plan in place.  It would seem that many H-D dealers have hitched their wagon to the theme of creating a monthly flyer (print or email) or as I call it, a marketing calendar that has a “reason to buy today” theme dedicated to each month.

This re-active theme is to make their sales messages more compelling, regardless of what media they choose to get the word out.

And getting the word out they are!   The motor company and now most of the local dealers are relentless.  They think they need to be everywhere.  Email blasts, posting on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, Flickr, FourSquare, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine, etc.  Talk about getting distracted in so many different directions.

If you look at industry statistics, 6% of people ride motorcycles — and that’s in the best markets. If you’re marketing and casting a wide net, 94% of people you come in contact with aren’t going to be interested in what you offer. So of that 6%, what percentage are males? 90%. And what is the main demographic composition of Pinterest? 80% female. So for this particular market, investment and time in Pinterest is not going to be profitable or effective. It’s just not a fit, demographically speaking.

Another example is G+ which is Google’s answer to Facebook.  It’s only a couple years old, and has grown very quickly.   But, if you look closely you’ll discover that for some industries like photography it is great.  However, there’s very little moto-involvement and likely to be ineffective.

And then there are the ‘old skool’ methods.  Remember that t-shirt you purchased in route to Sturgis at the Montana dealer?  Yeah, they got your U.S. postal or email address and now you’ve become their new BFF with all the local promo’s, rides, service deals, photo contests and HOG prizes.  Talk about an example of casting a wide net… a thousand of miles away!

And speaking of Twitter, like every fad, once upon a time Twitter was cool. You know how it works, you hear about something from your hipster friends, you say you don’t need it but eventually you dive in, love it for a minute and then abandon it because it’s hard to be witty and viral all the time and do it in 140 characters.

My view is that Tweeting is like peeing off a cliff in the dark. No one sees it and you risk getting yourself wet.  Which is why Twitter is a sea of dropouts.  In addition, those who fan the flames of cool, (i.e. the youth), are always on the hunt for the latest and the greatest, moving on to new social networks (i.e.. ask.fm, SnapChat), only to abandon them when they fall out of favor, or when everybody else is there, and lose their cred.

I’m not saying there’s nothing there at Twitter. There is a nugget now and then. But following people, corporations or dealers is time-consuming, and ever less fulfilling. As for participating yourself, why would you?  The Internet has turned into a giant game that everybody’s trying to win.  Remember when everybody was gonna have a Webpage, then a blog?

So, here are some unsolicited thoughts for Harley-Davidson and it’s dealers. 

Clutter is our enemy.  We hate advertisements.  We want information we can use. The more drivel, the less we pay attention.  Just because you have our ear, does not mean we’re interested in everything you have to say. Either play to your core or play to everybody. If you’re doing the latter give us less information.

We live in a word of mouth culture and those social site quantifications are meaningless, because the system is being gamed.  The number of likes and followers are like virtual badges, they’re ultimately meaningless. 

Social media is no match for word of mouth. They can be one and the same, but frequently are not and consumers know the difference between what is hype and what is genuine.

Photo courtesy of m2mediamanagement.com

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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Maybe it’s the weather.  It can be positively gloomy in November in the Northwest.  Overcast, cold, shorter days mixed with long periods of wet.  Unlike So.Cal where this time of year the Santa Ana winds seem to blow warm and people remain in t-shirts and riding on dry pavement.

Even the light is different, as the air takes on that winter snap.

The contradiction got me to thinking about motorcycle bloggers and social media.  Yeah, I’ve been fairly skinny on the number of posts lately as the work gig is never ending, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about how to improve.

I’m talking about ReTweets. Likes. +1s.  If the terms are unfamiliar then stop reading.

Bloggers talk about these things as the currency of meaningful social engagement.  Seriously?  Many insist that the holy grail of social marketing is to create meaningful relationships with readers.  So, why is it we reduce these relationships to the most meaningless metrics?

I have an opinion that when someone clicks a “Like” button it’s similar to a “Hand-Wave” as two motorcyclists pass on the road.  These are folks who give a nod and say, “Sure, communicate with me.” But, from that interaction we never conclude they are advocates or do we assume they have blog affinity. Essentially they were a drive-by, somewhat interested party.   Using a dating metaphor,  a Like or a ReTweet is simply someone saying, “What’s your sign?”  It’s not a relationship.  Bloggers seem to forget that the real relationship and engagement happens after the “Like.” It’s the dance of finding out stuff about each other. It’s the “conversations” which is akin to an unforgettable riding journey together.  It’s knowing the other party cares about who you are and what you feel. There’s a feeling of trust. The “Like” is just a glimpse into the experience and who knows if they will linger.

If your blog strategy is like a teenager who measures popularity by the number of Facebook friends or to “get Likes,” without thinking about your audience or what to do with those Likes after you get them, I would suggest you are what researchers – using that dating metaphor – call “desperate.”   You’re essentially building up a dairy of folks who you can ping later with some form of advertising which most often is hawking someone else’s wares. And just like with dating, you’re going to get rejected more often than not. Most people have more self-respect than that. They’re looking for true “blog love.” While most motorcycle brands (corporations) just want to……well, you get the picture.

Business 101 states that you double down in a recession, that’s when you invest.  That’s the opportunity to pull ahead of your competition.  How many motorcycle bloggers doubled down over the last 4 years?  For that matter how many trade publications and/or motorcycle magazines remain in business or innovated their way out of the downturn?  A few did, but mostly what we’ve heard about are cut backs or the occasional web page that got a fresh coat of paint at most.

The number one challenge remains and that is getting people to listen to you.  And the way you stick is by being different.  It takes longer to get traction, but you last longer.  We know that the public is restless.  People are open to change and they want some new ideas.  If you’re giving them the same ‘ol, same then you’re no different from the government.  Something we tolerate, but can’t really believe in.

The bottom line is if you’re working a social media program you need to think about the entire process, not just the “Likes.” Likes are meaningless without the hard work of relationship building, and until bloggers truly understand this and embrace it, we’ll be viewed like that dating metaphor — an indiscriminate speed dater who is not very clever.

Photo courtesy of Onlyfunnyjokes.com

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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I’m not a brand expert, but brand promise (“This brand is all about….”) seems to be the corporate mantra and all companies are looking at how to best bond with customers and retain their loyalty.  I don’t like to admit that I’m a fan-boy for certain brands.  I’ve come to realize that there are probably three or so that I really am devoted too. A few of them are:

Harley-Davidson:  They work to deliver on a fantasy of complete freedom on the road and a comradeship of a kindred spirit for the avid motorcyclist…  If you want to experience the psychology of hard-core devotion and feel the sense of anxiety that comes from not being part of the inner circle — wear your Polo Shirt, Tommy Bahama shorts and flip-flaps to the next biker event.  Point is that each touch point in the Harley brand mates with consumers and is really organized to uniquely deliver on this promise.  The Harley brand ‘essence’ has largely remained unchanged for decades.  Sure they have refreshed and added different ad campaigns, but the hallmark of the company quickly describes the brand.  Free spirited and rebellious associations while nurturing relationships to maintain a loyal motorcycle community.  Harley has the looming issue of reaching younger consumers entrenched in the internet age where the word “classic” and “tradition” have less marketing leverage.  But, we do need to give them credit for trying through the roll-out of blogs, MySpace and Facebook social networks as well as explains why they’ve tried video games.

Starbucks: This devotion is one that really grips me.  I’ve failed to shake the coffee habit.  “Bucks” is not about providing me a great cup of coffee!   They do, but it’s more about providing me a great coffee “experience” and rewarding everyday moments.  They are about lifting up my spirits one cup of coffee at a time and, looking back over my cash outlay this past month…they are doing a mighty fine job of lifting spirits!!  Similar to the Harley brand, Starbucks portrays a lifestyle image.  Who hasn’t thought about what it would be like to leave the corporate 10 hour day mad-dash to become a Barista?!   From napkins to paper cups, in-store posters, t-shirt designs to in-store architecture…the “Bucks” Creative Group tells a story to feed my habit all the while they put skim on a macchiato.

Born Shoes : I don’t buy a lot of shoes (or clothes for that matter; I’m kind of a charity case), but these shoes fit what my friends call my “techno-sporty” fashion sense. I was shooting for a cross between the Marlboro Man and REI fitness so, I’ve got some work to do in this department!  I’ve been buying Born shoes for a couple years, and they have consistently been my “everyday” shoes. Do the math: that means each pair is lasting a couple years. That’s a deal.

I’d like to be absence brand loyalty. I think everyone around has similar problems.  Find someone who reacts with the “I don’t have any brand loyalty!” and I’ll bet within five minutes’ of conversation, you’ll expose:

  1. Google (yeah, it’s a brand)
  2. Black Butte Porter 
  3. Tillamook Cheese

So, what are your brand loyalties?

Photos courtesy of respective web sites.

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