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Harley-Davidson Press Release

In mid-August, Harley-Davidson rolled out a press release (on the Canadian news wire) to announce the launch of a global campaign that embraces “The Freedom of The Open Road.”

It’s part of a 10-year global strategy to build the next generation of Harley riders and the new brand platform is “All for Freedom, Freedom for All” which comes to life with videos containing user-generated and filmed content that shares moments of the open road by riders past and present.

The ambitious campaign goal is to increase Harley’s brand relevance and inspire those “sleeping license holders”  to experience the same freedom that all current Harley riders feel with the wind in the face and ultimately to purchase a motorcycle.

The Harley-Davidson marketing group is using the #FindYourFreedom hashtag to generate social media awareness.

It’s common knowledge that when using a hashtag, you are categorizing your post and is viewed as a valuable tool when marketing your brand.  The objective of course would be to find a hashtag that has never been used previously and one that would really set the campaign apart from all the other social media noise.  However, there is another large company with an equally large brand that is already using the #FindYourFreedom hashtag with an associated marketing campaign.

They spell it:  J E E P  — you know, the company with an adventurous lifestyle that requires an adventurous vehicle!

While you can’t legally own a hashtag, the marketing 101 manual suggests that you chose one that people will associate with your brand, by leveraging a distinctive phrase or word associated with your company and messaging that marketing execs would, at best, like to see go viral or, at worst, contribute to the marketing campaign in a very positive way.

Think about it.  Harley-Davidson just launched a multi-year campaign and is encouraging motorcycle fans to join the social media conversation of a larger Jeep fan base!

The marketing folks may have actually “muddied” the Harley-Davidson brand or made it vulnerable by this hashtag gone wrong.

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson and Jeep.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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IMG_4034Is it me?  Is it you?

I didn’t wear a hoodie for Trayvon. I didn’t march to Save Our Girls or Kony.  I didn’t do the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” march for Mike Brown in Ferguson.  I didn’t do the “Can’t Breath” march for Eric Garner in NYC.

You won’t see me out there. Nope.

While I can’t deny that I’m Caucasian, I can say that as a motorcycle enthusiast I’ve experienced law enforcement arrogance that allows an armed “professional” to be less responsible of my rights than a typical citizen.  And I’ll acknowledge up front that I can’t represent or fully appreciate any of the issues through a racial lens or what African-American people feel.

It’s not that I don’t believe in any of these causes.  I’m not in denial that there are aggressive LEO’s out there who push the limits with their actions.  Just this week an Oregon State Police detective was prosecuted for destroying evidence and lying about it.  And a Clackamas County Sheriff was fired for mishandling and then lying about evidence, forcing the dismissal of 10 cases!  Clearly an affront to all Americans.

It’s just that I’m not convinced marching in 2014 is really going to make a difference.  But, let’s back up for minute before I explain why.

About four years ago I attended a day-long training session at the Oregon Public Safety Academy (DPSST) on law enforcement using deadly force in making arrests. You can read about it HERE.  I was in “Tactical Village” – a sprawling complex with faux buildings, roadways, cars, buses and the typical neighborhood debris you’d find in any urban environment.  We had Glock’s that fired paint-pellet bullets and went through various training scenarios to simulate real-world incidents.  I spent several hours responding to chaotic, dangerous or unpredictable situations in an effort to serve others or as they say… “walk in a LEO’s shoes.”  Suffice to say that my lack of split-second decisions got me killed repeatedly and made me realize how we all should talk about citizen retraining, so critics will at least wait until they have all the facts of a case before calling in the high-profile, paid-to-incite activists.

So, why do I sit behind my computer and criticize some of the marching or protest efforts?  This isn’t 1960 when the act of sitting in a restaurant sparked a nationwide movement that changed some things. It’s 2014 and we live in a “right now for the moment” world or I prefer to call it a bandwagon, hashtag advocacy society.  People create protest hashtag campaigns faster than a drive-thru burger joint.  Then along comes the funky complementary graphics they believe it provides everyone a sense of solidarity.  If its trending, we’re hashtagging it. Get your hashtag t-shirt or beanie now!

But, once the thrill is gone, so are we.

Think I’m trippin?  What happened to the girls everyone wanted to save a few months back? Where are they now? How many of those hoodies everyone posed in put Zimmerman in jail or helped to pay for legal fees for Trayvon’s family?  Where have all the occupy chanters gone?  What’s changed in 3- years?  So, how are these new protests around the country stopping cops from killing or from spraying mace in the faces of the marching kids today or tomorrow?  If you can answer that then I may reconsider my position.

People lose interest when they realize the issue is more complicated than a hashtag.  They can’t sit still long enough to ensure change before racing off to the next hashtag driven controversy.

I’m disgusted by much of what I’ve seen – on both sides.  We have constitutional rights to a legal system that treats all equally and fairly.

But, the real work happens when there’s no marching, or when there’s no protesting.  Do we really need high-profile, paid-to-incite activists flying in on carbon-spewing private jets to rally the disenfranchised?  The real work happens at the polls during the primaries or a non-presidential election. The real work happens as members of your community-based organizations, at your local city council town hall and in our churches. The real work is not on social media and a race to the next crowd gathering. Social media is great for promoting a message, but not change itself.  Where is the solidarity to do the real and very difficult work?!

Marching for a few hours or a couple weeks is not going to change anything.

Photo taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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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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NWHog Stats

Good morning.  This little hobby of a motorcycle blog logged its 1 millionth viewer today. Woo hoo!

Unfortunately there will be no falling balloons, bells and whistles or motorcycle give away as it’s a low budget operation.

There once was a time where I thought a million was a massive amount of views.  At one point I had “Content-Creation Madness”… thinking that all I had to do was post new content every day and then sit back and watch the hordes of new readers and the corporate decision makers find me.  I watched and waited for my clout score to skyrocket.

It didn’t.

And in today’s social media over hyped up marketing world with the aggregators, intermediaries and pyramid viral tricks,  I’m now thinking that I should be asking why is it only a million?!  If you were to benchmark entertainment or compare this blog to other viral legends like Susan Boyle, Lady Gaga, Old Spice Guy and Rebecca Black it’s really nothing but a dismal failure.

Number of Days To 100 Million Views

For example, let’s look at the number of days it took each of them to reach 100 million views:  Susan Boyle did it in nine. Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, which currently has over 900 million views, took 18 days. Rebecca Black’s Friday, currently at 430+ million views, took 45 days. Even Justin Bieber’s Baby, which has topped 1.1 billion views, took 56 days, one day faster than Miley Cyrus’ Party in the U.S.  Even Modern Warfare 2, one of the biggest entertainment gaming launches ever, hit 100 million views after 77 days.  I won’t go through all of them, but you can see how long it took some of the biggest viral names ever to reach 100 million views in the chart above.

This blog is about one-tenth that amount.  Yeah, I know it’s not an A-to-A comparison, but a million views is hardly a blip on the score board these days when you contrast it with entertainment.

In the beginning, the plethora of content distribution “paths” once exited me.  I developed a Twitter feed.  I started a Facebook feed then stopped it due to privacy concerns.  Early on I caught the eye of some savvy social media folks at Harley-Davidson who were convinced that product reviews (HERE) were the wave of the blog future.  It wasn’t.  I developed an iPhone app for mobile users.  There was even a shout out from the reality series man himself… Kurt Sutter (FX – Sons of Anarchy) HERE.  Then there was the Daily Newspaper (HERE).  Most of these were all attempts to help scale out the blog or content reach.

NWHog Geo Stats

Now, I realize that much of the blog content is landing in the “cloud dumpster” and I no longer think “view statistics” are a good gauge of a blog.  This blog has never been about attracting leads and transforming them into customers.  Customers of what?  I don’t sell anything so creating content for each stage of the buying process (awareness, consideration, and decision) is silly.  The characteristics that make for a great blog are typically never tracked.

Characteristics like:

Clarity – Is the blog/author clear about details such as the time period and subject.  Who or what does it apply to and are there updates to the information as new data unfolds over the days/weeks ahead.  Content should appear or link to many forms, ranging from videos, infographics and/or links to legal or report summaries.

Credibility – Is the information the author posted derived from sound research and is the methodology related to the facts.  Is the article sharing an opinion or is just biased?  Is the blog nothing but a repost-er of previously reported news articles or does it provide commentary and analysis of the potential impact to the motorcycle community?

Attribution – Is there clear attribution to the original source and an accurate/valid link to that source provided when possible.  Does the author/article provide links to the study or legal filing/report or just refer to it as “information found on the web.”

Though I generally don’t hold to a “hits mean much” worldview, I’m intrigued by the search results that send readers to the site and that readers are coming to this blog from all continents including places that I wouldn’t have thought — for example: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria and Guam.

The point of this post today is to say that I appreciate all the readers who’ve joined in the discussion on this blog.  More importantly I’ve realized that some readers had better ideas than I or had important insights that I wanted to share.  The blog has evolved a bit from my original intention and is far better.

I learn every day and for that I thank you.

Photo courtesy of Visible Measures and WordPress.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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HOG Bank

Start with the “charisma and swagger” of Charlie Sheen, add a little Lady Gaga recklessness, mix it all together with the sensibility of John Mayer, and you’re well on your way to a vibrant digital marketing campaign.

Or at least that’s what Harley-Davidson’s, CMO, Mark-Hans Richer seems to believe.

Taking a page from celebrities and musicians who blazed the path before them they’ve embarked on a crowd-sourcing recipe with Victors & Spoils, a Boulder-based crowd sourcing agency who intends to deliver successful digital marketing.  It would seem that every American company on the planet is amassing a rapidly growing list of crowd sourcing digital data to give marketers an even more precise method for targeting their ad messages to specific consumers.

I know, you hate social media.  More people despise Twitter than use it.  You thought Foursquare was a church.  You like Facebook, but you fear its Big Brother qualities.

Well, you probably don’t understand that Twitter is the number one news source for news happening right now.  But if you can’t wrap your head around that, maybe you should look into SproutSocial, which allows you to track your company in social media.  And if you don’t think social media is key to any company’s future, you’re on the road to extinction.

Mr. Richer totally gets it.  H-D has a multi-generational and multicultural customer strategy with a need to get potential customers more engaged in the brand.

You do that through social media.  But, part of the problem for the motor company is its audience knows too many people, who connect with each other online.  Once consumers start talking to each other not only do they spread the word about the so-called “motorcycle lifestyle,” but they also let each other know which products are good and which ones are bad.  Suddenly, the dealers can no longer jam any old product down the motorcycle riding public’s throat.  It’s bad enough when new products leak in advance and are dead on arrival due to bad word of mouth, but even those that make it to the release date intact are not guaranteed sales.  Because by the end of the week, the target audience knows whether the product is worth owning via references from friends.

It all comes down to who you know.

But, the reason I’m writing this is because of the job market.  Unemployment.  It’s steady at 10.5% here in Oregon.  About a point above the national average and has remained there most of the past year.  Just this past week the Oregonian reported another 300 layoffs by 3 different companies closing down operations.  And if that wasn’t enough did you happen to catch Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last night on 60 Minutes?  He painted a grim picture.  Stating that the U.S. recovery is still not self-sustaining while defended his $600B bond purchase to help keep interest rates low.  Heady stuff.

Oregon and U.S. Unemployment - Dec 2010

I hate to frighten you, but all your partying and drunken pictures are going to work against you in the job market. Inebriation is not a criterion for employment, not even at Miller Brewing.  You see you’re building your resume every day online.  And whether you can get a job or not is based on this resume and who you know.  People always complain how they can’t get a job in this industry or that industry because they aren’t connected.  Hate to tell you, but it just got worse!  No one’s going to hire anyone without a history, who can’t be recommended by someone.  The days of placing a blind ad and taking on all comers is history.  That doesn’t even work on Craigslist, and have you seen the type of jobs on that site lately?

If you want to succeed in the future, you’ve got to know people.  Who can vouch for you.  Ever get called for a reference?  You never lie if you know the caller, it’s your reputation on the line.   And now that we’re all networked through social media, there’s always someone who knows you, who if they won’t say something negative, certainly won’t say something positive.

And you thought you were just playing online?  You see we all live in a social media world.  Scary huh?!  And as if to help prove my point the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was also interviewed and talked about changes coming in a redesign.  For example, instead of a single profile picture, people who visit your page will soon see a row of photos you’ve been recently tagged in.

It might be time to start making deposits in the persona-curating bank account…

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson, SocialSprouts and Google.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Harley-Davidson announced this week it reached ONE-million fans on their Facebook page.  The page, launched in 2008, features daily updates on new products, events and a variety of other topics. It’s one element of the company’s brand and social media strategy. I’ve previously blogged about the relevancy of H-D’s Facebook page to riders HERE.

Chad Hockerman, H-D Project Manager of Social Networking (previously the Buell Market Outreach Project Manager), stated in the release:

We’re doing this [social media] by maintaining an ongoing dialogue with current owners and building a new one with dreamers through engaging content that revolves around our products, our culture and our company. The 1-million milestone is testament to this approach.

Now what?  HarleyVille the game?

How about establish an actual statistical correlation between social media metrics and motorcycle sales!

Answering this question is what former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pointed out as an important principle of business intelligence in his briefings when he talked about finding unknown unknowns. Known unknowns are questions that you think of asking. You know the question, and the task is to find the answer. Unknown unknowns are far more interesting.  And the correlation of social media metrics to motorcycle sales is clearly an unknown.

One effective path to finding unknown unknowns comes through cluster analysis, a statistical technique based on Bayesian probability.  Bayesian who?  In simple terms cluster analysis turns social media into a tool to predict the future.  It’s a statistical approach to track documents which are read and words are tracked in relation to other words. The math is mind bending, but an oversimplified way to think of cluster analysis is how probable is it that this word is next to that one? How unlikely? By analyzing the shifting patterns of probabilities, new relationships emerge.  The analysis tells you about clusters of words that are getting stronger or weaker.  For example, it’s clear the probability that BP and “oil spill” appear close to each other spiked recently. You can visualize this type of analysis as a display of circles that get larger as the relationships get stronger and as the cluster is found in more and more documents. The circle gets bigger as the strength of the relationships grow.

Facebook Dropping

My suggestion today is that Harley-Davidson should get very interested in a technology startup called WiseWindow.  They have a solution which shows the predictive value of cluster analysis by applying it to social media content.  With a MILLION fans the predictive payoff comes from seeing when the circles start to get bigger and begin to provide clues to future trends.

What I find fascinating about WiseWindow is that they have connected their engine to thousands of streams of social media and found a way to examine the trajectory of the growth of clusters and turn them into leading indicators.  For example, WiseWindow is working with a client in the music industry and started analyzing 25 million comments a month with respect to the top 500 musical acts in the U.S.   The cluster analysis showed the rise and fall of intensity with respect to 84 aspects of the artists such as stage presence and music etc. The analysis indicated there is an immensely strong correlation between record sales and social media activity.  The implications for marketing tactics are profound.

I’m going to go out on limb here and say this technology will change the way Harley-Davidson does business.

Photos courtesy of MarketingProfs Research, WiseWindow and Ben Wakeling.  Full Disclosure: I have no investment in WiseWindow or MarketingProf Research.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Harley-Davidson Facebook "Wall"

“Messy” Jesse wants to reunite with Sandra.  Mel “The Raging Ranter” Gibson is on the phone, again [THREE EXPLETIVES DELETED BY THE EDITOR DUE TO BEING VULGAR!!].  Bristol and Levi are back together.  The American Idol summer tour starts soon and The Bachelorette is close to selecting her dream man!  As if there is such a thing because Maricar “The Whip-Cracking” Dominatrix has been passed around more than a lumberjack camp salt shaker!

I’m thinking that free speech isn’t free because I have to REALLY work my brain to tune out all of this so-called “news”…

And speaking of short attention spans.  Yesterday, Facebook hit a new milestone; it reached 500 MILLION monthly active users (i.e. within the last month, 500M unique users have logged in).  That’s not the same metric as the number of registered users/accounts on a system i.e. Twitter’s 100M registered users, it’s 500M monthly active users.  That’s huge.  Also from the stats zone approximately 70% of Facebook users are from outside of the U.S., they average 130 friends, are connected with 80 pages (groups and events), post 90 pieces of content each month and spend over 700 BILLION minutes per month on the site.

Harley-Davidson Facebook "Info Page"

In a world of readily-available stimulation, where you can flip the remote or click a different link if you don’t like what you’re experiencing now, it’s really darn difficult to keep the attention of the public with mediocre product.  Motorcycle companies address this problem by adding bells and whistles, by doing their best to dazzle web surfers.  But this is akin to a wreck on the highway, you slow down to check it out, then you forget it.

So what about Harley-Davidson’s social media activity?  Is it an original that sparks rider inspiration or do you think it’s just another rendition of syndicating corporate messages?  I became interested in that question which brought to mind whether social media and specifically the Harley-Davidson Facebook page makes riders dumber?  Or smarter?  The H-D Facebook page has more than 956,000 fans.  I don’t think it’s a big stretch to suggest that some of the interaction with/or the overzealous status updates reflect more on folks who are in self-destruct mode, either by being excessively confessional or who foolishly post the bizarre and want to be in the limelight for 5-minutes of fame as dumbing-down riders.

Harley-Davidson Facebook "Events Page"

Don’t get me wrong, I like Facebook, I’ve reconnected with old friends and can easily keep in touch with current ones.  But motorcycle companies are fighting for your attention.  And people get angry if you jump in front of them with classic “stiff” marketing and demand it.  It’s like begin cut off on the highway.  You want to beep the horn or project the middle finger, you’re anything but open to being nice to the driver.  The internet democratizes access to information.  Suddenly the largest cost driven American motorcycle manufacture looks no better than a smaller independent motorcycle manufacture or the one-man customizer.

Yes, if someone’s truly interested, if they’re hooked, they’ll give you untold hours of attention.  But you’ve got to be good.  People don’t dedicate time to train wrecks, they invest in quality.  But that’s harder to come by.  Which is why some companies seem to blame the audience rather than look internally at their mediocre offering.

Photos courtesy of H-D and Facebook.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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