Posts Tagged ‘Social Networks’

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

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This went largely unnoticed, but Harley-Davidson rode “virtually” into the social network scene with the launch of Harley-Davidson MySpace profile. And in true bad boy fashion, visitors are greeted with the “Screw it, let’s ride” manifesto and a link that challenges them to bring their own words to the rallying cry.

Of course Harley will provide updates [SELL, SELL, SELL] on the latest motorcycles and a link that lets visitors customize their own virtual rides with authentic HD accessories. Maybe they will provide some “virtual Harley dollars”?  They’ve included some “SWAG” on the site, screen saver downloads, wallpapers, custom protective skins and other downloads for cell phones and iPod’s.

I’m sure the marketers at HD sat in a conference room and ask:  “How can social networks make us more money” and that is the central mission of the site….and oh yeah, they provided links to information about buying a Harley motorcycle.  Imagine that?!  The marketing spin machine spews out how — Harley-Davidson — wants to give all us motorcyle enthusiasts on MySpace the chance to connect:

“Harley-Davidson isn’t just about bikes; it’s about bikers who love the freedom of the open road and this gives everyone from young hot shots to wind weathered easy riders a place to gather on common ground”.

That would rate fairly high on the “gag-O-meter” and let’s make one thing clear.  The main goal of any Harley internet marketer is to drive more traffic (visitors and page views) to their site and/or the dealer network web sites.  Social networks like MySpace provides a platform for Harley to spread their marketing messages and leverage marketing tactics at a specific demographic.

Is this a bad thing?  No, but putting up a profile page on MySpace does not mean it will be a “successful” marketing campaign.  There are examples of social marketing gone wrong (re: Wal-Mart on Facebook) and:

  1. Is MySpace really the demographic for Harley Davidson? Will teenagers loading up Harley widgets translate into motorcycle buyers? Comscore reported that 24% of MySpace users were ages 12-17. Recently that has decrease to 12% of the user base. They certainly won’t be plopping down $20K. Internet users between the ages of 35-54 now account for 40.6 percent of the MySpace visitor base.
  2. Harley should expect a small group of ‘brand terrorists’ to vent their frustrations for the whole world to see. I would expect comments filled with criticism on the recent downsizing to union issues. Will that help or hurt the brand?
  3. Will the MySpace “To Catch A Perv” black cloud really help position Harley as a premium brand?

Harley has embarked on a series of new ad campaigns that appeal to everyone or is that noone?  I don’t believe non-motorcyclists will buy a bike from MySpace.  And, I don’t know about you, but this is not where I’ll be going to share stories from the road, or post pictures/videos of my bikes or swap tips, tricks and suggestions.

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