Lexd's Blog

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Marketing to Online Communities July 22, 2010

Filed under: other,social media — lexd @ 3:14 pm
Tags: , ,

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of social media and online networking. At the tender age of 10, I began my foray into this realm with a membership on the Nintendo bulletin boards (BBS, if you will). And, I was hooked.

Things have changed a little bit, but 15 years later I am still pretty thoroughly involved with iterations of these types of sites, particularly Reddit. This oddly coincides with parts of my profession as a public relations/marketing professional, where my job is to reach people. This will come into play a little further along.

If you haven’t heard, Old Spice recently did a social media campaign that I fully intend to case study when they publicize the results. In a nutshell, they took their popular “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” character and translated his presence from TV commercials to online videos. I don’t need metrics to tell you that the campaign was an outrageous success. In an Internet marketer’s dream, the videos “went viral” on some of the most cynical and cutthroat web sites on the Internet, including Reddit and 4chan.

As you can imagine, people went haywire over what Old Spice did. There were blog posts and articles in the New York Times. In forums where marketers are shunned, terrorized and run out of town, the team behind TMYMCSL managed not only to stay in the arena … incredibly, some of the videos (and the campaign itself, eventually) attained meme status.

Of course, people everywhere are analyzing the campaign (especially in my industry) — what did they do right? How did they pull this off?

While the lynchpin of this entire campaign was Procter & Gamble’s willingness to give the Old Spice marketing team the freedom to conduct the campaign as they saw fit (see PRtini’s post for more on that), I think there’s another reason that was equally important:

They used the right people for the job.

Sure, TMYMCSL had already gained some momentum through TV commercials. (“Swan dive!”) But the people behind the online campaign weren’t resting on those laurels. They created videos that not only achieved the goal of promoting Old Spice products, but (and this is crucial) they did it in a way that incorporated the tone, memes and attitude of each community. That is, they demonstrated knowledge of and prior involvement in the communities.

In my 4-year experience with 4chan and Reddit alone, I’ve noticed that a good number of users on these sites think they are above marketing. They can see right through your crappy messaging and client/product placement. These sites often have a “hivemind” mentality, and if you come in intending to pimp a product/client and NOT add anything to their community, they’ll run you out of town (and if it’s 4chan, they’ll probably order thousands of pizzas to show up at your office’s front door).

How is this NOT what Old Spice did? During the campaign, they managed the following:

  • Transparency. They didn’t hide that they were promoting a product/brand.
  • Commitment. They made good on promises (creating video responses for top-voted comments on Reddit, for example).
  • Respect. They observed community guidelines (on Reddit, they posted the campaign thread to the r/entertainment Subreddit).
  • Understanding. They incorporated community jokes when appropriate (“monocle smile,” from Reddit).

Essentially, the tone of the videos was: “We’ve been here before, and we’re creating something we think you’ll find funny.” And so the Internet laughed.

All of this being said, I saw a ProfNet query this morning asking for PR media specialists to talk about 4chan. Specifically, “Is 4chan the equivalent of a tough neighborhood you just don’t want to mess with? Or is it the most visible part of a growing Internet community that will fight back when they feel they’re being pitched or marketed to?”

At this point, I think you know where I stand. I’ll be really interested to see this column when it comes out.

Note: You’ll probably notice I refer to Reddit a lot more than 4chan in this post. TBH, it’s because I monitored this campaign from my desk at work and while my boss is pretty cool about this kind of stuff, I don’t think he would approve of 4chan

image from homard.net


Vanity Plates May 20, 2010

Filed under: other,rant — lexd @ 8:26 pm
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You know, I had a disclaimer written to start off this post to try and avoid offending people. But you know what? I don’t care. I think vanity license plates are just plain stupid. I think they are showoffy in most cases, or for shock value … and I dislike attention whores. Or, if your plate is actually a funny joke … that’s great, but who are you going to explain it to? You can’t exactly yell over traffic and inform the people around you. If nobody gets it, IT IS A BAD JOKE.

If you do it just to stump people, I hate you too. Because I end up thinking about it for an inordinate amount of time, and then getting frustrated and sticking your plate with the dumbest justification I can think of.

Some examples of this may include:

If you are wondering where this rant comes from (I know I get random, but this is pretty out there), there’s a legitimate reason. See, someone came in for a second interview today at my office.

Before I go any further, I should explain that my office is free-standing, and nobody parks in our parking lot but employees. We all know each other’s cars, and if there’s one that doesn’t belong … we notice.

So, said individual comes in for a second interview (so they are familiar with the parking lot situation) … in a car with a vanity plate reading “DGYSTYL.” Better, it is parked right in front of our front doors.

I have no idea if my bosses are going to call the person back or what (and they totally know about it), but from my POV that’s a pretty piss-poor move. It’s not work-performance related, but I think it speaks to your personality; it says you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how others perceive you.It’s one of those things like your email (please tell me you don’t put emails like “blondiesurfergyrl194784” on a resume), or how you treat a receptionist when you go somewhere to interview.

Who expects to be taken seriously when the only personalization you have on your vehicle says “doggy style”?

I realize there are a number of excuses this individual could make. Maybe he/she used to be a pet groomer. Perhaps it was funny when they got their car in high school, but they never bothered to change the plate. Maybe it’s a friend’s car.

But I don’t think any of these hold water. Seriously, we live in Florida. You don’t have a front license plate on your car. If you were thinking about it at all, wouldn’t you back your car in? JUST SAYIN’.

Currently loving: Starbucks soy coffee frappucinos (I never knew you could get soy milk in those), Under the Dome on audio book by Stephen King, that dinner will be made when I get home (<3 crockpot)

“satan” image from uberculture

“urme imu” image from pheezy

“mai m3” image from mai le


Gym Awkwardness March 8, 2010

Filed under: other,rant — lexd @ 5:18 pm
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I was thinking the other day that a post on gym awkwardness was long due. Although I thought it might be less timely now that a lot of the New Years Resolution gym rats are either dropping off or learning the ropes, it’s become pretty clear to me that you don’t need to be a newbie to do some pretty stupid/rude stuff.

  • I know it’s none of my business, but when someone is on the cardio machines or sitting on one of the weight benches on their cell phone, it drives me nuts. And, I’m not talking about an urgent call, or to their kids or significant other … I’m talking about an unnecessarily loud “… and then you know what SHE said? She said I was out of line! And then he came over and got in the way and blahblahblahblah…” It should be noted that I feel this way about these conversations in just about every public space: the bus, the checkout line at the grocery store, while shopping at Old Navy. Please, talk more quietly.
  • I can only speak for the ladies on this topic, but not once have I ever met a girl who enjoyed being hit on at the gym. I know sometimes women get all dolled up at the gym (sorority girls in college … I am looking at you), but unless you’re getting eye flirtation, smiles and the usual signals from a woman, don’t go there unless you have a legitimate reason. Some of us (most of us, from what I can tell) go there to work up a sweat and get in better shape, feel better, etc. We don’t go there to get picked up. A friend of mine said the same guy hit on her two days in a row … using the same line, as she was on the same machine. Just no.
  • Please follow the instructions for getting into classes — this goes for newbies and for veterans. Newbies: You probably didn’t know that you need to get a pass from the front desk to get into a lot of classes. It’s a space issue (and for classes like spinning, an availability issue). Go once, and after the obligatory speech from the instructor ensues, now you know. Learn from it. Get a f*&$ing pass. Veterans: I know you’ve been coming to the Wednesday evening spinning class for 8 months. You have the special spinning shorts and shoes. You know the instructor personally. YOU STILL NEED A F*&#ING PASS TO SIT ON A BIKE. (GOD this one really gets to me. If I have a pass, I should have a spot in the class)

I think I hit on my biggest offenders, although there are certainly others (seriously, Google “gym pet peeves” if you’re bored). Did I miss any important ones?

image from icanhascheezburger


Some words on food service March 2, 2010

Filed under: other,rant — lexd @ 4:51 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I read a lot on the Internet. I read a lot of blogs, including Consumerist and Serious Eats, to name a couple.

A topic that comes up fairly regularly on both these sites is some aspect of food service/dining out. I usually have an opinion on these topics, having spent years in a variety of food service venues (chain to high-end dining).

Yesterday Consumerist posted a story from a reader who walked out on a $90 tab after a horrendous restaurant experience.

While I don’t think the reader and his party were justified in walking (more on that later), it was actually the comments section that struck a chord more than anything else. As I read comments from people who suggested anything other than speaking with the manager about adjusting the bill, not leaving a tip and then not coming back, I was shocked. One person said they responded to sub-par restaurant experiences by writing about their displeasure — on the table — in ketchup and mustard. Passive-aggressive, much?

Look, you have to consider who you are really punishing with your actions. Most of the time, you’re not making an impact with the entity that really matters: THE RESTAURANT.

  • No tip: This should mean you didn’t like the service. In nearly all of the restaurants I worked at, the servers don’t tip out the kitchen staff, so not tipping because you didn’t like the food accomplishes nothing. You not tipping only hurts the server … who usually has to tip out a certain percentage of their sales to the bartender, expo and bussers (not a certain percentage of their tips.)  If you didn’t like the food? Talk to your server or a manager.
  • Messing up the table, etc: The only person you are hurting here is the busser (maybe the server or hostess depending on how the restaurant is run). And really, most bussers I’ve worked with have been very nice, hardworking people. They haul ass because bussers are fairly easy to replace. A lot is asked of them, and their action is often required in less than 30 seconds. The manager and the owner certainly don’t clean the tables, and they’re often the ones making the decisions regarding how the restaurant is run. Why are you punishing the busser?
  • Filling out a comment card: I’m guilty of this one on the server side. If you fill this out and give it to anyone BUT a manager, it’s not getting there. Just sayin’.
  • Verbally abusing restaurant staff: You may scoff at this one and call me dramatic, but take your shenanigans elsewhere unless you’ve worked in a restaurant. It happens far more often than people think. While it’s never acceptable to say hurtful things to anyone, being mean or yelling at a server accomplishes nothing. Why? Besides the human instinct to avoid abuse, if you’ve reached this level, we already know we’re not getting a tip. Anything above basic service is wasted on your table. It’s not very fair, but it’s economically sound. 
  • Walking on a check: This is probably the most misguided retaliation method. As one person in the comments of the Consumerist article pointed out, the OP probably wasn’t hurting the restaurant with that move. He screwed the server big time, because servers are generally expected to cover walk-outs with their own money. Another commenter asks if this is legal — I have no idea. But it’s common practice. As they get tables, servers create “tables” on a POS (point of service) system where they input your orders, cash people out, etc. Those tables are under the server’s name. At the end of a shift, they are responsible for anything under their name. If you walk on that $90 tab? Yep, it’s still open under their name, and the restaurant holds them accountable. It sucks, and it’s why servers have been known to chase people out the door.

In closing, what should the OP at Consumerist have done? It may have been a pain in the ass, but get with the manager to get the check fixed. The manager may even have comped something (either to try and amend the situation, or just to get them out the door … sometimes the latter is just easier). If the manager didn’t handle the adjustment well, write a letter to the owner, or put a call in during a non-busy time (usually between 9 and 10, or between 3 and 4) to speak to the owner. Leave a bad review on Yelp, UrbanSpoon, whatever.

Just think about how far your actions actually go towards creating the change that you want.

image by discoverdupage

image by poiseon bild&text


The Gazette Intern July 14, 2009

Filed under: social media — lexd @ 8:01 pm
Tags: , ,

Yeah, I’ve been on vacation for the last week. It was amazing, and I haven’t really come closer to answering any of the questions I posed to myself in the last post.

In other news, The Gazette in Colorado Springs, CO recently outed/fired an intern after it was discovered that she was plagiarizing from the New York Times. While this isn’t particularly dramatic, the editor of the Gazette published the intern’s name in the paper’s response to the charges.

While I have my own thoughts on the subject, check out David Mullen and Lauren Fernandez’ co-post about it on David’s blog. They have some great insight and the 100+ comments are certainly thought-provoking.

Be back after work hours to put my own .02 in!


Internet Fuckwad Theory March 24, 2009

Filed under: other,rant — lexd @ 3:21 pm
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As much as I would like to think that the Internets have been around for a while, people are no longer socially maladjusted, etc etc etc …

People CONTINUE to prove me wrong! I’ve decided that the majority of the comment boards on the Orlando Sentinel’s web sites are like 4chan /b/ without pictures for the ignorant and bigoted who think they are funny. Except it is in no way as funny as 4chan sometimes is.

I’ve been on comment boards, discussion boards and forums around the county (and even some around the world), and it blows me away that people who comment on the Sentinel’s posts still just don’t get it. They are living proof of John Gabriel’s “Internet Fuckwad Theory”:

A reporter just told me they’re looking into registration that’s a little more intense, but will that really help when all these people are just THAT STUPID?


“Do you want me to repeat that? All I hear in the back is ‘FUUUUUCCCCKKKKINNNNNGGG'” February 12, 2009

Filed under: other,rant — lexd @ 6:30 pm
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At least that’s what I wish I’d thought to say. Just finished a round of phone calls following up on an event (full disclosure: this is the second round of calls in two days). Someone else picks up the phone, takes a message, and as he repeats my name (and as I am starting my phone number) I just hear, “Fucking Alexis! Fucking Alexis.” in the background.

Yes, sir, I can hear you. And although I would never do this, in a moment of blinded rage (after the “did that just happen?” subsided), I wanted to Tweet this guy’s name and number, request that my followers call him, and tell him Alexis sent them.

Serious class, people.