Best-selling author Scott Stratten has made his name as an “unmarketer.” He’s known as @unmarketing to his over 114,000 Twitter followers and currently ranks in the top five of Forbes.com’s list of the world’s most powerful social media influencers.
In a recent DMA FlashCon interview, Scott and SAS Solutions Architect Suneel Grover talked about unmarketing, the power of data and the importance of being awesome. If you want to see the full 30 minute interview, click on the video below, or read on for the four main takeaways.
1. Data is dangerous (and powerful)
“Digital allows us to dive into data that people leave behind when they’re connected,” said Suneel. “And that’s a lot of data. Organizations can make sense of it and do something with it, which is powerful, but it’s dangerous if you do it incorrectly.
Suneel’s example was Target’s use of predictive analytics to identify and market to women in their second trimester of pregnancy. The story was picked up in the press after an angry father stormed his local Target to find out why they were sending diaper and crib coupons to his high-school age daughter. When the manager followed up to apologize, the embarrassed father said he owed them an apology because his daughter was indeed pregnant. Target used data in an eerily powerful way, but they also created a public relations disaster when the story got out.
“Another way that data is dangerous is when people take one piece of data, out of context, and run with it,” said Scott. His example was a statistic that said if you add “retweet please” to the end of a tweet, you’re eight times more likely to be retweeted. An impressive stat, right? But what the data wasn’t showing was that the successful cases were people saying “RT please” for charities and missing children, not selling products. “Data without context is extremely dangerous, and false if we don’t realize why it worked and why it didn’t. Without proper analysis, it’s useless,” said Scott.
2. Outrage is contagious
Part of Scott’s new book, The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome (coming out in August), focuses on the idea that outrage is contagious. “As consumers we’ve felt abused and wronged for so long and never felt heard,” said Scott. “But now, whether the brand responds or not, others can hear me and spread my outrage worldwide!”
The key is the company’s response. It has to happen in hours, not days or weeks, said Scott, citing FedEx as an example. When a video of a FedEx employee delivering a computer monitor by tossing it over a high fence and walking away went viral, FedEx’s response happened within hours. “FedEx got a message out quickly that this was unacceptable and not how they did business because they knew how quickly the video was spreading through Twitter, Facebook, blogs – and it could’ve been cataclysmic if they hadn’t responded so quickly,” said Scott.
Another example Scott shared was the American Red Cross and their response when one of their young social media specialists accidently sent out a tweet on the Red Cross Twitter account instead of her own personal account. “The tweet basically said, ‘found another 6 pack of beer and we’re getting drunk’ ” laughed Scott. “Obviously, something had gone wrong. But what was amazing was the recovery and response of the Red Cross. Within the hour, they came out saying: ‘We deleted the rogue tweet. Rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”
The result was that the world realized that the Red Cross had a sense of humor and their apology was retweeted more than the original screw up. “When it hits the fan it’s not time to hide behind the fan,” said Scott. “It’s time to be awesome.”
3. Conversations are not campaigns
“Viral marketing isn’t a campaign. Word of mouth is not a campaign – it’s a result,” said Scott. “Make great stuff or do a great campaign, and people will react to it. You don’t get to determine what goes viral or what people talk about because it’s not up to you.
But analytics can play a role.“Social network analysis analyzes the relationships of communities of people,” said Suneel. “Organizations have limited resources and have to decide which conversations to join. They can get the most bang for their buck if they engage with an influencer, and they need analysis to determine who those people are.”
Scott concurred: “If you only have an hour to talk to someone, are you going to engage with the person who has three Twitter followers or 100,000? Companies don’t like to talk about it, but it’s smart business to look at the data to see that something is spiking right now and this guy could have an impact.”
4. UnAwesome is UnAcceptable
Be awesome and your customers will quickly share the experience with friends and become your biggest evangelists. Be unawesome, and they’ll share the experience with friends even more quickly, and it could become a viral sensation and your worst PR nightmare.
“You might not be Google or Zappos, but you can still be awesome at what you’re doing,” said Scott. “I talk about it in my book — there’s Situational, Occupational or Institutional Awesomeness. You can be hero for one customer. Or savior for one thing that spreads online. But when you’re unawesome, that becomes your reputation.”
Suneel pointed out how companies may be really good at remarketing (having their ads follow you around the Web wherever you go), but that it can backfire. “Those companies may get better response rates to their ads, but if I do sentiment analysis and see how many people I irritated and creeped out and hear what they’re talking about, I’m going to realized that I may have quadrupled my response rates, but I also generated a lot of haters.” Suneel said that it’s not about using one statistic (like response rates) to gauge success. “Use that entire workbench to your advantage so that you make better decisions and your marketers stop annoying people.”