HOW SOCIAL IS
JOSH BERNOFF, ARLINGTON, MASS.
If you listen a little closer to what we and many
others have been saying about social
technologies, you’ll get a better idea of what all the
fuss is about.
A small number of people interact with brands.
A large number of people pay attention to
In the simplest case, just because only a few
people write reviews on homedepot.com or
tripadvisor.com doesn’t mean they’re not
important. Millions read them. That’s why the
companies care so much.
The same applies to what people are saying
about the brand on Facebook or Twitter or
YouTube. Few comment; many read.
So it is about the conversation—and all the
people listening to it. Based on analysis from
Forrester Research, those listeners account for
more than 500 billion brand impressions a year in
a social environment. You could ignore that, but it
would be a mistake.
Keeping living in the 20th century if you want.
We’ll see you when you get here.
RICHARD STACY, STOWMARKET, U.K.
Josh, I would put it this way:
A small number of people seek out a
relationship with brands.
A larger number of people watch or benefit
from those interactions/relationships.
A very large number of people may want to
interact with brands at very specific times
(usually when they have a complaint or
The trick is to understand which group you
are dealing with—because you can’t treat them
MIKE SPROUSE, CHICAGO, ILL.
I wrote a post on my blog awhile back asking
whether we’re in the anti-social or social era. And
Josh, I agree that brands pay attention and care
what a small number of people say in the interest
of affecting the larger population (especially if the
commentary people are “listening to” is bad).
Two points, though. Listening is passive. If 99%
Socially savvy and
highly shared rock
group OK Go.
of social media is about people being passive, how
is that “social”? So perhaps social media is a
misnomer to begin with (and I think it is).
[That] leads me to the meatier point. Brands
might get your data points and might understand
them, but I can tell you that they want “likes.” I’ve
been on both sides—brand and agency—and all
brands care about is this dream of having more
people interact with them. … That’s the bill of
goods we’ve all been sold in this social-media era:
that more likes and followers are better, because
more people are interacting with your company.
Snarky comments aside, I don’t think the
author is stuck in another era, I think this is a
ON MOBILE, IT’S NOT
ABOUT THE ADS
JEFFREY DACHIS, DACHIS GROUP, AUSTIN, TEXAS
What’s holding back mobile-ad spending is the
almost caveman-like belief that display
advertising is going to be relevant on a mobile
device the way that it is in a magazine. The truth is
that meaningful, measurable brand engagement
[into which] companies would put meaningful
dollars will not come from display advertising on
phones but through more engaging experiences
like the app ecosystem or social experiences.
Let’s stop trying to pretend that the mobile-ad
space is a great delivery vehicle for display
advertising, and we will see mobile as a
brand/commerce marketing opportunity take off
REALLY, TACO BELL?
Tagline” AdAge.com,Feb. 24
MARK POPROCKI, COVA, COLUMBUS, OHIO
I don’t know what másmeans, and I don’t care
enough about Taco Bell to Google it. I’m
guessing it means something cool, hip and
When I did care enough about Taco Bell to
eat its cheap food, I never felt cool, hip and
exciting to do so. I had a dollar, and I was hungry
for something other than another burger. Guess
I was thinking outside the bun or something. …
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NY 10017. Please limit letters to 250 words.
AL RIES RIES & RIES
When it comes to
just aren’t people
Ron Johnson was shocked at what he
found when he became CEO of JC Penney
& Co. The chain ran 590 separate sales last
year, and nearly three-quarters of its
merchandise sold at discounts of 50% or
You have to admire what he did next:
Out with nonstop promotions, and in with
everyday low prices.
That goes against conventional wisdom.
Almost every mainstream department
store operatesona continual-salebasis,
essentially training the consumer not to buy
anything until it’s on sale.
I was then surprised by what Mr.
Johnson did with the chain’s logotype: a
red-bordered white square, with “JCP” in a
blue square in the upper left-hand
JCP? How many consumers call
Penney’s JCP? No one I know refers to it
A recent Associated Press
story about Mr. Johnson
referred to JC Penney three
ways: J.C. Penney (three
times), Penney’s (three times)
and Penney (nine times). JCP,
zero. If consumers “own” the
brand, then they also own its
nickname. And they probably
prefer “Penney” or “Penney’s”
Then why would the
company even consider using
the initials as its logotype?
Having worked with a
number of big companies, I’ve
noticed that employees often
call them by pet names. I
wouldn’t be surprised if many
JC Penney staffers routinely
use “JCP” in emails, reports
and other internal
documents. JCP, three letters, is easier to
write than J.C. Penney. I’m sure that, after
years of typing “JCP,” many executives
think of it as the name of the company
they work for.
Consumers are different. What
companies write about, consumers talk
about. Spoken length is what matters.
Consumers almost never use a nickname
unless it’s shorter than the full name of the
product or service.
“Let’s get some stuff at Penney’s.”
Penney’s is shorter to say. And consumers
will never use “JCP,” three syllables, instead
of “Penney’s,” two syllables.
Years ago, Western Union was one of
our accounts. Early in the relationship, I
was mildly surprised to see internal
memos about “WUCo”: Western Union
Western Union, whose reputation
suffered because of the connection with
telegrams, was a candidate for a name
change. (As Time magazine once
reported: “It was on time and had no
typographic errors, so we knew it was a
fake telegram.”) We recommended
We spent a lot of time and money on
presentations and prototype ads but got
nowhere with management. We finally
threw in the towel.
JC Penney even
the initials JCP
as its logotype
prefer to call the
Al Ries is chairman of Ries & Ries, an
Atlanta-based consulting firm he runs
with his daughter and partner Laura.
Their website is: ries.com.