Social Media05.30.13

Social Media: Forget the Strategy, Miss the Point


Social media. If Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the tools you’ve chosen to get your message across, who dictates how they’re used?

Does social media get its own strategy?

If you ask Gini Dietrich, the answer is no. Gini writes:

“There is no such thing as a social media strategy. That’s akin to saying you have a telephone strategy or a typewriter strategy.”

Susan Murphy of Suzemuse says it even more bluntly: “You don’t want to be a social media expert.” Nothing we haven’t heard before, many will remember Peter Shankman’s light-the-Web-on-fire post about why he doesn’t believe in social media experts. But none of these posts help businesses create or share unique, compelling messages. They don’t help you stand out from the crowd.

So how does that happen? When and where do you tie “social media” and “strategy” together?

At Overit, we’re believers that brands do need a social media strategy and that the greatest message can get lost simply because you’re unable to communicate effectively.

On the heels of Gini and Susan’s comments, I’ve caught some interesting uses of Twitter over the past few weeks that raised my eyebrows further on this whole “social media strategy” debate. I’m curious to know what you think of them.

JELL-O’s #FML Campaign

Everybody knows JELL-O. “There’s always room for JELL-O” was the 1960s slogan for the family-friendly dessert that would later have Bill Cosby as its spokesperson for its gelatin and pudding for nearly 30 years.

JELL-O has a fairly active Facebook presence, filled with the posts you would expect for a brand that would likely focus on interests of moms and children. You see new product announcements, recipes and fun JELL-O branded images that get shared, liked and commented on. JELL-O acknowledges Cinco de Mayo, May the Fourth (Star Wars Day!), Mother’s Day and other timely dates.

JELL-O gets content marketing.

What JELL-O arguably doesn’t get is Twitter. The brand doesn’t have have an active presence, and maybe they don’t need one. Perhaps they’ve found the moms and children they sought to reach weren’t on Twitter. And that was all great…until last week happened.

Last week, JELL-O decided to devote its relatively inactive Twitter account to reaching a new target audience: Angry people.

When I first took note of this campaign – which I learned of through JELL-O’s promoted tweet – the JELL-O Twitter account had tweeted 755 times. Since, more than 400 tweets have been posted for JELL-O’s #FML campaign. Let’s look at a few of these tweets.

It would help if this JELL-O response really read her Tweet. “You’re right, your phone IS gone forever.”

Hey… JELL-O… she can’t see your Tweet.

Don’t send her JELL-O, JELL-O, SHE’S NOT HUNGRY.

We’re glad you tweeted about how much you hate your life.

This one just went off-script and lost me (and countless others). But let’s look at the strategy.

Who tweets #FML?

High schoolers who failed their chemistry tests. Boyfriends whose girlfriends aren’t returning their calls. People who lost their job. People with the flu. Generally, people tweeting #FML are not in the mood for tongue-in-cheek promotional campaigns. Let’s poke people when they’re already pissed off. Smart!

Each #FML tweet begins with an @.

JELL-O has only tweeted to the public a handful of times since the start of the campaign. Before this campaign, no Twitter activity or engagement had occurred since February. Thus, unless people see the one or two JELL-O promoted tweets about, the majority of the people really seeing this campaign are the 400 people JELL-O has directly tweeted at. For the investment into the website, campaign development and execution, this visibility is extremely minimal.

This campaign does not encourage social media growth.

If they aren’t tweeting about anything else, why follow @JELLO? There’s no incentive to follow the brand on Twitter, thus why in its first 8 days, the number of followers has grown by just 400-500. Not great for a brand that everyone already knows (and millions of people love). It’s a minimal ROI – if follower counts mean anything at all – but that can be expected since there is no proof @JELLO will begin actively and consistently tweeting interesting material once this campaign is over. But if you don’t intend to draw eyes to your Twitter account and keep them there, why invest on such a Twitter-focused campaign? A campaign with no goal is a waste of time and resources.

What they’re giving away is hidden by too many steps.

I have yet to tweet #FML for any reason, so I clicked the code they sent to someone else.   I’m excited! I can’t wait to know what they’re offering! Click…   Eh. I’m not that excited. Not enough authorize JELL-O’s limited-time campaign to access my Twitter account. The reaction to the JELL-O #FML campaign has been a mix of people responding to JELL-O’s tweets and marketing people cringing.


Groupon’s Mother’s Day

Groupon tweets sporadically. A couple times a day, but not every day. Of its 81,000 Twitter followers, most are likely subscribed to learn about new deals. Some of the products are fun. Some of the tweets are random. There’s no strong brand message being pushed, and overall the account’s post are mild and harmless and not a prioritized way of achieving marketing or sales goals. The whole thing smells a bit of “meh”. Or it did. Until they gave Mom the keys to Twitter. 

Which led to these:




And my favorite tweet of the day…


And at the end of May 10, Mom said goodnight, and tweeting resumed May 12 as normal.

What…what was that? What happened? Where was the strategy and the purpose? Was there any? Fun is fun, but for a company who fired its CEO in March after a lengthy history of being perceived as immature and unprepared to lead, is that the best message to be sending right now?

Oscar Mayer’s Transparent Grandpa Tweets

One day only. Oscar Mayer’s Transparent Grandpa took over the @OscarMayer feed yesterday. I found out again through a promoted tweet, so we know those work.

Except just like JELL-O… all the tweets start with @.

So again, not many people are seeing these tweets. But Grandpa’s answering questions, so for the people that did see this promotion, what are these questions?




There’s more – you can find them in Oscar Mayer’s replies.

Time well spent?

These were social media-focused marketing campaigns, with what I’d say is questionable strategy. So back to the original question… is there such thing as social media strategy?