A few weeks ago, the Motrin Moms kerfuffle blew up and I tracked it by the numbers just a few days after the explosion. Nearly three weeks later, it’s time to revisit the incident to see what’s happened.
[Brands that get punk'd by social media have an opportunity to quickly respond and enable the groundswell to pirouette the energy towards a positive direction]
Running the numbers you can see interest has piqued for Motrin:
People are curious: Google insights indicates a spike in searches for the term “Motrin”.
There’s more interest in Motrin than other competitors: comparing terms “Motrin” to “Tylenol” and “Ibprofen” other brands in the space, there’s a peak that outperforms the market.
Alexa, a third party traffic monitoring tools, shows a lift in traffic to motrin.com
Compete.com, a third party traffic monitoring service, also shows a lift in traffic to Motrin.com
Despite this interest the Motrin has generated the corporate webpage still has an apology dated from Nov 20th (today is Dec 4th)
Motrin misses an opportunity by sulking in the corner
Unfortunately, not much has happened from Motrin’s behalf. The motrin.com corporate homepage is dated with an apology from Kathy Widmer dated Nov 20th and referencing an apology “4 days ago”. Whether or not you think that Motrin did something wrong with their ad or not it really doesn’t matter, as there’s an opportunity being wasted that Motrin should leverage. My job is to help the largest brands in the world understand and benefit from connecting with their customers using web tools, and if motrin were my client, I would advise them with the following:
[Rather than wallow in sorrow, Motrin should leverage global interest in it's brand. Rather than telling customers what pains them, Motrin should benefit from word of mouth by asking the community "what pains you?"]
Rather than cower in the shadows, Motrin should:
1) Stop Reacting and Develop a Strategy To Lead: Learn how to Judo throw by using the weight of the Groundswell to aid you. Before deploying any tactics, first understand that there are many eyeballs now on Motrin and in some PR circles this is good press from bad –leverage it. If you’re listening to a recent podcast episode of For Immediate Release there’s global attention on Motrin within the social media circle that is quite amazing since the product is only sold in US.
2) Remove the Apology: Suck it up and take that down the mea culpa. In the scheme of things, not every mother was insulted, and the Motrin moms is not indicative of what’s being said by moms that didn’t even see the video ad. Motrin has responded quickly, removed the ad and given a sincere apology in my opinion. Great, now it’s time to move towards the path of recovery.
3) Listen to the Community by Asking “What Pains You”: At Forrester, we use the term “Listening” as one of the objectives for social computing, suggesting that brands can better understand their customers by gleaning insight to what’s already being said. Here’s the opportunity for Motrin to leverage the Groundswell, since many members have already created their own ads (such as this clever play on big boobs), build off the momentum and develop a program to ask mothers what pains them. Obviously telling them what pained them, and playing the empathy card backfired, so instead, just ask them. Allow them to tag the videos, photos, and blog posts with #whatpainsme.
4) Allow the Groundswell to Advertise on Your Behalf: Now that this content has been created by the community, aggregate the popular posts, tweets, video and images on your blog, or corporate homepage, and allow the discussion to continue. Fortunately for Motrin, the worst criticism has already occured, so by even including negative submissions shouldn’t be a problem. By doing this, Motrin will be the center of discussion around pain –which can offer a solution with their relief products.
The above example is advice I would give Motrin if they were my client, but I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to allow both the community and brand to win.
That’s just my take, if you were reporting to the VP of Marketing at Motrin, what would you recommend they do?
If you weren’t following what was happening online this weekend (yes, yes, ok you’ve got a life) there was a Groundswell against Motrin’s latest viral advertisement that was rejected by mothers in Twitter, spread to blogs, and YouTube. I’m not a mom, so at first glance I didn’t understand the offense, but apparently, it was condescending to moms who perceived wearing babies in a sling as ‘fashionable’ accessory, and who didn’t wanted to be labeled as an ‘official mom’. The original video, which was trying to lean on the light side, took to many generalizations with mothers and resulted in a revolt capped by this backlash video.
As much as I’m interested in what folks are saying, allow me to provide an aspect that most others aren’t: short term numerical numbers. (it’s the analyst in me)
The Motrin Moms Backlash by the Numbers
I watch the twitter storm start on Saturday (thanks zsazsa), and watched it carry on through the weekend, I’ve taken snapshots of various analytics and social media tools now on Monday morning.
Above Screentshot: Twitter stats indicate bump in mentions of “motrin” and “motrinmoms”
Above Screentshot: Twitscoop’s Twitter Analytics shows peak for “motrin” notice there’s no mention before the ad.
Above Screentshot: Twitscoop’s Twitter Analytics shows peak for “motrinmoms”
Above Screenshot: The Motrin.com site is back up on Monday 11am PST, after being down for a few hours, with the public apology –which I think is handled well
Conclusion: It’s not as bad as it looks…yet
In summary, there were some major blips in social networking tools like Twitter, (it was the top trending topic over the weekend, meaning many saw it that weren’t directly involved) however it’s not likely to cause enough of impact search engine results for “motrin”, be a mainstream press story, or cause damage to stock price.
Overtime, these search results may fade away, depending on how Motrin reacts, and how mothers decide to press the situation.
Although brand backlash certainly wasn’t intention, I’m sure that some at advertising firm who created the campaign will chalk this up as a success (it got influencers talking about the brand –who previously weren’t), although the PR group certainly has been dealing with this firestorm all weekend.
Always test your campaign with a small segment first
Always have staff on hand to be prepared to respond during the weekend
Don’t launch a campaign right before the weekend unless you’re prepared to respond
The participants have the power, so participate
For better or for worse, more influencers are talking about Motrin than ever before
I’d love to hear your comments on the fiasco, what short term and long term impacts does this have to the brand? Update: more stats from Freshtakes
I’m pleased to let you know that this year’s Groundswell awards were presented yesterday by Josh Bernoff at our conference in Dallas. I was one of the final judges, although Josh and Zach Hofer-Shall were instrumental in sorting through over 150 submissions. Congrats to:
Winners by the POST Methdology 5 objectives:
– Listening: Mattel’s “The Playground” Community by Communispace
– Talking: Young & Free Alberta by Common Wealth Credit Union
– Energizing: Hershey’s Bliss House Party by House Party
– Supporting: Nerd Network by National Instruments
– Embracing: MyStarbucksIdea.com by Starbucks
Other key categories include:
– Managing: Borderless Workplace by Accenture
– Social Impact: Artshare, Click Exposition, and Posse by Brooklyn Museum
Some of the winners told me although there are other industry awards, this one was really the important one they wanted to achieve as far as measuring deployment. Thank you all for submitting, and keep on doing the good work to connect with customers, employees and people.
He points out that inactives (people that cannot be reached through social technologies) has reduced from 44% to 25%. This means that three fourths of the US online users is touched by social technologies. Also note that more people who consume this content has increased from 48% to 69%.
Do note that to be accurate in your marketing, like you have specific personas for your marketing efforts, you’ll need the same technographic profiles for those personas. Age, culture, professional, and other factors all play into each technographic ladder.
When Josh and Charlene (I affectionately call them ‘Jarlene’) asked me to donate some of my schwag, I had no idea my Flip Camera given to me from MySpace was going to be ground into a pile of dust (he now owes me a new one).
Left Image: Josh Bernoff, on his Keynote Presentation at Forrester’s Consumer Forum 07, demonstrates a “Judo throw” –a metaphor of deflecting negative brand attacks into momentum for your energy, although they sustained a few bruised ribs, I often think of Dell (previous Groundswell Award winner) as a good example.
Forrester is recognizing excellence from companies that are accomplishing business objectives using social applications and technologies. We want to hear how you’ve used the many tools out there to actually make a difference with your customers, prospects, or maybe employees. Colleague Josh Bernoff has more details on the blog, if you’ve worked with me, you know I’m interested in seeing actual business results –show how you’ve moved the needle.
So, if you work for an agency, brand, or maybe are with a boutique, get your case study together and submit. I’m looking forward to reviewing all the great work folks have done. I look forward to recognizing your great work, on a related note, check out my posts tagged case study or read my reports to see what I think is effective.
Also, Josh’s “assailant” seen tumbling through the air is a martial arts expert, and coincidently the editor of my last report, thankfully Harley Manning is alive and well.
A rather sad paradox, where fear has overtaken an opportunity to improve relationships with patients and clients. While this may not hold true for every pharmaceutical company, I recently met one who had banned it’s employees from monitoring blogs, social media and the online conversation.
[Why did this pharma company ban their employees to monitor blogs? If a patient complained about a treatment or medicine having ill-effects, then the pharma would would be liable to take action]
Responding to every customer can be very, very costly, considering how many people may be talking about medicines, often anonymously in online forums.
We saw similar fear a few years ago as Finance and Insurance companies were afraid to toe-dip into the conversation due to strict government regulations, although were seeing companies like Wells Fargo launch blogs and virtual worlds, aimed at the ‘lifestyle’ discussion, rather than specifics on your checking account, or CD.
[Telling employees not to look at blogs is akin as blocking Facebook at work, off duty employees will simply access it at home, or whip out their mobile phones and surf, there's no stopping a Groundswell]
While it’s easy to outline the risks, let’s quickly talk about the opportunities: Pharma companies can improve their customer insight from an ongoing focus group, reduce time to market for new drugs by understanding risks faster and more quickly, and have a stronger connection to customers, making marketing more efficient.
If you know of any pharma companies that have turned a blind eye, or have embraced the conversation, please leave a comment below.
Update: I added “Some” pharma companies as the new title in the post.
A new form of the Groundswell has appeared. What’s the Groundswell? We define it as a movement where individuals get what they need from each other, rather from existing institutions. The following hits home so hard for me, as I cover Social Computing as an Analyst, and I’m a former enterprise intranet manager.
In this case, employees are starting to collaborate, outside of the corporate firewall to connect, share, and learn from each other, here’s a few examples beyond the traditional Yahoo Finance Chat rooms:
Glassdoor: Rate Employers, CEOs, and find out Industry Salaries
This site launched today, although a few of my colleagues were briefed last week. Essentially, to obtain knowledge about company reviews, CEO reviews, and salary information, you have to first submit your information –all anonymously. This stealth startup, which just launched is being discussed on Techcrunch and on Cnet. I just reviewed my former employer to gain access. Essentially, companies are peer reviewed, and you can find out industry averages to see how well you do or don’t measure up to industry peers.
SalaryScout: Global Peer Salary Data
Although it feels a little less polished than Glassdoor, SalaryScout primarily offers the same peer based salary submission and review. Most interestingly is the global data available, it’s not just US focused. Do check out the map mashup of global salaries. The next step would be to standardize salaries to native currencies so we can compare. Since the technology is easy to grasp and build sites like these, the market winner will come down to aggressive marketing and fast iterative development. (submitted by bdthomas)
F*ucked Company: Former dot com confession booth
Although currently shut down, it was very active in 2001-2003, this site tracked the many miserable failures of dot coms, and even Enron. Many internal memos were published within hours on this site.
Social Networks: LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook
Of course, it goes without mention that many colleagues are assembling on these social networks, before, during, and afterwork. Some frustrated companies block social networks from their firewalls, while the next generation of workers will simply bypass those shallow walls using mobile devices –the Groundswell is difficult to stop. Instead, brands should lead with policy, embrace, and look for the business opportunities of having a connected workforce.
Dangers and Opportunities of the Crowdsourced Company
The previous examples indicate a trend of what’s happening: The conversations that used to take place at the physical watercooler, has now shifted online, organized, and manifests as something greater. But what are the impacts?
Sometimes false, sometimes inflammatory, and sometimes truthful, yet frustrated sounding information will be posted to these sites from employees, former employees, and customers.
Employees get more control, as their voice will be heard to other colleagues, and in some cases, to the entire internet.
Salaries will be puffed, as professionals will seek to demonstrate how much they are valued, I expect salary data to be inaccurate, and inflated.
Candidates will have more bargaining power during hiring process, as they can view not only third party salary.com, but now look at pan-industry salaries –hiring managers and recruiters will refute.
Employees will seek out the hiring paying next step job, and develop career-pathing to lead to the larger pot of gold
Corporations will flinch, and many will setup policies to prevent employees from posting private information outside of the firewall although many of these internal memos will appear within hours on the very sites they seek to stop.
Dissatisfied and passionate customers will assemble on these third party sites to self-support each other, few companies will realize how they need to follow the conversation.
Some savvy brands will get ahead of this Groundswell, and launch their own tools internally and externally, some will successful centralize –then lead –their market conversation.
What other impacts do you see happening from this new pattern of websites that turn power over to employees and customers?
Every once in a while, I spur on an interactive game on Twitter. A few weeks ago, I held a Jeapardy game, and one lucky winner received a Groundswell book.
Today, I held a game, where encouraging twitter members to submit interesting facts about brands. Here’s what I tweeted:
“New Game (tag it #brands) Name products that most don’t realize are owned by a larger company, view answers here http://tinyurl.com/53484c”
A flurry of answers came in from many twitter users, there were at least a 100 answers, you can view them all on this Summize page, of all tweets tagged #brands.
Did you know that Hidden Valley ranch is owned by Clorox? Lamborghini owned by VW, Ben and Jerry’s owned by Unilever, Purina owned by Nestle, Dasani owned by Coke, and Tiffany & Co Watches owned by Swatch?
I didn’t announce there was going to be a winner, but I’m rewarding @kellieparker (a community manager for PC World) for her several updates, and helpful tips. Charlene dropped off a stack of signed books at my desk, and I can do whatever I want with them. I’m going to use them to send to the community pioneers, those that participate, have fun, and help others. Kellie, send me your address, and I’ll send it on over.