Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Social Behaviours and Brand Identification-My Intrigue Today

(1) A Social Network company’s email error

This morning an email from A Social Network Company’s landed in my email box. The salutation was odd *|FNAME|* *|LNAME|* , clearly there was a glitch in the mail out that substituted that where the recipients first and last names would usually go. Subsequent to that I noted on Twitter that a number of people directed tweets to A Social Network Company’s’ to complain about receiving this. A couple of thoughts came to mind when I saw those messages:

(a) When we receive messages from an email newsletter or promotion and our name is in the message, it ‘feels’ personal but it isn’t really, thousands of people received that same email with their name in it. It is simply technology taking the information you provided when you signed on and ‘personalizing’ the message. To my mind, real personalization comes from an individual sitting down and thoughtfully crafting a message to me. A mass mail out isn’t personal, whether my name is in there or not. Yet the wording of some of the tweets gave the impression that people actually felt slighted because this time there was an error where their name should have been. Have we gone too far in blurring the lines between what is truly personal and what is simply mass marketing? Do we identify too closely to a brand or a business?

(b) A Social Network Company’s’ employee responded to the messages noting it was a “wee” error, which essentially it was. However, as someone who has worked in HR for decades I do know that people are sensitive to how and when their names are used. A misspelling or worse a wrong name being used in a written or verbal message will understandably upset people. So while the error A Social Network Company’s’ made was in the big picture, really quite minor, it unfortunately targeted the one thing in that message that was bound to create some frowns.

(c) What do you think: did A Social Network Company’s’ get it right by referring to it as a small error and providing a simple apology?

(d) A few people that sent tweets crossed the line into rudeness or overstated the issue in their messages-is this something you would like to see less of in Social Networks?

(2) Apple announced a new product today. Usually, for the two weeks prior to an Apple announcement the rumours start flying around the tech sites, yet we know that Apple never reveals what they are about to announce until they are ready. Perhaps some writers enjoy the guessing game.

What I find more interesting than whatever it is that Apple (or any company) is announcing as a new product or service is the reactions of people on Social Networks and in subsequent face-to-face conversations. The commentary around Apple vs. their closest competitors is interesting not so much based on the technical points discussed but on the level and type of emotion that is expressed. It used to be that we chose what products or services we bought based on what we needed and what we thought provided the best quality we could afford.

(a) Now, it appears that there is a fair bit of emotion that goes into these purchases although often people seem unable to really explain that emotion in a way that is identifiable. I find it relatively easy to understand someone stating that they don’t purchase products from a specific business because there is proof that the business is having products manufactured in factories that engage in abusive and dangerous employment practices.

(b) It intrigues me when someone states they will not buy a product, not based on the quality of the product, the price of the product or egregious business/employment practices but because someone irritated you by an overenthusiastic rave about why they like their (insert product), or you have a negative concept of who buys (insert product) and don’t wish to be seen as part of that group of people, or because ‘cool’ people buy (insert product).

Which brings me back to my question in (1) (a) Do we identify too closely to a brand or a business? What does this mean to our individuality, our ability to innovate and create and our sense of self? I have used Apple as an example here simply because they so conveniently made an announcement today and the social networks comments that followed were pretty much in line with what we see each time, however, this applies to many different brands and industries.

I have posed a couple question here that intrigue me but I am really curious as to how people feel about the level of brand promotion and our approach to choosing what and where to purchase necessary items. What do you think?

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