Anyone looking for a test case in how Twitter can be used to pull a community together — apart from little things like the Obama campaign, of course 🙂 — might want to consider a recent Toronto phenomenon called HoHoTo. A holiday party for Hogtown geeks and friends started as the germ of an idea about 10 days ago, after Twitterers in Montreal mentioned that they were having one. Not to be outdone, my friend (and fellow mesh organizer) Rob Hyndman started talking up the idea of a Toronto holiday party, and soon a group of make-it-happen types like Ryan Taylor as well as Michael O’Connor Clarke, organizational genius Sheri Moore from MCC Planners (another member of the mesh team), Modernmod and Ryan Coleman and others joined the conversation.
My kids are too old to carry around in slings — I mostly drive them everywhere now — but I can still sympathize with the mom (and some dad) bloggers who are up in arms about Motrin’s latest marketing campaign, which uses “baby-wearing” as a way of trying to appeal to moms as potential customers. The rationale seems to be that using slings and other baby-carrying paraphernalia is mostly a fad, and causes back and neck pain that requires Motrin. Instead, hundreds of moms are criticizing Motrin on Twitter — where they have helpfully tagged their comments with #motrinmoms — and on dozens of blogs as well.
If you’re one of those who believes that “any publicity is good publicity,” or that getting potential customers “engaged” with your product includes pissing them off, then the Motrin campaign probably seems like a great success. And I’m sure there are those who will argue that the critical Motrin moms are a vocal minority, that they are too easily offended by something that was meant to be humorous, etc. That may even be true. But it’s still a problem for the company — a very modern problem. For better or worse, this kind of social-media “flash flood” of negative PR involving Twitter, blogs and Facebook is becoming more and more commonplace.
Okay, maybe calling actress Brea Grant a social-media pioneer is a little strong. On the other hand, pretty much everyone and their aunt goes around calling themselves a social-media “expert” or “guru,” and I think Brea has as much claim to the term pioneer as anyone, at least in the acting world. She may not be a household name — except perhaps for fans of the TV show Heroes, where she plays Daphne Millbrook, the “Speedster” character — but she is doing her best to use social media to her advantage. And the best part is that she is doing it herself (with the help of a Web-savvy college friend) rather than having PR people do it for her.
Brea has a great website and blog, and she is also active on Twitter. She’s not the only actor from Heroes to start Twittering, either — Greg Grunberg, who plays the mind-reader Matt Parkman on the show, also has an account (where he spends a lot of time talking about his all-star band, the Band From TV, which includes Grunberg on drums, Teri Hatcher from Desperate Housewives on vocals and child star Brad Savage on bass). Brea has also been giving interviews to more than just the usual Entertainment Tonight type of outlets, including one with social-media guru Chris Brogan, in which she talks about the difficulties of being a public figure online, and even one with a home-made TV show called Bradman TV.
As usual, I can’t remember where I came across this one (if it was in your feed, let me know and I will send a virtual shout-out), but it’s a great clip of legendary management theorist Tom Peters and marketing guru Seth Godin (who looks a lot like a “house elf” from the Harry Potter movies, but maybe that’s just me) talking about the usefulness of blogs as part of a panel discussion at the Inc 5000 conference. I would have embedded the clip but there was no embed option available. So I took a minute and transcribed what they had to say. First up was Seth, who said:
Cartoonist and wine-marketing genius Hugh Macleod of Gaping Void asked marketing guru Seth Godin some questions recently, which he has posted on his blog. One of my favourites is when Hugh asks Seth what the hardest lessons are for a first-time author to learn:
“Books are souvenirs that hold ideas. Ideas are free. If no one knows about your idea, you fail. If your idea doesnâ€™t spread, you fail. If your idea spreads but no one wants to own the souvenir edition, you fail.”
If I were a publisher, or an author’s agent, or teaching a class on writing, I would engrave that somewhere very prominent.