Can anybody explain why internal communication is so badly misunderstood?
Companies on social media kicks usually come off like old men in pony tails: Trying too hard.
Over the summer:
Dial soap launched a "Campaign for Clean Hands," where contestants are supposed to send videos showing "their most creative take on hand washing," according to Brandweek.
Unilever created a cartoon named "Spraychel" to represent "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!" In a series of "webisodes," Spraychel, is running for president.
And Procter & Gamble is asking consumers to come up with slogans for Crest Whitening Expressions' fourth flavor, "Wintergreen Ice," and perform their ideas on YouTube.
Now what kind of perverted, warped, desperate shut-in would put nose to grindstone to write and perform slogans for toothpaste ads or come up with "creative take" on hand-washing, or watch lame videos written by some margarine marketing manager?
I must say, four years on, I'm starting to lose whatever slim faith I had in the notion that big companies would generate expressive, truly interesting blogs and other social media content. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but they generally prove the rule. (You were going to mention GM's FastLane blog and Unilever's viral "Dove" video right? Gee, how did I know?)
I've still got my eyes peeled for good stuff. But the bad and the ugly keep getting in the way.
DISCLOSURE: I stumbled upon these ridiculous examples of social media marketing while working for a consumer products client not named here.
I have a "YouTube" show that I put on for visitors.
The show evolves—the George W. Bush impression that seemed hilarious in 2006 is past the point now; and even shut-ins have by now seen that thing with the guy juggling to the Beatles—and I show different people different stuff.
For instance, I show parents the Mom song.
Old married couples get John Prine and Iris DeMent singing "In Spite of Ourselves."
Chicagoans, journalists and boozers get the video of Mike Royko talking about softball at the Billy Goat Tavern.
Golfers and Scotsmen get the Robin Williams routine about the invention of golf.
But there’s one video I show all my guests, because, more than even the Martin Luther King "I Have A Dream" speech—people have to be pretty drunk to let me put them through that—these seven minutes demonstrate everything I think I know about communication: Why it works, how it works, when it works.
It’s Fred Rogers, in the year I was born, taking on a crusty, showboating senator to secure funding despite proposed cuts by President Nixon. Have a look—and then paste in the link to your favorite YouTube delight, communication or otherwise.