“The Social Network” will inspire an entirely new generation of entrepreneurs

“Watching this movie makes you want to run from the theatre, grab your laptop and build your own empire.  You’ve got the ability.  If you’re not starting, it’s sour grapes, you just don’t believe in yourself enough, you’re just not motivated enough.” – Bob Lefsetz

At this point, I would imagine that most people who read this blog have already seen “The Social Network.”. But for those that haven’t, “The Social Network” is the “Facebook Movie”… the fact / fiction story of how Mark Zuckerberg built one of the world’s most popular properties, becoming the youngest billionaire in the world in the process.

Now the aforementioned quote by Bob Lefsetz  is about that very story of Facebook.  Lefsetz is one the leading commentators in the music industry and he makes the point that techies have become the new rock stars.  As he writes in his latest post:

“That’s what rock stars used to do.  Beholden to no one, they spoke their inner truths and moved generations.  Now, that’s left to techies.  The public enters the information, but the techies create a game, a framework that enriches lives and themselves at the same time.”

That is a pretty remarkable statement and one I couldn’t agree with more.  Before I started my career at P&G, I actually spent time in the music industry working for Aware Records.   This was around the time that the music and technology industries were colliding with the rise of Napster.  When I think back to those days, no one in the music industry would have believed that today the tech world would have a bigger impact on pop culture than MTV.  And they sure wouldn’t believe that a movie about a twenty-something coder would be the recipe for a box office success.

Yet that is exactly what is happening.  Fifteen years from now we might just look back and realize this movie inspired our next great generation of entrepreneurs.  If that happens, it would not be without precedence.  After all, how many stock traders in the 90′s were inspired by the movie Wall Street and it’s mantra of “greed is good”?  Or how many future baseball players were inspired Field of Dreams… or Major League for that matter.

The recession was already emerging as an amazing opportunity for start-ups and entrepreneurs all across the globe.  The Social Network is only going to add to this entrepreneurial flame.  While you can argue how accurate of a portrayal the movie is of what really happened with Facebook, you cannot argue the catalyst potential of the movie.

It’s a catalyst I saw first hand as I left the theatre Saturday night.  You could feel the pulse of the crowd as the movie ended.  There is no doubt in my mind that more than a few of those movie goers left the theatre that night to start brainstorming on the back of napkins how they could be the next Facebook.

My take on the P&G Tide Loads of Hope and #pgdigital

Over the past few days, I have been fascinated by the response on Twitter and in the blogosphere about the P&G program with Tide Loads of Hope.  On Friday afternoon, I decided to add my perspective to a post made by Peter Kim on his site Being Peter Kim.   Peter was one of the Social Media / Digital experts who helped P&G with the event.  I wanted to share my comment with the readers of Hard Knox Life but I’d encourage you see the full discussion on Peter’s site.

Peter,

While I thanked you for your participation previously in this thread, I now want to join in on the amazing (and constructive) dialogue that has continued since then. In full disclosure I’m part of a small team at P&G building our Digital skills, including Social Media and was also on the team that designed this training event. And as you know, I’m also a believer in “eating what you cook” in digital so I’m relatively active in both blogging (HardKnoxLife.com) and Twitter (@daveknox).

I’ve spent the past day listening to the conversations about our event but thought I would offer some additional perspective on the event.
The P&G Digital Event was an internal training exercise for 100 or so of our senior marketing leaders. We wanted to create a hands-on event for them to see first-hand what Social Media is all about. We wanted to bring it to life for them and take it beyond buzzwords and shiny objects like Twitter, the Long Tail, or CGM.

We hoped to see our leaders come away with several realizations but a couple I’ll mention relevant to my comments include:

  1. Social Media is mainstream. Facebook, Twitter, etc aren’t just for college kids or geeks. It is being used by the young and old.. by the geeks and the Soccer Moms (or Mommy Bloggers) alike.
  2. But despite being mainstream, its not one size fits all and you need to build trust to have a conversation.
  3. And with all that said, the first step is listening in social media.

It is the last point I really want to speak to. As I’ve followed the conversation, it looks like some have thought we were “having a one night stand” with Social Media. That isn’t the case at all. There are many P&Gers that are active in Social Media – as well as many of our brands. We wanted the event to help support those that aren’t as active see first hand that you have to be wired differently than traditional marketing efforts to be successful in the space.

Sure we could have told them that in a speech or powerpoint but that goes against the heart of Social Media where it is about doing and living it. Luckily some of the best and the brightest in the space where willing to help us show our marketers how to do just that. Many are our business partners today. But I also believe that their engagement was more than just “good account management.” People like Peter Kim, David Armano, Deb Schultz, Pete Blackshaw and many others involved are truly ambassadors of Social Media who can help teach marketers the RIGHT way to be involved. I’m honored that they are willing to help us learn.

Every P&G marketer involved woke up the next morning having seen firsthand a world that is different than the world they know and that digital is having an impact on people’s lives in new ways. And while change doesn’t happen overnight we’re working to embrace the truly dynamic and exciting digital space to serve consumers and build our business.

Thanks for listening and please keep up the dialogue. Healthy debate is how we all learn together. And please believe me when I say that P&G is here to learn and live our motto that the “Consumer is Boss.”

Dave Knox
Procter & Gamble Brand Manager, Digital Business Strategy

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You can’t help but marvel at the power of Social Media

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone that helped P&G last night with our Loads of Hope program.  In just over 4 hours, we raised $50,000 for charity… a sum that was then matched by the Tide brand.  It’s amazing that through the power of Social Media and the support of some wicked smart people, you could raise $100,000 to help a great cause.  You can’t help but feel good about that.

If you want to get a feel for the event, you can check out the Twitter Stream (where Tide was a top 10 term last night) or read the great insights by some of the people that participated last night.

Thank you again to everyone for your support.  We helped a great cause and helped to teach ourselves about the power of digital and social media.

And I promise no more mentions of “buy this t-shirt” on this blog or Twitter.

* NOTE: Despite the plugs for Loads of Hope last night and today, this blog remains my personal blog and anything stated here is not the opinion of my employer.

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Charlene Li outlines for the Future of Social Networks

One of my favorite minds in the realm of Social Media has to be Charlene Li.  Best known as the author of Groundswell (read it if you haven’t already), Charlene has been making the speaking circuit in support of her new company, Altimeter Group.  Her latest presentation, The Future of Social Networks, is a must read for any Brand Manager thinking about how advertising and marketing will fit in this new social world.

In this presentation, Charlene makes the point that in the future, Social Networks will “be like air.”  Thanks to universal identity and sign-in, your friends will be wherever you need them… literally their recommendations and thoughts will be at your finger tips.  Just as important, this social graph will help marketers provide more relevent information and advertising to consumers when and where they need.

Thanks to the folks over the Digital Design Blog for the lead.

Mashable says brands don’t belong on Twitter

Mashable sparked an interesting debate on Friday when Dr Mark Drapeau made the bold statement that Twitter should ban brands from the site.  In the post “Do Brands Belong on Twitter”, Drapeau stated that:

Thinking about what might be best for people, in my opinion Twitter should not only not charge brands for membership, but also ban them altogether. Not unlike Facebook and other sites, every account would represent a person using a real name, location, and picture.

Drapeau explains his stance by arguing that a brand must have a person behind it:

Twitter is about people sharing information with other people. So how do one-dimensional organizational brands fit into this mix? When you really think about it, they don’t. As an analogy, when you call customer service, a human answers the phone (eventually) and tells you their name – and you’re not talking to “Sprint” or “Dell” but rather “Steve” or “Danny.”

Now while I completely disagree with that statement that Twitter should “ban brands altogether”, I do see the rationale that Twitter is about sharing information with other people.  I actually think the brands doing Social Media right are the ones that base their strategy off of this simple point.  If you just throw up your brand logo on Twitter (or any Social Media platform) and expect to have a conversation with consumers, you are doing it all wrong.  You are just trying to act the easy way out with one-way communication.

Brands belong in Social Media, but you need to humanize the brand

On the same day that Mashable said brands should be banned, the folks at iMedia highlighted “How to be a Twitter All-Star.”  Focused on brands like Flying Dog Brewery, Zappos and Southwest Airlines, the article proves the point that brands can enjoy great success on Twitter or any other Social Media platform.  But doing so requires them to humanize the brand by putting a person behind the logo.  And requires them to work with a different set of rules.

Christi Day, the Social Media face for Southwest Airlines, explained their approach as follows:

“Twitter empowers us to be authentic.  Getting real means being empowered, engaged and prepared. It is necessary to have the person in the Twitter role equipped to handle news management, customer communications, to be able to write compelling tweets and be willing to be engaged at all times.”

Let’s face it, this isn’t the type of marketing approach that most Brand Managers are use to.  But Twitter is just the latest technology to force us to think about change in our jobs.  If you haven’t sat down and thought about the impact of Social Media on your brand (and your career), maybe it is time you did.

NOTE:  Michael Brito from Intel joined in on the discussion with a great post on why brands do belong on Twitter.

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