Brands Only Want to Date?

Over the years I’ve been given the opportunity to take part in many cool initiatives and projects working with brands.

My writing, speaking and knowledge has taken me on trips all over this country and beyond, allowed me to play with tons of cool gear and make some great friends along the way.

I ran my own agency and have worked on numerous award winning campaigns for companies both big and small. As the author of a best-selling book on marketing, I believe I’ve earned the right to say I know a thing or two about how to be successful in media.

But, I’ve been noodling over something for several weeks now and trying to pull my thoughts together around it.

To put it bluntly, it bothers me that brand after brand I come in contact with seems to be very eager to show me a good time around a single project, but they never want to commit to anything long term.

They want to date, but they certainly don’t want a relationship.

I held off on writing this post because I wanted to talk to others to see if it was just me over analyzing the world around me. Time and time again I got confirmation that I wasn’t and that other people are seeing this happen all the time.

The general formula seems to be that a company will create an event/junket/program that involves online personalities. They bring us together or send us out something and for a set amount of time they get us talking, creating and sharing about them. It all comes to an end and then nothing. Silence….

I only do business with companies I’m interested in for one reason or another. I’ve turned down plenty of opportunities that just were not a fit for me. If I say yes, it is because I see something more there and want to start building a relationship.

But, I wonder if I’m the only one thinking this because most times I don’t see any long term engagement in the future. I mean one night stands are fun, but after a while most people crave something a bit more meaningful. That is where I’m at right now.

Once we’ve gone through that dating period, I expect (and hope) that the company will continue to share news with me. Tell me about initiatives they have going on, new product announcements and anything else they have that I might be interested in. Since we’ve already become connected they’ve earned the right to do that. Their PR departments should love this because I’m saying we’ve moved beyond the pitch, I want to hear about everything they have going on.

There is also a level of loyalty I feel after taking part in something with any brand. If we had an ongoing relationship then I’d never consider working with their competitors, but again if we are only dating it makes things harder.

Amtrak stepping up and doing a long term sponsorship with me gave me faith that there are brands out there that understand the importance of long term relationships. Yes, a sponsorship is different than a relationship, but I mention it because it shows that they want something more than a quick hit.

Please, let me make it clear that this has nothing to do with dollars, but more about good old fashion relationships. I can think of numerous companies that I’ve tried to form ones with after big events and yet there are only two that have really made it happen. That seems like a lot of wasted marketing dollars without the return that is just waiting to be made.

I’m sure a lot of this has to do with the high turnover rate of individuals and agencies working with brands. As soon as you get to know someone, they may no longer be there. But, the smart company is going to make sure that multiple people know who the friends are so that this doesn’t happen.

Brands, please think about this the next time you plan an event or campaign. We want to work with you and we’d love to do it on an ongoing basis. If you stop thinking only about the short term and begin planning for the long term, amazing things will happen.

Sure, you can wine and dine us and show us a great time. We love the flattery and it makes us feel good. But, then how about calling us back and returning our e-mails when we try to check in just to see how things are going. The world may have dubbed this all social media, but it could have just as easily been called relationship media.

Who is ready to commit?

  • martin atkins

    great post – good points and true

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Glad you enjoyed it.

  • http://www.thewordchef.com/ Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

    It must be indicative of the size of their organizations…as a very small biz/brand, my main intent in working with influencers is to build relationships. Relationships (for larger brands) may not seem as important when they’ve got huge marketing budgets.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      That is certainly the case in my experience as well and I’m not sure why I totally forgot to mention that because my experiences with smaller brands has been the same.

      Take GORUCK for instance. We are constantly chatting, crossing paths and talking. They don’t have a big marketing budget and don’t want to. They want to find people who love their products and then keep talking with them and sharing when appropriate.

      Most small businesses figure the power of relationships out early because it is all they have and lets face it, we both know it is the RIGHT way to do business,.

      Glad to hear it is how you are doing it.

  • http://stevegarfield.com Steve Garfield

    In every example that I’m thinking about right now, it was great people who kept the relationship with the brand going. They were there to follow up on product questions and keep me in the loop on new developments. In three cases, the people I worked directly with were employees of the brand, tasked with developing relationships via social media.

    In the cases where the brand disappeared over time, there was an agency in the middle. The people that I interfaced with, only cared about getting me to share content, and didn’t care anything about my thoughts on the platform they were using.

    In both cases, no community developed, and when the promotion was over, the platform turned into a ghost town.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      I’m glad you raised this Steve because in the situations where it has worked with me the same thing happened. It was always with people directly at the company.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daddyclay Clay Nichols

    This is exactly our experience, C.C. Very well put. Your point about agency turnover is a good one. I think that what is being missed is the connection between the content creators and the brands themselves. Each discreet event is checked off the strategy list.

    I sometimes feel when these events are over that the agency people have made a point to keep me in front of the product and away from the people that make it. They should be doing the opposite, IMHO.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Actually when I mentioned the turnover I was thinking a lot about my direct contact at brands, but you are totally right as well.

      Yeah, it is annoying how agencies put the wall up between the creators and the brand. I get why they do it, but at the same time I think it is one of the things that is slowly killing them off since that is an old school approach and way of thinking.

      The best relationships are the ones where you get to connect with the various people at the brands. You know who handles products or sales or marketing. You can throw ideas over the wall and they throw product announcements your way. It is a win win for all involved.

      It is sad how RARE that is.

    • http://dadarocks.com/ DaDa Rocks!

      Completely agree – I get pitched the program, do it hear back the brand loves the results and then crickets… maybe its because its the PR / Marketing companies running the social media side of things and lets just say Turn Over is a key issue but still you think someone in the brand would remember.

      • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

        You would think right? It is crazy that level of engagement and then it just falls over the edge of the cliff into the abyss of silence. Makes zero sense…

  • http://twitter.com/mthompson55 Matt Thompson

    I think there are several problems that agencies have to figure out before this comes to fruition (and I agree it does need to).

    1. Agencies have to structure agreements to not have retainers that suck up all the money to be had and make sure that there are ongoing funds to support the relationship. 

    2. Along with #1, brands need to stop depending on agencies for everything. Some clients want you to do their jobs for them and ultimately this makes retainers higher and a lot of wasted creative talent.

    3. There is still a tremendous sense amongst agencies of “we are the gatekeeper and know all.” Foolish, but we all know it exists so the arrogance brought into the relationship is we will use you and then tout your knowledge as our own.

    4. Clearly measurement plays a huge part which of course is absurd. For years agencies have recommended spokespeople for traditional campaigns that were just talking heads. The agency never took the time or had the budget to A/B test spokesperson versus another type of creative and said “it worked” at the end based on sales numbers.

    5. I think measurement and transparency I mentioned #3 also go hand in hand. If you come up with a great idea or enhance an existing idea, the agency isn’t giving you credit- they are taking it. So, the person responsible (in this scenario CC Chapman) isn’t given any credit that made an impact. You are seen as overhead.

    6. Agencies just don’t have the right resources to sell value back to a client. 

    Those are just off the top of my head and my two cents.

    Thanks, as always.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      I’m so glad you chimed in and I think the points you outlined are EXACTLY the problems that are being faced.

      The world of the client and agency relationship needs to change in a BIG way. We both know that isn’t going to happen over night, but it does have to evolve and change.

      • Rachel Clarke

         I’d like to reply to Matt from an agency perspective! 

        1. Agencies do have to structure agreements to make sure we can continue to support the client AND be able to employ people. When you work on a project by project basis then maintaining continuity across people is very difficult. This is not just a social media problem, but for many areas of marketing

        2. Totally agree that brands need to bring things in house in many cases.  With one client, we’re currently working on delivering a service for a few months before training and handing over to the brand – they know their products best!  There are other clients where we are doing things we keep advising them that they need to do, but they have neither the time or the resources to do it. They do have the money for an agency though

        3. In some cases, the agency does ‘know all’ especially when it comes to talking to people on social media channels.  Many people will want you to just push  broadcast marketing messages out – despite them having signed-up to the social approach. We don’t tend to stay with them long!  But agencies don’t necessarily know all about the brand, so there are plenty of places where it is  better the brand leads

        4. Oh. measurement. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. it works well when we can agree how we are doing it and then compare across activities.

        5. I like to think we always give credits to good ideas from fans/brand ambassadors etc. Although sometimes we have legal issues around that. On a couple of clients, we’ve worked with owners of fan pages instead of creating a standalone brand page (Facebook) and that really works

        6. Or agencies aren’t given the opportunity to sell value back!

        It’s the situation that I and my team often recommend long term, engagement, over years, but few of the brand we work with think like that, as it’s still campaign based.  We’re lucky to have some we’ve had relationships with for years – and we have brand fans we talk to often about new products etc.  In most cases, we don’t have that opportunity.

  • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

    It depends. You know yourself the difference between an influencer outreach and a brand ambassador program.

    If these brands see you as influential and want a short-term hit from you writing about them, they’re not going to (necessarily) be worried about continuing the relationship. Instead, they’re using you to find the ambassadors they can build the long-term stuff with.

    Cogs in the machine, my man, cogs in the machine. :)

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      The problem with your thinking is the same as most of the brands I’m writing about. They see a difference.

      In my mind, every single person a brand engages with can become an ambassador for that brand. Official or not, when I hear someone I trust and know talk about a product I pay it more attention. THAT is what is missing.

      • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

        With every business, it’s a case of “what have you done for me lately?”. It would be nice if it wasn’t, and that we all had long-term relationships from the brands, but that’s these lovely rose-coloured glasses that are are so prevalent in the social media-led “business world”.

        Can every person become an ambassador? Of course – but you don’t need constant touchy-feely contact with them, either. Apple stays quiet until they’re ready to go but you don’t see many folks complaining about that, and they probably have the biggest brand ambassadors in the world. 

      • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

        I agree with you that there doesn’t have to be constant contact and connection. Apple is a perfect example of that as you pointed out.

        But, I do firmly believe that money is being wasted by brands.

      • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

        GM would definitely agree. ;-)

      • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

        Ha! Indeed they would!!!

        And I don’t want anyone to think I’m against these type of events or outreach, because I think they can be extremely useful with lots of benefits. But, when they are the only thing and there is nothing after the fact is where I think the wasting of money has happened.

  • http://johncaveosborne.com John Cave Osborne

    very insightful. i’ve been working with brands for about 6 months via “sponsored posts” procured for me by a third party in which i get compensated to write on behalf of a brand’s campaign and or product. i’ve also done work where i’ve been the admin on a brand’s FB page for a period of time and, all in all, i’ve been pleased with how everything has gone. that said, i’ve never given much thought to repeat business, if you will, and i think that’s b/c working with brands has never been a goal or a priority of mine — just something i kinda backed into on accident. all that said, reading the words from a seasoned media / marketing guy such as yourself kinda codifies the concept a bit and allows me to see the broader picture as opposed to just the tiny sliver that i’ve had exposure to. thanks for this post and keep up the great work…

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      You are most welcome. Glad it helped.

  • http://www.pjmullen.com/ PJ Mullen

    I totally agree with you.  I’ve been to a handful of blogger events and when its over they ask for ways to keep you in the loop, but when you give them real ideas the concept of building a real relationship seems to evaporate into the ether.  

    I once went to Cali on the dime of a huge corporation, more brands and segments than you could shake a stick at.  They wanted ideas on how to build upon the relationship we’d started, so, taking them at their word, I spent the entire flight home detailing my ideas for one of their brands I was interested in doing something with.  Excitedly, I emailed my plan off to my contact at their agency and it promptly went no where.  Instead of the “challenge” I had present to them, I got half a dozen offers to participate in giveaways, which to me were completely meaningless.  Any traffic I’d garner from them would be short lived at best and wasn’t something I’d ever done before on my blog.  

    To Steve’s point, there was an agency in the middle, so maybe that had something to do with it.  If it doesn’t fit their plan on how they sold their engagement, maybe they aren’t interested in pursuing ideas that deviate from the script.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      It happens over and over again right? There are so many similar stories to this I could tell.

      And I HOPE and pray that companies and agencies read this post and more importantly read the comments so that they can see this is happening everywhere and that there are HUGE opportunities to do so much more.

  • http://www.modernmami.com modernmami

    I agree C.C. Sometimes as bloggers, it’s hard to figure out why the brand invested money, resources, and time into an event, but then no follow-up or follow-through. As you mentioned, we often try to keep the relationship going, offer ways to collaborate, but they don’t always reciprocate. That said, however, I personally have long-term partnerships with several brands lasting a year or more. So, some do get it. :)

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      You are very lucky then and that is awesome to hear. You are the first I’ve actually heard that from and it makes my day! Hopefully more will see the light and realize the potential.

      • http://www.modernmami.com modernmami

        There’s a small amount of companies/brands who are doing so, but I see it growing, especially compared to last year. Great discussion!

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    I’m so glad that you took the time to call this out CC. Lord knows that we have all dreamed of that “long term relationship” as it allows us to be more creative in our community building, outreach and relationship planning. With quick programs, you get just that, the quick hit: content with some value but it is here today, gone tomorrow. I too am looking to build relationships with brands that last, can evolve and can grow, with room for risk taking and experimentation. There are some brands that get it and they see the value of going beyond that first date…but it’s only a handful, and with the swipe of a budgeting axe or a change in management, all of that hard-earned effort is suddenly swept away and we, as brand ambassadors or whatever, feel “stood up” (to continue that dating theme).

    I do hope that your article and the thoughtful comments above will help remind agencies and brands that is is worthwhile in the long run to develop these relationships into…gasp…marriages.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      See, I avoided the whole marriage part of the analogy because that opens up a can of worms and other metaphors I didn’t want to deal with *laugh*

      You are welcome. Glad you found it useful.

  • http://twitter.com/Mami2Mommy Jennifer

    LOVE this article and your honesty. You are right on the money. As a Latina mom blogger I have found the exact same thing. I just want to scream into a pillow because some of these brands that I love and have worked with seem content with a one time thing and nothing further. I hope they open their eyes and realize we would love a lasting relationship where it would be a win-win for both of us. This makes me want to shout out the names of the brands that do GET IT that much louder! (Ahem, can you say Pampers?) 

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Tell me more about what Pampers is doing? I’d love to hear it and I’m sure others would too. Obviously since my kids are grown up they are not a brand I engage with all that often :)

  • http://www.8bitdad.com Zach Rosenberg

    Well, we know that brands want to “move with the market” – and unfortunately, that’s what they do. They haven’t grasped yet (and why the F not?!) that creating those long-term relationships generally creates a long-term brand advocate – and in times where they are not actively marketing – you might be! As your magnification increases, you’re able to deliver a message (for FREE) that the company might not be able to because of marketing budgets or demographic oversights.

    In a way, it’s like imagining that a brand is a body, the marketing is the head and the bloggers are the arms. That marketing machine in the head is going to think up a campaign, use its mouth to speak the campaign and use its eyes to observe the effect. But the bloggers these days give that campaign arms and legs. Facebook followers just press “Like” and move on. But bloggers on Twitter continue to blog, continue to tweet, continue to use hashtags – and use those hands to get in there and get dirty. They use the legs to move the campaign to a place where it wasn’t before. You don’t stop using your arms after 10am because your e-mail and breakfast are done. Why would brands?

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      I’m still noodling over this image in my brain. It is a scary one :)

  • angusnelson

    Love brutal honesty… give em hell CC! 

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Only way I know to be. But, I also like to be honest with a side of advice on how to do better.

      • angusnelson

        Point well taken… allow me to rephrase. – “give em’ practical, useful hell CC!” – Better? :)

      • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

        HA HA HA HA!

        Nah, I’m fine with give them hell!

  • Will Samolis

    As you know, our passion lies in the journey itself, so we cherish the real connection that blossoms from a long-term relationship. We look forward to all the future collaborations together. Thanks for the opportunity to not only work with you, but grow with you. We’re thrilled about this adventure! 
     Will SamolisSenior Officer, Social MediaAmtrak(P) 202.906.2128(F) 202.906.330660 Massachusetts Avenue, NEWashington, DC 20002www.Twitter.com/Amtrakwww.Facebook.com/Amtrakwww.YouTube.com/Amtrak

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      I appreciate you chiming in and in the conversations I’ve had with Amtrak, I can tell that YOU understand the importance and power of long term relationships and I’m glad we’ve started one together.

      I’m very much looking forward to the journey and where it takes us.

  • http://www.unknownmami.com/ unknownmami

    I’m in a couple of long term relationships with brands. I guess that makes me a polygamist?

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      hahahahaha!!!

  • Kevin Behringer

    Great post, CC.

    I think a log of this comes down to the way brands are lagging behind the shift in strategy that is (rightly) taking place in marketing. They likely see you as almost another “campaign” in line with running an ad or contest online. 

    The thing they don’t understand (unfortunately) is that this “campaign” mindset is quickly losing effectiveness – both in relationships with consutants like yourself as well as in marketing strategy overall. It’s time brands wake up and realize that the new forms of marketing will be more successful long term, but they require a long view of marketing, rather than a quick hit. 

    Like you say, as marketers we need to think more in terms of a marriage – both with the people with which we work and the strategies we employ – rather than one night stand.

    Kevin

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Exactly.

  • http://twitter.com/jacobsloan Jacob Sloan

    Absolutely agree, C.C. And it’s a problem not just in brands involvement with online personalities but with the isolated campaigns brands run and abandon without a plan for how to continue the relationship or nurture the community they started. Smart brands are going to keep those relationships going for the long-term, not leave them in a ghost town.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      The ghost town analogy is perfect for this because that is what happens. 

      Everything builds up around a campaign and then the brand leaves and the people are left looking at each other wondering what happened. I wish that wasn’t the way, but it is far too common.

  • http://www.greenmatterthoughts.com KevinMGreen

    I’ve got to chime in here from the agency perspective as well.  Some great comments on a great post.  The reason *most* agencies or brands do not build long term relationships is because most don’t know how to measure effectively the benefits of a long term relationship.  Agencies and marketers look at campaign metrics and apply display metrics to efforts with bloggers and brand ambassadors.  Did this person get us more “likes”?  Did people comment on their blog, etc.?  What was the CTR?

    If they enter with campaign thinking, then a campaign relationship is what you will end up with.  Our point of view is simple, how do we show the business value of the relationship with bloggers and how do we get them involved in the creative process?

    We rely on our relationships with bloggers (some actually have commented below) to bring ideas to the table about THEIR audience.  With that information, we can create an approach that is mutually beneficial for all parties.

    From here, we make sure that we measure the impact not only in “buzz” but on business impact.  For example, we have a program in place currently, that has been going on for over a year and has proven that relationships with bloggers yield better results than display advertising.  To be specific, bloggers generate more traffic to the brand (qualified traffic if you’re doing it right) than display ads.  10x more traffic.  The impressions are smaller, but so is the investment.

    Additionally, purchase intent and behavior increases at the same rate, 10x.  However, this ONLY happens if the relationship is NOT a one night stand.  We’ve been lucky though, the bloggers we work with are willing to be measured, have ongoing calls about performance and take recommendations on how to improve results.

    A collaborative relationship is everything.  The more we can expose our bloggers to our clients, the more success we have.  But, maybe Digital Influence Group is ahead of the curve.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Thanks for chiming in and sharing another agency perspective. I’m loving the variety of people leaving such great comments.

      A key part that you said was “A collaborative relationship is everything” and I couldn’t agree more. When that happens the best things come of it and yet it is still so rare in most situations.

      As you pointed out, the smart agencies are realizing that this is where the real benefits are and are making sure their clients understand as well.

      • http://www.greenmatterthoughts.com KevinMGreen

        They are rare because agencies haven’t figured out how to staff for these relationships or they look at this critical component as a seperate activity.  Most agencies are building departments to “handle” this new approach rather than integrating it into everything they do.

        Take GM’s recent announcement to pull $10MM from Facebook ads.  I’m not saying I completely agree with the approach, but the point most people missed is that they are still investing $30MM in content for Facebook.  If they were smart, they would carve out $2-3MM of that for blogger relationships – that counts as content, right?

        It’s a no brainer… 10x the results for 25% the investment.  It’s amazing that brands are demanding this activity.

      • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

        Yeah, the whole “we are creating a department” is a dangerous way to go.
        I know it is HARD to integrate this way of thinking into the DNA and culture of any company, but we both know that it is required. Remember when knowing how to use e-mail was a skill listed on a resume? Same thing. You have to understand what content is, how to interact with people and what social media really is all about to work in any form of advertising, marketing or PR in today’s world as far as I’m concerned.

  • Chuck Palm

    I think that explains our lack of commitment to brands as consumers.  We have so many choices, why are we going to buy the ugly chick at the bar a drink?  But, sticking with your analogy, when we do take home the hottie, and she’s gone before breakfast, we have to sit at the table and eat alone.  The brands out there that we use everyday are using us, and not even leaving a phone number in lipstick on the mirror! 

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  • http://michaelschechter.me/ MSchechter

    Do you think that some of this challenge is created by the often transactional nature of outreach? Much like placing an ad, brands often feel they pay or give something in return for attention and coverage. Does starting out that way make it difficult to forge a genuine relationship?

    The current framework seems to be:

    1. Have something to promote
    2. Create or hit your list
    3. Host an event or provide a benefit juicy enough to get a reaction
    4. Repeat when there is something new to promote
    I know that is reductive, but would brands benefit by starting before there is any kind of a campaign and would  bloggers (influencers, what-have-you) yield better long term relationships by taking interest before there is anything tangible to work together on?

    I guess what I’m really asking is if this is solely a failing on the part of brands or is there something potentially wrong with the current model for outreach.

    • http://dadarocks.com/ DaDa Rocks!

      There is a two way street issue here… but for me its been point of contact – while I’ve worked with many brands (some direct) a majority work via PR/Marketing houses, and they want to own the point of contact which means if the brand leaves that agency — they also leave me or the more common PR person who you build a relationship with, leaves and you’re lost in the shuffle of new person on boarding with no point of reference you get left behind.

      • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

        That happens over and over doesn’t it? Hate it, but part of the world we live in right now.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      For sure, this approach is the standard and it ISN’T the way to do it long term.

      I know when I’ve worked on outreach campaigns one of my first questions is always “who do you already know and have worked with in the past” since those are the first people who should be reached out to.

      Except in a very few, select situations has the answer ever come back with any names.

  • http://www.connectedworldmedia.com davidjacobs

    Great post. I think it all about very short term thinking. This campaign and that campaign. You do the campaign and then it’s over. That’s fine for traditional media but in the social world, as you have pointed out, there is an opportunity to have an ongoing relationship. Shockingly many businesses are still not attune to the new social marketing realities. They are attempting to use the new tools but with the same old rules.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Your last sentence is DEAD ON.

  • http://twitter.com/LDpodcast Whitney Hoffman

    I know I’m a couple days late to the conversation here, so pardon the late chime-in.

    Do you think there’s something else going on here as well- akin to the following:  ” If I “really” wanted a relationship, I’d go ahead and hire you and have you all to myself.  But I’m not sure I need that much help, or I’m ready or have the budget for that much commitment, so having a continual series of (essentially) one project (night) stands and playing people off one another lets me feel like I’m in control as I try to figure out what I need, without a need to think any deeper about quality, etc.”

    But here’s the irony, right?  Once someone becomes emotionally attached to a brand- say, Miracle Whip or Mayo, Jif vs. Peter Pan,  Coke vs. Pepsi- people don’t move unless they have a really fantastic experience with a new brand or a really awful experience with the old one.  For example, when I got married, we had to, on some level, negotiate all of our shopping preferences for the house based on each other’s inherent brand biases. (Hence the reason my pantry and fridge often contain more condiments than strictly necessary.)

    Transfer this over into SM, and I don’t think brands realize that when they toy with the affections of the folks they do outreach with, we  look not only at our affection for the product, but for the affection and treatment of those in charge of the brand as well, and when the relationship is merely a short, campaign centered one, do we know the long term effects it has on the perception of the brand within that individual and later on, their community as well, if the blogger/agency/etc. feels like a jilted girlfriend or boy friend where “they never call… they never write….”

    I know bloggers and social media types are in large supply as far as brands are concerned and they may be fungible, easily replaced like cogs in the machine, but is there unseen subtle damage being done as well?  It will be interesting to see long term.  How often will people still work with you if you have a reputation for being just opportunistic and not loyal?  And what happens after the break up?  I’m not sure we know for sure yet.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      This conversation doesn’t have a time stamp Whit and you KNOW I love how you come at problems like this. 

      It is something that like you said there are not clear outcomes from yet. Everyone is figuring it out and I have seen people who jump from campaign to campaign without any loyalty and then you KNOW it is just about the money and that isn’ta good thing either.

      Where all this goes? Your guess is as good as mine :)

  • Jim Higley

    CC – I read this last week the day you posted it and have been traveling ever since. But I  wanted to circle back because so much (all!) of what you shared is exactly my experience. As a rookie in this brand relationships world – your comments gave me some comfort. Unfortunately!

    The funny thing is that the day before your post came out, I was meeting with about 25 people in a big PR firm sharing my experiences as a guy who hangs out in the dad/lifestyle space. And I made a comment that I feel like I’m getting a bunch of one night stands – pretty much your message.

    I thrive on relationships. Personal and professional. I have this vision that if I throw myself into what I think is a new, fresh relationship that I’ll receive the same from the other party. As you stated, brands and agencies – for the most part – don’t think that way. 

    I certainly don’t bring any solutions – just shared frustrations. 

    Thanks for getting such an important topic on the table. 

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Sorry to hear that you share in this frustration.

      My reason for sharing this (and most of the stories I share on this blog) is that I want people to realize that these things are happening. I HOPE that this was shared with brands both big and small. I like to think that some intern is going to bring it up some day in a conference room at an agency as an example of how not to do it.

      THAT is why I do what I do. In the hopes of helping others.

      Hopefully it won’t be too long that you and I (and everyone else) can look back at this post and laugh because things have gotten better.

      A guy can dream right?

      • Jim Higley

        You raise a good point about the “Intern” part of this. I’m beginning to realize that some of my prior experiences have been – unknowingly – with very busy, fresh interns. To give them the benefit of the doubt (and I say this as a proud dad of an intern at one of the best – Edelman!) I know these younger professionals have a lot on their plate and, perhaps, not as much focus on the relationship side of this. The take-away for me is to really do my own homework in terms of who is in charge of an account and – better yet – work hard at having direct communications when appropriate with the brand.

        And yes – keep dreaming!

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    CC — I couldn’t agree more. In my opinion – it’s the difference between Campaign Thinking and Conversation Thinking — ad folks were brought up in a campaign mindset. Social gives brands the opp to actually have conversations where the topic of the day may change but the relationship goes for a long time.

    It’s difficult for many to get their head around… causes issues when you try and measure and report ROI and in general is still something I think most brands just haven’t retooled for. Hope many read this — especially the point about how you don’t want to date their friends after going out with them…. that is a HUGE point IMO.
      @TomMartin:disqus 

  • http://www.3hatscommunications.com/blog/ davinabrewer

    I like ‘relationship media’ and think that underscores the issue: Relationships are Work. Significant investment of time, resources, emotion go into building and maintaining relationships. Not all companies – or people – are up for the long haul. I know it’s why I seldom revisit brand pages – once I got my deal, there’s nothing in it for me. But if you keep making/selling stuff I like (Apple, Coke, Disney) then I stick w/ the brand, relationship or no. 

    Is it a waste for brands to spend big on first date, nothing on getting another? Not necessarily, not if they got what they wanted out of it the first time. Of course a formula for long-term success, but then again, many companies only want to ride the wave, build the buzz then cash out before anyone realizes they’re just another pan flasher. See  @tommartin:disqus good point re: campaign thinking. Too often companies (esp. some of the small biz I work with) can’t get past the short-term rewards they want to see the bigger, better payoff in the long-term; instant gratification flies in the face of taking time for relationships. Not sure I answered your question, but you got me thinking. FWIW.

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