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JCPenny Missed the Train to the Super Bowl

These are four tweets that had everyone talking about JCPenny on Super Bowl Sunday, but for all the wrong reasons.

Here are the series of tweets in the order they were tweeted:

Apparently, the folks over at JCPenny thought it would be funny to tweet with mittens. It would have been funny if the weather had remained freezing and if their mittens had Broncos and Seahawks logos on them. But the mittens they used said “Go USA” and they used the hashtags #GoUSA and #GoTeamUSA. Not a mention of #Superbowl or #SB48 or even #brandbowl. It seemed they thought the “big game” was the Olympics? Hard to tell what they intended.

Apparently, Good Morning America was the only other brand who could find a clever way to respond, as that is the only retweet JCPenny made on the issue. The rest of us in the field of social media, branding and communication were talking about how far JCPenny missed the mark. Yes, thousands were retweeting and talking about JCPenny, but when most assume that the intern you’ve hired to do your social media posts is drunk because the tweets are so awful and off-topic, that is not attention you want.

Cutesy never works on Twitter, and ill-timed, irrelevant material works even less. I’m not sure why the JCPenny team didn’t have one more meeting before SuperBowl weekend to re-work their strategy, especially when the weather became a non-issue. Whatever their team is doing, they should read the negative sentiment as a major mis-fire and rethink the people on their strategy team. It just didn’t work. It is super clear that the marketing team doesn’t understand what does work during these types of events.

On a side note, Snickers took advantage of the situation and used the JCPenny missteps to boost their own brand, tweeting:

Now that’s how you do it. Timely. Clever. Funny. On point.

One of the other brand commercials who had their head in the game was H&M. Shortly after their first David Beckham commercial aired, they put up the “instant replay” on their Instagram Account. That was super smart. Want to see a lot of David Beckham again and again? Click here —> http://instagram.com/p/j7ycBBAUaN/  … It yielded high brand engagement for all the right reasons.

Finally, the Twitter feed for @Tide was on fire during the entire game. They found a way to integrate their brand with others. And yet they didn’t pay for a Super Bowl ad. For example, after the Cheerios ad, they tweeted a vine:

And that was the opportunity they looked for in most of the big brand ads. From the Budweiser spots to some fun with John Stamos and the yogurt ad. Simply brilliant.

What was your favorite TV or social ad during the Super Bowl? Which ad was your least favorite? Leave a comment below and share with the rest of us. Unfortunately, I’m not sure any of the ads were strong enough to save us from the horror that was the Super Bowl! What a game!


Drug Deals, Twerking and Sorority Girls

What a week for news in San Diego! There were three news stories which affected teens and university students this week, where social media played a heavy hand in getting “caught.”

Don’t set up meetings on Facebook.

Students at Abraxas, Mission Hills, Poway and Ramona high schools, and were able to buy narcotics, according to sheriff’s officials. The variety of drugs purchased included heroin, cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone and hydrocodone.  Wow. That’s some pretty serious stuff for high school!  Are you wondering how the authorities track some of these sales? You guessed it. Social Media. The students arranged many of the drug deals over social media.


I now know what Twerking is!

Before I saw this new report, I had no idea what “twerking” was. I’m not sure what to do with this knowledge, but I now know what this suggestive butt-shaking is all about. And this twerking story also revolves around social media. Scripps Ranch High School students found themselves in very hot water after one student decided to share a student-produced twerking video on YouTube. A few problems with that? The video was made on campus and with school equipment.

I say many, many, many times in my social media sessions, “Nothing is private.”  That speaks to things you choose to record or allow others to record (and even things you didn’t know are being recorded).  It certainly applies to the things you post online.

A series of bad decisions led to this video getting made and posted to YouTube. This is not only a “think before you tweet” lesson, but a “think before you do.” What purpose does any of this serve? How will college admissions officers judge this video, and the decision to be in the video? This is another example of a misguided use of social media, and decisions which will only hurt these students in the long run.

Train students to use social media responsibly.

Even at the college level, students made a poor choice this week when it came to posting photos on Instagram. Members of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority at CSU San Marcos posted photos of themselves dressed like Latina gang members. Apparently the photos were taken during a retreat.

A few things are disturbing, in addition to the blatant cultural disrespect. A friend of one of the Alpha Chi Omega members said, “We can’t nit-pick every little thing, because there’s a lot more worse things that could happen.” This tells me that many students might think this is “no big deal.” The other problem is that the news report ends with,

A spokesperson for CSU San Marcos told 10News no disciplinary action will be taken against the sorority, but that extra diversity training will soon be offered to all students, especially incoming freshmen.

Where is the social media training? These students will continue to do “stupid stuff” on social media if they are not taught the impact their actions have online. Yes, they need to be more culturally sensitive, however, they need to be more responsible with their communication via social media. I’ve spoken with fraternities and sororities who made similar mistakes on social networks and were disciplined by the university. Part of their requirement to lift sanctions? Learn how to use social media more positively and for better purposes.


These three news reports differ drastically in what actions occurred, however, what they all have in common is that our San Diego high school and university students have a grave misunderstanding of how social media can work against you when you do not behave responsibly online. I’m sure all of these students thought that they wouldn’t get caught, either. And that’s a behavior that’s even more disturbing. Our young adults need to understand that what they do online is just as serious and just as REAL as what they do offline. Behaving badly online is not something you can get away with. Your actions in both realities will catch up to you. I’d like to see more of our students truly understand that.

Social Media – 2012 in Review


What were the biggest stories in social media and communication this year? Plenty to choose from. We saw theemergence of Pinterest, which in a few short months went from a hobbyist site to a major player and one that individuals and brands now develop strategies around. Facebook bought Instagram for a cool 1 billion dollars. In just the past few days,Instagram’s new privacy policy highlighted just how much we mistrust Facebook. It has truly become the network we love to hate, and the one we are not even close to cutting loose. LinkedIn revamped it’s site and added many user-friendly features. And it’s not surprise that with the popularity of Twitter, that the platform reached 200 million users this year.

But the rise of visual social media is key, in that we saw that more people want to look at video and photos versus reading blog posts. Even tweets, at 140 characters are too long to hold our attention. I suspect we will see visual apps rise in popularity in 2013, based on the significance gained this year.

Social media has also infiltrated the hiring process with 92% of employers using social media to find talent. That’s a staggering number, but what’s even more significant is the number of hiring managers who use social media for candidate background checks. These trends are leading us to believe that our online reputation will grow to act more as our social currency in what some have called The Reputation Economy.

In terms of sports, we’ve seen Major League Baseball establisha fan cave and social media nights in most ball parks. The NFL allowed players to tweet live during the Pro Bowl. The LA Kingscontinue to set standards for sports brands. And athletic programs across the nation struggled to keep their student-athletes in-line, as many teams and players landed in hot water for inappropriate tweets or posts. My work of providing social media and reputation management education, could not have come at a better time!

What was evident this year is that no matter what people may say about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+ and more, social media will only continue to evolve. It certainly will not disappear. With more people integrating these networks into their daily lives, it’s no wonder brands and businesses are scrambling to find ways to reach out to customers and even urging their top executives to start tweeting.

Amidst all of this, I find myself working to help people and businesses better communicate with you. My goal is to infuse communication with positivity and purpose. Positivity, because goodness knows we need to receive more uplifting messages against the negativity that seems to be ever-present in the media today. And Purpose, because I want people to really think about what we say to each other. If there is no point in sharing that photo, making that comment or sending that tweet, then why do it? Why? It’s a question we should ask ourselves more often, and one which was not asked enough in 2012.

We learned a lot in 2012 about the limits and boundaries of social networks and what we need to do to encourage more meaningful interaction online…communication that will nurture your reputation and allow you to build a strong network of stellar people. I can only imagine what will happen in 2013. Buckle up!



Instagram Web Profiles

Hello Instagram web profiles. It’s great to see you! Did you know that you can now view Instagram photos online? Previously, you could only browse via your mobile device. Since Facebook’s purchase of Instagram, many have wondered if we would see a web version. While it is nice to be able to view the photos in a larger format, the web version is more limiting than the mobile app, it does give us reason to review our privacy settings and re-strategize our activity.

Initially, I was excited to see Instagram online. But one much needed feature for the web profiles is a search function.  I have found myself looking at my phone and the web simultaneously to pull up usernames and view photos. The hashtag feature is not live yet on the web version, so you cannot click a hashtag to view photos tagged with that topic. Essentially, you have to know the username in order to view photos. You can click on the people who have liked or commented on your photo and view their gallery, follow them from the web, as well as like and comment on their photo. However, you cannot view the list of your followers nor who you are following. One item to note, if your account is already private, then it is private online, too. If you want to change this setting, you’ll have to go to your phone to make your account private.

I will say that it was really nice to be able to type comments on my big keyboard, versus plucking away on my iPhone. I also find it much easier to delete spam comments and report users on my phone than online. If you try to do it online, you have to enter your e-mail address as well as the username (which you will need to copy and paste) and then you will be notified after you submit the details that “Facebook will send you an e-mail shortly” (which they never do). At this point in time it appears that web profiles are simply a way to view the photos in a larger format. It does not appear that they want users to move away from their mobile devices. (And why would they after Instagram surpassed Twitter in daily active users?) It will be interesting to see how they develop the features for web profiles.

What’s significant for users (both brand and individuals) is that you can now promote your web profile and allow more fans to see your photos. This means more eyeballs looking at your strategically uploaded images. And if you had no strategy prior to this web profile launch, then it’s a good time to think about what photos (and graphics) you want people to see. Businesses can take advantage of this medium to promote product, events and services, as well as share the company culture. You can streamline your photo strategy by using Instagram to feed your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, for example. Individuals can paint a picture of their hobbies, interests and character. This is essential for students, student-athletes and those in search of employment. When admissions officers, athletic scouts, and hiring managers stumble across your Instagram account, what will they find?

If you want to take a look at my Instagram profile, click HERE. I use this account to feed my personal website and therefore have several of my favorite travel photos uploaded. Let me know what you think of the Instagram Web Profiles. I’m curious how/if you are using the new feature. Please leave a comment below! Thanks!

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