Insight to Blogging Brands, Exciting and Boring

Thanks to Deborah Grove, there was panel discussion at Uptime Institute with Rich Miller (datacenterknowledge), Kevin Heslin (Mission Critical), Matt Stansberry (Searchdatacenter) and me to discuss blogs and the environment.

We each have different approaches.  One thing I research is how blogs work to discuss ideas. I spent a long time being a technical evangelist which required lots of travelling and presentations.

Here is a blog post I found that has some interesting data.

Social Strategy for Exciting (and Boring) Brands

By Josh Bernoff

(From my Marketing News column.)

Cover April 30 There are two kinds of brands in the world. If you are a marketer, you know what I mean. There are brands people like to talk about, and brands they don’t.

Brands of the first kind – the brands that marketing thinker Rohit Bhargava calls “talkable” – are uncommon. Apple’s iPhone is a talkable brand. So is Harley-Davidson. If you market a talkable brand, you have the luxury of tapping into customers who love you, but you’ll have to be careful – those customers have already decided what the brand stands for, and woe unto you if you go against their wishes.

Brands that people don’t like to talk about – I’ll call them “boring” brands – are everywhere. If, like most marketers, you market a boring brand, then you’re really earning your living as a marketer. That’s because you are trying to get people interested in something they don’t really care about.

I’ve been analyzing social strategies for both kinds of brands, and they form an interesting contrast.

Most of the data center vendors are boring brands. I was lucky to work at Apple and Microsoft two exciting brands.  I can’t think of a brand that people are excited the way they are about their ipod, iphone, and macs.

The boring brands have different problem, but social applications can help them, too. [Forrester Report: "Social Technology Strategies for 'Boring' Consumer Brands".] The key with boring brands is to get people talking about their problems, since they won’t talk about your brand. In advertising, you can force messages on people watching other things. In a social context, this fails miserably.

So, what do you do?

Applications that talk about customers problems create “borrowed relevance,” since you generate talk they care about, then make yourself a part of it. American Express (credit cards are boring, face it) created the Members’ Project, a contest to choose deserving charities, since it realized that charity would generate more passion than credit cards. And in perhaps the most dramatic example, Procter & Gamble knew girls wouldn’t talk about tampons, but would talk about music, cliques, and school, so it created as a vehicle to deliver (very quietly) the occasional feminine care products message.

Borrowed relevance is a versatile strategy. Liberty Mutual (in another boring category, insurance) wrapped itself in relevance by creating The Responsibility Project, a community about moral decisions. Johnson & Johnson built a Facebook page for mothers of ADHD kids – because, as with all medications, its ADHD drug is boring but its sufferers generate interesting problems. Doritos invited its customers to make ads in the 2007 Superbowl, since an ad contest is more exciting – and more social – than a corn chip.

and  why?

If your brand is talkable, your social efforts will surface the brand enthusiasts who have the most influence. If it’s boring, your social applications will help you find your rare but valuable brand enthusiasts, or even generate a few. Pay attention to these people. Because as advertising clutter rises and word of mouth becomes more important, they’re about to become some of your most important corporate assets.