Someone needs to tell the folks at Glad: Unless your customers pay for the privilege of wearing your logo, don’t build an online community around your brand. That’s rule #1 in marketing with social media — and reason #1 for instead taking an approach we call reflected glory marketing. In reflected glory marketing you create a web site that resonates with your brand, but focuses on something your customer cares passionately about. Think of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, or Amex’s Members Project. Or think of some of the projects we’ve launched in-house: BC Hydro’s Green Gifts application for Facebook, or Vancity’s Change Everything.
In my keynotes and presentations about marketing with social media, I often make this point by referring to an over-the-top scenario: a company that tries to build an online community about plastic wrap. It seems obvious that people just aren’t that passionate about plastic wrap…..but it wasn’t obvious to the folks at Glad, who launched the 1000 Uses site in 2006 to promote their Press ‘N Seal product.
The site solicits tips on all the different ways you can use plastic wrap, organized by room. It’s got a very swishy interface that lets you click on different rooms in a house to see the fantastic things you can do there with plastic wrap. And it aims to incentivize user contributions with a chance to win $1000 each month by submitting a tip.
That’s a pretty generous prize, and it succeeded in eliciting well over 1000 tips between the site’s launch in October 2006, and the beginning of August 2007. At that point the site appeared to go into….hibernation. That’s right, not a single tip posted between August 2, and December 10.
Well, not a single tip published.
In an obsessive quest to plumb the psychological and managerial depths of the 1000 Uses team, I spent a rather enjoyable evening in early November coming up with tips that I hoped would give me a sense of the Glad team’s tolerance for creativity: