Connected and opting out

With the ever changing landscape of social media, connectivity and how that is viewed continues to change.  Connecting with long distant relatives was once done via the United States postal service, then through the convenience of a phone call, then email took wave and as long as the relative had an email address, you were set.  Then, social media rose which allowed for photo sharing, commenting, likes, live video feeds, and more.


How has the advancement of technology changed human behavior and caused a disconnection in a world that is now so highly connected?

Sherry Turkle, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, suggested just this in her TED Talk entitled Connected, but alone

“These days, those phones in our pockets are changing our minds and hearts because they offer us three gratifying fantasies. One, that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; two, that we will always be heard; and three, that we will never have to be alone. And that third idea, that we will never have to be alone, is central to changing our psyches. Because the moment that people are alone, even for a few seconds, they become anxious, they panic, they fidget, they reach for a device”.

The eases of connecting with others far away has alternatively enabled a distance between verbal conversations and causing a feeling of isolation, discontentment, and loneliness.  In fact, in a study done by the University of Michigan’s psychologist Ethan Kross, as viewed in The New Yorker, found that Facebook can make people feel unhappy in How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy.  The shared theory behind this is that “we may start to resent both others’ lives and the image of ourselves that we feel we need to continuously maintain”.

What implications may this have on future brands working to strategically align social media marketing strategies?  Let’s take a look at how outdoor brand REI tackles this issue and works to reconnect members with the love of outdoors and each other.  Black Friday 2016 was the perfect time to reinforce being with family members during the holidays and getting off of social media long enough to do so.


Image retrieved from

Below, is a snapshot of what members received in their email inbox suggesting that the sharing of how they holiday might be spent.  The option to #OptOutside was easily shared via social media sites with a click of the, then embedded image within the email sent, image below.  Encouraging the opting out of going Black Friday shopping, via online or in store, was reinforced with REI’s closing during that day so employees could spend the holiday with their families.  In fact, to take it a step further, the #OptOutside site even offers suggestions for families with kids, pet friendly spots, along with links for specific preferred sports outside.


REI works again to reinforce their message, “Time outdoors makes you healthier and happier. And there are so many ways to get out. No need to be extreme. Just find a place near you, then open the door and head outside”, by linking the hashtag on their site.  The idea to get members to then share their images of what was done and how time was spent during this dis-connectivity period was amazing.  REI’s campaign, and the organization itseslf, instantly started trending on social media with images and comments of how time was spent, showing other brands that capitalism and greed are no longer trumping the family card.

Other brands could learn from this and implement their own strategic campaign relieving employees the headaches and heartbreaks of spending the holiday season at work when they could be spending time with family or for personal reflection.  Either way, better than being at work.  I have been shopping on these days and with four kids, I can grab some killer deals.  On the other hand, with four kids, they can remember how we spent the holidays and not what I got them in my absence.

To view a resulting case study, click here.


Viral Marketing Initiatives

“Viral marketing is the rapid sharing of an idea, a portion of this idea contains a marketing message about buying a product of service”

Creating viral content is a marketing dream come true.  Sometimes it feels as though the stars need aligned on a clear day to achieve this level of exposure, likes, follows, and shares.  Taking your brand or self to the next level to gain a farther reach takes minimal effort and costs next to nothing, if implemented correctly.  Below are five common characteristics of a viral marketing campaign that have been shown to spread like wildfire;

Common interests Everyone knows the movie series Twilight and if not, then you’ve happily spent a significant time under that rock you call home-no offense.  President Trump was die-hard Team Edward. Staying true to form took to Twitter to express his thoughts on Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s breakup stating that Robert was too good to take Kristin back, etc.  Why he was so obsessed with Robert Pattinson and Kristin’s relationship escapes everyone but sure enough, the tweets went viral. 

Donald Trump Tweets

View more on this story, click here

Emotional connections- Using emotion in marketing is nothing new, but why does that increase the chances of something going viral?  To sum it up, content triggers an emotional connection, thus more likely to be shared because it elicits emotions of happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, fear, etc.  The more emotions felt, the better chance it will be shared.  The group P.E.T.A., or People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, uses tactics such as these when sending videos to their members.  Videos of slaughter houses, cruel and unethical treatments of animals, and cultural dietary preferences (such as China eating dogs and Spain’s eating of horses).  Their Tofucken video went viral, reminding members during the Thanksgiving season to eat tofurkey.  Click here to view the edited viral video on YouTube.  

News worthy/relevancy- can you relate to it? Is it prudent and you can’t escape the headlines?  Now is the time to share content and videos that are news worthy and relevant to the event.  Studies in web analytics have found that people are sharing content without fully reading it”, thus uses captivating headlines.  With IWD (international women’s day) recently behind us, headlines such as The Most Undervalued Leadership Traits of Women fits the bill.  See what author did there?  Used not only news worthy information but at a time when it is prudent in the minds of readers, with a catchy headline no less.

Sentiment- Exploring how sentiment can make something go viral can best be demonstrated with the positive sentiment created in the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge.  Through social sharing on Facebook, three individual families were responsible for ultimately changing history for social shares through a friend inviting a friend, who then invites another friend, then another, until, well, you know.  Through viral videos, ALS ultimately was able to fund research to find a connecting gene.


Image retrieved from


Controversy No one wants to be bored.  Don’t use boring as a tactic to move your piece into a viral sensation.  Below is the UNHATE campaign from known controversial brand Benneton, featuring highly controversial pictures politics kissing.  Captivating, yes.  Controversial, absolutely!  That is what is so beautiful about this campaign and why it makes a great example of controversial viral marketing.


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Visit more from the UNHATE campaign by clicking here

“Most viral content has a very short shelf life.  Don’t let that deter you.  Focus on creating something that is captivating and emotionally connects individuals by including news worthy, relevant or sentimental themes.  If a picture speaks louder than words than consider including a GIF to convey your message.  “If your idea isn’t viral success, then you’ve lost nothing because no one saw it”.  So what do you have to loose.  Go ahead and give it a go…