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.


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