December 13, 2017 By Zak Mehan
Last week President Trump announced he was reducing the size of two national monuments in Utah, Bear Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante. It wasn’t just environmental groups that took notice.
The administration now faces lawsuits from Native American tribes and outdoor gear retailers Patagonia and REI. Patagonia was particularly unequivocal on their position.
That screenshot is what visitors to Patagonia’s website found last week, before even being able to shop for products. The company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts look similar…as does some of the content coming from the House Committee on Natural Resources in rebuttal.
Politics aside, there is a lot to be said about the events that have unfolded so far from a communications perspective. For Patagonia, we say kudos for effective use of the company homepage as a key messaging vehicle and for keeping messaging cohesive across channels. The Committee did well to broadcast its message in a like-for-like fashion, taking to social media to engage – in theory, anyway – the same audience.
Taking a strong position on issues is a tried and tested method to gain publicity for Patagonia. A lesson for brands that if you’re going to comment on a zeitgeist-y topic, make sure you communicate a strong position, back it up with actions and brace for the backlash.
Companies don’t always have to take policy positions to benefit from a little pugilistic publicity with figures in the American government. Of former White House Communications Director Sean Spicer’s many confrontations, one of the strangest was his ongoing chagrin against Dippin’ Dots.
The folks at Dippin’ Dots took notice. But instead of taking a combative tone, the recently-appointed CEO of Dippin’ Dots wrote a letter to Spicer, inviting him and the White House press team to a (flash frozen in liquid nitrogen) ice cream social.
The resulting coverage of Spicer’s tweets and the CEO’s letter amassed around a billion views across media and social media channels – around the return on 50 Super Bowl ads. Dippin’ Dots did well to turn social media activity into media coverage, understanding that, especially in 2017, social and traditional media exist symbiotically.
The Verge had a good tongue-in-cheek take on how out of place Facebook’s peppy, pastel-hued Year in Review video seemed an odd backdrop to personal #MeToo posts, cries of help from Houston and Puerto Rico or outraged political commentary. Those paying attention often harken back to the Arab Spring movement in 2011 as the time social media took hold as a vehicle for social and political activism. We’d argue 2017 is the year it went mainstream.
This means a few things for companies. First, robust social media plans – both proactive and reactive – are necessary, not just a nice-to-have. Citizens and companies have become more sophisticated in their use of social and digital channels to spread information or misinformation about companies or public figures. Your digital savvy should be keeping pace.
Second, tone-deafness can be avoided by paying attention to what your stakeholders care about on social media. With so many brands, influencers, friends and politicians vying for their attention, your content has to match what they want to hear. This isn’t always plucky motivational quotes or smiling stock photos. Build a social media presence with purpose.
What Happens When the Government Uses Facebook as a Weapon? Bloomberg
Amazon job posting for manager to oversee digital acquisitions Business Insider
Time exec says Meredith merger boosts the company’s chances against ‘tech monsters’ CNBC
Twitter confirms it’s testing a tweetstorm feature TechCrunch
The Year in Review that everybody actually wants.