Is Your Marketing for the Birds?

When you tweet today, please remember National Bird Day. This special day aims to help save nearly 12% of the world’s 9,800 bird species that are at risk of extinction within the next century.  For many in Arkansas and Louisiana, neither Hitchcock nor a soothsayer was needed when hundreds of blackbirds fell from the skies recently. Of course, one thing’s for sure, no marketer was involved or the birds would have waited until today to make their point.

As marketers, especially those interested in social media, birds provide important lessons. Here are ten complete with their literary references.

  1. Never look for birds of this year in the nests of the last —Miguel de Cervantes. Saavedra from Don Quixote (pt. II, ch. LXXIV.) While it’s important to assess where you’ve been and your progress to-date, now it’s time to look forward to 2011. To this end, review your plans and put them into action.
  2. Each bird must sing with his own throat —Henrik Ibsen. With social media, transparency is required. You need to be human and express your views and those of your company in your own voice. Being genuine means not having an agency communicate for you. They can provide support, guidance and related content but you have to be present online.
  3. Birdes of a feather will flocke togither —Marcus Valerius Martial from Epigrams (bk. XIV, ep. 67.) On social media platforms, it’s not acceptable to just barge in to broadcast your message. Social media is multi-directional communications; vehicles where participation is critical. You must find your own social media tribe that supports you because they genuinely like your company and your products. Bear in mind, that many consumers follow companies on social media networks to get discounts and related notices.
  4. God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest —J.G. Holland. Remember that companies and consumers have the same social media tools. While companies may use social media advertising to target prospective customers, it’s just as important to leverage these platforms to achieve your business goals. If you’re not telling your story, someone else may be and it may not be in the way you want it told. David Meerman Scott is a strong proponent of making sure that you’re on top of current news and information platforms and social media.
  5. Dame Nature’s minstrels —Bishop Gavin Douglas from Morning in May.  Social media platforms enable consumers to contribute their views and content about products and services across a variety of options. These include comments, reviews, ratings, social media profiles, blogging, photographs, videos, podcasts, and slide presentations. For marketers, these endorsements can carry more weight with other consumers since they are trusted sources. Therefore, it’s a good idea to encourage your target audience to participate.
  6. Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiersYevgeny Yevtushenko. Social media creates relationships without considering people’s locations. It helps to connect diverse groups of people across geographic and other boundaries. Social media can provide social to geographically dispersed individuals.
  7. To warm their little loves the birds complainThomas Gray from Sonnet on the Death of Richard West. Birds are a lot like customers in this regard. In a consumer centric social media world, customer service rules. Companies need to pay attention since together customers can make a lot of noise. Further using social media platforms, customers have megaphones that can be used to amply messages that resonate. Poor treatment of other consumers ranks high on this list. Think United Breaks Guitars and Comcast Technician Sleeping on My Couch.
  8. We think caged birds sing, when indeed they cryJohn Webster. On social media platforms, consumers and the public choose which efforts they want to support. While consumers may love your product, they can change their mind about your firm’s actions in a heartbeat. On social media networks, this can grow quickly if you’re not monitoring what’s happening.
  9. Accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are  the statue —Dilbert. When it comes to social media, how consumers and the general public view your firm and its interactions, depends on what’s happening. While information on the Internet lasts forever, for many social media news streams are of the minute. So it’s important to be present and ready to present your perspective because your customers are thinking, “What have you done for me lately?” In today’s social media world, a small misunderstanding can become a social media headache in a flash.
  10. The state bird of New York is the JaywalkArchie Bulge [Note: Most Manhattanites would say pigeons are the state bird but why quibble?] With social media, your company, brand and product are judged by court of public opinion that encompasses more than just your consumers. While they say they love you, their action may say otherwise. Be careful how you treat them because it can backfire. Therefore, it’s critical to be present and involved and to have a crisis management plan ready.

Before you react quickly to those on your social media networks, take time to listen to what they’re saying and how it effects your business.

What is your favorite quote about birds? Does it hold a lesson for marketers and/or social media? If so, please include it in the comments section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Photo credit: andyofne via Flickr

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