Twitter #CB_RadioRedux


Been there, done that.

A little history lesson for the kids today.  At least anyone under forty.  CB radio (Citizens’ Band) emerged in the late forties in the U.S. and peaked in popularity in the seventies.  The equipment required was a radio set which could be mobile (either vehicle mounted or handheld) and an antenna, which was known as a whip.  No license was required to operate a CB Radio. 


I became awestruck by this technology in the seventies growing up near Stratford, Ontario.  Or, as it is now known, as the birthplace of the social media phenomenon @JustinBieber.  Life in the rural setting highlighted the need for the solution that CB Radio offered.  With the nearest neighbour at least a half mile away and phone lines actually shared among them, personal communications (without a CB Radio) amounted to yelling at someone.  Imagine if you will, that with a CB Radio you could interact with all kinds of people with some degree of anonymity, in real time!  Wow, it was even possible to talk to someone as far away as 10 miles (16 kilometers)!  

The 70’s. 

Use of CB Radio’s exploded and protocols and quasi rules began to entrench themselves.  CB Radios had “channels” dedicated to emergencies (channel 9) as well they had specific channels for the type of audience (truckers used channel 19) and sometimes geography.   If you had two truckers conversing, they often would change to another channel.

There was no better illustration of the popularity of this technology than to see it as major part of the 1977 “hit” movie, Smokey and the Bandit.

You’re breaking up,10-4.

One of the limitations of the CB Radio was its bi-directional nature, that is only one person could transmit (talk) at a time.  To make things worse, if two or more people keyed their mics at the same time, most, if not all of what the person or persons were trying to say would be effectively garbled.

The CB Radio audience developed a unique lingo to communicate.  In this way, you could be assured you were communicating with someone who knew the technology.  ‘Bears” referred to police, while codes like ’10-20’ mean’t location, as in “What’s your 10-20?”

Where’s your handle now?

In addition to channels, lingo or slang, If you watched the trailer above, you will hear Burt Reynolds referring to “handle”.  This is how the CB Radio users stayed somewhat anonymous.  “CB Handles” were self assigned unique identifiers of the user (for example “The Bandit”.

Like all things that get too popular, too fast CB Radios faded out for everyone, except truckers.  Channels got overcrowded, noisy and better technology came along in the form of mobile phones.

Back to the future.

Is Twitter the new CB Radio?  Do the following attributes of CB Radios, sound like Twitter?

  • ‘handles’ as identifiers
  • one to many communications
  • one to one communications
  • channels for specific uses
  • trolls (CB trolls used mic interference to disrupt communications)
  • you connect with complete strangers or friends
  • low investment and no variable cost to participate
  • the value of a CB Radio was multiplied by the number of connected devices
  • you shared where your were at, what your were doing and what everybody else was doing wrong
  • sometimes it seemed like everyone was talking and no one was listening

The parallel between Twitter and CB radio is that we like to talk about ourselves and we need to know that there are others that possibly share our view of the world.  The need to share is a primary driver of both technologies.

Twitter connects people and allows them to efficiently share.  I think that as a sharing tool, it is superior to CB Radios in that the geography is unlimited and you don’t need to be on Twitter 24/7 to get updates.  It can be live, but, it also is effective as an on-demand, information consumption/broadcast tool.


Maybe the most important consideration and difference is that Twitter is being used by marketers.  Brands can effectively use Twitter to achieve different objectives with the users  (consumers) and this makes Twitter valuable.

Once again, Twitter isn’t revolutionary, it’s evolutionary.  Marketers should focus on which consumers are using Twitter and why they are using it.  The only sure thing about the technology is that it will continue to change. 

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With so many choices, how do I choose? 

One of the challenges facing brands that are migrating to social, is the sheer number of options available to them.  Platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest) mediums (posts, video, pictures) and audiences spread across the networks are some of the choices brand marketers need to manage.

It is true that it used to be less complicated, because, there just was’t that many options when you wanted to execute some part of the marketing plan like the advertising piece.  So life was easy?  Not really, as there was also a cost issue in reaching a critical amount of your target consumer to make the campaign relevant.   Now, there are multiple ways that you can reach millions of consumers, without the large expense.

This infographic is a great tool, to help narrow down some of the options, while considering the unique needs of brand and some relevant attributes of the consumer.

Choosing the right social media platforms.


It’s not you, it’s me.

Having rules for social media in business or otherwise is important.   It’s not about social, it’s about the brand.  The brand needs to maintain it’s image and reputation regardless of marketing or media channels or tools.  With traditional media, brands have well developed guidelines, detailed creative briefs and informal “rules of thumb” that allowed the brand teams to navigate the various types of mediums used.

Some of these “rules of thumb” included:

  • Minimum brand logo size (TV, Print, Out Of Home)
  • Inclusion of humour in TV, Radio ads (Beer)
  • Responsibility messages (Beverage Alcohol)
  • Minimum brand mentions in Radio
  • Types of scenes and minimum number of people required (Beverage Alcohol, Food)
  • Specific type of brand shots (Beverage Alcohol, Food)

With the growing use of social media, new rules apply.  When brands don’t pay attention, bad things can happen.   As social media evolves, brands are bound to have growing pains.

This list contains a number of general rules.  For the most part, I think it captures good “rules of thumb” for digital and should help marketers navigate social media.

What do you think?

What other rules or advice would you add?

Social Efficiency

Get more, for less.

I took the journey from traditional marketing to digital, because I want to believe that the efficiencies inherent in digital marketing are a game changer for brand marketers.

I am a big fan of the SodaStream company.  I have actually owned a unit for over two years and recommend it to my friends.  Both SodaStream and Oreo did interesting campaigns around the the Super Bowl this year that revealed:

  • Social done the right way for the brand and consumer – can be a game changer.
  • Social has the potential to level the playing fields for smaller brands.
  • Advertising and social can work together.
  • Big brands (like Oreo) can make social work in real time.

Here is an excellent summary of the social campaigns by Rappler.

WWE not #TheWalkingDead


Not Dead.

Not to long ago, it wasn’t uncommon to hear that the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.) was dying.  With the exploding popularity of properties like UFC and with specialty  channels and the internet able to dish up any type of sports, any time, maybe WWE was in a submission hold it couldn’t break.

WWE has been around in various forms since the 50’s, run by three generations of the McMahon family.   The “golden era” of the 80’s and 90’s saw the brand return to network television and sell out stadium matches.  The brand has survived a name change, talent issues and changing demographics as well stricter broadcast regulations. 

Social tags in.

WWE actually started an online social network in 2008, which was called WWE Universe. It offered blogs, forums, and other features for WWE fans.  It was shut down in 2011.

The closing of the WWE Universe site had more to do with changing consumer uses of social media than due to the failure on the site.  The emergence and domination of Facebook and Twitter was recognized by WWE as a time to evolve their social strategy.

Social rematch.

A change in tactics has seen WWE (Corporate and Wrestlers)  excel in social with 123 million fans/followers on Facebook and Twitter.  This is far more than most of the large consumer products companies combined.  Social serves to drive viewers to TV  and lucrative pay-per-view broadcasts.

Some notable stats (source: WWE):

  • More than 1.3 million social mentions per week.
  • Regular broadcast shows WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown are frequently No. 1 in social media mentions for both broadcast and cable television on their air dates. (Trendrr)
  •  WWE’s Facebook presence, which includes 121 Superstar (Wrestler) and brand pages, saw an 83 percent gain from 2011 to 2012 with a combined following of 97 million Facebook fans.
  • Seven Superstars with more than 1 million Twitter followers, 21 with more than 500,000 and 72 with more than 100,000.
  •  More than 1 million YouTube subscribers watching 69 million minutes of original content per month.

Social the new Champion.

Social has delivered for WWE.  They have used social to help create and share consumer content that fits their brand.   They continue to focus on their ability to engage and entertain consumers regardless of media platform.  Brilliant!


Insightful Thinking



I have always been intrigued by the following words and their definitions:


noun 1. an instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding: an insight into 18th-century life.


verb (used with object), to stir, encourage, or urge on; stimulate or prompt to action: to incite a crowd to riot.


I have always thought that a true consumer insight should be the catalyst to incite a marketer to build a better brand.   Here is a traditional marketing definition of insight:

  • Based on a deep understanding of target consumer
  • Connects with them at an emotional level
  • Provokes a clear response
  • Is capable of changing consumer behaviour

Unexpected yet obvious.

Great insights generally go beyond what consumers say they do.   This is very important as brand marketers have often times failed at discerning the difference between what consumers say they want and what they actually do.  What separates good from great, is that the great insight can impact future choices, attitudes, and behaviors. A great insight is unexpected yet obvious.


Finding Insights – Traditional & Digital.

Back in the old days (about ten years ago) we found consumer insights in any place consumers interacted with the brands.  We called them our aha moments. Sales and brand health data were supplemented by focus groups, surveys and in some situations techniques such as ethnographic studies were used.  None of the data sets or research studies provided a single clue to what an insight might be and in many cases, the findings were simply observations.

There were some “tricks” that helped to identify an insight:

1. Commonalities.  The data needed to be correlated to find the common threads between seemingly disparate pieces of information.  A brand marketer had to be familiar with the target consumer, the brand, the category and keep an open mind to what was possible. Knowing real category drivers could greatly assist in identifying insights.

2. Behaviours.  Consumers have a tendency to say one thing and do another.  It’s human behaviour 101.  As a brand marketer engages in research it is important to be a part of it to gather the subtle clues that come from observing rather than reading.  Avoid fads and attempt to link to enduring qualities.

3. Go Deep.  My all time favourite analogy is “peeling back the onion”.  Very much overused it is intended to mean that when considering consumer behaviour it is important to go beyond the functional (rational) actions and get to the emotional motivations that lie beneath.

Draper Knows Lipstick.

Great example of Don “peeling the onion”.

Know Digital.

The biggest change with digital marketing is the amount of behavioural data potentially available and the apparent rate of consumer behavioural change.  The first point is a curse and a blessing.  The “mining” of data has become an industry on its own and is worthwhile getting third party help on.

The second point is apparent rate of consumer behavioural change, because, brand marketers need to be cautious of not confusing actual behavioural changes with evolving consumer practices.

The difference between actual and evolving, is that even though technology has changed consumer behaviour for some brands, for most it has simply provided additional marketing or selling channels.  The fundamental need driving most of this apparent behaviour change is convenience and technology delivers it.  It does not change the brand fundamentally, but, the brand needs to authentically evolve to adapt to consumers increased use of digital channels and tools.

Insightful Questions.

Sometimes it may seem to easy to distill an insight and sometimes it is.  Most of time, however, you can get caught in a data rich, insight poor trap.  Once you think you have an insight, take a step back and ask yourself the following:

  • Does it reveal a truth about the target consumer?
  • Does it capture how consumer wants to feel?
  • Does it relate to a proven category driver?
  • Does it speak to an enduring quality or value?
  • Does it challenge and allow the brand to act an evolve in new ways?

Sometimes it is the Obvious.