Cisco’s sudden and really awful decision to end production of the Flip Video Camera brand and fire 550 people stunned not just this blogger, who went on a rant…
But the media and the Internet. On the day of the announcement “RIP Flip” become a Twitter trending topic, and “flip camera” was one of the top 20 most searched keywords on Google Trends.
That fact should not be lost on marketers, because it means The Flip brand hit the mark of engagement with the key demographic that is most likely to use social media and micro-blogging services, like Twitter.
Most of these users employ Twitter to talk about products and events, and Cisco’s sacking of the Flip Video Camera is but one example – but a big one.
So big that it shows Cisco failed at getting digital and social media. If Twitter, or that group of people called “The Twitterverse,” would cry out about the Flip, why didn’t Cisco have any kind of marketing activation that featured a comprehensive, coordinated Internet and social media campaign for the Flip.
I said that Cisco lacked the passion for the product, which is in the hands of two million people (give or take folks like me who have more than one Flip), and this finding buttresses that take.
Now, Cisco will obviously bristle at my claim, and because it would point to its social media effort. But the problem, as clearly evident from reading a Cisco blog entry on its social media guidelines, is that the company’s use of social media is defensive.
Read this from Cisco Social Media Guidelines, Policies and FAQ:
We take social media seriously at Cisco.
We look at it as a collaborative tool to help better serve our customers, our partners, our investors and our employees…and to LISTEN to them as well. There, of course, have to be guidelines and employee training around the use of social media. Within our company culture of transparency, we thought we’d make our newly updated internal Social Media handbook available for everyone. We don’t claim to know everything about Social Media, but we do know that the wisdom of the crowd is generally better than the wisdom of the few. With that in mind, we welcome your thoughts, observations and viewpoints on our Social Media Policy and Guidelines
Look at the words: “collaborative tool”,”better serve our customers”,”guidelines”, and “employee training,” and it all ads up to one word: boring. Where are the words “buzz” and “excitement” and “product” and “marketing” to make a “fan” base?
And it leads to the slide presentation of a document that’s a set of bureaucratic guidelines – do’s and dont’s. There’s nothing about using social media to generate buzz. What’s good is that Cisco wants its employees to engage in social media. What’s bad is that there’s nothing that shows the employee how to use social media to generate buzz about Cisco products.
If Twitter is a great place for crowd activation – getting a ton of people to do something – and Cisco has its own “crowd” called its employees, getting them in the game of buzz building should be part of this document and the Cisco social media process.
It’s not there.
Credit goes to Cisco for taking the passion out of social media. It’s no wonder the Flip Camera’s history; Cisco lacked the feel for it, and for the culture that embraced it.
Meanwhile, Cisco needs a social media expert with passion and smarts, like Pepsi’s Director Of Global Digital and Social Media, B. Bonin Bough: