5 Brands Succeeding Without Social Media

With all of the world seemingly in love with twitter and “social media” I thought it might be nice to ground us in a little bit of reality. Social Media can be fantastic. Several brands have found success by leveraging social channels like Facebook and Twitter. I’m a big supporter of the concept, approach, and strategy. I find myself encouraging clients to invest in social media. At the same time, social media isn’t for everyone. It just isn’t. This isn’t a crazy concept – TV, Direct Mail, and Print aren’t for every company either.

With that in mind, here are 5 brands that aren’t playing in the social media space, but still doing quite well:

The blue box says it all, doesn’t it? They rarely, if ever, offer items on sale. While other jewelry chains are closing up shop or shrinking down, Tiffany & Co. has remained strong. They have a brand with staying power, strong emotional bonds, margins that are insane, and limited expansion.

It’s kinda funny huh. Apple the brand people love to love is also one of the most closed off companies out there. They have products, hardware, and software that’s setup for the social media space. But, they’ve shied away from engaging people directly. Their forums are useless, email support poor at best, and you don’t see them sharing and dialoging with people. It’s not like there aren’t enough fans and owners with problems out there.  Yet, people flock to the brand.  They’ve created a situation where the consumer is willing pay between $300 and $500 more for an equivalent PC.

As a watch fan I gotta tell you Rolex isn’t a great watch. But, it’s a fantastic status symbol. That said, they’ve done very well and continue to do well. Watches are great splurge items. I should know; I’ve splurged on a few :) You don’t see Rolex on Facebook engaging their staunch advocates…and believe me Rolex owners are true believers.

You gotta love Dolby. Their stock price has continued to grow and why not; they’re at the center point of the movie and entertainment business. BlueRay DVD isn’t just about amazing picture quality. It’s the audio as well. That audio, more often than not, is in a Dolby format. There are however people who will tell you that DTS is a better format and Dolby lacks the punch in sound. That doesn’t even cover the segment of the universe who sees Dolby as nothing more than a hype machine…churning out new formats and certifications to just generate cash. Seems like the type of situation perfect for social media huh? So why aren’t they participating.

Kinda ironic isn’t it. Twitter, the fad du jour is one of the least social companies on the internet. They’re one of the few start-ups (can we still call them that?) that are generating venture capital funds and who’s valuation continues to rise.  Have you ever tried engaging them for support? Sigh…it’s painful. Even if you @ the twitter staff, you’re lucky to get a response. They don’t develop apps, instead relying on the community to do it instead. The most social thing they’ve done is make the twitter API wide open. This has allowed people to build around twitter. But, beyond that, are they really invested in social media?

There ya go, 5 brands that are doing well, but who haven’t been playing in the social media space. Pretty damn cool if you ask me. Think about it.

Note: Interpretation about success was derived from data sourced via WikinvestNPD and Bloomberg.  The Bloomberg data is publicly available, but I don’t believe I’m allowed to embed/share data from NPD.
  • http://www.providentpartners.net/blog Albert Maruggi

    There are plenty of brands succeeding without social media. Here is where the echo chamber danger is for those in social media. Advocates can walk into a room, dump all this social media greatness on an audience of communication practitioners that hear a complete disconnect from their reality. It’s like the famous Gary Larson cartoon about a href=”http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/myl/llog/LarsonBlah.jpg”>what a dog hears Social media is not for all companies period. Sure there are some forms of new media that can be extremely beneficial. Other companies simply need to recognize that social media may contain references to them which may or may not be important. I suggest, and my interview on the Marketing Edge Podcast with Jason Falls one of the authors of the Social Media Explorer blog support this idea, that we are in a period of reflection about social media. There were few new toys announced at SXSW this year. Many measuring tools to prop up those that require ROI on everything they do. I believe we are in a period where marketers are assessing the early adopter usage of social media, taking stock of the generational change of their audiences, and evaluating next steps. This is being done in a harsh economic environment with pressure on reducing cost. This cost pressure is making many look at social media, but remember social me is low cash flow, not low cost necessarily. For many brands social media is less a mandate and more a major culture change which should be entered into thoughtfully.

  • http://www.providentpartners.net/blog Albert Maruggi

    There are plenty of brands succeeding without social media. Here is where the echo chamber danger is for those in social media. Advocates can walk into a room, dump all this social media greatness on an audience of communication practitioners that hear a complete disconnect from their reality. It’s like the famous Gary Larson cartoon about a href=”http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/myl/llog/LarsonBlah.jpg”>what a dog hears Social media is not for all companies period. Sure there are some forms of new media that can be extremely beneficial. Other companies simply need to recognize that social media may contain references to them which may or may not be important. I suggest, and my interview on the Marketing Edge Podcast with Jason Falls one of the authors of the Social Media Explorer blog support this idea, that we are in a period of reflection about social media. There were few new toys announced at SXSW this year. Many measuring tools to prop up those that require ROI on everything they do. I believe we are in a period where marketers are assessing the early adopter usage of social media, taking stock of the generational change of their audiences, and evaluating next steps. This is being done in a harsh economic environment with pressure on reducing cost. This cost pressure is making many look at social media, but remember social me is low cash flow, not low cost necessarily. For many brands social media is less a mandate and more a major culture change which should be entered into thoughtfully.

  • http://conversationagency.wordpress.com/ Uwe Hook

    It should be 2 brands that don’t engage in social media: Tiffany has a Facebook page with more than 100,000 fans http://tinyurl.com/d28khu

    Apple is on Twitter now and engages http://twitter.com/itunestrailers/

    and even though you might not like how Twitter responds to problems, they are still using their various @ to interact with people

  • http://conversationagency.wordpress.com Uwe Hook

    It should be 2 brands that don’t engage in social media: Tiffany has a Facebook page with more than 100,000 fans http://tinyurl.com/d28khu

    Apple is on Twitter now and engages http://twitter.com/itunestrailers/

    and even though you might not like how Twitter responds to problems, they are still using their various @ to interact with people

  • http://www.thekmiecs.com adamkmiec

    @uwe-

    I just don’t see how 64 updates and following 4 people is engaging in social media. They have an army of followers (7,000 + and are doing nothing with them). their twitter account is basically an RSS feed of trailers. At best it’s broadcasting :)

    The Tiffany page is new to me. Given that the article is from 3/18 – I’m not surprised I missed it. They’ve decided to dip their toe. I’m curious to see what they do with it and if it really helps them grow beyond where they are in market share. Thanks for finding it.

    I personally can’t buy off on twitter. The only difference between them an Apple is that they’ve made the API wide open, while Apple constricts things like music files with DRM.

    Adam

  • http://www.thekmiecs.com Adam

    @uwe-

    I just don’t see how 64 updates and following 4 people is engaging in social media. They have an army of followers (7,000 + and are doing nothing with them). their twitter account is basically an RSS feed of trailers. At best it’s broadcasting :)

    The Tiffany page is new to me. Given that the article is from 3/18 – I’m not surprised I missed it. They’ve decided to dip their toe. I’m curious to see what they do with it and if it really helps them grow beyond where they are in market share. Thanks for finding it.

    I personally can’t buy off on twitter. The only difference between them an Apple is that they’ve made the API wide open, while Apple constricts things like music files with DRM.

    Adam

  • torchio

    I think Tiffany and Rolex are interesting choices. To me, social media gives an impression of being accessible, and part of a community. Brands like tiffany and rolex thrive on being “above” the community. They want the common person to know about them but only pieces of them. Basically, what I am getting at is that I don’t think tiffany and rolex would gain much from being a part of social media. They have done too well by not being accessible.

    What kind of brand image would be presented if tiffany was on twitter? I mean, i imagine they would have a butler to do that for them or something…

  • torchio

    I think Tiffany and Rolex are interesting choices. To me, social media gives an impression of being accessible, and part of a community. Brands like tiffany and rolex thrive on being “above” the community. They want the common person to know about them but only pieces of them. Basically, what I am getting at is that I don’t think tiffany and rolex would gain much from being a part of social media. They have done too well by not being accessible.

    What kind of brand image would be presented if tiffany was on twitter? I mean, i imagine they would have a butler to do that for them or something…

  • http://www.thekmiecs.com adamkmiec

    @Torchio

    You’ve chosen a really interesting word, “accessible.” It’s the lack of accessibility I find with brands like Apple, Twitter, Tiffany, etc. that makes them great examples of non-social media participants.

    I remember seeing a presentation on social media, where one slide shows the words social and media on it. In between them was a greater than symbol facing social.

    Tiffany’s facebook page is more media than it is social. Ditto with Apple’s twitter account.

    Adam

  • http://www.thekmiecs.com Adam

    @Torchio

    You’ve chosen a really interesting word, “accessible.” It’s the lack of accessibility I find with brands like Apple, Twitter, Tiffany, etc. that makes them great examples of non-social media participants.

    I remember seeing a presentation on social media, where one slide shows the words social and media on it. In between them was a greater than symbol facing social.

    Tiffany’s facebook page is more media than it is social. Ditto with Apple’s twitter account.

    Adam

  • http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com/ olivier blanchard

    Twitter is succeeding… but only as long as it can burn through someone else’s money. As much as I dig Twitter and see its potential, can we really say that is is successful when it isn’t anywhere close to being profitable yet?

  • http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com olivier blanchard

    Twitter is succeeding… but only as long as it can burn through someone else’s money. As much as I dig Twitter and see its potential, can we really say that is is successful when it isn’t anywhere close to being profitable yet?

  • http://www.pocketsmith.com/ Francois Bondiguel

    Both Twitter and Apple are using Getsatisfaction.com to communicate with their users. It doesn’t really matter how you establish a connection with your users. It is more important to create this link that brings value for both parties :)

  • http://www.pocketsmith.com Francois Bondiguel

    Both Twitter and Apple are using Getsatisfaction.com to communicate with their users. It doesn’t really matter how you establish a connection with your users. It is more important to create this link that brings value for both parties :)

  • http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com/ olivier blanchard

    As an aside, if you’re going to throw Rolex in the mix, then why not Timex, Cartier, Breitling, Tag, Omega, etc.

    BMW is doing pretty well without Social Media too.

    Specialized bikes, Cervelo, Bianchi…

    We could extend your list to hundreds of brands. ;)

  • http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com olivier blanchard

    As an aside, if you’re going to throw Rolex in the mix, then why not Timex, Cartier, Breitling, Tag, Omega, etc.

    BMW is doing pretty well without Social Media too.

    Specialized bikes, Cervelo, Bianchi…

    We could extend your list to hundreds of brands. ;)

  • http://www.thekmiecs.com adamkmiec

    @olivier -

    I think we should extend the list. Cartier though did a whole thing with MySpace I believe and BMW did a program for the 1 series on FB.

    @Francois –

    If I give you a phone number to call me at, but I never pick up the phone nor do I return your messages, what was the value of the phone #? I see there use of Get Satisfaction as the same thing. Rarely do they respond. Hell, Apple avoids there own message boards like the plague.

  • http://www.thekmiecs.com Adam

    @olivier -

    I think we should extend the list. Cartier though did a whole thing with MySpace I believe and BMW did a program for the 1 series on FB.

    @Francois –

    If I give you a phone number to call me at, but I never pick up the phone nor do I return your messages, what was the value of the phone #? I see there use of Get Satisfaction as the same thing. Rarely do they respond. Hell, Apple avoids there own message boards like the plague.

  • http://www.thearf.org/ joel

    Actually, BMW is very active on the BMW forums. In fact they had a whole presentation on that at an ARF conference and they also extensively use buzzmetrics

  • http://www.thearf.org joel

    Actually, BMW is very active on the BMW forums. In fact they had a whole presentation on that at an ARF conference and they also extensively use buzzmetrics

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