Despite the nature of their products, it seems that Ben & Jerry’s have caused quite some hot debates here and there. Earlier this week (or was it last week?) I saw a tweet (or was it a post?) flying by stating that Ben & Jerry’s would swap email marketing for social media marketing.
I didn’t look into it since I was busy but I remember thinking that we shouldn’t overestimate the value of information on the Web in general and that, if the information was right, Ben & Jerry’s maybe could use some marketing advice (well, in fact I thought something else but I’m to polite to write down the words that came to mind).
However, today the whole story came back in my ‘influence and attention sphere’. Not because it’s so relevant but because the good people and friends at The Email Guide, who obviously are about email marketing, and where I once posted something (time, gimme more time), had done some digging.
So what happened in a nutshell? It seems that HubSpot posted a story that Ben & Jerry’s would drop email marketing in favour of social media marketing. I just read the post and it seems the author was a bit surprised as well but he does make a bold statement when writing “This is the first major corporation to completely discontinue email marketing, a mainstay of internet marketing since the 90’s, for other internet channels”.
Funny coincidence: the reason why I was so busy the last day was – besides customer projects – the fact that I finally decided to set up a site and blog for my own consultancy on HubSpot.
The desire for scoops (no pun intended) beats fact checking these days
Anyway, the folks at The Email Guide – former journalists just like yours truly – started checking some facts. Checking facts is something people who wrote news and opinion articles, used to do, a long time ago. You should try it once, it’s not hard: you can for instance send a mail, pick up the phone or use your network to know the real story (and realize there is no such thing as the objective truth but that shouldn’t refrain you from digging).
All sarcasm apart, this is exactly what the people at The Email Guide did. What did they find? Well, that the story was just a tiny little bit true, in a nutshell. Yes, there is a tiny little bit of smoke but surely no fire (which would be bad for the ice cream). Again an example of, well, a lack of fact checking it seems and/or misunderstanding? Sources tell me that it could be more a case of scoop hunting, something that seems inevitable if you want your blog remarked these days.
Is this all? No. There is a sad aspect in fact that shows the negative side of social media. Or maybe I should say: how fast opinions and news, certainly by influencers, can travel, without ever being once checked. The poor guys at The Email Guide, who took the trouble to do some fact checking, tweet like crazy to get this story right. Once a journalist, always a journalist.
But people keep tweeting, digging, stumbling, retweeting and liking the original post. What can you do? Not much besides chilling, hoping that some people will read your post or – even better – that they go after the real story themselves and again notice that not all is good in social media land.
So, read the post from The Email Guide and the answer of Ben and Jerry’s Sean Greenwood, tweet and retweet it, whatever. I did some fact checking as well because I wondered why the comments on the original post stopped. It seems HubSpot simply uses one of the features the system has: no more comments after x days. Will there be a follow-up post? Probably.
So, now it’s time to have an ice cream, a Belgian one of course (just learned it’s our national holiday). And I might watch some Tom and Jerry cartoons with the kids to end the day. Smart mouse, dumb cat.
You don’t control your communication: your customers/fans/advocates do
By the way: any business that would completely drop existing communication channels with customers and prospects is dumber than dumb or bad at what it does with that channel. In email that could be all sorts of things: poor content, a lack of time and resources (but you need these for other channels as well) or maybe a desinterest in customers, you never know. I can hardly imagine that all of the sudden all “users” of a communication channel would say: “don’t need it anymore”. And that’s the only thing that matters: what do our customers want?
Besides: you don’t stop an interaction channel without consulting your customers. Until further notice we live in a cross-channel world where customers define how they want to interact with your business and social media and email enhance each other very well, thank you. And I bet the folks at HubSpot know it too, at least that’s what I seem to notice as a brand new customer.
There is one thing that is very sure though: Ben and Jerry’s had a lot of buzz, did some trend analyzing. I think it’s time to stop it. Look: I just talked about their brand as well.
Don’t agree? Comments welcome as always.
PS: whatever the future will bring, lovers of the ice cream brand I mentioned too much in this post, can still subscribe to ChunkMail in most countries where this brand is active. ChunkMail is basically just email marketing. And now it’s really time for my Häagen-Dazs.