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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Does your brand .suck?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

The Internet can be both an asset and detriment for brands. It allows anyone to voice his or her opinion, whether it’s valid or not. It’s a powerful forum that gives a voice to both the pleasant customers who are always gracious and understanding, and the crabby customers who are never satisfied – we all know the type.

Today, even more power has been given to both consumers or other brands now that anyone can buy a “.sucks” domain name. Anyone can put the “.sucks” extension on the end of any known brand, such as, and create a site about how much they hate the brand. While this is a forum for people to air their displeasures, and some certainly are deserved, this means any crackpot can potentially create ruin for brands or companies. For example, a disgruntled employee who doesn’t think they should’ve been fired, even though they were definitely in the wrong. Or, an unreasonable customer who is not interested in productive problem solving, often because they did not review the company’s policies before making a purchase, and feel that an exception should be made for them, etc.

The question is, how should brands react to this newfound consumer power? Should brands be pre-emptive and buy up all associated .sucks domains and create their own content and redirects to avoid some of the trouble this should cause? Or, could these sites be contributive to brands, potentially helping improve products or services? Could they be used for the greater good, to alert people to major social issues that need attention?

According to Direct Marketing News, transparency and authenticity in social media, and every other part of business, is a must to build customer trust. A brand cannot control its customer’s online activity, and it should not want to. Honest opinions can help a brand troubleshoot and thrive. So, instead of focusing on controlling the problem, brands should focus on embracing criticism and managing it.

Is it fair that any fool can jump online and spread rubbish about any brand? Of course not. But it’s today’s reality. Instead of spinning wheels trying to get ahead of each new platform, such as .sucks domains, brands should focus on building good products and services that keep the masses from succumbing to the opinions of the disgruntled and unreasonable few. By utilizing constructive criticism shared online and embracing transparency and authenticity, brands can minimize the effects of tools like .sucks domains and prosper in today’s connected world.

Defining moments.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Our mobile devices have created a world where we are obsessed with cataloging moments instead of experiencing them.

Instead of clapping along to the music at a child’s dance recital, we’re holding up our phones in a dark room in hopes of capturing a poorly lit photo. At birthday parties we’re filming the happy birthday song instead of sincerely looking at our children and watching their smile. While reconnecting with nature on a hike or boat ride with friends, we’re snapping shots and posting them to Instagram in hopes of getting “likes” from people who aren’t even with us. Perhaps the most dramatic example is the wedding photo below, shared by Thomas Stewart Photography. As the photographer notes in the caption, the groom is struggling to see his bride because of the guests who are trying to snap photos. It not only ruined this special moment for the couple, it also prevented the photographer from capturing the moment.

When we experience our life through the tiny screens on our mobile devices, we’re missing true connections with other people, with nature or just being in the moment. It’s impossible to share a groom’s feelings of happiness combined with nervousness and love when he first sees his bride if you’re focused on your phone. And isn’t that why they invited you to the wedding, to share in the moment? You might see your child’s smile as they blew out their candles in a photo later, but when they looked up at you with excitement in that moment did they see your smile, or your phone in their face? We’re at the point where we can stop the madness by putting our devices down. We’re no longer living moments; we are documenting them as an outsider, detached from the experience and emotions.

The next time you reach for your phone for a photo, pause and ask yourself… do you want your life’s special moments to be defined by the number of “likes” it receives on Facebook, or by the love and human connection the moment has to offer?

wedding photo

Photo by: Thomas Stewart Photography

Grief is personal.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Expressing condolences is never fun and finding the right words to share while looking in the puffy, red eyes of a grieving person is always difficult. So instead of reaching out to make that personal connection, many people choose to hide behind their Facebook and other social media profiles to share their thoughts, questions and condolences.

But, when you use Facebook to express condolences, speculate the cause of a death or leave inappropriate comments, that’s exactly what you’re doing… hiding.

A social media site is probably not the appropriate time or place to communicate with a grieving person. Although it may seem easier or more convenient, that’s the very problem with it – it’s impersonal and centered around the comfort of the person expressing condolences, not the person grieving — very self-serving. Many people are saddened by the loss of a person, so there is no need to gloat about how well you knew them or all the things you’ve done for them. Those are private and treasured memories that you can be share with their loved ones at a later time, if you still feel compelled to share them when you consider you will be sharing them one-on-one – in person — with their loved ones.

Social media is also never the place to speculate about a person’s cause of death, or ask any other inappropriate questions. Asking these questions might feel comfortable from behind a screen, but on the other side of that screen is a grieving family who lost someone dear to them. Your curiosity, speculation or gossip is not helping them heal. If you would never actually say these things in an actual conversation, it’s probably not the best thing to share on social media.

If you’re genuinely concerned and looking to express condolences, attend the memorial service, or pick-up the phone. At the very least, be courteous enough to keep your questions, comments and gossip off of public social media platforms.


Holiday Spirit on Social Media

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the busiest shopping time of the year. Retailers and brands are competing for consumer’s attention, so during this shopping season, it is vital for brands to properly communicate key messages. Social media as a key channel provides brands and retailers the opportunity to connect directly with customers through online engagement.

According to Research Industry Voices, 28 percent of consumers will follow certain retailers/brands on social media to keep an eye out for sales, promotional codes and deals. Additionally, 22 percent will follow retailers/brands on social media to find out about the most popular gift ideas. This is precisely why leveraging online channels like mobile marketing to the fullest extent, is crucial during the holidays.

Many brands are using unique approaches via social media to increase sales during the holiday season. Social media campaigns included in the mix this holiday season include contests, holiday cards and social giving. One specific company that has embraced digital assets for its holiday campaign is Target. Target combined Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram for its 2015 holiday campaign, increasing its social budget by 30 percent compared to last year. Christmas-themed geofilters are available to all Snapchat users during the month of December, allowing them to overlay a different branded graphic on top of their photos each day until after Christmas. E-commerce ads through Facebook allow users to shop for different Target products directly from their personal Facebook accounts. Lastly, Target is running Instagram takeover ads using the app’s self-proclaimed high-impact ad unit Marquee.

The efforts brands put forth online should be mimicked in-store as well. The growth of online shopping does not replace the in-store shopping experience. Brands still need to invest dollars on in-store with well-trained and enthusiastic employees and processes to keep shoppers happy and ensure the custome in-store experience is as seamless as their digital experience. With the holiday season in full swing, companies must review their online and mobile presence, be in full launch mode with holiday campaigns highlighting special deals and promotions and ensure all content is authentic and conveys the holiday spirit.


Ann Keeling says:

Moreso than ever, online shopping is a strategy for consumers who don’t have the time or energy to deal with the mall. However, there is still a significant contingency of people who relish the mall experience, so all channels remain important to the overall shopping experience. And it’s a matter of ensuring that the brick and mortar experience is reflected in the online experience and vice-versa, which needs time, attention and nurturing.

New KidZ on the Block

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Today’s marketers have an obsession with targeting millennials. Although this generation of consumers plays a critical role in the marketplace, the generation on the rise, Gen Z, should not be overlooked as the buying power of this group increases. Closer attention to this generation’s attitudes and practices is essential.

Gen Z includes anyone 18 and under, making up more than a quarter of the United States’ population and accounting for $44 billion in buying power a year, according to a report from New York ad agency Sparks & Honey. Although Gen Zers are younger, their buying power is increasing. Even kids that are too young to make purchases on their own have a significant influence on their parents’ buying decisions.

Also know as the digital natives, Gen Z has grown up in a world where they rely heavily on technology and the Internet. This tech-savvy group seems to lack brand loyalty. Why? Gen Z is looking for the real value of the goods and services they put their money towards and if they’re not happy with the results, they know they can find higher quality elsewhere. This lack of commitment to brands will require new and improved marketing strategies to further connect with the values of this generation. Additionally, brands need to work to offer improved digital experiences (online and in-store) in order to be successful among these young consumers.

Sarah DaVanzo, chief cultural strategy officer at Sparks & Honey, provides further direction on how to target Gen Z: “Don’t treat Gen Z like Millennials — they’re different. Brand marketing and storytelling needs to be 5-screen: phone, computer, TV, tablet, wearable, and brand engagement needs to be live-streaming video, not just IM or chat. The pendulum is also swinging back to value messaging because Gen Z are frugal and discerning and less brand loyal so brands need to re-win over Gen Z at each purchase.”

Consistent engagement and a substantial presence in mobile marketing and social media is key. Products and services that keep high quality as a top priority is also key. Marketer transparency also needs to be more of a focus than with other generations.


Ann Keeling says:

The opportunity exists for marketers to recreate their brand through storytelling, particularly to the younger end of Gen Z. They are just children after all. There’s huge potential for brands in trouble or tired brands (within Boomers for example) to reinvent themselves and potentially become a legacy brand for Gen Z.