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« Enterprise 2.0 Recap | Main | Fast & Furious - Twitter Chat »

July 09, 2009


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Bert DuMars

Rachel - I really like this post and I agree a social media/social web/social marketing lab is a very good idea. Especially powerful for large organizations that are transitioning to social media marketing. You are correct that it does take quite a while to build a community. We just started building a Sharpie community at and expect it to take several months to build up to a volume/level that will excite our marketing teams.

Thank you very much for the excellent post.

Bert DuMars
VP E-Business & Interactive Marketing
Newell Rubbermaid
personal blog:

Rachel Happe

Hi Bert -

Thanks so much for stopping by. One, I had no idea that Newell Rubbermaid owned Sharpie :) Two, is so much fun. Three, it reminds me of 'lead user research' that is a product management technique but we can now use it for niche marketing - i.e. let users that are doing strange things with your product market that use for you to a niche that companies can never reach on their own.

And, of course, I love Sharpies too... especially given that I am currently in the middle of packing and moving!

Bert DuMars

Rachel - Thanks for the reply to my comment. In addition to Sharpie, our Graco brand was the pioneer for Newell Rubbermaid with their social media marketing program. Our Graco team started by listening to the Mommy blogger community with special focus on new moms. They then launched the Graco blog in 2008 that is focused on parenting based on the feedback they received from the Mommy blogger community. Later in 2008 they launched a microsite that integrated mom and dad bloggers into a discussion around parenting while on roadtrips This site became the launching pad for the Graco Twitter outreach and engagement effort.

Our Rubbermaid brand became our great experimenter. They have been active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networks as well as launching the "Adventures in Organization" blog in early 2008.

We are in process of integrating more social media marketing tools into our branded sites. You will see these integration efforts come to life over the next 6 months.

Again, thanks for the post and the reply. And good luck with your move.

David Alston

Hey there Rachel,

I like you idea of a social lab. As you, Jim and I spoke about the other day most enterprises don't have the fortunate circumstance of starting completely fresh in terms of how they want to connect with their customers in a marketing role. I was lucky because I had the chance to build up our approach from scratch and evolve it from there. But I also had the strategic support from the top to take this approach.

I think this would need to be in place as well, viewing the social lab as the incubator for the regeneration of the company's approach. It would also provide the cushion required to see the change process as an investment in a long-term strategy vs. a marketing tactic.

The other reason I love the social lab approach is that it could provide the sandbox for total product experience revival. Word of mouth (social media) reveals the ugly truth about any and all products/services because it points out the extremely good and the extremely bad. Either one is great for a company because it provides point of enhancement and points of improvement. To take a page out of Seth's book, it's about creating a remarkable product worthy of discussion, that taps into the passion of the users. Remarkable product and a community approach go hand in hand and need to be coupled together for a rebirth to be successful at a company.

Loving the discussion. And kudos to the gang at Newell Rubbermaid. Bert you guys are doing some very cool things.



Greg Matthews

Rachel, thanks for this post. My team at Humana has been working in the social space for about a year, and I would definitely call us a "lab environment" - it's all about the experiments.
But we're getting serious now about how to measure the success of those experiments, and are getting caught up in the trap of measuring the 2.0 world with 1.0 metrics. Would love to hear your thoughts on how to change the way we think about measuring the impact of community.

Anita Lobo

Hi Rachel

Great observation.

Most often people under-estimate the effort required to get social media done right, because the tools are free.

Confusion between tools and the message, and the strange absence of clearly defined goals defeats many well-intentioned efforts.

Social labs are an interesting solution. By allowing organisations to experiment till they understand what works, and what do they need to do, to get it right may just encourage better customer service and transparency!


Anita Lobo

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