Social + Media: Two Simple Words Combined (and the Skechers Social Media Showdown)
click image to view the BOBS knockoff page

Social + Media: Two Simple Words Combined (and the Skechers Social Media Showdown)

Social: to be among the people, chatty, talkative.
Media: creative content produced for some purpose (typically advertising and marketing, sometimes art or personal expression).

And, bringing the two together we have

Social Media: creative content produced for some purpose AND shared in a conversational style via networks and applications.

By itself, social media is nothing. It is not a type of advertising. It’s not really new. It’s powerful, but it requires content and the willingness to share in a conversation about that content.

NOT SOCIAL MEDIA EXAMPLE #1: TV, or the broadcasting model, is not social media. TV is push media. By itself, the current television lacks the social or conversational aspect. A social tool that might enhance that conversational aspect of TV could be used to bring the content of television (shows and ads) into the social media realm. Enter the app @getglue.

NOT SOCIAL MEDIA EXAMPLE #2: Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company responsible for breakthrough products like Viagra(tm) and so many others. Well, if you remember Pfizer had a bit of trouble last year with a hacker who cracked their Facebook password. Let’s see what kind of social media Pfizer is engaging in on Facebook.

Pfizer's Social Media on Facebook
click to visit Pfizers Pfacebook page

So this page, even though it is on a social network is NOT social media. Here’s why.

Pfizer doesn’t really want to give their media life within the socializing aspect of social media. You cannot post a note on Pfizer’s wall. And while you CAN COMMENT on a post they have written, Pfizer just “might” have to delete your comment. Yep, they spell it out for you right there on a page called “Comment Missing?”

Pfizer reserves the right to delete your comment for a number of reasons
click to view Pfizers Pfacebook page “Comment Missing?”

What I believe this is an example of is plain old broadcast media, dressed up in a social media network entirely controlled and moderated by Pfizer. It’s the Pfizer broadcast network. I’m not so sure it’s a loss, I mean, do you really want to be socializing around how great Viagra is, or why doesn’t Pfizer make a Viagra for women? I didn’t think so.

Okay, so does social media right?


How Zappos engages in conversation on facebook
click to view Zappos facebook page

Notice several immediate differences. 1. The POST and PHOTO features are enabled. Zappos is asking you to “Write something…” 2. No “Missing Comments?” page; 3. No disclaimers page.

Sure, I know it’s easy to say, shoes are not pharmaceuticals. And a shoe failure seemingly has a much lower liability than say a heart drug gone awry. But the simple fact is Zappos is asking for and facilitating the conversation about their product. They are open to being social. And sure, people would rather share photos of their new Zappos-delivered shoes than their Viagra-enhanced… (missing word is awaiting moderation).


Toms Facebook page
click to visit TOMS facebook page

Again, we may be comparing pills to pumps, but the stark differences in the approach to media sharing and conversations is also quite revealing. Let’s do one more REAL TIME example and see what comes up.

THIS IS SOCIAL MEDIA EXAMPLE #3 (with realtime feedback):

Skechers on Facebook
click image to Visit Skechers on facebook

Okay, everything there looks good. Now here’s where the REAL TIME experiment comes in.

Skechers has started a COMPLETE KNOCKOFF of TOMS called BOBS.

They aren't trying to hide their knockoff of TOMS
click image to view the BOBS knockoff page

Okay, see the similarity with TOMS? Nice to read their quote below the aspirational video, “Inspired by the South American alpargata shoe and the idea of gifting a pair with a purchase…” To be honest they would’ve had to have said something more along the lines of, “You know TOMS is kicking ass, so we’re introducing a clone idea just different enough to avoid a lawsuit.”

Okay fine, so how will Skechers deal with my BOBS knockoff comment on their facebook wall? Will I be deleted, moderated, or answered. And how long will it take. Will they find this post and comment? Will they ask me to take it down? Will Pfizer show up and ask me to remove their copyrighted images? It’s all open in social media. So let’s see what happens.

It is almost 6am CDT (central daylight time). And here’s my post for Skechers wall:

How can your company so blatantly copy TOMS with your BOBS campaign? Do you think the public is going to LOVE your ripoff marketing campaign? Can you brush off the criticism with this kind of response, on your BOBS page, “It isn’t a new idea, but it’s a great idea…”? You should be ashamed of your blatant knockoff of a beloved national brand. In the name of selling shoes you have sunk to a new low. Sure, you’re now going to do good by copying TOMS? Perhaps your statement should’ve been, “Inspired by TOMS and the idea of gifting a pair with a purchase…”

How will Skechers respond to my BOBS outrage?
click to visit Skechers facebook page and see

Let’s see how this goes. I’ll post this and keep you updated with any results.

Interesting to find this post on the “From Others” page:

A negative BOBS comment on Skechers facebook page

Still no answer to Karen’s question from yesterday. Hmmm? Okay, so let’s try one more thing. If you read this post and want to contribute to the experiment, please visit Skechers facebook page and post your own TOMS v BOBS question. And go LIKE all the other posts by people asking the same question. We can create a cascade of comments that they will have to respond to. This could be the SOPA of SHOES. (I’m pretty sure that’s gonna require it’s own post. So far I’ve liked 15 TOMS vs BOBS post. Facebook told me to “slow down” in my use of that feature or be blocked from using the app.)

So let’s set our screengrab on another site instead. Here’s my post on the TOMS page regarding this issue.

How does TOMS response to controversy on their facebook page?
click to visit the TOMS facebook page

Let’s see how this works out, shall we? (Updates to come.)

UPDATE 3:00 CST: Not a peep or response from Skechers. Looking back over the last month, they do not respond at all to these type of comments. Maybe a whole bunch of contacts would change their mind.

Skechers does not respond to BOBS questions on their facebook page

Update 3:10 CDT: I went to capture the activity on the TOMS page in response to my BOBS complaint. I was hit with something much more wonderful. Hundreds of user submissions for TOMS Day Without Shoes Campaign. So I added my own. I’ll dig through the hundreds of entries to find if they’ve answered my question later.

A lot of user generated photos on TOMS Day Without Shoes
Click thorough to TOMS and show your feet.

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I thought I was the only one aggravated by this! Posted a similar blog in December:

    Needless to say, BOBS will never see one penny of my business. I’ll continue buying my TOMS and I’ll feel better even if it costs me more. It sounds silly to say about shoes, but it’s the principle of the thing!

  2. Sooooo happy I’m not the only one irritated by this!  I’ll NEVER and I mean NEVER buy BOBS?  WTF!?  I haven’t bought a pair of TOMS in almost 2 years but Skechers actually inspired me to visit TOMS and order a pair!  

    1. Agreed Sarah, Skechers has a terrible record of knocking off other companies. May they go down in flames.

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