COM0015 Blog Post #2 – Strong/Weak Organizations

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Sharpie? Hello?

While the ultimate goal of any B2C organization is to increase the bottom line, there are a number of ways businesses can establish themselves as the go-to for consumers above the often over-saturated aggregate of similar companies. This is where the better social-media driven B2C’s thrive.

I’ve been following Sharpie for many years as a scrapbooker and mixed media artist (when I have a few moments to spare). Boasting a pretty good 5-10 page rank, Sharpie has endeavoured to connect not just within the artist audience, but parents (labeling, chore charts, etc) and students/teens. Visually represented across multiple social media platforms, their strength comes from images and the ability to engage their customers through submissions and tags. While Sharpie’s Instagram account may boast a relatively modest 128K followers, its hashtag use has well exceed 1.3 million. A community and culture. Their Facebook page boasts over 3.6 million followers. While the blog and direct engagement is still lacking on some forums, it’s the visual representation of the brand that shines not only from the company, but moreso from the #sharpie culture. #sharpietattoo is my personal favourite! It is empowering the creativity of its community and foreshadows continued growth in promotion and practice….

…BUT…

Then, they all but disappeared. Sharpie just…stopped. Dead.

Instagram? Last image uploaded was 115 weeks ago. Blog? Last post was written July 10, 2013! Twitter? Last tweet was February 29th. Not so bad? The one before that was December 21, 2013!

For a company actively engaged with the teens who “tattoo” and the moms that label and the designers who design and the Pinterest winners (and maybe Pinterest failers)…Sharpie seemed to have hit some kind of social media roadblock. What happened? Did they, then, just become the mirror “weak” organization…of themselves??

Arik Hanson had a few speculative points of interest as to why a company with over 4 million fans would suddenly up-and-leave the social media foray in his article: “Why did @Sharpie shut down all its social media accounts?” Change of CMO? Being a company that is owned by a bigger company and got eaten by the bigger proverbial fish?

I think the withdrawal from the social media communities that really found niches within the creative industry is going to leave a lasting impact on the value of engagement, obviously, but more so, though people will continue to purchase Sharpie products based on brand loyalty, Sharpie is really missing out on expansion and growth opportunities as social media continues to evolve and reach further target markets and communities. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be an active contributor to have seen them just up and…who even knows? No explanation. That kind of corporate behaviour risks a lot, that very brand loyalty, especially.

How do you think Sharpie’s withdrawal from social media will eventually affect their bottom line over time, if perhaps the management change felt it more cost-effective to do so? I’d love to have my own “clear view”of what the heck happened!