J&J’s Camp Baby: A Social Media Mistake or Social Media Opportunity?

Today I ran across a Brandweek article that covered Johnson and Johnson’s latest social media attempt to reach and engage mom bloggers: a three day conference entitled “Camp Baby”. Now, I had been following this for quite some time, read interesting articles from Scoble and his wife,

Maryam (who actually attended the event) – but hadn’t consolidated real value from the banter until now.

In case you are unfamiliar with this event, here’s the short end: J&J creJ&Jated a conference for 56 mom-bloggers, paid for them to attend, and had sessions ranging in topics from wine tasting to infant eye exams.

While this sounds like a great concept, Scoble quickly noted the following problems:

“1) You can’t bring your baby. Dumb.

2) They scheduled it at the same time as BlogHer. Double dumb.

3) They disinvited a couple of bloggers, one who had a baby, and another who was speaking at BlogHer. Triple dumb.”

While these all seem like costly mistakes at the detriment of J&J, I think these revealed a valuable lesson in social media, especially to a large brand like J&J.

What lesson does it present? The value of conversation, and the inability to define when it starts and when it ends. Put aside traditional marketing, PR, and even event planning practices. Put aside the notion that we ever understand our audiences completely. Instead, it reminds us (and big brands like J&J) that successful social media marketing engages and gains valuable input from its audience on an ongoing basis.

How could J&J have avoided these mistakes? By really connecting with these mom bloggers regularly instead of connecting at the conference, or in a few disconnected email invites. Or by allowing the community to help contribute and plan the details of the conference to increase the member buy-in (and therefore decreasing the amount of angry mom bloggers!).

At this point, I’m wondering what J&J is doing after the conference is finished. Will it remain a mistake, or will the company see it as an opportunity for beginning and continuing a relationship with these bloggers? I hope for the latter…

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