So the Sharpie brand seems to have completely abandoned its social media accounts.
Arik Hanson at Business2Community.com made that interesting catch recently, writing that he discovered it while doing some research for a client.
When I first saw his article, I thought it might just be a mistake. Surely a huge brand like Sharpie would not just stop interacting with all the people who love using their products.
But after a little poking around, it became clear that he was right. The last updates on Sharpie's social media accounts were:
- Facebook, July 2014
- Twitter, December 2013
- Instagram, December 2013
- Sharpie Blog, July 2013
- YouTube, July 2013
These were significant accounts, too. For example, Sharpie had been on Twitter since 2008, had sent nearly 12,000 tweets and had 188,000 followers.
There's no indication on any of them that Sharpie planned to stop using social media. They just...end. It's almost a little eerie.
The first clues about what might be going on come from a presentation six years ago by Susan Wassel, who was then social media director for Sharpie.
Speaking at a social media conference in Chicago, she explains that there was resistance from the legal department at first, but others in the company were able to persuade them to give it a try.
"We also promised them that wouldn't spend any money. And this really appealed to them...Bottom line, it was because a couple of people who were passionate about this that it happened and is happening."
Apparently, the social media campaign didn't have much of a budget or staff. It used current employees to keep the blog, Twitter and other accounts going.
(MediaPost goes into more detail about Sharpie's social media campaign, which did include starting a new website and spending money on advertising.)
The company did draw quite a bit more internet traffic, but it ended up going nowhere.
According to her LinkedIn, Wassel left Sharpie at the end of 2013 – or, right around the time the social media campaign ground to a halt.
I'm guessing that support for Sharpie social media within the company fizzled and, with it, any money that Sharpie was willing to spend. No idea which came first, Wassel's departure or the loss of support.
Sharpie is owned by Newell Rubbermaid, so I thought I'd try to get in touch and find out what's going on. I found their two media contacts listed on their website and emailed one of them. The email came back as undeliverable, so I tried the other. No response.
The big question is, does it really matter?
It's not as if the brand is lacking for recognition. Sharpie is globally synonymous with permanent markers. People still buy them every day by the truckloads.
Interestingly, Google shows that online interest in Sharpie began rising during the social media campaign – and continued to rise even after the campaign was abandoned.
Out of curiosity, I decided to check out the social media accounts of another company with global brand recognition. Coke is synonymous around the world with cola, so does the company still put energy into interacting with fans online?
I understand social media can be a beast to keep up with, especially when you have a small staff. It's a struggle for us to maintain our social media accounts with so much else to do every day.
But when you're a brand as popular as Sharpie, I think people want to interact with you, and with each other as fans of the brand.
Ditching your social media, especially by just leaving accounts abandoned like derelict houses, is a mistake.
So please, Sharpie, reconsider and rejoin the rest of the internet community.