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When I was a kid I heard every variation on vacuum cleaner jokes you can imagine. Well, maybe not that many -- grade school kids aren't really that imaginative when it comes to insults. "Bissell sucks," or "Bissell loves dirt," followed by a not-so-playful pelting of dirt clods.
Then I got too old for grade school tauntings at the same time the Bissell brand kind of went into a decline. The only time I ever seemed to see the brand was on game shows as a consolation prize ("Sorry you didn't win the car, but we have this great parting gift... A Bissell carpet cleaner!"). But overall, the connection between my last name and a vacuum cleaner slowly faded to the point that it wasn't even useful for telling people how to spell my name.
Over the last few years, however, Bissell has been making a comeback. They have a small spot cleaner that they market to pet owners. They have some new vacuum cleaners and have gotten back into mainstream advertising, not just as part of the game show prize lineup.
It probably wouldn't be too big of a deal, but I'm online... all the time. I explore new services as part of my job, and I end up getting accounts before the Bissell company knows the services exist. It's not that I'm racing, "Bissell" is my last name, and it's usually more available than "Michael" -- I won't use MBissell, because in the 8th grade some kid figured out it sounded remarkably like imbecile, but that's another story.
Even so, probably the only place I really run into the vacuum Bissell is on Twitter. I got my @bissell account back in 2008 before anyone really knew what Twitter was. Then the social media craze hit, then social marketing.
I gotta say, the folks over at Bissell have done a great job of running contests, engaging with people on Twitter and basically doing what you should do it you're going to be involved in online marketing these days. But people simply expect that when they say something like "My @bissell sucks" that someone from Bissell cleaners will see the message. And, it suddenly occurs to me, they probably do.
I mean, if I was going to monitor my brand, and I didn't have the @brandname, I'd probably watch monitor the @brandname as if it was my own. What kind of reputation does it have, what's it doing, and is it getting my brand in trouble?
Fortunately for Bissell cleaners, I'm kind of boring. I don't run a foul mouthed avatar or make sweeping political statements. I don't engage in trash talk about other tweeters. I just post tidbits of my day occasionally and, more frequently, links to my blog... which doesn't get much more exciting than this.
Maybe someday I'll set aside my @bissell account -- I can't sell it to Bissell cleaners because Twitter prohibits name squatting, and I hate to just retire it because, well, it is my family name. But there's something kind of creepy knowing that some PR company or marketer is reading everything I write, maybe with legal intentions in mind in case I say something really nasty.
But Bissell vacuums do suck. That's what they're supposed to do...
Trish: Re: Michael Bissell: My Dirty Little Secret is I'm not a Vacuum Cleaner
What a nice post, Michael. We appreciate the kind words!
Michael Bissell: Re: Trish
Thanks Trish -- I see from your email address (not published on my blog) that you're from bissell.com; I suppose I *did* mention it almost directly to you on Twitter so I guess it isn't *that* weird to have Bissell corporate reading my words, despite what I said in my blog.