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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Why is your “viral video” just sitting there languishing in obscurity? You had such high hopes for it. But there it sits, gathering dust on YouTube like the kid who threw a birthday party and no one showed up. It’s not viral, it’s just a video, and that is an important distinction. So repeat after me: You cannot create a viral video. You can only create a video that Read the rest of this entry »

I originally published this in The Huffington Post and am making it available to my readers here.

I have been embroiled in debate over employers asking potential interview candidates for their Facebook password. It is such a fundamental breach of privacy that I almost become apoplectic when I think about it. Unfortunately people applying for jobs are not in power positions, and often feel pressured to comply. As seductive as the potential job may be, do not be seduced.

Facebook has already threatened legal action, and a Senator from Connecticut is writing a bill that would stop the practice of employers asking job applicants for their Facebook or other social media passwords.

However, until that bill is passed, when someone asks in an interview “Can we have your Facebook password?” here are 11 responses you can use.

Top 11 Responses to “Can we have your Facebook Password?” in an interview.

  1. “I just want one small thing in return, is that ok? Your soul. Would that be cool? I mean, it wouldn’t be that hard for you to part with considering you barely have much of one anyway, but I’ve always wanted to know Read the rest of this entry »

If you were connected to a digital device on the planet in March of 2012 it was almost impossible to ignore the Kony 2012 campaign, and if you watched the video, it was impossible not to be moved by it. It is, and will most likely remain for a long time, one of the most brilliant demonstrations of the power of digital media, and of how to get your message heard.

Over 79MM+ views, 600,000+ comments, and 1.3MM+ Likes in less than it’s first week on YouTube alone are staggering numbers, and demonstrate that significant numbers of people were moved.

How did it encapsulated everything necessary for Read the rest of this entry »

Like nailing Jello to a wall, Pinterest is a bit hard to “get.” It’s fairly easy to define the concept, “scrapbooking with high viral potential,” however many people, including many of my clients, struggle to figure out if it has any worth to them.

Instead of just telling them about it, which loses some of the impact of what Pinterest actually is or can do, I decided to make a tangible example for them to see how someone like me could engage with it, and therefore spur ideation with them as to how they could use it. I have always found that “show” works better than “tell.”

For those who do not know, Pinterest is a visual curating site. If you are on the internet and see images that you just like, you can “Pin” them to a “Board” you create on Pinterest. Say you love cars, you can keep a record of car pictures you like in a place you can always go back to. And… other people can follow your love of cars that way.

For individuals the uses are easy to understand. It’s basically a place for you to keep track of stuff you like that you see online. But brands? The key here, that I continually drill into my clients heads… Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook provides a unique opportunity to connect with your customers. Get up to speed on insights designed to help you make the most of your Facebook advertising efforts.

Facebook overtook Google last year as the most trafficked site on the internet. Social media has gone beyond connecting with friends and has graduated into a full-blown, connected personal and business mode of communication. As much as pundits attempt to pit Google and Facebook against each other, it is not an either-or equation for advertisers. Rather, it’s a “yes, and…”equation. Each of the sites serves advertisers in a distinctive way. The most notable difference is that Facebook advertising can more uniquely serve all parts Read the rest of this entry »

The internet industry and the press mutter about the explosion of Social Media, the marketers, brands, and advertisers try and find how they can manipulate the populace using it, and the business analysts figure out ways to monetize it. But in the end, there is someone lost in all of this. Humanity. The individual seeking to connect. Really connect; with the other flesh-pods that inhabit this planet. Physical connections. Have we all become the equivalent of the 30 year old living in their parents basemen? Never venturing out?

Is a cocktail party, a bar, or even an industry event about true connections? or is it just a magical dance we all do because we are societally programmed to?

As I look at the effects of what we are all creating I am Read the rest of this entry »

This week’s episode of DishyMix features Sean X Cummings, a pundit in the digital media space. Sean recently left Ask.com, where he ran marketing. He’s also writes the iMedia Connection column, The X Factor and is a well known speaker on the marketing circuit.

The beauty of this interview is its honesty. Sean lays himself on the line. Seldom do I interview guests who are so transparent with their personal and professional beliefs. Not only is it refreshing, but his behavior underscores the recent thread we’ve been exploring on the show about authenticity. I believe we crave authentic experiences from more than just our brand interaction – that the laying open of our hearts and minds to others is what endears us to each other.

Listen to this show and let me know your thoughts. Do you like this more personal format, do you like the more “actionable ideas for business” format, a balance of the two or when I mix it up between those gems of our industry like Sean X Cummings, Doron Wesley, Julie Roehm and Jason Heller who bare their souls for us and the all-about-business episodes with the likes of Seth Godin?

As the entire media system is about to completely fracture, did Fox make the right move by jumping into the social media fracas? Here are four simple rules to live by.

News Corp. recently launched a social network for weather junkies. But is there any merit to it, and what can we learn from how Fox is leveraging the social sphere? Let me dissect why this is a bad idea — or maybe not a bad idea — and provide four simple checkpoints for your social media programs. Then, I’ll tell you why I might be completely wrong.

The bad idea
Has our industry gone so far off the deep end of the social networking hype that THIS is what someone comes up with? Are there really that many weather junkies obsessed with the daily machinations of planet Earth that we need a social networking site for 40-year-old losers who still live in their parents basement? This is one of those sublime examples of just because you CAN do it, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

I can just see it now, some luddite at Fox talking about social media and the great way they can drive stickiness to the Fox site. Another luddite probably pitched that idea three years ago as a weather site where users could comment on the weather… and it was laughed at. But attach the “social networking” moniker to it, and all of a sudden it is shiny, new and pretty. It was a crappy idea then, and now. It’s a crappy idea that leverages social networking. So it’s a shiny piece of nothing. The market is simply not there.

Maybe not so bad of an idea
But is it really a bad idea for Fox? You talk about the weather when you have nothing else to talk about. It’s the safe topic of conversation instead of politics, religion or sex. It affects everybody. But is it really that important to users or advertisers? Ahh… now I’m starting to get a little bit of the logic. In a country where the average IQ barely registers above the average spring day in San Francisco, it’s the perfect topic, requiring the intellectual capacity of belly button lint. Even those who watch Fox News or pro wrestling can carry on a conversation about the weather. But how many people are actually passionate about it? And where is the need for yet another weather site?

I thought Weather.com, AccuWeather and WeatherBug pretty much had a lock on the digital weather business. All of them have great products, and seriously, if you’re a weather junkie to that extent, you’re there.

So what is Fox doing, and why is this rant against them off the mark?

Four simple rules for social media efforts
If you are a brand and thinking about diving down the social media well, be careful, you need to change the way you think about conversations with your consumers. Advertising is a one-way dictatorship. You decide what you want to communicate and dictate it downward. Kim Jong-il is the most successful advertiser on the planet. Well, him and any major religion. Advertising works great in a closed system, and for a while here we had the benefit of that closed system. You could convince people that cigarettes were healthy, your weight loss drug works and will make you look like a model, and that nothing we do affects climate change. Oh, wait, there are still some hold-outs on that one.

The multi-way conversation enabled by social media changed all that. The whole media system is about to completely fracture. PR, advertising, etc., it’s all going to change. No longer is your company shielded from the conversations that happen. So what should your brand do? There are four simple rules to profitably leverage social media:

1. Be true to your brand
2. Be honest with your consumers
3. Leverage the assets
4. Start small

Fox, or any major media outlet, for that matter, has transformed itself over the years due to sensationalistic practices. Sensationalism sells. Who cares if the facts are only lightly checked. If it bleeds, it leads. But from a more altruistic standpoint, Fox is merely providing its consumers with information about what’s going on in the world from its viewpoint. Weather dictates so much in our daily lives, from how we dress, to how we travel, to how we interact with the outside world. It is a daily checkpoint, and it’s essential content for news services.

Adding social networking components to weather may not change the daily ritual much initially, but as weather systems continue to cause destruction, there is this innate voyeuristic primal force that makes you unable to look away — the same rubber-necking phenomenon that had people glued to their TVs watching Katrina devastation.

News organizations are cutting back staff left and right. They need to start leveraging the social infrastructure of those unpaid fleshpods out there armed with digital cameras and video. And in reality, pictures or footage gathered by the local populace is pretty unbeatable. Individuals do it for ego, and that is a powerful motivation. This is a classic 1:9:990 rule. Only one in a thousand will actually provide footage, nine in a thousand will provide commentary on that footage, and the rest of the 990 will be rubber-necking voyeurs. So, if you only need those five, maybe there are enough weather junkies out there to fuel a social media weather site after all.

Holy crap, it may work
So, how did Fox do? It is being true to its brand as a news service. The commentary it provides may not be entirely honest, but pictures and video from consumers don’t lie. Fox is essentially leveraging both its assets, and the assets of the social brain cloud of the fleshpod army, which saves the company a boatload of green. This provides Fox with incredible economies of scale, efficiency of news weather gathering, and exclusive content assets it can leverage for its other properties. And the site is a very simple concept that can be scaled to other assets Fox may have if it works. The general news could leverage the same infrastructure as can its bevy of other media properties, including movies and TV shows, and so on. By doing it just for weather now, they do not bet the ranch on the concept and can tweak it before scaling to the media empire. If it ever remotely works, the ROI will be through the roof due to the retention and frequency improvement from exclusive content and the media Fox can leverage throughout its empire. I mean, they do own MySpace, so they know a little about social media.

In a way, I’m surprised that it’s Fox that launched it. I mean, for a company that regularly denies global warming even exists, let alone admits that humans could be potentially accelerating it, doesn’t it work in their favor to believe the opposite here? I mean, global warming is going to wreak havoc on the weather systems of this planet, making for more devastating hurricanes, more violent tornados, and more sensational weather. Perfect for this concept. At what point do we transition from referring to these events as “acts of God,” and start referring to them as “acts of man?”

It will probably come from the insurance companies first, not wanting to pay for “act of God” claims. Ahhh… capitalism. Hey Fox, want to come over to the other side of the global warming debate? You’ll make lots of money!

ranty rant signing off…

Now that social media has shattered the illusion of brand control, is your company ready for this brave new world?

The Vatican recently announced that it was exploring mobile and social media as a way to reach people for World Youth Day. So, if a man wearing a funny-looking pointy hat gets it, what’s wrong with these companies: Louis Vuitton, Burger King, Johnson & Johnson, Taco Bell, Delta, etc., and the list goes on.

The Forrester blog came out with a list that shows which companies were punk’d by social media because of their ignorance of the new communication dynamic.

In a previous article on social media, I state: “It will just be much more difficult to lie to consumers since they have the tools and the communication ability to weed them out.” And that’s why they got punk’d. So what did they do wrong? And what do others companies do wrong when they approach social media?

There are two fundamental structural reasons that hamper current companies: layered vs. matrixed, and campaign vs. strategy.

The most powerful brands are often the ones that get left behind. Why? Because change comes much more slowly to them. Their corporate structures are layered — a tree structure of employees sitting on top of employees who sit on top of other employees, all in a tree structure of responsibility avoidance. This causes entrenchment and aversion to risk in an effort to reach that next rung. Those companies are glaciers; oil tankers trying a three-point turn; a blind squirrel trying to find a nut.

There are many reasons for that structure, but for a long time it was also the most efficient structure for the media cascade. Old media worked much the same way, rifling down from primary news sources, like a river from a mountain source hitting its tributary. Major broadcast networks and major newspapers dictated what the consumer saw, read, learned. Press releases hit primary news sources and fanned the message out. Everything was nice, neat and tidy.

And then it all started to fall apart, and it’s going to get worse. The fracturing of media communication, and many companies’ inability to spin their normal message, is causing a rethinking of how all brands will have to communicate with their consumers.

No longer can the marketing, corporate communications and senior leadership of companies remain in layered tree structures when it comes to the way they communicate their brands to the consumer. They must be matrixed, and those matrix hubs must be empowered to react without going up and down trying to force-fit a crafted message. They can keep the rest of their company functioning as is, but if they don’t rework the way those groups communicate, they are not only going to be left in the dust, they’re going to go out of business.

What they all must realize is that brand control was always an illusion, but now that illusion has been further shattered by the vortex of communication enabled by social media.

Most big brands tend to look at social media through the lens of their agencies. It’s tied into communication campaigns that are often temporal in nature. The ad agency and the marketing department do their campaign, the PR agency and corporate communications do theirs, and both stumble forward with temporal programs that may or may not get resonance.

What the consumer then sees is a company that is often schizophrenic.

Consumers do not care what your corporate structure is, and they don’t see the mini fiefdoms that you have organized around these structures. They do not see different divisions or sub-companies. You are a brand, one brand, so start acting like it. A structure for how to deal with this at a corporate strategic level must be established or your company will go from schizophrenia to multi-personality disorder.

However, all is not lost for these companies. What gives them a slight leg up in coming back is their brand power. They don’t have to sway to the latest trends because the erosion of their brand for not “getting it” takes much longer to dissipate. Also, many of the employees that jumped ship because of those companies’ myopic view of change during the first wave of the dotcom crash are now married, have children and crave a little more stability than the dynamism of being in the trenches of our industry provides. Those employees bring with them an understanding of communication, brands and consumers that is a welcome addition, albeit an often contentious one.

It’s a brave new world, but is your brand ready — and is your structure designed — to embrace it?

OK, now back to the Pope. You thought I forgot about him, didn’t you? So why does the Pope get it? Maybe it’s the whole ability to commune with an omniscient being that gives him a leg up. But in reality, from a pure business perspective, the Vatican has to get it. It has to replace an ever-eroding consumer base somehow — almost an entire generation for whom disillusionment with the church stretches deep.

The Pope has to replace his flocks somehow, and let’s face it, there are not enough parents willing to let their kids be altar boys these days. Yes, low blow, I know, but no longer could the church stick its head in the sand like it normally did. The church got that wake-up call because it affected business.

This time the Vatican is reaching out, instead of closing in. Regardless of what you think of the church or the Pope, the message is one of hope. Hope for a new generation. Ignore the religious pomp and circumstance, or the few members who go off with self-righteous indignation. In any company, religion or group, there will always be bad apples, but the majority of these groups act honorably and give their lives to service. So maybe the Pope is on to something after all.

ranty rant signing off…

Start looking for an agency that understands the nuances of the consumer conversation because media is about to shatter. Are you ready for it?

Feeling left behind these days? Is all the talk about social media and its implications having you scramble to figure out how to leverage it for your clients or your brand? Are you chasing after another agency that specializes in this emerging market? You are not alone.

Does the frenzy over social media this year remind you of something? Widgets maybe? Or viral marketing? Every year we seem to create a new buzz over… well, buzz. But is this trend different? It’s hard enough for those of us in the space to catch up with it all. Just imagine what it’s like for the luddite clients you have. But should you be chasing the golden goose this time?

First, let’s get one thing straight: There are not going to be examples of companies that are “left in the dust” for not adopting social media because, to be honest, social media doesn’t mean “one” thing. In some ways, it falls into the same category as viral marketing. Viral is not a cause, it is an effect of a program.

Social media is not a catch-all, the same way that “new media” is a catch-all for all things non-traditional. It’s just a smaller diagram circle within our larger one, but it is growing and will have much more profound effects on the internet, society and our industry than anything we’ve seen before.

But what is it? Social media is merely a collection of various sites and techniques trying to get closer to the Holy Grail of every marketer: word-of-mouth transference. The difference this time is that unlike previous “hypes,” it is the social infrastructure determining information, a multi-directional, multi-way chaotic conversation involving the consumer, and not the linear cascade from brand to agency to media to consumer… downward.

What is different about social media from all of the other over-hyped things we chase every year looking for consumer gold? In the normal social infrastructure, we, as marketers, have been isolated from the offline word-of-mouth transference of brand memes. We could not measure it. And that’s where all the consumer decisions actually happen. What social media does, being digital, is give us a lens into that conversation. It allows you to plant the seeds of that and engage more directly in the active lives of those you are reaching — to help create the memes instead of being reliant on the social chaos to do it for you.

You can prod meme creation, encourage it, and seed it, but be careful because you cannot control it. And that’s why social media makes many advertisers wary, for when you start to monitor the conversation at that level, you will hear things you don’t want to hear about your brand.

Those conversations were already happening, you just didn’t know about them. Embrace them and learn from your audience.

Right now, not leveraging social media is no more damaging than not adopting widgets or mobile. All of these technologies just provide lenses into our consumers, but most of them are still too nascent for the efforts required. Yes, you can have great results and show amazing returns on investment, if done correctly, but the closer you get to monitoring the meme, the greater chance you have of damaging something if done incorrectly.

What will happen is that there will be companies that figure out how to leverage it better than others. And when the scales tip, they will have the advantage, and greatly so. The pervasiveness of the social media space will continue to encroach on privacy, thus blending the normal duality that exists between the private and public self of our consumers and our brand. This will lead to a more open, honest work culture and enable a new blending of content and advertising based on truth, shattering the myth of the line between editorial and advertising that has been lost for decades but still pretends to exist. It will just be much more difficult to lie to consumers since they have the tools and the communication ability to weed them out.

One of social media’s most limiting factors, however, is the human resources needed to fuel such programs and keep them alive. Too many social media programs languish on the vines. Social media is not scalable in the way some other media are. Yes, a social media program can go viral and get mass adoption, but that is still one program, and it is always hit or miss if one does. With TV, you can do one commercial, and if it resonates, scale without much work on the client end. With banners, it’s the same thing, or SEM, or email. The ease at which scalability is possible without many resources is paramount at the client end.

In the end, it still remains an issue of the digital competency of most marketers on the client side. With good content, we can all educate those marketers on the promises and pitfalls of “the new.” Be it widgets, viral, or social media, etc. At some point on the client end, there will be the need for social media assault teams, the same way that they have guerilla marketing teams. It is through those clients who embrace guerilla marketing techniques that you are probably going to find the least resistance, and those will be the clients who embrace and use social media correctly because they understand the value of meme monitoring and creation.

It is still an experimental medium for most clients, but that will grow as they understand the nuances. And it is in the nuances of digital media that breakthrough work arrives that we can all leverage.

Start looking for an agency that understands the social media nuances and specializes in this space, for there will be no more profound change to the consumer conversation in the next decade. Media is about to shatter. Are you ready for it?

ranty rant signing off…


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  • The Mobile Signature: 'Please excsue typoo's' May 9, 2012
    NOTE This is an iPhone email. The iPhone keyboard is, to say the least, persnickety. Since I have neither the thumbs of a newborn, nor the texting prowess of a 13-year-old, please excuse the occasional spelling mistake. And so reads my iPhone signature line. Why should this offend anyone? And what harm is it alerting someone of this possibility? Ah, therein […]

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