Simple Math

When it comes to small vendors there are those who use Square and everyone else.

Nearly every payment experience I've had with Square is one swipe, super fast, super simple.

Nearly every payment experience I've had with any other product is multiple swipes ... waiting ... waiting ... another swipe ... waiting ... failure ...swipe ... waiting ...

I can only guess the reason people use a Square competitor is to save a fraction of a % on commission.

The math is pretty simple: use a quality product that works, that will make your customers happy and will increase your throughput. 

Because the world was begging for another SxSW wrap up


Liz Taylor and I spent a few days at SxSW. We did a pretty great wrap-up (legends in our own minds) for our Ogilvy colleagues.  Rather than posting the entire doc, here are a few things we found interesting, quotes we love, and practical tips for navigating SxSW ...



  • Mobile isn’t a thing. It’s everything. Stop thinking mobile and start thinking mobility. Reference: Doritos tweet powered concert
  • Hardware is the new black. Concepting, prototyping and marketing has never been more accessible. It’s no longer just about apps. Let’s get physical. Let’s make stuff. Cool stuff. Reference: MakerBot
  • Hacking to make & solve. Let’s push beyond concepts. Let’s get away from process, beyond the whiteboard and make stuff. It can be low fidelity but some artifact that brings the idea to life. Deliver something real. Reference: GOOD Design Hackathon
  • Idea is still king. Don’t get seduced by the shiny new thing.  A great idea – driven by a true insight – is more important than all the technology in the world and prevails regardless of the platform. Reference: Clouds Over Cuba
  • Telling stories with data. Find the emotional life of numbers. Create tools, not just ads. Reference: Basis
  • Location Location Location. It’s not gameification.  It’s search and discovery. Data informs habits, which can connect the dots to drive people to behaviors. Reference: Foursquare/Mastercard/Burger King


  • Tell stories regardless of the medium. Every great story needs an arc. -Erich Joiner, Tool of North America
  • You don’t have to solve all the problems, you just have to solve some problems really well .-Dennis Crowley
  • A clash of ideas from people who don’t typically work together can create a unique outcome. A powerful spark. -Anon
  • Hi I'm Ben. I post pictures of cats on the Internet. Sometimes people getting hit in the nuts. -Ben Huh
  • Demographics are dehumanizing. -Anon
  • Collaborate. Ignore your inner ego. -Tina Roth Eisenberg
  • The first interaction a consumer might have with a brand might be an @ reply on twitter, not a logo. -Anon
  • Make time to think & breathe. Wonderful things can happen when your brain is empty -Tina Roth Eisenberg






Training? We Don't Need No Stinking Training!

The two biggest stories of the week are Bubba Watson capturing the green jacket at the US Open, and Facebook buying Instagram for $1 billion.

What do these two seemingly disparate happenings have in common?

Both accomplishments were engineered by guys with no formal training in their respective field.

Watson - as was noted several times during Sunday's telecast - has never had a lesson or analyzed his swing on video.

Instagram's CEO, Kevin Systrom, is apparently an entirely self-taught programmer.

The world (and media) loves stories like this, and I'm guessing the stories are in the neighborhood of truth, but not quite as sexy as they've been made to be. 

Nonetheless, it's an interesting narrative and one I'm sure we'll continue to hear.

By the way, here's Watson's shot from the 2nd hole of the sudden-death playoff.  Maybe the best shot I've ever seen, given the circumstances.


My Four Takeaways from The Steve Jobs Bio

I'm sure volumes have been written about Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs bio, analyzing it from every which angle.  Such a timely release, and such a compelling subject.  Frankly, I haven't sought it out anyone else's opinion - wanted to read it without bias.

After getting through it, four takeaways are burned in my mind:

  1. Great does not equal Good.  Jobs was a great mind and businessman, but not a good person.  I'm 41lGhIX733L._SL500_AA300_ not sure if it's a decision he made, or just who we was.  But you have to ask yourself (and it's a very personal question): at the end of the day, would you rather be great at what you do, or good to the people you do it with?  
  2. Not all human beings are wired to envision the impossible.  Much is made in the book of Jobs' nearly Yoda-esq ability to distort others' reality, virtually willing them to do the impossible.  Very few of us have truly explored the fringes of our abilities.  Jobs was a man who helped those around him achieve what most considered impossible.  That's a beautiful thing.
  3. God (aka Mother Nature, aka biology) isn't susceptible to distorted reality.  Jobs may have been able to will software engineers to do the impossible, but his ignorance (I'd consider it arrogance) around his initial cancer diagnosis was some combination of naive, egotistical and frankly, selfish.
  4. Sell!  Sell!  Sell!  Here's one thing I feel pretty sure about - if you own Apple stock and have an investment horizon beyond about 5 years, sell it now. Jobs - for all his personality flaws - was Apple.  Not Ives.  Not Cook.  Not any of them.  Jobs.  It's not that every good idea was his.  Rather, that none of the good ideas would have turned out as great as they did without his embrace of doing the impossible.  I can think of no compelling argument why Apple will be the brilliant company it currently is without Jobs at the helm.

Read the book, it's pretty compelling.


This morning I was listening to Elvis Costello's "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" on Spotify.

The line "A butterfly drinks a turtle's tears" struck me as interesting.  So I Googled it.

And came across this post about butterflies drinking from turtle eyes in the Amazon rainforest and this incredible image.


I then Tweeted a link to the post, and got an instantaneous reply from Alicia Kan telling me the image inspired her day.

So let's recap:  Listening to a song that lives in a cloud somewhere I was struck by a lyric.  I Googled that lyric to find its meaning, and learned about something in nature I never knew existed.  I shared that learning with a group of relative strangers.  One person found it compelling enough that it inspired her day.  Oh, and all this happened within about three minutes.

This is the wonderful serendipity of the Internet.  It's all that's good about it.  I am so thrilled for my kids that they will never know a world without it.

The Personality Paradox

[cross-posted on the Ogilvy Fresh Influence blog]

I’ve noticed something lately I can only describe as the Personality Paradox (mostly because I’m a big fan of alliteration).

It’s simple:  When it comes to engaging in social media, bigger brands (alliteration! OK, I’ll stop pointing it out.) tend to have smaller personalities.  This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

In the case of a big brand there are myriad factors that can cause this Paradox.  First off, having a big personality takes a ton of effort and focus.  Add to that regulatory/compliance issues, organizational challenges, multiple marcom agencies, new management and a million other things, big and small.  Or worse, simply losing sight of the customers who got you there in the first place.

The perfect parallel is a rock band.  The unsigned band playing half-filled clubs is going to cherish every fan – no autograph unsigned, no photo request denied, no interview not granted, no Tweet unanswered.  But as that band gains a following and eventually breaks, the demands on their time and attention increase, forcing them to (1) triage inbound requests and (2) start speaking to their fanbase as a whole, rather than as individuals.  Oh, and as their egos inflate, they often quickly forget their most loyal base.


(photo courtesy of Arne Hendriks)

As with anything of this sort, there are always exceptions.

Vans is a brand that immediately comes to mind.  And lest you think Vans is a little skate punk operation, they are owned by a holding company (bought for nearly $400mm a few years ago) that owns Nautica, North Face and Wrangler to name a few.  So it’s pretty cool that whether it’s their Twitter handle, blog, Facebook page or any other social profile,  Vans stays true to their skater beginnings – everything from the imagery to the language and content they feature feels totally authentic.  And their community manager, “Nikki S,” is in my opinion one of the best in the business.  Responsive, helpful and funny, all with a little bad-ass attitude.

Vans not big enough for you?  How about Ogilvy client, Ford Motor Company?  Just take a look at how they enthusiastically jumped into Google+, or the delightful and highly personalized way they invited bloggers to an event earlier this year.  I’m biased, of course, but don’t you think this is a great example of a huge enterprise acting like that unsigned band trying to make it to the top?

What are some quick takeaways for big brands?

  • Put a face and name to your social efforts.  Logos are good, people are great.
  • Put as much effort into developing your voice as you do your content.  It’s not just what you say, but how you say it.
  • Always keep an eye on experimentation.  Try new things.  We all fail – it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and might engender even more admiration.

What are other big brands (or bands, while we’re at it) that buck the paradox?  What’s their secret sauce?

Anatomy Of A Cocktail Party, In Four Parts*


Guestlist I'd rank guest list as the single most important factor in a successful cocktail party.  Has to be the right mix of people with similar, but not too similar, tastes.  They should be really excited to be there and ready to shake it up a bit.

There are two way to build your guest list ...

The most logical and effective way is usually to network among your friends (or entities like social clubs) to meet a few really interesting folks who will, in turn, invite a few of their interesting friends.  This will ensure a varied, but vetted, mix.

The second way is to buy your guests.  Perhaps you run an ad on Hollywood Blvd inviting people to come.  Or maybe you offer everyone who attends something free (and expensive).  Either way, just make sure you're cool with the fact that many of the guests aren't there to really hang out, and probably won't ever come back.  And also, expect to spend a lot of money in the process.

It's your call.  There's merit in both, depending on your objectives.  If want to throw the BEST party,  option 1 makes sense.  If your sights are set on outdoing the Jones family, option 2 could work.


After the guest list, the host is the next most important factor to a great affair.  You can invite the most interesting (or just the most) people, but if you don't have a host who can get the Images conversation/dancing started, your party is doomed.

As the host, have you thought about your welcoming remarks? Have you poured over your guest list to determine what connections you might make?  Have you thought about how you'll handle an unruly guest, or someone who comes expecting free stuff, and whatever you're offering isn't enough?

*if you haven't figured it out yet, this post has nothing to do with cocktail parties


Interesting Decor is tricky.  You want to make sure the space is visually pleasing, but not overwhelming or distracting from the conversation.  Enough cool things to look at and interact with (and for people to tell their friends about, so they come to the next event).

Not all of us are gifted in this area, but some of us refuse to acknowledge our limitations.  I've been to plenty of otherwise nice parties that fall flat on the decor.  Usually the problem is that the host is hellbent on pushing their style, rather than thinking about their guests.

I tend to include food and beverage in the decor bucket.


So what are you giving people to remember their great experience?  What's that artifact that will sit on their coffee table or office shelf that will remind them of your great event?  Even better, what will get their friends, family and co-workers chatting about the party, and jockeying for an invite to the next one?  You have thought about this, right?

From Ossobuco to Afghanistan

[cross-posted on Fresh Influence]


I remember back in 2005-6, when I worked at Nokia, an anecdote that blew people away was something along the lines that Nokia was the world's largest manufacturer of digital cameras. It didn't take much imagination to picture a world with billions of photographers, capturing and sharing images in near real-time. That's obviously happened. Every day we're bombarded on Facebook, Twitter and blogs with images of Ossobuco; chubby-cheeked little babies; cats - lots of cats; keg stands; post-card sunsets; and new Manolos. To each his own.

What I couldn't have imagined back then - though I'm certain many did - was the profound impact the democratization of digital photography would have on our ability to tell touching, funny and impactful stories. Furthermore, that particularly adept creators would marry mobile photography with readily available technology to convey complex narratives in a way that feels so accessible and genuine. On that note, I recently stumbled on a project called Basetrack that embodies what I believe is the best of this new storytelling. As Basetrack describes itself:

This is an experimental media project, tracking the deployment of 1/8 – 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines, throughout the duration of their deployment to southern Afghanistan. A small team of mobile media operators is embedded with the battalion, transmitting their reports and reflections from Helmand province as they travel across the battalion’s area of operations.

Check out the site (and their mindblowing Flickr stream)- there's an newsfeed for stories related to the war in Afghanistan; a Twitter and Facebook aggregator; and a killer interactive map where you can scan a map and timeline to find photos, videos, blog posts and stories from the 1/8.

It is what the 'embed' model was meant to be.

A few of my favorite photos are below (courtesy of Basetrack's Flickr stream) - most of them shot on an iPhone and filtered with Hipstamatic. Pretty stunning.





Crowdsourced Childcare via Social Media

Wife's out of town - actually on a plane right now.  Alone with two young boys.  4 yr old has a cough and fever.  What's a dad to do?

Ask Twitter and Facebook.

And amazing things happen.  People - some total strangers - take the time to answer my question about the safety of Tylenol + cold medicine. 

Screen shot 2011-03-23 at 7.50.34 PM

Thanks for that. 

I know a lot of people who still think social media is stupid, a waste of time or frivolous. Which it can be (and often is).  But it can also be really great.

By the way, solution was Tylenol + a spoonful of honey.  Henry is fast asleep.

NFL Labor Dispute - First of the Social Media Era

Cross posted from Ogilvy's Fresh Influence blog.

Disclaimer:  Due to several conflicts (including children, work, wife, The Office, Jersey Shore and sleep) I had to  schedule this post 12 hours in advance of it going live; meaning I might not have the latest information on the talks between the concerned parties.  However, that has no material impact on my main points.  Trust me, I’m a journalist.

With that out of the way …

By the time you read this the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between NFL owners and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) will most likely (see disclaimer; and even if there is a 24-hour extension of the CBA, as reported Thursday afternoon, this thing will eventually come to blows) have expired, leaving the two sides without a labor agreement and the 2011 football season - or at least part of it -  in serious jeopardy.

As a sports fan, I’m totally turned off.  As many people will tell you, this is billionaires fighting with millionaires over sums of money unfathomable to the vast majority of fans (Charlie Sheen excluded, of course #winning!).

As a marketer, and one who currently focuses on social media, I’m keen to keep a close eye on how the dispute plays out in public, particularly in social media.  This is the first pro-sports labor dispute of the social media era (the last being the National Hockey League during the 2004-5 season, when MySpace was hardly a hotbed of sports discussion and Facebook was just blooming as a place for Zuckerberg to exact revenge on a girl who slighted him - at least that’s how the movie goes).

It’s 2011 (you’re welcome for that nugget) and I can’t help but imagine the stream of opinions flowing effortlessly from the Twitter feeds of NFL players, owners, media and fans as the dispute moves into the grind-it-out-let’s-pretend-we’re-all-working-towards-the-same-goal-when-really-we’re-just-interested-in-protecting-no-actually-growing-our-pile-of-money phase.   In fact my crack research staff tells me that between February 15-28 there were 11,000 Tweets mentioning “NFL and lockout.”  Just since March 1 there have been the same amount.

The NFL is a public relations juggernaut, second only (in my opinion) to the NBA.  And it’s worth noting that basketball faces this very same situation next year; though as many sports writers have noted, the NBA actually needs a battle like this to realign a really broken compensation scheme; whereas football seems to be in pretty good shape.  In any case, I’m sure commissioner Stern is paying very close attention to the public sentiment as owners prep for battle with the NBA players union.  In fact I bet this post makes his morning clip pack (#DavidStern #Stern #DStern #NBA #TallAndRich #TheDecision #GoBulls).

But while NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has proven to be a disciplined voice for the league, he can’t control what has already been, and will continue to be, said on the social web.

But he can influence it.

See what I did there?  Can’t control.  Can influence.

Below are a few tactics I would expect the league to employ, as I would any brand heading into a very public battle.  As a marketer or fan (or fanketer - helloooo Urban Dictionary), what have I missed?

Paid Search
Using Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool I took a look at the competition against the search term “NFL Lockout” and found it surprisingly low.  What if the NFL launched a SEM campaign against terms related to the lockout, driving people to either an FAQ on the domain or even a Facebook page?  Seems simple enough, and moderately effective at delivering a message to people actively seeking out information.

Live Listening
I’d be shocked if the NFL doesn’t already have in place an incredibly robust real-time monitoring solution.  The challenges, I suspect, are twofold:  (1) How are they filtering the signal from the noise and (2) What are they doing with the intelligence gleaned from the monitoring.  Which leads me to my next point …

Response Protocol
All the listening in the world won’t do you much good if you aren’t analyzing, looking for opportunities and disciplined about how you do/don’t engage with supporters and detractors alike.  At Ogilvy we often develop bespoke response protocols based on the issue, the client, the nature of the discussion and other factors.  The NFL must be really clear and consistent in their response protocol about what they say, when they say it, to whom they speak and what tone they take.

Conversation Management
Whether it’s to the 2.6 million fans on their Facebook page or their 1.9 million Twitter followers, the league must carefully map out what they are going to say publicly on the matter, where they’re going to say it and how, if at all, they are going to react when publicly challenged (or lauded).  Effective conversation management, very much tied to the response protocol, is kind of the backbone of everything the league is going to do (on social media) during this time.  They must get this right.

Content Creation
You better believe the players are pumping out content to tell their side of the story.  Check out the video below from the NFLPA’s YouTube channel, which has garnered 152K views.

What’s troubling, from the league’s standpoint, is that a pretty sophisticated YouTube user (me - don’t laugh) can’t seem to find the NFL’s official YouTube page after about 30 seconds of searching.  And guess what - I give up.  So the message here is that not only do they have to consider a content creation strategy, but just as important a distribution and optimization one as well.  By the way, not just video but also photos, written content, etc. - anything that can be indexed by The Google and helps the league put forth their perspective.


This entire episode will be interesting to watch play out.  As a fan I truly hope they resolve it sooner than later so we can get on with a great 2011 season. 

How YouTube Ruined the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

YouTube ruined the NBA slam dunk contest.

Back in the day - say 1988 - if you told me Michael Jordan dunked from the free throw line, I'd believe you.  In fact, if I missed the news that night, I'd have no choice but to believe you.

But here's the thing - Jordan didn't take off from the free throw line.  He was a good 1/2 step inside it.  Oh, and he never double clutched, as many now believe. So the dunk that launched a thousand marketing executions was not quite what it was reported to be.

And I can't tell you how thankful I am YouTube didn't exist in 1988.  I would rather remember that dunk as it was reported, rather than as it really was [see clip below].


Fast forward 23 years.

"Blake Griffin just dunked over a car!" screamed the Internet a few nights ago.

But here's the thing - he dunked over the hood of a car.  And while a great physical accomplishment, not quite as it was reported.  Very similar to the Jordan situation, except these days, everyone's an analyst - and we all have access to the greatest instant reply machine ever invented ... YouTube.

In the days since Blake's dunk I've watched it probably 10 times, from various angles and speeds.  And I've picked it apart like no dunk I've ever seen.

And I hate that.  It feels like I've ruined a great moment.

Bill Simmons recently had David Stern on his podcast, and they talked about YouTube becoming a great accellerant for the popularity of young NBA talent.  And I agree.  Blake is Blake, in part, because of YouTube. But with that upside, comes the down.  And the down, for me, is a loss of wonderment and imagination. 

I wouldn't go back to the old way.  I'm too addicted to YouTube and too strapped for time to watch a lot of live TV.  But it does make me pause and think.

So yes, for me YouTube ruined the NBA slam dunk contest.  Then again, the silly props and seemingly infinite attempts at each dunk don't help either.

And for what it's worth, this is how the dunk contest should be.  Courtesy of the NBA D League. 


The BeanCast

6a00d8341c54ec53ef0115723b4970970b-200wi Last night I was fortunate enough to make my second appearance on The BeanCast - one of the most entertaining marketing podcasts around.

In addition to the great host, Bob Knorpp, my fellow guests included Ben Malbon (BBH NY), Carri Bugbee (Big Deal PR) and Rupal Parekh (AdAge).

It was a spirited discussion, covering everything from Jet Blue to austerity, marketing to Muslims and the efficacy of email.  The show notes can be found here: Episode 115 of The BeanCast Marketing Podcast

You can listen to Episode 115 or go to iTunes to subscribe to the BeanCast podcast.

Bravo to Bob for the effort he puts against this week in and week out - truly impressive.

Old Spice, Chalkbot and the Hidden Value of the Echo Chamber

Just a few days ago conventional wisdom was something along the lines of, if you haven't heard of Old Spice's Twitter/YouTube thing or Nike/Livestrong Chalkbot, you must be living under a rock

But what's emerging - mostly anecdotally to be fair - are stories of blank stares at the mention of either of these ... even amongst professional marketers.  Both projects have played well within the digital echo chamber, but perhaps haven't permeated the marketing mainstream (let alone the mainstream mainstream).

And that emerging realization has added an interesting wrinkle to the conversation about these two campaigns ... if a viral video plays in a forest and no men 18-34 are around, does it make a noise?

Thinking about it, I still believe there are four points of value in both these efforts, even if they never make it beyond the echo: 

  1. The success of these - success defined in a number of ways, including brand lift, sales, etc. - arms marketing communications agencies with a case study for how to do it right.  The only downside is that some agencies will inevitably misappropriate it, promising I can do for you what W+K did for Old Spice!
  2. Marketers on the client side - those who have "social" or "digital" in their title or are fighting to give digital more share of spend - will have something to point to when confronting skeptical executives.
  3. The Old Spice example in particular shows that traditional ad shops are not as incompetent in social as some of the social media elite would have you believe.  In fact they can be pretty damn clever.  This is a good thing for the entire industry.
  4. Both programs are creative, delightful, well-executed.  They force the entire marketing ecosystem  to step up its game.

There are probably more, so feel free to add via a comment.

From Sports Clichés to Social Media Lessons


Between The World Cup and LeBronapalooza I’ve had sports on the brain for thelast few weeks.

As I followed the media coverage I thought I might be able to take some of the tired clichés and re-fashion them into lessons for social media practitioners.

My original plan was to post 10 items, but I could only muster up nine.  Anyone care to help with the 10th?

  1. Singles and doubles start rallies. Not every social media program has to be a round-tripper.  In fact starting small - listen, test and learn - can lead to bigger and better things down the road.  The groundwork gives you permission to swing for the fences.
  2. The “12th man” is your greatest advantage. Give your fans something to cheer about - something exclusive, entertaining, educational or utilitarian.
  3. Don’t hold your stars down.Let your most popular personalities represent you in social media.  Do you have a rockstar product manager?  A charismatic executive?  Give them the tools, forum and role to be a voice of your organization.


Why Blogs With Balls 3 Was the Best Conference I've Ever Attended

This past Saturday I attended and spoke at a fantastic sports media conference called Blogs With Balls 3.  Massive kudos to Kyle Bunch and the crew at Hugging Harold Reynolds for what was the best conference I've ever attended (and for inviting an 'outsider' like me to speak).  Do not sleep on the next time they put one of these together!

Picture 1

That's right - the best conference I've ever attended.  Here's why, in no particular order of importance ...

No Jargon It didn't dawn on me until after the fact, but the day was refreshingly free of jargon, buzz words, insider speak and egos.  Rather, it was people, talking like people, to other people.  Straight shooting.  Learning.  Teaching.  Thoughtful discourse.  Very real.

Fun  Likely a combination of Saturday + liquor sponsor + Wrigley Field setting, but this was the most fun I've ever had at a conference.  It was loose and casual - from the colorful language, to the attire and between-sessions banter.  I even witnessed my first real life Bro getting iced by a bro (@edsbs got iced, as evidenced below).  Fun is not something I normally associate with a conference - BwB3 changed all that.  I had a really good time.  When was the last time you said that at a conference (not called SxSW)?

Bros icing

Great Venue  The venue was perfectly conducive for interaction. It was at the Captain Morgan's club at Wrigley Field.  There was a main room, which held about 200 people, flanked by an outdoor area.  The fact that it was so contained made conversation easy and natural.  I much prefer the tighter quarters - that containment breeds interaction.  And did I mention it was at Wrigley - I mean, how much better can it get? 

The People What an interesting group of sports nuts.  Smart.  Driven.  Not even close to the same people speaking on the same social media topics.  New perspectives to teach.  Really interested in learning.  I had great conversations with folks like Ty Ahmad-Taylor, Mike Germano and Adam Best, Ben Koo, Wayne Vore, Josh Abrams and Zachary Chapman - just to name a few.  It will be my pleasure to continue getting to know these people, and understanding ways we might work together. 

The Bloggers  As a social media practitioner, there is nothing more important and valuable than spending time talking with bloggers - face to face (imagine that!).  Of the (my estimate) 200 people in attendance, 150 of them must have been actual sports bloggers.  Women and men pounding out massive amounts of great content every day.  Some of them supporting themselves doing so.  Others hoping to do so one day.  All of them hungry to understand what it takes to get to the next level of success.  Their comments and questions told so much about their wants, needs, questions and aspirations.  It put a human face on these people - something that's easy to forget when Twitter and RSS feeds dominate our daily lives. 

Again, bravo to Kyle Bunch and Hugging Harold Reynolds for a great day.  I think you'll see me next year!

P.S.  If for some odd reason you want to watch my panel, here goes.  I'm the bearded, shorts-wearing Cubs fan.

Watch live video from blogswithballs on

False Sense of Say

Whos_in_charge_tshirt-p235488282589977843qixv_400 Conventional wisdom is that a brand shouldn't ask for customer feedback unless it's at least willing to entertain implementing some of the suggestions [not all, but at least some].  I agree.

But I've noticed a twist on this lately - one that disturbs me. 

It's my policy not to slam brand behavior on this blog, particularly when my beef is based on nothing more than suspicion.  So without calling anyone out by name ...

The Twitter handle for one of my favorite brands recently announced they were discontinuing a very popular product.  That immediately set off alarm bells.  Why would they do that - there was an immediate disconnect.  But what really got me wondering was when they started Tweeting out statements that seemed to fish for customers to request the item be reinstated.  "We've discontinued our XXXXX.  What do you think about that?"

If I were a betting man, I would give it a few more days before the brand announces "XXXXX is back by popular demand. You spoke, we listened."

Pretty manipulative, if that's the plan.  What do you think about this?  Within the brand's right, or a recipe for backlash?

Continuum of Attitudes Re: Facebook Privacy

Based on nothing more than an observation of my Twitter stream, I've found a continuum of attitudes regarding Facebook's privacy issues [particularly surrounding the announcements at f8].  Here we go ...

Those who believe Facebook is pure evil and have recently deactivated their accounts in fear and protest.  You will likely find these people in their bomb shelters, or grandmother's basement.  Perhaps listening to Ted Nugent.


Those who believe Facebook is pretty evil and are hell bent on making as much noise as possible in the interest of: [A] Forcing Facebook to change its ways [B] Generating a lot of repetitive blog posts [C] Having something to talk about until football season starts  [D] All of the above. 


Those who believe the responsibility rests with the individual - not Facebook or anyone else.  Probably voted McCain in 2008.  If not, they probably thought about it very seriously. 


Those who have decided to fight fire with fire.  Facebook wants to compromise our privacy?  We'll show them by opening all our privacy settings, and publishing every single thing about ourselves on every web site in the world!  Here's a small piece of advice: you should run that by your wife before you take this course of action.  Trust me on this.


Those who can't be bothered with all this.  It is what it is.  Why fight it?  Pass the Red Stripe.


And of course, those who say Facebook, who?  Love you, grandma!

Cultural Happenings Pre Social Media: Walk This Way

Had an idea for a series of posts on important cultural events that happened pre-social media boom ... thinking about how the existence of YouTube, Flickr, blogs, Twitter and Facebook would have changed things.

Almost started with 9/11.  Then I thought I might want to ease my way into it.  And frankly, I don't need the crazy conspiracy theorists circling overhead. 

Run_dmc_walk_this_waySo I decided on something a bit lighter to pilot this ... Aerosmith's landmark collaboration with Run DMC on the remake of "Walk This Way." 

For the younger readers (this happened in 1986), it's impossible to overstate the pop cultural magnitude of this odd coupling. 

The first rap song to go Top 5 in The Billboard Hot 100.  The first music video of its kind played in heavy rotation on MTV [insert MTV video joke here].  Quite frankly, one of the first times I can remember in my childhood where kids of different races could tap their feet in unison.

So how do I think things would have played out differently if, in 1986, social media was the force it is today?

Internet Killed the Video Star.  I can remember sitting in front of the TV back then waiting for that magical moment when Tyler's and Perry's mugs filled the screen in a dark rehearsal space, that memorable riff kicking things off.  It could be days between viewings, and that scarcity was probably a huge driver of success.  These days we would all watch it on YouTube, and quickly move on to the next big thing.  

Mashup Muck up. The Aerosmith/DMC version of "Walk This Way" was a mashup of sorts - a great one at that.  In the social media era I suspect some well-intentioned [but misguided] fan would take this version and incorporate some silly club beat, animate in Kanye West upstaging Taylor Swift and for some reason geo-plot it on Google Maps.  No good.

Haters unite. I don't mean to get all serious, but if social media existed at the time of this collaboration it would have given a voice to all the haters ... rap purists, rock purists and even racists.  Remember, this kind of thing just wasn't done back then - it addressed a pretty big social taboo.

Net-net, I think this was one of those moments better off without social media.  The collaboration seemed that much more special because it was afforded the time and space to make its way through the cultural landscape, retaining its integrity and not caving to knee-jerk opinion or reaction. 

Ever get to the end of a post and wonder what the point was?  Yeah, I kind of feel that way too.  But I've never been shy about posting half thoughts here.

Thoughts or builds appreciated.

Social Media Is Not A Moment In Time

I was thinking today how hit and miss social media can be if you base your approach on reaching people at a specific moment of time. 

It simply doesn't work to say, let's Tweet this on Thursday to coincide with our widget launch


What if President Obama stubs his toe on Thursday ... no one will care about your widget launch.  Less dramatically, what if your most influential brand fans happen to miss your Tweet [which in the fast-paced world of Twitter streams and Facebook updates is likely to happen]? 

If your approach doesn't account for these scenarios, you'll almost certainly miss chances to engage the people most likely to champion your message.

It comes back to the mantra we're all familiar with by this point ... social media is a conversation not a campaign.

Marketers interested in capturing a moment in time should buy the Super Bowl or Oscars.  And to be clear, I do think in some cases this is a smart approach.  But barring that kind of budget, you better think about a calendar of conversations over a period of time.

Though I suppose a few marketers in Cupertino would tell you that all it takes is a few years of speculation and a bunch of Apple loyalists to make a single press conference a massive social media happening.

I just wouldn't count on it for your widget launch.