Showing posts with label social meida. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social meida. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 18

Have Social Networks Become The Colosseum Of Our Times?

There are hundreds of news headlines that will break today. Some of them, such as extreme insurgents gaining ground on Baghdad, are important. Others, such as the giraffe gaffe made by Delta Airlines, are not. And yet, outrage over the latter easily outpaced the outrage over the former.

What did Delta do wrong? There isn't much of a story. In an attempt to bring visuals into its social media mix, Delta congratulated the United States for its win over Ghana with the Statue of Liberty representing the U.S. and a giraffe representing Ghana. The problem? Giraffes don't live in Ghana.

Immediately following the tweet, Twitter lit up with responses, ranging from those that aimed to poke fun at the company to those expressing true outrage and claims of racism. To compound its self-inflicted injury, Delta also followed the gaffe with a typo in the apology.

"We're sorry for our choice of photo in our precious tweet. Best of luck to all teams playing in the World Cup." — Delta

Delta meant to write "previous" tweet (which it eventually sent out as corrected), but that wasn't the only misfire. Identifying the "offensive" tweet as the "previous tweet" only makes sense if you leave it up. Delta Airlines had removed it.

The social media lesson isn't what you think. 

Some public relations professionals said the error is indicative of inexperienced communicators managing social network accounts for big companies. Others said it was an example of Americans being largely ignorant of Africa. And yet others pinned it to a lack of cultural sensitively training.

While any one of those speculations might be true, the better lesson slipped through the cracks. Sometimes a social media crisis is only what we make it. Delta chose to make it serious so it was.

Delta could have made fun of the company instead (which seems more appropriate given that the original mistake was one part ignorance and one part laziness) and followed it up with an image of something more representative of the country. Elephants, for example, do live in Ghana.

Then again, given how many people asked the airlines to avoid the stereotypical safari imagery, they could have chosen any number of other things to do in Ghana instead. They could have even encouraged people to find out what there is to do there with a one-time airfare reduction.

Why not? Delta already flies to the city of Accra, which is the capital of Ghana. There is nothing wrong with promoting a destination. It's what airlines do because every destination becomes their home.

Social media is sometimes akin to the Roman colosseum.

Almost two centuries ago, the Romans used chariot races, arena hunts, mock sea battles, and gladiator contests to entertain its population. The biggest of its arenas is the famed Flavian Amphitheatre, which is estimated to have held between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators.

The games were so successful that they were sometimes held to simply to distract the populace from other problems. It worked too. There was far too much to worry about — who sat where (social standing), what to wear (personal branding), and which gladiators were favored (professional prowess among those who weren't slaves) — to concern oneself with other political problems.

It remained a thriving industry in Rome for almost 300 years. Emperor Honorius had closed down the schools. The contests were finally banned outright when a monk leapt between two gladiators and the indignant crowd stoned him to death. Six years later, the city was sacked by the Visigoths.

Social media can have the same galvanizing effect, easily placing silly cat photos over social justice. There is nothing wrong with that. But then again, it's always smart to consider that social media is what we make it and, in some cases, maybe we're making too much of it like the colosseum as outrage is amplified and the participating crowd wants to extol a pound of flesh.

Sometimes that is a good thing. Sometimes that is not such a good thing. The best rules of thumb are to always check the facts, always consider the source (even friends are fallible), and never pile on the latest crisis just to score social media points for the quip. Save some energy for things that matter.

What do you think? Does social media provide more amplification or distraction in the world today?

Wednesday, September 7

Making Friends: Develop Empathy Online

After a relatively slow start, blogs (weblogs) started to gain popularity about 12 years ago. And the more generalized term — social media — came a few years later, incorporating several forms of interactive communication on the Internet. Generally, it includes forums, weblogs, social blogs, micro blogs, podcasts, photographs, videos, and virtually anything else you can find or dream up on the web.

Most communicators understand the tools. But a surprising few understand the connections they create.

And there is probably no greater area of confusion for them than what constitutes a "friend." Even those that have been in the space more than decade stumble over it, attempting to separate the meaning with artificial criteria, as if their definitions can somehow strip away all semblance of empathy.

Some might even argue that followers aren't friends, even if friends might follow. Others remain content to define them by proximity, with "friends" being reserved for those people you actually meet whereas "online friends" are merely slivers of relationships. Yet others manage to create distinctions between those they woo on behalf of their companies and those they don't.

Why marketers continue to struggle with friendship.

I understand the challenge many marketers face, especially those who eventually rack up followings six digits deep or more. It seems unlikely and improbable that all those people are friends. Indeed, they aren't.

But by the same token, maybe they are. Or, if they are not, maybe they could be. Friendship is a relatively loosely defined term. According to some definitions, it is a person attached to another by feelings of affection and personal regard. We can tighten it slightly, requiring it to be mutual for "true friendship," but the standard definition doesn't require it.

In the last couple of weeks, there have been events that have challenged communicators over the term "friendship." One is largely insignificant, but curiously relevant. The other is significant, with a potentially disastrous message despite some deep and well intended thought. (I truly appreciated the effort as well the progression of the latter post.)

I'm going to the avoid the stories behind either, except to say that both touch and don't touch people in remarkably different and profound ways. To me, both fall on either end of the spectrum of what constitutes online friendship and are tied together by how fragile humanity can be.

Individual communication demands empathy and the risk of friendship.

Blogging and social networking to some degree is an art form, I think, in that like music and art, it demands the creator to be equally comfortable speaking with people on a scale of one to one and one to many at the same time. It's undeniably dissimilar to journalism for this reason, which is often confined to a one-to-many medium. (Blogging and networking can be too, but I'm skewing to the nonprofessional majority who know better in this case.)

Any time you communicate with another individual — where there is an exchange of ideas, thoughts, and experiences — there is the risk of friendship. There is a risk of friendship, unless one of the individuals has preset their criteria: That they cannot be friends with someone until they meet other people close to that person, visit their home, or sit face to face. And there is a risk of friendship because our minds do not naturally distinguish the difference between online friends and real life friends unless we force it to do so.

I call it a "risk of friendship" because so many people start blogs and open social media accounts without any foresight that they might finds friends. Some are even dead set against it.

They want an audience, but not necessarily a collection of people that they might become attached to by feelings of affection and personal regard. Or maybe they are employed to make connections on behalf of companies, only to discover accidental connections that go beyond the scope of the work (much like they do in offices every day). Or maybe, well, there are infinite numbers of reasons, motives, and agendas.

Marketers tend to approach social media with reservations against personal connections. It's not all that dissimilar to 7-Eleven clerks ringing up Big Gulps for people. I know, because I did that job while finishing my degree and simultaneously working at an agency years ago. The hundreds of people who breeze in and out of a 7-Eleven aren't all that different from "followers" who carry with them short bursts of communication left at the register.

We smile. We wave. We move on. Well, not everyone.

Friendship doesn't consider proximity, presence, or circumstance.

Unless the clerk has a predisposition against making friends, sooner or later the regulars become familiar. You might talk about the news. You might talk about cultural differences. You might share something personal. You might swap music (cassettes back then). You might stumble into each other at the pub. You might have a meal together. And somewhere along the way, it becomes more difficult to distinguish them from those other people with whom you shared a history with since high school.

Now some people might insist that this plays out differently online. But it really doesn't. I've seen it happen within groups of people who set out to save cancelled television shows. I've seen it happen among professional colleagues. And I've seen it happen between consumers and marketers during a campaign. It happens exactly the same. It's not an illusion.

People become attached to another by feelings of affection and personal regard, even if the other person doesn't know it or expressively conveys the same in return. And it seems to me that it's expressly important for marketers working in social media to understand this as they attract more people than average, and accumulate many more people who perceive them as friends (even if they don't share the sentiment).

Oversimplified, there are two ways to approach friendship online. If you don't have empathy and want to limit who you are open to becoming friends with, you can convey it with a statement or demeanor. You know, just like real life, offline.

Conversely, if you are open to making friends in this space, then just be yourself while making sure every decision you make is checked against your sense of empathy. In other words, never discount someone as a friend just because they are online. Everyone perceives friendship differently, but kids do it better than adults. Give them a few hours around a campfire and someone will find a lifelong friend. They don't see any distinction between online and offline friends either, in case you were wondering. I know. I asked.

The worst thing you could do is play the middle, treating people like friends and then redefining the relationship by your actions no matter how insignificant it might seem to you. People tend to take it personally. And you're surprised when they do; it's a clear indication empathy needs to be a focus. Or maybe it's something else. Fear is a powerful motivator for some people.

Personally, I'm not keen on the alternative being proposed by others. They suggest we assume no one is a friend, especially online. And while there may be some validity in that approach, I think it requires us to sacrifice a little more of our humanity. When no one is "really" a friend, then everyone is lonely.

Wednesday, July 20

Making G+uru: Get Certified Now!

Google+ CertificationYou know it and so do I. Google+ represents a windfall for social media unlike any other social network before it. But even better than a windfall for social media, it could be a windfall for you too, my dear friend, because it's all happening right now!

Facebook? Forgetaboutit. Twitter? Grounded. MySpace? Neverheardofit. Quora? Flashinthepan. Google+ represents the promised land whereas all other social networks before it were merely practice lands.

How To Become A Social Network Expert, Overnight.

Just imagine if you could lock in all the juicy blog headlines about Google+ before Brian Clark. Or maybe host the first, er, second online training session before Chris Brogan. Or maybe you could find the holy grail of marketing (a true influence measure) before Brian Solis. Or maybe that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Somebody is going to become an expert. And the only question you need to be asking right now is ... is it going to be you? Can you write the most SEO threaded posts about G+? Can you deliver more technobabble about your feelings regarding the G+ network? Can you draw beautiful graphics that convince people you've learned to read minds using G+? What about a book? A specialized G+ blog? A dedicated presence on a different social network that only talks about G+?

The ideas we will give you are limitless. All you need to do is strike fast, strike first, and strike fancy. Did you get that? Those are three very powerful words.

Fast. First. Fancy.

Write them down. I'll wait while you do and then you can read why our Google+ program will change your life.

How Google+ Could Change Your Life, Forever.

Imagine what would have happened if you purchased land when the New World was discovered. You would own Manhattan — all of it! Imagine what might have happened if you were smart enough to stop in Nevada on your way to California in the 1800s. You would have discovered the Comstock Lode — all of it! Imagine if you were on the ground floor of development with Steve Jobs. You would be Bill Gates — all of it, er, him! Or just imagine what would have happened if you started a blog three months earlier than anyone else. You would be a social media guru!

It's true. Google+ represents the biggest, baddest, and most significant discovery since ... forever. And right now, every social media pro on the planet is jockeying for the lead position. Whomever gets there first — first workshops, first classes, first books, first anything — wins!

They know it. I know it. And now you know it too.

G+uruBut what they don't know is that we've developed an entire program that will be the biggest spoiler in social media history. Sure, with their imported networks, weak links, and seemingly endless amounts of time, they have the upper hand. But it's all for naught.

They might be very good at what they do, but one thing they don't have — and will never have — is an authentic Google+ certification. That's right. You can earn a Google+ certification in a few short days or perhaps hours if you are an overachiever.

Why is that important? Because all the other other guys that top lists and get the good rankings might be able to claim that they are social media gurus, but this certification will make you a social media G+uru. See the difference? It sends chills down my spine.

We're Absolutely Crazy To Offer You A G+uru Certification, Nuts.

This is your one and only chance to lay the groundwork to become a world-class resource to your customers, colleagues, and company. And, you really, really, really have to do it right now. Our program will catapult you ahead of the curve to be the expert that you deserve to be.

• Learn everything there is to know about Google+.
• Listen to oodles of speculation about what's next.
• Get the skinny on influence algorithms with G+.
• Understand the difference between circles and huddles.
• Frame your certificate to show your ultimate achievement.
• And much, much, much, much more.

In fact, there is so much more — some of it propriety intellectual property (patent pending) — that you will learn 2,397.5 things about Google+ in less than a week ... maybe a few days ... just a couple hours if you are a real go-getter.

That's 2,397.5 things about Google+ that we have learned in the first 250 hours of its launch, along with 158 bonus things that haven't even been introduced yet (but they will, probably, sooner or later). Tempted to enroll? Good! Because my HP Photosmart 8750 is already bustling with activity as we print 10,000 G+uru certificates and the only thing missing is YOUR NAME!

How Much Does It Cost? Much Less Than Its Value, Absolutely.

We are so convinced that the G+uru certification will be so invaluable that we won't even post the price for fear of breaking the Internet as this news gets out. I'm serious. This offer isn't going to go viral — it's going pandemic!

So how much do you think it would be worth if you were on the ground floor as a senior certified G+uru instructor now? Exactly. It's absolutely priceless.

G+uruIt's so priceless that in lieu of a certification enrollment fee, we're going to offer the first 500 people the opportunity of a lifetime. We will waive the enrollment fee in exchange for just two or three percent of your lifetime income after you become a G+uru.

Right. This program is so hot that we're willing to gamble on you. Do any of the other guys do that? No. Do they put their money where their mouths are? No. Do they throw in a free T-shirt? Only sometimes.

That's right. It's always the same song and dance with them. Pay once, pay first, and regret it all later. This dance is better. Pay later, pay forever, and never look back.

So what say you? Are you in to take over the Web? Good, because before I even published this post, three people signed up. It's not a revolution, it's an insurg+ence.

This post is satire, with nothing ill-tempered meant to any good sports mentioned. However, I do hope this rings as a true cautionary tale for some. Google+ is a tool. It seems like a very good tool too, just don't forget to use the one you were born with before reaching for your wallet.

Thursday, September 17

Unselling Sex And Other Stuff: Buyology

With 25 percent of all search results for the world's top brands linked to blogs, forums, and tweets, is it any wonder communication is being challenged? But just as fast as social media professionals are chatting about the tools they use on a daily basis, neuroscience is also opening up doors and changing convictions that were long thought to be held true.

Sex Doesn't Sell

Sex doesn't sell, at least not according to research conducted by Martin Lindstrom, whose book, Buyology: Truth and Lies about Why We Buy. Lindstrom's case is simple enough: it detracts from the intended message and seems to hold true based on brainwaves.

It's also one of the many sound bites that most reviewers picked up on because, unlike sex, controversy sells (or so says the author). It helped sell the reviews; and it helped sell the book. (The down side is controversy is not sustainable.)

So how can that be about sex? Because what the author doesn't reveal is that most communicators knew sex never sold. It simply captured people's attention. After that, the ability to sell the product relies on the ability to move the reader into something else. Unless, of course, you are selling sex. And that is a different subject all together.

But It Tried To Sell Buyology

Buyology certainly has some high points, given I had recently read What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis (which I have no desire to review) and was reminded by Lindstrom that Ford Motor Company had asked consumers to build their own car well before Jarvis was shouting that companies ought to do the same. The model flopped.

Sometimes people don't really want what they say they want. And sometimes, they certainly don't always want what they want for the price it takes to deliver.

Lindstrom does a great job demonstrating exactly that, using brain scans to confirm what people say and how they really feel (whether they know it or not) are not often the same. In the book, study participants said they liked one television show better than two others, but their brain scans revealed a different outcome. And these actual outcomes, when the shows aired, mirror their success.

Unfortunately, the few high points in the book are too few and far between. For anyone studying or working in the field of studying neuroscience and advertising, the book mostly presents a recap of studies and experiences that are all too familiar, including my personal favorite, Coca-Cola.

For example, dedicating an entire chapter to fragrance and sound experiments conducted by large companies might be new to some. But for anyone who has ever worked with a home builder, adding some ambient music and the scent of freshly baked cookies has been proven effective for as long as I can remember (and for much less than grander experiments).

Another example is Lindstrom's assessment that says infusing fear into a message can work for the short term, but sometimes scares people away from a product. The better communicators already know that. In much the same manner, fear can immobilize people from giving to nonprofit organizations if the organization makes the challenge seem insurmountable.

And finally, the section on subliminal advertising didn't really belong. It's a subject frequently covered, generally conclusive, and relatively understood. I saw it work first hand in 2008 when it was used against a political candidate we were working with. The opposition ran television ads that included a fractional clip of a gun pointing at his head.

However, I won't go as far as some detractors and say the book is worthless. There are certain people who would benefit from the book — especially novice communicators who do not have the benefit of experience or familiarity with some classic studies that Lindstrom cites and social media professionals who want to take some edge off the ask-the-consumer-everything "Kool Aid" or appreciate that social media by-in had initially hindered its own adoption rate with too much fear messaging.

But even for these professionals, the book faces some hurdles with too much memoir writing, the promise of neuromarketing science (which is basically applying neuroscience to marketing) with too little science, and not enough focus on the studies Lindstrom conducted. There is also an overemphasis on the idea that people never make rational purchases, which is only partly true.

If you can get past these problems, it's a quick read that might may you rethink a few popular ideas out there right now, assuming you can draw up your own solutions. If you cannot get past those problems, then you might find it to be another business card book that presents an argument and ties it together loosely with a few cherry picked examples to prove the position but no real solutions (which is why I can't even review the title by Jeff Jarvis). Or, you can always visit Lindstrom's site.

From Others Who Bought Or Didn't Buy Buyology

• Buyology by Martin Lindstrom is a compulsively readable account at FutureLab

• Book Mashup: Saving the World at Work and Buy-ology by Bobbie Carlton

Book Review: Buyology by Martin Lindstrom by Nicholas Kinports

Buyology: Sound Science or Wishful Thinking? at ResearchTalk

• "Buyology" Illuminates Unlikely Marriage of Science and Consumerism at Fast Company

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