Categories
Business Communication

Corporate psychoanalysis through the company blog

My friend is a damn good designer.  He has worked for the biggest furniture manufacturer’s and other luminary positions that an industrial designer can achieve including his own lab.   Anything from unique desk systems, to an incredible invention that helps the Athens Hilton fold their tables more efficiently or a sea kayak.  But what exactly is he?

You could call it a mid life crisis.   Too vague and emotionally laden for me.   In corporate terms he is in danger of becoming a jack of all trades.  In his own mind. He needs to focus on less to achieve more.   I have seen companies do this at fancy retreats, with or without gurus like me to assist them.   They run around an assault course, dive backwards into the teams arms, raft down the river, party like maniacs and somehow reinvigorate their common idea of what the enterprise is all about.

Blogging is like all that only better.   OK, I am a blogging junky.   It is not so much that I have a compulsive need to blog all the time so much.   It is more that I see blogging as the solution to more and more corporate ails. I threw www.benakis.info at my friend with some sample content.   Like most companies, he wasn’t sure what to do with it.   Then, some time later, the phone calls started:   “How can I change that?”, “do you think we should add this?” and “how would Twitter fit into all of it?”

I haven’t yet seen his first post.   That, to me, is the “bingo” moment of triumph.   Because it means that he has found his public voice.   He has imagined an audience and spoken to it.   For anyone that is an expert in their own field, the content is easy once you achieve this first step.   An excellent example is www.yalosbranding.com which I am proud to say I didn’t write a single word of.   OK, they are branding specialists, it is their job to know what to project.   But I simply enabled the technology for them to transfer this know-how to a new medium.   I was just watching  and applauding, reassuring  as much as possible when necessary.   Through this process they are rediscovering their relevance to an international market.

Google, customers and everything else will fall into place.

Categories
Business Society Technology

How to really beat Facebook or Twitter either as a competitor or as a legislator

The whole privacy debate around Facebook is a joke. I mean literally, Zuckenberg must be laughing privately about it. While it avoids the real issue, he rests assured that legislators have no idea what Facebook is really about: lulling you into a false sense of security so that you will unwittingly give away private information in the wrong context. If that sounds too devious to you then you probably don’t use Facebook a lot. Or you use it and don’t think. Which is exactly what it wants you to be like.

Www.Personaldna.com was a great idea and it offers an intelligent, possibly automated solution to this privacy problem. I used it at work to build teams’ awareness of the different characters, strengths and weaknesses and team dynamics. It is a shame it hasn’t developed at all but this is probably because the people that made it have been hired by Google. Which is the only company that understands what this article is about. Personal DNA built a psychographic profile of you based on multiple questions. It is accurate and, better still, you can invite someone to take the test and see what he or she think you are like. This is also very accurate and offers valuable insights. And it is a million times more useful than trying to clump your friends into categories like Facebook pretends to suggest we should do.

When you post a status update, you can select that “Everyone” sees it. Or “Friends” or some category of friends. Only the first two make any sense. If you select “everyone” or you have forgotten status update in “everyone mode” Google and various tools we social engineers use be able to easily see what you are up to in real time privately. If you select “friends only” Facebook has fooled you. Because what sort of homogenous bunch of friends is the correct forum for this message you are about to deliver? That picture of you in a swimsuit on the beach. You want your uncle to see it? Might your ex boyfriend take it the wrong way? And what about that ex co worker who now works at a company you are hoping to get a job but is a bit conservative? Think before you post it.

“No, don’t think.” Facebook’s interface is like the little cartoon devil that sits on your shoulder to make you forget all these complicating factors. Privacy is either on or off. “Don’t think” it echoes like a ghostly voice. “We want the world to be more open” says Mark as if privacy is like piracy. “Information wants to be free” and other mindless, out of context slogans are catchy.

Privacy, the ability to choose which contact see which information is in fact the basis of all human interaction, probably the reason our brains are as big as they are in our social state of being homo sapiens. And this is how I, a bunch of psychologists, sociologists, programmers and enough funding, can beat Facebook within two years.

All it takes is a few Facebook apps that we will sneak past them. One will monitor everything you post and make a double check for you by throwing random people in front of you as a pop up window. “Before you post that status are you sure Mary Johnson is someone you want to see this?” followed by a few possible reasons. Based on this information it will build the intelligence of PersonalDna over time. PersonalDna actually exists on Facebook as an app but it is way to much like hard work to spend half an hour filling it in.

We would have to invent smarter interface tweaks to keep you interested while getting useful psychographic information off you. I won’t give them all away here. But every time you do something on Facebook, every “like”, every comment, every YouTube video you post, we will be intentionally collecting data about you. Facebook can’t stop me doing this because if worse comes to worse, I can do this as a virtual friend. You will befriend my personal psychologist and I will send you my advice.

The whole thing will hinge on the presentation of the information to you and I will borrow know how from the astrology industry. We will tell you how likely you are to score with that boy or girl you are poking, before you actually poke. We will tell you who in your network to try and impress to get a job. Other applications will tell you which groups to join or leave to improve how your profile looks to specific friends. We will make it all fun, free and cheerful. And accurate.

If it is too accurate it will be scary. That is the whole point of Facebook’s deception in it’s current design. So we will make it accurate enough and fun enough at the initial level of contact. If you want to go to the next level you will have to read a lot and think a lot, so you probably won’t go there unless you are serious.

Of course this platform I will build is much, much better than either Facebook or Google at serving advertising content. Because I will not just know what your are interested in. I will know how you like content served. And which of your friends are likely to buy the product or service too. With much much greater degrees of accuracy.

The accuracy of a self respecting homo sapiens in 2010 and true human development.

Categories
Business Communication

“The majority of people who stayed in this room are reusing towels at least once during their stay”

I don’t like Facebook ads. In fact I have played the game of clicking them away and giving Facebook my reasoning (Misleading! Insulting!) just to see if their targeting gets any better. (It doesn’t.) But I see why Facebook advertising can do so well.

The phrase in the title is famous as producing a 54% compliance rate in a hotel room. All other facets of the experiment were controlled and identical. Only the tagline differed. It had started with the common “Recycle and do it for environment” which was the control message, producing just 38% compliance from the hotel guests in those rooms. Other variants actually did worse, especially those with an emphasis on the hotel’s interest in the economy. Unless you have a cause which people care enough about, they don’t want to know about your running costs or administrative issues! “Cooperate and join us” got only 36% because of this.

What was missing was the sense of collective behaviour. “The majority of guests are reusing towels at least once during their stay” produced 46% guest compliance. Which is pretty impressive. But double check this article’s title. Spot the difference? “…who stayed in this room…”! Four words, 8% performance difference!

At first look, the sentence is too long and clumsy. It wouldn’t get past most ad execs. Not catchy enough. It would get stuck at the graphic design level. Too long. But it works. Because we don’t only want to know that many people do something. We want to feel we are similar. Though a pretty long shot, “the majority of people who stayed in this room” is the best connection you will get under the circumstances. And perhaps the intimacy of a hotel room adds some zest to the thought. You are after all about to take your clothes off and have a shower in the same shower with all the guest before you.

So if they reused their towel, what the hell, I will too!

Now look at the signs around you, all of them trying to get you to do or not do something. “No Parking”? What you really wonder as you stop to do some quick shopping is how likely you are to get a ticket. So how about a sign saying “95% cars parked here without a valid coupon, got fined after just 4 minutes”? And take a careful look at that next Facebook ad. “Your friends Bob, Sue and Peter liked this product” …shucks maybe I should stop clicking those ad boxes away!

Categories
Technology

An insane privacy bug in Facebook for Blackberry

So I am at  party and someone is really interested in an event I heard about on Facebook.  In fact she is so keen she wants to go asap.  She insists and we are in the middle of nowhere so she logs out of her Facebook account on  her Blackberry and hands it to me.  I log in, find the event, send her the info and log out myself.   Seems straightforward.   We continue the other discussion and she shows everyone how cool it is that her brand new Blackberry shows up pictures of her friends when one of her friends calls.  “It did it all by itself!”

Two days later I log in to my Facebook account and I am greeted by a message.  Facebook noticed that I have been using Facebook for Blackberry.  Would I like to import my contacts?  What contacts?  Her contacts!   All I did was click “yes” and all her Facebook contacts came to me!

I realise that for any American reading this I am already way off the mark.  This shouldn’t be a blog post, this should be a law suit already!  (OK, it is all documented with screen grabs etc just in case I change my mind…)  With the amount of negative publicity they are getting these days about privacy problems, this could make me a fair amount of money.   It is almost a media frenzy right now without adding one of the most popular mobile platforms for accessing Facebook to the mix.

The beauty of this one from a litigation point of view is that nobody can escape the blame.  I looked over the technical aspects of setting up Blackberry Enterprise Server and the options for social networking integration and sure, we could blame Vodafone (the service provider) for anything mistakenly set up in her account.  But then it was the Facebook application on my computer that offered me her contacts!  And she had done everything “properly” by logging out before handing it to me.

But no, I won’t add to the calls for everyone to delete their accounts from Facebook.  Yet.  In fact I just started a second Facebook account for myself in English.   I will just be more careful not to post any information more personal than I do on this public website.  And for sure I won’t be handing my Blackberry to anyone at parties…