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Business Marketing TRAVEL

The best thing on my holiday you can do at home

Instagram dictates modern tourism, learn how to use it

It was our last day in Reykjavik and we headed past the scenic old port.  To a simulator.  That’s right.  After two weeks in Iceland and a whole lot of very impressive experiences, we went to a helicopter fly-over machine.  We had been on glaciers, inside volcanos, seen more waterfalls than you can imagine exist but here we were strapping ourselves in to a typical such ride.  It moves, it sprinkles you, blows air on you and you get a completely unique new view on the sights you have already seen as well as many you will never be able to.  It also features good weather which helps explain why it took so long to film it.  At the end they offer the typical cheesy fake photos of you in front of the Northern Lights or other options for anyone with too much cash.

If you only have fifteen minutes to experience Iceland I can think of no better way.  And you could have the same film anywhere in the world.  But the cheesy photos kill it.

One of the reasons Iceland is so popular lately is because it is Instagramable.  You just point at any of their attractions, take a photo and can be sure of a stream of likes and comments.  That simple.  You will look good.  It is unusual.  You seem interesting and adventurous.  It stands out in their social media.  I first experienced this effect last year in Norway.

It is much safer than it looks. To the left of my friend Shorty in this pic I took is a ledge from which you can climb onto the rock.

This is just a rock. I can think of a thousand equally impressive views in Greece where we could add a rock like this for Instagram.  And even though thousands of people probably post the exact same photo, mine still got hundreds of likes and comments.  So why don’t we go about putting rocks for photos in more places?  Make it as safe as you want, just make sure it looks impressive.  And make it easy for the photographer to get to the right angle.  It is more important these days than the actual experience.  People don’t care how you got there, if you cheated or took a ride, nobody will check.  “Pics or it didn’t happen” only refers to the finish line, the final result.  No matter if you posed for ten minutes or waited two hours for the clouds to lift, the sun to be at the right place or whatever else you needed to do.

I think someone has actually died falling off this rock, but it still rare considering how many thousands of people go there and pull silly stunts like me there

In fact if I had one criticism of Iceland and the way they have set up their national parks it is that they don’t have enough photo opportunities.  Too many of those great waterfalls have fenced off the ideal semi-dangerous-looking spot or the ideal photo angle position.  Nobody has (yet) fallen off that rock in the picture.  This other one (with me jumping) I think one person did; too many think it is cool to dangle their feet off the ledge.  Why? Because someone posted it on Instagram! In a way it may actually be the Norwegian Tourist Board’s fault that person fell off.  If only they had set up the angle for photography better.  He wouldn’t have to go so close to the ledge for an impressive photo.

Me in front of a waterfall. Not even a famous waterfall, no filters, just a good angle.

The currency is “likes”.  No point complaining, that is how it goes.Work with it.  It is the most natural viral promotion there is.  People take the photo, others are envious and want to go get their own ultra likeable photo.  No need to chase so called “influencers”.  Instagrammable locations work like a pyramid, sucking in more and more people.  Even the ones that didn’t like or comment are opening a Google search about travelling to that destination in another tab.  Come on, admit it, you probably started back at half way through this article when you saw my picture of my friend on that rock…

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(If anyone in tourism needs my help making their location more Instagrammable, feel free to contact me.)

Categories
Communication

If you live in the UK, switch off Facebook for a few weeks

I have a Masters degree in Media, Communication and Society. Yet I have no exact data to give you about precisely how Facebook messes up our heads. But I know it is dangerous before a snap election. And you can’t win. So take a break.

Facebook is evil. Those that try and bunch it with Amazon, Google or Apple are completely missing the point. Facebook reflects all the immaturity of Mark Zuckerberg, essentially still an adolescent hacker, just with more money and power. That is a really bad combination. And he isn’t improving. Anyone that uses Facebook knows how often it just breaks, weird things happen and normal things don’t happen. Mark doesn’t care. If you use it for business it is even worse. It feels like a very one-sided relationship. He pretends and strongly suggests you do something, you do it, win for a little and then he screws you. He says “everyone make a Facebook page for your company” and then he neuters pages. Effectively nobody sees your page unless you pay. Then he says “video is the future”. At first videos get ridiculously good response. Then, you guessed it, pay to be seen. Groups, Live, every feature the same trick.

Does Facebook sell your data? Hell yeah! In as many ways as it can get away with! And if you catch them with one Cambridge Analytica it will just find different ways to do the same thing. It is more of a losing race than building antibiotics for new viruses because in this game Facebook holds all the cards.

But no, you think, I am a mature adult, with good critical thinking skills and a firm grip on what happens around me. So you think you will “help” your friends read the political situation do you? Guess again! Nobody is reading your posts. Facebook is designed to surround you with a few, the same, people liking and commenting. Your impact is close to zero unless you want to pay a few million to Facebook HQ for a deal as good as their big customers.

So to all fellow British passport holders, anyone going to vote in the upcoming UK elections I say “turn it off”. Deactivate your account for a month, no big deal. You will have more time to do yoga, meditation or anything that will help you be calm and accepting of the results. You are not deciding who wins. Mark is going to do you over again. So just prepare for the morning after.

Categories
PHILOSOPHY

My personal communication map for all of you

Don’t send me something urgent on Facebook Messenger.  I won’t see it for half a day, maybe even more.  In fact, I might not respond at all there because I prefer email for people that I don’t really know.   I started Facebook when Facebook started and it has amassed so many people I don’t know it is more of a publishing platform than a communication tool nowadays for me.  Of course if you really knew me, you would know that.  Which is sort of the point.  We have so many social media and other communication platforms available that it is just one huge mess.  So let me untangle it for you regarding my personal network choices.  It is my contention that we all need to do something like this, possible with yet another app or social platform to communicate it everywhere.  I will describe it as it is today, starting from things closer to me and spreading out.  After face to face interactions it goes something like this:

  1. Inner circle.  If you really know me, you know my cell phone number.  It is usually somewhere near me and is quite obviously the place to find me if you need me urgently.  I do switch off at night and I do try to forget it at times in order to truly relax.  So if I am up a mountain, running, cycling or playing with my kids you can’t get me.  Unless you know their telephone numbers, or my partner’s number and you catch somebody near me.  I also blatantly disregard it ringing if I don’t recognize the incoming number, ie you are not in my contact list. I don’t consider not picking up rude if you do it to me and I hang up at any time for any reason.  There is nothing sacred about talking on the phone.
  2. SMS.  This used to be a better way to get me for something not urgent but important I shouldn’t miss.  I am likely to respond via email if my answer needs thinking and explaining.  I dislike SMS as it is not easy to archive and keep long term connected to a contact.  Also it is a bit old fashioned.  I have linked everything to contacts since way before smartphones, my brain has always had a built in CRM system.  If we meet at a trade show I might open a new contact with “some interesting dude I met at CeBit” and then add “Nick – English” the next time or “has cool ideas about distribution”.  I will keep adding things to your contact ad infinitum.  Your kids’ names, your favorite Greek food and anything else I discover.    Met up with an old school friend who is now my dentist and was showing him how to use google contacts.  He saw “dude from school, has a kid around 10, likes spear gun fishing” on my phone before I had had time to add new info….
  3. Email.  Of all the online methods, call me old fashioned, but I prefer email.  I save emails forever.  Unless we are chatting off the record and not saying anything important, I like a medium that records everything so I can find it.  Anybody proposing we discuss something serious on Viber, WhatsApp or Messenger is obviously a clown in my books.  Either that or a woman trying to chat me up or some international spy who prefers I don’t save things we write.

Online or offline?  At this point I have to draw a big red virtual line.  Anything under this is online methods.  And I warn you:  I am not always online.   Email is above the line because it is the only thing I let sneak through as worthy of more data connection.  But I switch off plenty. When driving or travelling or outdoors.  When in a meeting very often.  Do not assume that I am online.  I am often not online.   So if you don’t know my cell phone and I don’t have you as a contact worthy of responding to, you are not getting me.  End of story.  Send an email or take your pick from the online methods below:

4. Google Hangouts.  Yeah, I know, it’s not very trendy.  Which is precisely why I chose it for my inner circle.  Kids, family, parents, partner.  I shouldn’t really even be telling everyone else but I will simply ignore any requests from people that aren’t family.  Hangouts is for quick stuff between us.  I will still do my best to turn to email, or phone, or meeting if it is “juicier” in terms of content.  Stick it on a shared Calendar event or anything shared and permanent where I know we can all find it.  Chat is a waste of time as far as I am concerned most of the time.  Use with extreme caution.

5. Skype.  Used to use Skype a lot for work.  Polite way to keep in closer contact with work related stuff.  Go offline when you don’t want customers to find you, go online when you are ready to be full of good ideas for them.  I still try to be on a computer with Skype some time during the day.

6. Linked in.  Can’t guarantee I will check it every day but I try to maintain contact for various reasons.  During the day often 5-6 times I will need to look for something or someone there.

7. Instagram, Viber, What’s App, Snapchat chats are proof to me that you are not serious.  Unless I have a project with some organization or country that relies on one of these a lot, I try to uninstall them from my devices.  I then install as soon as need arises.  But no, you won’t find me on these time wasting rubbish tools.  Get a life, get serious and get away from them asap.

8. Facebook.  I have a hate-hate relationship to Facebook.  It insults my intelligence the way it simply demands our attention.  A black hole for wasting time and a great tool for selling to those that haven’t realized they are wasting time and money on it.  Depending on current projects I might not even see it for a few days or be online all day. In any case, I do my best not to depend on it.  I often disable my account for a few weeks and use alternate profiles for managing pages etc.  Try it.  It clears your mind.

I could go on but we are already pretty far from me in terms of communication.  You can comment on one of my many blogs and sites, I might see that faster than most of the other online ways (4-8) described above.  I generally switch off all push notifications.  But take the time to draw up your own communication map.  And if anybody wants to make an app for it call me to become a beta tester.  No, scrape that, email me about it.

Categories
Communication

Digital storytelling with an inflated piece of leather

You can go to seminars.  Watch inspiring Ted talks.  You can study storytelling from Homer to Homer Simpson until you are yellow in the face.  But we all have plenty to learn from the NBA.  I just spent my best sleeping hours watching Game 3 of the Finals and the storylines are too many to count.

Over here in Europe it is hard to explain to people.  They are used to the pathetic low levels of entertainment that soccer offers.  They don’t mind watching multiple extremely boring games as long as once in a while someone dazzles them for a few minutes or scores a goal once every forty minutes.  They put up with rigged matches and applaud Juventus, happily forgetting the unbelievable scandals that sent that very same team out of the picture a few years ago.

Every sport gets better when you know the storylines, the players, the drama.  The NBA however is the only sport that makes sure you can’t miss them.  Let me illustrate my point with just the most recent posts from the official NBA Instagram account today as I find them:

On the left a pretty straightforward “match up” type story.  LeBron versus Curry.    If some post Jungian psychologist wanted to frame this, we would say it is the anticipation stage of the story.  Dramatic graphics, blue versus red, this is an eternal struggle as a poster.  A black man with white clothes is keeping the ball away from a white man in dark clothes, their bodies locked, their wills at odds.  The two greatest players of our time with the word “AT” between them.

Each player in the NBA has a tiered set of myths.  LeBron is not just about his “legacy” or “Greatest Of All Time”.  He is “chasing the ghost” and “returning to Cleveland” as a modern day Ulysses.  On the right he is flying, the illusion of invincibility of the dream stage in any story as the hero has some success but…not quite.  There is always something more.  Like the endless supply of StormTroopers that Luke Skywalker shoots, the endless levels of a computer game.

The NBA excels in making stories out of older players too.  Here we have LeBron, alive, in colour, next to a faded retro Bill Russel.  Michael Jordan still makes millions from selling shoes on the back of this sort of myth making.  And even much lesser players are kept around contributing to “the big NBA family”.  Today I choked up as with a few simple gestures the NBA made a fuss about a person in charge of TV something or other.  That’s how good they are!

In fact today as we watched, the sportscaster said “wow, those two are setting the stage to take a role in the future here”.  He was referring to two players with microphones, another NBA first whereby we can listen to the players during the game.  It really brings the action, the passion and the human stories to life.  These two players, according to the sportscaster, will likely take a place as commentators.  Indeed there are many great players now entertaining us, analyzing moves and making sure we understand what is happening.  Shaq a prime case study of such a transition.   On the left “4XMagic, legends reunited”.  Players don’t drift off and disappear as happens in other sports and other leagues.  If you make it to the NBA, you can be here for life, simply changing roles in the story.  It is like DC or Marvel characters, ever weaving narratives along the way.  The Warriors’ coach was a sportscaster before becoming a champion.  Before that he was a champion with the Bulls as a player.  It never ends.

In fact the NBA is so amazingly good at making stories of everything that all the social responsibility things they do seem relatively “normal”.  LeBron can donate a hundred million for children from rough areas to study and we don’t even flinch.  After all he is himself David Copperfield or Aladdin or some other mythological hero in his own story of rags to riches.  You can watch a feature film about it.  He produced it.  And that was before the unbelievable way he brought the title to Cleveland after so many years.  Rocky Balboa revisited with a very real “local boy” aspect, he deserves the statue even more than the one erected for Stallone’s film hero.

The NBA hardly allows a single bit of information to flow to social media or any other media without making sure it can be framed within stories.  Steph Curry, the amazing little boy that nobody took seriously, like the Lord of the Rings bringing a title to a team which was at the bottom of the league for so many years.

The NBA produces so much content that fans can produce their own mini movies simply repurposing video.  Some of them are quite good actually.  Other fans produce short films with “footage” from games they edit together into a story or a video clip.

But they do so much more.  I was amazed at the insightful comments of my younger son until I discovered the source of his basketball wisdom: short clips on Instagram which are converted with graphics reminiscent of NBA 2K showing how a team or a player executed a particular play.  And it’s not just the spectacular stuff.  Any and every aspect of the game are brought to the forefront.  A particularly good example is the replay.  While other sports like soccer avoided it like the plague (probably so that they could more easily rig matches), replay became integral to the NBA.  They branded it, they gave it a story.  Much like the frustration stage in a good story, when the hero struggles, is treated unfairly or is confronted with a seemingly unbeatable enemy.  The referees go to the monitor.  They wear big headphones so they can concentrate.  We see it all, nothing is secret or vague.  In fact now in the TV coverage they added a new character;  the wise man who knows the rules and explains what is at stake.  Again branded, this mini story within the main narrative ;the replay center brings a happy end to that particular scene with justice.  We all saw that LeBron wasn’t stepping on the three throw line so here is one extra point for you retrospectively.

Most of what the NBA does is then copied in other sports.  Only it is hardly ever quite as good.  A large part of this has to do with the sport itself, the rules and the setup from its beginnings.  An even larger part has to do with the fact that the players actually enjoy these roles we assign them.  They participate. They embellish.  They have their own marketing teams adding and playing with the themes.  Some of the most creative adverts and brands around them are constantly building on the story lines.

If you have seen Space Jam or don’t know the story of Michael Jordan, his foray into baseball and his triumphant return, you have seen  the Odyssey, Orpheus or the Ramayana.  It is a classic story, a true story, an amazing story where the rise is followed by the frustration stage.  His invincibility was lost, nightmarish enemies and threats appear and in the climax of the plot all hope is apparently lost.  Like LeBron’s Cavaliers losing 3-1 in the finals.  I lost good money betting against my Cav-fan son that they couldn’t turn it around.  It had never been done by any team, let alone against the most amazing super team of all time.  But in the resolution, Jordan, LeBron and the other NBA heroes get out there and overcome the odds.  They are super heroes and we have witnessed and felt what ancient Greeks felt in a good tragedy.

A lot of people try to copy the NBA.  And so they should.  So we all should when our job is communicating.  This is ten adults in shorts bouncing around an inflated piece of leather after all.  If you don’t watch it, if you don’t take in a little of the plot, you will just say it is “boring”.  The fact that they have me awake at 4am enjoying the drama shows I am hooked.  The fact that the TV ratings are through the roof and revenue from all NBA related goods above the roof prove I am not alone.

Human beings try to assign meaning to puffs of clouds, to random numbers and to events in their lives related to the stars.  Some say that is what God is.  Our desperation to add meaning to the mystery of life.  I’m not sure about all that.  If there is a God, I am starting to suspect he too is copying storytelling techniques from the NBA.

 

 

 

Categories
Business Marketing

Good cop – bad cop: why only Facebook is evil

In a lot of our discussion about the future we tend to bunch Facebook and Google together.  After all they are two Goliaths that rely on advertising.  Unlike Microsoft that has spread its income sources, or Amazon who is in a different arena all together.  Grouping them together however is unfair, misleading and dangerous.

“….the great organ of social life, the prime element of civilization, the channel through which native talent, native genius, and native power may bubble up daily…”  The quote is not from a recent Zuckerberg motivational speech but from James Gordon Bennett, who published the Morning Herald in 1835, one of the first newspapers which tried to sell an audience to advertisers.

Facebook has a simple and similar target.  To get us to spend more time on their platform.  Wasting time?  Sure.  With fake news?  Of course.  It is the newspaper of our time and it is a tabloid newspaper for sure.  Facebook will do anything to get you to stay.  It will interrupt you and make sure you get no work done.   It will buy out other platforms like Instagram only to gradually turn them into…Facebook.  It will copy features from Snapchat with no shame if Snapchat or any future smaller company isn’t willing to be bought by Facebook.  Facebook has no purpose by definition.  Mark Zuckerberg has excelled since his college days in dreaming up new ways for people to waste time.  There is no purpose.   He simply thrives on studying your time wasting habits per se, whether it is flicking up and down a timeline, looking at photos of friends or creating controversy.  (Which his systems always reward in one way or another.)

The opportunistic approach is best illustrated in the erratic way it deals with its customers.  Advertising on Facebook is not a science.  It can’t be.  Because they are always changing it in order to make whatever worked yesterday not work tomorrow unless you pay more.  The scandals about false video impression numbers and all the other scams Facebook has got caught for so far are just the tip of the iceberg.  The elephant in the room is that Facebook ads simply do not work as well as they want you to think they work.  Why?  Because people shop much less when they are simply wasting time.   Nobody will tell you because digital marketers are too busy taking the money you are no longer spending on “old media” and giving you fancy stats that impress you.

Contrast that with Google.  You know, that place you go when you actually want to get things done.  When you research a product purchase.  Where you find out useful stuff about your world.  Google has a much tougher job.  They have to give you services like Google Maps which are simply so useful and so much better than any other option and then find ways to monetize them without losing the title.   Advertisers that understand the difference are much more effective for their customers.  Lazy advertisers simply give in to the marketing director who only understands Facebook ads because that is what they use every day.  A Facebook ad “impression” is in no way similar to a Google Ads “impression”.  Facebook reminds me of Nazi Germany radio wardens, people that walked the streets to corral citizens all together and force them to listen to Adolf Hitler speak on the radio.  We need shared experiences and Zuckerberg is going to give you the ones he can sell.  While Google figures out machine learning, automatic translation and organizing the world’s knowledge for everyone Facebook adds smiley faces, dislike buttons and the amazing new way to say something with a colored background.

The way Facebook treats fake news is a wonderful illustration of its hypocrisy.  Much like the first tabloid newspapers almost two hundred years ago, it seeks out and promotes anything lurid and boisterous.  In the old days newspapers based on advertising for revenue had people in courts looking for scandal or even reported on the slave trade for effect.  Facebook today pretends to be politically correct but makes sure similar content reaches you.  And plenty of it.  It is a bit like newspapers pretending not to control the classifieds section or not carrying blame for readers’ letter in “opinion” pieces.

In the mid 19th century, the first “trolls” were in fact journalists working for cheap newspapers in a constant effort to increase circulation so that they could sell advertising.  Some things never change…

Categories
Business Marketing

Your social media “strategy” is a pile of steaming… social media

Do you remember SEO?  Some people went around “optimising” websites.  Others sold courses on  search engine optimisation.  No, please, try to remember exactly what went on then.  You were a bit vague how “those Google things” worked.   So you outsourced.  Something worked more or less, you didn’t get fired over low rankings.  Probably because your boss didn’t understand SEO fully either.

There is a good reason why this happened.  It is that nobody fully understands how Google works.  It is secret, personalised, it changes often and Google spends a great amount of time and effort making sure it is difficult to reverse engineer what they do.  Through it all, some of us had an attitude that is more pragmatic.  I always said “if you can tweak it that easily, Google will take it into account automatically.”  All those silly tags, the time wasted adding fields, alt texts and gobbledegook for what?  Google does a better job at figuring out which content should be shown to who than you could even imagine.  From phone usage, to browser habits, email content and million of other signals, Google’s algorithms are simply astounding.  And useful.  Yet still some people pay good money learning about SEO.  Which brings me to the current fashion:  social media training.

A whole industry has been built around teaching you “how to succeed on Instagram” or “how to promote your business on a Facebook page”.  Friendly, trendy, graphic heavy sites, emailings, courses and videos with gurus full of a burning desire to help you “get ahead”.  Training in technology was always a challenge methodologically.  In times of rapid change such as these it is damn near impossible to stay current.  Taking a “course in social media” is essentially admission of a handicap.  You have no real projects to learn from, you lack the drive and bravery to put yourself out.   Sure, you can’t improvise with the facebook account of a Fortune 500 company, but you sure as hell can experiment with any number of other ones.  From the school committee Instagram feed to a blog about your kids’ basketball team.  The cost is zero and the experimental opportunities infinite.  Don’t read about it.  Do it!

I started writing this article after seeing a scary directive in a pretty large corporation defining – among other things – the “correct time for Facebook posts” on their official page.  This is an excellent illustration of just how stupid “social media gurus” have made people.  Google it and you will find loads of scientific looking “papers” by “data scientists” claiming to have crunched millions of data points to “prove” when you get maximum traction.  At first it seems clear or even “obvious”.  You want to post when most people are online, more likely to see what you posted.  But wait a minute.  Those two statements aren’t even connected!

You want to post when most people that are interested in your message are likely to see it.  Not even that.  When some people which might actually react in a way that will have a beneficial impact to your brand will somehow see your social media post.  The more you think about it, the more disclaimers you would need in order to even make sense of what exactly you are trying to achieve.  What is your brand?  Which parts of the audience do you think you will reach?  What mood will they be in at one time versus another?  How will Facebook’s algorithms react to your message at that time in relation to everything else going on when potential message recipients log in?  There is only one way to learn and – you guessed  it – that is not by going to a seminar or reading my articles.  Even if you hire me to experiment and measure for your company, as I propose you do yourself, my fine conclusions will have a very limited shelf life.  If anyone discovers a “silver bullet” for getting great traction in social media, by their very design, social media will have killed the opportunity in days or weeks at best.

Thinking, reading, talking to people and going to seminars are all useful idea generators.  I often discover new tools from the fantastic people around me in the real and virtual world.  We all need training and we all need mechanisms to make us rethink what we do.  People like me should be paid vast amounts of money to help others in this noble cause.  We can all improve in ways to test our hypotheses. But there is only one way to take responsibility and that is directly.  Don’t hide behind management gurus for things you can quite easily test out and know yourselves.   Until Facebook, Google and everyone else change the parameters that is.  Which they have probably done 5-6 times in the time it took you to read this article.

My point precisely!

 

 

Categories
Business

My friend Jason is smarter than me and 99% wrong about social media monitoring

My friend Jason is very clever.  He has taught me a lot about advanced tech geeky stuff concerning metrics, social media and monitoring services.  He knows all the AI and Natural Language Processing stuff.  He has a company which is sure to be bought by Google or someone like that.  And he wrote a fantastic post which I thoroughly recommend if you want “the short version of the future of media monitoring for business” here.

He is also 99% wrong.  Not in what he writes.  I am pretty sure that – as usual – he can see what is coming better than I can in his area of expertise.  But in tech, that is not what it’s about for your business.  In tech, I am the best futurologist because I now the timing of what is coming.   And throwing away dashboards or whatever else Jason describes is far, far away.

If you live in Silicon Valley and all your friends use Slack, sure, be my guest.  The rest of the planet, read on.  Your country’s internet is not as rich as the guys over there.   Every day I look through analytics for customers’ sites and blogs and I am amazed.  “Seriously!  Has nobody written anything better on this topic and we are getting 50 Google organic search results for this???!!!”  Every day.  All the time.    It is not just in Greek.  I have run projects in other languages, heck, languages I don’t even understand, and still got fantastic response with content.  You can even just Google translate a page, stick it on your website and it will work.  Not talking about spammy tricks here.  People coming from a Google search for something also read longer and click on more pages afterwards.

The main reason most small and medium sized companies want media monitoring, or social media monitoring is not for fancy sentiment analysis or crisis management.  It is to sell.  We want customers.  Every word I write here is designed to make you want to hire me.  Every word I write for a customer selling shoes is thought out so as to honeypot the right kind of consumer to buy those shoes.  I love Jason’s new tool, you can try it for free at http://qualia.ai/  Sure it’s not the most simple thing to make Boolean queries, most of you clicked away just reading the words.  But it is much, much better than Google alerts or whatever other freemium, crapium you are currently using.  And if you use Jason’s smart company, it will get even more useful.

For what?  Well, as Jason correctly says in his post, we need “actionable” data.  We need to integrate it with business workflows.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, that is what I always say to customers, just before they say “you are right, but let’s just do the quick and dirty thing now to get this project done.”  Your average one-man-show marketing person struggling to prioritise social media posts and measure what the hell is going on, wants a tool to find stuff and help create stuff for repurposing content.  Very few companies bother to optimise a system, any system, enough so that it automates such decisions.  “Hey, Marketing division, you are all fired!  We have an advanced AI which can figure out better than you the trends!”  Fantastic, let’s get that in here asap.

Of course I am biased.  I loved content marketing.  I am struggling to write this paragraph without consulting some data to decide which words to use to best attract Google but since it is the last paragraph, the weighting here is not as important as the opening paragraph and I will just say what I mean: the world’s internet has not got enough content.  Google is getting better at making sense of content.   If you are not operating in English have a party, you have an enormous opportunity to easily get customers like that.  Go make better content than what is available.

If you don’t know how, hire me or hire Jason.

 

Categories
Business

Pimms, NewMediaAgencies and the Catch 22 in the world of advertising

There are two kinds of companies:   the ones that do multiple long meetings and the ones that don’t.   Advertising companies always specialized in the former.   The inspired me to start writing a book entitled “The ‘who gives a s**t?’ management analysis manual.”   I need a catchier title and the book is still at chapter 3.

As a consultant, you either meet the decision maker or not.   In media, the difference is enormous.  Two hours with a junior marketing person just to get the concept through.  Then, if you’re lucky and they aren’t too scared, you get another meeting with their superior.   Now you have to convince them that they will look good if they play along.   If all goes well, ie your idea is fantastic, they will organize yet another meeting where “the head of marketing might drop in”.   The Head of Marketing, didn’t get that title (or whatever different title they use to describe the job, depending on country and company) by being easy.    They pretend to be tough as nails, no matter how much they like the idea.   They make sure they take the idea, you have no guarantees and they do with it as they wish.    Whenever they feel is convenient for their current carreer path.

You get the idea.   And yes, it can get even more complicated.   The point is that the organization is wasting time, my time and theirs, and we often don’t get anywhere.   Because if there is a person on the top floor who gives a s**t, none of this usually gets as far as the top floor.

Enter the advertising agency.   They do useless meetings all the time with these same people.   They stay up late together pretending to work late when they need to.   They did the XYZ success story 1,2 or 5 years ago for this customer.  I can go on bashing advertising agencies ad nauseum.  Because they deserve it and because it is fun.   But it isn’t getting us anywhere.

New Media Digital Agencies are meant to be the answer.  They are leaner.  Faster.  More responsive.   Basically, they are cheaper.   Are they better?   Well, some of them understand Social Media a bit better than some big old ad agencies.   Some have bright ideas occasionally.   Some of them might have a more clear focus originally, usually from one of their founders.   And what do they do?   They act like the old agencies!   They try and do everything.   And they sit through those same old boring and pointless meetings.   Essentially, they are turning themselves into the big agencies they make fun of.   Catch 22.

 

It’s time to give a s**t.   It’s time for general managers to get directly involved in communication more.  And it’s about time I wrote that book.   Maybe I will do it the next time I cancel  a large account that is asking for yet another meeting…

 

PS  Pimms is in the title because a rather bad social media effort in one of it’s campaigns is what started this particular train of thought today.

Categories
Business Technology

Just how bad is Facebook at programming?

Cute picture of my son today.  Huge smile as he looked through a Holy Crepe.  He had eaten out some of it and looked to the camera; cute as ever.  Gotta have this as my profile picture.  Facebook profile, upload picture, wait….wait….wait some more.  Finally it uploads.    Sometimes it doesn’t of course.  Go to Twitter.   Same objective.  But hey, it magically shows me a preview of the picture instantly.   And wow, I can even crop it to the part most relevant to a profile picture.   Must be rocket science.  The boffs at Facebook haven’t figured it out.   Some ultra secret patented method Twitter is using…  The picture even uploads faster at Twitter!  Must be they have more money for better servers…

Or Facebook is simply terrible at designing their infrastructure.  And no, it’s not about the scale of the exercise.   Facebook has always been a terrible platform.  Sure, we don’t get as many major hiccups anymore, but does anyone there even bother to test the user experience?   Tech journalists and social media pundits have a field day with every major overhaul.   Facebook cause pages are created demanding we change back.   Plug ins appear to make it “look like the good old Facebook”.   They never work.

Because Mark Zuckerberg is still carrying the mentality he had when he started.   He is more concerned with the people gaming his system than the experience of the rest of the users.

Here is a simple example.   Accepting friend requests.   You may never even consider this if you get 1 or 2 per day.  But anyone building up fake profiles and trying to amass a lot of Facebook ‘friends’ might have two or three hundred friend request to accept.  No, there is no “accept all” button.  Because Mark, knows some people will abuse it.   If you really are a popular person, just starting on Facebook and you have 250 friend requests, you have to click them one by one.   And of course the buttons aren’t at the same place.  No, that would be to easy to get an automated script monkey on to.   As you accept one friend request, it morphs into something else so you have to physically scroll to the next right position of  “Accept”.

There are dozens of examples like this.  Most people with just one genuine personal account, will not even notice them.  What they will notice and what we all experience daily is just a really really bad user interface.   They build little hoops for cheats but penalise everybody else while they are at it.    The fact that it has never been done in this scale and that it has to serve billions of very different customers is no excuse;  many of the niggles I have with Facebook are due to the fact that Zuckerberg is obsessed with people that are as sneaky thinking as him.  And he can’t think of clever algorithmic ways to get over it.   In a sense, Edgerank is this magic ingredient.   And all the recent changes are a move in the right direction.

Now let’s hope Edgerank gets good enough so that Zuckerberg relaxes the stupid interface hoops some more.  You can now accept hundreds of friend requests from the left button directly which is faster.  When I see an “accept all” button I will know Facebook has finally got a real and stable business model.

Categories
Business

Your first move in social media is…market segmentation?

For most business people, social media appears to be something exotic, even alien.   Partly due to the way it is presented in the media and largely because their “older media” companies are still not sure how to sell it.   There is a big temptation to see it as a completely new paradigm.   Of course it isn’t.   It still homo sapiens communicating.   And by the way, many of those homo sapiens are your old customers communicating.

Social CRM got me excited from the beginning.   I always loved CRM systems, even when they were clunky, tiring and meant more data entry for everyone.  If the customer is king, you had better make sure you know how the king likes his eggs cooked in the morning.  Just as we strived to find ways to unify what an organization knew about a contact into CRM, Social CRM systems try to unify the social media activity with whatever else you know about a contact.  XeeSM was the first system I saw which had the concept of “touch”, in a product called “Flights”.  This is an interaction via social media which isn’t a sales pitch, but a deliberate attempt to get in somebody’s peripheral vision in order to prepare the ground.   Social media is ideal for this.   You just need to “like” their photo on Facebook and they are reminded you exist.   Which makes the next telephone call, less of a cold call.

But you still feel lost.   It is as if all your customers are suddenly out of control, tweeting, blogging and posting anything they want.   It is scary and intimidating.   I am famously quoted as saying more than 15 years ago that “if you want to sell to the Greek market, your CRM system needs 11 million entries.   For starters.”    Sure, that CEO of your main customer is important and you might want to remember his wife’s birthday and kids’ names.   But those 11,000 people that “liked” your offer on Facebook yesterday and then clicked through to it on your website might be more important.   If only you knew them…