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The New York Times reported today that the top social media platforms are either flat or declining in users.  For the first time in its young life Snap is down daily active users — 3 million this quarter compared to same qtr. last year.

This news causes bosses to call marketing brainstorm sessions about adding users.  Often these meeting feel tactical and not strategic. Were I in one of these brainstorming meetings, I’d suggest the platform encourage current users to add additional accounts.  

I’ve long supported the notion that each social platform has a different reason for being, with discrete lines between them. Facebook is for friends and friendship. LinkedIn for work. Instagram for the pictorial, artistic self. And Twitter for the individual, real-time persona. Your personality writ large. If social platforms get users to dig a little deeper into themselves, and expressions of themselves, they might find individuals will open additional accounts, e.g. Steve Poppe archeologist, Steve Poppe punk rock musings. The bosses might say, “Those aren’t new user.” And the bosses would be right.  But these multiple accounts would be adding incremental interest to the platform and fuel greater overall interest and, more importantly, time on site. And isn’t that a strategy requirement?

Peace.

 

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Nike is parting ways with 11 top executives in the face of an employee survey pointing to sexual harassment in the workplace. Facebook is reorganizing into three divisions to put senior management eyes closer to the work areas that have been a little lax in the security department.  It seems that firing and reorganizing are the reflexive methods of apologizing for public company problems.  Other typical tactics include NYT and WSJ apology letter ads and training days (see Starbucks).

Customer-facing business change is best served cold. Not right away. Business change needs to be properly thought out. Not knee-jerk. Poorly thought out change can be more disastrous than the disaster. Nike needs to live its shame for a while. As does Facebook. They need to publish and discuss what they’ve found and how they are going to deal with it. Most PR people will tell you to do something quick and put it to bed. I disagree. Companies need to spend more time living, learning and grieving. Glossing over big mistakes is a big mistake.

Act like a human and you can come back from it. Endure the shame, study it, heal – then move on.

Peace.

 

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The hottest advertising topic of the day is digital ad privacy. Mark Zuckerberg brought his suit to Washington last week to answer questions about privacy before Congress and now those interested understand they can turn privacy settings on. Where and how to do it may be a bit of a slog, but at least they know.

Privacy and data analytics are important. Ish. Errant misuse of that data for illegal means is a matter for the law.  That is important. But that’s not advertising.

For ad girls and guys, what’s more important to the business is the state of digital creative. It’s horrendous.  The worst form of offline ad craft I refer to as “We’re Here” advertising; basically, it tells consumers what you sell and where to buy. The worst form of digital advertising is “Click Here” advertising; it does the same thing but with less effort.  The digital ad footprint is expanding in terms of pixels and load but the real estate is still small. Therefore, the creative is ghostly poor. It’s hard to even characterize as creative. Congress should call Bob Greenberg to the mic and ask about that.

Poor digital creative is doing more to hurt the ad business than cookies, opt-outs and database junkies ever will.

Make privacy settings easier to access. Put bad guys behind bars. And fix the damn digital creative.

Peace.

 

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The Masters golf tournament began about 84 years ago. Before Tiger. Before titanium drivers. Before World War II. It has become the most famous golf tournament extant. The brand management of The Masters has been impeccable, with the exception of the diversity issues surrounding membership in the Augusta National Golf Club.  I’m told candy bars have to be packaged in green wrapper in case one accidently blows into the view of TV cameras. All wires are buried underground. Jim Nance. As much as the technology changes, as much as people change, The Masters remains the same: a venerable sports institution.

Consumer products Pilsner Urguell, Coca-Cola, and Tide Detergent have stood the test of time as brands – all through great brand management. It is yet to be seen, however, if tech companies will learn how to last. Bell Labs, perhaps the first (American) tech company, is still around but seems, to me at least, on its last legs. Bell Labs began as AT&T, then went to Lucent, which was bought by Alcatel and is now owned by Nokia. Not great brand management.

If Facebook wants to me more than Netscape and MySpace, it needs to put in play a long-term brand strategy.  People can’t live without Facebook. Now.  Brand strategy is important for service companies and tech companies. Facebook needs to step up.

 

Peace.

 

 

 

 

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While Mark Zuckerberg slept in his Harvard bed dreaming about the future of Facebook, do you think he ever wondered if it might be big enough to impact a national presidential election?  I’m guessing not. But he may have.

I was at a start-up called Zuide.com when Zuck had 18M users. Both web apps allowed users to build their own website, but with Zude you used objects. Facebook was database driven. In my dreams, it was understood that social networks could be used for good and evil.

Social network can and will be abused. Even journalistic instruments are abused. When “the people” are in charge of content you have to know fake and manipulative information will happen. So when Twitter, Google and Facebook went to capital hill yesterday, no one should be been surprised spankings would be meted out. Not yesterday, not 10 years ago.

Mr. Zuckerberg should have known it would happen.  Perhaps not to the extent it did. Not to the point where the world’s leading democracy would be soiled…but he knew. And now we all must fix it. People must be responsible too. Just as we now can detect phishing schemes in our email, we must learn to root out false information.  

Shouldn’t have taken so long. Shame on Silicon Valley.

Peace.            

 

 

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A number of years ago I subscribed to an advertising magazine called Lurzer’s International Archive.  It showcased the best ads in the world every month. I often found creative people thumbing through Archive looking at pictures and ideas inspiration.

M advertising work in those days was in technology. Often with Bell Labs engineers.  When they didn’t have an answer they would call-a-friend. Sometimes at Bell Labs, other times at PARC, a Xerox research lab in Palo Alto.  Back then engineers were a collegial bunch and helped one another. I loved this science-first worldview. Ad guys and girls would never have reached out to competitive peers to help solve problems.

Now I’m a brand strategist. We are more like Bell Labs engineers than creatives. The science of strategy, for many, comes first. Thanks to social media platforms such as Stack and Facebook, strategists can post questions and have 10 answers by noon. It’s wonderful. Looking for a framework for behavior change? You’ll have editorials, white papers, snark and frivolity from around the world.

Social business design today offers an exciting openness.

It’s a human trait. So is jealousy and greed. Openness is winning me thinks. Enjoy.

Peace.

 

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It has been a while since I watched my technology hero Robert Scoble on a video. He disappeared for a while, doing some Augmented Reality work, writing a book and living his “real world” life. Also he somewhat replaced Scobleizer.com with posts to Facebook. Anyway, I received an email from him today promoting a newsletter that will aggregate his last 5 Facebook posts and he is back on the radar. And it couldn’t be a minute too soon. I’ve felt out of tech touch. When you have more Snap stock than Snaps, something is wrong.

Pixie (getpixie.com) is a new AR tool one can load onto an iPhone to scan a room for your shit. Shit to which you’ve affixed a physical tag. If you put an electronic sticker on your keys and fire up the app, you can locate them. Near field I believe.  For peeps of a certain age (me), this will be a fun app, especially when the stickers get smaller.

I just moved to Asheville, NC, having downsized. In other words I got rid of a lot of shit. But I still have a lot of shit. Trend-wise, I think we Americans are reducing our domicile footprints but accumulating more shit. The Pixie is a neat app to help. It’s probably not the killer AR app we will ultimately cultivate but it’s a start. The killer app will likely be in the marketing realm me thinks.

Stay tuned to AR and what it portends.

Peace.

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When Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying future Earthlings will be living in space – as he did in an article in today’s newspapers – was he tripping? I don’t think so.  It’s probably going to happen. Just as there will be self-driving cars and a cure for cancer. But the likelihood that Blue Origin, his space travel company, will be around or even contribute to space life is low. This so-called “space shot” bet by one the world’s most brilliant and effective marketers is, however, instructive.

Space shot proclamations are not just the provenance of billionaires. They are for business owner of every stripe and color.  While with Zude, a web start-up, I once proclaimed “In the future every person will have their own website.” And I wasn’t talking about a Facebook page either.

Every good business owner needs to understand the blocking and tackling of business “today,” but also they must see the “future.”  Only then can they help shape the future.

When a pizza parlor owner says s/he will make the best tasting pizza in town, then buys ingredients from Restaurant Depot with all the other pizza shops, that’s blocking and tackling; it’s not a moon shot. The best brand builders and marketers desire the future. It keeps them up at night and sometimes makes for wonderful dreams.

Peace.   

 

 

 

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Long Live Twitter

Yesterday I posted on the subject “Twitter Blather Be Gone.” I suggested not using Twitter solely as a business tool to promote oneself…ad nauseam. Yet I post Twitter promoting my blog. Am I breaking my own rule? Nah. If all I did on Twitter was promote myself with 20 tweets a day, that would be different.

I look at all social media channels differently. Facebook is for friends. LinkedIn for work. Instagram for the art director/photographer in you. A blog for your keen interest. And Twitter – as the representation of your total personality. A little bit of everything. I say stuff to on Twitter I’d never share on Facebook.

Twitter can be the best representation of the whole person. As an outbound vehicle, Twitter is the most freeing. The most important. It reflects the daily earthly cosmos, if that’s not a contradiction. Blather be gone. Long live Twitter.

Peace.

 

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The Big Data Oy!

mount hood

I worked at a web start-up a few years ago that offered users a free way to build web pages without code. It was called Zude. We had two rounds of funding, about $10M, and were often covered by Tech Crunch, Scobleizer and GigaOm and ReadWrite Web. The business monetization model was tied to advertising. An afterthought really. Let’s face it, in the web world advertising is everyone’s go-to monetization.

There is an important competing force for monetization today in the start-up world and that is marketing data. Marketing data is not served, viewed, or clicked. It is sold. As behavior, demographics and proclivities. For future use.

When What’s App sold to Facebook it probably assumed advertising would be in its future. It marginally may have thought selling data would be in its future. But, now, the time has come.

Advertising is an opt-in thing. Personally data is not. Not really. Data will become more and more of a privacy issue. Millennials say “Go ahead sell my data,” now. But when they season a bit more, they’ll realize privacy is way more important than seeing advertising.

Data vs. advertising is the new battlefield.

If you put all the paper Americans receive in direct mail and catalogs in a pile, for one year, you’d create Mount Hood (I just made that up, please don’t fact check it.) Imagine what spam folders, robo calls, door knockers and TV ads will look like when data really catches on. Oy!

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