mark zuckerberg

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Embrace Change.

Sound familiar? I may have read it somewhere before.

Does The New York Times executive director Dean Baquet have to embrace change when ad revenue at the paper paper is off double digits? Does Mark Zuckerberg have to change HR bereavement policy to stay more competitive as the “new thing” luster (but not revenue) wears off the Facebook brand? Does Michael Dowling, Northwell Health CEO, have to embrace change when facing an insurance market that has to set prices for 2018 in less than three month?

For a professional that spends a lot of time looking at brand and business heritage, mining the perceptual depths of consumer, one might think I don’t embrace change. That I’m not incentivized to embrace change. You’d be wrong. Tomorrow is the only day I care about.

Sure I look for business proof that feeds the framework of brand strategy. Sure I do some rearview mirror planning. But tomorrow is “beyond the dashboard.” Future revenue is tomorrow. All earthly business delights are to be found tomorrow.

Peace.

 

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In 2012 I worked on a brand strategy for a company in what I called the “educational development” space.  The company sold classroom technology and professional development – in effect teaching the teachers how to use the technology. It was one of the coolest companies I’ve ever worked for. For those unfamiliar with my brand strategy framework, it comprises one claim and three proof planks. One of the proof planks in the brand strategy had to do with changing the paradigm in the “student-teacher relationship.”

During the  engagement Mark Zuckerberg announced he was going to donate $100 million to the Newark, NJ school system.  Throwing money at teaching and learning sounded like a good idea at the time; it was not.  As far as I can tell, Newark ain’t no Mooresville, NC.

Today, Mr. and Mrs. Zuckerberg are championing, along with Facebook, a new learning management system with Summit Public Schools, a charter school partner, to reinvent the student-teacher relationship. It’s a software system and that lets students direct their learning roadmap and pace supported by intense one-on-one mentoring.  It is the student teacher relationship plank in action. And it is already paying dividends in Oakland.

It seems to me allowing Newark to design its own learning plan with a pot full of money doesn’t work but allowing students to do so, with some newfound supervision and software does. Ms. Carmen Farina, are you watching?

Peace.

 

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Who is the Mark Zuckerberg of retail?  Who is the David Droga of retail? (You never heard Mr. Droga ask the question “How big can we get before we suck?)  Is it Jeff Bezos? Where is the vision in retail?  Who is going to makeover Sears as the first national Spanish language seller of goods and services?

Radio Shack lost $120M last quarter. Sears, J.C. Penny, Best Buy are hemorrhaging or are under pressure. Penny’s brought in a visionary retail guy — from Apple. Off the shelf vision?  Didn’t work.  

All those marketing folk with their PowerPoints talking about “disruption” and “market discontinuities” aren’t making any money by changing retail, they are getting honorariums and speaking in front of pop-up tables topped with water cruets and note pads. The seminar circuit.

Where’s the vision?

Some kid is going to have an epiphany while in a college books store and it is going to lead to real idea.  That kid just might have the huevos to turn things upside down.  Perhaps a free retail channel powered by advertising. Or the opposite — a high cost, high touch, high value, all-in subscription approach.

This is one ripe category. And there are a few dollars at stake.

Peace.

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I think the network programming people have to innovate their way out of it. Often we look to shows that are working in the U.K. for inspiration. But alltoo often programmers go back to the comedy, drama, reality, soap and variety show bin. Lately sci-fi and fantasy have caught on.

Mad Men, a period piece with a vertical angle was a smart new idea – but we all know someone is going to do a remake of the Honeymooners sometime soon.  The variety show is back, but losing steam.  How do we pump new blood into network TV?

There are only so many J.J. Abrams and Chuck Lorres and Dick Wolfs.  We need some Mark Zuckerbergs.  The network TV show has too long been a middle-aged and geezer-driven from a creative standpoint.  The creative excitement I’m looking for – we’re all looking for – needs to come from tastemakers.  Where is the new music coming from? Where will we find new fashion? New art? Lena Dunham is what I’m talking about.  Let’s find a Lena in Austin or Reno. Let’s spread a little development money that way and see what percolates.  The up-fronts are happening and Tony Shaloub’s next comedy is not the answer.  Peace@.

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Period.  Sound odd from a man who makes a living selling OP (other people’s) stuff? 

Sadly, once something new gets good and helpful and cool, entrepreneurs try to monetize it.  Case in point: When a kid in the ad business in the 70s or 80s I wondered why there weren’t large ads on the risers of the steps leading out of Penn Station. Today there are. Who thinks like that?  We want to cover everything in ads.  In social media there has been a massive redistribution of wealth in marketing because of this push to monetize. It’s inuring us to the tool that is social.  

Advertising is impacting social media the way pesticides are killing off the honey bee population.

For marketers, social media has but one function. One.  To predispose consumers toward your brand. How does it do that?  By driving them closer to a sale.  How does it do that? In many cases, by driving them to content on your web site. Not Mr. Zuckerberg’s web site.

Good psychotherapist knows that observations, insights and decisions patients make on their own are the ones that turn lives around.  Not the lessons taught. Allow a consumer to come to the conclusion that your product is better — of their own volition — and you have a custie for life.

So, social media is to engage, assist, and even subconsciously gain favor among your audience. This is done without selling. And, if done with a tight brand strategy you’ll out-perform all comers.

Joseph Jaffe writes about “Flipping the funnel.” I say use the funnel – and don’t put ads on it.  Peace!

 

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Content marketing starts with being seen. Following is a story and insight. And a Twitch Point crumb trail.

This morning I was reading a New York Times article (a daily anchor read) describing a new ConAgra Slim Jim campaign. I twitched over to Twitter and followed an author by the name of David Vinjamuri, quoted in the article, writer of a book called Accidental Branding. I have heard of the book but now, thanks to the media surround, will consider buying it.) On Mr. Vinjamuri’s Twitter feed, I read and how his Amazon reviews rock, according to Mars Dorian. I might consider following Mr. Dorain but didn’t have time. His name will go into the gray mush database and should it come up again, he’s in.

The notion of being an Amazon review rockstar is very interesting to me, and plays into my Poster vs. Pasters theory of online magnetism. Mr. Vinjamuri, blogs, writes book, Tweets and no doubt does lots of other posting. His Amazon reviews, however, are placed on a canvas that seen by many and more importantly, seen in context. He has found a place where concerned readers congregate and he is posting there — with things they like. (In doing so, he is creating twitches back to himself.) Had Mr. Vinjamuri doen the review on his own blog he’d have to wait for his Google ranking on the topic to float up. So he used Amazon to fish for acolytes. Genius.

Just as inbound links are the key to Google rankings, commenting and leaving a trail of crumbs on other people’s sites is a key to content marketing. It’s the last mile. The one most people forget about. It’s the map or directions to you and your site. There is way too much Fotchbook focus for marketers today. They create content for Fotchbook (faccia, is Italian for face) and becasue the platform contains so many crumbs, people tend to stay there…giving Mr. Zuckerberg all the traffic. So Posters, you need to troll. You need to troll in rich waters. And you need to create content back at the ranch that will build greater affinity. Sorry for going long today. Peace!

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Facebook is going to be fine.  So long as the monetization and product people stay out of the way and don’t spam the product up too much.

My friend Frenchie and I like to hike on the Appalachian Trail.  Or at least we used to did (Steve-ism). At the end of every hike we’d give an award for the stupidest thing we carried.  The stupid algorithm was impacted by the thing’s size, bulk, weight and the degree to which we used it.  The reason I know Facebook will live on is because kids and, to a less extent, adults still like to check their statuses a lot.  Go to a concert with a teen or twenty somth and when the music slows or they get bored they mobile up to Facebook.  Take that behavior and extend it to college classes, business meetings, Mets game, etc. and you get the idea the Facebook is an anecdote for a bored world. It’s communications crack.  

A la the hiking story, imagine paying $85.00 for a ticket to a concert and spending a quarter of your time at the event on Facebook. It’s indicative of the platform’s power. Facebook, for many is an indispensable part of their life. It’s getting used all the time in that metaphoric backpack. Don’t worry about the stock. Mr. Zuckerberg — worry about the ham-handed business people who are likely to gunk up your product. Peace.

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I saw Jonah Peretti speak at a social media conference a year ago and though I had heard of BuzzFeed was not aware it was his baby. He co-founded the Huff Post, by the way. Mr. Peretti is a didge native and gets the whole Poster Vs. Paster thing.  His content is king school is the approach I believe Yahoo and AOL need to jump their sites forward.  AOL bought some serious properties to make me think they were on the right path, but fumbled them and weren’t able to jump on the ball.   Yahoo didn’t even try, it seemed.

Mr. Peretti has two marvelous quotes in today’s New York Times – quotes that media properties in the digital world should heed:

“There is nothing more viral than news that no one else has.”  

And “News is the killer app and does not depend on search optimization.”

The common denominator here is news.  Not everything is news. That’s why there is SEO. But as we hunt and peck our way to site traffic gains, we need to think about news. And what is new. 

Today in marketing and advertising, 90% of everything is old. Perhaps served up with a new color, a new flavor, a new voice – but  old it is.  As Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg infuse our digital worlds with more and more marketing and crowd noise, as the buzz gets louder as something akin to a scene out of The Hunger Games, it would be smart for marketers to be chase new. Think new. And sell new. Peace.

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I had a theory a while back that Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft) blew billions of dollars on technology missteps just so that he could learn a couple of important things about the future.  With all the money it prints and the legacy business it controls, Microsoft has had the luxury of launching challenger devices and services that were dogs — but from which Mr. Ballmer gathered data, insights, and ways forward.  His overbuilt, over engineered products were real-time usability tests. Costly but smart. Poor Mr. Ballmer.

Mark Zuckerberg is scary because all the news out of this year’s Facebook developers conference, called f8, points to Facebook’s desire to own to world’s user data. If banks or the treasury owned the data Facebook will and does – knowing how, on what, and when we spend our hard-earned, it would be a major antitrust violation.  And all Mr. Z has to do is put some software code, cookies , crumbs and apps behind his platform and it will become a one-stop-shop for everything behavioral. When behavior becomes data and sortable as such, allowing for 1-to-1 targeting, the game will be over. That’s why Google was scared into Google+. 

No one likes an overdog, but that is what Facebook is becoming. Mr. Zuckerberg will soon need to hire a Chief Overdog Officer.  In this light, Mr. Ballmer will be the underdog billionaire. Peace.

 

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Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang conducted a webinar a couple of days ago, along with Michal Della Penna of StrongMail, on social media today and tomorrow.  He made two very key important points.  Don’t market your ass off (my words) only to give your traffic over to Mark Zuckerberg.  And don’t use “engagement” as a key metric when trying to prove social media ROI to your executive committee. 

Point 1.  I’ve heard on a number of occasions, from some pretty smart, that many companies are considering reducing the scope and scale of their corporate websites in favor of bulked up their Facebook efforts.  Mistake.  Overblown company and brand websites can be a blight, but they don’t really hurt anybody.  Letting all your customers and prospects learn about your product on Fotchbook on the other hand, can dilute your control and funded sales efforts.

Point 2.  Consumer engagement, often defined on the dashboard as clicks, time on site, members, views, likes, check-ins are not sales.  Certainly they can lead to sales, but until tied to money changing hands, its engagement not a wedding ring.  It’s like dating without the you know. We all know dating leads to you know, so I’m not pooh-poohing engagement, I’m just suggesting as did Mr. Owyang that executives care about da monies.  When was the last time you read a financial article the headline for which was “Goldman’s Engagement Slid 53% In Quarter.”  Peace!

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