Social Media Top 5: Just Take No, Multi-Account Instagram, & Vertical Video is Here to Stay

Image credit: bixentro on Flickr

Image credit: bixentro on Flickr

Two “User Experience” Pet Peeves

After a week off of writing, I’ll start with two less timely thoughts:

First – why stop at annoying customers, visitors or users once when you can get them multiple times before they leave forever?

I have been seeing more “No thanks I want decline this amazing offer and keep on being a loser” opt-out text on pop-up ads on the Web. Marketers need to trust consumers to say “no” and work harder on the people who show interest. Why alienate people who are itching for a reason to hate you more?

My other pet-peeve is not as new: the “fun content” on the unsubscribe page.

“Oh, you  don’t really want to leave us, do you?”

“Yes, yes I did want to stop getting your content. That did not mean I hate your product, but now that you have gone out of your way to annoy me I might reconsider that.”

OR:

“Ok, I’ll stay on because you made me chuckle. But I still resent getting interrupted by your emails.”

I am sure there are metrics any company can twist that say these things are successful, but how successful and useful is that subscriber you suckered or shamed into staying aboard; how much is cheapening the user experience worth to you? track the users that react to these desperate pleas and then come back and tell me it’s an awesome idea.

It’s About time, Instagram
I heard about it before taking a week off from the blog, but waited until not to post about it, in the spirit of not being in a hurry about something important.

Instagram now allows support for multiple accounts. This feature is a must-have for anyone who operates in social media professionally and needs to access those all-important brand Instagram accounts you love to browse so much, in addition to one’s own collection of duck-face selfies and cat photos.

This is a vital feature for any platform, and I’m a bit shocked – without knowing any of the development obstacles involved – that it took years for Instagram to offer it. No platform – including Twitter and Facebook- had it right away, as I recall the struggles to manage multiple logins from early social media days, but this should no longer be an afterthought.

King of the jungle

A photo posted by Doug Haslam (@doughaslam) on

 

 

Snapchat (Vertical Video is ok now)

Snapchat Gains Momentum: New Research

Snapchat has been, for some time now, the party crasher of social media marketing. It is complicated in that it appears designed to share messages only temporarily, and remains immature in terms of the ability to measure results of marketing (or any efforts). However, its popularity is undeniable (much as with some other new platforms before it), as is the fact that many brands, particularly media entities, have already populated Snapchat channels. The above story is a result of some of the breathless excitement.

I am still in the “it remains to be seen if it is effect for general marketing” camp, but there is one other effect that Snapchat in particular has brought on to mainstream social media consumption: the acceptance of vertical video.

For a few years, it has been fun to disapprove of vertical video (holding one’s phone vertically to take video rather than in landscape mode, and I have been one of those people. Vertical video is generally rendered unwatchable on main computer screens, meaning if you share it widely it looks horrible. The best result of this is the below, of course:

With Snapchat adding to the mobile video craze, vertical video is making more and more sense. I have come around to that, and think that the next move is up to PC-based apps to format vertical video to be more watchable on the horizontal screens. The apps are better at vertical now, not the other way around. Would you agree?

Adapt or die

Random App-lause: Timehop

I’m a big fan of Timehop, as you can get a quick daily fix of what was going on this day in past years simply by your posts in social media. While I would understand an unwillingness for New Englanders to relive last year’s harsh February, I particularly enjoy some of the one-off Tweets and Facebook updates now that they have lost their original context, and get some fun out of re-posting them to see if I get a reaction. A typical example:

 

12710864_10156741616015105_7097249073238763193_o

Off to make more odd memories…

Social Media Top 5: Defining “Long-Form,” #RIPTwitter, & Logo Design Perils

This post is 948 words long, which should take you approximately three minutes to read.

image Credit: Adam Tinworth on Flickr

Image Credit: Adam Tinworth on Flickr

Are We Defining Long-Form Content Incorrectly? 

I have talked about “long-form content” quite a bit lately (including on a Blab-cast about same on AGBeat recently), as I observe many platforms fighting for (more sustained) attention. But are these platforms, like Medium, LinkedIn Pulse, and Facebook Notes, really “long-form?” Is defining the form versus Tweets and standard Facebook status updates enough to declare them “long?” Perhaps it’s a semantic debate, but I fear going much farther down the road of declaring 1,000-word treatises (or even blog posts like this) “long-form” when they take less time to consume than an episode of “Modern Family.”

I began thinking of that when Bryan Person reminded me of a podcast that I had heard much of in the past but never made the time for (cue ironic laughter), the “Longform Podcast;” more to to the point, Longform.org links to articles more in the spirit (or length, at least) of a site like the late, lamented Grantland, with the purpose of putting more thought and art behind prose, rather than, well, posts like this one.

How are we defining long-form content? This post from Wordstream acknowledges disagreement but finally settles on articles of 1,200 words or longer. If we are to agree with the national average reading speed of 300 words per minute, (I scored 365 on my try, for what it’s worth), then “long-form” applies to an article one can read in 4 minutes.

Medium helpfully estimates the time it would take to read the articles hosted on their site, and in my visits articles tend to be marked as “3-5 minutes.” Is this long-form? Medium, by its very name, does not claim that, but that seems to be how we define long form. One post did some digging into data and found the optimum post to be 7 minutes (which I will take from my link above to mean 2,100 words on average). “Long?” The Bealtes’ “Hey Jude” is longer.

I am trying to take more care in the future over what “long-form” really means and defining it appropriately. I hope it makes me a tiresome pedant. When I’m done here, I’m off to read a book.

How Dare Twitter Try to Make its Timeline Useful!

UPDATE (2/10): Twitter was planning something after all- let the funeral procession begin!

Twitter’s latest tinkering is not a cool-looking feature that nobody I know uses– and that I like but never use; it’s not tinkering with its executive team, though I suppose that continues. No, Twitter has dared to announce that it wants to tweak the algorithm so that the main timeline follows an algorithm rather than a strict chronology. This has led to the #RIPTwitter trending hashtag (I wonder how Twitter feels about that feature as I write this):

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 1.42.50 PM

As someone who follows far too many people, I find the main Twitter feed to be unreadable, so welcome this change if it improves things. I can understand how people who are better at curating their Twitter follows might worry about the change in their carefully cultivated experience, but also wonder if the changes to their feeds will be all that significant, due to the smaller sample from which the algorithm to choose. But then I again I don’t know how it works, or how this one will work.

There is a more in-depth (though not “long-form”) discussion of this announcement by my Stone Temple Consulting colleague, Mark Traphagen, on our company’s blog. He agrees with the “wait and see, it might be a good thing” take.

Beware of Tweets Bearing Gifs.

Meanwhile, another potential feature may be rolling out. I may have made my peace with gifs some time ago, but I’m not entirely sure. Either way, Twitter is testing gif support for iOS (iOS= “beta test guinea pigs, when it’s ready we’ll roll it out to the cool users on Android).

 

Still like gifs?

Facebook Friends Day

Facebook declared Thursday, February 4 “Friends Day” (Wouldn’t Wednesday have made for a nice rhyme? Opportunity wasted!), creating custom videos for users.

12654253_10100654656115696_9028402643637075938_n

image credit: an extremely sad person

h/t Nathan Gilliatt, though I cannot confirm this was his result.

Get Your Pitchforks and Torches Out, Somebody Redesigned Their Logo

Oh no, Uber redesigned their logo, and people hate it. I don’t know if it’s good or not, I don’t really care too much. But it seems every time a brand changes its logo without a pressing reason, the angry mobs come out. Lesson? Don’t mess with your logo.

As some people point out, they could put more energy into improving the product. No, “I think the founders are jerks” is not what I’m talking about, but perhaps dealing with labor issues could be a start (not that they aren’t trying).

Also, there’s more to the logo change than design: the company is differentiating its logo for riders, drivers and even different locations. That aspect is interesting and practical, no matter what you think of the design.

160202164426-uber-new-logo-app-780x439

But Where’s the ‘U’?

Sometimes, changing a logo can be an attempt to distract people from the company’s putrid product. Right, Toronto Maple Leafs fans?

Also, in honor of the Chinese New Year starting February 8, a number of friends pointed out to me an interesting design choice for a “Year of the Monkey” poster. Oops. Feel free to click through to the link, I decided that the image can be interpreted as obscenity that I won’t display on the blog. If you look closely, I suppose you can see a monkey and not a graphic depiction of sex. Maybe.  (I initially had a link to the designer’s page, but as I write this the entire web site seems to be down.)

 

Social Media Top 5: Virality and Death (of Twitter, Newspapers, Likes)

So macabre, my theme this week:

Image Credit: apionid on Flickr

Image Credit: apionid on Flickr

How to Viral and So Can You (Spoiler Alert: You Can’t, Really)

I remain skeptical of the idea of “viral” media, or at least the implication one can control whether or not something truly takes off , but this is a good article about being nimble and prepared if you want to increase your chances. It’s not about whether you can make something go viral, but whether or not you have put yourself in the best position. I’ll ignore the fact that I had neither seen nor heard of the video in question until this article about how viral it was came across my feed:

The Times Square snowboarding video: Why it went viral

In any case, the video looks fun- and snow in Times Square, I can tell you from firsthand experience, is pretty magical:

Master Your Twitter Domain, and All That Implies

If I ever noticed Twitter ads, I might actually be angry or jealous about this:

Twitter Has Stopped Showing Ads to Some of Its Most Valuable Users

Is this something Twitter’s “valuable users” care about and notice? Did they ask for this? Will this save Twitter (from something)? I don’t know. I guess it’s nice to give special treatment to their best customers, if they can quantify a benefit (more ads served to the people hanging on their every Tweet, perhaps).

Meanwhile, on the Twitter Death Watch

The “Twitter is Dead” and “Facebook is Eating Twitter’s Lunch” crowds are still making for some interesting reading.

This first article states flatly that “Facebook Squashed Twitter,” which assumes two things:

  1. Twitter and Facebook are direct competitors. Sort of true, but also sort of not true, and Twitter can’t really compete on those grounds so “squash” is as easy to say as it is fun (just say it out loud: “squash”).
  2. That Twitter is squashed (still fun to say), with hundreds of millions of users and

This New Yorker article*  seems to take the “It’s Dead” tack, though with a hopeful penultimate paragraph the author betrays what I suspect: Twitter is better off not being compared to its bigger cousin, especially now. That doesn’t mean it’s dead, but by all means keep writing about it, everyone.

*I checked to make sure it wasn’t the Onion-esque Borowitz Report; seriously, I assume every New Yorker link I see on Facebook is actually a fake story.

OK, Maybe We Will Say That Newspapers are Dead Soon

I have followed the “death of newspapers” stories for more than a decade, from the original land rush to providing free news content on the Internet, to Paul Gillin’s “Newspaper Death Watch” blog documenting the folding of weaker papers and the threats to ad revenues, circulation, and the industry in general, to my role in helping the Christian Science Monitor announce their more controlled change to a digital-first news organization, and beyond. What I have always resisted is declaring the “death” of anything, even if that anything shrinks in demand and importance: after all, vinyl records are still around, and may even be in a resurgence despite the anachronistic technology. Not a perfect analogy, but that’s all I got.

This excellent article by Dan Kennedy on the current state of the newspaper decline is a good, yet sobering, read, however. Reading it through shifts my thinking to what the real argument should be: not whether newspapers survive, but how journalism will survive- in fact, Kennedy cites a Clay Shirky quote emphasizing just that point (I swear I thought of it before I reached that part of the article).

The point? It’s not the platforms that matter most, but what pursuits they bring to life. Journalism will live on, but how, and in what form? That is what we should be looking for rather than counting dwindling circulation numbers.

 

How Do You Feel? Choose From Only 6

We have been hearing about alternatives to “liking” on Facebook, and now it appears that 6 disparate reactions will make up the choices. Surprisingly, they will not be denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and Zeppo, but perhaps that not too far off:

Is Facebook dictating a limited range of human emotion? This not-terribly-old article suggests they may actually be expanding them from a core of four. Who knows? I can’t wait to not notice these have been implemented.

Image credit: Mr. Pony on Flickr

Image credit: Mr. Pony on Flickr

 

Pan-Mass Challenge Fundraising Recap: 2016

Every August, I put on a ridiculous spandex outfit, a pair of shoes not made for walking, a helmet and gloves and get on my bike to ride from Wellesley to the tip of Cape Cod for the annual Pan-Mass Challenge.

20053818838_90cfa36908_k

Another successful ride

More importantly, i spend far more time than I do training and riding raising money to fight cancer. The Pan-Mass Challenge sends 100% of all funds raised by riders to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund to aid the fight against cancer. I have signed up to ride for the ninth consecutive year, and in  afit of optimism have increased my fundraising goal to $8,500. If you would like to help fight cancer with me this way, please go to my donation page at http://bit.ly/pmcdoug.

Every year, I also take a look back at my fundraising efforts to see if I can identify any trends to help me with the next season. In 2015, the minimum fundraising level for 2-day riders was $4,300. For the last several years, I have settled on a goal of $7,500 (surpassing the “Heavy Hitter” level) and have been lucky enough to have people help me reach that level for the last six years.

As you can see, the total money raised – $8,110 – is about on par with recent years, a little below last year’s level. Fundraising has been consistent, then, if not showing continuous growth. The question for 2016 is- can I raise more, and how can I do it? For one, I have set my stated goal at $8,500, more than last year (though slightly less than 2014’s total) as a small incentive.

image (2)

The total number of donors has actually regressed slightly, also suggesting that I could do more to attract more helpers to the cause:image (1)

“More donors” probably means more new donors, as retention of returning donors has been steady (actually slightly increasing the last several years). I can conclude that my email campaigns in particular have been effective in keeping people active in the cause, so growth probably needs to come from outside, meaning finding new ways to publicize my ride and new groups to appeal to. image

Average donation amount has again been steady, slightly more than $70. While in 2015 I did not receive a large matching grant that I had the previous year, I did see larger-than-normal donations from at least one regular donor, so there is likely no real outlier in that data set.image (3)

My conclusion? If I want to continue to maintain and grow fundraising pace, I need to continue to court regular donors, but find ways to add additional interest and create a higher percentage of new people donating to the cause. This could mean going back to more concerted social media campaigns as I have in the past (including video and image posts) and considering different platforms than those that had worked in the past. That gives me much to think about as I wait for spring to arrive and road training to start.

Meanwhile, now is as good a time as any to help fight and beat cancer with me and the PMC!

Social Media Top 5: Moldy Peach, Twitter Censorship is Awesome, Content Shock Still Imaginary

 

Still Fuzzy About Peach

Image credit: Steven Depolo on Flickr

Image credit: Steven Depolo on Flickr

Here is my review of the new Peach social app (the Android version):

…….

I think that covers it, and is why I pay no mind to an app being declared the “next big thing” when it is not on both (or all, if Windows gains momentum) of the major platforms. Others decided that wasn’t enough, opting to go all the way to the just as silly “X is Dead” meme:

Death of Peach: An eerie echo of Meerkat’s collapse

Alrighty then… that was fun while it lasted.

Free Speech? Not for You

This past week, Twitter punished user Milo Yiannopoulos for frequent abusive behavior on the platform by removing his Blue Checkmark, which signifies a user is “verified.” Setting aside the fact that Yiannopoulos is Yiannopolous with or without his blue stain and people will still know who he is, does the punishment of members of a platform, which also can include account suspensions or bans, constitute an assault on free speech?

No. It’s community management. You participate at the discretion of those who run the platform. You misbehave, you get kicked out. That’s not censorship. Even if you are a self-styled “journalist” writing for a partisan web site.

A Measured Take on Content Glut

I have taken a dim view on the concept of “content shock” and other identical ideas that preceded it.

This article by Randy Milanovic is not the first to take a more measured stance but still come out agreeing with my take that good content is a winner, no matter what. I hope to see more marketing thinkers take the approach (that is, shock us with more good content about it) that does not leave people afraid to make content for fear of not standing out, but continuing to make more content that stands out to the right audiences.

Newsjacking: Maybe We Should Just Ban it All

12473838_10156638071605105_5692193140527460209_oThe great David Bowie died last week. Many of us are fans, and he remains very influential. But were we spared “marketing lessons” posts in the wake of his death? Of course not. Here is a link to illustrate my point but I would prefer you save yourself by not clicking through to read. I know I have groused about this lousy use of the tactic often and recently – but maybe for now we should just call a moratorium on all types of “newsjacking” until further notice: until people stop straining relevancy beyond its breaking point to load the web with clickbait.

Perhaps we can redefine “content shock” to “delivering electrical deterrents to those inclined to tasteless newsjacking.”

That said, I did find an article by the one person qualified to write on lessons from David Bowie: of course, it’s David Bowie.

Social Network Image Size Guide

Constant Contact has once again published a size guide for images for social media accounts. I find these extremely handy on the agency side for setting up and maintaining accounts for clients.

One thing I would love: this guide is for 2016; what has changed that I need to pay attention to? That would be handy, but at least the 2015 guide is still online for comparison.

2016-Social-Media-Image-Size-Guide-final

Social Media Top 5: Find Something Interesting to Read

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 12.30.29 PM

Medium is Not a Publishing Tool?

As often as anything else on Medium, it seems, I see posts from Founder Ev Williams or one of his cohort with a windy explanation of what Medium is or isn’t. The latest (as I write this) is that Medium is not a publishing tool, but a network, presumably meaning a social network.

It has come to the point where I start to regard Medium partisans not as publishers, but a cult-like cabal trying to will today’s vision of the product into being (if that sounds harsh, I originally wrote “apologists” instead of  “partisans;” I am capable of only so much moderation).

<obligatory Star Wars reference>

Maybe it’s a Jedi mind trick: “This is not the publishing platform you are looking for. This is a network.”

</obligatory Star Wars reference>

Maybe it’s an attempt at mass hypnotism: “This is not a publishing platform. It is now a network. Now, it’s a chicken. Now take off your pants and dance around the room.”

Anyway, I don’t quite understand how Medium works as a network. I go to it when I see a link form a friend or the Medium Daily Digest email, and often find some good content published there. I do not find shares and comments up-front as part of the content, nor do I find it easy (compared to Facebook and Twitter) to connect to other subscribers, comment, and share content within the platform; my latest attempt to comment resulted in the screenshot above.

So- for me, Medium is a publishing platform, with all the good (great content) and bad (it’s not the authors’ owned platform) that implies – until, of course, the platform gets a radical makeover.

Social Media is Not Broken, but Your Ability to Twist Logic without Breaking it is Admirable

Speaking of good content I found via Medium, this post trying to explain why social media is “broken” does a much better job showing how publishers work hard and produce good content to rise to the top of your attention than it does proving its point. Still, worth a read. And the dots look cool. I liked the yellow ones best.

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 12.43.27 PM

 

Twitter Posts are About to Get Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very long.

Twitter, which is not “dead” or “dying,” (sorry, kneejerk social media gurus), is apparently considering a radical change: increasing the character limit to 10,000 characters (about 1,500 words or more). So, basically, it would be a blogging platform. Or a Medium. Or a Facebook Notes.

If this happens, is it a surrender of Twitter’s uniqueness, or a bold transition to attract and retain people through better content (and does it compete with Medium, founded by Twitter’s Ev Williams)? If the initial presentation is 140 characters, that would ease the transition. If they retain that presentation, perhaps that is enough to retain what keeps Twitter unique- the ability to trdae quick messages but with the added ‘read more” ability. It will be interesting to see.

My former colleague Chris Thilk at Voce Communications has some thoughts on the proposed change on their blog. Also, InformationWeek raises the important business angle: more engaging content to keep people on Twitter may create better advertising/revenue opportunities (“conversational ads?”).

Disclosure dopiness

While confusion over what social media posts are really paid endorsements or enthusiastic fanliness, continues, the “they should know better” school of disclosure extends beyond marketing pros to “journalists” as well. Should ESPN jock-jockeys disclose that their Domino’s Pizza tweets are ads? Yes; yes, they should.

12509386_10156616219115105_4772795437032987740_n

Request for my twitter handle. Was I being rude?

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 1.36.00 PM

Social Media Top 5: The Blogfather Speaks, The CEO Counts & the Map Don’t Lie

Only three this week. We’ve had holidays. Happy New Year.

2560241604_d4f1ce17e5_z

Image Credit: Desirae on Flickr

Iran’s “Blogfather” – This is Why we Must Have Good Things

After last week’s story about Medium claiming to be the future of Web content, it is interesting to see this story- an Iranian blogger emerges from six years in prison aghast at the prevalence of off-domain content. If Hossein Derakhshan was willing to go to jail for his blogging activities, I am inclined to believe what he says about the power of owned platforms (blogs on your own web sites) over social sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Medium, among others. The heart of the matter is not strange to most of us who have worked in online content: the Facebooks of the world are interested in keeping you on their platform, and not in connecting you with the vast majority of other sites. They are, in Derakshan’s word, “blind” to the rest of the web, blind to hyperlinks that would take precious eyeballs from their beancounter’s paradise of internal clicks. As he puts it: “hyperlinks aren’t just the skeleton of the web: they are its eyes, a path to its soul.”

This soul is an open one, and as much as we like these social platforms, losing site of your own domain where you own and control your content (to the extent that is possible) to me is preferable. What so you think?

Social Data: Does the CEO Really Get Directly Involved? (Come On Now…)

Parsing data from social media? Important. Having executive buy-in? Absolutely! However, I am skeptical that he CEO of such a large company as the retail giant Target is as directly involved in social media analytics as this article says he is. Is it true? Seems like something the details of which would be produced in more detail at the sub-level. My guess is that Target CEO Brian Cornell is well-briefed by the team charged with the work. All that said, it seems the work is towards a goal that many companies and agencies give lip service to but few really deliver on- social analytics geared to improve service, products and bottom line. Cynical me just has a hard time believing a CEO is that conversant in the details among the many other facets of the job.

Geographical Correctness – the Map Don’t Lie

I understand that context is important to brand image, but this Marriott Hotel in Charleston, SC cannot help the fact that it is down the street from the church where the recent infamous mass shooting took place. Sending takedown requests to people who happen to – innocently- put up pictures with both in the frame is, I would argue, more harmful to brand image than accidents of geography. It also brings more attention to this apparently unwelcome fact. But that’s just my opinion.

To be fair, the hotel apologized. Too little, too late (and to that phrase, does it always have to be both)? One would hope that a company learns from this, and that the rest of us know that mistakes happen (and don’t exist solely for us to blog about and stick into our “social media screwups” slide deck), so calm it on the brand-shaming.

 

 

Social Media Top 5: Disclosure, Polls, Platforms, Alarm Clocks & Pandas

Image Credit - Dave Gingrich

Image Credit – Dave Gingrich

Disclosure Geeks Rejoice: New FTC Rules on Advertorials

Over the last few years, many folks have noticed a rise in the use of advertor.. oh wait, we’re supposed to call it “native advertising” now. As with anything new that comes along in the “social media age,” it is hardly new, as paid content has long been a part of publications both print and online. Concerns over recent examples of native advertising has led to calls to stiffen enforcement over deceptive practices, whether intentional or not. I don’t know if this new FTC document represents stiffer enforcement, but it clarifies existing positioning and gives publishers a fresh referral source.

“Tl/dr” is no excuse for not knowing the rules, but to those for whom clicking a link is greater editorial effort than they might normally exert, here is the concluding paragraph from the FTC’s new statement:

Although digital media has expanded and changed the way marketers reach consumers, all advertisers, including digital advertisers, must comply with the same legal principles regarding deceptive conduct the Commission has long enforced. This statement sets forth principles of general applicability on which the Commission will rely in determining whether any particular advertising format is deceptive, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. The Commission will find an advertisement deceptive if the ad misleads reasonable consumers as to its nature or source, including that a party other than the sponsoring advertiser is its source. Misleading representations of this kind are likely to affect consumers’ decisions or conduct regarding the advertised product or the advertisement, including by causing consumers to give greater credence to advertising claims or to interact with advertising content with which they otherwise would not have interacted.

I would love to see more enforcement of online disclosure gaffes of all kinds, as I have contended for a time that many people who know better are doing it wrong, and I’m not sure how much that has changed.

7140668329_71b7a5c238_z

Image Credit: Coventry City Council

Polls and Data: the Rush to Judgment May Cause Dizziness, Nausea

As politics becomes a great reason to run and hide from social media over the next year, there is something more insidious than boorish attachment to easily-discredited opinions or policies (like defending a high school team mascot many Native americans find racist by opening with the phrase “Time to circle the wagons,” but I digress…). This, of course, is the tendency to jump on a single poll, months before any primary vote will be cast, and present it as infallible evidence that your favored candidate will win everything, “BEKAUZ POLL!”

In my observation, Bernie Sanders supporters have been among the worst offenders. Just in the past week, I saw folks touting a single Quinnipiac University poll that has Democratic candidate Sanders defeating Republican Donald Trump by 13 percentage points in the general presidential election.

The headline, “In blockbuster poll, Sanders destroys Trump by 13 points,” is directly from “The Hill,” so remember that established publications are not immune to hyping the unknowable.

Political polls are a lot like marketing analytics. Well, a little like them, in that you cannot take the data point you like and run with your preferred conclusions. In this case, a single poll is a foolish pillar on which to build a prediction. Aggregate polls from many different sources, while not necessarily any more accurate, at least pull in more viewpoints, methodologies and raw numbers into consideration. i like to go to Real Clear Politics to see an overview of polling numbers. Also consider the aforementioned months before anyone has a chance to cast any form of vote, and the fact that the poll pits two candidates who may not make it out of the primaries, let alone party conventions, to make touting a single poll as “blockbuster” to be laughable.

The kneejerk typepad of Facebook and the rest of the social web makes these kinds of reactions much more common. It is, as always, up to the consumer to be discerning and read the trends, as well as the sources, behind the numbers.

6164603666_fb2f5db1d3_z

Image Credit: urban bohemian

Medium Rare

I’ll be brief about this one. Ev Williams, founder of Medium (and before that Twitter and Blogspot), advocates that publishing on the web (your own sites) will make less sense, and publishing on platforms with built-in audiences are the future (but what example of such a utopian future may we suggest? How about…Medium?).

The answer for you in this lies, however, in your goals. if you need people to go to your site, then that is where you should publish, and use Facebook/Twitter/Medium to drive people there with good content (not to mention other people’s Web sites).

Meanwhile, the comments by Williams elicited a passionate response from Dave Winer on his Scripting News blog. Both links in this segment are worth a look.

Image credit: Veronica Aguilar

Image credit: Veronica Aguilar

The Alarm Clock Conundrum

My friend Beth Kanter wrote about how she has stopped using her smartphone as an alarm clock, citing a study that shows phones and tablets disrupt sleep patterns. In my quest to use fewer devices (including losing the old-fangled alarm clocks and cutting down on paper books) and defend the continued presence of my phone on my nightstand, I had a quick read of the study. My take? The study seems to be predicated on the idea that screens are not dark at night, but light up with notifications and whatnot. It never occurs to me that, once I’m ready to go to sleep, that my phone should light up, buzz or disrupt me for any reason. Notifications are off, the screen is dark, and the next noise is from my alarm. Am I missing something, that people keep their notifications on at night? I can see how that would be a problem, but if that’s all it is, it’s easily fixed without making the device the problem.

 

I Fixed the Panda Photo

The week before Christmas, a drawing featuring a bunch of snowmen and one panda circulated heavily on Facebook and elsewhere. I had trouble finding the panda after a thorough 15-second search, so I just went ahead and fixed it.

Panda_1

The crazy part is, once I hilariously superimposed the panda, the panda I was half-heartedly looking for became much easier to spot, something I swear I did not intend but was helpfully pointed out to me by a friend.

Social Media Top 5: Lessons Learned From “Lessons Learned from Star Wars” Posts (NO SPOILERS)

Image credit: Zsolt Andrasi on Flickr

Image credit: Zsolt Andrasi on Flickr

Here we go again: the long-awaited new Star Wars movie is out (side note: I’m ok with spoilers; either the movie is good or it’s not), and the predictable “Lessons Learned” posts are pouring in from PR, marketing and social media bloggers. Yay.

Here’s one with PR lessons!

Here’s another, with business lessons! (It’s an old one, but whatever)

More PR lessons!

Even more PR lessons (PR agencies should just have a Jedi Training School, right?)! – Oh wait, it’s the same article on a different web site- is there a lesson there?

Marketing lessons!

Small business lessons!

More marketing lessons!

Even IT lessons!

Rather than just hate on obvious, easy-to-mock posts (or alternatively, well-thought-out posts tenuously tying real professional advice to a clickbait-friendly pop-culture event), let me think of 5 other things you can do.

  • Make sure there is real relevance: Is there a direct relevance of Star Wars to your “lessons,” or are you straining to make the connection? “Count on your business rivals to consistently miss the mark like Stormtroopers” would be an example of a poor reach. If you find yourself straining too hard to cram relevance into a subject that holds none for you, your readers will see it and move on from your post.
  • Mix it up and avoid being a hack: use language other than “lessons learned.” Perhaps you can personalize it by finding inspirations in the story or the movie marketing that you can apply. Did you do that? Do they have to be “lessons learned?”
  • Have a unique angle: Perhaps there is a niche within the movie or its characters that you can focus on, rather than just lazily pasting “Star Wars” on to your blog post and writing some gibberish about the Light and Dark sides of the Force. Maybe you can invent fake “spoilers” to make points about marketing etc., which gives you more leeway to force (Force!) the topic to be relevant to you, rather than the much-more-painful other way around.  
  • Be counter-intuitive; How about “6 Ways Star Wars has Absolutely Nothing to do with Marketing?” You can make substantive points, and still be a little subversive without offending people. Or maybe go full-on funny and do a “Lessons Learned from Spaceballs” instead (yes, I put “Spaceballs” and “funny” in the same sentence, as evidently there are people who got more laughs out of that turkey than I did).  
  • Stay away from Star Wars altogether: Do you really need to pander to pop culture to get clicks? Is that where your audience’s minds are at? I suspect they are not.

That said, here are are my marketing lessons from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”:

  1. Be owned by Disney
  2. Have a zillion dollar budget
  3. Advertise everywhere (again: budget!)
  4. Create something forty years ago that people love so you can go back to the well again, clean out their wallets and still have them thank you
  5. Harrison. Freaking. Ford.

Count me in!

 

Social Media Top 5: Podcasters Ask the Wrong Question, Don’t Period Your Text & The War on Tree-Blobs

I actually had more material than I could use this week, how about that? I had to trim and five and was able to avoid any mentions of Donald Trump (oops).

Image Credit: Patrick Haney on Flickr

Image Credit: Patrick Haney on Flickr

No, Facebook is Not the Next Big Platform for Podcasts

I am, most likely, a greater-than-average consumer of podcasts. Part of the reason is I listen to some general-interest shows (Marc Maron’s WTF, a number of NPR shows), as well as industry marketing and tech podcasts, many by people I know. I have never thought that makes me typical, so I am forever skeptical when it comes to people, particularly in the marketing industry, touting something that will put podcasting “over the top.”

My feeling is that thinking is backwards- nobody should be worrying about whether or not podcasting will be a “thing,” but if they are producing content in formats that work for their audiences. The platforms for delivery are but a small part of this.

As for podcasting and radio needing “saving,” I’m not sure that’s a necessary question to consider (which doesn’t prevent smart people from asking the question anyway– and no Blab will not save something that does not need saving, in my opinion- wrong question)- certainly not for marketers. The entities that should worry about podcasting as a viable platform are the entities that depend on good content as their product and for their existence. That’s why NPR in particular continues to experiment (no Facebook is not a great place for full podcasts, but why not try, and why not put shorter snippets to get people to your sites?).

I posted the above-linked Nieman article to Facebook suggesting that podcasting is not in need of “ideas.” I mean that, but it was directed at marketers that ned to worry less about platform and delivery and more about content and outcomes, not professional news and entertainment companies.

This is some Gibberish Right Here:

The Best Sign Of A Healthy Relationship Is No Sign Of It On Facebook?” I suppose devoting time to offline relationship-building is healthy; I suppose people do air dirty laundry on Facebook- it’s an ocean of oversharing, of course they do. But the presence or absence of relationships on Facebook has nothing to do with the actual relationship; Facebook is an imperfect, incomplete representation of life, as it is with everything else. Some people aren’t on Facebook at all, does that mean they have perfect relationships? (Hint: “NO.”)

h/t Danny Brown, whose claim that “There’s More to Life than Social Media” is sketchy.

Image Credit: Simon Cunningham on Flickr

Image Credit: Simon Cunningham on Flickr

Punctuation as “Psychological Warfare.” They’re on to Us!

It’s official, because it’s in a study; ending texts with a period means you’re a jerk.

Or it means you are someone who uses punctuation properly. It is interesting how the role of punctuation changes with the perception it gives in new media, however. There will, of course, still be no place in any form of written communication for unneeded Oxford commas.

Careers Networking Works on Social Media (and Elsewhere)

In the early days of social media, there were lots of stories of people getting jobs via Twitter and other social media (LinkedIn gets passed over in these statements as it is more directly about careers). Many of those early stories were in the early adopter communities of tech and marketing. But how about football? When an NFL player gets a roster spot by keeping in touch with an old coach via Twitter, it’s a good reminder to maintain your networks, no matter what field you are in.

Well Played, Reese’s 

Reese’s, maker of the Peanut Butter Cups, has come under fire from people with nothing better to do because the Christmas Tree version of their tree is not dendrologically correct.  Reese’s is having none of it. Another example of a brand on twitter that knows how to walk the fine line between clever and stupid.

h/t Amanda Quraishi, who is my go-to expert on Christmas.