Blind Reposting – Drive-By Marketing Rant

Reposting content online, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or any other social network, can be an awesome way to keep your followers engaged. It can bring attention to your brand from those whose content you’re reposting, and it can provide your audience with new content while you get your own content ready for sharing. Best of all it helps break the cycle of “me, me, me, product, product, product… sell, sell, sell…”, a cycle which is unfortunately all too common.

Reposting, sharing, retweeting can all be seen by your audience as an endorsement, so be careful what you repost. Don’t automate the process, and definitely read / watch / listen to everything you share or you could end up embarrassing yourself or your brand.

In the video / audio below I give an example of how I encountered this over the past week.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It – The Thin Veneer Of Social Media?

The Higton Bros may have hit an uncomfortable nail squarely on the head with this video about the reality behind the status updates of our friends and those we follow online.

Facebook can be depressing because everyone else’s lives are better than yours… But are they really?

The video hasn’t last any of its relevancy in the 6 months it has taken to come to my attention (hat-tip to Fast Company) and should serve as a stark reminder that many people who suffer from social anxiety (which I guess we all do in some form or another,  except the most confident of us) are not only dealing with FOMO (fear of missing out syndrome) but with social pressure to be as interesting as everyone else.

It’s a reminder to all of us to take everything we see online from the happiest status update, to the most blistering outrage, with a healthy pinch of salt. It should also bring to the surface the necessity of reaching out to people “in the real world” and finding out what is actually going on before relying on oft ambiguous social updates.

Finally, it’s a stark reminder that if you really want to have awesome stuff to post online – you need to get off your ass and do stuff!

Podcast Interview – Biology Of the Blog

Biology Of The BlogLast week I had the pleasure of being interview by Jess Goulart for the Biology of the Blog podcast on BreakThru Radio.

On the podcast we talk about a number of topics including how to improve computer science curricula at Universities so that we can turn out developers with real-world skills and ensure that people are studying the skills that they are most suited for.

We also talk about the differences and similarities between online and offline marketing, finding your marketing voice, being authentic, engaging your audience and building your network.

The podcast features musical tracks as well as the interview with yours truly. I’ve highlighted the sections where I appear on the playlist below if you want to skip straight to the interview.

Unfortunately the interview was cut short because I had to leave to deal with a client emergency and we weren’t able to take up the interview again, but Jess edited things so that the ending isn’t too abrupt.

00:00 Mic Break
00:21 Like a Lie – Copeland
04:42 A Real Hero – Electric Youth
09:03 Mic Break
09:47 Lay Your Wet Head Down – Emby Alexander
13:26 Interview w/ Paul pt. 1
25:40 POC – Filmstrip
28:29 MMS 1970s – Filmstrip
30:54 Interview w/ Paul pt. 2
41:21 Sun/Shadow – Holy Ghost Tent Revival
45:37 Mic Break
46:05 Windows Painted Shut – Jam Jars
50:16 Saplings – Jam Jars
54:24 Finish

Download “Biology of the Blog” mp3. 64.4 MB 54:24

GALLUP – Americans Say Social Media Has Little Sway on Purchases

Oh oh! It’s time to go back to traditional media advertising! Right, right?

Gallup surveyed more than 18,000 American adults in December 2012 and January 2013 for the poll you see below.

A clear majority of Americans say social media have no effect at all on their purchasing decisions. Although many companies run aggressive marketing campaigns on social media, 62% in the U.S. say Facebook and Twitter, among other sites, do not have any influence on their decisions to purchase products.

Influence of Social Media On Americans Purchasing Decisions

Or maybe, just maybe, a large percentage of those who say that social media has “no influence at all” don’t realize when they’re being influenced by their friends and family.

We know that the actual ads aren’t working all that well, that’s no secret.

Facebook users hate the ads, we use scripts and blockers to remove them. Most of us – a whopping 94% – use social media primarily to connect with friends and family. We don’t want your stinking ads, we want to know how Grannies hemorrhoid surgery went and if the doctors will let her take one home in a jar. Oh, and pics or it didn’t happen!

Was that $5.1 Billion spent on social media advertising in 2013 wasted? Well, not ALL of it was wasted. Those brands and companies that were telling stories and creating content that people wanted to engage with and talk about – they most definitely were not wasting their money.

Those brands hammering out the same old drone of “buy this, buy this”…. Yeah, they were wasting their money.

WOM (word of mouth) is and always will be the most trusted medium that makes or breaks a brand, and the beauty of it is that most of the time people don’t realize they’re being marketed to or acting as an evangelist.

Those jeans your friend was raving about at work, and  you bought two pairs of! How do you think she found out about them in the first place? Someone else was raving about them on her Facebook stream.

U.S. companies spent a combined $5.1 billion on social media advertising in 2013, and they obviously believe that this presents them with a return on investment. However, a solid majority of American adults say that social media have no influence at all on their purchasing decisions — suggesting that the advertising may be reaching smaller segments of the market, or that the influence on consumers is indirect or goes unnoticed.

In the State of the American Consumer report, Gallup reveals that consumers who engage with brands often do so when they are already attached to a product or service. Companies that engage their customers — by providing exceptional service and a pleasurable in-store experience — will, in turn, drive those customers to interact with them on social media. Simply promoting products and services on Facebook or Twitter is unlikely to lead to sales.

The key to reaching new customers and growing your brand via social media – give people something to talk about.

Spend wisely!

Where Are The Parents?

Facebook Social Media AbuseI read the following without a single shred of disbelief, but with a lot of sadness when it comes to parenting skills of many of my peers and societies reaction to such a state – which is to let state be the corrective force.

The channel found that British police deal with around 20 “social media abuse” cases a day. In the last 3 years, there have been 20,000 investigations involving adults and almost 2,000 targeting children – although, since around a third of police forces did not give up their data, the number must be higher. Over 1,200 children have been “charged with a criminal offence or given a caution, warning or fine,” including four 10-year-olds and one 9-year-old. 

I have two questions to ask:

  1. Why are the children being cautioned or charged instead of the parents?
  2. Why are these parents allowing their children to use the internet without monitoring their activity?

Sadly, I suspect the answer to both questions to revolve around the same idea…

Innocent Until Proven Guilty – Except On The Internet

The sum of the crowd’s IQ was far below that of its most modest single member. Mobs have passions, not brains.

Dan Simmons – The Fall of Hyperion

We’ve seen it time and time again. Someone takes to a blog or social media to accuse someone of heinous wrong doing and like two magnetic poles pushing away from each other, the internet splits, polarizes, peoples reputations are destroyed and all without a shred of evidence.

The Michael Arrington case which continues to evolve, is just the latest example of the internet becoming the judge and jury for what truly should be a legal matter, and not reported by reputable sites until the facts are in. It’s a “he said, she said” clusterfuck of emotionally charged endorsements, vilification and witch hunting, that would make the Spanish Inquisition proud.

I’m not going to defend Michael Arrington (he is more than capable of that himself – has lawyered up and gotten the authorities involved), nor am I going to say that Jenn Allen is making false accusations. I’m not even going to attempt to present the possibility of a second side of the story – I’ve done that before and ended up being vilified myself.

Apparently even when arguing with itself, the mob is omniscient.

I find it largely depressing , and shameful, that in the year 2013 technological advances have enabled us to come back to mob justice, public humiliation, and public trials without evidence. True, these “trials” do not have any legal standing, but what need is there for a courts justice when a person’s livelihood and reputation can be dismantled by spending 15 minutes at the keyboard followed by smidgen of social sharing?

Jenn Allen may well be truthful in her claims, and now that Arrington has lawyered up, I truly hope she is, but I will never be able to bring myself to agree with the public naming and shaming of people for criminal activities before they’ve had their day in court.

For every truthful accuser there are two opportunists waiting in the wings, who for financial or simply malevolent reasons would be willing to take the internet and destroy a person’s life in order to get what they want, and the mob will embrace them. Truthful or malicious intent, the mob will embrace all, especially if suggestions of rape or abuse of the fairer sex are levelled. Once such suggestions are made most people appear to lose the ability to reason.

Who should be blame for the behaviour of the mob? The accuser, the accused, the mob itself?

Dispassionately, it would be fair to say that the accusers deserve the blame for inciting the mob, however the bigger blame may well fall to at the feet of those in the media who pounce on such accusations with a fervor that would have made pre- epiphany Jerry Maguire proud to shout “Show me the money!”

This is 2013. Nobody, media outlet or individual, can claim that they didn’t realize that a post to their online audience would blow-up. Nobody can claim ignorance of the type of character assassinations and irreparable damage that  public claim will do, even if it is later disproven in court.

My grandfather used to tell me that there’s no smoke without fire – except that doesn’t hold true, and unfortunately the nature of the emotional mob and of reputation, means that such claims will linger long after one’s demise.

The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.

Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar

I’m not going to name the media outlets that peddle in this dribble, nor shall I name those who through lack of mental capability, or willful ignorance, get incited by the first thing they read online without even asking for the other side of the story.

All I will say, is that I expect better of the media, of publishers, and of people in 2013.

Facebook Home is in the Wrong House

Facebook HomeI couldn’t agree more with Pete Pachal’s analysis on Mashable that launching, and initially limiting Facebook Home to the U.S. market is the wrong move. Facebook should have launched “Home” in a market with a need for lower cost devices without such heavy broadband penetration.

For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past 48 hours, Facebook Home is Facebook’s new homescreen replacement for Android.

In the U.S., however, Facebook Home will have an uphill battle, and not just because smartphone penetration is so much higher. It’s also because, among connected people, Facebook isn’t the only network that matters to us. Yes, as Mark Zuckerberg showed, it’s probably the app we fire up most often. But we also like to see what’s going on on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Quora and a host of other services.

In short, digital influencers in the U.S. — the very demographic Facebook Home needs to win over if it’s going to be successful — don’t want to curtail in any way the connections they value by spending more time in Facebook.

Would I let Facebook become even more of a constant distraction in my life, at the expense of the other social services I use and value? Would I abandon the social services where many of my friends have already migrated to? Would I want Facebook to be the first thing I see every time I pick up my phone? Hell no!

Pete also hit it on the head with the notion that a low end Facebook phone is simply not what the teenage market wants either.

The one way a U.S. launch for Facebook Home makes sense is the kid factor: The First offers parents a relatively cheap option for getting their kids a smartphone, one that’s caters to their lifestyle of constant connection.

But if that’s the thinking, it’s a few years behind. I was on the radio earlier this week to talk about messaging apps, and a 15-year-old girl appeared on the show to reveal how she communicates with her friends. Facebook didn’t factor in at all — she and her classmates only used the network when their study group made it necessary.

Gabrielle will be pushing 15 very soon, has an iPhone and laptop and doesn’t even want a Facebook account even though she’s been offered one a number of times. She has a blog, YouTube account and all the other bells and whistles, but as he friends don’t Facebook, neither does she. This initially surprised me but it makes sense – Facebook is where your parents hang out. Why would kids want to hang out there?

I was also struck by similar surprise when my little sister, Siobhán, was visiting from Ireland last October. She’s had a Facebook account since before she should have, but it’s very rarely used these days as it’s not where her friends congregate or choose to communicate online.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that Facebook has a bad history of not playing well with other application, and what this could mean if you allow them take over your smartphone experience.

Will you use Facebook Home?

Image via Facebook.

So You Deleted Your Comment… #TrueStory

Reddit captionIt really gets my goat when I write an amazingly witty retort to a comment on Reddit, only to find the comment I’m replying too has already been deleted by the time I hit “save”.

The world will never be able to appreciate the sheer genius of those replies. They simply don’t have the same impact when read out of context.

All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain…

#TrueStory #FirstWorldProblems

Dating, Lying, Facebook

Stalker Kitteh

We were listening to the Bobby Bones show (it’s Sara’s new favorite morning radio show) on the way to work, when they ran a promo asking people to call in if they ever had or would use a fake name on a date to “protect yourself  because it’s so easy for people to find you on Facebook.

Clearly the notion here is that the more nefarious characters in this world may have an easier time tracking you down and stalking you because you’ve put your information on the internet, therefore you should change your social behavior and in the name of protecting yourself should lie your ass off in real life.

I never got to hear if anybody actually called in as it’s a relatively short drive to work, however it did get me thinking and one of the first things I said to Sara was –

“So let me get this straight, the idea here is that because you’re too stupid to change one behavior, you have to change your other social behaviors? Seriously, if I went on two dates with someone and then found out they were using a fake name, I’d be more inclined to think they THEY are the psycho!”

What social behavior am I talking about changing? It’s the one where you post every damn aspect of your life online. Sure it’s the cool thing to do, but if you’re worried about Jack or Jacqueline the psycho / stalker / voyeur / rapist / NAMBLA member turning up on your doorstep then maybe you shouldn’t be sharing all of your personal details online?

It’s really simple, lock down that Facebook profile (or other service) and before you post ask yourself if you really want strangers to have access this information?

Don’t want your ex-boyfriend knowing where you’re living? Don’t post your address it online. Why is he even on your friends list anyway?

Don’t want the husband knowing that you’re screwing his mate while he’s at home minding the kids and you’re supposed to be working the night-shift? Don’t post a picture of yourself sucking face with him at the bar! It’s such a simple concept.

While you’re at it, use a service like Google Voice so that you never have to give out your “real” phone number and have complete control over when and who can text or call you. Sara actually thinks that Google Voice should be marketed to people who date a lot, as it is perfect tool for blocking annoying calls and texts and making sure that only the people you want to contact you can.

Just because we use the internet doesn’t mean that we have to change all of our other social behaviors to compensate for what we post. Lying about who we are is a sad attempt to fix a problem by causing another problem, without ever actually addressing the root issue – not being responsible about what we post online.

As for this idea of weeding out the psychos by giving fake names, I believe it’s fair to say that the worst personality traits of people often don’t surface until you’ve been in a relationship with them for a long time, so lying at the beginning is hardly going to protect you from the worst of things. Not to mention that lying is never a good way to begin a relationship.