browned ground

There are lots of big problems in the world. Most of them are caused by or have been exacerbated by social media.

This is the one I’ll make my moral stand on.

As you scroll through any feed, you often see cutesy time lapsed recipes like this:


Most of these are awful. They’re either too complex or overly rely on combining pre-processed foods which is not “cooking”. But I will not devolve here into the wild frontier that are online recipe comments.

Many of these posts involve ground beef. Invariably, just like the one above, the stop motion has them adding garlic, onions, salt, etc before or with the beef. They then drain the grease and LOSE ALL THE FLAVOR from those items. (Or they don’t drain which is even nastier.)

Brown ground beef first. Drain the fat. (Maybe even deglaze pan at this point.) THEN add your aromatics, spices, etc. Add ground beef back to the pan. Then continue with your madness to add your cream-of-soup, rice krispies, or whatever.

Twitter chats

There’s the infamous Saturday Night Live sketch with William Shatner appearing at a Trekkie convention and imploring them to “Get a Life!”.

I now feel the same way every time I poke my head into a Twitter chat.

Several years ago, I participated in several chats on Twitter, especially when I was starting to promote Brand Zeitgeist. There were (and still are) several chats related to branding, marketing, and media. I found them interesting and found several followers and people to follow.

But… Somewhat then, and especially now – I find them vapid echo chambers.

Several reasons why I feel this way:

  1. It’s the same ten or twenty people in every chat – echoing the same blurbs over and over. (I’m guilty too.)
  2. They are all experts on “personal branding“.
  3. There’s no conversation among the group – but may be side conversations that take you away.
  4. Some chats post questions every 2 minutes. Some chats take the 1st 20 minutes to do “introductions”.
  5. Sometimes there’s a “guest” who is supposed to be an biz or internet celebrity (or “rockstar” as the social media kids say). This is the worst as it’s just two people talking on twitter and everyone else watching. This is a chat?

Even in this social media blurb world – surely we can have meaningful discussions that are more in depth than this – or at least some new topics? What are your opinions on Twitter Chats? Is there a better way?

social is a marketing tool, not a strategy

I often make the analogy that social media marketing is like building your house on land that you don’t own. To be certain, social media marketing is an essential element in today’s marketing plans, but to put all the marketing eggs in that basket is crazy. You have no way of knowing how the social platforms will change and how those changes will affect your strategy. Two things have popped up lately that have reinforced this point to me both as a user and as a marketer.

A few weeks ago, I was in Nashville at a speaking engagement and was shocked to discover that I could no longer check-in on Foursquare. They have split the app and now are forcing me to download a second app called Swarm to check-in.

I could easily go on for paragraphs on why this is a stupid idea (check the dreadful iTunes reviews for Swarm to get an idea of the backlash). But the main reason it affects me is that I don’t use Foursquare “to easily see who’s out nearby and who wants to hang out later” as Swarm promises to do. I used Foursquare as a diary / travel log, restaurant discovery tool, and coupons. (free chips/salsa at Chili’s!)

Unless Foursquare reverts to something similar to what it was before, I will abandon Foursquare much like Peter Shankman did.

Life devastating occurrence? Of course not. As the hipsters like to say, it’s certainly a first-world problem. But all my check-ins are there. If I stop using Foursquare, they’re gone. My personal history wiped because a few people I don’t know changed an app. And the potential for destruction lies in wait elsewhere such as my personal travelogue currently presented as TripAdvisor reviews, all my tweets, etc.

The Foursquare debacle is from an (angry) user standpoint. Marketers using social media have much more at stake with adjustments and changes to the platforms. This Facebook post from a blogger I follow shows the foolishness of how the social platforms are killing their golden goose.

don't trust facebook

And I agree with Matt. Good content always wins, but you need to gain control of your list. If your marketing strategy is just to get more Facebook fans or more Twitter followers, or whatever, then you are ensuring your eventual failure when you no longer have access to those consumers you worked (and maybe paid) to get.

Your goal (every marketer’s goal) SHOULD be to gain more audience who is dedicated to consuming your relevant content. Use social media as a tool to deliver that content, but own your list.

Always remember, especially with social media, that if something is “free”, then YOU are the product that is being sold.

airquote marketing

Dear small business whose ad is featured in this photo…social media done wrong
Firstly, you’re not “using” the right term for people to “like” your page on “Facebook”.
I further “suggest” that you actually take a step back with your social marketing “strategy” to find actual “fans” and “customers” to connect with through social media than using a short-sighted “bumrush” to win something that has a $99 “value”.

are you a spammer?

People tend to think of spammers as shady dudes sending emails about questionable manhood pills and Nigerian fortunes, but there are lots of ‘legitimate’ business owners who are email spammers.

It’s because of one of the primary marketing sins of many business owners — “I think my business is interesting, valuable, needed, etc — so therefore everyone does.”

A few weeks ago, I had answered an inquiry from an owner of a speakers’ bureau about my speaking services. We traded a few emails. It didn’t go anywhere. I thought we were done. This morning, I crack my email open and find I’ve been added to their email newsletter that I had never asked for. Looking back through the correspondence, I now think this woman just trolls LinkedIn looking for people to add to a list.

Do you have an email subscription list? Here’s the simple rule:
If you add someone to a email list and they haven’t specifically asked to be placed on that list, then you are a spammer.

The basic definition of SPAM is email that you did not ask to receive.

If you’re adding people to the list who don’t care – or even worse if you’re buying names to add, then you’re wasting time, attention, and money and slowly destroying your reputation. Don’t do it.

An email list that is not opt-in is like sending pizzas to people who didn’t order one.

This is not a hard thing to understand. Permission marketing works better than force feeding. It’s better to have an audience of 50 that want to listen than to have an audience of 50,000 that don’t care and never will. It’s not about numbers; it’s about the relationships.

living by the sword

A little over two years ago, Morton’s steakhouse pulled off a promotional stunt that generated tons of publicity by meeting a rabid Morton’s fan (who is also a social media celebrity) at the airport with a steak dinner after he tweeted he was hungry. It was talked about on social media for weeks and the story got picked up by national traditional media outlets.

This past weekend, the Morton’s in Nashville threw a cancer patient out of the restaurant for wearing a cap to cover his hair loss from chemotherapy. They are getting destroyed across all social media platforms and are in major crisis management control mode.

If you live by the sword, you’ll die by the sword.

I’ve said several times that the underlying key to social media success is simple. Invest less in the social media message and invest more in your people who are on the ground providing customer service. Customers will post both the good and the bad experiences they have. (TIP: You want the good to outnumber the bad.)

cords

Last week, every hipster and useless list website on the web were raving on how you could wrap cords around a MacBook brick. As the kids say, the meme went viral. This week, the damage control has started.

Let’s look past the first obvious thought of, “Are we really out of things to get excited about?” and focus on those cords.

Everytime I saw that cord wrapped so tight around that brick, I cringed. I had flashbacks of radio remotes and proper care of audio equipment. I would have gotten caned by the PD if I had packed up a mic cord or even a power cord up so tightly. (not a typo for canned as in fired. I do mean caned as in beaten with a reed) There were other people who did pack up tightly and it meant that the next time you were out on the road with only one mic cord and a tight wrap had shorted the connected in the XLR connector, you were out of luck.

BTW – as we’re here in the Christmas season, the need to pack up tightly is also the reason you have problems with your lights each year.

Which in a longabout way brings me to my point – please stop listening to these people.

Junk content sites have hired a bunch of college-fresh punks (or monkeys at typewriters) to continuously churn out content to feed the never-ending web beast. It’s the same problem with 24-hour cable news. There’s not enough real content to fill the hole so you get stupid editorial pitches for “business articles” that offer great tips such as you shouldn’t eat a whole lobster at the office for your lunch.

There’s no journalistic ethos on the web, if there was any to start with. There’s very little research done except to poll the writer’s Facebook friends. People can be duped like idiots by presenting non-content in an infographic. Bad information is passed along like Typhoid Mary.

What to do? Do the same thing you do when your crazy aunt emails you some crazy rumour that was debunked on Snopes years ago. Stop spreading bad content. While I despise the writers and the platforms that encourage them, the real trouble lies in you.

just a tweet

It should be obvious to anyone by now, but real time publishing is powerful. It can also be dangerously chaotic and unreliable. There’s a wonderful example of it today with the @AP twitter hack. A single tweet made the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge 140 points.

Incidents like this along with the recent Reddit witchhunts in the Boston bombings will cripple the development of new media journalism. There are archaic methods of checks and balance in traditional journalism, but how do you implement something like that across the crowd? And if you could, does it defeat the instantaneous nature of it? It’s a question I don’t have an answer for. Do you?

btw. The tweet should have been an obvious fake from the beginning because hackers don’t use AP Style. Mental Floss has a nice breakdown of that here.

AP twitter hack

oreo was not a slam dunk

From the moment the power went out in the Superdome and Oreo pulled off the social media coup of the Super Bowl Big Game, I knew there would be ad nauseum analysis of it. (pun intended)

And sure enough, over the past two days, it seems that’s all the monday morning advertising quarterbacks can talk about.

While I salute the on-your-feet fast thinking of the Oreo team, I don’t buy it. (Literally. I don’t buy Oreos.) As with all social media flameup darlings that are latched onto by the social media gurus, one essential question is always missed.

Did it sell more cookies?

If it didn’t, it was a marketing failure.

On the flip side of the Oreo phenomenon, everyone (me too) hated the GoDaddy commercials (as always). But GoDaddy had the biggest sales day in the history of the company on the Monday after the Super Bowl.

As I’ve said before, elitist marketing thinking never works with the masses.

one thing I hate about the Internet

Actually, there are many things I hate about Internet culture. Nearly all of them involve the way the web highlights and hastens the ignorance and decline of modern culture.

However, one in particular gets me everytime and a great case study to showcase my consternation just occurred. The very funny @badbanana just tweeted “Seventy percent chance Zooey Deschanel has a pet owl.”

In the @replies and in the comments where he feeds into Facebook, there were several retweets and likes. But there were also a few people who tweeted/commented “Who is Zooey Deschanel?”

I’m not mocking people for their lack of knowledge of Zooey Deschanel. If they’re that sheltered from modern culture, good for them.

BUT… In the time it took to type “Who is Zooey Deschanel?” into the Facebook or Twitter box, you could have typed the same phrase into something called Google (or even Bing!) and it would have told you who Zooey Deschanel was. There would have been pictures and links and videos and you would have become a minor expert about Zooey Deschanel.

But no. You took that time to shout your ignorance from the highest rooftops.

And I can’t figure out why.

And yes, I’m a grouchy old man. Get off my lawn.

(And before someone gets smart in the comments: Zooey Deschanel)