death of the daily

Almost two years ago, I wrote a scathing review of the new iPad only newspaper “The Daily”. Today, News Corp announced they’re closing down the Daily.

While I’ll stick with much of my initial critique of why it ultimately failed, there’s a simple distilled reason of its failure. A digital newspaper failed for the same reason that traditional newspapers are failing. It’s not about the platform, whether that be an iPad or newsprint. It’s about the content and the audience (and the revenue model)

moving on from feedburner

I’ve been blogging for almost 8 years and FeedBurner was one of the first services I used. It was a great way to analyze, optimize, publicize, and monetize the RSS feed of a blog. But the recent rumblings of news about Feedburner are scaring me.

So I am slowly letting the Feedburner feed address sunset/die.

This means a couple of things for you:

  • If you get my posts via email, I have already moved your subscription to the Subscribe2 plug-in for you. (You’re welcome.) The email may look different, but there are more options you can work with in your subscription. As always, there’ll be no spam and you can unsubscribe at anytime.
  • If you’d like to subscribe via email, you can at the new subscription page at http://shotgunconcepts.com/subscribe.
  • If you’re an old-school RSS person and get the blog via reader or other method, please make sure you’re subscribed to the site’s normal feed at http://shotgunconcepts.com/feed instead of the Feedburner one just in case Google dumps it in the river unexpectedly. The normal feed is still being redirected until I completely purge everywhere it’s posted. And I may keep it quietly in the background until Google kills it. (in an un-evil way, of course)

web browser snobs

I wrote this post about web designers who are browser snobs 5 years ago.

I’ve embarked on another project with a completely new set of web designers and I see attitudes haven’t changed.

Sure. You can hate on Internet Explorer & love another browser. But if you want people to visit a website and have a good experience, you have to be realistic about the stone cold numbers.

And these numbers aren’t even close. In this example, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari put together don’t add up to the share held by IE. Why would you ignore the reality and shoot yourself in the foot?
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auto DM means you’re a snake oil salesman

Don’t auto DM people when they follow you on Twitter. It’s dumb.

What flashes of brilliance do you get from these auto-DMs? Great stuff like:

Thanks for connecting! You can also visit me on Google+, LinkedIn, my Facebook Page, etc. via my blog at {redacted}.

Advice like:

PLEASE take a moment to make sure you are using a SECURE PASSWORD–using UPPER & lower case, numbers & a symbol. DON’T GET HACKED! Thx.

And the very deep:

Thanks for the follow- Just doing my part to share whats going on in my head!

“But they’re connecting with you on a personal level in the way that only a social media connection can do!!” say the “ninjas” and “gurus” who gave the idea to these people to do this.

No, they’re not. They’re old school broadcasting a generic message to the masses. Several of these auto-DMs were sent AFTER I sent that warning tweet which means they never visited me.

And lots of people think accounts who still do this are dumb…

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Before you sign up for any “system” dealing with social media, stop and ask yourself if the same thing could be done with a generic marketing medium. If it can, maybe it’s not a good candidate for social media. Stop auto-following people back, auto DMs, and otherwise automating what should be person-to-person communication channels.

the unwritten kodak bankruptcy post

Today’s news (that we’ve seen coming for weeks) is that Kodak is bankrupt.

I’m sure the SEO hungry Monday morning quarterback business and marketing bloggers living in their mother’s basements have had a post in draft mode for weeks just waiting to pounce. But if you’re late getting to the trough, here are some specific points to use in a blog post to advance pagerank on the backs of others’ misfortune.

  • Compare Kodak to other legacy industries (record companies, newspaper publishing, etc) who face the digital transformation and how none of them “get” it.
  • Since you have no skin in the game and have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, point out where Kodak went wrong.
  • In a tsk-tsk manner, make the profound point that Kodak thought they were in the photo business when they were actually in the memory preservation business.
  • Specifically point out that Kodak could have gone digital early (they actually invented much of digital photo technology) and been dominant in the market because of their strong brand, but didn’t want to undermine it’s main revenue source (film).
  • Make sure there’s a Paul Simon / Kodachrome reference in your post.
  • End the post with a look the future. By shedding financial obligations in the bankruptcy, Kodak can now focus on rebuilding with new technology.
  • Encourage readers to leave comments or tweet the post.

brand strategy lessons from zappos cyberattack

Online retailer Zappos has been attacked via one of their servers in Kentucky. (yes, we have servers and electricity in Ky.)

Anyone who has spent any amount of time following me or listening to me speak knows I love to use Zappos as an example of great customer service. I even used them as a case study in Brand Zeitgeist. And once again, they are showing some smart reactions to a bad situation. Just a few important points to learn from this event:

Cyber attacks are a reality. If you have sensitive customer information in digital format, it’s not a matter of “if” this will happen to your organization, but “when”. Do as much as you can to prevent such attacks, but also have a plan ready of how you will respond when it does happen.

Communication is important. The knee-jerk reaction for most after an event like this would be to communicate with customers … which obviously is important. But a more important first step is internal communication. Customers will ask your employees questions. Employees need to know how to respond to those questions. CEO Tony Hsieh sent out an email to employees prior to the customer email going out.

They’ve gone to emergency mode by taking the call center offline and just using email as a single point of communication. They have pressed each employee into service as a customer service rep during this crisis. Most companies couldn’t dream of doing this. But, because of the unique culture at Zappos, even the janitors know how to respond to customers.

The social media lesson is that, even though they’re focusing on email, they are actually responding to each individual post on their Facebook wall and each tweet on Twitter.

Today, there are only the quick and the dead. Zappos didn’t have numerous meetings to only post a weak response a few days after the event. They worked quickly and decisively by resetting all passwords and initiating the first point of communication about the problem with customers. The first storyteller frames the narrative.

Well built brands can take a hit and recover. Much of what they’re doing with this reaction couldn’t be done if they had not spent the last several years creating a great corporate culture which bled through to a well-developed brand strategy. This is probably the most important lesson for brands to learn. You need to build your boat before you get to the water.

UPDATE: They’re even responding to the postive feedback:

oprah hates your billboard

I don’t think Oprah would be happy that you put a QR code on a billboard.

qr codes on highway billboards are dumbBut put aside the whole distracting driving and near certain chance of death thing and just use some common sense.

In this great article about the shortcomings of QR codes, the author found that:

it took an average of 47 seconds for them to take out their phone and find the application to read the QR code — not exactly a “quick response.”

My rule for highway billboards has always been “one idea, you’ve only got three seconds” as the audience zips past. QR codes just don’t fit that. That’s not to ban them from all outdoor or transit placements. In a place where people are bored and waiting (bus stops, subway platforms/cars, etc), I think they work great.

The bigger problem here lies in that what SHOULD be an excellent tool to sync your mobile marketing strategy is rapidly jumping the shark because marketers are misusing it. The idea of QR codes has also trickled down to the dead-wood-from-the-neck-up managerial level who have no idea what they’re doing. Use a QR code where it makes sense, not just because you can use it.

My list of bad placements for QR codes continues to grow:

  • Highway Billboard
  • Tombstone (not the pizza)
  • TV commercial
  • Tattoo (not the Fantasy Island one)
  • Web site (use a link, not a 47 second detour!)
  • What’s the worst placement of a QR code that you’ve seen?

twitter gets (more) political

Twitter has announced that they will begin accepting political ads. While anyone who has spent any time on Twitter knows it can be a politically charged environment, political advertisers need to be cautious with a media buy like this.

Currently 85 senators, 360 house members, 42 governors and all major presidential candidates have a Twitter handle.

Those numbers immediately cause me to think of a question with other numbers. What are 15 senators, 75 representatives, and 8 governors waiting for?

Twitter and other forms of new media are a good way to communicate with constituents and potential voters.

But most politicians are used to one-way communication. As they venture out into social media because some consultant told them to, a disaster is in the making for many of them. Usually when politicians wade into new communication waters, there are gaffes like email spam  or telemarketing scams.

Political media buys on social networks, especially Twitter, will be hijacked by the opposition. The buyer should expect this and plan accordingly.

the worst kind of tweet

The worst tweet someone can send on twitter is similar to this one:

sorry for all the upcoming tweets! about to enter #twitterchat to LEARN from others!!!!

Other than the excessive use of exclamation marks and the fake gushing about learning (which is an entirely separate post), this tweet is wrong because you should never apologize for your content. (on twitter or anywhere else)

If you’re about to post something and you feel the need to apologize for flooding the stream, then don’t post it.