Friday, January 30, 2009

A week? Seriously?

Dag, yo. I didn't realize it's been a week since I last posted. I have three posts (or at least quick thoughts jotted down that have the potential to become posts) saved in draft form waiting for the time...well, I'm not sure exactly what they're waiting for aside from me to get the chance to work on them.

I've been busy.

I would tell you what I've been busy doing but I don't have time.

Today I got my new business cards. "Social media strategist." Additional title. New responsibilities. No raise. It's cool. I'm pretty stoked that I have a job.

I've been thinking quite a bit recently about how the world has changed a lot in a relatively short amount of time. Think about it. I remember very clearly when the Internet didn't exist (or at least it didn't exist outside of government and universities.) You probably do too.

Now think about how much of your life depends on it. The way we pay bills, the way we buy stuff, the way we communicate with each other, the way we bank, the way we find people, the way we work, the way we learn and discover new things and the fact that you're reading this right now. It's all the web. It's literally transformed our way of life in the span of around 15 years.

How many more 15 years do I have left in my lifetime? Probably a few. At least three I'd guess. Makes you wonder what's going to happen.

My mom said she thought it would have been fascinating to live when her grandmother did because she (her grandmother) went from riding a horse and buggy to seeing a man on the moon.

That really is remarkable.

But if I had to choose I'd rather have my laptop and the Internet and not have gone to the moon.

I think I could really go for a sabbatical. There's so much reading, thinking and writing I'd like to do about these changes. Take advertising for example.

TV ads in the 50's, 60's, and even into the 70's and 80's were on the Big Three networks. If you wanted to reach people, you advertised during Ed Sullivan and you could probably count on most of America seeing your message. It was like the Superbowl five nights a week.

Not anymore.

I think I may have just re-locked my unlocked iPhone. Not sure why, but it's not recognizing my T-Mobile SIM card. It's like it wants a SIM card from AT&T or something. Fat chance, iPhone. I love you, but I'll throw you to the wolves (or in the junk drawer) before I switch to AT&T. And don't give me that attitude. I'll wipe your pretty little self so clean there won't be an original 1 or 0 on you. Think about it long and hard and we'll continue this discussion in the morning.

For those of you who are reading this and aren't inanimate objects, I hope you have a good weekend. Who knows? Maybe the next time we see each other I'll reintroduce you to my new iPhone.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Awesome skydiving music video

I'm curious to know how many jumps they went on to get all the footage. Check it out. Although be sure to stop before the 3:15 mark to avoid a long string of profanity. Oh, and I believe the band is El Guisante Mágico. Or something.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A great example of how NOT to use social media

Bad Belkin! According to Engadget, Belkin is allegedly paying folks to give their products positive reviews on Amazon as well as for knocking the competition down a few rungs.

"For a whopping $0.65 cents you can write a 5 out of 5 review of a Belkin product, and downrank negative reviews while you're at it."

This is exactly what companies don't grasp about social media. They know it can be influential but they don't understand that 1. It can't be manipulated and 2. If they do try to manipulate it, it will likely come back and bit them very, very hard.

For example, by (allegedly) doing this they're basically telling everyone, "Our products suck to the point we have to pay people to give them good reviews." Probably not the outcome they were looking for.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The hippies are at it again. This time with "sea kittens".

How's that for timing? PETA is trying to "save the fish" by rebranding them from "slithery and slimy, and they have eyes on either side of their pointy little heads" (their words, not mine) to "sea kittens."

Again, I am not making this up.

It would appear people don't care about scaly, slimy fish and are all too eager to have someone hook, club, slice, gut, cook, and squeeze lemon over one for consumption. They needed to come up with a way to change people's perception of fish. I can see the brainstorm session now:
"So how do we create an emotional attachment to fish? They're ugly and eat worms."

There is a long pause with lots of "hmmmming" and pencils being tapped on empty pads of paper. (I know what this is like because I do it for a living.) Eventually someone tentatively says, "People like cats."

There's another pause while everyone thinks about this. "But cats eat fish too," someone in the corner calls out.

At this point, they should have killed the idea and moved on to something else. Sadly, this did not happen.

"True," a creative director offers, "But instead of cats eating fish, what if the cat was the fish! We change the entire way people view fish! Instead of viewing them as slimy underwater worm-eaters, we get people to see them as cats! Little, adorable kittens. Ah-HA!" His hands are stretched like he can see the headline floating in front of him. "Sea kittens!"

A flurry of note taking begins where everyone who works under this creative director tries to capture their understanding of his vision. Hasty sketches are drawn. Headline options are furiously scribbled. No one has the guts to say, "This is stupid."
So that's their first problem: they assume everyone likes cats. This is false. Not all people like cats. People like me. In fact, this campaign makes me want to eat more fish simply because they are now being associated with an animal I strongly dislike.

The site urges visitors to fill out a petition to to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to "save the sea kittens." I presume the people who work at the US Fish and Wildlife Service are well-educated people, particularly about animals and species and  the like, and are aware that there is no such thing as a sea kitten. This would make it very difficult for them to be saved since, you know, they don't exist. That's PETA's second problem.

However, PETA has been kind enough to provide the functionality to Create Your Own Sea Kitten. You know, to give you something visual to picture the next time you're looking at a piece of salmon on your dinner plate. This is mine:

I named him/her/it "Lunch". Why? Because of PETA's third problem: they neglected to put a "sound off" button on their site which drives me nuts. So I'm going to have a fillet o' fish today for lunch. From a fast food pace. In a food court. In a strip mall.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This time the hippies have gone too far

"People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow's milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk."
Apparently the story is a bit old, but according to PETA (known in some circles to stand for the People for the Eating of Tasty Animals), using human milk would, "Lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health."

So getting milk from cows on farms causes them suffering. I'm not a woman but I'm guessing if you asked one what she thought, the idea of rounding up a bunch of lactating women and milking them might be considered a form of suffering. I could be wrong on this.

PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman was quoted as saying, "Everyone knows that 'the breast is best.'" I cannot comment on that statement. At least not with a straight face. Although I think these people would agree with her.

I think Ben & Jerry, despite being hippies themselves, made the right choice in deciding not to switch to human breast milk for their ice cream. Do you agree? Disagree? I can see a huge, passionate debate happening in the comments so...get to it.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

More minutae and even more random thoughts - a new tumblog

In case you can't get enough of me (and, honestly, who can't?) I've started a tumblog of the things that aren't quite big enough to make it to

These little things include:
  • Sites I find worthy of bookmarking
  • Pictures
  • Videos
  • Gems from my RSS feeds
  • Thoughts that don't quite warrant a full post here
I used to have my Twitter feed streaming there too, but it was a little much.

The tumblog will be updated more often than here, but with shorter content.

You can follow the more minute details of my life on the web by clicking here or subscribing via RSS by clicking here.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Apple introduces laptop with clickwheel instead of keyboard

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

Can't wait for Macworld tomorrow! Social Media Blunders that Can Destroy Your Brand

An interesting post by Wendy Piersall over at Sparkplugging discusses 10 Social Media Blunders that Can Destroy Your Brand. While I think it's a good post, I disagree with the second-to-last point (#9?): 

Show up as a company spokesperson, brand representative, sales executive, or anything else other than simply showing up as a real human being
...If you are going to show up in the Web 2.0 community for business reasons, show up as a person first. People don’t want to connect with brands, companies, or products. People want to connect with people.
 Yes, people do want to connect with people. However, I disagree that people don't want to interact with brands or companies. I think people are fine following brands and companies through means of social media if they know that's who they're following. It's all about expectations.

There are Four Levels of Social Media Involvement as far as businesses are concerned (I'm thinking mainly Twitter here, but I think the principles apply across the board):

1. The Deceiver - Mentioned in #3 of Ms. Piersall's post, these are companies that know social media can be beneficial, but go about it in an entirely errant way by being deceptive about it. For example, hiring people to go out there and secretly promote the company. Bad CMO! These companies don't grasp the point transparency, how crucial it is, and how when you screw it up it comes back to bite you. Hard.

2. The PR Printer - Their idea of using a blog, Twitter, digg, etc. is to pump out press releases. They are under the delusion that people want to hear their corporate speak. They are wrong. And while they may have a warm fuzzy feeling because they think they're "using" social media, nobody is listening to them.

3. The Rep - This person is assigned to take on social media responsibilities. Perhaps it's a PR team, brand rep...whatever. They know that content is king, produce good content and are open about who it's coming from. Inherently this person isn't as interesting as if he or she was the CEO, but their presence is still beneficial to followers/customers.

4. The Guru - This company has it down pat. They have someone in a position of real authority in their organization engaging personally in social media. This person provides relevant content on a regular basis and presents him or herself in a natural, likable manner. It's not just their company that understands social media, but the person producing the content really gets it.

Ideally, you want your company or organization to be at Level 4, but many companies at Level 3 have people who are interested enough about their company/brand that they are happy to communicate with a brand rep or PR person. This is because I'm interested in, and want to connect with, the brand and/or company, not necessarily the person.

An example of this is the team that writes Google's Gmail Blog. I don't pay attention to who writes it, nor do I care. I love Gmail and I want to know what's going on with its development, new features, etc.. 

That being said, no one should be ghost writing for the CEO, no matter how good the content is. And a company would be foolish to, say, try to buy diggs. However, if I know the blog I'm reading is:

1. From the PR team at X company
2. They tell me it's from the PR team - not trying to be deceptive
3. Producing quality content (Level 3)

... then great! While they aren't at a Level 4, they aren't damaging their brand either. In fact, I'd argue that they're building it.

As I said before, it's all about expectations.

Re: Steve Jobs' health

Why has Dear Leader been looking so gaunt? Really, is it any of our business? He's the CEO of a company for crying out loud. If Phil Knight, Steve Forbes, or even the famed Richard Branson appeared to have health problems would their stock tumble and the very future of the thriving companies they founded be brought into question? I think not.

The fact that Steve Jobs had to write a public letter explaining his health status (obviously a very personal thing) is a shame.

Wait. No it isn't.

Apple has created the perception that one person responsible for an entire brand, product line, company and a cultural phenomenon. I understand the fact that Mr. Jobs doesn't want to discuss his health ("So now I’ve said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this") and any other CEO probably wouldn't have to.

But guess what Steve? You brought this on yourself by making (and promoting) yourself as more than a CEO: you brand yourself as The Heart, Soul, and Mind of Apple. You are irreplaceable. You are responsible for its success. You are the foundation upon which Apple is built.

There's nothing wrong with people who have invested in Apple inquiring about (possible) cracks in the foundation.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

A story about New York, Mormons, being rejected, and The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance. Very funny, particularly the end.

The Bun is...

... still a mystery. They weren't able to determine the gender. Little The Bun was stubbornly curled up in a ball and wouldn't uncurl for anything.

I think I'm having a girl.

Talking to empty rooms

Courtesy of XKCD.