a kaleidoscope of thoughts

Advertisers aren’t chuckling anymore. They need you Ms, Mr, and Mrs consumer.

Two years ago when I embarked on the journey to help advertisers and agencies understand how the consumer messaging paradigm shift plays a critical role in their world, the average response was; well, a chuckle.

It wasn’t a ‘ha-ha, you’re funny’ kind of chuckle, it was more of a ‘are you kidding me? Consumers taking over creative?’ kind of chuckle. I’m going to go there and say, they’re not chuckling anymore. As a matter of fact, they haven’t been for about a year now as industry wide it’s crystal clear that they need you, Ms, Mr and Mrs consumer.

Regardless of the myriad collection of industry terms (consumer generated messaging, consumer generated advertising, social media, crowdsourcing, etc., most of which are still in debate), one message reveals itself as the essence of the shift. Consumers are THE most critical element in any campaign strategy and execution.

Seems obvious, right? Clearly, if you want to communicate the most relevant message to your buyer, you need to know what resonates with them as a collective. That message needs to be so compelling, that sharing is the natural next step. After all, people share what they care about. I call this being one with the people.

And there you have it;  Ask, and ye shall receive.

Most Winning Creative Work Involves Consumer Participation

The result? 9 out of the top 10 worldwide ‘best of’ campaigns involved consumer input and only 1 was a traditional campaign. Now that’s pretty cool.

The people DO count (FTC inquiry to Facebook privacy issues)

I’m really a believer that it’s all about the consumer and clearly this power shift continues to gain strength in shaping everything from a service to a brand, to even products.

As many would have anticipated, private privacy groups have taken the issue of Facebook’s global release of user information on the web, to the FTC.

Facebook Privacy Changes Break the Law, Privacy Groups Tell FTC:

So hey, people are in charge.

FB+web search+privacy+twitterized=Really??

Well it seems facebook can’t quite seem to make their model work (or they’re getting greedy) so today, it was announced that FB has released new privacy defaults to ‘twitterize’ it.

(Note that the screen doesn’t *quite* tell you that information will make the WW web). Full article here:

Business Problem

Seems to me one of the initial business problems facebook had (and still does), is the squishy road to having their own personality and purpose;  FB was about friends connecting with each other, including those you were out of touch with on a social level. It was nice and simple. And it really was about connecting with friends and family in a more robust environment, all in one place with media elements that enhanced that connection. 

Over time, it’s become less interesting, more cluttered, far less private and far less relevant. In addition, it feels like (and looks like) FB is becoming twitter with photos, apps and video. Oh, and it’s all over the web if you don’t change your settings.

Privacy Issue

If you allow friends of friends to see your personal information (posts, photos, phone number, etc.) and those friends of friends are allowing public info, then there you are. Maybe you don’t really care if all that information is out there; I’m guessing if you have 500 friends, you don’t. (Really? 500 friends? wow).

And, BTW, if you have had it with facebook, here’s a new way to create your own “facebook death”.

Clogging, duplicate and less relevant information

At some point, media started telling you that the more friends you have, the more fans you have, the more valuable you are. Well, that’s probably another post and I personally don’t associate value to those ‘metrics’ but what I do care about, is the resulting ‘clog’ of information.

Clearly social media continues to pave the way for a new level of communication and connecting; that’s the point. But at what point, does too much information become invaluable? Boy, it’s messy out there.

The good news is that the situation creates opportunities; we need smarter and more relevant search, we need consolidated results based on what we’re looking for, in at least less than 10 places. We need tools to sort out the duplicate RT’s, tinyurls, overpostings, etc., that take even more time to wade through than it did 3 years ago. This is the real business problem; if everyone looks the same, what is their unique value? Facebook has this problem, twitter has this problem, and even linkedin has this problem.

The solution?

There are some interesting solutions out there that enable you to streamline receiving the information you care about; they’re in a relative state of infancy, but going in the right direction. There are also tools that enable you to post one message to multiple social sites; a bit counter-productive to the first. It’s an interesting push-pull challenge.

In any case, I’ll be the first customer of anyone who can solve the social channel problem of too much information that I don’t care about, and duplicated information I get weary of sorting through. Keep me posted on that, would you? 🙂

If you have a non-threatening emergency, you can email Oprah

Ok, I cruise around and dabble in all random things of interest to me, and found myself at learning about the ‘worlds best karaoke’ singers competition. I clicked the link and a hectic page of lovely opportunities to be a star, win things, be on the show and all kinds of goodies greeted me.

Honestly, the only reason I clicked it was to see if in fact they really wanted the worst, who thought they were ok (that’d be me) because then I could probably win some serious cash and prizes…. Alas, nope, just the good ones and  they meant it.  I suppose I could always audition for American Idol to make the ‘Seattle has the worst singers’ list. Oh yeah, too late. 🙂

So for fun, I clicked on the ‘Ad Sales’ link at the bottom of the page; I was just curious after all. A simple page with simple instructions greeted me:

* You can only be a serious advertiser; all others will be disregarded

* No CPC or revenue sharing, just CPM

* The minimum buy on is $50,000

I was a little struck by the verbiage but I suppose there’s a lot of ‘riff raff’ out there thinking $20k or so would get you a spot, and I’m confident $50k keeps it managable.

So I scrolled down to see how serious the form was, and to my surprise, noticed the following, just after the advertising rules:

IMPORTANT MESSAGE: If you are seeking immediate assistance on a matter involving urgent health care, personal safety, the safety of others or any other issue requiring immediate attention, please do not use this e-mail or website. Instead, IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING OR HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF AN EMERGENCY INVOLVING IMMEDIATE DANGER OR PHYSICAL HARM TO YOU OR TO ANOTHER, PLEASE CALL 911 OR YOUR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES. If you are experiencing any other type of emergency situation with which you need assistance, please click here.. Please note that we cannot reply to all e-mails sent to us or guarantee that your e-mail will be or will be immediately read. We cannot always review every e-mail that we receive.

I’m wondering if the shock of the minimum or the rules have caused others to have a medical emergency? Hm, seems it’s possible.

But, I was delighted to see that if you have any other type of emergency, you can send an email to the oprah team. That’s pretty amazing, but then I do sincerely believe that Oprah is amazing.

I read a litte further and noticed the paragraph states, “…cannot…guarantee that your e-mail will be or will be immediately read”.

So on second thought, maybe you should not email in the event of an emergency although I did really kind of like the idea of it.

See, you thought I was kidding huh?
See, you thought I was kidding huh?

Okay, Okay, Okay…I confess, I emailed my non-medical emergency that there was a grammatical error on the web page…Gosh, I hope someone would do the same for me.  🙂

I had no idea it happens all the time….does it?

Wow. On the way home from an event the other night in my neighborhood, I pulled to the right to let a screaming ambulance by (and hey, the 4 other people that did not pull over to the right, let’s hope you don’t have to be in one). I carried on my path home doing the posted speed limit 🙂 as anyone would do.

I arrived at the first intersection, and stopped at the red light…I waited, then moved again on green arriving at the second intersection again stopping at the red light…waiting…and waiting…(it’s a long one).

As I was approaching the next intersection along came the screaming ambulance from a different direction, going my way now. What??

The ambulance was lost.

In today’s digital app and gadget this and that, I had no concept this could really be possible, let alone common. I stopped at the gas station on that corner and chatted with the cashier about what I thought was an entirely unique event.

“oh no”, she said. “It happens all the time”.

All the time?

“Yes”, she said. “I see them coming from that street (pointing right), going up that street (pointing left) and then screaming by again to turn onto THAT street (the one going straight)… All the time”.

Is this a business problem that needs solving? what about GPS solutions? What about Onstar, or all the other technology solutions to get you from one place to another? And in this case, it’s pretty darn important.

So wow, here’s my survey.

(OLDER 2-19-09) Myths and Truths, Social Media Experts and strategists

It’s so easy to become overwhelmed with the hype and positioning around what social media (and social media marketing) is; what an expert is; and what makes that ‘expert’ a strategist that now and again I (like others of you), have to take a moment to shake our heads in wonder. The next step, naturally, is to share your opinions and insights.

What is social media anyway?

What we’re asking, telling, expressing and who we trust is still consistent. That’s a human truth. It’s ‘the conversation’, ‘trust network’, confidence in ‘referral’, and so on — not so new conceptually and hasn’t changed even though the ‘buzz words’ have.

So what has changed?:

(1) Who (the “collective” power of the consumer)

(2) What (the tools that enable that power)

(3) Where (the channels in which they exercise it )

(4) How (the media in which they express it)

So we’re really talking about (1) collective consumer voices, in the channels they connect to, relate with, and frequent, such as (2) Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc., that include (3) their websites, other websites, blogs, RSS feeds, digital devices, etc., with the media available either collectively or singularly whether it’s (4) text, music, video or sound.

What makes a social media expert/strategist MYTHS:

If someone:
1. Is a techie, they’re a social media guru

2. Knows how to use some, most of, (or even all of) the social networking sites and/or tools, they’re a social media expert

3. Is all of the above, AND they have online advertising experience (oh, let’s say Adwords, PPV/C, and the usual), these someone’s are now social media strategists

As a business, you can now safely put your brand in the hand of these someone’s, yes? (Ok, that was fun)! 🙂

What makes a strategist/expert TRUTHS:

2. An expert is someone who either knows (or learns), the ‘ins and outs’ of any particular thing. A strategist does not need to be a subject matter expert. They do however, need to understand how to ask the right questions (and what those questions are) that are relevant to the strategy in order to develop the plan. They also need to be an expert in defining (and articulating) how it relates to the strategy, in order for it to be successful. And of course, no strategy is worth its can of beans, without being executable.

3. Understanding social media is understanding how to communicate, when to communicate, and what to communicate all within a particular objective — based on a strategic plan. Probably without having to say so, this is well after asking to authenticate what “that” is, mapped to the objective.

When in doubt asking who the expert is and how they can help develop the strategy to integrate social media into your overall company initiatives (because you really need to), apply the social media truths as you would any other business initiative where strategic expertise and ability is the framework for success.

And if that strategy isn’t reflective of your business objectives (regardless of what it’s called), move right along.

(OLDER 2-18-09) Stunt or blunder update: Consumer protests result in Facebook withdrawl of the changes in their TOS.

As one of the top social networks, It’s surprising that Facebook didn’t ask the question first. (Silly, really). The feedback by users promped a FB homepage update, drawing even more attention.

The article cites 300,000 views of the consumerist advocacy blog post, then thousands of follow on posts and groups at Facebook. (In a matter of days)

Now that there’s a compromise of trust (clearly people are passionate about what they share), Zuckerberg’s business challenge is much more difficult than had they altered their approach.

It reminds me of the motrin story, but in this case, a response more appropriate.

Social media 101:
Ask. Consumers are in charge
Listen: Incorporate the feedback
Act: Address the issue openly and respond

(OLDER 2-18-09) stunt or blunder? (Facebook terms of service changes, overwhelming consumer response)

As you’ve read by now (everywhere!), Facebook CEO Zuckerberg responded to updated Terms of Service that caused a stir on not only facebook, but twitter. The updates were regarding content ownership.

(Full article here: )

Some interesting tidbits:
* Some disgruntled users expressed intentions on Twitter, to shut down their facebook account because of the ambiguous change
* Facebook groups were created to protest the revised TOS. 600 members yesterday, 22,700 at last count today

If someone was unclear as to who is in charge (er, the consumer), that’s just another example. In the mean time, can you use controversy to engage? I’m thinking yes, as long as you know how to manage the message back and adjust. Whether it’s on purpose or accident, may not matter.

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