86 posts categorized "social networks"

December 06, 2012

Appeal to Their Virtues: A Christmas-Season Reflection on Modern Marketing

Sex sells, many say. 

And they're right. Also big sellers: gluttony (of a particular type), sloth, envy, pride and the rest of the seven deadly sins. But sustainable commerce isn't going to belong to those who market to our vices, but those who appeal to our virtues.

This is not to say that we are a virtuous people. A trip to Walmart on Black Friday would strongly suggest that we fall quite short of that standard. However depraved we really are, each of us likes to think we subscribe to some sort of higher calling

There are two ways acheive this in advertising and marketing: 

  1. Encourage bad behavior and lead people to believe it is good
  2. Encourage good behavior 

Of the two, only the second option is sustainable. While necessary to communicate how a product or service advances the audience's self-interests, it's the relationship between that interest and a higher calling that keeps self-interest from devolving into envy and gluttony, which affect not only by the private market, but also public politics. 

When it comes to commerce, every person is a hedonist, and every company is a narcissist.

In practical terms, this means that everyone is more receptive to products and services that A) reduce pain or B) increase pleasure, and every company markets to them in a way that belies a belief that they deserve more attention (Why else would they advertise?).

What are you selling?

  • If your livelihood depends on people buying your brand of beer, are you selling beer, or are you selling a responsible community?
  • Are you need people to buy trucks, are you selling power steering, or are you selling freedom to traverse vast distances to maintain familial relationships? Or are you selling the appreciation that comes when a friend takes an entire day to help his friends move?

As marketing budgets are shifted over the next few years from traditional to digital (including social media), it's useful to ponder what sort of company people will want to listen to regularly, and what sort of things they'll want to hear. Will it be endless promotions? Or will it be information and advice on how they can become better, more worthwhile people?

"I would rather have it said 'he lived usefully' than 'he died rich.'" - Benjamin Franklin

- Cam Beck


October 07, 2011

What is Ford?


I've been actively considering a new car purchase for about a month now. Back when I was only anticipating this time to come, I considered Ford a strong candidate for a new car. First of all, their cars have simply improved. As far as quality goes, they've come a long way since S&P downgraded its credit to "junk" status in 2006. The "Bold Moves" campaign, while not one of their more memorable, gave us a glimpse into their advertising and PR push they've been doing since then, up to their very wise hiring of former Crayonista Scott Monty in 2008 and their use of Dirty Jobs frontman, Mike Rowe, as their spokesperson.

They made me a believer.

Consequently, I've been looking for an excuse to buy a Ford since they turned down the auto bailout to make their own way, so when their recent campaign to spotlight the testimonies of Ford owners who were critical of those who took the bailout, it really resonated with me.

Though no one at Ford will confirm it, some reports say that the White House put pressure on Ford to remove the ads. That bothers me. It bothers me a lot. But Ford's response, and the information that's come to light since then bothers me, too.

The focus of the ads is a moral one. The people giving their testimony clearly favor Ford on moral grounds.

Ford didn't take the money. The other guys did.

Implied in this treatment is a moral case for making your own way and not asking the taxpayers to foot their bill. That may make some people uncomfortable, but it was exactly what I was thinking. And the ads were popular, so I wasn't the only one.

Now... I did remember that they were right in the mix of the Congressional hearings during the bailout talks about the auto industry being "too big to fail," but when they withdrew, I wanted to believe they had second thoughts because they knew they shouldn't be asking in the first place. The cost for such assistance was too high.

As it turns out, though, they made the decision for business reasons. They supported the bailout in principle, which is to say, morally. They just thought their chances for success were better if they didn't accept the bailout. They supported it for their rivals getting it.

So why would they run ads that celebrate their "principled stand" when it wasn't anything more than the same self-interest that their competitors were using in their case?

I still need to get a car... And I can no longer select Ford on principle. There is no principle to defind. Consequently, I'll buy a Ford only if they have the best car for what I'm willing to spend. 

May 19, 2010

Age of Conversation 3: By the Numbers

AOC3 Buy it on Amazon

171 writers

15 countries

2 editors

202 pages

10 sections

$25,000 raised for charity (Books one and two).

Our illustrious and (apparently) indefatigable editors, Drew and Gavin, gave this version of the book structure and a directive: Make this something business people can use. There are enough self-proclaimed "social media experts" out there, and it's easy to be duped. How do you apply yourself in this age of constant communication? What is most important to know?

Once again, I tip my hat to Drew, Gavin, and the other 168 authors who made this possible. I was and continue to be honored to be a part of it.

In spite of having 171 writers, the essays are well constructed and easy to digest independently, and they work well together as a whole. Each one is 400 words or less (and I understand Drew and Gav were very strict about that point). Good for a snack, a light lunch or a meal.

Official press release  |  Buy Age of Conversation 3

- Cam Beck

May 10, 2010

Facebook rule #1: Don't be an idiot

On Friday, I wrote about how the expectation of certain kinds of anonymity is a myth in an Always On post-Facebook world. The New York Times reported Saturday that the younger generation is learning to keep the seedier side of their lives offline. But this, too, is a myth.

Even if you manage to keep yourself from joining social networks or correctly manage all of your privacy settings against continuously changing policies (which is doubtful), it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep your friends from posting comments and pictures of you on their accounts.

You can request that they take pictures down or try to surround yourself only with people who you trust to mind your personal brand to your standards, but unless you decide to be a hermit, this is becoming difficult, too -- especially for the younger generations.

What is true for corporate brands is true for individuals: If you don't want people to find out you've been doing something stupid, don't do stupid things.

Truthfully, no one will ever live up to that standard. We all do stupid things. Everyone.

But if you're in the business of building brands (and all of us are, whether we know it or not -- we represent our own brand, our family's brand, our employer or company's brand, our church or religious affiliation brand, our political or philosophical brand, etc.), how people perceive you and the entities you represent is predicated on your entire body of work - not the occasional act of stupidity.

True, this may be tainted when we do the inevitable stupid thing, but that's just something we're going to have to learn to live with.

Don't worry about the long-term. Just focus on today. To prevent yourself from doing something stupid, decide to live as if your life had a noble purpose today.

And let tomorrow worry about itself. - Cam Beck

July 09, 2009

Your Brand is Not My Friend: SXSW Extended Content

Awhile back I nominated Alan Wolk's seminal work on branding through social media for a panel at South by Southwest in Austin, TX. They selected his topic for inclusion into their extended content.

The panel is moderated by AdWeek's Brian Morrissey.

Panelists, besides Alan, are Ian Schafer, Noah Brier, and Michael Lebowitz.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way to embed the video directly, so I'm just providing a link to it from here. It's less than 20 minutes, long, but well worth the time.

Check out the SXSW Panel Discussion (Extended Content): Your Brand Is Not My Friend. - Cam Beck

May 19, 2009

3 Ways to Build a Good Reputation

1. Do something notable.


If you wait until tomorrow, someone else will have done it, and your doing it won't be as notable.

Who was the second person to walk on the moon? The third?

By any measure, just breaking the earth's atmosphere is quite an accomplishment, but we give extra credit to those who impress us first.

2. Do something good.

Each day. Every day. For a lot of people.

Add value to each person you come in contact with. Don't worry about what they can do for you. Assume nothing. What can you do for them?

3. Fail.

Someday soon, if not earlier.

It's inevitable. You're going to fail. But take heart: A little failure (or even a spectacular one) can be a good thing.

Failure is a great instructor. It builds perseverance. It teaches us different ways to look at things. It necessitates developing alternative solutions.

It also brings us humility, which keeps us from being so confident in our beliefs that we can't see other perspectives. We can empathize with those who disagree because each person may, in Benjamin Franklin's words, "doubt a little of his own infallibility."

But don't give up just because you failed once. Or twice. Or three times.

Or even 6,000 times. Like Thomas Edison's successful invention of a marketable incandescent light bulb, your next try might produce the breakthrough you seek.

- Cam Beck

April 09, 2009

Can they make it to profitability?

Social_media_non_profit11 In a recession what's real in terms of sustainable business models comes to light. I lived through the dot com boom and there were any number of companies that were "changing the rules" or creating a new economy. Economics, unfortunately, is a lot like gravity. It's pretty difficult to change the rules.

YouTube and Facebook have changed the world online. It's hard to remember how hard it was to post a video online before YouTube.  Facebook has successfully created the first global scale online community and seems to becoming one of those sites that just about everyone visits and engages with on a daily basis.

The problem is that neiter one is profitable. Although YouTube has seen tremendous growth its still yet to come up with a way to monetize that growth into profitability. The number of ads that Facebook would have to display based on their own tool is staggering. Both are in desperate need of a new advertising model that can either show direct correlation to sales or one that proves that brand awareness can be built on these site more effectively than through other vehicles, say TV.

At the peak of economic growth, like in 2007, companies are willing to invest in what hasn't been proven. In the depth of a recession, however, the hard questions get asked and just like during the dot com boom, many companies cease to exist.

I don't think this will happen to either of these companies. However, something has to change with both of them in order for them to be sustainable for the long term. I'm just not sure that anyone, including those inside the company, know what that something is.

- Paul Herring

February 26, 2009

What have you done for me lately, social media expert

Janet-rock-5 Since being on Twitter and following some of what I think are the greatest minds in social media, I've been overloaded with conversations and opinions. Some of are worthwhile, but I wonder whether or not they are tweeting just to tweet.

Those of us who work in this area, I have some news for you. We're not rock stars, even if we dress like them. Creating conflict for conflict's sake is not productive -- and sometimes it's just downright rude. Speaking in conferences, having your own podcast, pontificating about "new media" without providing specific examples, it's all good but of little value.

Maybe CMOs at big companies are impressed by books that you've published, conferences that you've spoken at. I'm not. Show me examples of where your ideas have been applied or better yet, show me where YOU have been part of the team who did it. I'm done with the fluff.

- Paul Herring

February 24, 2009

How to reach your audience without getting in their way

With all the criticism that Facebook received for appreciably changing their terms of service, it's interesting to note the positive way they responded that probably prevented any mass exodus.

Full disclosure: I have to mention that I completely empathize with their predicament. While their membership is growing by leaps and bounds across the world, they've had difficulty implementing an effective means to monetize that takes advantage of their unique data mining methods.

The market is fickle. People don't care that they're getting this awesome platform without any membership fees. When Facebook tried to monetize and launched one of its first initiatives, Beacon, the public revolted. Their 2008 ad revenue, in spite of the vast numbers of people using the platform, is less than that of MySpace.

By the time I got word that Facebook revised their terms of service, people had already started revolting.

Facebook then did two good things well. The first was in direct response to the outcry and threat of lawsuit from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and the groundwork from the other was laid long before this was even a blip on the EPICs radar.

  1. They recanted the policy and solicited feedback from the audience
  2. They communicated directly with the members without the normal lawyer-speak.

(To show how fickle the marketplace really is (and what an itchy trigger finger people have),the executive director of the EPIC, Marc Rotenberg, withheld filing the his complaint with the FCC but promised to keep it in his back pocket.)

As for the other issue, here is the message Facebook sent out to all its members at the top of their member home page:

Facebook message

Notice the "Close" call to action in the upper right hand corner?

If the users don't really care about what's going on behind the scenes, they can just close out the message, and it won't return. I imagine Facebook can use this method to communicate any message they need to communicate to their audience about their service.

They kept it short and to the point, and it speaks directly to the people who were raising the fuss in the first place. In 4 short sentences, the Facebook team was able to explain

  • Why they're sending the message.
  • What they're going to do about it.
  • How to get more information.
  • Instructions on how to participate in the conversation.

That's all well and good. But here's the question:

If Facebook can communicate issues before the fact in a manner that provides an easy way to ignore it, if the users wish, can't they just have let their users know, in the same way, that their terms of service were going to change, and have solicited feedback before they pushed it live?

It seems getting feedback from the community before they blow up might be the best way to avoid these sorts of situations in the future.

And in the meantime, they might want to keep Marc Rotenberg's number on speed dial. Especially in a space where privacy is a huge concern, bringing in a privacy advocate (even if he does represent only the most privacy-conscious) for advice just seems smart. - Cam Beck

February 17, 2009

Navigating Muddy Social Waters

Logo_2 The topic I took on today at MP Daily Fix had so many contributors that it was difficult to settle on the ones I did. As I was formulating the article, I got to bounce some ideas off of friends and colleagues alike, all of whom noticed or agreed on the existence some of the same dilemmas I did:

  1. More people were coming out of the woodwork to connect with them on various platforms, and
  2. They weren't certain how this would impact the way they (or others) used them.

Alan warned that Facebook might be the new AOL, and Paul remarked (half-jokingly, I presume) that Facebook was becoming the dread of young early-adopting hipsters -- MySpace.

So with this information as the backdrop, I encourage you to read this piece at the MarketingProfs: Daily Fix. I look forward to getting your feedback. - Cam Beck