Recently I was working on a promotional project and proposed some copy for a related webpage that would notify the target audience that there were some unfavorable conditions related to the promotion (hurdles to jump over to make use of it).
The response I got was “but why would we want to tell them those things – won’t that make them less likely to commit?”
Gut check moment – your response to that question may indicate a great deal about your perspective: Read more…
[Update: @HowardStern is enjoying Twitter so much, he talked today about how he plans to experiment with a talk show on Twitter after having fun quizzing @Alyssa_Milano. Pretty impressive tech innovation for a guy who still uses Lotus Notes.]
Last week, Howard Stern (@howardstern) finally broke down and decided to start tweeting at the urging of his colleagues and friends. So far, he’s doing everything right and his success is something anyone can learn from even if they’re not the “King of all Media.”
- Be Authentic: Stern tweets himself. He doesn’t have his publicist or agent or staff tweet for him. In an interview with Piers Morgan today (another celebrity who understands Twitter), he emphatically rejected the idea of having someone else tweet for him. Authenticity is what makes Twitter successful. It’s why people have been flocking (excuse the pun) there since 2007. In an age of glimmering fakery, they’re looking for real contact with people they find compelling. Stern’s first tweets were backstage before an appearance on the David Letterman show where he even posted a photo of himself sitting in the make-up chair flanked by Stern Show fixtures Vinnie Favale and Ralph Cirella.
- Have Something to Say: The traditional paradigm of mass media was that one must constantly publish to stay in front of the audience one has built. That relentless pressure to produce on deadline is often met at the expense of quality. In the era of social media, I fervently believe that you don’t need to force yourself to come up with something to say for the sake of saying something. If you’re scheduling tweets (especially repeats of your previous tweets) you’re likely doing something wrong. Stern tweets when he has time and feels inclined. That’s perfectly fine – unlike a newspaper, magazine, cable TV package, or Sirius radio – it costs nothing to remain a follower of the @howardstern twitter feed when he’s not tweeting (just as it costs nothing to follow the RSS feed of a blog or virtually any other form of publishing online).
- Trust Your Instincts: One of the main factors that kept Stern from trying Twitter was the relentless criticism he’s subject to being a controversial figure of his notoriety. Fortunately he discovered the satisfying feeling that comes with blocking someone from interacting with you. That’s not to say that one should block out all negative comments. You know when a criticism is authentic and constructive – so trust yourself and block out all of the carping that doesn’t add quality insight to your life.
- Engage Your Audience as the Real You: This applies for multinational companies just as it does individuals. It doesn’t matter if you have dozens of Twitter followers or millions – you’re not making the best use of the medium if you’re not connecting on a one-on-one basis with people. That’s not to say that you have to reply to every tweet fired off to you, but at the very least you have the chance to respond to the ones you find interesting. Another way celebrities can provide their millions of followers a simulated personal connection is by letting them see interactions with their friends (which usually include other celebrities that followers are interested in). So @howardstern converses with @johnstamos – and we get a voyeuristic glimpse into the lives of these two personalities. Stern also had fun with a challenge to his audience; offering to post a photo he’d just shot of his model wife Beth Ostrosky Stern with his smartphone if he reached 100,000 followers by “cocktail hour.”
- Use it for Real-Time Group Experiences: Twitter is terrible for communicating complex messages; by design it sacrifices the ability to apply nuance/depth for flexibility/brevity. This allows it to be an ideal vehicle for communicating with many people in real-time about a shared interest. Case in point: the Superbowl. For my money, the tweets about the Superbowl halftime show (most of which mocked the over-the-top Black Eyed Peas performance with references to Tron and Demolition Man) were far more interesting than the actual show itself. Stern launched a few snarky tweets during the Superbowl and by his own admission he had a great time.
- “give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give THEN ASK! Period!”: To quote sommelier and social media pro Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee), you can’t just promote yourself and ask things of your audience. You have to provide them with value – and not only that, but you have to provide them with comparatively more value than what you’re asking for. As Stern demonstrates – it’s not until his 49th tweet that he finally promotes himself.
Here’s to hoping Stern convinces his parents to start a “@ShitBenSternSays” Twitter account.
The more information accumulates about us online (with or without our consent), the walls between the compartments of our lives become more porous (eventually they’ll likely disappear altogether).
Whether or not you know it, your social network is visible to others online. This is important because it means people can view you how your social network understands you.
Even if you lock down your Facebook profile, odds are you allow viewers to see your friends (which can be a great source of information about you; one can easily use the public information your friends display to gain insight about you – what organizations they’re affiliated with).
Even the organizations and people you’re NOT affiliated with can say volumes about you; I anticipate this will become a huge source of inferential data in the future as data analysis tools continue to become more sophisticated and more data accumulates online. Imagine: an aggregation tool could run an algorithm to find out who you dislike based on an analysis of common connections, interests, and groups and looking for gaps in your circle of connections.
Nothing about this is anything new to police or intelligence agencies – they’ve been gathering this data for years (building cases by interviewing individuals peripheral to a target). The difference is that now it’s a communication channel available to anyone.
This is why I believe privacy will be virtually impossible in the future. This has important ramifications for public policy; take medical records.
- One of the main reasons medical records aren’t largely digitized is privacy concerns – people worry that individuals and organizations outside of the doctor-patient relationship will be able to use that data to the disadvantage of the patient (think insurance companies, banks and prospective employers).
- Even if you are able to keep your medical records from being posted online – the records of your relatives will be posted. Conclusions about your predisposition to health issues can be gleaned from the health of your relatives (and organizations whose profitability depends on calculating risks will actively seek out this information).
- Conclusions about your health can also be drawn based on aggregated data from the region you reside in (the percentage of fast food restaurants, the rates of STD/STI infection, etc.).
Another reality (explained in greater detail in the book “Born Digital” by Urs Gasser and John Palfrey) is that children born today typically don’t have a choice about what information about them ends up online; their parents begin creating digital presences for them while they’re still in utero (by posting sonogram photos/videos, and information on how they intend to rear their children in discussions with friends). A recent study concluded that 92 percent of toddlers have an online presence.
Update: Apropos of this post – a hilarious Venn Diagram from Dave Makes:
Mentions in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are nice, but the way you can really tell that Artprize has arrived is that there’s now a site devoted to lampooning the “worst” entries in the “open” art competition.
The blog “Artprize Worst” (and accompanying Twitter account @artprizeworst) appear to have gone up a week ago, and have begun publishing critiques of some of the entries in the 2010 Artprize competition ala Regretsy (parodying the craft ecommerce site Etsy).
I personally think that tributes like this are more important in the era of social media than mass media endorsements. Here’s why: if someone is taking the time to catalog your foibles, it means you’re doing something well enough to not only be noticed. More importantly though, it means your effort reaches a level of quality worth having an opinion on.
That’s the intangible quality that communication professionals thirst for. It’s the reason so many actors long to be parodied on the Simpsons.
Hopefully the site won’t get shut down by legal action; giving a forum to this sort of opinion (which exists whether or not anyone files a cease and desist order) is valuable and can ultimately make the whole experience of an event like Artprize richer. It also gives exposure to works that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
If I had an entry listed by Artprize Worst – I’d proudly wear that as a badge of honor signifying I was worthy of comment.
We should all be so lucky to have critics.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about the struggle corporations are having with leaks. In this age, the information you don’t want to become public is going to come out one way or another. The strongest firewall can be subverted by a careless (or motivated) employee gossiping at a vending machine. A stack of non-disclosure forms can be undone by the video camera in a mobile phone.
The solution is simple: stop trying to hide everything.
As the WSJ story’s examples show (layoffs, pay cuts), the “sensitive” information is frequently merely unflattering (as opposed to, say, intellectual property a competitor could use). Given that this information would eventually become public anyway (when the employees actually are laid off, or have their pay cut, or are subjected to abrupt / impersonal conversations with the managers who dispatch them) – what is to be gained from hiding it? All these corporations are doing is changing the timing (and in some ways they’re guaranteeing it will be a big, newsworthy event when it comes out at once as a big surprise instead of trickling out over time).
"...and you shall have no pie."As my parents tell it, when I was an infant my first word wasn't a word - it was an entire sentence. Very little has changed.
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