Posts Tagged ‘David Teicher’

So, I recently upgraded from a crappy netbook and 2-year-old (read: ancient & completely defunct) Blackberry Curve to an iPad and HTC Droid Incredible.
While I love the iPad for what it is, I don’t think I need to delve into its shortcomings. Suffice it to say that this gorgeous, sleek, fun device, lacks Adobe/Flash support, is sans USB, and cannot multitask. Three. Serious. Failings. Which is why the Android-Running, Flash Supporting, Multitasking
Google Tablet, rumored to debut around holiday season, will dominate in functionality, if not aesthetics, as is usually the case with when comparing Google and Apple products.

But like I said, I do love the iPad for what it is – but IMO – if you’re going to shell out the cash for a tablet PC, you want something utilitarian, not pretty.

Anyway, I’m not here today to rant, I’m here to give you a breakdown of my experience with the HTC Incredible. As with the iPad, I don’t need to go into the technical specs, you can get that here, or on countless other sites.

Front View

Rear View

To start, I’m in love with this phone. It destroys all other phones in speed and sleekness, image and video quality, and sheer processing power. The 8 Megapixel camera w/flash is enough to send shockwaves through the photo industry; much like the free turn-by-turn, Google Maps navigation sent the GPS industry into collective shock and drove their stock in the same direction as the chills that ran through the executives’ spines.

Similar to the iPad vs Google Tablet debate – the HTC Incredible multitasks with ease – so you can listen to Pandora while pulling links and articles from your twitter feed and emailing them to coworkers.

The only qualm I have with the phone – and an issue shared by iPhone users as well, is the battery power, or lack thereof. All the amazing things this phone can do are worth nothing if the battery lasts only 3 hours.

And until Piezoelectric phones can be charged by harnessing the energy from our footsteps and movement, like the one Nokia recently patented, there are only 2 ways to effectively circumvent the battery drain problem:

1. Buy a second charger to keep with you at all times. Or
2. Use a combination of apps to intelligently manage the programs you’re running at any given time to maximize battery life and keep your phones memory as free as possible.

Since apps are free (these ones anyway) and a charger is not, I’ll show you how I do it.

I use the combined power of two applications – a Task Manager and VizBattery. There are a bunch of free task managing apps that all do pretty much the same thing. Personally, I use the Rhythm Software Task Manager – it allows you to manually kill any application or program that’s draining battery and memory, you can add apps to an auto-kill list, you can even put apps on an ignore list so it doesn’t terminate them. Best of all, the app also function as a widget kills all running apps with one click. All in all, I think this one application has doubled (or at least it feels that way) the battery life.

The other app isn’t as necessary, but it does give you a breakdown of which programs you’re running are draining what percentage of your battery, a nice little knowledge nugget that can be useful for proactive management.

Give it a try – let me know if you find any other ways to help extend power and memory.

Battery Widget

I know I said that was my only qualm, but I do have one other issue. In a surprisingly Microsoft-esque move, there are certain native apps that drain battery and memory that cannot be removed. Peep, Footprints, City ID, and Friend Stream are all garbage programs that cannot be uninstalled (I haven’t figured out how yet, anyway), so I have a trip to the Verizon store in the near future to give them a piece of my mind and demand they get this crap off my phone.

Now, back to the good parts – here’s a list of my favorite applications – all free and available at your nearest Android Market (I’m not going to include the ones I’ve already discussed):

Pandora (Music)

Bump-It (Allows file exchange between droids by bumping your phones together)

Fetch It (If you misplace your phone and it’s on silent, this app lets you remotely turn up the volume so you can call it to find it by tracking the ring)

Twitter (The Official App – I don’t use it that much, but it’s useful for syncing contacts or when you want to tweet out an article you’re reading)
Twidroid (My favorite twitter application, but Seesmic’s is also amazing) Tech Time

Mashable (For all your social media news)

Tech Time (Amazing app that aggregates GigaOm, TechCrunch, Mashable, Engaget, Gizmodo, ReadWriteWeb and more. Has sharing and commenting built in)

Mablio Ringtones (One stop shop for all your favorite songs)

Foursquare (No explanation necessary…I hope)

Facebook (Ditto)

Google Goggles (Google It or check out this Mashable article)

Shape Writer(Have you seen the Swype Texting functionality on the Samsung Omnia? Well, it’s in Beta for android, but until it’s released this App brings swipe text to Droids – I absolutely love it. If you text and email from your phone a lot, as I do, this will triple your touch-screen typing speed)

Barcode Scanner (Self-Explanatory)

TV.com (Brought to you by the eponymous website under the auspices of CBS – you can access free TV shows – some in their entirety, some in clips – from CBS, Showtime, CNET, and other properties. You can even watch complete episodes of Star Trek The Original Series, if you were so inclined

Layars (Augmented Reality Application – again, here’s the latest from TechCrunch and Mashable)

And Finally –

App Remover – for some reason, the native method for uninstalling programs is a click-heavy and roundabout process. No longer so with App Remover.

Enjoy and Let Me Know If You Have Any Feedback or Thoughts from Your HTC Incredible Experience

Namaste & Merry Friday

Advertisements

I won’t go into all the ramifications of Facebook’s new social plugins and bid to dominate the interwebs. You can check out the Carrot Creative Blog for a nice little “what it means for you” recap, along with Mashable’s constant, sometimes in depth/sometimes superficial, coverage of the new tools and announcements, as well.

What I’ve noticed is that the tech battles that are currently brewing transcend industry or product. To name a few:

Facebook  vs Twitter vs Foursquare

Facebook vs Google

Google vs Apple

Google vs Microsoft & Yahoo

My question, as such, is – if you were to relegate control of you entire online behavior and identity to one of these dominant entities, which would it be? Which brand engenders trust? Functionality? Personality?

We may not have to actively make this decision in the near future, but we are passively acknowledging its growing preeminence it every time we go online. Sooner or later – and probably sooner, Facebook’s open social graph will collide head on with Google’s open ID, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple launched an alternative – anti-culture – subversive  – nonconformist version of the concept: One ID to rule them all. Add to that the truly independent competition – the open source Wikipedia/Firefox-ish rival.

In fact, it may – and probably will – boil down to what browser you use as your portal to the digiverse – Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or the inevitable Facebook Browser that will be the culmination of their efforts to connect the web and infuse Facebook’s presence in every online destination.

So – I ask again – if you had to turn over near-complete control of your online activities to one of these brands – insofar as they will manage you – your email, social activities, functions and features, web browsing, shopping the advertisements you receive, your financial information, etc… to provide a seamless, integrated and unified experience – Who would you trust? Who would you prefer as your Internet partner-in-crime-and-everything-else? I know I trust Google to develop functional tools, I trust Facebook exploits my personal information to create a more socially enhanced experience – even if it is at the cost of my privacy. I trust Apple do design innovative and aesthetically pleasing “things” that boast superior user experience and interface, but may lack in the features/functionality department (Can someone say MULTITASKING?)

Anyway…PLEASE weigh in here and in the comments. Thanks!

Last night I received an email from Klout, the Twitter profile analysis tool and website, asking if I’d like to participate in a new program in which they pair big brands with influential Twitterers; specifically, the program is designed (or claims to be) so that the particular promotion is directed toward – not just Twitterers with a large number of followers or those with many retweets and @mentions – but those whose posted content indicates a some sort of authority or influence or maybe merely an affinity for discussing the topic related to the brand and promotion in question.

Klout - Starbucks eMail

In this case, I apparently tweet often about coffee (guilty), and I assume, to some extent, those tweets incur replies and conversation, enough to warrant an offer for some free Starbucks coffee, anyway.

Take a look at the email and offer signup – [Screenshots included somewhere in this post]. What do you think of this program? I kinda like it – but then again, I’m getting free coffee 🙂

Have you received any offers like this? Starbucks is fairly social media savvy and have been undergoing a rebranding process for a while now – between the unbranded stores in Seattle to taking on the instant coffee market with Via to the successes of @Starbucks & My Starbucks Idea, so I’m not surprised that they’re’ paving the way in this arena. I’ve tried Ad.ly, My Likes, and Sponsored Tweets, but find their models a bit spammy. My gut feeling is that this is the closest we’ve come to a real step forward in a twitter ad/marketing model. The idea follows something I learned at a recent ARF event during social media week. The presentation was about the Science of Social Media, and one of the speakers, a brilliant man from Yahoo Research whose name escapes me at the moment, informed us that research indicated that a user’s influence on twitter couldn’t be predicted by followers or numbers alone. Rather, in order to determine if a tweet will cascade,  you’d have to combine those figures with the specific area of expertise that the person has and whether or not the content posted falls within that area of authority. — This certainly seems to fit with that theory…

What do you think?

Klout Offer SIgnup

This is my first article in a series of posts that will focus on applying social psychology to social media marketing. Little did I know it at the time, but spending 4 semesters in a social perceptions and behaviors lab in college DID come in useful! (I know, I was shocked too). I’m going to start with the Overjustification Effect

Overjustification Effect, simply put, is a description of what happens when someone offers an external incentive for a behavior already found to be intrinsically rewarding.

Lesson One: Overjustification Effect & Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET):

Overjustification, or the undermining effect, occurs when an act that is initially driven by intrinsic motivation loses its behavioral grip as it is replaced by an additional, extrinsic motivator.

Take the example of a young child in grade school – his grades are slipping. The parents immediately recall the hyperbolous discourse surrounding positive reinforcement and tell their child, “Son, for every A you get in school, we’ll give you a dollar.”

Seems like a good deal for everyone involved right? The parents successfully motivate their child who, consequently, strives to achieve better results through the remainder of that rigorous second grade curriculum.

But what if the child already liked school – and thus was already motivated to succeed?

Sounds crazy, I know. But what if…? Well, social psychology would tell us that if the child initially enjoyed learning on its own merit, the subsequent external monetary reward would, while boosting performance in the short-term, also act to devalue the initial motivating factor – the child’s innate affinity for academia.

Now, I ‘m not going to protest the concept of positive reinforcement (surely, it beats corporal punishment) and I certainly can’t argue with years of successful marketing that tells us these types of external rewards (often in the form of deceptive or pseudo-monetary coupons, rebates, points, free samples, contest entries…etc) can influence behavior. I will, however, assert that any impact these endeavors have will be short term, and, when used within the social media landscape, are antithetical to the inherent functionality and opportunity afforded by these social platforms and the brand-consumer interactions they facilitate.

Case in point, Fan Woody. I’ve spoken out against this campaign before, so I won’t go into detail here, except as it illustrates my point and typifies an industry-wide failing. That is to say, TGI Friday’s created a fictional character (also an adversative notion when dealing with social media – which generally serves to augment the human-esque qualities in a brand, as opposed to extending its shadowy anonymity, seemingly embodied in the creation of fictitious characters like Woody), who proclaimed, “Become my fan and get a free burger!”

These sorts of brands propositions can yield a large influx of new fans – short-term, albeit deceptive & superficial, success. These new fans are not brand advocates. They are not invested in the organization. They signed up to get free shit.

I don’t think I need to ramble and rant about quality vs quantity here, but I will (I’ll keep it short, don’t worry).

When advising brands on how to manage a twitter account, the question of ROI always comes up, and it’s intricately linked to the management strategy, specifically, how you decide with whom you should follow and engage. The concern often regards numbers – “But I can only talk to X amount of people a day,” “There are a million people mentioning my brand, how do I determine which ones I should follow?” “How many followers should we aim to have at the end of the campaign?”

This is where I scoff pretentiously and say, you would rather have 1000 followers that are excited to interact with you and actively advocate for your brand, than have 10,000 followers who you garnered by giving away a free vacation to someone who used your hashtag. [Again, not trying to say these types of promotions don’t have their place – they do, and it’s usually when launching an account and should be designed to raise awareness. But that’s all – and that’s not usually necessary for big – household name – brands.]

So what about when you’re not launching a campaign or raising awareness for a new social media presence? What about the preexisting fans and followers – the ones who decided to interact with a brand on social platforms because they actually like the brand – the products, the philosophy, what it stands for? The ones social media is really all about.

Well, all that goes out the window when extrinsic drivers usurp those, valuable, authentic, sincere, innate motivators. A consumer can relate to a producer based on that organization’s brand, not overtly obvious tactics designed to influence purchasing behaviors. The consumers that relate to your brand are the ones that will advocate for you and are therefore the people to whom your efforts should cater, at least insofar as that you don’t abuse their patronage or dismiss their value in light of the appealing and alluring mega-growth (read: meaningless numbers) factor.

Based on the overjustification principal, I would go so far as to say that superficial external rewarding hinders the true potential that social media offers to brands. By actively devaluing the intrinsic motivation that drives consumers to fan or follow (or otherwise engage and interact with) brands (and their content) in the first place, there is a conscious sacrifice of quality for the sake of quantity. Artificial, manufactured growth via fast and easy methods in lieu of the organic growth achieved by brand evangelists who can, and do, influence their peers and legitimately impact consumer behaviors.

The idea of rewarding and incenting behavior probably predates any formal study marketing. However, in my opinion, gimmicky rewards have become so commonplace in social media marketing, too often are brands relying on them as long term strategies instead of for what they actually are, namely, conversation starters.

If I am going to follow a brand on twitter or fan one on Facebook, 9 times out of 10 it’s because I am already familiar with the brand and wish to augment my relationship with that brand by adding a social dimension. The benefits of such an enhanced association can include customer loyalty & CRM programs that may be partially comprised of para-monetary rewards. But when brands offer up nonsocial incentives, like TGI Friday’s now infamous Fan Woody campaign, as the basis for the interaction, yes – there is an instant and tangible ROI – but they lose out on what social platforms do best – connect brand lovers – active, consumers evangelists, with the brands they love and feel connected to.

So I beseech the marketing community – enough with the gimmicks. If you want real results, focus on enhancing the users experience with your brand, offer utility and content that allows the consumer to get the most out of their relationship with you, programs that have something to do with why these individuals are real life fans of your brand to being with.

This is what I’ve gleaned from my personal, professional, and academic experiences. But what about you? Do your experiences as a marketer speak differently? Do your experiences as a consumer reflect what I’ve discussed here?

So, as I’m sure you all know, Cable TV’s latest duel with the Networks is Cablevision VS ABC. Last time is was Cablevision VS Scripps (HGTV & Food Network). I honestly don’t care THAT much about the details, business, and politics, or at least, I don’t care enough to do the research that would entitle me to a valid opinion on the matter. What interests me is how both parties are using TV Spots to push their agenda and win over the American public to fight on their behalf. So I present to you both spots. And I’d love if you could let me know what you think of how each side is portrays the situation and their position and how effective each argument is in rallying the people to advocate for them.

ABC:

Cablevision:

And while we’re on the topic of opposing Broadcast Advertising methodologies, here are two takes on feminine hygiene products. Granted I’m not exactly the target audience here (and one of these doesn’t really count because it’s an SNL Sketch and not a really commercial), I figured – It’s Friday, let have some laughs!

Here’s Rephresh – Possibly one of, if not the worst commercial I’ve ever seen. Ever. In my life. God I hope they’re not a client. [These views are my own and in no way reflect my employers beliefs]. That said, the spot is hilarious as it is terrible.

And here’s the recent SNL Sketch in which Gyne Lotrimine Sponsors the Olympic Women’s Curling Event. I loved it.

While I have you here, I’m going to be doing weekly “Ask Aerocles” post on all things Advertising, Social Media, PR, Marketing, etc… So email me your questions to David@Aerocles.com. Thanks!

My name is David Teicher and I am a proud “Millenial.”

I’m writing this post in response to a HARO query that called for experts to discuss the Classic Millenial Sense of Entitlement.

I have a sneaking suspicion this writer will be inundated with of responses galore from sociologists and other “experts” who may assert to understand this so-called sense of entitlement. But as a Gen Yer, I feel an obligation to defend my generation, and myself, and to shed some light what is nothing more than rampant and ageist stereotyping.

I responded to the query, but I would be remiss if I didn’t make my thoughts public, here.

First of all, this idea that we’re discussing, what many refer to as a typical millennial sense of self-entitlement, is no more a quality of my generation than it is or was of any other – it is just sporting a shiny new label. For decades, if not centuries, a defining facet of this nation’s culture has been the “American Dream.” Over the years, people from every corner of the globe have flocked to this country to pursue their dreams. Why? Because, in America – anything is possible. This concept has been ingrained in our culture – it pervades all media from TV to cinema to literature and journalism. It is part of our heritage and our educational system has been pushing it, teaching us to embrace it, before we could even read. What you see as entitlement, we see as our right to the great American dream. Why are we any less “entitled” to pursue it than those of other generations?

Furthermore, this concept, already saturating everything our minds consume, is augmented, or exacerbated, depending on your point of view, by two primary forces: The Internet, and the Self-Esteem Movement of the 90’s.

Growing up in the 90’s, there was one message to which I was subjected to more than any other – in my home, in school, at my friends houses, events, and in pop culture. Namely, anything is possible – don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do or can’t be, don’t let anything prevent you from, at the very least, attempting to reach your goals, whatever they might be. Needless to say, it was a message I was happy to hear, even if it meant disillusionment down the line.

This is yet another iteration of the same “American Dream” mentality. Parents, teachers, and the whole of my antecedent generation absorbed it over the course of their collective life and spit it out in the form of the self-esteem movement. Psychologists paved the way by telling parents, “if you tell your children that anything is possible, they will be better people, and all the more likely to achieve great things.” Unfortunately, this isn’t entirely accurate, but considering the appeal of such a quick and easy methodology, one that was spoon-fed to parents for raising successful children, what parent wouldn’t be eager to act accordingly?

In that respect, I – we – can’t be held responsibly for an attitude that is not only instilled in fundamental structure of our national heritage, albeit under a different label, but one heavily amplified by a psychological movement that shifted the previous generation’s parenting paradigm. But again, I don’t think that this sense of entitlement is something that a) is inherent only to Gen Y-ers, and B) requires any apologies or excuses.

Lastly, we have the Internet. People have talked, written, and waxed philosophic ad nauseum about its powers as “The Great Equalizer.” But these conversations have mainly focused around raising international levels of education and the subsequent impact it would have on global economics and cultural evolution. Farmers in rural regions of 3rd world countries can potentially access the same information as the elite classes of a first world country. But the Internet also shifts the educational paradigm as it applies to generational gaps in knowledge. Our parents (and for that matter, anyone born prior to the advent of the Internet) had a fairly limited amount of informational resources to tap. There were libraries stocked with books and encyclopedias, newspapers and magazines (and these things still exist, to the surprise of many), as well as TV and movies, for whatever educational value they offer. All the data found in those media were then fed, and consequently perceived, through the contextual lenses of either parents or teachers. That was how they learned – via limited sources and even more limited context. Obviously, all that has changed. The sheer volume of information on essentially any topic one might be interested in has opened doors to subject matter and degrees of depth never before possible. An evolution in quantity, if not quality, of the information we consume, and the perspectives and viewpoints of the sources from which that information flows.

At this point, the same information is available to all, regardless of age. In fact, one might argue that this plethora of data is not only more easily consumed by younger individuals, but it’s absorption takes place without the aforementioned contextual filters. And as such, this then negates the cultural pretense that age and wisdom are somehow innately tethered. Even experiential factors are mitigated as the Internet can wholly convey those, as well, as it provides vicarious learning experiences to all.

In short, I don’t feel entitled to anything other than the opportunity to pursue my passions and goals, an entitlement rooted in the inception of American dogma and no more indicative of my generation than any other. The difference lies in the pretentious notions of the self-esteem movement that practically force fed an attitudinal achievement system down the throats of my peers and myself at the hands of parents and teachers who were acting at the behest of “experts” and the cultural zeitgeist. Add to this the limitless potential and infinite wisdom offered by the whole of the Internet, and you’ve a generation of EMPOWERED, not entitled individuals. We are making the most out of the tools available to us; we are aiming to achieve our life’s goals. To do any less would simply be foolish.

So, my question is, from where did this notion arise – that we, millenials, somehow feel more entitled (to what, I still don’t know) than other generations. Further, what ramifications and impact does this stereotype have on our lives?

While I have no evidence (though I feel like this is related to the Social Psychological Phenomenon known as Fundamental Attribution Bias), I would venture to guess that the “entitled” label is a product of jealousy, coupled with an attempt by those who did not grow up with the internet under the direction of the self-esteem movement, to explain the behavior of Gen Y.

Older folks see us as rapidly progressing (and thus threatening), and overly arrogant – and they think – “where do these kids get off acting like they know everything?” Well, the answer is simple – we don’t know everything, but we know where to find it and it’s called the intewebs. Not to mention the fact that you spent years cultivating and reinforcing that arrogance, except back then you called it self-confidence.

Today’s youth is growing up with more resources and tools available to them than ever before. The rapid and exponential rate of technological development our society is experiencing will only continue on its asymptotic course. My kids will have more access to cooler things than I grew up with, as will their own progeny, and so on and so forth. It’s quite understandable why this would invite jealousy. But if we don’t quash this ageist stigma now, it will only grow in parallel to those cultural advances made possible by such astounding technological progression.

Moreover, while I can’t say definitively, from whence this stereotype was borne, I can tell you how it’s affected the lives of those to whom it’s applied. Two words: Labeling Bias. Wikipedia it, I dare you. In short, everything we say or do is seen through the lens of “Self-Entitlement.” As a result, all that we work toward and have accomplished is devalued. That which we are legitimately entitled to as a result of arduous efforts and investments gets brushed off. Any expertise we might develop is diminished in the eyes of others. It’s not just frustrating; it’s downright infuriating.

And with that I conclude my rant/venting and invite you all to chime in.

So I pose those questions to you, now. Do you perceive a Millenial sense of self-entitlement? What is it that you see? If you’re of my generational ilk (a Gen Y Cohort, if you will), have you felt the affects of this stereotype? If so, how?

This is a great video. And by great, I mean there are parts of it I actually like. Sorry for my snarkiness – it’s Monday morning and this is looking like it’s going to be a crazy week. Enjoy the video:

…I said, shooting myself in the foot. Though, not technically accurate, the phrase “Social Media” as we use it today, is, for all intents and purposes, meaningless. How did I reach this conclusion? Well, for starters, all media is by definition social, according to the oxford English dictionary anyway, which defines a medium as “a means by which something is expressed, communicated, or achieved.” So, unless one is communicating only to him or herself, all media is then intrinsically social.

And then we have to acknowledge the fact that all social interaction takes place via a medium of some sort. That is, unless you can provide me with an example to the contrary. Thus, “Social Media” becomes a term that doesn’t actually refer to anything but some sort of self-defining, circular, concept we’ve all agreed it refers to, possibly out of a collective laziness or lack of effort to actually identify and define the novelty we aim to discuss. The phrase insinuated itself into industry jargon because it was convenient and has since found its way into pop culture zeitgeist nomenclature, despite not actually meaning anything.

The thing is – social media isn’t new. When prehistoric man painted pictures of spears and buffalo on cave walls – guess what, that was social media. When town criers would shout news from atop pedestals in the marketplaces of ancient Rome that too could easily be referred to as social media.

We use the term to differentiate the dissemination of content on blogs and networking platforms from traditional outlets where information was conveyed in a more unidirectional manner. But even newspapers, TV, and radio are all social media.

What’s real and new (and what we’re all fascinated with) isn’t the vehicle itself, but how the medium allows us to alter that content as it’s shared. Every time a single datum changes hands, every time I pass on a link, or an article, or anything else, I’m imparting my own personal flavor & commentary.

To be fair, this isn’t really novel either. When a journalist tells us a story, he/she inevitably contributes a style and/or an implicit opinion (no matter how hard they may try not to). Traditional reporting is still social, regardless of how outdated it may seem to be – one party is relaying substance to another party – newscasters, radio hosts, reporters – they aren’t talking to themselves. Whether you like it or not, all media – from blogging to storytelling to skywriting – is qualitatively social.

What we are actually enamored with when we reference ‘social media’ is the quantitative aspect – the degree of socialness – not the social nature itself, as well as the subsequent reach and additional impact made possible by, and predicated upon, the repeated context-specific deconstruction and reconstruction of a given message.

Due to the fact that these platforms & emerging tools, those we’ve dubbed “social media,” or that which falls under the auspices of the “social web,” allow content to be propagated from one person to the next and between people at such an extreme rate, that the subject matter becomes malleable – living, breathing, evolving – taking on new meanings and relevancies as a result of the emotions and experiences of the person transmitting it and the context in which it’s being transmitted. Traditional media, while still retaining social properties, limits the amount of plasticity, as the route from source to reader is such a short and direct one.

So I hereby propose we stop using the term social media (though, we can still discuss social networks, platforms, or vehicles), and start referring to living, breathing, evolving dynamic media, because that’s what it is.

When we talk about the virality or memetic qualities of a video – whether organic or a component of a PR or marketing campaign – the ripple effect that we aim to recreate isn’t one of simple social transmission. I don’t want someone to just see a video and send it to a friend who sends it to a friend, et al.  Superficially, that sequence of events may appear to be an effective means of increasing reach, but every time I retweet an article or show a friend a funny video, or post a product review or campaign analysis on my blog, I’m not just restating existing content – I am reconstructing it, which is so much more impactful than simple reiteration. Furthering its spread, yes, but irrevocably altering it in the process, and thus making it my own. And when I, or more importantly, when consumers can claim partial ownership of content – such materials become more influential over behaviors, both social and commercial

We – marketers, publicists, ad execs, media producers, digital strategists, think – how can we add value to conversations, how can we create content that people want to share – good questions, but not the most potent one, as those focus on the social nature, not the living, dynamic nature. The key is to provide users, consumers, with inherently moldable content, subject matter that can exist on its own – that has innate appeal – yet is receptive to reshaping and reinterpretation, along with the tools to do so, so that consumers can take branded content and create something personally meaningful from it.

This brings us back to the Tabula Rasa approach. Provide a branded but blank canvas for consumers to express their pent up creativity – only not. At this point, that tactic, though tried and true, is worn and destined for obsolesce, lest it be revived vis-à-vis dynamic media. Some might suggest that the masses have desensitized to the blank slate. I would argue that the “waiting canvas” concept affords the public too much freedom and choice, making it less appealing, in the same way that children think they want freedom, but unknowingly crave discipline and direction.

While persons are driven and intelligent, people are lazy and stupid, (Hat Tip – Men In Black) and that entails a very precise paradigm for the successful employment of dynamic media for branded or commercial ends. Namely, people don’t want to create content from scratch. We live in the heart of remix culture. Intrinsically valuable materials need to be provided to consumers, accompanied by both the means to impart a personal, individualized meaning – the added value, be it emotional, contextual, cultural, or otherwise – and the tools to easily share their product. But keep in mind, while they may cherish their creation, consumers are producers too, and when they propagate such a construct, one parented by the individual in tandem with the brand, the consumer is aware of, and expecting, the next person in the chain to impart his or her own contextual significance onto the borne product.

Yes, this is SOCIAL but so what? The opportunity for brands, and with it our focus, lies within exploiting the dynamic quality of such content. The mere fact that this content evolution it might happen through social transmission is interesting and yes, does lend the social realm reason for analysis and investigation, but it is only a means to an asymptotic end.

One corollary of all this would be the discussion of what is classically associated with Word-of-Mouth marketing and the attempt to generate (the over-and often-misused metaphor) viral content (memes) and the accompanying image of a wave as ripples through still waters. But that analogy is only representative of the dissemination of static content, not living, breathing, evolving entities.

Whether we look at viruses, as they infect cells and replicate, using their host’s own mechanisms as it’s means of proliferation, or the outermost waves of a ripple in a pond – we are observing the conception of clones – the replication of identical entities – even if the potential growth and reach of such replication is now exponentially greater (as it is with social networks and outlets). In its place, I suggest we think of dynamic media marketing as a game of telephone. Brands must prepare for and embrace the idea that it’s initial narrative will get distorted and refashioned at every stop along the way. Instead of trying to control the final outcome by carefully & strategically crafting that first idea – one designed to affect the end product – the ideas and messaging should be devised, from the outset, to welcome that loss of control. Because the truth is, control is something brands never really had to begin with.

In the same way that misdirected efforts, those overly centered around a specific platform like Facebook or Twitter instead of the underlying message or behavior, will face transmedia obstacles, so long as brands and those representing them continue to focus on the “social” facet of emerging media, their attempts at capitalizing on all that the digital space has to offer will be limited, if not hampered entirely, by overemphasizing and over-attending the wrong element.

This is not so say that there isn’t a place for the term “social.”  I’ve already mentioned the platforms & vehicles, the “media” designed for the most basic and fundamental of social behaviors, namely, simple communication, conversation, dialogue, the exchange of information between 2 or more parties.

But the real opportunity for brands and producers is to do one of two things:

  1. Blur the lines between offline & online behaviors by creating a virtual or digital counterpart for a real life process (and vice versa) to the point where no such boundary exists.
  2. Alternatively, take a traditionally personal or individual behavior and impose an artificial progression that would effectively socialize the behavior.

Couple these precepts for the most intensive approach – taking an analogue, private activity and creating – then owning – it’s online, social counterpart.

For example, if networking, conversation, and information exchange are the basis for the existence and employment of social networking sites, then, social gaming would be one example of a successful branded enterprise in which a behavior was effectively transitioned into this space. Presently, in the throes of the holiday season, we’re seeing brands attempt to recreate traditional shopping experiences with social e-commerce parallels.

This approach is in direct contrast to those that seek to leverage or exploit preexisting behaviors, such as Facebook applications and campaigns that capitalize on users’ affinity for posting pictures and videos to social networks. It’s easy to analyze Facebook data and discern common behaviors across users in a target demographic. It’s much more difficult and innovative, however, to identify behaviors that have become outdated and abandoned, or with which we have become complacent, with the potential for social, digital reincarnation. As a result, such innovation carries with it greater weight and promise for the coveted return on investment.

One last thought. I’m not actually trying to convince you that social media doesn’t exist. I’m simply attempting to separate two discrete concepts (and opportunities) that we’ve lumped together under one label that doesn’t do them justice. If we do want to focus on the platforms’ socially enabling features as a vehicle that allows for the evolution of media and content – that would be amazing. But the tools to study this field transcend analysis of Facebook and Twitter and trendspotting platform-specific behaviors and desires. That analysis is necessary of course (I’ve dedicated many hours to it, in fact) but that really requires a manufactured evolution of consumer behaviorism to adopt and incorporate technological innovation and social psychology – confirmation bias, attribution bias, labeling effect, self-fulfilling prophesies etc. People behave (read: shop, interact with brands…) differently when alone than when in groups. Every action is different, whether on or offline. Understanding how people act in social situation is KEY for marketing in general and is not limited to digital media.

I’m not trying to undervalue the “socialness” the brand’s need to grasp. 2-way, Brand-Consumer conversations are imperative at this point as the masses are increasingly demanding this form of engagement. I’m only trying to point out that from a marketing standpoint, assuaging that need for brands to be social and create social opportunities is different from strategic planning and planting content that is designed to be dynamic and ever-evolving. That part goes hand-in-hand with brands coming to terms with the fact that they never had control of their brand identity – a systemic flaw in most messaging that is exacerbated by the exponential rate at which a given message, and with it, objectives, mutate.

The applications of dynamic media are as limitless as social. We just need to remind ourselves that there are two independent (however intertwined or overlapping) phenomena that require our attention.

Thank you for reading my tirade, I’ll try to keep my future posts to 140 characters or less. And please, feel free to disagree with everything I’ve just said – that’s how we learn!

A quick shout out to Faris – My boss and mentor and source of inspiration for this topic. Also – Check out Shamable – The New No BS Social Media Guide! 

Giving 1 Million Followers a Purpose

By now, most of you have heard about the original @Drew auctioning off his Twitter Handle to benefit the Live Strong Foundation. I’m sure you’ve also heard about & Drew Carey and his series of increasingly generous bids – now potentially reaching $1,000,000 – should Mr. Carey’s Current Account Accrue a total of 1,000,000 Followers – Effectively Attributing a $1 Value to each person.

You can check out Mashable’s Coverage of #BlameDrewsCancer & the surrounding story, as well as CNN’s take on the situation.

I’m not breaking any news here – but I would like to make a comparison, even if it’s an obvious one. If you recall, it wasn’t too long ago that Ashton Kutcher, Oprah, and a slew of other celebrities pathetically riding their diamond studded coattails, joined the ranks of Twitter Personas, despite some vehement protesting that they do (and still do) nothing to add value to the community. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t celebrities who DO engage with their followers, ala The New York Jets, Dave Matthews, Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon…and others

However, it takes but a quick look at Mr. Demi Moore Willis’ recent posts to see he’s just broadcasting, adding little to no value, using twitter no differently than he would any other medium.

This is also not to say that he’s using twitter any differently than 90% of the rest of the popular platform’s patrons. However, he made a point to garner followers and attention, ‘racing’ CNN to reach 1 million and make the history books – and has since done absolutely nothing with that accomplishment, or his fan/follower base. All that influence – just going to waste.

Meanwhile – Drew Carey’s going to get a million followers (probably, maybe?), and even if he can’t interact with each and every single one – he’s still engaging, adding value to the community by validating their existence, giving them a reason to follow him other than to voyeur on mundane celebrity activity – he’s giving them VALUE – $1 to be exact. Thus enabling every single one of his followers to contribute to a charitable cause just by lifting a finger and without even having to donate any money themselves.

And what does Mr. Carey get out of this? He certainly doesn’t need the additional attention any more than Kutcher, the guy hosts “The Price is Right.” Sure he gets some added PR and a bit of an ego boost – but it’s costing him up to a million dollars.

This whole situation begs us to compare the two and their respective endeavors to reach one million followers – Ashton’s was vain, self serving, and ultimately pointless. While Drew Carey’s is clearly altruistic, not only donating his own money for a good cause but also rallying the masses and facilitating their involvement in charity, in the simplest possible way, through both traditional and new media. I think we have a winner here.

This then begs another question – how will Mr. Carey’s actions impact nonprofits and charitable organizations in their use of social media? Initiatives designed to raise attention for a given cause can elevate a charity from relative obscurity to a zeitgeist phenom with people dedicating their Facebook statii to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, en masse, or Greening their twitter profile picture to reflect the political situation in Iran.

Further, Microdonation campaigns have used the Twitter ripple effect and apps like Facebook causes to refocus attention from low quantity, high volume donations from philanthropic giants to relying, instead, on individuals, average Joes & Janes, donating in small increments but also in great magnitudes.

Now a new method makes the foray into the fray – something of a spin on celebrity endorsements and PSAs with a bit of 90’s domain squatting thrown into the mix, albeit with a more benevolent agenda in mind.

Back on the Ides of April ’09, CNN set what could have been a terrible precedent when they purchased the CNNBRK account, potentially opening the doors for malicious squatters to register for brands’ preferred social media profiles and hold them for ransom. [Note – @cnnbrk has been ridiculously inactive of late – wonder if CNN is regretting that decision]

Personally, I’m curious to see if Mr. Carey’s Actions will catch on – is auctioning off popular twitter accounts a viable means of raising money or is this a one-time deal?

It also calls into question the role of celebrities on Twitter – how should they be using twitter? If they can accrue a vast number of followers with relative ease (or $) do they have a responsibility to activate those followers?

Thoughts Please!!!!