Face(book)ing your level of creepiness

Social media is a weird and bountiful collection of amazing, cool, average, mediocre and creepy moments – both online and off.

I have a friend on Facebook™ who is in the same line of work – we’ve meet, but we aren’t friends per se. You know what I mean, we all have people like that online. Hell, as a comedian I have people connected to me that I’ve never meet. That’s the life of being social online.

There is nothing about this person that is bad in any way. He is good at what he does – and I respect him on a number of levels. He routinely posts pictures of himself in and out of the limelight. Again nothing new in this world of selfiedom. Here’s where it starts to get creepy – or at least awkward. Many of these pictures contain his wife.

I’ve never meet her. I’m sure she is a great person. I’m not trying to say it in that sarcastic way – really! I’m sure she’s wonderful. But I’m going to repeat – I’ve never meet her.

Here’s the issue.

I routinely pass by her on on my way from the gym to the office. How do I know that it is her? Trust me – I’ve seen enough photos to know – it’s her. And each time I’m tempted to say hey – how’s this and that. But I restrain myself – because even if I was able to explain myself: Yeah, I sort of know your husband – and I’m familiar with your life because of Facebook – so therefore…

where are you going? why you running? wait up!

See – creepy! I can’t wait to meet her for real – then I will gladly engage in a conversation that doesn’t start with – This is going to sound weird, but …

What’s your best creep moment?

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Is advertising an option?

There is a tremendous amount of focus on social and digital media – relative to pushing a brand forward in these turbulent times. Many books have been, and will be, written about this topic – from Seth Godin to Mitch Joel. Including relative newcomers with such lofty titles for their books like Social Media is Bullshit.

It would be great if all the hurdles of marketing could be solved by applying just digital and social media (d&sm). It would be. But ultimately impossible.

There are a lot of positive stories associated with d&sm – kickstarter, warby parker and many more. But the biggest companies are still the biggest companies – Starbucks, McDonalds, Nike – you know the rest of the list. You know the list because they never stop advertising. I’m sure there are people in this world that do not know the companies I’ve listed. There has to be. Surely, somewhere – people don’t know what Nike is, or what they make.

But for the other 98.4%* of this water-based sphere – those companies are ubiquitous. And one of the main reasons – advertising. Sure they are getting busy in the d&sm space – but their world-wide presence is cemented by hard-core advertising.

It’s not just that they advertise – they Advertise. All the time.

And I think the take away on this for all is – whatever your channel of promotion – fill it all the time. The areas of d&sm are like children – and what I clearly remember the judge saying is that children need (read are legally required) to be feed.

*this stat may, or more likely may not be accurate.

message delivered (maybe)

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, 4Square, E-mail, etc.

There are now so many ways to connect and broadcast that it’s time consuming just to list them.

At what point does it become burdensome to just to try and keep up. There are some services that connect and cross broadcast (like this Blog – it gets publicized through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, e-mail list and Subscribers once I press the publish button). The idea of one button pushing out content to a myriad outlets is ideal.

But once we get the message out – how do we know that it gets to where it needs to be (in front of a pair of eyes – man I’m going to get a load of hate-mail from the cyclops Society of Canada). How do we really measure that result? It’s not just a question of broadcast math.

My blog is (according to my WordPress stats) broadcast to 750+ people on Facebook, 50+ followers on Twitter and 300+ connections on LinkedIn. Plus about 15 people have subscribed to this Blog. That’s the broadcast math. My daily viewing stats are much more humbling – in and around 10-20 views per day when I’m generating new content.

So – that’s a big difference. I would love to be in a better position. One day. But producing content (and content worth reading) is key. Above and beyond that sometimes it’s luck, finding a niché, or getting recognition in other venues (speakers, being quoted in an article, etc.). Which ultimately becomes a weird vicious circle.

How often do you check or block content from people that constantly are broadcasting? Do you find yourself using curating apps/sites (like Zite, FlipBoard, Currents, etc.) to help filter and consolidate topics or areas of concern and interest?

Fresh brewed social

A curious thing has happened to the coffee shop – whether it be Starbucks, Tim Hortons (if american insert Dunkin Donuts) or a local place like Planet Coffee in Ottawa.

The shift in social has been amazing, on a couple of levels. The fact that some of these places (like Starbucks) that have their own apps and/or are piggybacking on outside technology (like passbook from Apple) is astounding. On top of the fact that they offer free wi-fi. Free, of course, being relative to the fact that you tend to be making a purchase. But those are the shifts in offerings that coffee shops have to present to play level with others’ offering the same product (whom are offering free wi-fi as well).

This presents coffee shops with the other social change – the systematic overall haul of what it means to be social in a coffee shop.

At one point in time they were the location people gravitated to be social – as in having a face-to-face conversation. More and more people are forgoing the arduous task of verbally communicating and letting their fingers converse with the fingers of others. Soon maybe the apps will even allow us to order our drinks before we arrive – again saving us from certain eye contact.

Social media, as I and myriad others have spouted about, is a lot of good, interesting things. But it can’t replace real conversation. Because real conversations are where we see and feel the words – which give the message it’s context. Because without context, is communicating social at all?

Upgrading your skills (all of them)

The paradigm shift that has happened while I’ve been in the workforce has been amazing: from having no fax machines all the way to being able to order a pizza – online – from my phone.

This shift has seen tremendous advances in technology. Just think of the features that are now considered standard on any phone – call waiting, call display, speed dial, contact list, etc. We’ve had advancements and additions to the channels of advertising as well. Thirty years ago it was radio, television, print or out-of-home (and that really meant billboards). To kind of understand how different the world was back then regarding advertising check out a ‘classic’ hockey game from the ’80s. Not a single extra piece of advertising to be found. Not on the scoreboard, not on the boards, not behind the bench, not on the risers on the stadium stairs, not a sponsored event between periods – nowhere!

The delivery technology has changed and morphed as well in those three decades. Remember the first time you saw a 15-second spot? How about the time you saw that mini-billboard above the urinal (that one might be just for the guys). Today we’re at a point where not only can ads be targeted to me – but to me as a guy, married, kids, location, interests. Depending on the technology, you can get as granular as you want. Or, you can still throw a big net on the traditional buys – TV, Radio, Newspaper. It’s up to you, your client and the message you want to deliver.

Your Skills

Over that time period we have had to upgrade our skills or acquire new ones: using a fax machine, a computer, cell phones, MS Word and Excel, Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator – you get the idea. There are always technical skills that we can work on. And if we can’t master them, we can hire technically savvy individuals. For instance, I have no desire to be able to code HTML5, CSS, Javascript. Ever. Are those technologies important to the job I do – you bet. No different than operating an offset press. It’s very important that I understand what the tools can achieve, it’s not as important for me to have the hands-on skills.

Your (other) Skills

The skills that are important for me to have – is the ability to think in terms of the available technologies and channels for marketing and advertising. These are the skills that are tougher to upgrade. They require a leap of faith – of accepting that there are new ways of doing things. And that today’s audiences are not the same as they were – nor should they be! At one point a lot of people got up and changed the channel on their TV – manually. Now you can watch a channel, surf the web, PIP a second show, set the PVR for a show past your bedtime. The people that own this technology are adapting to how it’s used and it’s benefits – we as marketing and advertising people need to make the same adjustments to our skills in terms of how we get messages to them.

We need to embrace the changes, we need to understand the mindset of the marketplace and deliver messaging and content that resonates. Without that insight, we might as well be sending out smoke signals – or using carrier pigeons.

What skills do you think matter?

What’s the intent?

Too often lately we, as an industry, are concerned with how we are getting a message across (social media, print, out-of-home, broadcast, experiential, etc.).

We need to make sure that the client is clear on the intent – awareness, sales, etc. – of any campaign (or project). When the client does not have a clear vision of what they would like to achieve, we don’t know where we should end up.

And if we don’t know where to end up – we sure as hell won’t know how to get there (or what vehicles to use).

Do your projects have clearly defined objectives?

Monkey see, monkey text

There’s been a lot of discussion lately on whether or not social media is helping the customer control the brand. My overall opinion is no, it is not. What it is doing is creating digital chaperones. And it didn’t start with social media, it’s just the latest incarnation of civic chaperones. There was a time when you knew everybody around you, your tribe for lack of a better description. And, more importantly, they knew you – they knew your parents, etc. Society as it was had a sense of accountability built in – and it was 360°. You could not escape the accountability, and you also had everyone else being accountable to you – it was quite symbiotic.

As time passed and our society changed we came to be in a position of not knowing our neighbours – whether it be at work, play or at home. We have far more people in our lives, our days are filled with myriad activities and we are bombarded with massive amounts of information. It’s no wonder we have lost that sense of connection with the people around us.

Hello social media

And by social media I mean all the new stuff – YouTube, Twitter, Facebook. Media and being social has been around for a while – even cave paintings are a social media of sorts. But, today’s social media has the added new features of immediacy, engagement and reach. This means that viral videos can reach a million views in hours. Social media turned communication into a two-way conversation again – maybe not equal, but a two-way conversation none-the-less.

An interesting side effect

I think the one thing that people didn’t count on with social media was the resurrection (to a degree) of accountability.

Even more fascinating is that I believe that it is a two-way accountability – not unlike being in tribes. Yes, we have all heard of United break guitar, Papa Johns Pizza, Dominos Pizza, etc. – any situation that had the David, the consumer, holding Goliath accountable. It’s social media that has allowed this to really play out – mainly because David is no longer in the battle alone.

But, I don’t see this as the only accountability aspect. I see that we, as a tribe, have the opportunity to make accountability ubiquitous. How many people during the recent Riots in Vancouver and London were revealed because of social media. A promising water polo player for Canada was exposed and subsequently removed from the national team because he was caught on a cell phone camera. Now, that’s not to say that people didn’t do stuff like that before – they did, they’re just being held to answer for it more often.

With this also comes the the trait of being an enabler – a side-effect of accountability. To enable in this use of the word – is to not stop, or make know your position known. It’s the equivalent of walking past and letting someone else deal with it. Whether it be litter, a fight or whatever else can be enabled. One of the biggest culprits – Facebook. I have a niece that has posted pictures online of her and her friends drinking. They’ve posted countless photos from parties, basements, all showing the group doing shots, drinking beer, etc. These photos have been making their way online for about two, maybe three years – she’s 18. Eighteen, and has been posted photos of underage drinking for quite a while. How do I know this – because my Wife is friends with our niece on Facebook – that’s how.

So, as we sit and do nothing – we enable – we make accountability a none factor. Should we stand up and point these things out – or are we to let these traits and behaviours blossom. That is always a tough call. But deep down, maybe we need to enact accountability for people we love as much as brands we hate (or at least feel slighted by).

Has social media changed how you see events unfold?