• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 18, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • Given Uber's prominence in the early days of the collaborative economy, it may seem odd for me to suggest, but I believe a significant decline in Uber's business may be terrific for the long-term interests of the collective consumption movement. My reasoning is that the sharing economy is not simply about more collaborative products but more collaborative companies. Viewed through this lens, Uber simply has not earned its premiere status in this new business movement.

    Uber has been a poster child for the emerging sharing economy. While other collaborative economy startups like Airbnb and LendingClub have grown and garnered attention, they have yet to create the sort of impact within their verticals that Uber has in the livery business. In San Francisco, for example, Uber (with an assist from other ride-sharing startups) has already caused a 65% decline in taxicab trips and New York has seen a small but unheard of decline in the price of taxi medallions.

    Given Uber's prominence in the early days of the collaborative economy, it may seem odd for me to suggest, but I believe a significant decline in Uber's business may be terrific for the long-term interests of the collective consumption movement. My reasoning is that the sharing economy is not simply about more collaborative products but more collaborative companies. Viewed through this lens, Uber simply has not earned its premiere status in this new business movement.

    Uber's embarrassments have been many and frequent, such as:

    All of these blunders occured before this week's embarrassing dustup over threats to dig up dirt against critical journalists and their families. Then, as if Uber's crap week needed icing on the clueless cake, the company's CEO, Travis Kalanick, compared his company's woes to those of the residents of Ferguson, MO.
     

    Travis Kalanick (Photo Credit: Silicon Prairie News)

    That Uber has a terrible corporate culture is in no doubt. Of course, what would you expect from a CEO that calls his company "Boob-er" for the way it helps him land dates. If the CEO at a traditional company said these sorts of things or presided over a fraction of Uber's PR stumbles, he or she would be shown the door immediately, but Kalanick seems to have nothing to fear, provided he keeps the billions rolling in for investors.  In fact, not only has the latest gaffe caused no apparent ruckus among investors about Kalanick's leadership, one investor--actor Ashton Kutcher--came to the executive team's defense, tweeting "What's so wrong about digging up dirt on shady journalist?"

    If Uber's leaders and investors are unwilling to foster the sort of culture consumers want and expect, then perhaps it is time for consumer action. There is a small but growing trend among people deleting Uber from their smartphones. Comedian John Hodgman wrote a blog post saying "I just can't get into the car with those guys any more." Tech writer Nilofer Merchant is also deleting her Uber app. I have deleted mine, and you can too.

    Yes, Uber is an astounding service, but is that really enough? Study after study validates consumers' growing desire for better companies--ones that act ethically, contribute to the community and treat both employees and customers better. This is made clear by a slew of research such as Edelman's Trust Barometer and Havas Meaningful Brands study.

    We have the power to demand better leaders and companies. If we fail to act now--if we let our love of Uber's service blind us to its terrible and uncollaborative actions--that will only embolden and encourage VCs, startup leaders and others to accept aberrant leadership behaviors and build companies that respect nothing but profits. That is not the collaborative economy I want.

    Some may suggest that an Uber failure would be a strike against the new sharing economy, but I believe the opposite is true. The collaborative economy is changing the world, but its progress will be hindered if we support companies that violate every tenet of the social era.

    Cash may pay the bills, but trust is what drives the collaborative economy. Trust is the necessary ingredient to convert customers to new ways of consuming goods and to win the support of doubting regulators. Today, Uber's trust-killing antics are harming the entire sharing industry, raising suspicions about the kind of ethics and honesty that are driving crowd companies. At a time when Uber and other sharing economy companies should be winning hearts and minds, Uber's arrogance and mistakes are instead breeding suspicion at the Federal, state and local levels.

    The best thing for the collective consumption movement would be for consumers to send a clear and unmistakable message to Uber and its peers. If enough of us act, we can shape the future of this emerging way of doing business. We can and should put the collaboration back into the collaborative economy and help Silicon Valley understand that we want more than better services; we want better companies.

    Uber is not the only ride-sharing service around, and I urge you to consider exploring other options such as LyftSidecar and Curb. The next time you use a ride-sharing service, make sure it is one that has earned not just your business but your respect, as well.

    (Added note: It seems advisable to point out that my opinions are my own. Moreover, let me state that I want ride sharing in general and Uber in specific to succeed. But on the trajectory it is going, I fear Uber will not only undermine its own success but harm other companies in the budding peer-to-peer economy. If deleting Uber now can bring about a change in its corporate culture and force Uber to be more collaborative, trustworthy and respectful, then I will gladly reinstall the app in the future and feel as if I have helped the company succeed in the long term.)

    As of January 2015, Business Pages content will show up less frequently on the casual user's news feed. Is it worth it, then, for small businesses to hold onto their Facebook Pages?

    As I’m sure every small business owner has noticed, Facebook reach has been dwindling significantly in the past couple months. In the Facebook page update email I receive on a weekly basis, my used-to-be green numbers are now an alarming shade of red, showing that my reach is accomplishing negative results- a very drastic change from our very positive numbers our first couple of years with a business Facebook page.  

    On November 14, 2014, Facebook stated, “Beginning in January 2015, people will see less [pages] content in their News Feeds.” Which means that those red numbers you receive in your pages update email will get a little bigger unless you hop onto the paid advertising option. Though, if the point of posting on Facebook as a small business is so that people can view your content, the boosted posting doesn’t seem so optional.

    When I think back to first creating my business Facebook page, the biggest pulls were that it gave me an easy communication outlet with my customers, it gave our business a sense of professionalism (because what business doesn’t have a Facebook page?), and, mostly, because it was free. Now, with our posts not reaching a majority of our audience unless we pay for it, it’s hard to say if professionalism will continue to be tied to businesses that have Facebook. Or if the small businesses that start a couple years from will even feel the need to create a Facebook fan page due to the costs that accompany it.

    Are there benefits to the new changes?

    This whole thing started, it seems, to improve the casual user’s experience. Facebook made these changes due to a poll they took asking Facebook users what they like and don’t like about the News Feed. The response they received showed that, despite the fact that users initially “liked” a business page, they don’t like to then see posts from said business pages. That, paired with the ever-growing competitive available space on each individual user’s News Feed, has caused Facebook to remedy these complaints by lessening the frequency in which business posts actually make it on to other users’ news feeds. Additionally, now more than ever it’s easier to “unfollow” (while continuing to like) a business. So for the user that doesn’t want to see a lot of ads, or posts from businesses, as he scrolls down his News Feed, the changes Facebook will implement this January seem pretty great.

    But there are also benefits for the business pages. 

    Yes, we are paying for the viewership of our posts, but it is still cheaper to throw down $10 or $50 a post every now and then than it is to hire an outside marketing or PR team to reach people in a similar way that Facebook paid advertising does. Additionally, the boosted posts are being tailored to be highly effective for each individual business. Business pages now have the option of choosing specific demographics to point their posts at, based on age, gender, and location. Page administrators also now have the “post now or post later” option, allowing businesses to time their posts to send out at a later date - a helpful feature of Facebook posting for the busy business owner. So they really are working to improve the small business experience as well as the causal user experience.

    Do I think it’s worth it to hold onto our fan page?

    As of now, yes. Facebook is still a good place to dump all of the great content we generate and create (especially because it’s also going to other places). For anyone who simply searches our brand’s name in the search box, he’ll be able to find every great piece of work we’ve put up. As for the paid posting, we typically boost any post with a link that will lead directly back to our site. It’s worth the money with how many click-backs we consistently receive. I plan on sticking with Facebook for the time being. Who knows, these changes could end up making marketing via Facebook the best PR option yet. 

    Cornucopias represent bounty and generosity, which is why they're a must-have on any Thanksgiving table. Building a cornucopia is far from easy through - it's a very thoughtful and strategic process.

    Cornucopias represent bounty and generosity, which is why they're a must-have on any Thanksgiving table.

    Building a cornucopia is far from easy through - it's a very thoughtful and strategic process. 

    Similar to how you must include a variety of ingredients in your cornucopia to satisfy all of your dinner guests, marketers must follow the same approach in content creation. 

    Scripted put together this content cornucopia infographic to help guide your holiday content need - Enjoy!

    Click image to enlarge.

    7 Fresh Content Format Ideas To Shake Things Up - #infographic

    Read more: http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2014/11/the-content-cornucopia-what-content-is-your-audience-craving-this-thanksgiving-infographic.html#ixzz3JvL32pCX

    The social digital revolution is melting the problem that marketing was based around. It is now not a problem defined by the difficulty of distribution, it is a problem defined by the opportunity for connection. It is not a world defined by relationships with audiences, it is defined by relationships with indivuduals – and relationships between individuals are always going to be ‘warmer’ than relationships with audiences.

    Marketing has always been a cold business.  We may not have realised this in the same way that our ancestors in the Ice Age didn’t think it was especially chilly.  As they were huddled round their fires, drapped in layers of woolly mamoth skin, they were not dreaming of laying out on a sunny beach in their fur-lined swimwear.  We only call it the Ice Age because we are looking back at it from the perspective of a warmer world.  We can now see that pretty much eveything our ancestors were doing in the Ice Age revolved around the fact that keeping warm was difficult, but to the folks at the time, this was just business-as-usual.

    Marketing is the same.  The rules of marketing were established to deal with a ‘cold’ environment where distributing information (like staying warm) was expensive and difficult.  But because these rules applied to everyone, we didn’t notice them.  Instead, we simply focused on playing the game better.

    But marketing (especially consumer brand marketing) is now in trouble.  In fact, I think 2015 is shaping up to be a very tough year for marketing.  The reason for this is that the brand climate is warming up, and brand marketers haven’t got themselves a hat and some sun-screen.  Instead, to continue to stretch an already rather mixed analogy, they are trying (unsuccesfully) to make a fur parasol.

    The social digital revolution is melting the problem that marketing was based around.  It is now not a problem defined by the difficulty of distribution, it is a problem defined by the opportunity for connection.  It is not a world defined by relationships with audiences, it is defined by relationships with indivuduals – and relationships between individuals are always going to be ‘warmer’ than relationships with audiences. We may have believed that we could create a warm relationship with a ‘target audience’ but that was only relative.  The best audience-type of relationship can only ever be at the warmer end of a fundamentally cold scale.  It may have seemed like a warm relationship to us at the time, but only in the same way that 1 degree above freezing might have seemed a pretty balmy day to the folks in the Ice Age.

    Any strategy or set of tactics designed for a cold world will become increasingly less effective as the world warms up.  This is the problem we see with marketing.  Everything we know about how to ‘do’ marketing still works, it just works less and less effectively as every year passes.  And this is why marketing directors are tearing their hair out and coming under pressure from finance directors and CEOs – pressure which is then translated to their agencies.  It makes no business sense to keep pouring progressively more and more money into something to compensate for the fact that it is delivering less and less.

    But – there was a Great Hope.  We could all see that the problem seemed to be coming out of the digital space, so we therefore assumed that the digital space would offer up to us a solution.  The tools, the things, the channels that came out of this space would deliver for us the results that the old tools and channels were failing to do.  Or so we believed.

    The reason I think 2015 is going to be the year of reckoning is a dawning recognition that the Great Digital Hope (in all its iterations) – is failing to live up to the promise.  It might be delivering a bit, but it is not delivering enough.  Indeed, in many instances it is turning out to be an even more unproductive environment in which to spend traditional marketing dollars.  For example, we have now realised that ‘organic reach’ in social media is no sort of reach at all.  We can bolt advertising solutions onto this, but this advertising works less effectively than it did when we were doing it in traditional media.  We can become more targeted in our approach, but the more targeted we become, the less receptive people are to being targeted (or less responsive to what we have to target them with).  The metrics we have all been chasing: engagement, followings, ‘likes’ are turning out to be both hard to achieve at any sort of scale, and also pretty worthless if you achieve them.

    Of course it is not the digital environment that is failing to deliver, it is simply that the old approaches don’t deliver in this new environment.

    In the new world, you don’t deal with audiences, you deal with individuals.  But, you can’t deal with individuals all at once (or else they become an audience again).  So if you can only deal with a small number of people at any one time, the value you have to extract (the heat if you wish) has to be dramatically greater.  And generating sufficient heat will inevitably involve ceding elements of control back to the consumer, because productive relationships have to be balanced.  Brands have not been giving consumers what they really want, they have been giving them what it is economically efficient for them to provide.  But while brands are all playing to the same rules, it can appear as though we are responding to our consumers – when all we are doing is being a tiny bit less-responsive than the next guy.

    The logic behind ‘hot marketing’ is pretty compelling, in much the same way that the logic behind global warming is pretty compelling.  It is also relatively easy to start to identify how to create value through the power of connection (rather than distribution).  But, as with global warming, recognition of the problem doesn’t make the solution easy – because it involves surrendering the old certainties and doing things differently.  This isn’t going to happen overnight.  However, the first step is for brands to understand the rules of ‘hot marketing’ as well as recognising how fundamentally cold the previous rules were.

    My mission for 2015 is therefore to be an evangelist for Hot Marketing.

    Contrary to what you may have heard, digital footprints don't really last forever. What this means for you: be careful to save your own online history.

    There’s this strange adage among digital specialists, which starts any 101 lecture on social media:

    “Your digital footprints are forever. The web keeps everything.”

    That’s actually wrong: the digital lifespan is far shorter than what we expect. And the web does not care for history; despite all the things we read about big data, very few companies are able to keep a track record of users in the very long term. Technologies fade and so do social networks. It’s a pity for citizens, but also for new generations, who don’t seem to benefit from the past.

    Have you ever tried to find a song which was played by a local band, but is now impossible to find? It happened to me with a band called “This is for Brodie.” I attended a gig at UCLA in 2004. 10 years later, fans are lost, and now what remains are only some forum threads with no one able to share the precious MP3s, which used to be all over the place on MySpace. No social network will be able to feed my memory: it’s now up to me to slowly get in touch with other folks and hope that somewhere on a hard drive, the lovely beats are saved.

    Social networks die, and personal stories die with them.

    In 2009, Geocities closed its doors to millions of users. What used to be one of the most popular “local” discovery tools suddenly stopped - destroying millions of previous interactions.

    More recently, Orkut, widely popular in India and Brazil, stopped in September 2014. Beyond the business, how many personal stories started on these platforms?

    It’s hard to say, but a figure in the UK sums up what is at stake: approximately one in five relationships in the UK starts online.  

    So when a social network or digital platform stops, the impact goes beyond the simple URL. It’s actually the whole user experience which goes to trash. Interestingly, we tend to consider social media as earned media. Additionally when a network stops, we tend to focus only on the owned digital property. But what happens to the blurry “earned” users? No one seems to care.

    It is up to the users to keep memory alive.

    Reading ‘Terms & Conditions’ is key to understanding that social networks don’t care about history. When we scrutinize Twitter TCs, there’s a strong emphasis on “now” and later… but nothing is said about the past, or about what will happen if Twitter was to close.

    “We may modify or adapt your Content in order to transmit, display or distribute it over computer networks and in various media and/or make changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to any requirements or limitations of any networks, devices, services or media.”

    The recent move of Twitter revealing and making all public tweets accessible since the microblogging platform’s launch in 2006, is a good first move to bring people’s history back to the users

    Nonetheless, there’s a sort of legal black hole with social media; not many companies seem to focus on the emergency to maintain a track level of records of individuals’ lives online. It might seem contradictory with claiming that privacy must be protected by tech businesses. But it’s not: privacy is a dynamic, it’s a deal between what communities agree to leave and what they get in counterpart. Privacy from the past can’t be maintained if private property is then destroyed the day a social interface disappears. Imagine you’re buying a house for local associations; it’s very rare when suddenly someone or something gets rid of you. It’s even conceptually impossible. In social media, it’s like if there was an unbalanced relationship between the tangibility of our lives, the tangibility of our feelings and the servers that host them - with very short memories.

    Whereas the “cloud” is supposed to keep a sort of magic track record of everybody, when it comes to real memories and real interactions, it’s up to the user to save, host, and maintain them.

    As a lot of hacktivists are focusing on the right to forget, it might be interesting to start thinking about a new set of laws: the right to remember.

    Dictatorial regimes often start by removing history lectures from schools after all…