Thursday, July 29, 2010

Foursquare And Seven Months Ago...

About seven months ago I installed the Foursquare app onto my iPhone and almost immediately found joy in keeping up, sharing and competing with my friends and colleagues on this relatively simple location-based service.

I quickly earned 6 badges, including the ever popular Crunked badge (thank you Charlotte, NC). I was elected mayor and booted from office many times.

Foursquare was useful and fun.

Then the marketers showed up; to which I respond: Can't you leave anything alone? As a lifelong professional marketer, I get it. As a consumer, I don't want it. You can't do a simple web search anymore without being bombarded by a dozen advertisers who not only think they know what you want, but who openly lie about what they are selling. Virtually every free phone app is now funded by mobile ads that interrupt your activities. E-mail boxes are flooded with unwanted correspondence and inappropriate offers. In short, the virtual world has become a reflection of the real world.

And Foursquare, which connects the two together, is quickly succumbing to the marketing sirens. Too bad. I deleted my Foursquare app and am moving on to newer, greener pastures. My goal is to stay one step ahead of the marketers (even though I am one of them).

Honest Abe once said: "You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." Maybe he was right, but I can't take one more today of advertising saturation... sometimes it's nice to simply be left alone with your thoughts.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why is There Even a Question about Whether Social Media is a PR Function

In the words of Mr. T, "Quit the jibber jabber."

For more than 30 years I have listened to one stupid argument after another about who can and should do what in this industry we call marketing.

Only ad agencies should create ads, only PR firms should do publicity, only direct marketing firms should manage direct mail, blah, blah, blah.

Maybe someone should tell Tony Hsieh that Zappos should only sell shoes. Maybe Someone should tell Steve Jobs that Apple should only make computers. Maybe someone should tell McDonalds to stick with burgers and fries and forget the coffee business.

Here is my advice to organizations looking to hire an agency to develop and implement their social marketing strategies - whether you are talking to an ad agency or a digital marketing firm or an SEO firm or a PR firm: Do a little homework, ask a lot of questions and find out what the agency team knows.

I have a 33,000-gallon inground pool at my home, and you could fit into a thimble everything I know about pools. So I look to experts for advice. I talk to pool stores who have service teams, I talk to pool construction companies that have service teams, I talk to dedicated pool service companies, I talk to independent pool guys, and I talk to neighbors who have pools and manage them on their own.

I ask them about opening the pool and about closing the pool, I ask them about shocking the pool, I ask them about treating and maintaining the water, I ask them about the pool pump and filtration system... in the words of Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters, "I got a few thousand questions of my own."

I would never hire a pool service just because they say they service pools. And I would never not hire a pool service just because they also do other things. I hire the pool service guys who seem to have good experience, good ideas, and a good sense of what I want to accomplish. I also consider chemistry (not water chemistry, people chemistry) and references.

So instead of engaging in conversations about who should "do" or "own" social media marketing, engage in conversations with agencies about what they know and what experience they have and what their thoughts are and how their approach might be unique.

Find a fit and test it.

And if it doesn't work out, start over again.

And quit the jibber jabber.

P.S. If an agency team tries to dazzle you with acronyms, idioms and jargon, run (don't walk) to the next agency on your list. If they can not explain it clearly, they either don't get it or they are more interested in listening to themselves talk than they will ever be in meeting your goals.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Look at Me! Look at Me!! Look at Me!!!

Once upon a time, people became famous as a result of something they did. Sometimes it was something great. Sometimes it was something diabolic. But it was because of something.

Today, being famous is an act in itself.

And with all due deference to Andy Warhol, he was not even close with his 15 minutes of fame prediction. Today, everyone wants and has the ability to have a lifetime of fame (albeit dubious).

It appears we have become a Jackass society overrun with media whores who will do anything and everything as a means to become and remain famous.

Back in the 1970s, novelist Tom Wolfe coined the term me decade in New York magazine to describe the new American preoccupation with self-awareness and the collective retreat from history, community, and human reciprocity. In kind, I would like to coin the 2010s as the look at me decade to describe the new American preoccupation with narcissism and the quest to be seen, viewed, heard, recognized and acknowledged for being alive.

Never before in the history of our planet have so many done so little and expected so much in return. Look at me. Follow me. Friend me. Tweet me. Text me. Blog about me. Watch me. Listen to me. Validate my existence.

We can blame it on the media – both traditional and social. We can blame it on a universal religion that deifies fame. We can blame it on an internal and natural drive to be gods. We can blame it on a globally networked yet totally disconnected society of human beings who simply want to be noticed.

I have no idea what the true cause is, but for anyone who cares, here is what the smartest man to ever walk this fine Earth (Albert Einstein) had to say about fame:

It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.