Archive for the ‘culture’ Category
Read a fascinating story in Read Write Web about university admissions in the age of Facebook. Here’s the gist of it. University admissions officers are creeping on prospective student’s Facebook Pages to help them judge their admission-worthiness. Knowing this, some high school students beef up their privacy settings. Others take a more inventive approach and pepper their timelines with admission-worthy ‘accomplishments’ such as ‘What a rewarding night serving food at the soup kitchen’.
I’m certain that the first thought going through some readers’ minds is, “Shame on them for lying like that.” But consider this. Certain scholarships require that the student “friend” the sponsor before being considered (I guess to get around the student’s privacy settings). Now why are these scholarship judges so prying? Shouldn’t the essay the student has to write be enough to go with? And isn’t it kind of creepy that you’re snooping on some teenager’s timeline that’s likely filled with a few party pics?
C’mon adults set a better example. Judge students on merit not whether they post a few party pics to share with their friends. Besides, a lot of these ‘character’ based judgements were originally meant for discriminatory purposes anyway.
With the resignation of Steve Jobs comes a plethora of retrospectives and many lists of quotes. This one really stuck out for me.
“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
BusinessWeek interview, May 1998
It’s very similar to something Henry Ford allegedly said, “”If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
I’m a digital and social media marketer. I don’t do focus groups. I do a somewhat digital equivalent. I do conversation audits. Rather than take a panel of a few supposedly randomly chosen people, pay them roughly $50 and ask them a bunch of questions about a product, I look at what people are saying online “in the field” so to speak and derive insights that can inform a client strategy or guide the big idea for a digital campaign. In one respect you could say that I’m trying to figure out what people want and in the Jobsian sense that might mean I’m crowding out the ability to come up with a truly creative or innovative campaign.
Except, when I look at conversations online, I’m not trying to figure out what people want. The conversations that people have online reflect an in-the-moment thought (Twitter, Facebook status updates) or an introspective thought (blogs, tumblr). They’re not answers to leading questions, they’re ‘real’ thoughts. I’m looking for patterns. Patterns in random conversations that will inspire a eureka moment, an insight, so named because you cannot see it until you dive in. If done right, it shouldn’t lead to an incremental improvement. Incremental improvements are somewhat obvious. It should lead to a discovery that sparks something innovative.
In the old days of the web pseudonyms were the rule. Anonymity was the web’s allure. You could escape from your real life and be whomever you wanted online. Then Facebook happened. Real names, real pictures. Authenticity starts ruling the interweb. And now Twitter. Seems like half the people go with a pseudonym (though most will have a real name in the bio) and the other half go with a real name or a variation involving initials. When a newbie wants to join Twitter, I’m at a loss to advise which format to go with?
I had a conversation about this with a colleague (who goes by his real name on twitter) and his theory was: If you’re going to be tweeting actively and often and you have a clever name, go with that memorable pseudonym. When you rock the twitterverse with your 140 character wit, the pseudonym adds a new dimension, maybe a level of mystique, to your personal brand. On the other hand, you know your real name, others know your real name, it’s your name why not use it? I suppose authors with pen names and actors/musicians with stage names go through a similar thought process…adding more fuel to my long-held belief that social media turns us all into public figures.
After seeing Gabe Zicherman at Meshmarketing 2010 and after watching several talks from TEDster Jesse Schell, I’m starting to drink the gameified kool-aid. I’m fully convinced that the “game” is the best metaphor for marketing.