Apple is mercilessly slaughtering all of its competition, according to its Q1 earnings call today. Blowing past Wall Street’s expectations and causing RIM executives to consider ritual suicide, its announced $400+ billion market cap is literally enough money to feed all the starving schoolchildren of the world for the next 125 years.
When asked if these results helped explain the slew of Apple knockoffs at this year’s CES in everything from straight product clones to aesthetic inspiration – even in unrelated categories like home appliances – an Apple rep responded with a single email with no subject line and the following image attached:
The very first thing I have to say is that I’m 125% behind the SOPA protests. It’s an awful bill and I hope it dies. That’s the point of my protest of the protests.
This protest is all talk & little action, much like Occupy Wall Street has seemingly been a hipster hangout/soup kitchen/outdoor festival. When I went it seemed like the demonstrators were more interested in entertaining me than educating me.
1. The Participating Sites Are A Joke
Check out this roster of the internet elite:
2. Of the real name brand protestors, what are we accomplishing?
Reddit? Mozilla? MoveOn? FreePress? Talk about preaching to the choir.
Wikipedia is down for one day, big whoop. In this short attention span world, all it will take is another 24-hours to forget this 24-hour protest.
Wikipedia has the biggest opportunity to make an impact, but a 24-hour protest will do nothing but attract some headlines and occupy Twitter’s trending topics for a day. If Wiki really wants to make an impact, shut Wiki down indefinitely until the bills are killed. That may be drastic, but Wikipedia is the shortcut for the world to information they need. If that source is cut off, it’ll cause a shit storm.
Shit storms are motivating.
3. Google is a participant who isn’t participating.
Read what I wrote in the search box.
Okay, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on them. I mean, as a public company they do have to make a profit and those Google Ads aren’t going to click themselves. They have the right to do everything they can to be a profitable business, much like movie studio…oh.
4. I used 3 of the protestors to make this blog post happen.
I used the Google search bar on my Firefox browser to find the images to liven up this WordPress post.
Look, I hate SOPA as much as the next guy. I want that bill to die. But this is all pomp and circumstance. Hopefully the protests are successful, but it’s honestly a weak effort.
I thought the Internet would try harder to save itself.
Apparently the blackouts are working, to some extent. I still stand by my post. We’re lucky that our government is filled with pushovers.
Additionally, here is a great presentation on what SOPA and PIPA actually are:
I’ve been thinking recently about the idea of “Big” ideas. We all tend to confuse small ideas with “Big” ideas, because when you think about it big ideas are often actually small, very focused ideas.
Nike isn’t “Perform like a world-class athlete.” It’s “Just Do It.”
Apple isn’t “Change The World Through Innovation.” It’s “Think Different.”
Those big promises and brand associations we make with those two iconic brands are simply byproducts of what are really small directives, actions they tell consumers to take: “do it” & “think different.” Neither are big ideas in and of themselves.
You see something similar in category changing innovations.
If nothing else, history has taught us that we must take notice notice of the small problems. The needs customers don’t even know they have. The seemingly “small” inconveniences. Some of the best products ever created focused on those small inconveniences.
Was the Blackberry all that bad? It was a phone and it had productivity tools. Was Blockbuster all that bad? You eventually did get a movie, right?
But both the iPhone & Netflix decided those little inconveniences were intolerable and built products and services that eventually overtook their competitors.
All throughout human history progress has been built on the back of eliminating any and all inconvenience, even if the end result remained the same. Horses got you places, cars got you there faster. Fans provided relief from heat, air conditioning eliminated heat. Etc, etc.
The greatest catalyst for innovation is humanity’s capacity to never be truly satisfied by anything. There’s always better.
And when it comes to the notion that big ideas are actually small ideas, it reminds me of something I recent read in Steve Jobs book:
Even at a young age, Lisa [his first daughter] began to realize his diet obsessions reflected a life philosophy, one in which asceticism and minimalism could heighten subsequent sensations.
“He believed that great harvests came from arid sources, pleasure from restraint,” she noted. “He knew the equations that most people didn’t know: Things led to their opposites.”
I just saw this quote by a guy named Ian Calvert of Instant Grass that I thought was pretty brilliant.
“The best way to save money on launching a new product is to stop printing instruction manuals. If it’s not intuitive within 5 minutes of use, then you’re only creating friction in the market.”
As you all know, there’s a lot of hubbub going around in regards to Groupon’s Super Bowl ads. When I saw them at my Super Bowl party, there wasn’t outrage but merely disinterest. People I watched it with didn’t dislike it because it was offensive, they just didn’t think it was that funny.
And that’s because it wasn’t, even if people understood the intent. The problem was in the execution and copy. If you parody, you don’t parody off of serious issues that people are sensitive about (Tibet, Deforestation, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, etc), you parody off of either real issues that are utterly ridiculous (like people petitioning Disney to add “Lost”-themed attractions to their parks) or made up issues like this one that I just wrote in 12 seconds:
“Rich white guys. They used to run this country, moving from social event to business meeting gracefully, enjoying the finer things in life, and seducing women far out of their league. But ever since the recession hit and anger grew among everyday Americans, these once proud portraits of American prosperity have had to hide their identities in unassuming attire – like cargo pants… But thanks to Groupon.com, me and 80 others are eating alongside these tycoons of industry for 70% off at one of their last bastions of socializing [ENTER NAME OF FANCY PLACE]!”
See? Point made. Concept achieved. Pretty funny. And you even get a hit on the bad economy and why coupons are even more important now than ever.
Come on, Crispin, you guys are supposed to be the shit (with beds in your offices and whatnot so people can stay late and produce groundbreaking work.)
For those of you who know me, I’m an irrationally loyal New Jersey Nets fan. Why? Well, what can I say? I grew up Jersey City for the majority of my childhood. Being irrationally loyal is actually quite appropriate considering the inspiration for this post.
For those of you not paying attention, Carmelo Anthony is all but demanding a trade from the Denver Nuggets. He can walk after the season and become a free agent, but issues between the owners and players over the new CBA coming up in the summer could cause a lock out. If he were to become a free agent instead of signing an extension in a deal that would trade him to another team, he would lose out on tens of millions of dollars.
All reports say his ideal situation is to go to the Knicks, but it’s practically impossible via trade. The New Jersey Nets, with new ownership and management, are doing everything they can to lure him to the Nets so he can be the headline star for the franchise when the team moves to Brooklyn in two years.
Some fans have given up hope that Carmelo would sign an extension with the cellar-dweller Nets, believing it to be better that he opt-out of all that cash and join the revived Knicks. More disturbing however, is that fans think the price is too high – and it is high as hell – to acquire Anthony and would rather keep their draft picks and young stud Derrick Favors and try to build up through the draft like Oklahoma City did.
“Let him go to the Knicks!” some scream.
Here’s the big problem with that.
I’ve been working on social media projects for a while. I started a videogame publication in 2001 which has relied solely on word of mouth in all its marketing efforts. I developed strategies for over a dozen brands at the startup social media agency, Conversation. I also worked on social strategy and was community manager for a handful of brands at StrawberryFrog. I even helped do a substantial amount of research for the just released book microMARKETING.
My hands-on experience has led to a lot of interesting opinions, most of which I voice here on this blog.
Then today I saw a post on PSFK called Does Your Brand Really Need To Be ‘Social’? and got to thinking. Out of those thoughts comes three questions:
1) What is your definition of social? Do you define it as a viral spread of a message or as a relationship-building process?
The vast majority of social media strategists say it’s all about “having organic conversations with consumers that engenders loyalty” and then cite examples like Dell on Twitter making $3 million. I laugh when that happens, because the Dell example is a terrible “relationship building” one. Dell made $3 million off @DellOutlet which periodically tweeted about really great sales on products when they had surplus inventory. It was all about deal alerts, not relationships.
That’s not to say that brands – or rather, people representing brands – can’t truly develop relationships that leads to sales. Ramon De Leon, a Domino’s franchisee in Chicago, used Twitter so effectively to build relationships that his stores were the only ones posting revenue gains over a year stretch. But he spoke to people as himself, not the brand. Same with tons of other examples like Coffee Groundz, NAKED Pizza, etc etc
And what about just really great ideas that tend to take off THROUGH social media but aren’t necessarily social? The Best Job in the World campaign where people could submit a video application to work a dream job on Hamilton Island in Australia generated over $150 million in media coverage and raised bookings to the island by 82%, but it didn’t build relationships… and it was all started by newspaper classified ads. It was simply a great idea that was shared through social media.
2) Can CPG brands use social as well as retailers?
Retailers have control over the selling environment and people walk into THEIR stores with THEIR brand name where people can buy THEIR products from THEIR associates. They’re constantly interacting with the brand, and you can do loyalty stuff – even super locational – because you have total control over every touch point. Because the process of building social relationships is through conversation and service, retailers can easily leverage social media channels since it aligns so well with their everyday business. You can even measure what percentage of sales comes from social connections much easier, too.
What about CPG brands though? What happens when your product is simply on the aisle next to a competitor who’s on sale? What happens when you build great relationships online but those people can’t find your product on store shelves because you have low distribution?
3) When you talk about social and the necessity of social in order to raise conversations about your brand and add it to everyday dialogue of consumers, how do you explain the Paradox of Apple?
They have only one Facebook and one Twitter page that does nothing but advertise the latest releases on the iTunes Store, but it’s the 4th most talked about brand online and its sales have continued to double (triple, quadruple, etc) year after year without any “TRUE” social presence by the definition given by social media marketers. Hell they’re notoriously silent and controlling. They’re the living, breathing opposite of all that is social and “open,” yet they’ve been performing incredibly well over the past decade.
It’s funny. I used to read a lot of social media marketing books. Hell, I even recently helped research one called microMARKETING (which is awesome and you should totally read, thus negating the point of this post…but I digress.)
But as I’ve mentioned in some other recent blog posts, my most recent fascination has been in investigating other areas of the marketing ecosystem. Books dealing with sociology, economics, brand marketing, psychology, anthropology, etc.
I know, it sounds a bit egotistical, “I don’t bother with social media marketing books…” but that’s not an accurate interpretation of what I mean.
What I mean is that I find so much more value in reading about topics that can be related to what social media marketers do. Sociology and psychology examine the mindset of people and their behaviors in community settings, particular when put under social pressures. Economics and brand marketing do good jobs of explaining the cyclical nature of business and how some brands have lasted while others have passed. And on and on.
I think it’s important that we all study those fields on the periphery of what we do through social media channels for the businesses we’re tasked with helping. It opens your thinking to so much more.
Such expansive thinking is infinitely valuable and I was reminded of it today in a NY Times article called “They Did Their Homework (800 Years of It)” about these economists who studied 8 centuries of economic crises in 66 countries.
In short, our economic doom was predictable if only we opened our minds to more:
“Everyone wants to think they’re smarter than the poor souls in developing countries, and smarter than their predecessors,” says Carmen M. Reinhart, an economist at the University of Maryland. “They’re wrong. And we can prove it.”
“The mainstream of academic research in macroeconomics puts theoretical coherence and elegance first, and investigating the data second,” says Mr. Rogoff. For that reason, he says, much of the profession’s celebrated work “was not terribly useful in either predicting the financial crisis, or in assessing how it would it play out once it happened.”
In the past, other economists often took the same empirical approach as the Reinhart-Rogoff team. But this approach fell into disfavor over the last few decades as economists glorified financial papers that were theory-rich and data-poor.
But in the wake of the recent crisis, a few economists — like Professors Reinhart and Rogoff, and other like-minded colleagues like Barry Eichengreen and Alan Taylor — have been encouraging others in their field to look beyond hermetically sealed theoretical models and into the historical record.
“There is so much inbredness in this profession,” says Ms. Reinhart. “They all read the same sources. They all use the same data sets. They all talk to the same people. There is endless extrapolation on extrapolation on extrapolation, and for years that is what has been rewarded.”
If you don’t understand the significance of that image, just read The Old Spice Social Media Campaign By the Numbers.
Granted, that Old Spice Tw was the complete opposite of all that relationship building, direct human engagement stuff social media “gurus” have been talking about.
When you walk into a Starbucks, what’s the first thing you think about? Is it checking in? For me, that comes in about 8th place after things like “I hope the barista is cute,” “Should I get coffee cake?” “Hmm, iced or hot coffee?” and “Is the bathroom vacant?” The list goes on and on.
I’m 23 years old and I’ve worked primarily on digital and social media marketing campaigns. Because of this, when I’m roped in on projects I’m usually asked what platforms could be tapped to make a campaign go viral. One of the tools mentioned most often these days is FourSquare, but I swear, I almost never want to suggest it.
To me, FourSquare falls squarely in the category of oversharing. I don’t use FourSquare because I simply forget that I have an account. The other day I was at a really cool event at the Zeppellin Hall Biergarten in Jersey City and after about 4 hours of being there I thought, “This is the kind of thing FourSquare is made for, right?” But then I thought, “But, I still don’t want to check-in.”
I reluctantly did and browsed the people who were also checked-in. It was cool to see that there were other people there, but I didn’t know any of them and could care less. So I checked-in, earned points, and essentially explored every feature on FourSquare…and promptly forgot about it.
Most people like to check-in for the social game within FourSquare. Hell, it can be cool since a lot of places are giving away free gifts to frequent visitors and mayors. For some reason though, that has never interested me and it’s only now that I realize why. I simply feel like I’m whoring myself to these establishments because by checking in I’m almost selling my presence to these companies.
Maybe I’m missing out on the FourSquare boat by tossing it to the side. But honestly, if I wanted to share where I was, I’d make it a tweet or a Facebook status.