How did we eat before the Internet?

I don’t know about you but Pinterest is a guilty pleasure – a time waster – a way to relax my brain when it goes on overload. That said – there is also some really cool stuff on Pinterest. Food and recipes are huge. I find inspiration and – get this – have even tried some of the recipes. Continue reading “How did we eat before the Internet?”

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How did we eat before the Internet?

My absolutely most favorite app ever…today: Uber

I have to say that new media is doing all kids of really cool stuff. Some of it is changing the world. Some if it is just changing the mundane things in our lives. My absolutely most favorite app today probably isn’t changing the world – but it certainly changed my world.

Continue reading “My absolutely most favorite app ever…today: Uber”

My absolutely most favorite app ever…today: Uber

I want it the way I want it, and I want it now! (or things that are frowned upon in kindergarten but are SOP in adult life)

One of the lessons that we learned in kindergarten, along with sharing, was patience. Another was to make polite requests rather than dictatorial (and often unreasonable) demands. But, as we grew up, things started changing. Burger King told us that we could “Have it your way.” More recently State Farm Insurance channeled Journey to tell us we can have insurance  “Anyway you want it…” (interesting – this ad seems to have disappeared from the internet – I didn’t even know that was possible – can you find it?)

These are reflection of a cultural shift towards an expectation of rapid and deep personalization. As marketers, this is a trend that we must pay attention to. It is about both how the product or service is structured and how it is advertised.

I’ll admit that I’m guilty of the ‘I want it my way now mentality’ and LOVE products and services that enable me. My lunch today is a great example. I ordered a Chipotle Carnitas bowl online – to my exact specifications (pinto beans, cheese, corn salsa, tomato salsa, & lettuce!) – and I didn’t have to wait in line. That is the beautiful magic of the online order – I place my order, wait a few minutes – show up – by-pass the regular line like a rock star and walk out with my food in record time. Chipotle can also serve twice as many customers this way.

We can see that this has clear implications for products and services, but what does it mean for the advertising – the marketing messages and content that we want consumers to digest. They want the content the way they want it when they want it – so how do we accommodate this?

As the personalization and immediacy trend is often tied to social media, it is an obvious answer. An interesting blog post asks “Is the Social Media Trend the Shiny Object Distracting Us From the Real Marketing Revolution – Mobile?” The author posits that since smartphones are really way more than phones and are becoming ubiquitous that marketers needed to invest creative energy in mobile strategies – something that she asserts has been lacking in most mobile efforts.

How can we make our content both productive for a brand and desirable for the consumer so that they are willing to seek it out? Lessons from kindergarten may also apply here – though these are more on the adult side than the student side:

  • You can learn important skills while playing. Gamification is certainly one way that brands can create desirable marketing content.
  • Hide the vegetables in more interesting food. Product placements expose consumers to a brand while they are seeking other content.

There may even be a next big thing around the corner.  Where the creative edge lies is in creating marketing content that is as desirable as the product. What are your thoughts?

I want it the way I want it, and I want it now! (or things that are frowned upon in kindergarten but are SOP in adult life)

Cheating is cheating, online or offline

No, this isn’t a commentary on the Romeny campaign’s recent ads. It is  a post questioning  a statement in a recent article that seemed to imply that emerging media technologies were at least partially to blame for increased cheating.

While online access to information may make it easier to cut and paste, it also provides tools to identify plagiarism.  In the cases of plagiarism that I have witnessed, it hasn’t required these tools to identify a copy and paste job. Merely clicking cited links revealed that, while the student cited a source, no paraphrasing actually took place and quotation marks were missing.

It seems to me that there are three components to this challenge:

  1. Knowing what plagiarism is
  2. Creating a culture of ethics
  3. Enforcing (publicly) the penalties of violating those ethics

Knowing what plagiarism is
Based on what I have seen on a number of occasions, it strikes me that students aren’t maliciously plagiarizing. However, they don’t seem to realize that changing a single word in a sentence still constitutes plagiarism. Summarization is a skill that must be developed. As source material gets shorter and shorter, and in the case of blogs is sometimes already a summary, it can be challenging to provide a succinct restatement. Of course, that is what properly cited quotations are for. Emerging media should be more of a help than an hindrance in this aspect.

Creating a culture of ethics
With a student body that is fully cognizant of what plagiarism is and is not, building a strong culture of honesty and ethics is critical. At my undergraduate alma mater, the first official thing that we did on campus was sign an honor code. This isn’t something that we do in private in a cubicle while we fill out our financial aid forms. It is done as a community in a large public ceremony. The honor code was a part of our community ethic.

Certainly creating this depth of community is harder to do with a larger or geographically diverse student body, but setting and maintaining standards for ethical behavior is critically important. How can we create the feeling of looking someone in the eye over thousands of miles? This is one way that emerging medias might be able to aid rather than hinder academic standards.

Enforcing (publicly) the penalties of violating those ethics
In the article on cheating in higher education, the reasoning was that because it was easy to cheat people would cheat. In the age of extreme helicopter parenting, repercussions for unethical behavior may not be clear to all students and must be consistently and enforced. The cost of cheating then needs to be high enough and clear enough that it outweighs the cheating in the mind of the students. I suggest that it be public so that students who see cheating – namely plagiarism – in their classmates work are aware that their classmates have been punished. Otherwise it merely appears that there is no penalty, and tacitly approves cheating as a common academic practice effectively undermining any efforts to create a culture of ethics.  A public apology to the class in which the plagiarism took place in addition to any academic penalties would be a step in the right direction.

These technologies aren’t going away. The practices that individuals form during their academic career direct the practices they will use in their professional career. The rise of cheating and plagiarism does not bode well for the standards of excellence in any field but especially for marketing where intellectual property is the primary coin of trade.

What is your experience? How might we further build a community using new media to discourage departures from academically (and professionally) acceptable behavior?

Cheating is cheating, online or offline

Mirror, mirror… just tell me I’ll look fabulous all right?

When the wicked witch in Snow White said “Mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the fairest of them all?” She didn’t really want to hear the truth, what she wanted to hear was “Why of course you are, Queen!” When that was not the answer – bad things happen.

Truth is all of us are not that different from the Queen. We really want the mirror to tell us that we look fabulous. Especially when we are shopping.

My Virtual Model lets users create a realistic personal model that can try on clothes from participating retailers to see how they would fit a particular size and shape. If all goes well, it acts a magic mirror that shows us just how fabulous that new outfit would look.

As a mirror, there is also the chance that instead of assuring us we are (of course) the fairest of them all, My Virtual Model may not look so hot in the chosen outfit.

My Virtual Model claims that the use of its widget can “increase sales and reduce returns” and can “improve conversion by 59%.”  Interestingly, while Lands End was an early partner, they no longer offer this option for customers.

New start-ups continue to try to catch the wind of this trend, but with increasing incidence of body dismorphia disorder will retailers ever be successful telling us what we ‘really’ look like in clothes? If we don’t believe that the virtual model created to our specs looks ‘right’ we will never be satisfied with what it tries on.

Online retailers in particular benefit from the consumer belief that if we buy the clothes in the right size we will look just as fabulous as the models on the retailer’s site. What is better for the retailer, telling us that we might not look completely fabulous or letting us order the clothes with the possibility of returning them? Based on Lands End’s decision to discontinue use of My Virtual Model, I would have to assume that they found the cost (both monetary and to the brand) outweighed the benefit.

Have you ever tried on clothes using a virtual model? How did it go?

Mirror, mirror… just tell me I’ll look fabulous all right?

Curation is the New Black

Pink was the new black. Then orange was the new black. Then black was the new black. One blog claims that Pork Is The New Black, but I suggest that curation is the new black.

What is curation? (Apparently a word that Word doesn’t appreciate as it gives me a squiggly red underline each time I type it!) One online dictionary defines it as “the act of curating, of organizing and maintaining a collection of artworks or artifacts.” Digital curation or content curation is definitely related. Writing for Forbes, Susan Genelius provides a more current definition:

“content curation is a form of content marketing where a publisher … editorially collects the best content related to a specific niche and targeted to a specific audience then enhances that content by adding personal opinions and expertise.”

So why is content curation so popular? What makes it the ‘new black’? There is an extraordinary amount of content available on the Internet today – some of it is even quite good. However, there is so much content that it can be hard to sift the good from the bad. This sifting – this curation – provides value.

Curation is especially popular among non-profits and small businesses that might not have the resources to create large amounts of high quality content. These organizations do have the capacity for high-quality curation. A number of new tools have popped up to facilitate this process including Scoop.it! and Paper.li.

That said, curation isn’t merely throwing together ten random articles that caught your eye. It is an editorial process and requires a point of view. It is a strategic process to align your goals, your readers’ needs, and available content.

Curation is the New Black

Why blog anyway?

At one time the answer to the question “Why blog anyway?” would have been “To tell the world what I had for lunch!” – now we have Twitter and Instagram for that. Today, while there are still plenty of inane blogs, and the reasons for an individual to start a  blog are myriad, there are several primary reasons for businesses to blog: increase traffic to a corporate site, maximize search engine optimization(SEO), monetize a web presence.

Driving Traffic

One challenge faced by many small businesses is a relatively static website with little reason to drive return visits from customers and prospects. A blog can help address that. It provides new and compelling but related content. A blog can increase visitor interest and return visits, and it can also provide a network of links that increase the searchability of the corporate site. Which brings us to…

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is often seen as the holy grail of web strategy and there are companies that claim to be able to changing your search ranking through complex internet voodoo. Ultimately, SEO is about providing quality content that engages. When people are choosing your content, sharing it, linking to it, and you are providing current relevant content, maximizing your reputable use of keywords, you will optimize your search rankings. It can be hard to do all of that on a standard corporate or e-commerce site. A blog provides an opportunity for the rich content that enables these interactions.

Monetization

There are two primary ways to monetize blog content. You can develop a following large enough or targeted enough that it is desirable for advertisers and sell advertising space on your blog. If you’re interested check out these articles here, here, and here that have tips and how-to information for setting up ads on your blog.

Alternatively, creating a membership for ‘premium content’ can be an effective way to create a steady income stream. No matter how niched you are (and in many ways specifically because you have developed a targeted niche) your content will be valuable to someone.

Why do you blog?

Why blog anyway?