Tag Archives: Google

What’s ‘Likes’ Got to Do, Got to Do with It?

You just moved into a new neighborhood, and really want to get to know your neighbors. Suddenly, you get a brilliant idea! Sprinting downstairs, to the entrance of your building, you tack a sign on the community bulletin board, “Party in 3D, Saturday at 8pm”.

Come Saturday, people start pouring in at 8pm– by 10pm, 200 people are jam-packed into your sardine box of an abode, overflowing out the balcony. They’re talking, drinking, dancing– really, really enjoying themselves. It couldn’t be going any better. As you wind through the crowd, making sure everyone’s cup runneth over, random guests cheer you on,

“Great party!”

“Really happening!”

“Wicked music!”

Come Sunday, your apartment looks like Katrina ran into King Kong throwing a hissy fit. But, hey, you don’t care, cause you just threw the party of the century. Mission accomplished…


Monday morning, as you sing to yourself in the most un-Mercury voice possible, “We Are the Champions”, you set off to work. As the elevator doors slide open, you meet a few of the party goers, who begin raving about your shindig.

“That was epic, Mike!”

“It was totally insane, John!”

“DUUUUUDE, it was fierce!”

By now, you should be stoked– and you would be, if…

Your name was Mike or John, or it wasn’t so obvious that ‘DUUUUUDE’ was an eponym for ‘I don’t know your name’.

See, the problem is, though it was a kick ass party, and everyone who was anyone was there…

No one knows you. They ‘liked’ your party, but who doesn’t like a party?

If you really wanted them to know you, remember you and actually interact with you again, you’d probably have fared better throwing a small dinner party for a few people in 3C and 3E. The week after, you’d invite Mrs. O’Mally and the Browns, whom you met at the mail boxes s a few days ago, over for tea.

Replace yourself with a brand, and the party guest with social media followers. Social media is more social than it is media– you can have 1,000,000 people love your page, but that doesn’t mean those 1,000,000 people really know you or care about you.

News flash: People are humans, and humans form relationships through one-on-one interactions. Those interactions are predominantly based on you getting to know them too– ie, seeking their presence in your life necessitates you giving a damn about theirs.

Brands today deal with social media as if it was a billboard space. They think its enough to boost a post, and get more ‘likes’. But in the end, those ‘likes’ are a faceless number of clicks. And as much as ‘numbers’ are the mantra of marketeers, quantity is the LAST thing social media is about.

Because social media’s greatest advantage, is it allows brands to get up close and personal. It takes brands from talking TO a consumer, to conversing WITH a person– having 100 people you know and speak with is infinitely more valuable than having a whole sea of followers who, you aren’t even sure, are really people with whom you want to engage.

The biggest culprit of this massive catastrophe, ironically, is the inventor of social media; to be social, a brand MUST be on Facebook, but…

The way Facebook taught brands to be social, has them acting more like immature frat brothers, than grown-up adult holding a mature conversation. Which, shouldn’t be a shocking surprise, given its founder just graduated a few years ago, and, like his other 20-something Silicon Valley compadres, deals with social and the business of it, as such.

But, for you marketeers out there who still love your numbers, let’s talk fact: on average, less than 1% of your followers are ‘talking about’ you. Worse, if you scroll through people who ‘like’ posts you’ve boosted, you’ll find more than a couple of Juanitas from Guatamala and Marias from Mexico– which would be so bloody brilliant if you weren’t a hunting store selling fishing lines in Cardiff.

The problem is compounded by brands rambling on with posts that offer no significant value to social media followers– in the pre-digital era of media, we called that ‘filling dead air’. Brands think by keeping up these posts, they are being socially ‘active’ and ‘engaging’ their followers.

But engagement is a two-way activity… and it’s the brand’s job to listen more than speak. The incentive to keep your followers in that engagement is recognizing and sharing the content and insights they provide you.

Because a successfully social brand doesn’t have an audience of millions; it has a front row seat in the audience of 100 people— and it is listens to each one of those 100 everytime they speak. Further, a brand that really capitalizes on social media uses its own pages to post content from each of those one hundred.

The payoff being quite self-evident: if a brand recognizes each of those 100, and they each have at least 500 friends in their social networks, that means genuine brand exposure to and engagement with 50,000 others…think about it, when a brand shares a follower’s content on its own page, that follower will share his or her recognized content with their own networks.

To cut a long and very twisted story short… having the most ‘likes’ might make brands feel secure about their social status in the digital world. But that insecurity should have probably waned their in sophomore year at the University of Grow Up. Punning the words of that ever-so-famous cereal rabbit, “Eh, ‘likes’ are for kids.”


It’s Social, It’s Media, But What’s It Selling and Who’s Buying It?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and the list goes on and on.

They’re social. They’re media. But what the LOL are they really selling? At valuations that exceed the GDP of most developing countries, what is so valuable about them?

Let’s step back to the stone ages– the 1990s. Remember phone bills? They were wrapped up in an envelop, delivered by someone called the ‘postman’. Millenials, if you watch Seinfeld, you can see footage of one of these highly endangered creatures.

Phone companies had a business because people needed to communicate. Now imagine, if in the middle of your call, an ad message interrupted your conversation– literally just put both parties on hold so they could listen to an ad. Yeah, that would have been the death of them.

Advertisers would have jumped at the idea of course, given that they’d brand my grandma’s oxygen mask or anything else that had at least a centimeter of space to brand. Phone companies didn’t do that because, back then, a business model was built on the business you’re in, not the air you can sell.

Okay, so let’s come back to the future, 2015. Phone conversations are replaced by social media chats, phone cords by WiFi and dialing pads by keyboards. Same business– connecting people… save that the social media companies are under the impression they can sell the air.

Chalk it up to the fact that most of their founders were or are in their 20s, and have been called the Tech ‘Gurus’– their experience in business, let alone life, is about as savvy as ours was at 20, so ‘Guru’ might be an overstretch (and of course a brilliant term only an advertising or PR exec could coin).

Throw in the fact that the old-school financial or investment experts are in a mid-life fret about not really understanding the technology, the age of digital and all the new apps in between– instead of offering their expertise to guide these creative tech geniuses through building a solid business, they’re slipping into their Silicon Valley Crocs and voyeuristically enjoying the ‘Billionaires Under 30″ ride.

Then again, these seasoned venture capitalists are no different than their Neanderthal Wall Street ancestors, who parlayed everyone into the 2008 shits and giggles meltdown.

Let’s step back a bit, shall we? Businesses sell something– something that is tangible, such as a product or service. Ergo, they have a ‘core business’.

Second, the business model is built on that tangible product or service.

Lastly, advertising (marketing) is used to sell THAT product or service.

So, when we use the simplified– oh-so-ever oversimplified, but key checklist– let us look at the social media business:

  • Product/Service: Communication. Call it sharing, posting, status update, poking– in business terms, its communications, people.
  • Business Model: Advertising. Call it ‘Pages You Might Like’, ‘Brand Influencers’, or ‘Brand Advocates’. If it looks like an ad, sounds like an ad and talks like an ad, it’s advertising.
  • Marketing Strategy: PR 20-something ‘Gurus’ in jeans and sneakers, sporting a ‘Geek is Chic’, ‘Techy is Sexy’, image. Big Bang Theory meets (or rather bumps into) GQ.

Will everyone who graduated from Wharton please stand up? What’s wrong with the above picture?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?….Bueller?

Well, then, let’s begin.

Social media is no different than telecom, broadcasting or publishing– they are all media venues that make advertising more possible and place-able. Having said that, the latter 3 create have core businesses, with business models built on their core products/services, and they use marketing to sell them.

Telecom sells phone lines.

Broadcasters sell programing.

Publishing sells information.

Advertising supports these businesses, but these businesses have something to sell– things that they produce or service– things that answer people’s needs and wants.

Social media sells people. Really, that’s about it. It sells people to advertisers.

They know that’s all they have to sell– because it is the easiest way to sell.  They know it so well, that they’ve compromised our personal info and content in hopes that they can close the gap between their ACTUAL profitability and their pie-in-the-sky valuations that they need to keep up in order to get more investors.

The joke is, the big punchline we haven’t seen coming yet– the last time history had businesses selling people was the slave trade; it’s irony at its best, my friends… social media as the altruistic hero carrying us all into the age ‘democratization’.

What we haven’t learned for some reason, though history is sick and tired of teaching us, is that people will only buy air for so long before they realize the air can’t be bought. It happened with the dot.coms, it happened with real estate, its happening with Quantitative Easing.

Valuations in the double-digit billions should make us think it won’t happen with social media businesses– simply put, they don’t have a business.

The question is, who’s going to wake up before all the 20-something Gurus and the financial suits-gone-surfers grow up?

If history is always right, unfortunately, we all will… 10 seconds after the social media bubble bursts, and we find ourselves covered in Guru goo.

Blog… James Blog…

Neither shaken nor stirred.

Slightly disturbed and incredibly amused though…

I came across an article entitled, ‘Revealed: Hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don’t want the government spying on you’, and needless to say, I didn’t have to be Curious George to read on.

According to the UK Daily Mail article, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intends to look for evidence of genuine threats to the U.S. through monitoring social networking websites and online media.

And given the list of words that indicate ‘genuine threats’, one could only surmise the DHS commissioned the consultants of the world-renowned and reputable firm…

‘Larry, Curly and Moe’.

For instance, under Weather/Disaster/Emergency threats, ‘closure’ would give reason for being monitored online…

The logical assumption then being, those chatting about looking for ‘closure’ after being dumped…


And for you effervescent Real Housewives of (fill in the city), who Tweet about drinking Avian water because it comes directly from the Swiss Elfs, boy have you just unleashed on yourselves a Panda’s Box, since ‘Avian’ is on the list too.

Any Looney Toons fans amongst us? Good. YouTube the bejeezus outta Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Search the channel for Porky Pig, and you’re roast- as ‘pork’ is apparently a threat.

Avid athletes, stick to yoga. Google ‘exercise’ and you may end up in boot camp- but it ain’t the kind Jillian Michaels runs.

Oh, and Sting fans… preferable to now refer to his former band as ‘Sting and the Stingettes’. You can’t bring up the ‘P’ word anymore.

I’d warn anyone to avoid Levis Dockers, since ‘dock’ is taboo- but not sure if the suffix makes it passable… nevertheless, at minimal on a fashion level, I’d still warn anyone to avoid Dockers…

Residents of San Diego, either move or stop talking about your city. ‘San Diego’ is included too.

As is ‘human to animal’- however, in any context, if you can fit that into a sentence, I’m behind the DHS monitoring you.

To be fair, the article is 6 months old, so I am not sure what has been amended or addressed since then- however, the inanity of the original thinking and first draft, if that indeed is what this is, makes for great late night fodder.

Below is the address of the article, so you can go through it and have a good chuckle. Coming to think of it, I wonder how much I’ll be chuckling after this is published, given I’ve mentioned at least 10 words on the list.

On the downside, this blog probably set off multiple DHS alarms.

On the upside, if the DHS is in deed watching, the hits on this blog should sore…


If the Last Supper Happened Circa Internet…

Having been reported and blocked from his facebook/Twitter/Pinterest accounts, the Admins of Jerusalem decided it was time to hack Jesus once and for all.

Jesus had tweeted his Apostles of the impending danger and then created a closed fb event, inviting them to one Last Supper.

Shortly after, John and Peter What’s App-ed Jesus, as they didn’t know how to get to the dinner. Jesus advised them to seek council on Google Maps.

That Thursday evening, Jesus and the Apostles met for the Supper. Jesus noticed that Judas was very quiet, fiddling around with his iPad, playing The Cityville on a Hill.

Obviously, Judas was hiding something… and Jesus suspected he had given all the passwords of his accounts to the Admins of Jerusalem.

Standing among them at the table while typing away on his Blackberry, Jesus said, “truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me to My enemies”. Immediately, Judas’s BBM tone went off.

His eyes widened as he read Jesus’s BBM which contained nothing but…


The supper went on as they quietly ate, interrupted solely by John’s ‘Father was a Rolling Stone’ message tone and Peter’s ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Savior’ ringtone.

At the end of the supper, Jesus accessed his facebook from his Blackberry and wrote in his Status, “I give to you a new commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another”. He tagged all the Apostles.

And it received many ‘Likes’.

The next morning he was hacked. The social media outlets became flooded with comments and E! Online dedicated a whole section to the news.

Then, on Sunday morning, people woke up, logging on to find Jesus’s accounts were reactivated! Miraculously, Jesus was able to reopen his original accounts, having outwitted the hackers.

It was at this time he also created his blog, ‘Scriptures’…

And in order to ensure its existence for generations to come, he installed Norton, so the Admins of Jerusalem, nor even the Roman Trojan horse virus could ever hack his work again…

It’s No LOL Matter…

Abbreviations used to stand for large, formative, intelligent organizations like NASA or the CIA- okay at least large organizations. Abbreviations were the shortened version or endearing version at least of a hyphenated name, like J.R. Euwing (for you digital natives, he was us Atari generation’s baddest character prime time TV… and prime time TV is what you waited all day to watch because you couldn’t Tivo, get its shows on demand or watch them on YouTube… since the only high tech stuff we had besides Atari was an answering machine).

But, never in all the literature of mankind, in ANY language, did anyone abbreviate A LAUGH.

Neither Hemingway, Poe, Shakespeare, Voltaire, nor Alfred E. Neuman used the ‘LOL’. What I don’t get is, why every author up until the 20th century used expressions like, ‘giggle’, ‘broke out in laughter’ or just ‘laughed and laughed’, but for some reason, with the advent of the Internet, suddenly it was a LOL.

I mean, why can’t we still write ‘hahahaha’ or ‘hehehehe’ especially since such an expression of laughter does connote SERIOUS laughter from the belly, from the heart? If you actually have to abbreviate a genuine and deep reactive emotion as a laugh, how funny was it really to begin with? Would you yell LOL at the end of a great punchline to a joke at a dinner party? Would that not offend the joke teller? Moreover would you not look like an incredibly and fantastically ridiculous ass?

I ask all of you LOL-ers, before your fingers hit the keyboard in a reflexive response to type ‘LOL’, to actually say it out loud before you press Enter. I ask you to repeat it while looking in the mirror. I ask you to replace an instinct to chuckle with a really loud LOL when you’re alone and a funny memory comes to head.

If it verbally sounds that absolutely wrong and utterly stupid when you hear it, know the LOL definitely looks that absolutely wrong and utterly stupid when you respond with it on the Internet. And just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t make it right- otherwise, you should jump of the proverbial bridge your mothers wonder if you’d jump off of because your friends would too.

In a world where the European Union is collapsing, the US economy is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and the Middle East is oscillating between stability and WWIII, the last thing mankind needs is an abbreviated laugh to substitute a real one.

What if we’re Adam and Eve but This Time, We’ve Been Banished to the Internet?

With the Pre-Internet World having been Eden, anything prefixed with an ‘i’ the serpent, and every human logged on as Adam and Eve…

Think about it… the more you are on the Internet, the further away you are away from any sense of serenity. Because, you find yourself unable to be alone, as such a state is perceived in your mind as loneliness rather than solitude. Watch anyone sitting in a cafe on their own- they aren’t on their own. They’re ‘connected’. You do realize this word is one of the most ironic and oxymoronic jokes of ‘modern times’ when referring to technology?

I mean, connecting to someone B.I. (Before Internet) was a very physical activity- the body language, the eye contact, the things that weren’t said, but intuitively understood. When 90% of human interaction is body language, how the hell do you really believe you ‘connect’ to others on the Internet? Have emoticons replaced our emotions? And if so, does that mean we’ve become a 2.0 version of the Tin Man?

But perhaps the greatest gift that we enjoyed in the Pre-Internet Eden that’s been taken away from us is anticipation. B.I. we had to wait- yet just like the most emotionally heightened moment of a vacation isn’t the vacation itself, but the period when you are preparing to travel and imagine all the adventures that might come upon you, the best moment of opening a mailbox was anticipating a letter from someone.

The best moment of the house phone ringing was hoping it was ‘him’ on the phone. The best moment about TV was running home to catch that great movie you just had to see and cleared your schedule so as not to miss it. And because we all saw it at the same time, the post day gossip about what happened on the show added more fun to school or the office.

The iNstant has become extinct. There’s nothing you can’t get now, watch now—there’s no room to miss anyone either, because they can be out, but still at home on your laptop or mobile. It’s even made us less patient and unable to delay gratification as a race.

We’ve learned that we don’t have to wait, but how many really enjoy having lost the imposition of waiting? When you know you can get something, how much do you really want it. Especially if part of the value of anything sought after is the effort it takes to get it?

Time’s used to be a people’s currency—today, people are time’s currency. We don’t clock time, it clocks us.

I’d write more, but I fear your patience and attention span has already been lured away by that red blotch on facebook notifying you of something you can’t wait to check out. If you got this far already, in a Post-Internet World, I’ve won at least one battle.


I’m new to this blogging thing. I’ve opened blogging accounts before, but to be honest, I probably had more anxiety than followers.

It’s that word ‘followers’ that actually caused the anxiety.

To start with, it brought back adolescent memories I’ve spent thousands of hours and dollars in therapy trying to repress. Until the Internet, I really hadn’t thought about how many followers I had since I was 15. To start trying to amass a following at 38 is competing against Stephanie Arens all over again- accept this time, Stephanie Arens isn’t the most popular cheerleader, he’s an introvert anti-social blogger who couldn’t get his dog to follow him down the street in real life but yet has 100,000 followers in his virtual life.

And what’s really mind-bloggling (like the pun? follow me, and I promise, it’ll get worse), it’s not like quality is even a criteria on the Internet when you blog- after all, ‘hits’ are a measure of numbers, not standards. So if you have 50,000 followers, 49,999 of which are blonde girls named Jessica who think the Middle East is somewhere between Ohio and Iowa, you somehow automatically become a blog-vangelist- an Internet Billy Grahm who’s opinions translate to truth simply out of the sheer numbers of followers who will repeat that opinion as truth.

But then again, entities like Google and Wikipedia have had a hand in that. If you soberly stop and think about it, Google is the world’s central authority in searching anything. Thousands of years of history have revolved around fighting central authority whether it was the Church or the State. Yet, the willingness with which we accept Google and the complacency with which we accept whatever references it pulls up as the be-all-and-end-all of whatever is available on the subject, is actually quite frightening.

Wikipedia is even more ridiculous as a concept. It’s become the new Britannica, but instead of being based on academic research and expert opinion, my Aunt Claire can write her opinion of Darwinism and Joey Public 10,000 miles away doing a report for his 5th grade biology class can cite her article as a point of reference.

So, why the hell start a blog if I so evidently think it along with the Internet is one of the most destructive inventions to mankind?

Simple. Because I don’t believe it is destroying mankind. I believe man is destroying mankind.

We’ve given the Internet more power than the human spirit and the human mind. The good news is, if we’ve given it that, we can take it back. All we need to do is realize, the truth isn’t true because of how many ‘hits’ it gets. It’s true because in our hearts we know it’s the truth.

And if we follow our hearts, rather than Brittany Spears tweets, we might just get there.