Random thoughts

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About SM

48 Significant Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics Plus 7 Infographics

Including such gems as:  …there are 600 million more people that own a mobile phone compared to those who own a toothbrush!


…Jeff Bullas, author of this article and one of Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers follows 4,561 people on Twitter

  • What happens if all 4,561 people tweet on the same day? What happens if only 500 people tweet on the same day? How does he keep up with it? How do you keep up with it? How do I keep up with it?

Filed under: Uncategorized

“Candid Call Centre” raises the questions: what is connecting and what is conversation?

Angel Chen has started a call centre where people can call in and discuss issues of importance to them — the kind of serious, economy, type stuff that we have become familiar with in blogs and tweets and forums. It’s an 1-888 number that people from all over North America can, and apparently do, call to discuss in a conversation with other people, live, in real-time, their opinions on stuff. I think this is brilliant. But more than that, it makes me wonder whether the explosion of opinion that the digital world has fostered, has anything to do with honesty, connectivity or conversation.

While I write this, or any blog, or any tweet or any comment on any forum, I am alone, expressing my viewpoint with no fear of actually being confronted by another opinion. Sure, I expect some response, in some cases a lot of response. But it’s not the same as the reaction that occurs when I say something to somebody live, especially in person, but also very much on the phone.

There’s something about the raw reality of being interrupted that makes conversation entirely different from anything that happens online. Even messaging is entirely different. It’s more immediate than blogging or commenting, or even tweeting, but I can still ignore the comments that I want to ignore. I don’t have to truly face the question: how am I going to respond here and now; what am I going to do if I am entirely wrong and the other person catches me out? (online I simply write off their critical comments as coming from misunderstanding my point, or I make a feeble attempt to explain my position and then become bored and do something else.

This is not conversation. This is not connecting. I’m not sure what it is, and I obviously can’t condemn it too strongly by way of this blog. But I can raise the point and in doing so, express my admiration for Angel. For the past few years social heroes have by definition had to make change through the power of the internet and social media. But, Angel shows that this has been short-sighted, and because of it I think we have lost the real meaning of conversation.

I would say get involved, call the Candid Call Centre and have a conversation, but I don’t know the number…the Star in their coverage of Angel and her breakthrough contribution, did not publish the number. Which is as telling as anything else…if it had been a website, you can bet they would have published the URL.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,

Surely We’ve Figured Social Media Out by Now

I have just returned from a really serious, important Branding Roundtable. The smartest branders (or, as the English roundtablers called them, Marketeers) discussed hospitality marketing in the most serious, sometimes academic terms (it was, after all, hosted at Cornell University, by the Center for Hospitality Research). We learned many things, and we taught many things. All in all, time very well spent.

But, this is the second year in a row I have attended this, and I have attended myriad similar conferences and round tables and symposia in this and other categories, in the US< Canada and  other countries, over the past four years. maybe five. And there is one constant. One conversation that has not changed in content, tone, volume, intensity, or anything. And that is: Social Media and “we know this is changing the world, but we don’t understand it and how to do it.” Every time, every where, we hear the same mantra: we don’t understand Social Media but it is very important and we need to understand it. A subtext: we need to use it more, but not like everybody else is using it. we need to be “strategic” (unlike everybody else). And yet, when asked what being strategic means, we hear , “we don’t understand it yet….”

Okay. I get it. But I don’t.

"According to a research done by AAL, there are a billion social media experts on the internet. Do you know what do they do on a daily basis? After “interviewing” more than 20 (actually none) experts, this is what I found out."
This comes from a brilliant blog by Aaron Lee -- click on the image to link to her post.

We do understand it. Many companies are strategic. Many companies do utilize the various SM options tactically to generate sales. Many companies think of Twitter as a wonderful way of finding our what people are thinking about them; spreading news, etc.

So, let’s all make a deal: we will never say the following words in our out loud voice: “we don’t understand social media.” Let’s also make a pact to stop saying that everybody else is not using Social Media strategically. If we think this, then we’re not paying attention to what other companies are doing!

On another, but similar point, we can now stop patronizing youth. We say — and I am referring to “marketeers” — that we need to get a a handle on “young people” who have grown up completely digitally and live completely differently from anything we have experienced. And we need to listen to them about their “new world,” etc. Yes, people growing up these days used technology forma younger age than people growing up before them. But, and they will be the first to agree (I know, I personally called every young person and asked them) that this digital difference does not define them. They do not spend all their waking moments doing incomprehensible “digitalism’ on Facebook and

Twitter. They do “digitalistic” things, like texting, when they are with friends or in class. But, they also talk to friends in person, go to movies, watch TV, read books (okay, okay, they do it on ipads, except they don’t really if you look at the penetration of digital readers compared to the total number of people who read). They laugh, cry and wonder about the world around them. they have no greater comprehension of the qwerty keyboard than anybody else; and their thumbs are still roughly the same size as anybody else’s in spite of texting on tiny keyboards. They don’t really expect everything to happen instantly, even if some things, like texting somebody, can indeed happen quickly. They shop. They buy stuff that makes them happy and they buy stuff that they hate and that they think is crap and return it to the store. They listen to their friends’ advice on what to buy and then make their own decisions. They are exposed to advertising and remember clever tag lines and jingles (yes, jingles!).  They also smoke, drink and do drugs, which is about as analog as you can get!

Mostly, they are tired of being patronized by a generation of marketeers that has too much time on its collective hands!

One final plea: please don’t turn “today’s patronized youth” into a sociological/marketing insight.

There…now you know. And if you are seriously interested in who does this right, look at stores like Canadian Tire or their sister brand Sport Check.

Filed under: Are they stupid or just mean: design idiocy in action, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

A Model Race Car 1/1000th the Width of a Human Hair

Clipped from Metro Newspaper in Toronto -- thanks!


This car is a replica of a high speed racing car that is smaller than a grain of sand. It was made using high speed 3d printing, a subject I have raved about previously on this blog. But the news is not that a 3D printer could print a three dimensional replica of a race car — that’s old hat, yesterday’s technology, if you’re not up on 3D printing you’re spending too much time on Facebook and too little time paying attention to the world around you. The news is also not that a 3D printer could print something that is made of only a few molecules, at a nano-level — that, too is old hat and if it surprises you, you’ve probably been spending too much time reading Vanity Fair. The news is that the 3D nano printer using the two-photon lithography process, can print five meters of this stuff per second. This is, apparently, much faster than ever before. It took about 5 minutes to print this car, and you can watch it in all it’s amazing detail by clicking here — however, given the car is constructed pretty much at a molecular level, it is not particularly entertaining to watch (for the first 2 minutes nothing much happens at all).

So why do we care? Because they can, and if they can, they will, and if they do they can, and will, change the world we live in: molecule by molecule, photon by photon. These are the real change agents that we should be paying attention to.


Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,

Human Dominoes…why not

Okay, so human dominoes is not the most watchable feat of human strength, but it is among the silliest. On the other hand, it’s for a good cause, and, most notably, it’s an initiative of a hotel company that is almost totally altruistic. One comment from the youtube version rally sums it up: (from jeffmacdonald62: “It was more than amazing. I’m so proud of my company!”

I wish I came up with initiatives that make people proud of their company — imagine the savings in “internal branding” and other exercises in convincing associates to live the brand! – Daily News.

Filed under: Hospitality and Tourism, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Selling Luxury 2: Superyacht Ownership in the Post Recession Era

Big boats: Offshore finance | The Economist.

This article in The Economist points out the almost sorry state of the superyacht category. only 173 sold last year, down 27 from the year before. This is unfortunate for the makers of superyachts and it is a sign of the times.

More notably, however, is the fact that Roman Abromovich has been reduced to renting out his $660 million boat (including crew of 75) to members of the lumpen proletariat for around $2 million/week.

The article also points out that some superyacht owners send their captains to Tunisia to fill up on cheap gas — the Paul-Allen-Money* equivalent of going to Buffalo to buy gas.

* If you don’t know the expression “Paul Allen Money,” I’m afraid you will have to go to the linked article to find out.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Selling Luxury 1: Secret Fears of the Super-Rich

Secret Fears of the Super-Rich – Magazine – The Atlantic.

Two blogs on the super rich in honour of a conversation I had yesterday on the subject of luxury. Luxury is an experience, not a thing; luxury marketing, which is often confused with selling expensive stuff to rich people, is dependent on the ability of the marketer to activate an intrinsic experience in the target’s soul, which is difficult enough, but it needs to be done in such a way as to yield a profit to the marketer. Which is why luxury marketers generally default to doing nothing more than selling expensive stuff to rich people.

The two items below demonstrate the difference — although they both are extreme in the extreme:

0,000 Blancpain 1735

This $800,000 Blancpain stainless steel watch looks, let’s face facts, not much different from your run of the mill $250,000 Patek Philipe or, Heaven Forbid, $6,000 Rolex (or, for that matter, $100 Timex). But, it’s value comes from the intricacy of the manufacturing (it takes a year to make), and I imagine the owner gets a great deal of pleasure in knowing the degree of “complication” he is wearing. This, in my world, is luxury — not for what it is but for how it is experienced. Marketing this requires a subtle understanding of what makes the target tick (sorry, I couldn’t resist!). Compare it with this:

0,000 Crystal Tourbillon

This diamond encrusted watch is by Jacob and Company, and costs roughly the same as the Blancpain (well, it costs $900,000, but what’s a hundred grand between friends when we’re talking about quality?). The value of this is entirely extrinsic (not entirely, I mean it probably has a good enough mechanism that ensures it keeps time, even though it’s probably impossible to actually tell time because of the “design” of the face).  I imagine the person buying this is doing so because it is expensive, more expensive, he might think, than any others (he would be wrong — Vacheron Constantin have a leather strapped watch for $1.5 million in case you were wondering: It is, to him, very publicly expensive and clearly telegraphs this to everybody around him. Selling watches to the person who buys this is simply selling expensive stuff to some guy who can afford it.

Which is the difference between marketing luxury and exploiting the rich!

On the other hand, the rich beg to be exploited, as my next blog shows.

Filed under: Behavioral Economics, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Archetypes of Adventurers

Adventure Travel – National Geographic Adventure Blog.

This is an interesting discussion of the typologies of adventurers framed in Jungian archetypes — this sounds a lot more technical than it is.  The author presents a simplified and highly readable introduction to atchetypes, without mentioning Jung even once!

Inner Directives, our Jungian Archetype segmentation system, has been used in exactly this manner on exactly this topic by the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC). As part of the branding exercise we undertook for CTC, we segmented potential visitors to Canada into archetypes using MBTI and applied these findings to the marketing potential for different types of activities (or, roughly, the different regions of Canada).

Archetype segmentation is not a rigid science, but rather an almost qualitative approach to understanding the unconscious drives that motivate choice. It delivers insights that get to the heart of people and motivations and, as this article demonstrates, allows for colourful, actionable descriptions of customers (in this case adventurers) and their relation to the brand (in this case “adventure”).

As an aside, it was this process that led to a clear distinction between “:tourists” and “travelers,” which has subsequently become on e of the underpinnings of travel positioning in Canada and other parts of the world.

Filed under: Behavioral Economics, Hospitality and Tourism, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

Study: Only 1% of Facebook ‘Fans’ Engage With Brands

This is really long URL, but worth it — for those of us who have questioned the blind faith in the power of social media to “build relationships” with brands that (presumably, although never explicitly stated) result in increased sales, true-loyalty, brand ambassadorships and so on, this piece of research is enlightening.

However, just because only 1 out of every 200 people who “like” the brand actually create any content about it, does not mean that the whole facebook exercise is pointless. But, the point of the Facebook exposure is, ultimately the same as any other exposure: exposure!

And, as I have written here before, exposure and frequency of exposure is key to building brands. Engagement, though nice, does not actually build brands (it may deepen relationships, although some may also question the point of this as well). But the idea that thousands of people see the brand, maybe feel something about the brand, is certainly worthwhile.

So, keep up the good work on Facebook!

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

3-D Printing Ushers In the Era of Pirated Physical Goods |

The benefit to society is huge,” they write. “No more shipping huge amount of products around the world. No more shipping the broken products back. No more child labour. We’ll be able to print food for hungry people.

I have been saying for some time that the next game changer is mass 3d printing. When home computing first arrived on the scene (when the only way to have a computer was to build it from a kit bought at Radio Shack), the general attitude was that computers were too complex and only useful for governments and large corporations; when personal computers such as the Commodore PET and ultimately Apple II came on the scene, the general attitude wasa these were not particularly useful, but fun toys. Yes, they included word processing, but so did electric typewriters with tape drives, and the output was actually useable. It took until 1984, when Apple demonstrated what we would now call the “killer app,” which stemmed from the ability to print readable, attractive documents in a variety of type faces, for personal computing to get traction. And it did not really take off until the idea of interconnectivity became mainstream.

3-D Printing And Pirate Bay Usher In the Era of Pirated Physical Goods | Co.Design: business + innovation + design

So it is with 3d printers or replicators, which have been used in industrial systems for years — these extremely expensive devices can “print” objects from digital plans. Parts of airplane parts, for instance, where the cost of setting up molds and dies for a limited number of units is too great, are routinely produced using 3d printers.

Recently, 3d printer kits have become available for less than $1,000. These can replicate objects in a variety of materials and multiple colours. The marketing of these devices is a bit cultish, geekish, under the radar. This is for a reason — until there is a killer app, the mainstream resistance to the idea is the same as it was for computers. Researchers and start-up manufacturers are hoping that users themselves will stumble onto the killer app — sttrangely, at the moment the most likely application that will stir the public is the food preparation capabilities — you can “print” a cake in any shape; or “print” chocolate int he shape of you cat (maybe an exaggeration, but not by much).

BUT: once the killer app is found, once these things are ubiquitous, the entire marketplace as we know it will change — it will be possible to order a shirt online, download a digital file and “print” the product yourself. This will be possible for anything (you know the nob on the dryer that broke — you will just punch in a description of the part, and print out the replacement).

Even if the “at home” printing is not the end-game (and I see no reason why it won’t), mass production will be a thing of the past. Anything you want will be printed to order. Need new shoes? Have them “printed”  for you by whichever brand you want.

This sounds fantastic. But the article linked here talks about the pirating of objects in exactly the same way music is pirated, or software. I assure you that nobody who bought an Apple II or a Commodore would have believed you if you said that ultimately this useless object on your desk would replace record stores.

via 3-D Printing And Pirate Bay Usher In the Era of Pirated Physical Goods | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

Filed under: Uncategorized

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