2012-12-15T13:48:22-08:00WE ARE DUMB ANIMALS. Evolution is not the same as change, and eons of evolution didn’t change us. We are still wild, scared, nervous mammals. We scream at the dark because we can’t remember what happened to the light. We...
2012-11-21T05:53:29-08:00(The following post originally ran Nov. 21, 2007, and has become a Below the Fold holiday tradition of sorts. For those who have read it before, please pardon the repetition -- and for those who are reading it for the... (The following post originally ran Nov. 21, 2007, and has become a Below the Fold holiday tradition of sorts. For those who have read it before, please pardon the repetition -- and for those who are reading it for the first time, I hope it serves as a reminder of what this holiday, and being human, is all about.) LOS ANGELES IS A CITY of fragments, its people fragmented. It’s a place apart and in parts, a labyrinthine expanse so loosely bound as if against nature. LA is a place to live, not to be from. Most people only see L.A. through a windshield – the observer protected behind glass, the observed seen in glimpses if at all. It is into this concrete dichotomy I drive several days a week. I’ve done this for nearly a year with no regret, save for the occasional Sigalert that slows traffic even more than the usual crawl. Once this happened by the Staples Center, forcing me to watch the video ad for “American Idols on Tour” more times than should be considered humane. Almost every day, before joining my fellow commuters on Interstate 10 and 5 for the long slog to Orange County, I see a homeless man by the freeway entrance. Always smiling, always pleasant, and always with a hand out, as if he’s the operator of an imaginary toll booth. I give when I can, when the stoplight cooperates. This means lowering the window, a risky proposition in a place where people lock their car doors while they are still driving. For months I saw this man – and then, a few weeks ago, he was gone. Maybe it was the weather, both turning slightly cooler and for a long while heavy with smoke and its unhealthy remnants. He could be anywhere, doing just fine, but nevertheless I worry and wonder – whether he is safe, whether he found a better onramp, or whether he melted back into the jigsaw world of Greater L.A., another face in another windshield. This is the time of Thanksgiving after all, a time for holidays and families and desires for human connections. So I wonder, I worry, and wait. The Day after Christmas This man – and next time I see him, I promise to ask his name – reminds me of another man I met in Atlanta, exactly 17 years ago Friday. He, too, was (at least to me) homeless and nameless, a regular character at the CNN Center. I wrote about him in my book, and the following passage tells the story of our brief encounter: “Where are you from?” The question came out of nowhere, as did the man. He looked 40ish, wearing a purple long-sleeved shirt, a green jacket-vest, a black hat, and a beard grown from neglect rather than purpose. As we talked, he would continuously sip from an empty Styrofoam cup. I wanted to tell him there was nothing in there, though I’m sure he knew. I just stared at the cup rising and falling from the man’s lips with mechanical precision. I don’t know what was in the cup before, but based on our conversation, I got the feeling it was more likely vodka than coffee. We talked about life on the streets and how being homeless is a lot like being in prison – except that in prison you get three meals a day and a warm place to sleep. But that wasn’t the worst part. “It’s the loneliness,’ he said, taking another imaginary sip. “All the time, loneliness. All of my friends are either dead or gone.” I was going to tell him how lonely I felt that Thanksgiving, but decided against it. Here was a guy who has endured the same ugly feeling for six years, and I was depressed about one day spent in a warm hotel room with the people I love a phone call away. His cup was empty; mine runneth over. “The day after Christmas,” he said. “A business is made or broken by how well it is the day after Christmas. Everything is defined by where you are the day after Christmas.” We had been talking about Thanksgiving, but I wasn’t going to a[...]
2012-11-04T09:48:54-08:00LET THIS BE THE YEAR. Let 2013 be the time it ends. I’m sick of social media and I’m sure most of you are, too. It’s done, it’s old and it’s out of touch with modern life. Giving clients a...
LET THIS BE THE YEAR.
Let 2013 be the time it ends.
I’m sick of social media and I’m sure most of you are, too. It’s done, it’s old and it’s out of touch with modern life.
Giving clients a social media strategy used to make agencies and clients look smart, now it just makes us look pathetic. Social media is nothing more than a buzzword, a security blanket, an emperor with no clothes.
I’m not saying social media isn’t important – of course it is. All I’m saying is the definition no longer makes sense. The public has moved on while we cling to a world of “10 Tips for Effective Content Marketing” listicle bullshit. Seriously, I just made that headline up yet look what I found.
When all media is social, there is no more social media. That’s not just some pithy quote for one of those stupid ribbons you get at social media conferences, like “Byte Me” or “Social Media Douchebag.” Recognizing that all media is social is the truth no one wants to face. But continuing to pretend that social media is something separate from “traditional” communications, internal or external, is just ignorance on a Google-like scale.
All media is social (it’s about people). All media is earned (it’s about attention.) All media is online (and it’s offline, too.)
The only reason there is still a line between “social” media and “traditional” media is because marketers like us insist on drawing the damn thing, despite the fact that nobody outside our insular industry cocoon cares.
People don’t see ads, press releases, Facebook updates, “brand journalism” or “branded entertainment” – they just see media. They talk about it and they share it. They see right through us and directly into whether a brand is saying something or just selling them something.
Yes, “social media” also refers to technology platforms like Facebook and YouTube, but that distinction is a bunch of crap too. A piece of technology isn’t any more social than a tree stump. People make technology social, period.
E-mail and Listserves were “social” media long before Twitter was in diapers. Tools like Facebook and Wordpress simply allowed people to record and save their conversations in a public setting vs. being relegated to local hard drives. If doing this makes blogs or Facebook more social, then yes, I agree, but that doesn’t make them the only social media in town.
We need to move forward and catch up with the public. We’re part of the public too, after all, try as we might to pretend we’re different or know any better.
Let’s get on with doing great work and stop worrying whether our media programs are social, traditional, earned, paid, owned or shared. Let’s focus on our clients’ business goals, not their Klout scores.
If we do our job, all of our media programs will be social – I mean, in 2013, how can they be anything else?
2012-10-14T19:34:12-07:00I PROMISE to believe in you even when you are filled with doubt. I PROMISE to let you live up to your own expectations, not the expectations I had for you. I PROMISE not to push you more than you...
2012-08-16T11:53:34-07:00I'M CONSISTENTLY AMAZED BY how many companies engage in social media and forget that the word “social” is right there. But I don’t entirely blame them – I blame us. By “us” I mean the so-called professional communicators who are...