They say dog is man’s best friend. Sure, Fido can fetch your slippers and lick your face in the morning, but so could many of the Kardashian sisters. Even Lassie can’t find Justin Beiber’s favorite color, your weight on Mars, and the best mochachino in Islamabad. For the truly inane and random, you turn to that faithful Google search box. Like a forlorn lover, Google feels you’ve taken this relationship for granted long enough. Instead of taking a fistful of pills to get your attention, Google’s search got a sexy makeover. You’ve probably noticed this new coat of mascara in the form of ‘Google Instant’. ‘Instant’ pre-loads your search results as you type. It’s a neat trick that’s just sexy enough to re-ignite the flames of passion. That is, until you discover its dark, manipulative soul. Google Instant is the Russian mail-order bride of search, a brilliant business move steeped in ulterior motives and glorious lessons.
Cirque du Soleil’s Andy Levey joins Steve Faktor to discuss the business of social, including:
- Can you make Charmin cool on social media?
- Is Mark Cuban alone at being mad at Facebook?
- Do platforms have monopoly power?
- The economics and future of Twitter and Google+
- How actionable is social data?
- Is the social user a real human or a “subset of humanity”
- Is buying fake followers like paying for a stripper?
- Who is a real influencer or expert? How to use brand ambassadors.
- Can you sell through social media?
This is a repost of Steve Faktor’s original Forbes article
I’ll be first to admit that I’m a reforming “innovation” trollop. I’ve thrown the word around too lightly, at any old sailor. I need a hot shower and a Brillo pad… What’s so bad about “innovation”? It doesn’t mean much…and maybe never did. Today, we use it to describe an iPhone newsreader app and the reinvention of space travel by SpaceX. That’s more range than Meryl Streep. My business is about creating great products and services, so I look for great tech partners. Some are startups led by brilliant entrepreneurs, bursting with optimism and 5-Hour Energy. As they describe their app, game, or web service, their words scream Johnny Depp, but the reality is a bit more Judah Friedlander. No shame in that, but I sometimes wonder how we could get these brilliant minds to work on meatier problems. My concern isn’t for them, but for us. The US needs jobs and as I wrote in Econovation, the big numbers still come from physical, capital-intensive businesses. Here are three ways we can help make brilliant minds deliver bigger results.
It wasn’t very often that my parents took me to the museum. Let’s face it, we were poor immigrants and Brooklyn already featured five Pakistani shops for cultural diversity. Plus, I’m pretty sure that my parents were faking their interest in art for my benefit. No one would mistake our one bedroom apartment for the Louvre. A loo, maybe. I could tell they were faking it when my engineer dad tried to straighten one of the lopsided installations at the Guggenheim. OK, I’m not sure that actually happened, but I remember him grumbling that no one there would ever land a job at his old Soviet aviation plant. A coveted prize.
As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate how those lopsided installations and grotesque paintings got inside the MOMA. Often, it’s the work of a slight, somewhat effeminate, persnickety man dubbed, “The Curator” *. He grew up fetishizing art, learning what inspired Picasso, and hoping his parents don’t discover his secret: that he’ll never become the race car driver they’d hoped for. This preening prodigy spent his whole life admiring objects he couldn’t afford – waiting, pining away for that moment when his stature could finally catch up to his snootiness. Today, he dresses to impress. And, celebrities from Elton John to Ricky Martin can’t wait to marvel at his huge…collection.
As I baked muffins to celebrate Facebook’s IPO, it occurred to me that there’s one HUGE, unspoken difference between the data people reveal to Facebook and what Google collects through search and other tools. It’s this: Facebook knows the image you want to project to the world – your “social resume”. Beautiful vacation photos; that perfect profile photo you Photoshopped so much that your nose is part puma, part Joan Rivers; and those photos of you surrounded by hot girls that lets the world (and Facebook) know that your party never stops.
Well, Google knows your dark, ugly, dirty truths. Your transcribed Google Voice messages reveal you argued nonstop on that island vacation as your kids yelled, “I hate you!” in the background. Your search history shows all your liposuction research, as your Photoshop bills skyrocket. Several of your eHarmony dates have jumped through glass storefronts to escape your shocking, incongruous looks. Google also knows where you’ve been – HOME!!! Your Android phone tattles like a four year old bribed with brownies. It reports your every move and it knows you’ve barely moved. You haven’t been invited to a hot party since October ’09, when you made your one friend wait two hours as you caked on makeup, trying to look your very beast…I mean ‘best’, before leaving the house.
What I’m saying is – you have two lives. The pretty, inauthentic one you construct on Facebook and the one where Mistress Sally from Craigslist walks on your face with stilettos wrapped in bacon. (Don’t ask…I just write whatever my imagination conjures.) Point is, that disparity creates a very different value proposition for the two companies. As Google mines your dark side, Facebook scrapes away at your veneer to get to it.
As a journalism student at NYU, I remember my immigrant dad interrogating me suspiciously about a profession he couldn’t possibly understand. He asked me the kinds of questions you’d expect from an engineer who just risked everything to drag his family out of the Soviet Union. “How will you make money?” he’d ask in his thick Russian accent. “What kind of (stupid) job is writing?” He would have been more proud if I majored in mink skinning or Zamboni maintenance. Slowly, he chipped away at me until I gave up my journalistic dream. For the past 10 years, it seemed like my dad’s fresh-off-the-boat wisdom paid off. I was having a successful career in business while the field of paid journalism looked like Courtney Love circa 5 a.m. – a hot mess.