Why am I writing about Twitter at midnight? Even Ashton Kutcher is icing his iThumb at this hour. I’m chasing a brainstorm for my keynote at New Media Expo/Blogworld on Sunday. My talk is about the future of social currencies and the new economics of work. Since launching several successful loyalty services at MasterCard and American Express, I’ve been obsessed with deconstructing what motivates us. That’s why social media and gamification are so amusing to me. They’re a shiny new set of controls that can change – or exploit human behavior. But before drunkenly commandeering The USS Twitter, it’s best to first meet its passengers. Like my 15 Faces of Facebook article last year, here is a deconstruction of Twitter – what it is, who uses it, and what motivates them. In future articles, I’ll go deeper into tools to change both customer and employee behavior.
Registered users will get the detailed infographic here (to be posted on 1/11)
At first, it was funny to hear insurers, IT firms, and startups with no revenues compare themselves to Apple. Since the iPod launched in 2001, I’ve seen hundreds of presentations that liberally use “learnings” from Apple. 1) The word is LESSONS, not “learnings”, my Hillbilly friend. 2) The comparison feels as fresh as that Michael Jackson impression your spouse has been doing since you started dating. 3) Drenching slides (or products) in an iconic brand’s juices won’t transmit innovation, like some benevolent plague. If that were possible, we’d never stop harvesting and packaging Brangelina extract. It’s time for an intervention. Here’s why brands must find their own voice (and scent)…and keep those synthetic Apple fumes from turning into laughing gas.
Having led innovation at Amex, MasterCard and Citi, I know where the bodies are buried. I also know that payment wars aren’t just about fees anymore. That’s so 1990′s. Years ago, when Walmart threatened to enter payments and banking, incumbents nearly soiled their Hanes. After a little sword-fighting, providers slashed their margins so thin, big merchants had no incentive to do their own thing. This time it’s different. Payments companies are not the real threat.
Today’s war is about data and its power to shift loyalties. In the arms race to probe customers’ deepest, darkest desires, card companies and merchants find themselves bringing spitballs to a gunfight. So, I’m not surprised to see Walmart, Target and others are starting their own 99% movement. Big retailers are launching their own mobile payments system. This is the first of many moves you can expect by merchants to liberate themselves of increasingly omnipotent middlemen. Below are three reasons retailers’ strategy makes sense
I recently saw a post on the TED web site posing the question, “Can advertising be a force for good?” Here’s my response:
What a nonsensical question! Advertising is a vehicle for transporting messages. It’s not inherently good or evil. It conveys the desires, values and motivations of the payer (client). Is every client good? I’m always amused when people try to spin their chosen professions as altruistic. Advertising is what it is – something you do for client money. (It’s no different than consulting, something I’m all too familiar with.)
One thing to keep in mind – advertising produces nothing. It is the means, not the end, so it has no intrinsic demand, like Kit Kats or even Sea Monkeys. It exists to create demand and awareness for something else. If someone truly creative didn’t produce the products themselves, no one would be rioting on Madison Avenue demanding advertising – or even know they were missing it.
To take it a step further, most people expend a good amount of effort avoiding advertising – throwing out magazine inserts, skipping DVR ads, using browser ad blockers. So by definition, if most see blocking as good, then is the thing you’re trying to block “bad”?
- Define yourself. What are you? Are you Mexican, American, Middle Eastern, sandwiches? No one knows. You’re trying to be all things to all people. Stop.
- You have too many menu items. It’s impossible to do 90% of them well. Pick a cuisine, then get rid of everything that doesn’t fit. Have you seen a Chipotle menu? Simple.
- Your prices are too high, lower them. You’re a tiny take-out joint. Act like one.
- Change your name. There is no such thing as a blue food and no one describes food as “cool”. Fresh, delicious, spicy, savory, not “cool” and definitely not “blue”. Plus your awful premise for a restaurant badly needs to be forgotten as quickly as possible.
I’ve had a Facebook account since early 2007, but resisted its advances like catcalls from drunken sailors. My first few friend requests didn’t exactly inspire hope – random co-workers, curious exes, and forgotten classmates . What kind of voyeuristic, Orwellian nightmare was this?? And, why were my ‘friends’ so damn old and frumpy?!? Where were the celebrities, billionaires, and supermodels? Was I not the youthful, gregarious intellectual I thought I was? Surely, this was a mistake… Despite years of self-delusion and indifference, I finally consummated my cold, distant relationship with Facebook by uploading my contacts in October 2010. This was no selfless act of love. Like many corporations and fellow narcissists, I salivated at the chance to use it to promote my “brand” –blog, book, appearance on Ellen. The last year of this reluctant romance taught me that Facebook is no easy prey. It’s an amazing social experiment that can be trivial, passionate, funny, and deeply personal – all at the same time. It’s an addictive, evolving organism with a rhythm and personality of its own – one that can be prickly and unkind to marketing and self-promotion. This fact is often lost on businesses. If, like me, you’ve ever tried to claw your way out of a mind-numbing meeting on how to “market on Facebook”, salvation is here. “The 15 Faces of Facebook” will be my ever-evolving analysis of who dwells on Facebook, what motivates them, and whether they’ll hear your Twilight howls of commerce. Ideafaktory is about to save you hundreds of thousands of dollars on behavioral psychologists and social media research. Then again, like any good drug dealer, the first hit is always free.
It seems you’re likelier to find Amy Winehouse up bright and early, going for a run, than to find an American politician untainted by special interests. Unfortunately, that’s the usual angle we see when talking about the relationship between politics and business. Let me suggest another: innovation. That’s right, innovation. The Democratic campaign has been a real-life example of Apple vs. Microsoft, or Google vs. Yahoo. The innovator vs. the stalwart. I’ll explain…
There are now two contenders for the democratic nomination, Senators Clinton and Obama. Despite their virtually identical voting records and positions on issues, one is clearly an innovator.