Monthly Archives: September 2010

Gotta be on the Web

You rarely feel more connected than when updating your facebook status while lying on a surgical operation table. Simultaneously your ear is being cut open. I mostly did the deed just because I can but also because I needed to think about something else than tissue being scraped out from under my skin. I’ve become the enemy. While social media, including facebook, are in general great ways to keep in touch with people you know or think you know, it’s also more often than not a way for attention whores to write about tedious bullshit day in day out.  I’d say 90% of all the status updates I read on facebook are either not compelling, from people I don’t care about, or both.

I try to keep my mundane updates to a minimum and avoid annoying people who might think like me and also to elude self-hatred, but is this really the right way to behave? Surely the point of timely status updates is to update them whenever something incredibly non-personal or interesting happens, be it a discovering a breast lump or waking up. It’s up to the audience to use their ignore list as best they know, and believe me, I learn fast. If one never updates, comments or posts anything the great will of web 2.0 is not fulfilled. In that case a social platform only functions as a free webpage, which is hardly ideal.

To quote a great song: “If you haven’t been bookmarked, retweeted and blogged, you might as well not have existed.” So everybody should keep being active on the social media front in any way they know. I will likely ignore you and hide your posts, but those who care won’t. And that’s all that matters.


Of Words and Mouths

Just as I was walking home from school, I began thinking about which brands I particularly like and reminiscing about how I began liking them in the first place. This occurred to me due to a combination of two things: a) it was raining, b) my Lacoste jacket has a retardedly bad hood tightening thingamajig. Naturally the next step was to question myself as to why I like Lacoste although their design clearly sucks in this particular piece of garment. Easy answer. They have a cool crocodile logo. Problem solved. Moving on.

Whereas trendy rich people love Apple, I have a personal fanboy-relationship with Oakley, and the reason for that is quite simple and stupid. Originally I was introduced to Oakley when I was around 10 by a friend whom I’ve looked up to my entire life. He told me something along the lines of “these are the best sunglasses”. Now, he probably had no idea about why or if what he was saying was true (considering he was 11) but the thought struck with me. All I needed to embrace a brand I had never heard about was someone I trusted telling me that it was excellent. Granted, I was a child, but it is my belief that everybody has been at some point, so ignoring children as potential future consumers could prove detrimental to any business. Later on I realized Oakley makes shoes and clothes to my liking as well so I’ve been buying their products whenever I’ve had the chance since the last millennium, which is not often here in the cold North. Whether or not my opinion on Oakley has any impact on people around me (it doesn’t) remains to be seen, but at least everybody knows that I really like that brand. Were it not to increase sales, it definitely increases awareness.

I would have many other brands I could mention as examples of things that I’ve been introduced to by a friend or acquaintance. The common denominator being that if such a brand has lived up to expectations I probably still buy it once in a while and recommend it to others. Which leads me to the whole pièce de résistance of this post, word-of-mouth. Disregarding the fact that everything works more efficiently on a child, good friends or even acquaintances recommending something will most likely have a much bigger impact on people than any interruptive commercial. This has been researched over and over again so I’m not just pulling stuff out of my ass here. I am, however, too lazy to site sources.

If anyone ever reads this and wants to learn more about word-of-mouth and viral marketing I would suggest watching Seth Godin‘s speeches at TED.


Broken Marketing

In terms of marketing, spamming via regular mail is right there on top of my hatelist along with door-to-door religious marketing and telemarketing. So no matter how beautifully personalized the message is (Dear N.N. and so on), stuffing trash through the mail slot in my door most likely will not make me buy whatever you’re trying to sell. It will, however, help the paper recycling business. In addition, the means through which the message arrived was not its only flaw.

The whole offer was meticulously composed in a way that made it impossible to clearly decipher how much the offering was actually going to cost. No, I don’t give a shit that it’s “the rest of the year for the price of 2 months” if you will not tell me how much exactly is two months in fucking real currency. Due to some brain lapse I was actually interested in seeing if ordering the newspaper in question would have any value for me, so I wasted 5 minutes of my life turning the A3-sized offer sheet around trying to find the only information I was interested in in the first place.  Alas, all the marketing department had had the wisdom to print was praise for all the useless “benefits” a potential customer would be getting. Oh, that, and of course how much money I would be saving. Apparently I don’t need to spend a dime. This is full of win.

Naturally, the attached order form had the actual price written on it but even there the box-checking system was confusingly stupid. I’m too lazy to scan the form so you’ll just have to take my word for that. The potential customer is always right.


Boost Social

I just got back from the Boost Turku‘s social meetup and for some reason I felt like blogging about it. Yes. An event I decided to attend on a whim. Blogging seriously for the first time in 18 months. Miracles do happen.

I had to leave right after the guest speaker, Richard von Kauffmann of Zipipop (the last part isn’t actually his name), had finished his main presentation, which is unfortunate because it would have been interesting to stay and chat with him for a while afterwards. While he was no Seth and could use some additional presentation tips from Garr, I was still impressed enough to write about it, so I guess I have to admit that the presentation was, dans l’ensemble, very well done.

Technology, the internet and gaming have interested me since I cannot even remember but social media only really came in slowly with internet forums, IRC, web messaging and later on Friendster, Bebo and Facebook. Eventually, I made viral marketing in online communities the goddamn subject of my undergraduate’s thesis, which came out awesome.

For some reason I’ve been getting more and more involved in social media lately, although I initially have refused to join twitter, posterous or other places I just haven’t found any use for. Richard mentioned Yammer as a platform they use at Zipipop and I got the sudden urge to try it and shove it down all my friends’ throats in order to enhance communication. Apparently it requires company email adresses though, so fuck it.

In almost, but not completely unrelated news, I’ve now been following a plyometrics training program regularly for 8 weeks. Nobody cares, but this is a segue so keep reading anyway. Now, I don’t actually remember ever practicing any sport without laziness-induced interruption for this long, not even as a kid when my parents were in charge of taking me to practice different sports they felt were important but I couldn’t give two shits about, like field hockey. This leads me to a point Richard also briefly mentioned during his presentation: positive feedback and gratification. Although there are several reasons as to why I’ve suddenly taken up sports again, the reason why I haven’t quit is on the web, namely HeiaHeia. For me, it’s a brilliant means to keep track of what I’ve done, see what others are doing, cheer for them and get cheered on. The system is not perfect and I could think of a dozen of useful user interface features to add but it’s still good enough for me to keep using it.

Similarly to achievements in gaming, I would also need some kind of program that would reward me with achievements whenever my master’s thesis reaches a certain amount of pages or references or whatnot. I need those little virtual medals to be effective! You just don’t put as much effort into something that you’re not really sure is advancing at all and that won’t be finished in the foreseeable future as you would into something that would reward you step by step as you get closer to your goal. That’s why life really needs some kind of achievement collection feature. HeiaHeia is a good start but I’d love to see more.