Going Social On Your Ass

Go Social

Social Marketing: sequence of events

Three years ago some ad agency dweeb leaned into my office and smirked “Dude, our campaign just went social”.

And I think, after a brief pause, my immediate reaction was to throw up in my mouth.  I silently hoped I would never hear that stupid little term again. That something “went social”.

But boy it’s catchy isn’t it?  Sounds all proactive and edgy and exciting, right?  If you work in an ad agency, you probably just enthusiastically thought ‘Hell yeah’.

Those of you who know me know I hate these little, after-the-fact terms.  Badges that agency people glom onto in an attempt to own the things that happen to them by accident.  To claim it somehow, despite the fact that they exist outside the users’ intent.  “Viral”, “Word of Mouth”, and now “Going social”.

Hello!?  It’s all the same thing, people.  Yeah yeah, someone will feel compelled to bloviate on behalf of the need for, and variances between these dumb little labels.  And it still won’t change the fact that users are in complete control – share what they want, how they want, only when they feel like it – and that advertisers have never actually had permission to interrupt or effect a desire of their own upon users no matter where they do it.  And if, in wishful disregard, the advertiser still has some desire for proactivity of any sort, may at best, bow low and deep, and beggingly offer service to the king, the user.

But they rarely do.  Advertising seems meaningless unless advertisers think they have control.  So we now spend a lot of money developing and executing marketing plans that will “go social”.

In the words of my old friend Nick, Social “this.”

Ad agency people: in a couple short years you will no longer be uttering that term.  So save yourself the pleated, acid-washed embarrassment, and don’t utter it today either.

Look at the big picture.  Make things that are valuable.  Then be silently grateful that something you created isn’t held in utterly dull regard by the user.

And then maybe I won’t be forced to keep swallowing my own vomit.

The Best Thing On The Internet Right Now

So after a particularly frustrating day of having Flash-based content crash my browser, I finally buckled under and succumbed to the recommendation of my old business partner Tim Smith and downloaded a little, free Mac Safari plugin called “ClickToFlash“.

ClickToFlash is a simple tool that blocks Flash content in the Safari browser and replaces it with a pleasant, ignorable graphic.  And if you choose to click the ignorable graphic – the Flash movie loads normally.  Simple.

But why would the average person want it?  Most advocates will tell you because it will significantly reduce browser crashing.  Which it does.  But there is something else.  Something I found infinitely more satisfying.

I’d resisted ClickToFlash previously because I thought, at the time, I wouldn’t want to miss out on all those cool experiences, those grey boxes would probably annoy me, and any extra clicking would degrade my experience.

Was I ever wrong on all counts.

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The Myth of Viral Marketing And The Rise Of Status

“Viral Marketing” is a myth. Always has been. It never existed. And as you’ll see, even if it had, you would want nothing to do with it. “Word of Mouth”? Less toxic, but critically, equally incomplete. Social Network Marketing? Swarm Marketing? Mobile Marketing? Just more opaque containers. In a revealing display of the industry’s ongoing struggle with interactive, none of the terms in use today comes close to illuminating how an advertiser can approach inspiring that Holy Grail of interactive marketing, a User-distributive spread…  Until now.

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HP PONG: Advertising’s Atom Smasher

In 1996, at Red Sky Interactive, in partnership with a rebellious band of talented individuals, I developed the HP PONG Banner Ad: the first interactive banner ad on the net, and the web’s first example of “rich media”.  But behind the scenes, that banner was an atom-smasher, revealing the very principles of interactive advertising- and sweeping industry changes yet to come.     Continue reading