I spent many hours reading Popular Science as a young person (and into college) in the high school library and sharing amazing stories with friends. I understand the business side of this, but it still feels to me like we’re losing something very valuable…
After 151 years, Popular Science will no longer be available to purchase as a magazine. In a statement to The Verge, Cathy Hebert, the communications director for PopSci owner Recurrent Ventures, says the outlet needs to “evolve” beyond its magazine product, which published its first all-digital issue in 2021.
Artificial Intelligence might usher in something like a return to curated web experiences. This article is presented in a very “anti-AI” posture, but it also raises the idea that what happens to the web after AI completely saturates online content (and discovery through search and googling, etc.) is a realization that humans are pretty good at curating stuff for other humans.
Hence, making a Spotify playlist for someone special is still just as engaging as when we used cassette tapes in the 80s and 90s to do the same.
My personal wish is that we all go back to the notion of personal blogging or at least small and niche online communities with things like guestbooks (go sign mine… just set up today!) and Blogrolls to point us in interesting directions rather than relying on TikTok’s algorithms…
This is the same complaint identified by Stack Overflow’s mods: that AI-generated misinformation is insidious because it’s often invisible. It’s fluent but not grounded in real-world experience, and so it takes time and expertise to unpick. If machine-generated content supplants human authorship, it would be hard — impossible, even — to fully map the damage. And yes, people are plentiful sources of misinformation, too, but if AI systems also choke out the platforms where human expertise currently thrives, then there will be less opportunity to remedy our collective errors.
I’m constantly on the fence about pre-planning or pre-scheduling too many marketing posts ahead of time on social media. It’s handy, for sure. However, given that events happen without warning, there are real risks that could make whatever you’re trying to do look incredibly out-of-touch.
However, there is a benefit to having a month (or week) long agenda of posts to help keep you or your team on track. Social media is a platform that often rewards spontaneity, and you should be building that into marketing efforts. But it would be best if you had a foundation on which to grow, and a good plan can get you there.
Whether you’re telling the world about your church, selling products or sharing experiences, your website is probably not doing the job you think you hired it to do.
I’m a big fan of the “jobs to be done” philosophy of “customer experience” marketing (again, doesn’t matter if you think you have “customers” or not… you do… time is the biggest asset we all have).
Your church / business / group’s website, social media, and all of its messaging should be focused on helping your “customers” identified problems instead of just giving headshots of your directors.
Good post here laying out the issues of too many choices and not any real solutions:
People respond best to a small handful of tailored choices presented to them on a silver platter.That’s why each page should have one Call to Action, and it should be tailored to the content the user chose to read/watch/listen to.That’s why you should intentionally design content marketing funnels.That’s why you should have landing pages for specific products and specific audiences.
I’d forgotten about this completely… fascinating read:
Billy Collins, then U.S. Poet Laureate and a fellow Random House writer, questioned Angelou’s partnership with Hallmark, the largest manufacturer of greeting cards in the United States and, among the literati, commonly associated with trite expressions.
“It lowers the understanding of what poetry actually can do,” Collins said to the Associated Press. “Hallmark cards has always been a common phrase to describe verse that is really less than poetry because it is sentimental and unoriginal.”
We finished up with our science lesson this morning and sat down at the kitchen table for a snack. This is usually when the five-year-old has “tablet time” (we’re not the type of parents that abides by the “Screen Time!” mantra or severely restricts device usage…).
As I was putting snacks out, I noticed he was playing Pac-Man. PAC-MAN. “Wait, you’re playing Pac-Man?” I asked in that sort of parental stunned manner that even a five-year-old recognizes as a question that warranted an immediate response. “What is Pac-Man?” he responded. I’d loaded a few classic games on his tablet a few weeks ago but didn’t think he’d necessarily take to any of them just yet.
“You’re playing it!” I said. “Oh, he said… I call it Bubble-Eater.” Fair enough.
I sat down and we enjoyed some Pac-Man together. He’s almost better than I was as a middle schooler emptying quarters into the Pac-Man machine at our local skating rink on a Friday night. It’s been a while.
This all makes me reflect on how we often put emphasis on things that really don’t matter in our marketing. Our son doesn’t care about the name “Pac-Man” but enjoys the experience, the music, and the sound effects. If you’re of a certain age, you can close your eyes and imagine those sound effects right now.
Often when I’m working with clients on a new project, there will be unlimited amounts of time and energy spent on seemingly massive details that in the end only matter to the actual organization (or more often, specific committee members).
In reality, it’s the sound effects that stick with people and transcend generations. Focus on the details that matter and not the ones that you think matter. “I know my business better than anyone” is often the death knell of a marketing campaign.
Hearing from Spectrum never brings joy. We have been Time Warner Cable (which became Sprctrum) customers of their high speed internet offerings since moving to our new home in 2013. We regularly receive mailers and calls from them asking us to consider their phone plans or cable tv packages. Remarketing is a powerful tactic, but has to be deployed wisely. There’s also been the occasional past due notification (comes in a pink envelope and all) when we’ve changed debit card numbers and forgot to update the auto-payment on their app (which is a whole other blog post).
We never hear anything good from Spectrum.
This morning I’ve been receiving text message notifications about their service outage here in our area. That’s definitely not good news on an otherwise busy Monday morning working from home during my “busy season” with a few Zoom calls planned, some website audits that need to be done, and lots of charts to be made for clients. Not to mention, my partner runs her business and ministry from home, and our children have become digital natives during the pandemic (although they are much more resilient than we are when the web goes down).
I remember about 12 or so years ago, a Comcast customer service rep began the @comcastcares account on Twitter. These were the fun days of the Twitter platform and we users were so anticipating how the service would transform everything from customer service to entertainment to politics. Cory Booker was the Mayor of Newark at the time, and his revolutionary use of Twitter as a way for his community to reach out for help with downed trees or kittens stuck in trees was fascinating to watch. It brought joy. Little did we know how future politicians would use the service in the coming years… but I digress.
The @comcastcares account went viral and sparked a number of other services to open their own accounts for people like me who were valued customers but preferred a Twitter DM to submitting a support ticket on a terrible website, or (God Forbid) picking up the phone. It was a marketing play, but it brought joy from an otherwise joyless interaction when people are at their most frustrated. It’s also why every company uses carefully researched “hold music” and why some are better than others like Verizon’s terrible repeating 4/3 beat monstrosity.
During the pandemic, I’ve become fascinated by restaurant marketing. I’ve only worked with a handful of restaurants and restaurant groups as clients and the sector is admittedly not in my marketing wheelhouse.
However, watching local and national restaurants and chains adapt to new types of marketing technology and techniques during the pandemic has become a learning experience for me. I’ve downloaded dozen of restaurant and chain apps and had a few chats with various marketing teams.
A couple of large scale standouts have been McDonalds innovative use of their app to bring joy to an otherwise mundane human experience with promotions like a free item each day during the Holidays. Wendy’s has also been using marketing technology in a daring manner to build experience and interaction. For instance, their edgy Twitter account isn’t for everyone, but even snark can bring joy during a pandemic. Wendy’s is also using platforms such as Twitch to stream their team playing live games of Animal Crossing while giving away promo codes in the flowing chat. Again, it’s not for everyone and that’s the point.
Just like Comcast reached out to users with marketing technology that wasn’t “mainstream” or seemed silly in 2008 to do both outreach and perform a service, it’s important to bring joy and not just interruption.
So while our family scrambles to hook up internet hotspots and figure out how to work in new ways (yet again) this morning while our Spectrum service sorts out, think of ways that your organization can bring joy with marketing technology.
Don’t just send emails offering new services, asking for more donations, or updates about a new award you’ve won to your intended audience. Don’t dismiss Instagram Reels or TikTok or Twitch or Clubhouse or Reddit or even Twitter because you don’t think your audience is there or you don’t have the time to experiment. Stagnation is death. Stagnation doesn’t bring joy.
Joy will be a prime marketing technique in 2021. Embrace that and think outside the interruption.
I get these sorts of questions frequently from new clients:
“Why aren’t my Facebook Page posts getting more likes?”
“Why isn’t my website getting more views?”
“How can I let more people know I’ve written / made / created / offer the best service / product in my area?”
“When will people start responding to the emails I’m sending them about our product / church service / nonprofit fundraising?”
“What is the best way to market this because what I’ve done hasn’t worked so far?”
After being in the marketing world for almost 20 years now, these are among the most common questions I get from people just beginning to take marketing seriously (and have hired me to help them realize that vision).
We’ve all asked ourselves similar questions after the initial excitement of an idea has faded away due to the lack of engagement from everyone else who didn’t respond the way we wanted.
But that’s the beauty of marketing… it’s a system of nuance and subtleness and not a blunt tool. It’s not meant to “convert” (that’s sales) as much as “persuade” … and that takes extra effort and thinking outside of our own heads. Some do that with data. Some do that with incredible gut instincts.
Nonetheless, don’t fall into the trap of letting your own perspectives dictate all of your marketing efforts…
The dilemma for my boss, for me and for you – as humans – is that it’s very difficult to admit that you were wrong, or even stupid. It’s is the last thing someone will admit. The alternative is, instead of believing the evidence, you double down on your initial belief – belief perseverance – and say it’s the other person who’s wrong.
Google’s annual Shopping Gift Guide is out for 2020. While it’s a handy tool for personal shopping, it also has some incredibly helpful stats for marketing and messaging.
The trick is to focus on trending items using data. The same is true for Instagram… the hashtags that you should be incorporating into your posts for more exposure and likes (and follows) are the ones that are trending but not necessarily popular.
So, if you’re looking for some fun market research in your business’ sector, don’t pass up these sorts of insights:
Monitors and headsets with microphones both saw 450%+ spikes in searches.
Searches for streaming increased 33% this year.
Searches for ring lights are at their all-time high, as they provide ideal lighting for video recordings and meetings.
The Google Shopping Gift Guide provides a helpful list of products rising in popularity based on Search trends in the US.