But Nextdoor has gradually evolved into something bigger and more consequential than just a digital bulletin board: In many communities, the platform has begun to step into roles once filled by America’s local newspapers. “Anecdotally, Nextdoor has gone from being kind of sub-Facebook to actually being the main platform you hear people discussing as a vector for local news and events and discussions,” says Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.
This is the death knell of PACs for tech companies with activist employees,” one source told Axios. “This is the final straw.”
This is a really fascinating development. First Microsoft and now Facebook are suspending PAC (Political Action Committee) spending in Washington. They’re joining financiers Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Citigroup, along with Marriott, Blue Cross Blue Shield (caveat — our insurance co), Boston Scientific, and Commerce Bank. Bank of America (caveat — one of the banks we do business with), Ford, and AT&T, CVS, Exxon Mobil, and Wells Fargo are considering pulling their political monies.
This hits politicians where it really hurts.
For years, many of us in the “tech world” have decried these PACs and looked at them as a unnecessary evil that needed to be banned or done away with for a number of reasons.
Here are my personal convictions:
- The PAC system reinforces the existing system of graft and corruption that so many Americans claim to abhor.
- PACs favor the privileged both socio-economically and relationally. It’s a blight on a Democratic Republic and shouldn’t be seen as a “necessary evil” to doing business in the United States. Whatever your sector.
- Tech boomed in the late 90’s and then again in the early ’00s because it was seen as a disruptor. From Google to Tesla to Uber (well, maybe they aren’t a great example but they did usher in a transportation paradigm shift) to even Twitter, the tech sector excited us with the promise of something different and more democratic to challenge the status quo. However, as the going got weird, the weird turned pro and put on suits. I want a return to the weird disruption tech that spurred creativity and a hope for a better representation to the powers that be. We’re not so far gone that it can’t happen in light of #metoo, BLM, LBGTQ+, trans rights, accessibility emphasis, and recognition of differently abled persons. Real revolutionary tech that can change the world… I still believe. PACS stand in the way of that.
So as we continue to process and deal with the terrorist insurrection on our Capitol last week, let’s take a second to recognize what these companies are doing by restricting or redirecting their PAC monies and how we can all do our part to not just “unify and move forward” but to cause real change.
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 remember the first few times I saw a friend post a Reel on Instagram and thought “well, that’s a weird knock-off of Snapchat and Tik-Tok” and wondered how or if my clients should even know about (or bother) with it.
Then in November, we also got word from Instagram that major changes were coming to how they promoted content in a much search-friendlier way (without having to use hashtags!).
Those two combined together means that Instagram with its 2 billion active users and built-in affinity groups shouldn’t be overlooked in 2021.
Use Reels for whatever you’re marketing or trying to message about and don’t skip over the functionality there.
2021 is going to be the year of 15 second videos.
Engagement umbers are already through the roof with Reels and that’s only going to continue to increase.
To further help Instagram categorize your account, you want to consistently post content that’s relevant to your niche. To illustrate, if you run an Instagram account for your dog training business, you’ll want to focus on posting content about dog training and avoid content that strays into an unrelated category. Other ways to help you show up in search within your category include following other similar accounts and adding a relevant keyword to your name in your bio (i.e., Alexa | Dog Trainer).
To compete with the rise in popularity of TikTok, Instagram launched Reels, a new form of video content delivered in 15–30 seconds to create quick, attention-grabbing moments in a creative and entertaining way. Instagram’s new UI update, which put IG Reels front and center, should hint to marketers that Instagram Reels will be here to stay in 2021.
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.
Source: Google Shopping Gift Guide
I’ve had a few people reach out to ask me if there’s a way to integrate TikTok with their WordPress site… so I recently did some research and testing and this is the plugin I’d recommend:
TikTok Feed is premium WordPress plugin to create stunning gallery of TikTok videos for any user, hashtag/challenge, Music or Trending feed.
With 40+ shortcode options to adjust the feed to suit your need, the plugin comes with interactive shortcode generator tool to play with and preview the output with the changes.
Along the same lines of posts I’ve been making about authentic marketing outreach aimed at specific communities, causes, and moments… this isn’t just about crass capitalism.
Businesses, nonprofits, churches, community orgs, public officials etc need to be engaged in this sort of marketing messaging regardless of your political or religious affiliations but in respect of what your group’s ethos represents… super powerful:
Show up where and when it matters.With advancements in communication, moments create new avenues for marketers, planners and creatives looking to connect with these once-a-day, once-a-year and once-in-a-while moments. Find a moment like Giving Tuesday, Ramadan or Pride Month when your business can connect with customers and communities who share the same values.
Today we’re announcing some big changes to Instagram – a Reels tab and a Shop tab. The Reels tab makes it easier for you to discover short, fun videos from creators all over the world and people just like you. The Shop tab gives you a better way to connect with brands and creators and discover products you love.
Instagram’s new layout announced today isn’t a massive overhaul and most people will probably adjust just fine… but the inclusion of Reels as a separate tab is super interesting and yet another way that Facebook and Instagram are looking to capture some of the virality and buzz around TikTok.
There’s not much conclusive data on Reels’ success or adoption so far (released back in August), but it is notable that it now has its own tab in an interface that hundreds of millions of active users visit daily (or hourly depending on your demographic).
Shopping also gets its own tab. Again, like the talk late in the summer about how Wal-Mart was interested in acquiring TikTok due to its ability to be a platform for e-commerce, Instagram is making it easier for users to make direct purchases from their app rather than the janky “link in the bio” workaround we’ve been using for years. I know I’ve personally made a few impulse buys of new camping gear or knives (looking at you, Smoky Mountain Knife Works) because of an Instagram Story or pic.
But take note that the landscape is changing ever so slightly from Instagram (and TikTok) being places of consumer-generated content to consumer buying and selling. That will continue, especially as we all hunker down in our homes this winter to avoid Covid outbreaks.
Interesting dynamics for the marketing world (something I’ve been arguing for since “influencer marketing” became a thing years ago) as we continue to see re-evaluations of things like Google Ads and social media marketing as well. The landscape is changing rapidly and I’ve been on a ton of strategy calls with clients lately trying to help them make sense of it all.
Contributing to the rise of OnlyFans is one harsh new reality: the “influencing era” is ending. Travel influencers can’t travel, lifestyle influencers can’t live lavishly, and fashion influencers aren’t being sent clothes without any place to wear them. The economic downturn has caused companies to dial back marketing budgets usually spent on sponsored content and, during a global disaster, followers are craving authenticity over “picture-perfect” life.