Ew, put that thing back in your pants!: The Assault of Masturbatory Marketing

[Originally posted on NewCommBiz]

We’ve all seen it.  The website that proudly proclaims the awesomeness of the new product, the brand, the campaign.  The one that wants to give you a chance to be a part of the awesomeness! The one who invites you to submit your email address to get updates about awesome new things happening around this awesome product!

The tone-deaf “we love ourselves, so you must love us” content that makes a lot of us cringe as we are assumed to be a member of a mindless ever loyal, interested and open-walleted army known as “our consumers”.

I’ve figured out what makes it so uncomfortable to experience.

It’s marketing masturbation.

It’s a selfish, indulgent, isolating, base  activity acted upon purely for the benefit of oneself.  It’s based on the toxic myth of ‘us vs them’.

Basically, you’re unwillingly watching a company jerk off.

If you drop trou and do that in front of a subway car full of people, you get arrested. It’s an assault. You’re forcing unwilling and non-consenting individuals to be involved in your own self-centered fetish.

Do it in an ad campaign or a website, however, and you get featured in Ad Age.

Yuck.  Put that thing back in your pants, dude.

Jeremy Meyers is an Engagement Strategist at Waggener Edstrom and also blogs at JeremyMeyers.com. He does not like potato chips.

A hidden value of Social Conversations: Recognize the Suck

[Originally posted on NewCommBiz]

This isn’t a post about how, as @MegFowler puts it “If you make a crappy product and treat your customers badly, all the “connecting” and ‘conversation’ in the world won’t save you”. We have lots of posts about how Social Media raises the expectations of customer service, and those whose non-digital customer service is sub-par will run into bigger problems.

This also isn’t a post about how Social tools magnify both the opportunities and the flaws inherent within a company’s structure.


This is a post about Recognizing the Suck.

The most valuable feedback a company gets, be it through twitter, Facebook, customer service hotlines, op-ed pieces, ANYTHING is this: Your product sucks.

“But Jeremy!” I hear some of you already starting to scoff “Our products are great. Just look at these revenue charts for FY ’09 vs FY ’08!”

You’re wrong. People buy stuff that sucks all the time. Anyone who has paid for a hot dog on the streets of New York can attest to that. Quality and Sales have very little (if anything) to do with each other. If they were always linked, the New York Philharmonic would be giving a tribute to the music of Justin Bieber.

There are many reasons totally unrelated to quality that lead a person to make a purchase. Here are but a few.

  1. Lack of options – If you are the only act in town, or my only choice (see: Health Insurance).  Chances are, I resent having to give you my money
  2. Price – This is a big one.  If you’re the cheapest of my options, and I don’t really care that much, you may get my money.  This is an important point, because while you may get my money, what you don’t get is my loyalty.  Next time, the other brand of frozen pizza may be on sale, and there goes your spiffy charts.
  3. TrendSlap Bracelets. Nuff said.

“But Jeremy!” I hear some of you saying, a smug smile on your faces “What do we care why people give us their money. We have shareholders to think of. Have you seen our charts?”

Here’s the reason you care: People are talking about the Suck. And everyone can see it.  And people who are on the fence about whether or not to buy your product are reading it, and being influenced.  Don’t believe me? do a Google (or a Twitter) search for “mybrandname +sucks”. See what people are saying.

In the 20 minutes I’ve been writing this post, there have been 1800 new twitter postings containing the word ‘sucks’. Make of this what you will.

Here’s where we get into reactivity.  Maybe your first thought is ‘how do we take these sites down’.  Maybe it’s more like “Who cares?”  Well, at least some percentage of the 2+ billion people online do.  For sure people looking into making purchase decisions do.

Lest you think I’m all doom and gloom, I’m about to get to what this post IS about.


Learn to Recognize the Suck.

Take a step back, breathe.  This is a learning opportunity.  This is free. This is a way to optimize your products to maximize ROI.

You don’t have to build out an entire community dedicated to suggesting product improvements, as Starbucks did.  Just listen.  This is customer insight you used to have to pay millions for.

Its not the customers who have a sucking problem. We do just fine. We’re just the ones pointing it out. We’re trying to help.  We want you to listen and hear us and fix it.  If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t complain.

Do you have the humility, the savvy, the smarts to take it seriously?  Will you act on easy fixes, will you build upon your customer foundation, will you listen in order to create a better experience for your customers in order to build loyalty in order to build advocates in order to have them market on your behalf in order to keep those precious charts headed in the right direction?

Or will you let the suck win?

That’d be a shame, considering how easy it would be to, you know… not suck.

[Now read part 2 of this blog, about sucking less.]

Restrictions are the new freedom: Web 3.0, Twitter and Setting Limits

(yes I know, quite an ambitious title)

What if Facebook only allowed you 75 friends?

Headcorn station in NThe continued rise of Twitter.com has been attributed to many things by many people. Beyond the ambient intimacy, portability, business uses, networking, simplicity, etc, is one thing that may not have been blogged about quite as much: In a bandwidth-is-cheap storage-is-cheap development-is-cheap world, setting limits can create freedom.

Twitter.com limits all conversation atoms (a unit of measure for posts, replies, direct messages) to 140 characters. That’s it. No exceptions. This forces atoms to be succinct, without artifice or flowery stuff or suckuptitude or any of that capital-m-Marketing that more freedom allows.

Turns out that setting limits is a pretty effective way to get people to say what they want to say and then sit back. I’d be very interested to see what effect putting the 10 minute time limit on YouTube videos did for overall creativity, usage, and density of videos created over time. (paging Mediaeater, can Trendrr demonstrate that).

Being social network fatigued as I am (seriously, if one more site asks me to enter my email address, then upload a photo, then shout at my gmail contacts, I’m quitting the internets.), I hope this trend will expand. Another site that is doing something interesting with this paradigm is 12seconds.tv, which is exactly what it sounds like: Create and share videos, each limited to 12 seconds. From their FAQ:

Why only 12 seconds
Because anything longer is boring. The scientists here at the 12seconds dodecaplex have conducted countless hours of research to determine the precise amount of time it takes for boredom or apathy to set in during typical Internet video viewing. Our patent pending Electro-Tear-Duct Prongers have determined that exactly 12 seconds of video is the ideal amount of time to keep anything interesting.

Note to people with pre-existing sites:Imposing limits where users are USING a particular feature set is a BAD IDEA. Don’t do it, and if you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So there you have it, sports fans. If you’re thinking of launching a new site with community function or content creation abilities, maybe you should think about using a limit as a feature.

Why Podcasts Are Remarkable, and a Mea Culpa

I know in my day-to-day interactions with people, I talk a lot about Content being very important and a driver. Ironically, my blog has not been the best example of that. I do have a lot to say, and I will be posting here more regularly in order to say it. A lot of my musings can be found via Twitter, and there are many many links that I’d like to be able to comment on flowing through the Linkblog on the side, powered by my Delicious.com account. To start down the path, here’s a video by Christopher Penn that summarizes in a remarkable manner the reason why your business should (or should not) be in the podcast world. Important points: Metrics don’t matter, reaction matters. Podcasting is easy. Focus, focus, focus.

Link: Christopher Penn at the Inbound Marketing Summit