Words from a Social Media hater

The social media hater in question is https://ello.co/mauromagnasco – these are his own words, in line with the philosophy of ello.co, which takes social media back to its original roots. No ads, just connections.

So here we go:

PART 1

Every day it’s easier to imagine Facebook losing the throne. Teenagers see through Linkedin and prefer Snapchat. Google can’t drive traffic to Plus… And not even modifying their products gets us to adopt it. Content-less egotists cry for attention in twitter. Yahoo buys Tumblr and announces a new revenue model. Even Instagram started fooling us with sponsored stories. What’s happening to social networks? Are the happy days over?

Those years when we got lost, amazed in front of an endless digital ocean. The limitless information universe that set our sights in the horizon, on top of our own boats with mouse and keyboard, ready to sail with 28.8 motors until our eyes were exhausted. Those times when every new platform was better than the one before and made us feel free along with Napster, Ebay and Messenger. There are still some hopefuls Whatsapp’s around the corner, but it seems like heroic digital dreams are over.

Revenue is favoured over user value every day… “In feed ads” is the new term the IAB just invented. The content polluting our newsfeed with spam got its own name… Just because Facebook managed to survive the virus, it seems its okay for the rest to follow along.

Oh Google! One by one they’ve all turned into stock… With their mouth open they entrust themselves to privilege stakeholder’s return. Even Snapchat had to enter the political lobby industry to reject the 3 Billions Mark offered to survive the storm. The expenses of playing in the leagues of the NSA, the SOPA and the RIAA.

It would seem like Google got sick of buying software and are now conquering drones. Galloping robots that take kicks. Self driving cars and other prototypes recall our worst technological domination nightmares.

They collect so much information about us, it’s scary.

And as in any cultural shift, power concentration it is in nobody’s best interest except that of the friend-crazy.

Are Social Networks just corrupted now? So relevant that the Death star has put its eyes on it? …it would seem that where there’s money, there is villains.

PART2

Thanks to social networks we’ve become editors of our own journals. Like never before we’ve turned into the authors of what we read. We control information, but our mindshare is over capacity. We got so digitalized that we are now worried about digital pollution. From over-exposure push-backers emerged, the ones that got tired of technology. We got to the tip of the mountain, we reached the highest point and realized it was too much.

We got tired, but we are not disconnecting… not now not ever Our lifes have changed. Our functions simplified and it would be as “painful” to go back. Technological scalability is too strong… or would you leave home without your smartphone?

By definition: “A future event in which it is predicted that technological progress and social change will be accelerated due to the development of superhuman intelligence, changing our environment so that any pre-Singularity humans would be unable to understand or predict.”

Hundreds of signals make our proximity evident. We disconnect to connect and viceversa. We feel in company, where there’s nobody by our side. Regardless of the distance that separates us, we live in company… and we love that. …it is so hard to live without it.

Many years ago it would seem utopian to break the barriers of physical separation. Today we can be present anywhere. Instead of travelling we record ourselves on videos. Nor english, or french have a future, we’ve learnt a new language. The language of symbols. We facilitate comprehension. We improve the lexicon. Content becomes everyday a little more liquid. New generations breathe internet, share their whole lives, suffer and love through videos. But there are so many apps that it is impossible to try them all. Technological startups wear Prada. Every mother’s dream is for her son to sell an app to google. We invent new needs to justify new services… Services conceived to be profited. Creating an app without a revenue model seems as reasonable as a politician without friends.

People are divided… Big players are not the only ones getting in. Every day we are more agile, every day we adopt faster. Even our mothers have iphones now… Is there a more reliable proof of the smartphone’s total adoption status?

China, London or your closest mall, they all sell the same stuff, only separated by the speed vs cost tradeoff. Without even realizing it, we profit from the big battle. Internet is nowadays a huge boxing ring. One big industry. A world class championship for the world’s best content. We nurture from it and share it, we archive information with unprecedented efficiency and instead of searching for it, we let it find us. We undress publicly to index ourselves. Technology knows us better everyday.

We learn from niches and become experts Socially- and digitally approved… We even replaced our curriculums for digital profiles.

We became so gullible that even Klout got adopted… Is it perhaps that someone can measure my influence? According to whom? Based on what? An App with a private algorithm? A friend’s recommendations network? A LinkedIn full of people adding strangers they don’t know? What is social approval good for if there is no deeper substance? What is this new reality’s limit? We could all end up turned into a single big lie.

PART 3

Fortunately we’ve got great examples. Platforms that validate based on substance instead of form, remote and collective approval… from experience and not favours. Ebay and AirBnB among others have shown us that there are trustworthy reputations… although we don’t always trust ourselves. Sometimes we meet people that ‘smell’ wrong. They fill their mouths with likes, but our instinct triggers the alarm. Deep down we know that not everything that shines is gold. Specially in the Internet.

Idiotically we fall for the follow-back game and without even realizing we fill our profiles from argument-less opinions and irresponsible judgements. Information liability has become irrelevant… We communicate so fast that we outrun ourselves. We are not short of credible people, Today, there are too many non-credible ones with lots of followers. Errors don’t matter anymore. People say garbage that is forgotten the next day. What happens when one of them makes a public mistake? Is it relevant? Responsibility diluted among thousands of retweets. Like a huge unconscious conscience, nobody cares…

Still… no such thing as bad publicity. More scandals means more followers… Deep down we don’t follow people because we admire them. We do it because we’re interested… whether it’s because of substance or form, admiration or rejection. Otherwise, how could we explain the existence of tumblrs like “Rich kids of instagram”? Is there a way to admire people who burn money they didn’t earn?

Morbidity… curiosity… Envy maybe… But admiration? How could followers-QUANTITY be a truthful sign of QUALITY in today’s socio-digital spiderweb?

Don’t you love me, baby?

Dear Richard,

I am writing to let you know that your brand sucks in Australia. You left it in the hands of greedy slackers and, as a result, they have rolled it in the mud and tarnished it. Goodbye irreverent, hello irrelevant.

Your Virgin Money card is a scam. Not only was I refused a credit card that would earn me my cherished Virgin Velocity points (American Express gave me a gold Velocity card, but Virgin Money gave me a basic, shitty card), but my account was charged twice for insurance I never took. It’s only twenty bucks twice, mind you, but these forty bucks would have done more good if I had given them to a homeless person. And when I called to cancel my account, I was transferred to some very nice people who could not pronounce my suburb or my surname. You’ll be glad to hear that they of course made me listen to some very funky music and begged me to stay. But I said no, no, no.

Now, let’s talk about Virgin Australia, the airline in which you have a 13% stake. It’s still my favourite airline, but the frequent flyer program is not quite hunky dory when it comes to earning points with Partner Airlines. You see, I am still waiting for the points for my return flight with Singapore Airline from LHR to SIN of September 2012. That was 8 months ago, dude, and I’m still chasing it with the Virgin staff.  And now, to add to my aggravation, the points earned for my business class trip on Virgin Atlantic from LHR to SYD were not added to my Virgin Velocity account. Now, Virgin Atlantic is YOUR baby, Sir. So much for carefully choosing partner airlines so that I can keep my Gold status with Virgin Velocity and maybe reach Platinum. I’m not into bling very much, but I do put a lot of value on our relationship when it comes to accessing The Lounge and the speedy checkins in my travels. Sadly, the automated emails that I get in response to my online enquiries don’t make me feel too special, you see.

So if you could please stop prancing around in galactic hot air balloons with gorgeous chicks and get everyone to do their job properly, it would be quite nice. You’d save me lots of time and you’d earn yourself a few more bucks by having me back in love with Virgin. But maybe I’m disillusioned and you’re not that into me after all? If not, it’d be nice to know what I did wrong.

I’ll wait for your response.

Your (formerly) devoted,

Boris Jacquin

Get back to work

Responsive design

The year of the mobile user

If 2012 was the year of the mobile, it is clear that with the rapid introduction of 4G on the networks, and with less than 50% of brand sites being mobile-ready today, 2013 will be the year of… the mobile.  Saying so, however, is omitting one very crucial element of what makes the mobile experience so important: the User. Let’s therefore declare 2013 the year of the Mobile User.

The User at the forefront

More than ever, how and what your website displays on a device says a lot about your brand and your organization. The mobile, tablet or desktop experience that brands offer to their customers should nowadays be considered as an integral part of the overall brand experience. It is a reflection of how much time has been spent thinking about the digital customer journey. Take, for example, the Restaurant industry. Too often visitors are faced with a website that is not optimized for mobile at all, or a slimmed down version of a website where the most important information is difficult to access.

Analytics as the building block

Before embarking on designing a mobile version of a website, the first thing a marketer should be doing is look at the analytics, where many answers to the information architecture lay. The most visited sections of your website and the keywords that led to these sections always give some serious pointers. In the case of the QSR industry, 3 areas come to mind: Where can I eat? (that’s the restaurant finder), What can I eat? (the menu), How much is it going to cost? (menu, offers, vouchers).

Get to the point and make it easy

Mobile users browse on their mobile for very good reasons. And one of these reasons is not because they find it pleasant to crane their neck in a train or at a traffic light and browse with one finger. It’s easy to imagine that users access your website on a mobile because it’s the only device available to them at that very point in time, or the most convenient to them right now. Whatever their reasons, mobile users need to access accurate information quickly and in a way that works perfectly on their mobile device, regardless of its size. As a result, a mobile website should never be the poor cousin of the “main website”, and any decent Marketing Manager should declare war on PDF.  Just think for a minute what asking a mobile user to download a PDF says about your brand: do you really care about your customers?

Many devices, one website

Think about the increasing variety in device size across mobile phones, tablets, tablet/laptop hybrids and laptops.  iPad screen sizes now range from 7.9inch to 9.5inch, mobile smart phones start from 3inches and tablet/laptop hybrids start at 11inches. The only way to answer the screen size dilemma is to deliver the same content to all sizes and make sure that your website will respond to the screen size of the device it is accessed from.

Device-discrimination is no longer acceptable and, just like today’s normal marketing principle where it is the customer that dictates the demand; it is the user that dictates the device, not the brand. And in 2013, forcing your customers to use a certain device to access the information will be as obsolete as an ad in the Yellow Pages.

Responsive design

The FIscal Cliff Explained Simply

“Fiscal Cliff” put in much better perspective

Lesson #1

  • U.S. Tax Revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
  • Federal Budget: $3,820,000,000,000
  • New Debt: $1,650,000,000,000
  • National Debt: $14,271,000,000,000
  • Recent Budget Cuts: $38,500,000,

Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:

  • Annual Family Income: $21,700
  • Money the Family spends each year: $38,200
  • New Debt on the Credit Card: $16,500
  • Outstanding Balance on the Credit Card: $142,710
  • Total Budget Cuts so Far: $38.50

Got it??? Ok now…..

Lesson #2
Here’s a way to look at the debt ceiling:

Let’s say you come home from work and find that there has been a sewer backup in your neighbourhood. Your home has raw sewage in it all the way up to the ceiling. What should you do:

Do you raise the ceiling or do you remove the sewage?

fiscal-cliff

Facebook: the end is not in sight yet

I’m not very well versed with IPOs and the consequences of a falling share price, but I read today that what happened to FB will create issues for them in the short-term – of the corporate kind, such as big withholding tax bill for the shares it allocated to its employees, as well as staff retention problems and 2nd round share offerings (Business Insider article on Facebook).

I don’t think the end is near, but I think that people will increasingly move to platforms that do something useful for them (Apple just bought www.thefancy.com, which is Pinterest with an actual revenue generation model). In my opinion, Facebook’s big problem is that it relies on the old model of mass advertising, while the actual desire to get away from mass marketing is one of the first reasons people spend more time on the internet.

My take is that people who watch a lot of TV will stay on Facebook, while the rest of us with some sort of functioning brain will increasingly stay away from it. As long as the old advertising model works, Facebook will stay alive and continue to make zillions – and soon they’ll crack their mobile advertising issue and everything will be fine (they are currently making $1m a day with their sponsored stories only – imagine when they sort out their mobile conundrum for ads and brand pages).

The future of Facebook relies on its ability to become like TV: dumbified for the masses.
Facebook is well on its way to achieve this.

Duh.

Top industries to embrace mobile

The top 5 industries that embrace mobile

The restaurant and food industry is embracing the mobile movement more than other business sectors, according to a new infographic. Check out the Nando’s loyalty app for Australia as well as the Nando’s website, which launched in May 2012 and incorporates the latest responsive design techniques (reduce the size of your browser window and watch what happens).

Responsive design ensures that the same content is distributed across all the devices. The content style adapts itself according to the device it is accessed from. It relieves from server-side scripting, which would otherwise serve content specifically for one type of device. Thanks to responsive design, content needs to be uploaded only once – it is the browser that decides how to display it to the user, according to the screen size of the device.

Anyway, I digress – the object of this post was not about cool web design and good usability, but more about the infographic below – if you don’t have a mobile site, now is actually too late – the user has bounced already to your competitor who has one. But as they say, better late than never! (I’m always amazed how many organisations don’t have a mobile site).

Top industries to embrace mobile

Online Car Reviews

Once in a while you stumble upon an unusual site and might think, “wow, this is genius”, or “how original, I didn’t know someone did that!”. That’s what recently happened to me when my wife, The Makeup Mole, showed me cute videos about caretakers of baby sloths.

But this short post is not about bathing sloths at all. This post is about Finn, who started Finnweasel at the age of 7 – which probably made him one of the youngest bloggers in the world – and who has now started another blog in which he will be reviewing cars from the point of view of a kid. His car reviews are carefully written and he takes the time to sit in each car that is lent to him and take many precious notes on his iPad about what it is like to be in a car from the point of view of the ones who travel with you at the back. Did you know that the fabric of the seats of a Ford Focus CL is actually quite itchy on the calves of those whose legs don’t reach the floor? Had you thought about the many compartments that make it handy to stash lollies on long car journeys? And how about boot space to fit a kid’s bike?

If he carries on with his task of reviewing as many cars as he possibly can, who knows, maybe his site will become a point of reference and market research for car manufacturers. In the meantime, I recommend that you check his site for some informed, witty and entertaining reading from a 9 year old backseat traveler. www.kidscarreviews.com.

Adsense ban, or Google playing God. Again

I manage on a daily basis The Makeup Mole, my wife’s beauty makeup blog, which currently gets about 13,000 visits a month. Not a huge deal in itself but becoming quite authoritative in its niche since Christabel has worked with the best people in fashion and beauty around the world (side note, I am very proud of her, she’s worked with Karl Lagerfeld, Bruce Weber, Claudia Schiffer, Ellen Von Unwerth, Kay Montano – just to name drop a few – she’s way too skilled to be working in Sydney, but that’s another subject) . On makeupmole.com we had ads run by Adsense, nothing new here, there are tens of thousands of blogs running Adsense. Except that yesterday we received an email from Google advising us that The Makeup Mole had been banned from Adsense. That’s right, banned, gone, account suspended, hasta la vista baby. With no clear explanation, Google kicked the blog out of its network but strongly hinted that it was our fault and that we had undoubtedly been clicking on our own ads in order to make money from them. As if we a) were stupid enough to do this and b) didn’t have better things to do.

So we’re still trying to understand. All we can think about is a sudden increase in traffic from Australia as it increased significantly recently thanks to its popularity now that we live here. Vogue Australia mentioned it on its home page recently, but Google probably  didn’t notice that since the Adsense department is different from Search.

The very reason for this ban remains a mystery and I don’t think we’ll ever know why. I attribute it to Google playing God again, deepening my strong antipathy for what it’s become: worldwide digital evil represented by pretentious geeks whose ultimate goal is to control your online habits and profit from them, and who will not hesitate to obliterate your site from the worldwide web if their mathematically-driven algorithms tell them it’s the right thing to do, no questions asked.