theoldwolf: (Jedi Hand Wave)
Cross-post from my Wordpress blog, inspired by a recent post by the Foxaroo.

In the last couple of days, two individuals have written about experiments that they conducted at Facebook.

Mat Honan, at Wired, wrote about what happened to his Facebook feed when he "liked" absolutely everything he saw for two days.

Facebook_like_thumb

At the same time, Elan Morgan was conducting a similar experiment... by not liking anything at all, and when she saw Honan's post, was inspired to write about her experience.

Facebook

Before you go on, I recommend you read both articles in their entirety. There are some good thoughts in each, addressing more than the facebook issue. I will quote this, from Schmutzie's blog post:

The first thing I noticed was how difficult it was to not like things on Facebook. As I scrolled through updates, my finger instinctively gravitated towards the Like button on hundreds of posts and comments. It has become a gut-level, Pavlovian response. I saw updates I liked or wanted others to know I liked, and I found myself almost unconsciously clicking my approval.

The Like is the wordless nod of support in a loud room. It’s the easiest of yesses, I-agrees, and me-toos. I actually felt pangs of guilt over not liking some updates, as though the absence of my particular Like would translate as a disapproval or a withholding of affection. I felt as though my ability to communicate had been somehow hobbled. The Like function has saved me so much comment-typing over the years that I likely could have written a very quippy, War-and-Peace-length novel by now.


I have experienced much the same thing myself. Clicking that "like" button has become addictive, similar to the upvote/downvote arrows over at reddit. Both these articles made me think over the nature of my participation at Facebook.

A side note: my feed is full of other things, of course - lots of promotion from people running businesses, lots of politics, and - it goes without saying - lots of kittens and Pinterest shares. But, it is worth mentioning, no advertisements - I use FB Purity, which cleans up my Facebook feed in a way that makes it tolerable to use and much less noisy and chaotic. Social Fixer accomplishes the same thing. If you're not using one of these, I highly recommend checking them out.

As for myself, I use Facebook to share things that are important to me; ideas, feelings, issues that I feel deserve attention, and to keep in touch with those people in my life who help me move forward. The "like" button has been a quick way of exchanging "strokes," a concept introduced by transactional analysis and defined as "a unit of recognition." As people, we need these strokes. Those who don't get them on a regular basis end up feeling alone and isolated; even those who are introverted by nature and prefer solitude to social interaction need this kind of recognition and contrive to get it in other ways that serve them best, including self-stroking.¹

Mr. Honan noticed that by liking everything, he disovered that



"My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages."


Contrariwise, Schmutzie (Elan Morgan's alternate pseudonym) discovered that refusing to like anything and posting meaningful comments instead resulted in the exact opposite:



"Now that I am commenting more on Facebook and not clicking Like on anything at all, my feed has relaxed and become more conversational. It’s like all the shouty attention-getters were ushered out of the room as soon as I stopped incidentally asking for those kinds of updates by using the Like function. I have not seen a single repugnant image of animal torture, been exposed to much political wingnuttery, or continued to drown under the influx of über-cuteness that liking kitten posters can bring on. (I can’t quit the kittens.)"


Yeah, I enjoy the kittens, too. But what a contrast! By not using the "Like" button, one effectively short-circuits Facebooks ad-targeting algorithm and allows a more human environment to prevail.

I can't tell you how much I like this concept... but I'm not going to click the button.

The Old Wolf has spoken.



¹That's not what I meant and you know it. Get your mind out of the gutter.

theoldwolf: (Default)
Clever advertising always gets my respect.



Brilliant.

theoldwolf: (Default)

The District Line


By Bill Gold

©Washington Post, 1-11-1964

THE FIRST advertisement that hits your eye as you open the new issue of Life centers your attention on the face of a woman who is wearing a telephone headset. The woman has an appealing face. It's not the Hollywood painted doll type of appeal, and you can see character in that face. Intelligence and understanding, too. There are a few lines in the brow, and just a hint of advancing years around the eyes and mouth. But it's a good face, and the reader learns from the text that this is the face of a Bell System telephone operator who is always "close by if you need her, no matter what the hour."


Margaret Draper

It's very comforting, very effective. But it's disturbing, too. There's something different here. This isn't the bright-eyed girl of 19 we're used to seeing in telephone ads. This isn't the peaches-and-cream wholesome beauty to whom we're accustomed; it's a mature woman. And in the few seconds during which the reader studies her, he comes to the realization that one of the world's largest corporations has made a deliberate change in its advertising policy.

I was intrigued by my discovery, and immediately put in a phone call to a company spokesman. My questions were bucked along to headquarters in New York, and the answers came back promptly and frankly: the Bell System has indeed made a basic change in its advertising policy.

Instead of the idealized beauties of the past, we're now going to see more believable models. They'll be "more realistic," closer to the average, more readily identifiable with living, breathing human beings.

Attractive young people are fun to have around, and they're often useful, too. But any large company must also have its dedicated old-timers-the folks who know the importance of dependable service and who can give training and guidance to the youngsters who are Just coming into the employe pipeline.

So the Bell System has concluded that a more, mature face in its ads will more truly depict the "average" employe. And because the emphasis in its ads will now shift from idealization to realism, the company hopes that the ads will be more believable, and therefore more effective.

This promises to be a fascinating experiment, and it may have far-reaching consequences. Imagine the impact among professional models and advertising agencies. Think of the changes that may take place in TV commercials, in advertising generally, and in salesmanship itself, for that matter.

Will the public be as mature as this new breed of model? Will people respond to this kind of soft-keyed approach? We'll have to wait and see.


This was always one of my favorite ads that my mother featured in. Even as a child I realized the irony - since Mom was a single parent and a career woman, I was raised largely by nannies, relatives and boarding schools. But she did everything she could for me given her circumstances, and with a 60-year retrospective, the caption is pretty darn accurate.

I can't speak to Gold's analysis - the caprices of Marketing are much less like a pendulum than like a balloon which has been untied and let go. Sometimes it's maturity, sometimes its heroin chic, and sometimes it's WTF. But I like the ad, and Gold's write-up is very complimentary.

And, for what it's worth, these days the picture tends to evoke this story in my mind. True or not - (Snopes claims "undetermined", but I like to think it really happened) - I think it's a nice fit.
theoldwolf: (Default)
Imagine walking into Lord & Taylor's in New York, and before you even get to the cosmetics counter, you're met by 50 different placards advertising better deals at Macy's, E. J. Korvette's Wal-Mart and even Ikea. So you hurry to Wal-Mart to take advantage of the great offers, and as you enter the door, the 70-something greeter hands you a pack of coupons from 50 different retailers in the next county.

If this doesn't seem to make much sense, consider the current strategy for monetizing website pages:

10 ENTER WEBSITE
20 SEE AD FOR ANOTHER WEBSITE
30 CLICK AD
40 GOTO 10

The internet marketing/SEO bubble can't continue much longer. The structure is about to collapse under its own weight. With AdSense, AdWords, targeted marketing, deep linking, and every other click-generating tactic people are using to monetize the internet, one thing has become clear: more people are trying to make money not by selling anything tangible, but by advertising other people's efforts to monetize the internet by advertising other people's...

Yikes.

The original concept, of course, has been the foundation of business from day 1: Advertising generates revenue, and drives traffic to your store. But something has gone wrong. Internet marketing has become a pyramid scheme, with nothing at the bottom to support it - no goods or services, no valuable content, just this inchoate web of people hawking other people hawking other people's reasonably-priced opportunities to find out how to make money on the internet.

It's got to crash, and soon.

Advertising has now become frightfully expensive, and for the most part has become damned ineffective. It's a paradox, too, because the world effectively thrives on sales of some sort or other, be it products or services - and sales can't happen if your prospective market doesn't know you exist. And the other side of the coin is that almost everyone hates advertising, and has since the first caveman chipped "Og's Fresh Meats" in the rock outside his dwelling.

The current situation on the internet is obviously a large-scale attempt to change the landscape, but to my way of thinking, it's not working very well. Money is being made somewhere, but it's being made on a rickety framework of bamboo toothpicks, and not on the foundation of legitmate products that people actually could use in their lives.

People hate advertising for several reasons:

1) There's way too much of it to handle, and it is always finding new ways to intrude into our lives.

2) Advertising is essentially... well, the late B. Kliban said it far better than I ever could.


Someone ought to do something about that. Hey wait, I'm somebody, ain't I?

Want to make the most money? Solve the biggest problem. Believe me, I'm thinking about it.

In the meantime, here's a link to... oh, never mind.
theoldwolf: (Default)
A few days ago I posted "Açai, A Sigh, Assai!", a rant about the inescapable pitch for the Açai Berry/Colon Cleanse diet plan.

Here's a blatant example of the kind of criminal deception you see everywhere on the net these days:



Colon Cleansers Exposed
Warning: Avoid Colon Cleanse Scams - Read Our Free "Shocking" Report
Colon-Cleanse-Test.com


Clicking on the ad takes you to a website that

1) Claims to be a source of independent research
2) Tells you how dangerous and scary colon cleanses are, and then
3) Encourages you to use their Resveratrol/Colon Cleanse diet plan.

People, get a grip!

Q: How do you know when a salesman is lying?
A: His lips are moving.

The internet has made theft by deception as common as sunrise and dew on the grass, and it makes me sad to think how many people are throwing away their money on false hopes and outright lies.

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