Dear Little Miss Social
I subscribe to well over a dozen newsletters – I love the ease at which businesses are able to freely correspond with me via my inbox. But I am a subscriber to one fortnightly missive which I find unsettling, and I am desperate for your advice. The newsletter I refer to often arrives with a provocative subject line and opens with a ‘racy’ image of some sort – recent examples include a woman wearing fishnet stockings, a frozen fish in a bowl, and on one occasion, a cat wearing sunglasses. There is often little content related to actual products or services, instead there are curious little stories – most of which I suspect have just been made up to make some obtuse point.
Surely this is no way to market a business. I don’t want to unsubscribe because I want to see what’s coming next, but can I – should I – make a formal complaint to someone? Is there a government department that has oversee for the maintenance of standards in this area?
Perplexed Newsletter Subscriber,
Dear Gentle Reader
Little Miss Social demands propriety in all manner of social discourse, including within the electronic formats of blogs, newsletters and social media. But adherence to propriety is hardly as excuse to become a slave to beige. Or as they say in Russia, “The man who lives on borsch believes all food is purple.”
If a newsletter you have subscribed to has caused alarm or offence it has served a purpose beyond its original intent – it is an indication that it is time for you, Gentle Reader, to UNSUBSCRIBE. Confident electronic newsletters do not pander to the lowest common denominators of sensibility as mainstream media do. The rise of narrowcasting has made organisational communications much more fun for everybody – people who like a particular sort of thing tend to stay tuned to that sort of thing. And those who don’t, won’t. Self-managing filters such as the unsubscribe button are a boon for everybody – readers and publishers. A newsletter worth opening should serve to inform, educate or entertain in ways that must marginalise the few in order to delight the rest.
Little Miss Social can recommend some wonderfully bland newsletters to subscribe to if you are looking to make up your numbers.
Yours in Social,
Little Miss Social
Postscript. Little Miss Social is curious to read the newsletter you were referring to – it sounds just like her cup of tea. Please send the subscription details at your earliest convenience.
Prestigious New York law firm Parker, Mitchell & Monberg have filed a $175 million class action suit against Facebook on behalf of over 1200 cats. According to records filed with the district court of New Jersey the claim is for “loss of earnings for appearing in memes and for the general humiliation of cats.” The suit is the first of its kind in that the claimants are asserting ‘fair compensation’ under the Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, even though animals are not generally considered to be legally recognised entities.
Trudy McVoy, adjunct professor at Stanford University, author and digital copyright specialist described the move as “disturbing” in a recently published article. McVoy asserts that “Cat related images which go viral on social media are of such low quality that no-one could reasonably regard them as ‘entertainment’ and therefore no exchange of value is necessary. If anything, the rate at which these memes are shared are an indication of their lack of intrinsic worth. And as for the attendant claim of humiliation, that will be tough to prove. From what I can see the cats look like they’re actually enjoying themselves (apart from Grumpy Cat, but I think we all know he’s just putting it on).”
McVoy concluded her article with a warning: “Let’s be clear – if this ruling goes in favour of the cats, you could expect to see a wave of similar class actions brought on behalf of dogs, birds, kangaroos and dolphins. It would be mayhem, and could possibly mark the end of the Friday afternoon meme as most people know it.”
This is a cross-post from my other blog, Robot in the Machine.
Would you turn up to a business meeting with a honking great food stain down the front of your shirt?
You’re welcome of course to present anywhere in any which way you choose, and granted, you’d still be the same cool individual underneath regardless of your appearance. But why force yourself to push uphill against the weight of a negative first impression? That dance-step we know as the initial business introduction can usually be reduced to one inner-thought in the mind of the person opposite: demonstrate why I should trust you.
Nobody wantonly sabotages their professionalism, yet a shit website will cruelly and silently undermine the credibility of the brand and people sitting behind it. For many of us the organisational website will be our first touch-point when undertaking pre-selection research: decisions on who we will select for a purchase, for an interview, for an invitation to speak, to partner with, to fund, or to work for. The website is a brand’s 24/7 reception area – make it a solid visitor experience… nay, make it bloody amazing. You’re only setting the scene for all future engagement after all.
So why do so many business-owners and brand guardians let themselves down by presenting an ugly, confused, piece-of-rubbish website to the world? The very same people who wouldn’t be caught dead walking into a business meeting with tomato sauce down their shirt-front? Here’s why: people will readily check themselves in a mirror before entering an important room, but rarely ever do they look at their own website. Business owners and executives are often shocked when somebody holds up a mirror to their primary online branded asset, finally getting to see what the rest of us have been painfully labouring through for years.
The underlying truth is that a website needs constant grooming – left on its own for an extended period it starts to take on a deranged, even menacing appearance… parents can be seen protectively turning the heads of their children away, and decent folk will cross to the other side of the street to avoid making eye contact. And to think it all started with one lousy little food stain.
Michael Chesterton, who owns a small florist in the inner Melbourne suburb of Armadale, recently announced to close friends and family that he was now coming up number 1 on Google for searches on his own business name. “Over the last couple of weeks we finally cracked it.” said Michael. “Now if you google ‘Micky’s Florist Armadale’ we’re dominating the results. This is a real game-changer – our competitors won’t know what’s hit them!”
Michael, like many small business-owners these days relies heavily on organic search to drive new customers through the door. Appearing high in Google’s search results is now seen as a business ‘must have’. While many aspire to do well in the space, not everyone is able to reach the pinnacle of unpaid search: appearing somewhere on page 1 for people who run a search on their business name.
“It’s been a long struggle – for years we were in the digital wilderness”, says Michael thoughtfully. “We really owe a huge thanks to our SEO guru-consultant Max Bull who worked tirelessly to make this happen. Although we’ve invested a considerable sum, and there will be ongoing maintenance costs, it’s worth every cent. In fact, we’re so impressed with the results we’re thinking about launching our own website next year”.
Buy, buy, buy, buy, clearance sale, buy, buy, buy, buy…
Social Media Marketing
How, which, what, why, who, when, buy…
Dear Miss Social
I’ve been doing social media for almost three years. A close friend suggested I try it out after the sudden death of our family cat, Dugs. I was only looking for a short-term distraction but have since adopted social media as part of my weekly routine and enjoy it very much. But here’s my issue: some of the people that I am following on Twitter are not following me back. I consider myself to be an outgoing person with a pleasant disposition, and can see no reason for these slights. In one instance I know the offender personally, which is doubly hurtful… should I say something to her? I would hardly know where to start.
Dear Gentle Reader
Miss Social must correct you on a point: one does not “do” social media, one engages in it. Social intercourse of any nature is a participatory activity between two or more consenting parties. Miss Social does not approve of broadcasting into a vacuum.
Your current predicament with Twitter is understandable, but eminently avoidable. Miss Social is reminded of dogs who harbour simple notions of social reciprocity such as ‘you can smell my bottom, and I get to smell yours’ (usually a simultaneous exchange when the breeds are of a similar size). Such a compact, so to speak, does not exist within social media. Twitter is a network – it scarcely matters who is following whom, as long as all participants are able to derive value from the collective. If we all do our very best and concentrate on making Twitter an interesting place to be, the connecting threads of value will form quite naturally. “It all evens out in the wash” as Miss Social’s dear Granny Mayfield was very fond of saying.
As to your non-following acquaintance, Miss social recommends this course: lift your credibility in her eyes by adding her to a public Twitter list called ‘Interesting and Beautiful Individuals’ – few people could stop themselves from taking an enquiring sniff or two of something as intriguing as that.
Yours in Social,