Category Archives: Reflexions

Forget porn. Try a kiss. And go for it.

We live in a world of extremes. Bigger is better, faster is greater, more is needed and extremes pay off. Filmmaker Lars Von Trier pushed Charlotte Gainsbourg and some other actresses over the limits of porn-acting in his recent movie Aphrodisiac. Push red to add drama won international awards for over the top (inter) action.

Fashion models are starved, paint brushed, photo shopped and altered. Rap singers become gold chain swinging Lamborghini driving caricatures of themselves.

In an endless quest to please, lips are blown up with silicon, wrinkles ironed out with Botox, fat gets hovered out, breasts molded into gravity defying shapes. The poor youngsters that get confronted with internet porn (I’ve been told that can occasionally happen ;-)) get nervous seeing how double muscled supersized males with the stamina of a steam train go on for the better part of 120 minutes.  Not good for the self-image.

That’s why I was so taken aback by the instant internet hit of amateur filmmaker Tatia Pilieva. She captured, in crude black and white, a magic moment: the first kiss between two human beings.  It’s heartwarming to see how total strangers, adult and assertive people turn into hesitating youngsters in the blink of an eye. The nerve wrecking tension, the nervous laughter, and the I-do-not-know-what-to-do-with my hands: it’s all there.

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The tension is so tender, so spontaneous, it’s almost erotic.

And then: the cold shower: all this is a set-up, a sophisticated lie. Most of the participants are actors or models in a clever try to boost the clothing sales for Wren Studio.

But the magic happened. Tons of students, housewives, journalists, bloggers, even the Playboy bunnies have posted their own versions of the first kiss. A multitude of first kisses are kept for eternity. Watching them will put countless tender smiles on lots of faces.

There might be hope, after all ;-).

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Social Media : ROI or RIP, yes, but by measuring what?

The question still pops up: what is the ROI of Social Media? It gives me slight nausea, tingling toes and a mighty nagging headache. Because the question is so wrong. What is the ROI of the internet? Of TV? Of electricity? Of reading a book? Meeting someone at a network event?  Gary Vaynerchuk  puts it even more direct and in context: – What is the ROI of your mother?

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in the New Age full Zen attitude of some die-hard social media ninja’s that murmur esoteric kabala citations and mellow truths à la it’s about the value of relationships: we all agree that is way too vague.

The question is wrong – The question should be: How will Social Media contribute my brand in achieving X. And X does not have to be sales by default and definition. It can be sales –absolutely- , but also shift of perception, education, creating conversation, gathering consumer input and insights, delivering costumer service, offering correct information within context, a call to action, shift of tone of voice, etc etc …

The starting point is wrong – Doing Social Media, and then start to wonder what the ROI will be, is a path to certain disaster.  The starting point should be linked to the direct DNA and core of your business, and to your business strategy: What is it you want to achieve: Sell more? Educate? Shift perception? Build alliances to influence? Interact with a fan base? If your social media endeavors do not mirror or contribute to your business strategy, there is no point in measuring your ROI: there will be none.  

The set-up is wrong – If you talk about social media, and social media teams, you are on the verge of an abyss of failure… social media should never stand by itself, nor be operated by an isolated team. It should be part of an overall business, marketing, communications and connections strategy. If Social Media is not woven throughout your marketing and communications organization, it is doomed to fail. Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder) wrote an excellent book on Social Media ROI where he sketches the importance of weaving your social media strategy within the larger organizational and business strategy.

The expectations are wrong – Often, expectations are that within weeks thousands of fans will deliver the miracle that will save the quarterly results. Because, social goes viral, for free, and will double the business, no?. *deep sigh* Social Media is an interactive way of communicating that builds its return on investment in the middle to long run.  It’s not a miracle medicine to satisfy your shareholders.

The metrics are wrong – If you try to shift perception, measuring reach and eyeballs will simply not do the trick. However, in the media industry, the standard set up of measurement highlights GRP’s, touch points, eyeballs, and connection points.  To measure the ROI, we will have to walk the dog back by the tail, and provide measurement that measures what we intended to achieve: Did we change the perception? Did we sell more? Are people using or sharing our content? Does our engagement index go up? Did we move people to our event? One-size-fits-all data sets will simply fall short of measuring.

Social media is still great – But to give it full credit, it will require more work in defining exactly what we want it to do… and where it fits in our business strategy, and to accept that it is – by default- meant to be interactive.  

Fast Company phrases it nicely: “If you get bored with Social Media, it’s because you are trying to get more value than you create”.

Your Klout score? I really could not care less…

I was contacted months ago by a young girl who wanted to know my Klout score. She was making a list of important people to follow on twitter. It made me smile. When I answered that my Klout score is on klout.com (like everyone else’s) and that it hovers between roughly 55 and seventy-something depending on my mood, and the temperature of the seawater in Belgium, she got upset. Klout was important, and I was not taking her seriously.

I explained that the temperature of the seawater does have a determining effect on my Klout score. If it gets too cold, I migrate South, and stop tweeting for a while. My Klout thingy sinks accordingly like a stone with respiratory difficulties. If the temperature is ok, my mood gets better, I twitter chat with friends, spread some blog posts around, and my Klout score sours up.  That did not make her happy either.

Now, how can you determine if someone is important based on a yo-yo Klout score? Try walking up to somebody, and ask how important he is. Can you picture that? How do you define ‘important’? Is that a figure in two digits? Will he be more important tomorrow? Is he important because he has money? To whom is he important?

What does my Klout score tell you? Does it show you what people think about what I write? What impact my tweets/posts/musings have? Does it give a value on quality? Even on quantity? If so, in relation to what exactly? To my goals? Did the girl mean with ‘important’ influential? Influential on what topic? To what audience?

I have nothing against Klout.com.  It is a rating system amongst many. I do have something against conclusions hastily drawn from a two digit number that gets influenced by the temperature of seawater.

If you want to determine if someone is important, relevant, influential, you’ll have to rely on more than just an automated tool. You’ll have to analyze all kinds of data, you’ll have to sift through criteria, and you’ll have to put stuff in context. Content might be King, but contextual information is Queen.

There is no number that can tell you whether I am important or not. Only you can determine that.

Thank you for sharing this, it will benefit my Klout score…. :-).

Forget about Valentine. Happy international mistress day.

There is a day for everything these days. I cannot open my computer, or people will be shooting at me with all kinds of reflective pieces of wisdom, smartly connected to whatever the flavor-of-this-particular national day is.  It makes me a bit tired. Pontifex abduction day. Mothers day… fathers day  Why, o why do I need a special day to honor my parents? By papal decree, should I give my mom flowers because some committee decided moms deserve a day all to themselves?  And what about international Nutella day (Feb 5th)? Or the International Nurses Day? (May 12th)? Do I hug all nurses?

January 8th is Elvis Presley day (no kidding). September 19th is Talk-like-a-pirate day. In June there is Shoe day. What about Global Handwashing Day (Oct 15th). God, I hope it is hand washing day EVERY day. There is International Pasta day (oct 25th). As said, it makes me grumpy, tired. Must be my status of middle(r)aged man. I hate international days of whatever

Tomorrow is Valentine’s day. The day of love. People all over the planet are heating up their credit cards, hunting for sweets, flowers, silky lingerie,  diamonds, cars, Chihuahua dogs, fur gloves and selected bottles of scotch. I see couples who have not spoken a kind word to each other in ages, book a table at the local Michelin starred restaurant. Because February 14th is Valentine’s day. The day of showing your love to your loved one. Va Savoir. You have all year for that. I hope.

Valentine’s day turned into a very unloving multi-billion dollar industry that thrives on red, pink, soft, bubbles and candle light. It has nothing to do with love. I spent 9 of the last 14 Valentine’s days at a technology exhibition, where I saw multiple business people give instructions to their personal assistants to arrange flowers for their significant others. For a lot of them, sending flowers or sweets did not hinder them a bit in flirting their way into new beds…

Valentine’s day. One of these days. It gives me the creeps. Call me a cynic, but with all of the expensive, glittering, sparkling, and bubbly gifts that will be bought and offered tomorrow –(often just to buy a clear conscience for the lack of genuine love the rest of the year)- my vote goes to International Mistress/Lovers day. No mistress/lover celebrates Valentine’s day. Ever.  That is for the legal, official spouses and significant others. International Mistress and Lovers day is February 13th , today, the day before the crazy global extravaganza of love. That, my sweet friends, says it all.

I will now curl into a furry ball, and wait till the glitter parade is over. February 15th is Galileo day.

 

PR, marketing and Digital: The arrogance of experience…

I confess, I admit: I could never ever coach an American Football team. I have never played it, never watched a full game, I do not understand any of the rules, and I am completely ignorant to all the habits and sensitivities. I would probably do about as good as a drunken rhinoceros in artistic skating.

In my book, to be good at something requires enthusiasm, sheer will, track record and hands-on experience. And that is exactly what I see as lacking in how most influencing agencies cope with social and digital media. They line up their usual experienced heavy weights to provide their clients with strategy and guidance on how to integrate digital and social media into the overall marketing and communication mix. Little side note: an alarming high percentage of these heavy weights have no experience in the digital and social media world.  Even more alarming is that the teams they roll out, into the field have none either.

A fascinating amount of power is given to people who have no clue what’s what in Social Media land. It’s not because you’ve read Groundswell or The New Normal that you are fully equipped to deep dive successfully into this fast moving area. It’s not because you know how a journalist thinks that you should take it for granted that a blogger thinks or behaves in the same way. It’s not because you’re a hotshot in direct marketing that you understand –at all­- how twitter works. It’s not because you were fab in influencing through 25 square meter advertorials that you can safely assume that a banner on a site will actually benefit your client or cause in any way. It’s not because your toddler is reasonably good with Lego that it is statistically safe to let him/her play with a fully loaded Kalashnikov.

I’m confronted on a daily basis with blogger relations experts that have never blogged, community managers that are online rookies, and twitter experts that have less reach and followers than my 83 year old gardening neighbor on a rainy day.  Robin Wauters of TechCrunch gave a PR professional a full broadside years ago for not playing online engagement by the online netiquette rules. And Wauters was so right. Too many arrogant old style off-line influencers think they can take the online new interactive digital scene by storm… and birthright. They look down on this booming online realm with an explosive mixture of denial, ignorance, arrogance, even disdain: an ideal cocktail for guaranteed distaster.

Not so long ago, agencies tried to offer top-notch journalists, analysts, Pulitzer Prize nominees and politicians a job to get extremely valuable hands-on knowledge, credibility and experience in house. To think that these same people will make the difference in online engagement is a huge mistake that cannot be remediated by an over lunch training session. Big time for agencies and their clients to go hunt for social media wizards, top-notch bloggers, proven star-profiled tweeps and highly connected  social networkers.

Only by upgrading their workforce with Digital Wizards will companies, organizations and agencies stay afoot in this morphing landscape. How did Cary Grant say it again: it takes a thief to catch a thief….