Pinterest Spam is here

The Oatmeal - "I tried to watch Game of Thrones and this is what happened"

Look out, intrepid Pinners. Spam has made it’s way to Pinterest. I posted a lovely cartoon by The Oatmeal about how frustrating it is to try to watch Game of Thrones, and within seconds had a “like.” While that’s not all that odd, what got my interest was that the like was from a company– they were using a logo, rather than headshot for their profile image. Curious, I clicked through to their boards. Wow. If I were a coupon clipper, I would’ve been in nerdvana. Then, I looked at the little activity ticker on their profile.   As you can see, they had liked about 49.3 billion other posts “just now” (meaning just then… right before…). Anyway, I figure that either they have a team of trained chimps hitting the heart/like button on Pinterest, or they’ve developed a spamalicious tool using Pinterest’s API.

Anybody know how they’re doing this? I mean, seriously. 307k+ likes?


P.S. To the product managers at HBO: you’re an interesting dichotomy. You produce outstanding shows, but are so stuck in outdated business models and distribution methods, that you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. “Piracy” just shows that you’re not effectively serving current market demands. Sure, it’s easy for me to criticize from the outside; I don’t know all the complications due to royalties, and blah blah blah MyBrainJustMeltedFromBoring. Yep. But you work there and I don’t. So fix it. I’d be happy to pay you per episode, or for a season pass to a show. But I’ll never sign up for a cable subscription again, which means I’ll never add the HBO subscription on top of that already ludicrous cable charge. You don’t need those cable companies anyway. You’re HBO. Act like it.

Truth(iness) In Advertising

Pacific Ocean Sunset
Pacific Ocean Sunset via jxb345 on Flickr

I had a poetry professor tell me once “don’t tell. Show.” We were supposed to write a poem about the color blue. I picked a trip to the California coast. She wanted me to show what that smelled like, felt like, looked like, sounded like. She didn’t want a true story– she didn’t want me to simply inform her. She wanted me to tell a story about the peace I felt watching the sun slink into the Pacific. She wanted a story about Truth. She wanted me to inspire.

When you tell stories about your product, are you informing or inspiring?

If you’re informing, you’re telling true stories about the product. But you’re not telling me why I should care.

If you’re inspiring, your product is telling stories about Truth. You’re making meaning, and connecting me with it. That’s way better than some lame feature dump.

The best stories inspire and inform.

P.S. If you’re not quite sure, you’re probably telling Truthiness stories– the kind of stories that give all marketers a bad name. So stop it.

P.P.S. Check out Tom Nies excellent Change This Manifesto about True stories, Truth stories, and storyselling.

How To Be An Awesome Blogger In 3 Easy Steps

1. Break a complex subject into
2. Three arbitrary & meaningless steps
3. Title your post “How To [insert complex subject] In 3 Easy Steps”
4. Always include a fourth “bonus” step. E.g.: Profit! Eat a donut! or (my fave) Skip to Ma Lou My Darlin!

See? It’s simple. Like this stick man walking up some stairs.

stick man walking up stairs

3 Steps To Improve “Green” Brand Recognition

How would you improve "green" brand recognition?
How would you improve "green" brand recognition?

I answered the question “How Would You Improve ‘Green’ Brand Recognition?” on LinkedIn last month. EcoSeed put my answer, along with a plethora of other great ideas, in their September issue. Here are three steps to improve “green” brand recognition:

  1. Make sure your client has a solid communication strategy and a truly compelling story. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter what tools you use. This is a big one. Don’t skip it.
  2. Start a blog with compelling content about green initiatives in general, and some specific examples of what your client is doing to be greener. Use pictures and video whenever possible to supplement the text. Caution: DON’T just write about the green initiatives/products/services; instead, write about how the green initiatives/product/services impact the reader’s life.
  3. Start a twitter account (see as a great example). But before you start tweeting out links to your blog, do some searches for people who need help with green initiatives… and help them. @reply to them with some helpful links. Don’t get caught up worrying about how many people are following you; instead, try to cultivate an highly engaged following (quality vs. quantity).

What would you do? What did I leave out?

Time, Value, and Idiocy

“We believe there is a real value to this product and as consumers experience it, they will agree.”-Time, Inc. spokesperson defending the Time magazine iPad app

Dear Time, Inc.-

Maybe you’re right. But who cares what you think is valuable? Honestly. You come off sounding like a (bad) used car salesman.

If the experience with your iPad app is basically the same as the print version, but you’ve cut out all that physical print & disrto cost, and you charge the same price for both? Well, you obviously think we’re a bunch of morons. If you add value to the digital product, we’ll gladly pay the same price as the paper mag. Otherwise, pass at least some of the savings on to we customers. Without us, you’ve got nothing.

P.S. you do produce some pretty awesome content. Just get your head on straight for digital pricing.

Posted via web from Seth Gray

1 Simple Thing to Fix the Music Industry

image via

Record labels’ marketing strategies used to make sense. Specifically, sending “promo” records to influential radio DJs. It made sense to give away the product to these taste-makers: they gave the record some air time, listeners bought the records, went to the shows, and bought the merch.

What the labels missed when Napster (then Bittorrent) happened was that everyone can be as influential as a major DJ now.

So, here’s 1 simple thing to fix the music industry: give the digital music away. Give it away so listeners will go to the shows, buy the merch. Hell, if you make it special enough, people will still buy a physical album.

Give away the downloads. It’s the best marketing they could ever ask for.

How To Become a Billionaire in 3 Easy Steps

1: Send generic email to an old, dirty, busted, bad list of names, which has yours truly still working for a company that’s been defunct for going on 4 years.

2: Declare that you specialize in “generating a continuous stream of daily leads for [a company’s] sales force.”

3: Profit… wait. No. Face-palm. Yep. Face-palm.

Google Sidewiki: You Never Had Control Anyway

Google launched Sidewiki, an add-on to their ubiquitous toolbar, which lets you “contribute helpful information to any page.” You’d think they grew horns, a tail, and started carrying a pitchfork.

Does anyone else see the irony here? Blogs & other social media tools move control of the collective conversation away from established players (corporations, governments, etc.) and give it to the individual. Now we have as much reach and influence as as multi-billion dollar corporation… in theory anyway.

But look out! Here comes Google Sidewiki!

Jeff Jarvis warns: “I have no control over the content associated with my site, essentially on my site.” He worries that someone will post negative comments. And he’s right– that will happen. But that’s beside the point.

You may own the URL, but the user owns the browser.

How about an analogy? I’ve been picketed. Seriously. The company I used to work for ran out of money and couldn’t pay vendors. Some of those vendors decided to picket. They hooted, hollered, jumped up and down, waved their signs at passing cars. It sucked.But it was a conversation that was happening about our company, right outside our doors, on public property– and there wasn’t a damn thing we could do about it. Think of that failed business as your website, and the sidewalk as the user’s web browser. The picketers are obviously comments in Sidewiki. Not a perfect analogy, I know. But you get the idea.

So, to those of you worried about losing control of the conversation on your websites, I suggest you heed your own advice: join the conversation and be authentic.

You never truly had control anyway.

Collecting Experiences

There’s a cultural shift underway, and this “Great Disruption” is acting as a catalyst to speed the change.

We work hard, we work long hours, and we earn ridiculous amounts of money. “We have generally taken the proceeds of our productivity in–you guessed it–increased consumption.” Big house. Big car. Big TV. But as our nest eggs get scrambled, we’re realizing that Stuff doesn’t matter as much as we thought it did. It’s people (and experiences) that matter: our friends and family that fill our big empty houses. But why? Why are we collectively realizing that now?

What if we’ve gotten so fast, so connected, so frenetic, that we’re burning out? We’ve been on a crusade to cram more and more activities into a finite amount of time. And in the tug-o-war between us and time, we lose. Unless someone does for time what the Manhattan project did for e=MC2. Anyway, we’re always out of time. Never enough.

So what effect does a perpetual time famine have on a society, and what does that mean for business? (Warning, this is about to get thick & crunchy) According to this study, we either view our time as limited or expansive. If we perceive time as limited, we tend to focus on the present– more specifically, we tend to avoid negative emotional experiences and use more schema-based decision making. Combine the present-focus with the natural tendency to protect (and desire to be protected during a crisis), and bibbidy-bobbidy-boo, we move away from “bettering” ourselves and collecting things.

We start to “simplify.” We start to focus on positive emotional experiences. We start to ask for quality over quantity. Great example in advertising: this VISA commercial asks the question “when was the last time you went to the aquarium with your daughter… on a Tuesday?”

If this is happening, it’s not enough to make the coolest gadget, or the nicest house, or the invisible hover car that grooms your dog while you eat pizza… although that last one would make for an interesting experience.

What do you think? Anyone have examples and/or counter-examples?

What were they thinking?!

Take a look at this microwave.

Notice the letters around the dial?
Notice the letters around the dial?

Now, take a look at this iron.

Notice how you hold the iron flat and lift up the flap to fill the water reservoir?

What glaring difference do you see–other than one cooks, and one irons? What were they thinking?

I’d venture that the microwave people thought about how to make their own lives simpler. Letters take up less space than numbers around that dial. A nice clean interface, right? Nope. We don’t think like that about cooking times: “Hmm, I’m going to cook my soup for F, stir, and cook for an additional U.” So they had to add the legend next to the actual cook time. Now it’s  cluttered and confusing.

I bet the iron people thought about how to make their customer’s lives simpler. By orienting the opening for the water reservoir so it flips up when the iron is flat, it was much easier to fill using the sink instead of a cup or a funnel… or making a huge mess.

So, when you’re designing your next product/service/experience/ad/press release/story/joke/dinner, whatever you do, don’t imagine a mini devil-me on your shoulder asking: “what are you thinking?!”