Tag Archives: social media

If the service is free, you are the product

If the service is free, you are the product - article by Chip McCraw

We’ve witnessed a little hyperbole, hand-wringing, and uninformed political posturing in recent days about data breaches and online privacy. The latest, and surely not the last, has Facebook squarely in the cross-hairs. But I think some of us are overreacting a bit.

If the service is free, the customer is the product.

That’s an old saying often attributed to the IT community. Not much is free in this world; somebody has to pay for everything. (After all, the lights have to stay on and web hosting providers aren’t charities.)  Facebook and other “free” social media juggernauts are paid for by ad revenue. That’s why they can be free to us users. Therefore, the users are the “product” being sold to advertisers. That’s never been a secret. I’m just surprised that anyone is surprised by that.

Generally speaking, nothing you do online is private. I completely understand there are necessary exceptions like your financial records, etc. But what you do on Facebook (the hotel you stayed at last night, what you ate, what you like, how much you hate the president, etc.) by its very nature, is very public.

So my unsolicited advice, with all due respect, is get over it. Here’s why:

If you post something online, it’s now there for advertisers and everybody else to see. If you don’t want everybody to know it, don’t share it online. Even if you answered questions in an online quiz, did you really think your answers would be private? It would be terribly naïve to think so. But I firmly believe it all can be a good thing.

As a marketing person, I love it.

I can spend my limited advertising dollars much more efficiently by targeting an audience that’s likely to respond to my message. Who doesn’t want to use their money wisely and effectively, and get the best possible return on their investment? Granted, I don’t need or want your name, phone number, or address in order to do my job. (That information is easily findable online in public records if somebody wants it badly enough, though.)

But if I can find out that you have a greater propensity to buy what I have to offer – without prying into what’s truly private – then I can try to engage you with something that’s more likely to resonate with you. I don’t waste my budget and risk annoying a lot of people by getting in front of folks with zero interest in my product or service.

As a consumer, I love it.

I really don’t need to see ads for industrial supplies or Japanese beauty products, but I just might be in the market for new tires or stock images for a website. I appreciate seeing ads that are actually relevant to me instead of just random noise. It’s a better experience for everybody.

My wife figured out the game and now plays it to her advantage. A while back she wanted a new cell phone cover. Instead of buying the first thing she liked, she did a Google search for cell phone covers, clicked on some of the results, and then waited. In fairly short order, ads offering better deals on cell phone covers started popping up in her Facebook feed and following her around as she moved on to other sites. She got what she wanted, and at a better price.

That’s at least partly due to a practice called remarketing (or retargeting, depending on who’s talking). Marketing professionals understand that 96% of visitors don’t convert to buyers the first time they visit a website. Remarketing is an effective way to connect with people who have already shown interest in their product or service as they browse elsewhere.

We can fret over the illusion of online privacy, delete our social media accounts, and try life off the grid. More power to you if that’s what you decide. I’ll miss you on the interwebs.

But the better approach, in my opinion, is to do our homework and understand the technology for what it is, beef up privacy laws as necessary to close real holes, and take ownership of the information we put online. In doing so, we can leverage that information to create a better experience for ourselves and the people we choose to do business with.

Now it’s your turn. How are you dealing with online privacy?

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Men’s Wearhouse gets it right in social media following email snafu

On the Sunday after Christmas Men’s Wearhouse sent an email blast to its customers announcing the last day of of its After-Christmas Deals promotion. But due to an unfortunate glitch in its email system, customers received the same email dozens of times. I counted 64 in my inbox. I was slightly annoyed.

But I’m also in marketing and I understand that automated systems can sometimes go sideways. It sucks, but it happens. As the old saying goes, the true test isn’t whether you make a mistake – it’s how you respond to the mistake that really defines you. I fired off a tweet:

I was curious to see what their response, if any, would be. We’ve all seen examples of companies mishandling screw-ups, either becoming defensive, not responding at all, or worse – attacking the complainer. I wanted to see how savvy Men’s Wearhouse is with social media. Their response would determine whether I unsubscribed from their emails or not.

Now, I’m hardly one of their bigger customers. I do like their products but with two family members’ college tuition to pay, I don’t exactly have a lot of discretionary income left for frivolous things like clothing. If I never spent another dollar in their stores they’d never miss it. It would have been easy for them to ignore me. But to their credit, my answer came 3 and a half hours later:

Short, to the point, and effective: an apology, a brief statement about the cause of the problem, and assurance that action was being taken. No excuses, no phony falling on their sword – just a swift, positive response. That’s all I needed. I didn’t unsubscribe.

My response let Men’s Wearhouse know I was rooting for them to resolve their issue:

I think they were relieved to see I wasn’t going to be a troll – they even favorited my tweet. You can almost hear the relief in their final tweet to me:

What Men’s Wearhouse understands is that social media for business is no different from face-to-face engagement – except that the whole world can eavesdrop. They knew they weren’t replying just to me, they were telling everybody in the Twitterverse that they appreciate customer feedback and they are responsive to us. Well done.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have an example of customer engagement in social media, good or bad, to share? What was your experience?

ConvergeSouth 2013 Notes, Afternoon Sessions

In my previous post ConvergeSouth 2013 Notes, Morning Sessions, i shared some of the notes I took in the morning.  As promised, notes from the rest of the day are below.

A few reminders from the previous post:

  1. These are notes, so don’t expect a lot of complete sentences
  2. They don’t include everything, so if you attended or presented please, please add a comment with your takeaways and/or corrections. No slight intended on my part by any omissions!
  3. Wish I had pics of all the afternoon presenters but wasn’t able to shoot everybody.

10 Principles of Social Media Relationship  Building

Teddy Burriss

Teddy Burriss @TLBurriss

Everything you do in social media must be TRUHE: transparent, relevant, useful, honest, engaging  Continue reading

ConvergeSouth 2013 Notes, Morning Sessions

ConvergeSouth BannerConvergeSouth 2013 has come and gone and once again was a fantastic learning experience. If you’ve never attended, I encourage you to make plans now to attend in 2014. Watch convergesouth.com for announcements.

As I did last year, I’m posting my notes for a couple of reasons.

  1. I need to capture them in a single place for my own benefit and to show my boss what he paid for.
  2. If you can benefit from my takeaways, go for it.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. These are notes, so most of it isn’t in complete sentences. English majors, get over it.
  2. Where I could, I included links to presentations that you can click for more info.
  3. If you attended (or if you were a presenter), post a comment and share your takeaways or fill in any holes or errors in my recollection. I wasn’t able to attend every session (bummer) and I didn’t take complete notes even on the sessions I did attend. (My mobile device battery couldn’t keep up through the day, partly because I tweeted a lot of the memorable moments; apologies for blowing up your Twitter feed. Check me out at @ChipStudebaker if you’re curious.)
  4. I’m breaking my notes into a few posts to keep it from going on forever.  Continue reading

Civil discourse has left the building

couple arguingA recent exchange I saw on Facebook exemplifies to me both what is wrong with discourse in this world and what could have been very constructive.

“Person A” quoted part of a comment from “Person B” and then declared that the statement “…tells everything about the heart attitude of the person. Most people who [fill in the blank with your favorite cause] don’t use terms like that…”

Not surprisingly, Person B took offense Continue reading

Are you a content curator?

Curator imageContent curation isn’t a new idea but the practice has exploded in popularity in the past year. Thanks to the never-ending flow of information on every subject imaginable in social media, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. There’s a lot of quality writing going on, but how do you keep up with what you need to know?

I rely on my favorite content curators to showcase information that’s relevant to me, and I try to do the same thing for my network of followers and connections.

What is content curation?

Simply put, it’s Continue reading

How to survive unemployment with your sanity intact

There was a point in my career that I enjoyed a 5-month vacation between gigs. Well, “enjoyed” might be a stretch. OK, “vacation” isn’t the best description either.

You know the story. “There was a change in executive leadership in my company followed by a reorganization that resulted in several positions being eliminated in my department, mine included.” Thus I found myself looking for my next opportunity.

If this is you right now, you need to understand that it won’t last forever. After all, people get hired for new jobs every day. It may not seem that way while you’re in the middle of it, but trust me – if I can land in a good place (and I did), then so can you. Here are some of the things I learned along the way.

What do I do now? Continue reading