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Trends, commentary, and insightful rants from the bleeding edge of advertising, content & branding.

Welcome to the Paradise, “New Media” Slumdogs

 

Child Corn Picker

Child Corn Picker

 

Lost in all the hype about New Media! And The Democratization of the News! And Newspapers are Dying! Is the fact that the information phase of the information revolution we’re in right now kind of blows.

We are working harder than ever before to find cool and interesting stuff. Between Digg and StumbleUpon and Reddit and MetaFilter and Facebook and Twitter, we are the ones who vote on the news, send it to the top, and retweet the hell out of it to make sure it gets massive and unprecedented exposure. It’s a simple system, inarguable for anyone who has faith in democracy.

I no longer have faith in democracy.

Here’s the problem. I don’t want to do this much work to find stuff I want to read. For every interesting take on Google vs. Facebook, or a solid analysis of the Iranian nuclear question, there are about fifty useless posts, either lists or lols or scraped content. My Twitter feed has become a series of Burma-Shave signs, haikus leading down a road to nowhere. I may be able to read anything I want, but I’m doing all this work to find it, and by the time I get it, I’m no longer interested.

Information is out there. But we’re doing all the work.

It’s not enough to have people act as information filters: people like you have to act as filters, or else it’s just not going to satisfy. You need trusted sources with a wide range of access to information. If you just choose your friends, you’re going to end up in an echo chamber, retweeting lol posts. You need independent sources of interesting stories, told in a way that’s compelling, challenging, and informative. We used to have something like this: they were called magazines and newspapers.

That’s why this spasm of eulogizing Ye Olde Media feels a little premature. We’re not going to wake up to find a dead tree on our front doorstep anymore. But if you want trusted, analytical, valued information, you’re not going to hook into the Tehran Twitter feed and watch people misspell words. You’re going to click on the New York Times, or the Economist, or Time. For the time being, media brands still matter. They help us stop digging through veins of information, and gain perspective on what’s true.

Filed under: advertising, consumer choice, facebook, social media, supergenius llc, twitter, , , , , ,

Five Questions for Zappos CEO: Tony Hsieh

Zappos CatalogTony Hsieh, CEO of online retailer Zappos.com was kind enough to debut a new feature on Black Match. Five questions for a CEO. For those under rocks, they sell shoes.

1)   What advantages for the Zappos brand come from being so accessible and  transparent across social/digital platforms?

At Zappos, our #1 priority is our company culture. Our belief is that if
we get the culture right, most of the other stuff, like delivering great
customer service or building a long term enduring brand, will happen
naturally on its own. We’ve formalized the definition of our culture into
10 core values:

Being transparent isn’t really something that’s specific to social/digital
platforms. Core value #6 is “Build Open and Honest Relationships With
Communication”… It’s just part of who we are.

2)   As a company that has famously avoided broadcast advertising in favor
of “actions” that advertise (i.e. free shipping) what was the trigger point for your recent ad campaign? How are you/will you measure success (i.e. sales only)?

We take most of the money we would have spent on paid advertising and
invest it into the customer experience instead.  However, we do spend as
much money on direct marketing as possible when it pays for itself.
Using hypothetical numbers, this means that if we spend $1 on paid
advertising, if we get back $10 in sales, then we will spend as much money
as possible as long as we continue to hit that ratio. The problem is that
there isn’t enough advertising inventory out there that meets that ratio.
What we found was that if we invest some money in offline brand
advertising such as magazine ads or TV ads, then that improves the ROI of
our online campaigns, so that altogether we are still hitting the ratio
that makes sense for us.

3)   Is there an overall strategy for your participation in digital/social media or has it come about organically?

It’s really been organic. We aren’t really about “digital/social media” (a
term which I personally dislike). We’re really just about figuring out
ways where we can best express our core values (our culture) and our
commitment to great customer service. We’ve found that Twitter has been
great for that, but so has the telephone, which is why we put our 1-800
number at the top of every page of our web site. The telephone isn’t very
newsworthy, but it’s one of our best branding devices.

4)   Has/How has the Zappos brand been challenged over the past 12 months?

I think the biggest challenge with building our brand is that Zappos is an
experiential brand. Anyone can start another web site tomorrow and make
the same claims that we do about delivering great customer service, but
it’s not until you actually purchase something from us, or call our 1-800
number, or visit our offices, that you can start to tell the difference
between another company and the Zappos brand and culture.

5)   There are obviously tricks that traditional retailers are stealing from you (I’m looking at you piperlime.com); are there dance moves you’re borrowing from traditional/brick and mortar retailers?

We really don’t focus very much on what other retailers are doing. We just
focus on what our customers and employees tell us and then try to deliver
the best customer experience possible while still meeting our financial
goals.

There are a number of interesting widgets that Zappos has in play, including this great Google/Zappos sales mash-up.

Filed under: brands, ceo, consumer choice, online advertising, recession, social media, supergenius llc, twitter, zappos, , , , , , , , , ,

Twitter is Dead, Long Live Twitter.

tweety1We are slowly dying in 140-character bursts.

Twitter has gone from a precious little idea to a respectable mini-blogging service to a massive cultural phenomenon in a little more than a year. And I think a lot of us are looking around at each other, nodding, saying, yes, this is awesome, I get it, tweet tweet birdhouse tweetdeck rt @imsohip.

I think some people have a legitimate use for Twitter: comedians, technical support, and Barack Obama. I think the rest of us are fumbling around for a way to stay relevant on it. Because Twitter suffers from the same problem blogs, podcasts, and user-generated content does: most people either have something interesting to say but can’t figure out how to tell it, or don’t have something interesting to say and disguise that fact with wry observational humor that went out of style with Seinfeld.

Here’s the great thing about Twitter: you can only communicate in 140-character bursts, so if it sucks, it’s over. Here’s the crappy thing about Twitter: we haven’t learned how to create stories on it yet. What we’re getting is fragments, little tic-tacs of information that hit us like pellets and we pretend are refreshing and informative and clever, but what we’re leaving off is: for a tweet. As in, that’s cute. For a tweet. We’re grading on a 140-character curve.

That’s why most people who sign up for Twitter don’t stick with it: there’s nothing yet there to stick to. There’s no flow there. Say what you want about Facebook, but people have learned how to tell stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. There’s a continuity. Not so on Twitter. Each tweet lives and dies like a fruit fly, leaving us not necessarily wanting more.

I’m not saying there aren’t uses for this sort of communication, but that they’re more limited than we think they are. If I am wrong — and I am never wrong — then maybe it works as a meta-communicator and tastemaker, directing your attention to bit.ly links. The Japanese are writing novels this way, but they’re not necessarily the sanest of nations, pop-culturally speaking. Pogue has decided to let others write a book for him, which is stupid, lazy and just like him. It’s nice when you have a question to pop it into the ether and get responses. And it helps to have a brand, a mission, and something worthwhile to say. Three times a day. Every day.

We’re tweeting, we follow other tweeters, so we’re biting the hand that feeds us. But it feels like the Twitter phenomenon, like billions of “Margaritas! WOO HOO!” tweets themselves, has a shelf life, until something better comes along.

Filed under: social media, supergenius llc, twitter, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

5 Minute Futurama: Hosted Micro-Blogging

5minutefuturamThis is post one of a new feature on Black Match, where, like Nicholas Cage in Next, we peer just a few minutes into the future.

Hosted (even branded!) micro-blogging. Think Twitter w/a purpose – cooler, faster, stronger.  How about a private “tweetspace” where volunteers or contributors speak up about or around a particular event.  Or how about a public tweestpace that’s branded/customized to a particular company or cause, where tweets from anyone who cares or contributes shows up.  Imagine if ESPN created a private micro-blogging platform for their fantasy leagues: 140 characters + trash talk = gold, jerry! gold! What a powerful way to track cause engagement (and btw brand engagement.)  Yes, Twitter has already been engaged to drive charity, but social technology that helps brands and their causes both benefit is still virgin territory. There are a couple of horses entering this race: twitteronia and status.net.  Of course, this has worlds of possibilities for regular users, just like those who have made wordpress and ning successful; but as a marketer I’m really excited about the possibility for brands.  And the really cool thing is that could integrate your regular tweetstream into your private tweets (so you’re not running back and forth between two places.) Those brands or groups that seem to inspire or form natural communities are a no brainer for this kind of functionality. Think moms! for instance or Big Ten fans or skiers or, hell, even WOW players. You add some kind mobile accessibility of top of this and *shazam* you got yourself some of that nitroglycerine kids. For more future-peering, reading of entrails and general brand astrology we can be reached @ www.supergeniusllc.com.

Filed under: social media, twitter, Uncategorized, , , , ,

Link By Link – All a-Twitter About Stars Who Tweet – NYTimes.com

Link By Link – All a-Twitter About Stars Who Tweet – NYTimes.com.

Yeah. Celebs are “twittering.” Makes the bile rise at the back of your throat a bit. But really a useless, pandering bit of online copy – rather tell us who is doing it well (I’m looking at you Hammer. I kid you not, he’s on his game.) And does it matter? And what stars is it working for? Blah blah and so on. In the twilight of the republic I see the NYTs is now just a boot black for US Weekly.

Filed under: online advertising, social networking, supergenius llc, twitter, viral,

Reinventing conservatism, one tweet at a time

Reinventing conservatism, one tweet at a time.

A brief nota bene from the clever kids over at Ars Technica. Does Twitter of any tech tool really matter more than ideas? Probably not. But interesting to note how Twitter continues to be the flavor of the moment.

Filed under: social networking, twitter, , ,

Do Brands Belong on Twitter?

Do Brands Belong on Twitter?

Thoughtful post via Mashable. Not sure I agree with the idea of banning brands – think it’s probably a case by case thing. But…do agree that forcing brands to put a human face on their Twitter interaction would better serve them in the long run.

twitter

Posted using ShareThis

Filed under: brands, social networking, supergenius llc, twitter, , ,

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Super Genius LLC is a digital media and creative incubator that excels at bringing fresh, new thinking to existing strategy as well as blank-page strategic development. Our mission is to open up unique and exciting ways of connecting brands and consumers.

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