Perhaps the question was rhetorical, but an article about social media managers at large companies (and why they suck) is picking up steam on the interwebosphere, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to provide an answer and, perhaps, the solution.
WHY ARE SO MANY SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGERS DIPSHITS?
The first reason is that most of these people are simply living up to the value they are assigned at the company they work for. My guess is that (in many cases) they’re low-level nobodies assigned to the task of writing some tweets, perhaps because they have a Twitter account and have demonstrated an ability to tweet.
Large or small, most companies create a “social media manager” position because they think they have to, not because they understand the point or value of having one. As an extension of that ignorance they accept click/like/retweet-baiting as a substitute for quality engagement.
That initial lack of vision transfers over to assigning no value to the person tasked with the job, which means they get paid shit because the job they’ve been given isn’t worth paying much for. In turn, that person could give a fuck about doing anything more than an adequate job.
Assuming a company does go through the trouble of interviewing and hiring someone to fill this role, they fall back on the “pretty person” syndrome and seek out a hipster or a hot girl or Alicia Keys or Ashton Kutcher and bank on the idea that cool bleeds.
The trouble is, you can’t really pay someone to like your product, let alone love it, and bullshit stinks whether it’s attached to Alicia Keys or a nobody.
So, to sum up:
- Companies don’t care about or don’t understand the value of social media which means;
- they under-pay and/or under-hire for the position which results in;
- a social media manager who doesn’t give a fuck, and it shows.
This is actually way easier to explain:
- Make the position a priority and pay for it like you mean it.
- Hire someone who can actually write, not someone who merely tweets.
- Hire someone who actually loves (and uses) your product.
- If you can’t find someone who actually loves and uses your product 1) reflect on why that is but 2) at the very least hire someone who loves to write and is enthusiastic and creative when you talk to them about your product.
- The best way to find someone who qualifies for 2-4 is to go out and do something fun with the person you’re thinking about hiring. Dinner, drinks, whatever. If that person can’t shut up about your product and has ideas about how he/she would promote it, hire that person.
- Ultimately, you want everything you learn about this person to shine through in the way they engage customers (and potential customers) through social media channels.
- This doesn’t mean hiring a salesperson, it means hiring an advocate: Much like the Great Pumpkin, you’re looking for sincerity.
Late last week, Google unveiled Chromecast, attempt number three in their quest to conquer the living room after the wide-right foul ball that was GoogleTV and the wild swing-and-a-miss-and-thrown-bat that was the ill-fated Nexus Q. At just $35, Chromecast is certainly priced compellingly and it’s hard to find fault with its barely-there footprint. So, is this the winner that Google has been looking for?
I’m not so sure.
The Competitive Landscape
Realistically speaking, Chromecast is competing with Apple TV and Roku for space in your living room. Handily, Dan Rayburn of Frost and Sullivan recently published some statistics surrounding the streaming market, which provide a great metric for comparison:
Our report details sales numbers showing that Apple owned 56% of the streaming devices market in 2012, with Roku coming in second at 21% of the market.
Tivo is next with just 6.5% of the market and then “others” — comprised of a rag-tag assortment of several devices you’ve never heard of — split the remaining 15.9 percent.
Rayburn also fortuitously noted that “Google is conspicuous by its absence in this segment.”
That brings us to last week’s announcement.
Google needs to grab a sizable portion of the market in order to overtake either Apple or Roku in the streaming market and with Chromecast, it appears that they’re touting three key selling points in an effort to get there:
Anyone who has a laptop or a desktop (Mac, PC, or Chromebook) can Chromecast. Anyone with an Android device can Chromecast. Google promises that at some point in the near future, anyone with an iOS device will be able to Chromecast.
At first blush, this is indeed a compelling argument against an investment in Apple TV because Apple infamously curates a walled garden: If you want to stream from a smartphone, tablet, or computer to an Apple TV, you’re going to have to own a smartphone, tablet, or computer with an Apple logo on it.
Dig a little deeper, though, and the advantages aren’t quite so clear cut: Chromecast offers a wider swath of device compatibility, yes, but without one of those compatible devices, your $35 buys little more than a dust cover for a spare HDMI port. This means that Blackberry customers need not apply. Windows Phone? Nope. I’m not even sure if the Kindle Fire gets to play ball, given the forked-up state of Android on Amazon’s platform.
What about one-device households in which that one device isn’t always in the house?
An Apple TV works as a stand-alone device: Plug it in, run an HDMI cable to your TV, and everything you need to stream Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, amongst others — not to mention the ability to rent or buy TV shows and movies — is right there on the device. If you have a high-speed internet connection, you can use the hell out of an Apple TV right out of the box. As a bonus, if you happen to have an iPhone or an iPad, an Apple TV provides far more streaming utility than Chromecast, even from an Android device.
There’s no two ways around it: $35 is an intriguing price for almost anything that requires a power plug, let alone a somewhat functional media streamer, and there’s no doubt that one “streaming device” at $99 is a tough sell against another “streaming device” at $35.
All that is to say: The Chromecast is priced to sell if you’re a not particularly observant comparison shopper who thinks all “streaming devices” are alike. Having read some of the early reviews, though, it seems to me that Chromecast is $35 because it provides at least $64 less value than an Apple TV.
It’s got Netflix, true, but what doesn’t these days?
There are no less than four devices currently plugged into my TV that offer access to Netflix, and a couple of them also stream YouTube videos. Netflix-capable devices are the new paper clip: You’ve probably got a couple of them laying around.
Ultimately, there’s little if anything a Chromecast can do that an Apple TV cannot do, and a lot of empty space and negotiating for content that Google still needs to do to in order to increase the value gap beyond a knee-jerk impulse buy for geeks.
Yes, $35 is a great price for a gadget if that gadget provides substantially more than $35 worth of value — but I’m not sure Chromecast gets there.
Ease of Use
Chromecast is quite a bit smaller than an already pretty small Apple TV, yes, but is it easier to use or set up? My post-announcement impression was that the Chromecast dongle was a self-powered device. This can be true, except when it’s not: Some newer televisions have HDMI ports that will provide power, but not all. (And not mine.) Some newer televisions have USB ports that will provide power via the included cable, but not all. (And not mine.) For everyone else, you’re left with pluggingin via a standard wall socket. Not a deal breaker, but not exactly the plug-and-play experience that Google touted, either.
The fact is, some of the neatest features of the $35 Chromecast call for the most current television models. For everyone else there’s the small print.
And, of course, after you’ve got the device plugged-in and powered-up, you’re directed to visit a website — necessitating the use of a companion device — just so that you can connect Chromecast to a WiFi network. Even if you assume that all of this is indeed super easy, there’s nothing about the process that is any easier than setting up an Apple TV which, again, is not a deal breaker but is contrary to Google’s hyperbole.
Perhaps Google will put out an infomercial-style pitch in which a clueless and unsuspecting Apple TV owner looks helplessly at an HDMI cable or struggles mightily with Apple’s remote while engaged in a constant struggle to reach the on-screen settings menu. But wait! Struggle no more as you effortlessly insert the pocket-sized Chromecast dongle and your TV auto-switches input and streams all your content like magic! Order in the next hour and you’ll get three months of Netflix — a $24 value — FREE! (PROBABLY!)
So, What Then?
Not long after it was announced, Gizmodo’s Brian Barrett announced that “you’d be crazy not to buy Google Chromecast.” Then, after the free-Netflix deal went extinct (which, let’s be honest, wasn’t all that long after Google announced Chromecast), Gizmodo updated that headline with the caveat of a “super sad update” and an excitement downgrade from “no-brainer” to “pretty good deal.”
So, who’s it for, then? If you own an iOS device, I’d say you’d be crazy to buy a $35 Chromecast instead of a $99 Apple TV.
If you own an Android device I’d say you have a compelling reason to read the reviews and find out if the value is there for what you’d use it for. Given Google’s history with television and content deals, though, I’d strongly encourage a few months of patience.
Here are some choice cuts:
Even within the apps that have already been tweaked for Chromecast compatibility, there are some day one bugs. Sometimes videos don’t play the first time you ask them to, instead dropping you into a never-ending loading screen. Other times, the video’s audio will start playing on top of a black screen. These bugs aren’t painfully common, but they’re not rare, either. - TechCrunch
There were some glitches with the other two apps as well. Google Play Movies froze while loading up one video, but we were able to remedy the issue by closing the app and trying again. The Netflix app also quit registering touch input during playback on several occasions when we allowed our device to enter standby mode. - Engadget
I tested free Hulu content, HBO Go, NBC, CBS, and Fox, all of which worked. The bad news is that limitations are obvious right away. Image quality ranges from mediocre to poor, mostly because Chrome is converting the video on the fly from your PC and sending it to the Chromecast. You’re also going to run into occasional (and sometimes frequent) dropouts — sometimes just audio, but sometimes the video pauses, too. And the feature itself isn’t entirely stable, so expect the extension to crash sometimes with Google throwing a quirky “brain freeze” message up on your TV. - CNET
Google gobbled-up a majority of the smartphone market because their partners — Samsung, primarily — blanketed the low-end with cheap, underpowered devices that millions of people use like feature phones.
They seem to be making a similar, albeit in-house, grab for the streaming-media market with Chromecast, but questions remain: Is the low-end juggernaut of the sizeable Android market looking to buy a media-streaming device (at any price) and — if not — is the high-end of the Android market formidable enough to overtake Apple for that top spot, or even move past Roku to emerge as a strong number two?
Perhaps, but that won’t make this first generation Chromecast any better as an investment.
Here’s Pete Williams one year ago almost to the day, after the Supreme Court heard arguments on Obamacare:
“I think it’s very doubtful that court is going to find the health care law constitutional,” NBC’s Pete Williams reported after watching the two hours of oral argument before the high court. “I don’t see five votes to find the law constitutional.”
Here’s Pete Williams today, after the Supreme Court heard arguments on Proposition 8:
After the oral argument, Pete Williams of NBC News reported that it seemed “quite obvious” that the court is not prepared to issue a sweeping ruling declaring that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
Pete Williams, meet grain of salt.Pete Williams on Twitter.
Here’s how to do it:
Get in and then get the fuck out.
Hire great writers and great show runners and give them two seasons. Or three. Tell them they’ve got exactly that amount of time to tell a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Here’s the important part:
Don’t be a dick and tell them they’re out of time at any point before the end and don’t be tempted to let popularity extend a show beyond the end.
Get in, get the fuck out.
Do this, and you’ll have two things:
- A constant supply of fresh content.
- Customer loyalty.
Number one is obvious. A clean exit strategy leads to more new content. Everything that inevitably goes bad about some of the best programming can be traced back to a lack of an exit strategy. Don’t fall into this trap.
It happened to Lost. It’s happened to virtually every sitcom that has ever aired on network television. Do not let it happen to your content.
Get in, get the fuck out.
Number two should be obvious but apparently isn’t. People aren’t giving new content a chance because at times it seems we’re more invested than the networks are. I’m tired of starting (and sometimes loving) content that won’t last beyond a few episodes, let alone an entire season. Don’t waste our time.
Commit and viewers will flock to your content.
Get in, get the fuck out.
This is your new mantra if you want to out-HBO HBO.
It’s a sentiment so lazy and so without thought (and so common) that it’s probably best ignored but, well, low hanging fruit and all that:
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple enjoy such a wide base of popularity?
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple have as large a share of the market as they currently have in the mobile era?
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple have a minority share of the market but rake in the vast majority of the industry profits?
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple have over a hundred billion dollars cash on hand?
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era was Apple dominating its competitors on a device for device basis? (In other words, when was any one product in Apple’s Mac lineup consistently outselling every competing PC on the market?)
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era was Apple so successfully entrenched in multiple product categories?
"Mac vs PC" as an argument against Apple in 2013 is intellectually lazy. To make it, you either have to be a troll, an idiot, or both.
A few days ago, information activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide.
Way back in 2011, Aaron Swartz was indicted on charges of data theft, and was facing up to 35 years in prison and one million dollars in fines.
You probably read about that on similar sites — way back in 2011.
Now, Aaron Swartz is dead and tech blogs are eager to tie his suicide to an overzealous prosecution. That’s great, except…
…where were the investigations in August of that year? In September? In October? November? December? What about 2012?
That brings us to today.
Aaron Swartz’s case — assuming it was indeed shaping up to be a gross miscarriage (or misappropriation) of justice — was just as outrageous in each of those months. The story was just as compelling.
Except a story that isn’t ever written isn’t a story at all.
Gizmodo in July of 2011:
Gizmodo in August, September, October, November, and December of 2011 and all of 2012:
Gizmodo in January of 2013:
Read/Write in July of 2011:
Read/Write in August, September, October, November, and December of 2011 and all of 2012:
Read/Write in January of 2013:
ArsTechnica in July of 2011:
ArsTechnica in August, September, October, November, and December of 2011 and all of 2012:
ArsTechnica in January of 2013:
TechCrunch doesn’t seem to have a useful search feature — I couldn’t find anything from 2011 relating to Aaron Swartz and sorting “by date” inexplicably turns up no results even though sorting “by relevance” turns up plenty — but the results I get do include this insightful article…
…written in January of 2013:
What the fuck happened, here?
My main recollection of the earlier story (the way back in 2011 version) was boorish fact-checking about whether or not Swartz was “actually” a Reddit co-founder or just an early Reddit employee. Truly, hard hitting investigative journalism when you consider that over a year later, bloggers are coming out of the woodwork to describe his genius and the travesty of justice he had been facing (alone, apparently) ever since.
My takeaway is this:
The bread and butter of tech blogging (or just plain ol’ blogging blogging) is reactive journalism, and very rarely (too rarely) does anyone exhibit any form of proactive journalism. That’s hard work. It’s long nights and dead ends and patience and possible failure. It’s trust and reputation, which comes from sources first and follow from readers second.
As often as not, these are values that are seen as anathema to keeping it real as a tech blogger. Too traditional.
And, anyway, who wants to face dead ends when you can just wait for dead kids?
That’s where the real page views are.
Not long ago, Apple was paying Google a license fee to use Google’s mapping data for its iOS mapping solution, even as Google withheld turn-by-turn navigation as a competitive advantage for Android.
If rumors hold true (UPDATE: They’re true) Apple’s decision to cut Google off and release it’s own maps app (which isn’t really bad at all, in my experience) will result in Google releasing a native iOS version of Google Maps with turn-by-turn navigation — and Apple won’t have to pay a license fee for the data.
So, 1) those who usually can’t shut up about competition being great for consumers should stop bitching about Apple’s decision, as iOS users will soon have more choices than ever before and 2) in hindsight, at least, this seems to have been a pretty smart move by Apple.
Two months ago, Forbes declared Google the winner in the maps war and predicted Apple would crawl back to Google to re-license the mapping data. Instead, Google rushed to prep a native App (in fairness, they probably had to buy a lot of buckets for all the ad revenue they’re about to rake in) and Apple gets its own solution as well as a new-and-improved solution from Google — free of charge — and consumers get more choice.
Win, win, win.
Congratulations to all who turned out to support bigotry and discrimination on 08/01/12: You had your day and you’ll likely have many more.
The chicken sandwiches and waffle fries were delicious, I’m sure.
Your impassioned defense of free speech won the day but then, this was no Islamic mosque, and it wasn’t JC Penney celebrating a lifestyle that you do not agree with. It wasn’t Jeff Bezos pledging his support for same.
Free speech, but only for the right cause.
Keep in mind, though: Meaningful, inevitable change is nothing if not patient, and you’re going to have fewer and fewer victories as the months and years go by. Not much more than ten years ago Modern Family — a wildly popular TV show prominently featuring a proud, loving, adoptive gay family as part of the new normal — may not have been a multiple Emmy award-winning phenomenon. Five years ago the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell seemed unthinkable.
Yet here we are.
Eventually this hateful wave of institutional bigotry will pass us by. Anti-gay sentiment and discrimination will be to the next generation what passive racism is to this one: An embarrassment that is awkwardly laughed off as a generational failing.
A relic of the past.
The worst of you will die off sooner than the best of you, and I can only hope that the best of you live long enough to remember with shame a time when you weren’t as compassionate and understanding as you eventually grew to be. A time when faith in a supposedly loving God dictated the horrible, dismissive way in which you treated the happiness and dreams of your fellow citizens.
A day that you celebrated all that by eating chicken.
We launched Lendle just over a year ago. Amazon had just begun to embrace digital lending and we knew we could build a great social experience for millions of Kindle owners.
We love being part of an industry on the move and taking on some of the tough issues surrounding ownership and digital content, but our primary goal has always been to create the best social-lending site we could build.
That has always meant a site that focuses on lending above all other considerations.
At its core, we’re a matchmaking service for Kindle owners. Our Lendlers list the books they’ve purchased, which in turn provides the foundation for our library of lendable content.
When someone requests a book, we make that request available to the Lendle community.
We’ve introduced several new features over the last year, but they’re all designed to drive and improve the core lending experience.
- We have fulfilled over 70,000 loan requests.
- Our community has added nearly 50,000 unique (lendable) titles.
- All told, Lendle lists 330,000 books available to borrow.
We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve built, and we think Lendle has been an amazing success.
With all that said, we started out as a team of three, and we remain a team of three: We’ve not outsourced the design, the troubleshooting, or the customer service, and we’ve accomplished all of this without accepting a single penny of outside funding.
Lendle has always been a huge undertaking, and as our community has grown, so too have our responsibilities.
On top of all that, two of the three of us have full time jobs outside of running Lendle, and various other “living life” priorities that we would like to focus on.
We don’t want any of that to get in the way of the customer service we expect of ourselves, and we don’t want our additional workload to have an effect on potential new features or the overall Lendle experience, either.
With that in mind, we’re looking toward the idea of selling Lendle to someone (or a group of someones) who is interested in building upon our successes, and taking the community to the next level.
Such a sale would involve:
- The Lendle brand, including all associated trademarks.
- All associated code.
- Day-to-day operations.
Lendle means a lot to us. We’ve put over a year of our lives into growing a great community and implementing new features and we’ve done our best to put a unique spin on social-lending to ensure that Lendle stands out amongst the competition.
Even so, there’s still a vast untapped market for social-lending that is millions of potential Lendlers strong, and we think a nimble and innovative home for Lendle can only lead to great things.
As competition in the ebook space heats up, we expect to see more and more acceptance of digital lending amongst publishers, authors, and retailers. Already, TOR Books — an imprint of publishing powerhouse Macmillan and one of the largest publishers of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels — has announced that it will drop all DRM from its collection in early July 2012.
In addition, Amazon is moving into publishing more and more, and we expect this to increase the lendable content available to Lendlers. Most recently, Amazon Publishing bought the publishing rights to the entire James Bond backlist.
The best is yet to come.
If you’re interested, get in touch!