Friday, November 27, 2015

Advertising to the Anonymous

One of the reasons that anonymous social networks like Whisper have gained traction is that many of us have aspects of our identity that we feel a need to share but don’t want our friends and family to know about. For example, I have a friend (no, this is not me) who doesn’t want his family to know he is a conservative. I have another who didn’t want his family to know he was dating outside his religion. On Whisper, you can talk about it, and get feedback about it.  And unless the NSA wants to out you, you don’t have to worry about mom and dad finding out.

But being on these sites makes you vulnerable in another way.  It is a powerful advertising platform precisely because we feel more open and revealing when we are anonymous. We are more likely to share personal information with advertisers. We are also more susceptible to a targeted ad that allows you express an aspect of your identity while keeping it secret.

For example, let’s say that a closet conservative is on Whisper. A conservative group can buy an ad that encourages her to donate to a conservative cause or vote for a conservative candidate. They can frame the advertising message along the lines of “In the ballot box, no one knows you are a conservative.”  Playing on the “On the internet, no one knows you are a dog” meme, but personalized and resonant.  And with a call to action that the advertiser wants.

I tried Whisper once, but it didn’t work for me. But I have enough secrets that I can see the attraction. And I know enough psychology to know why the ads work.

Do you use any anonymous social networks? Any stories to share?

This Week in EID - Episode 82

I hope you all took advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday and enjoyed some quality time with family and friends. Or did you spend the weekend shopping on what has become Black Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday?

We had a shortened week this week because of the break.  Here is a quick recap if you missed anything.

Monday covered a rapidly growing trend in today’s workplace – the use of analytics and connectedness to manage employee performance. There is no question that good analytical models can tell us a lot about behavior. The question is whether the intrusion on privacy and morale is worth it.

Tuesday we talked about the concept of flow.  This is the sense of “being in the zone” where time and effort pass by as easy as that extra piece of pumpkin pie.  When a user experience engages flow, it is amazing what can happen.

Then finally Wednesday we talked about a new way for experienced employees to get back into the workplace after an extended absence.  A returnship is like an internship but tailored (hopefully) to the different needs of the experienced pro rather than the entry level employee who needs some experience.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Student chefs and cooks

I love it when a professional whose ideas I respect says something that I have been saying for years.  I have mentioned before that I don’t need the approval of others to enjoy my own ideas.  But the external validation does help me overcome the sneaking suspicion that my own self-delusion will make my ideas seem better than they really are.

Jay Acunzo, in his Sorry for Marketing blog, contrasted two approaches to the practice of content marketing: chefs and cooks. A cook is someone who is really good at following a set of instructions exactly as stated so that the outcome is exactly the same every time. This is great for quality and consistency, but not creativity or innovation.

A chef is someone who learns the fundamental principles of the domain so they can invent their own processes. They can develop new approaches for new situations or when the world changes.

Jay applies this to content marketing, but I see the same thing in my students’ approaches to school. Even when their career ambitions are to reach the highest levels, they still prefer when professors give them the recipe and expect only for them to become cooks. 

The world needs cooks, but cooks get stuck at middle management. They can never reach the elevation that a chef can. And so it breaks my heart when students start out with this in mind.  I spend all semester trying to convince them why being a chef is better.

But by spending so much time on this sales pitch, I have less time to teach them the fundamental principles that will get them there. Maybe sous chef.