CISPA Roundup

Heads up everyone: the government is at it again. Remember SOPA and PIPA? Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) has proposed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA) and if it, coupled with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’s SECURE IT Act, pass a vote later this month, there will be “almost no restrictions on what information can be spied upon and how it can be used”, according to the EFF. That link will take you to a succinct description of exactly what the problem is with CISPA. Techdirt has a more expanded explanation, and includes this awesome nugget:

…in an attempt to address some of the key concerns, the bill’s authors, representatives Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger, hosted a conference call specifically geared at digital reporters. The invitation was for “Cyber Media and Cyber Bloggers” (seriously) and took place at 7am Silicon Valley time—thus demonstrating that they are totally in touch with the tech community.

There is also coverage at boingboing and TNW, which includes probably the most important observation of this bill and those that came before it:

Much like SOPA, it’s not the things that are spelled out directly in the act that scare people, it’s the doors that something like this could open, taking advantage of the broadness of the proposal.

Through a comment from Michael Vagnetti on the TNW article, I found popvox, a tool constituents to learn about and weigh in on bills on the floor of Congress, and to learn how their representatives view the bills. You can also check the bill out on OpenCongress, which is a project of the Participatory Politics Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation (one of my favorite organizations).

This is a law our government is interested in passing that will dramatically, and negatively, affect our daily lives and the way we conduct business over the internet. This isn’t even about privacy, really; it’s about making sure your Constitutional rights are protected even online. Tell your Representatives (and Senators) what you think.


I Want Cable to Die

I want it so bad that I, like many in the high-tech space, get way too excited about the latest gadget or service that claims to be the cable killer. Ultimately, this is what happens. And cable lives on.

That is because cable isn’t really a bad product. It’s the same as it was 40 years ago, largely, because the model works. What is easier than sitting on your sofa and getting spoon fed entertainment? You barely even have to think about what you want, you can just press one button with one finger until you find something in the hundreds of channels available. It doesn’t even have to be your favorite thing, because to find it required so little work. 

As it does with everything, the internet is disrupting cable. But with such a low threshold to compete with, it’s going to take time. 

I’m an eternal optimist. So is this guy. Eventually, cable will die. One can only fight against new technology and changing culture with lawsuits for so long. Mobile devices like tablets and smart phones that get ever smarter and more useful (seriously, how dull useless are TV remotes?) are going to change how people consume entertainment and more. But I digress.

In the meantime,  the pay TV business is growing and people don’t actually want “smart” TVs. But keeping fighting the good fight. We’ll get there someday.

Two Marketing Emails that Worked on Me

Everyone gets dozens of marketing emails every day from stores that may or may not like, discount websites they may or may not use, and organizations calling with calls to action that may or may not inspire them. Here are two examples of marketing emails I received yesterday that not only got me to open the email, but actually do what the sender wanted me to do. The gold stars go to TripAdvisor and LinkedIn.

How to send an effective marketing email.

Exhibit A: TripAdvisor

In this example, the company deployed the participate-t0-earn-meaningless badges tactic with the subject line “Share your thoughts on your winter trips to earn your first badge”. First, it’s timely, referring to winter trips which made me think of where I’d gone in the last few months. That was nice to think about. Second, I didn’t even know I could earn badges on TripAdvisor, and my curiosity was peaked. I love immediate rewards for mind-numbingly easy actions!

So I clicked through, and the email asked me: “Go anywhere good this winter?” Yes, TripAdvisor, I have! And I only am two reviews away from earning a badge? Hooray! I can post two reviews in five minutes! I’d love to make you richer and your site more robust but advising strangers on their travel plans and earning badges for it!

Genius, all around.

Exhibit B: LinkedIn

Everyone’s favorite social network to shit on amped up the social aspect by telling me 17 of my connections had changed their title in 2011. The email even displayed thumbnail pictures of these connections and, by clicking on each one, I could check up on them. I could even send a little note to congratulate them and ask how things are going, thus 1) feeling like I’ve connected personally and professionally with people I know, thus feeling popular and like a successful networker in one easy blow and 2) adding more traffic to LinkedIn, giving them more success.

Everybody wins.

Social Media is Not THAT Cool, So Everybody Cool Out

I found this article on Bad Pitch this morning and saved it all day because I feel strongly about its message: social media is awesome, but it’s not THAT awesome, so everyone should just tone things down a notch.

The article is about why people should cool their jets about Google+, especially marketers, because it hasn’t proven itself yet; if anything, it’s only proven that it has nowhere near the addictive quality that Facebook has – just think about how your mom can’t live without it, even though she did for 50 years. But Bad Pitch argues that even Facebook isn’t completely delivering on its promise of engagement and loyalty:

…Pages aren’t as beneficial as many expect them to be.

According to a recent study by Constant Contact and researchers Chadwick Martin Bailey, only 17 percent of respondents interact with brands on Facebook. … Turns out that Facebook brand pages are about brand awareness rather than engagement. Almost three-quarters surveyed said their interactions with brands on FaceBook came through reading statuses or updates from the brand.

The author’s bottom line is that social media tools like these are still so new, their use is still evolving and most people aren’t using them in the way social media gurus have promised. Engaging with brands is work – people are more interested in engaging with friends and family instead.

So what does a marketer do with articles like Duct Tape Marketing’s How and Why to Use Pinterest for Business, which says “It’s time for businesses to take note and start paying attention to Pinterest.”?

Ignore it.

Unless your customers are ALREADY USING Pinterest, maybe even starting to ask why you aren’t using it, don’t bother. Just because there is a cool social tool out there that someone has figured out can be used for a business like yours, doesn’t mean it would be at all useful for you.

The promise of social media is to bring customers and companies closer together in a positive way, not for companies to have a new channel for harassing customers or new marketing schemes to sink money and time into.

So who benefits the most from social media? The same people I’ve said before do: local companies looking to reach their neighbors and customers quickly and easily. But also companies who take advantage of behaviors people are already doing socially online instead of asking them to debate which of their products they like best or “engage” in some other way. HBR covered this here. Of their predictions, I’d choose Social Sharing and Social Television as the biggest trends to come because they are easy, in the first example, and fun, in the second example (if you are also a fan of The Walking Dead on AMC or Bones on Fox, @message me on Twitter at Sunday and Thursday nights respectively!)

Twitter for Newsrooms

I don’t know if this is a good thing for newspeople, but I know it’s a smart move by Twitter. First, excellent way to get the attention of the people who are going do your marketing for you: newspeople. As this post from RWW so exceptionally potined out:

Twitter was able to attract more journalists’ eyeballs to its platform than anything short of an overwhelming disaster could garner. And it was able to do so in a matter of minutes with absolutely no news at all.

Secondly, this is a needed service. This wasn’t just a publicity stunt, and the RWW article did admit that:

Almost to a man, journalists wrapped themselves tightly in Twitter’s “how-to” as though it were a lifeline in a rough sea. And perhaps it is.

Twitter for Newsrooms IS a lifeline, and not just for all those old journalists trying to make sense of how to do their job faster and using the social media. Everyone is still trying to figure out exactly what Twitter is capable of and me among many others think one of the ways Twitter will become something like a utility is through its use as a way to spread and report on the news.

Twitter s going corporate, folks. It’s got a nice suit on and a smart-looking folder to put its resume and portfolio in. The cute little bluebird is still there of course, but he’s been a part of big things – tragic, joyous, momentous – all around the world and he’s here to stay.