Tag Archives: Marketing

Aaron Brazell

The Only Answer to Facebook Beacon is a Deleted Account

Marc Orchant, the other day, announced he was deleting his Facebook profile. For him, it came down to a matter of usefulness. I am considering also deleting my Facebook profile for completely different reasons – Facebook Beacon.

In case you’ve been under a rock for the past few weeks, Beacon is the program that Facebook marketed as a B2C advertising platform. Companies utilizing Beacon would benefit by automatically getting postings in the profile of a user utilizing the company’s website in some way, whether for purchase or otherwise. It was marketed to businesses as completely “opt-in” but as turned out to be exactly opposite.

The privacy concerns that have been demonstrated by the Beacon program is well documented. One guy bought his girlfriend a an engagement ring on Overstock.com and she found out about it by reading his Facebook profile where Overstock had posted this fact on the guy’s profile without him knowing. Personally, I’ve been dismayed to find my Gamefly activity documented as well as a car rental I purchased through Hotwire for later in the month.

Lots of people have proposed methods of “blocking” Beacon, but the fact is that whenever you are logged in, Beacon companies can (and will) post data to Facebook. Even if you opt to never show these details on your profile, Facebook still collects the data and quite possibly shares that demographic data with interested companies. Dare Obasanjo has detailed how broke Beacon really is

Awhile ago, I wrote an article entitled “The Art of War: Facebook’s Strategy for Ultimate Victory“. In that article, I outlined how I thought Facebook had made all the right decisions and as a result would eclipse MySpace and other social networks as the premiere network around.

I am taking that article back. Facebook has not only violated all sense of trust on this matter, but faced with the problems, they’ve only made matters worse. (Sidenote: If you have a few hours, go through these court docs and tell me at the end if you trust Mark Zuckerberg or find him to be completely slippery. Also read this lengthy “pieced together account” of Facebook’s origins).

The real question here is there any real way to opt out? I don’t think there is.

  1. The Privacy tab in Facebook – good for taking companies that use Beacon and that you’ve already engaged with out of a newsfeed – but what about future companies that I do business with?
  2. Companies still sending data to Facebook regardless of if I’ve turned the privacy level way down. What is Facebook actually doing with this data? Telling me that it will be deleted is not a good enough answer for me. Beacon should be opt-in ONLY at the Facebook AND vendor levels.
  3. The firefox extension for blocking sites. This is a good idea in principle but I shouldn’t have to do anything to maintain my own privacy!

To me, the only option here is deleting your Facebook profile – something I am very close to doing.

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Cómo aprovechar la Reputación de Nuestro Producto

Manejando de regreso a casa estas vacaciones, vi un Toyota accidentado en el borde de la autopista y no pude evitar pensar “Es una trampa!” recordando el famoso comercial de Toyota (click aquí para verlo en YouTube).

En este comercial, el malo de la película se disfraza como una bella modelo en apuros, accidentada al lado de la carretera en su Toyota Corolla, pero es descubierta cuando sus victimas se percatan de que el auto es un Corolla y estos “no se accidentan.”

Toyota aprovechó la impecable reputación de su Corolla para crear este comercial. Lo interesante es que el comercial vino una vez que la reputación existía y no para crear esta reputación. Esta estrategia solidifica la reputación de Toyota como una marca confiable.

El caso contrario, tratar de convencer al cliente de una supuesta característica de nuestro producto casi nunca funciona (ver el caso de Wal-Mart y su blog) y menos ahora que estamos todos conectados, cualquiera puede montar una página web y nuestras quejas llegan a millones de oídos en un click.

¿Tienes algún ejemplo para compartir? Deja tu comentario y enciende la discusión.

Aaron Brazell

Never Trust a Chef…

Remember Sy Sperling? He was the President of Hair Club for Men who is famously quoted as saying, “I’m not just the president, I’m also a client”.

Other phrases such as, “Never trust a chef who won’t eat his own cooking”, or similarly, “Never trust a skinny chef” have come to represent the sentiment that the best vote of confidence in a product is when the owner/producer/creator also uses it.

Last night, Biz Stone, one of the founders of Twitter blasted this message out to his Twitter followers:

looking at an email receipt from iTunes for a vampire series I apparently bought””but I haven’t any vampire shows!

Fairly innocuous, I suppose. I hope the series was Buffy. Sarah Michelle Geller is HAWT. The point is, unlike many CEOs and company spokesgroupies, Biz is not promoting Twitter outright. He is not telling people the multiple virtues of Twitter, or explaining best practices of Twitter. Perhaps because Twitter doesn’t lend itself to a defined set of rules defining what it is or what it should do, but that is beside the point. Biz’s endorsement of his own product is a plain, everyday use of his own product in a non-promotional way.

Marketers need to get this. CEO’s need to understand this. PR people need to learn this. Your best sales technique is the technique that is not a technique. It’s just use. We’re watching you and how you use your product. The best time to sell is when you are at your least salesy.

Your thoughts?

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Nuevas Técnicas para Estudiar Comunidades Online

Tradicionalmente, los mercados analizados para publicidad han estado concentrados alrededor de variables demográficas como edad, sexo, ubicación geográfica y poder adquisitivo. Estas variables ya no sirven como únicas medidas para identificar una comunidad.

Las comunidades online tienden a crearse más alrededor del contenido que alrededor de las variables tradicionales, quizás porque en Internet las variables tradicionales quedan ocultas, permitiendo a personas de distintas edades, orígenes, y clases sociales compartir experiencias que normalmente no hubieran compartido.

Comunidades Creadas Alrededor de Contenidos

Mientras en el mundo “real” sería muy dificil conseguir adultos y niños compartiendo sanamente alguna actividad, en la Internet es muy normal encontrar grupos de adolescentes jugando en linea contra equipos de adultos, por ejemplo.

Las comunidades con más éxito en Internet están construídas alrededor de un contenido particular y no alrededor de un grupo demográfico en particular:

Siempre existirán productos que necesitan ser mercadeados alrededor de variables demográficas tradicionales (por ejemplo, productos de higiene femenino, algunos juguetes, medicina anti-acné), pero las oportunidades y herramientas para expandir los mercados nunca han sido tan buenas.

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When a Brand Fades

 Today is the New, New Internet Conference, the biggest web 2.0 conference on the Eastern Seaboard this fall. More than 800 attendees are expected. The roster of speakers is impressive. The conference will focus on the larger business aspects of the new Internet economy.

Though I am one of the speakers, I will be in the lobby working during the opening keynote (as well as the first session).  Why?

aol_logo1) I need to get some work done. And 2) the opening keynote is AOL’s Vice Chair Ted Leonsis. And I just don’t think he or the AOL brand is that relevant anymore.  In short, this was one of the sessions I could most afford to miss.

Look, AOL does have some great things going on. My fellow panelist Frank Gruber for one. And no one can deny how powerful TMZ is in the gossip side of things.

But at the same time AOL the brand has faded, it’s lost its luster. And that’s because it’s not really dominating much, and its leadership — like Leonsis — seem to be following, not creating earth shaking vision.

For many, including me, AOL just means dial-up.  And that’s because the brand promise was safe, easy dial up access for so long it’s permanently etched into my brain. This is in spite of the many things AOL is doing in 2.0. And is it any coincidence that one of its most successful efforts is branded TMZ and not AOL?

Perhaps it is me, but wouldn’t all of AOL’s current social media efforts benefit from a re-brand.  I just think the dial-up legacy kills it. As a result the company seems to be fading. What do you think about AOL’s efforts?

Aaron Brazell, Hall of Fame

Everything I Needed to Know about PR I learned from Office Space

The funniest movie I ever saw is a late 90s geek favorite film Office Space. I know you all have seen it. And if not – put the kids to bed and go watch it now. Really. It’s not only funny, but it might just be the one thing that PR folks need to not be laughed at by social media people. Trust me on this. And to prove my point, I shared these thoughts this past weekend with some really great PR people that are trying to do it effectively in Boston.

You Must Engage the Community

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: “Joanna.”
Joanna: “Yeah?”
Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: “We need to talk. Do you know what this is about?”
Joanna: “My, uh, flair?”
Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: “Yeah. Or, uh, your lack of flair. Because, uh, I’m counting and I only see 15 pieces. Let me ask you a question, Joanna. What do you think of a person who only does the bare minimum?”
Joanna: “Huh. What do I thin– Um, you know what, Stan? If you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair like your pretty boy over there, Brian, why don’t you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?”
Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: “Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.”
Joanna: “Yeah. You know what? Yeah, I do. I do wanna express myself. Okay? And I don’t need 37 pieces of flair to do it. (She flips him off) Alright? There’s my flair. Okay? And this is me expressing myself. Okay? (She starts flipping everyone off) There it is. I hate this job! I hate this g*ddamn job, and I don’t need it!”

[listen – Language included, NSFW]

A lot of PR folks these days seem to have the idea that social media is where it’s at amd that they need us to be effective. They are absolutely correct. They know how many pieces of flair are minimum and many PR agencies do a very good job of meeting the minimum standard. They are out there in Technorati and on the blogs finding out what people are saying about their client. Some agencies even have “proprietary market research” software which checks these conversation out for them and spit out nicely collated reports for the board meetings.

However, there are conversations happening that are impossible to index and in some cases even know about while doing “social media drive bys”. They wouldn’t miss these conversations if they were engaged in the community. By engagement, I mean participating.

As a PR person, you have a 9-5 job or whatever it is. How much conversation are you having on your own time just because you love the community? If your answer is not much, you’re only wearing the minimum pieces of flair.

You Don’t Want to Gamble Your Decisions

Michael: “You think the Pet Rock was a really great idea?”
Smykowski: “Sure it was. The guy made a million dollars. You know, I had an idea like that once, a long time ago.”
Peter: “Really, what was it, Tom?”
Smykowski: “Well, alright. It was a ‘jump to conclusions’ mat. You see, it would be this mat that you would put on the floor and would have different conclusions written on it that you could jump to.”
Michael: “That is the worst idea I’ve ever heard in my life, Tom.”
Samir: “Yes. Yes, it’s horrible, this idea.”


The hardest thing for someone who is a relative outsider to a community to do is to break into the community. That’s why it’s important, especially for PR folks, to be smart about how they pitch bloggers, podcasters and other members of the social media. It is far less likely that your client or company will be accepted, for instance, if you blanket social mediaites with press releases and “your message” without taking the time to build community and relationship with them first.

I get half a dozen unsolicited press releases every week and I have yet to offer a bit of coverage for any of them. Without relationship and community, PR messages are likely to fall on deaf ears. Measure your approach. Don’t gamble it away with a “Jump to Conclusions Mat”.

Engage Conversation by Listening First

Peter: “We have to swear to God, Allah, that nobody knows about this but us. Alright? No family members, no girlfriends, nobody.”
Samir: “Of course.”
Michael: “Agreed.”
Lawrence: [from the next apartment through the wall] “Don’t worry, man! I won’t tell anyone either!”
Michael: “What the f*ck is that?”
Peter: “No, don’t worry about him. He’s cool.”

[listen -NSFW]

There’s a tremendous amount of conversation happening everywhere on the net. Notably, blogs are a great place for interaction between companies and customers. Instinctively, PR companies can be a little gun shy about unmetered conversation as it relates to their company. However, this is the essence of transparency, trust and consumer confidence.

Listening is a skill that seems to have gotten lost a lot of the times. My dad uses to tell me that God gave me two ears so I could listen twice as much as I talk. Unfortunately, in todays ad-driven, PR-protectionism market, consumers are told exactly what to believe and traditional mindsets insinuate that we should be realy darn happy that we’ve been “informed”.

People are not stupid, though, and we are capable of making our own rationally (or perhaps irrationally) derived thoughts. Folks in the PR industry should come into the grass-roots mediasphere with the intent that they want to listen and by doing so, earn the trust of those that they are listening to.

Buy In!

Peter: “The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy. It’s that I just don’t care.”
Bob Porter: “Don’t– Don’t care?”
Peter: “It’s a problem of motivation, alright. Now, if I work my a*s off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see a dime. So where’s the motivation? And here’s something else, Bob. I have eight different bosses right now.”
Bob Slydell: “I beg your pardon?”
Peter: “Eight bosses.”
Bob Slydell: “Eight?”
Peter: “Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motvation is not to be hassled. That and the fear losing my job. But you know, Bob, that’ll only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.”


There’s something about complete “buy in” that is reassuring and noticeable. This principle may apply to marketers more than PR folks, but the reality is that honest communication is noticeable and dishonest communication is even more noticeable.

The stereotypical picture is of a slick used car salesman who will sell you a lemon without thinking twice. Unfortunately for the used car salesman, they’ve been made and everyone knows not to trust them before they go in. Particularly savvy customers still go in but with the knowledge of cars and places to look to find out if a car is a lemon before he buys it.

Social media people are naturally cynical of anyone telling them what to believe or think. We don’t like it with the press. We bicker among ourselves when someone slings a little mud. We’re certainly not going to let a PR person pitch us on something that is obviously not bought into by the PR rep. Unfortunately for you guys, we generall can tell. The people who don’t buy in are the ones who are not engaging (#1), who are making drive-by choices (#2) and who don’t want to take the time to get the heartbeat of the community (#3).

Speak Smartly

Milton: “I-I said I don’t care if they lay me off, either. Because, I told– I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time then I’m– I’m quitting– I’m going to quit. And I told Dom too, because they’ve moved my desk four times already this year. And I used to be over by the window and I could see the squirrels and they were married. But then they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler. But I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler.”
Peter: “Okay, Milton.”
Milton: “And, oh, no, it’s not okay because if they make me– if they– If they take my stapler then I’ll– I’ll have to– I’ll set the building on fire.”
Peter: “Okay’ well, that sounds, uh, that sounds great. Uh, I’ll talk to you later, alright? Bye.”


Ah, good old Milton. How could I write an article about Office Space and not mention Milton? :-) Well, as it turns out, Milton too can teach PR folks something about social media. Even though you can’t understand him, Milton has demonstrated why it’s important to speak the language of the audience you are trying to reach. Remember that bloggers may or may not be your target audience. We get bombarded by people wanting us to promote events and get togethers and computers and cameras. The problem is that since you’re not speaking our language, you don’t live in our world – you simply drive through – we are not likely to understand you and you are not likely to speak our language.

Before the building burns down, stop and listen to the folks you are pitching. Don’t just read an About page, but read the blog. Even if you don’t understand it. I’m much more likely to lend opportunities to people who have read my blog and have interacted with me via comment or email.

Most PR is still back a few years trying to catch up. Some PR doesn’t have any concept of social media and, successful or not, are losing time and money because they aren’t engaging the social media centers. If you can follow the Rules of Office Space, you will have a huge lead on competitors and have gained the trust and resperct of those of us operating everyday in the social sense.

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Rant: Silicon Valley Fenetics

Yes, intentionally misspelled. Phonetics.

Phonetics and mashup are all the rage in Silicon Valley web 2.0 start-up naming conventions right now.  When it was Digg, FaceBook and Skype, this was different.  It was cool, fresh and neat.  You could not help but ask yourself, what’s that?!?

Now, it’s not cute anymore (‘sup Pownce and Jaiku!). Instead it signals, “Oh, another 2 dot-bomb.” OK, maybe we’re not there yet, but you get the point.

Branding gurus are charging clients tens, hundreds of thousands for not-so-cheeky plays on phonetics or slamming two words together.  Read TechCrunch, and you’ll find posts littered with examples:

Out of the three of these, there’s only one I like: TasteBook. Why?  Because it tells you or at least gives you an idea of what it does.  TasteBook allows Shazam-Poster-C10097475users to create and order custom hardback cookbooks (“tastebooks”). BTW, that’s what a company name is supposed to do. Tell potential buyers, partners and investors what kind of business it is.

One must wonder how much longer this latest naming fad will continue.  And if you don’t think it’s a fad, how many eGoofy cos and .bombs can you name in five seconds? Pets.com, eHarmony, eLuminant, etc., etc.

P.S. As a result of this rant and as a tribute to Doug Haslam, I’ve decided to rename my PR firm Shazaaamr.

Aaron Brazell

La Regla de Oro de Twitter Marketing

This post is the Spanish-translated version of “The Golden Rule of Twitter Marketing“, published earlier on this blog. It was graciously translated by Twitter friend @cosmic_sailor. Gracias!

Usted conoce Twitter, correcto? Es la red social que trae a personas juntas en una conversación penetrante acerca de cualquier sucede en un momento dado. Como Mensaje Instantáneo o como Blogs. Pero en 140 caracteres o menos. Desde Blackberries y teléfonos celulares a applicaciones de la computadora y la red. Twitter es la manifestación de una nueva tendencia fresca de microcontent.

Yo adoro Twitter. Yo lo he estado utilizando desde febrero y mientras yo no fui el adoptador más temprano, yo fui un adoptador temprano. He visto Twitter surgir como el facto “atrás canal” en conferencias, el catalizador para el meetups improvisado y sí, como un dispositivo del marketing.

Cada vez mas, yo he mirado expendedores saltar en abordar el carro de Twitter, pero yo me pregunto cuántas personas realmente “lo consigue”. Vea, Twitter cultiva transparencia. Las mismas personas que dejan caer pepitas diarias de la penetración profunda en Twitter durante el día, quizan Tweet acerca de tomar sus niños al paseo. Cada vez más, la gente pueden Tweet sobre sus ubicaciones como ellos toman roadtrips con órdenes especiales destinadas para tramar su ubicación en un mapa. Estas mismas personas en el próximo aliento explican por qué es que esta compañía o el político son el trato verdadero.

La energía de Twitter está en la autenticidad y la transparencia. He dicho a menudo que la marca de fábrica no es algo que se puede controlar por las compañías. La marca de fábrica es controlada por los clientes. La confianza es controlada por las compañías. Si los clientes no confían en a compañía, su marca de fábrica es inútil. Si confían en a compañía, esa compañía ha asegurado a vendedor para la vida. La confianza es construida por la autenticidad, por la transparencia. Es la cosa que permite que las compañías funcionen en el siglo XXI.

¿Así que cómo trabaja Twitter para expendedores? Bien, para algunos expendedores, ellos son inconscientes a la transparencia. Por ejemplo usted siempre puede decir quién esta “en la conversación” y así más transparente y confiable, por mirar la proporción de “Seguidores” a “Amigos”. Nunca confíe nadie que tiene un número apreciablemente desproporcionadamente más alto de amigos a seguidores. Los amigos son definidos como personas que usted escucha. Los seguidores son ésos que escuchan a usted. La conversación de un solo sentido es nunca un gran catalizador para la comunicación ni transparencia.

Otros expendedores quizás sigaran mas gente y tendran muchos mas amigos que los siguen, pero si la totalidad de sus Tweets consiste en la promoción de sus productos, usted tiene una calle de sentido único. Otra vez, nunca confía calles de sentido único. Hay dragones en esas colinas.

Yo siempre encuentro obligando tremendamente los productos vía Twitter simplemente por entrar en la conversación con personas. Hay varias gente en Twitter que ha reconocido el poder de Twitter como un medio para la promoción, mas ellos comprometen sus seguidores en la conversación – a veces no relacionado a su producto. El asombrar dinámico aquí es la marca personal.

Cuando un ejemplo, NewMediaJim es un cámara de NBC. El no promueve realmente NBC en lo que él hace, mas todos estan enterados que NBC es su empleador y basado en ese conocimiento, es muy intuitivo leer sus Tweets acerca de sus varias excursiones en su vida de la carrera – entrevistas con gente, manejanadas a bases militares para encontrar con las gente militares que regresan de la guerra, etc. Esto obliga el contenido.

En la otra cara del juego de NBC esta el TodayShow, la fuente oficial de Twitter conectado a la exposición de la mañana de NBC. Aquí está un ejemplo de Twitter que vende ido malo. No hay conversación. No hay apelación de unir en la conversación de opf de comunidad. Es una oficina pública de relaciones que libera los comunicados de prensa sobre Twitter en 140 caracteres o menos.

Si tuve que detallar una Regla de Oro de Twitter, sera:

Píe acerca de otros al menos tanto como usted Pía acerca de usted mismo.

Cerciórese que sus esfuerzos del marketing en Twitter entran en la conversación. Asegure que usted promueva otra persona contento tanto si no más que usted promueve su propio. Cerciórese a personas saben quién usted es. Twitter es personal, así que construye su marca personal. Sólo ayudará su negocio. Confíeme.

Aaron Brazell

The Golden Rule of Twitter Marketing

Para hablantes de español, leer Le Regla de Ora de Twitter Marketing.

You know Twitter, right? It’s the social network that ties people together in a pervasive conversation about whatever is happening at a given moment. Sort of like Instant Message. Sort of like Blogs. But in 140 characters or less. From Blackberries and Cell phones to desktop apps and the web. Twitter is the manifestation of a cool new trend of microcontent.

I love Twitter. I’ve been using it since February and while I was not the earliest adopter, I was an early adopter. I’ve seen Twitter emerge as the de facto “back channel” at conferences, the catalyst for impromptu meetups and yes, as a marketing device.

More and more, I’ve watched marketers jump on board the Twitter bandwagon but I wonder how many people really “get it”. See, Twitter cultivates transparency. The same people who drop daily nuggets of profound insight into Twitter during the day, might Tweet about taking their kids to the mall. Increasingly, folks are Tweeting their locations as they take roadtrips with special commands meant to plot their location on a map. These same people in the next breath are explaining why it is that this company or politician is the real deal.

Twitter’s power is in authenticity and transparency. I’ve often said that brand is not something that can be controlled by companies. Brand is controlled by customers. Trust is controlled by companies. If customers don’t trust a company, their brand is useless. If they do trust a company, that company has secured a marketer for life. Trust is built by authenticity, by transparency. It is the thing that allows companies to function in the 21st century.

So how does Twitter work for marketers? Well, for some marketers, they are oblivious to transparency. For instance, you can always tell who is “in the conversation” and thus more transparent and trustworthy, by looking at the ratio of “Followers” to “Friends”. Never trust anyone who has a significantly disproportionatly higher number of friends to followers. Friends are defined as people who you are listening to. Followers are those that are listening to you. One way conversation is never a great catalyst for communication or transparency.

Other marketers might follow lots of folks and have lots of friends following them, but if the entirety of their Tweets consist of promotion of their products, you have a one way street. Again, never trust one way streets. There’s dragons in those hills.

I always find tremendously compelling products via Twitter simply by engaging in conversation with people. There are a number of folks on Twitter who have recognized the power of Twitter as a medium for promotion, yet they engage their followers in conversation – sometimes unrelated to their product. The amazing dynamic here is personal brand.

As an example, NewMediaJim is an NBC cameraman. He is not really promoting NBC in what he does, yet everyone is accutely aware that NBC is his employer and based on that knowledge, it’s very insightful to read his Tweets about his various excursions into his career life – interviews with folks, drives to military bases to meet with military folks coming back from the war, etc. This is compelling content.

On the flip side of the NBC game is TodayShow, the official Twitter source connected to the NBC morning show. Here is an example of Twitter marketing gone bad. There is no conversation. There is no appeal to join into the community opf conversation. It is a public relations office releasing press releases over Twitter in 140 characters or less.

If I had to detail a Twitter Golden Rule it would:

Tweet about others at least as much as you Tweet about yourself.

Make sure that your marketing efforts on Twitter engage in conversation. Ensure that you are promoting someone else’s content as much if not more than you are promoting your own. Make sure people know who you are. Twitter is personal, so build your personal brand. It will only help your business. Trust me.