The Marketing Companion

Five years ago I predicted that Facebook would become the most evil company on earth. The claim was tongue-in-cheek, but the logic was solid:

  1. The "raw material" that Facebook uses to build its wealth is our personal information.
  2. As a public company, Facebook has a mandate to grow its profits every quarter, without exception, without end.
  3. At some point, to meet that relentless financial goal, Facebook will have to take greater and greater risks in both collecting our personal information and monetizing it.
  4. ... and that sets up the potential for evil.

We caught a glimpse of how Facebook might do this when the doors were blown open on a controversial experiment the company conducted to manipulate emotions through the news feed. What is really going on at Facebook? Will my prediction eventually become true? Is Facebook evil?

Facebook evil, the inside story

A number of high-profile executives have recently weighed-in on the "Facebook evil" factor:

  • In his final days as president, Barack Obama himself warned that Facebook and Twitter were becoming a threat to democracy. “We become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.”
  • Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya recently echoed this sentiment. “Do I feel guilty? Absolutely I feel guilt,” he told CNN. “Nobody ever thought that you could have such a massive manipulation of the system. You can see the reaction of the people who run these (social media) companies. They never thought it was possible.”
  • Sean Parker, who briefly served as Facebook's president, said the social networking site exploits human psychological vulnerabilities through a validation feedback loop that gets people to constantly post to get even more likes and comments. “It's exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology,” he said. “The inventors, creators understood this consciously. And we did it anyway."

The psychology behind Facebook became the center of a public debate when a story about a company called Dopamine showed how it is using psychology and neuroscience to manipulate users into a state of social media addiction. And, it's working.

Is social media addiction OK?

What is the ethical boundary? Don't all business people want customers to be "addicted" to their products? If you're a public company like Facebook, don't you in fact have a mandate to make customers addicted to your business? “God only knows what Facebook is doing to our children’s brains,” Sean Parker said at a recent event. But it doesn't take God to figure it out. Some university researchers are already putting the puzzle together. A study shows that the number of teens experiencing severe anxiety (with social media a leading cause) is exploding. When does business and public health collide and crash? I have to wonder ... when will the world wake-up and understand the full truth of Facebook? And what will it mean to marketing when that happens?

Let's explore some more ...

Tom Webster and I thought this would be an excellent debate for our latest episode of The Marketing Companion. What are the ethics of social media addiction? In this episode, Tom and I also cover the current state of Twitter. Their third quarter earnings announcement beat Wall Street expectations and user growth had a surge. How does Twitter fit today in the marketing mix? A third topic on our program is a news event that shook social media and I'm not sure most people caught its significance ... A Chinese company bought part of Snapchat's parent company. We discuss why this is a watershed moment in the history of social media marketing. And finally, Tom brings out a favorite piece of spam to demonstrate once again that it's not annoying ... it's an art form! Let's go ... 

Please support our extraordinary sponsors. Our content is free because of their generosity. Many thanks to our friend Scott Monty for the awesome show intro. Be sure to check out his amazing newsletter The Full Monty and his new podcast available here: fullmontyshow.com.

88% of Consumers check online before making a purchasing decision. Brand24 gives you instant updates about what your customers are saying about you. Now you can give them timely responses and give your customers peace of mind. With Media monitoring you can search the web for key topics, trends, or discussions. Brand24 enables you to reach customers, so you can react and engage quickly to real-time comments made about your brand. Imagine having all your channels in one place – that’s Brand24. Plus, with Apple and Android apps, you can track customers, trends, and insights on the go. At Brand24.com/companion you’ll receive THREE MONTHS FREE, just for our podcast fans!

The results don’t lie: Typeform has a 57% completion rate on surveys, against the industry average of 20% (according to Survey Gizmo). The difference? Typeform’s one-question-at-a-time interface creates a memorable user experience. Use images, animated GIFs, and even video to express yourself more fully. And Typeform integrates with your favorite tools including Google Sheets, MailChimp, Airtable, and hundreds more. Remember: What you ask matters. How you ask is everything. Try this extraordinary application today and go to Typeform.com/companion for a special 30 percent off discount for our podcast fans!

SoloSegment’s Site Search Inspector illuminates a huge blind spot for marketing teams and helps them unlock the revenue trapped there. If you’re like 85% of companies, you have no idea what’s going on in your site’s search engine. You either don’t have measurements or you ignore what you have. Up to 30% of your visitors search and they could be your best customers. Site Search Inspector targets the site search customer experience with a set of proprietary measures designed to improve success. They’re so convinced you’re going to improve your success rates, they’ve tripled the free trial period to 45-days and they’re offering 10% off an annual subscription. You can find this special offer on solosegment.com/companion

Direct download: FacebookEPISODE.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 11:51am EST

On the new episode of The Marketing Companion, Tom Webster and I open up a discussion on three touchy issues in the digital realm. YouTube's deplorable algorithm: The New York Times reported that evil people have been slipping violent cartoon knock-offs into the YouTube Kids channel.

In this case, relying on an algorithm to vet children's programming is unacceptable. This is a problem that is not difficult to solve but it appears to us like greed and laziness is driving the wrong behaviors. We make a case that YouTube should be held to the same standard as traditional television networks. Is regulation in the cards? We say yes. Social sharing in decline -- Steve Rayson of Buzz Sumo published research that shows an apparent correlation between the amount of content that is published on a subject and the amount the content is shared. In other words, as a topic grows saturated with content, people become weary of the content and engage less. We discuss how Content Shock isn't a trend, it's a wave.

One touchy implication for marketers: A very common strategy of "piling on" to popular content topics doesn't work. Outing people on social media -- We discuss the recent sexual harassment episodes involving Weinstein, Spacey and Scoble and how social media has become the engine for "outing." What are the implications for business, for marketing, for working with influencers? And what is the psychology behind accepting or rejecting these claims? Are we in a world where accusations become facts? We also introduce Nipsey: The new Marketing Companion smart speaker system. Let's just say it still has some development work ahead! This is a very provocative and interesting show. You won't want to miss it ... 

Please support our extraordinary sponsors. Our content is free because of their generosity. Many thanks to our friend Scott Monty for the awesome show intro. Be sure to check out his amazing newsletter The Full Monty and his new podcast available here: fullmontyshow.com.

88% of Consumers check online before making a purchasing decision. Brand24 gives you instant updates about what your customers are saying about you. Now you can give them timely responses and give your customers peace of mind. With Media monitoring you can search the web for key topics, trends, or discussions. Brand24 enables you to reach customers, so you can react and engage quickly to real-time comments made about your brand. Imagine having all your channels in one place – that’s Brand24. Plus, with Apple and Android apps, you can track customers, trends, and insights on the go. At Brand24.com/companion you’ll receive THREE MONTHS FREE, just for our podcast fans!

The results don’t lie: Typeform has a 57% completion rate on surveys, against the industry average of 20% (according to Survey Gizmo). The difference? Typeform’s one-question-at-a-time interface creates a memorable user experience. Use images, animated GIFs, and even video to express yourself more fully. And Typeform integrates with your favorite tools including Google Sheets, MailChimp, Airtable, and hundreds more. Remember: What you ask matters. How you ask is everything. Try this extraordinary application today and go to Typeform.com/companion for a special 30 percent off discount for our podcast fans!

SoloSegment’s Site Search Inspector illuminates a huge blind spot for marketing teams and helps them unlock the revenue trapped there. If you’re like 85% of companies, you have no idea what’s going on in your site’s search engine. You either don’t have measurements or you ignore what you have. Up to 30% of your visitors search and they could be your best customers. Site Search Inspector targets the site search customer experience with a set of proprietary measures designed to improve success. They’re so convinced you’re going to improve your success rates, they’ve tripled the free trial period to 45-days and they’re offering 10% off an annual subscription. You can find this special offer on solosegment.com/companion

Direct download: NIPSY.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 5:51pm EST

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