As Ye Seek, So Shall We Tweet

Being a neophyte in the world that is termed “social media”, what I really wish is that I had someone who is really using things like Twitter, Facebook, etc. and actually accomplishing things with it. A mentor, for lack of a better word.

Because as much as I’ve made snide remarks about these tools, I have to admit that most of it is because I’m not in a position to really use these things to market a product or build some kind of network that I am trying to wring a buck out of. To me, what they really represent are new advertising channels.

You don’t hear the word “advertising” much anymore. It somehow seems so old-school, and slightly smarmy. An “ad” is something we are supposed to not be susceptible to, since we are so sophisticated. “Marketing” is the newer and hipper term. If you are in “marketing”, then you are somehow kind of hip, with secret knowledge of how to influence people, and probably wear a turtleneck or ribbed T-shirt under your jacket instead of a white shirt and tie.

Yet advertising is what it is all about. It doesn’t matter whether I see Captain Krunch on a Saturday morning cartoon or on a blog somewhere, the hoped-for end is to get me to buy more Captain Krunch. If people said they were “advertising experts” we’d expect them to write killer copy and move product off the shelves. Instead, saying you are a “social media expert” takes a lot of the performance pressure off things, since we are still feeling our way around how to use those media and don’t expect much yet.

The one unique twist I see developing is the fact that commercials on TV for really dull, everyday products now show you the Twitter and Facebook logos and want you to follow or “friend” them….this freaking floors me!

Do I really need to follow the Twitter feed for Tide Laundry Detergent? How can I be a “friend” to Kraft 1000 Island salad dressing? Are we so commercially saturated and consumption driven that we actively SEEK advertising and product commercials, rather than just having them inserted into our lives to the degree they already are?

Now I don’t doubt that communicating via Twitter and FB is one hell of a way to keep your name in front of your customers and push product information. But let’s call it what it is – advertising. It’s a necessary part of the commercial landscape, and serves the same purpose it always has. Social media did not invent it.

When the ruins of Pompeii were excavated and cleaned up, there were ads for brothels found on some of the walls. The people who put them there probably thought they were onto something new and unique because they didn’t have to carve them into trees anymore.

They probably told their clients “we understand the new wall-based advertising paradigm better. Don’t give your business to that old firm that still carves the stuff into trees and wooden signs along the Appian Way. We reach the more sophisticated audience here in Campania. Don’t follow an 8th Century B.C. business model!”

Another interesting inscription was found in one of the ruins. Salve, Lucru – which translates to “Welcome, Money!”

Shows you things haven’t changed all that much, have they?

Enough of the Royal Treatment

Seems you can’t turn on a TV channel or read a newspaper without hearing all the gory details of the upcoming wedding of the Good Prince and his main squeeze Kate. Since Sunday afternoon TV programming in my area is sadly lacking unless you are into infomercials or TV preachers I ended up watching a marathon that the local PBS station had about the Royal family.

My knowledge of the British Monarchy is pretty spotty. Like most Americans, there’s something that just rubs me the wrong way about dynasties, whether they are the Windsors, the Bushes, or the Kennedy’s. But as a brand, you have to hand it to the Monarchy – they do know how to keep their marketing current and give the folks what they want.

You could do a lot worse than to apply their techniques to business today. They know the lure of nostalgia, so that no matter how bad things are now, they can sell the glorious past, or the imagined glorious past. Much like some groups in America would like to return to the “good old days” today.

They also know how to keep their brand free of taint, for the most part. Even if you marry in, you better just stand there and look regal when the occasion calls for it. Just because you married the Queen don’t make you the King! Plus, by not actually having any real governing power they never get involved in the messiness of having a real job.

And unlike in America, when the Idiot Brother wants to take his place at the top, if he’s not fit they can generally find a Governor Generalship on some palmy isle so that will keep him happy and not ruin the brand.

Branding…it’s the difference between being seen as Royalty or a Welfare Family!

I wish the future King well, and feel sorry for his little red-headed brother, because it seems he’s always going to be an also-ran, no matter what he does.

Class, Today’s Theme is……

I’m looking around for a new theme. WordPress Theme, that is. Although some other themes in life could use some changing as well! I actually was going to try and bite off hacking together my own custom theme, but between having to set up a fake webserver on my machine just to play with it, then dealing with MySQL, PHP, Apache, and a couple other acronyms I threw in the towel for now.
This current theme is kind of simple and boring, so it obviously is too much a reflection of the author! And I find that no matter what theme I pick, I get bored with it after a while anyway, so maybe too many choices isn’t a good thing. It adds to the overall ADHD of the web.
I’m in the process of learning HTML/XHTML and CSS anyway, and from what I can see it’s is probably simpler to hand code a basic site of the type I’m envisioning anway. The WordPress templates are neat, but the problem is, well, they always have that WordPress template-y look.
So what do you think, readers? Know any hot new themes out there that are catching your eye?

You Know You Are Out of The Loop When….

People who are listed as being on Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People don’t even ring a bell with you. Peter Vesterbacka? Rob Bell? Blake Lively? If I have to Google you, how can you be influential?
OK…to end the suspense, Peter Vestabacka developed the game “Angry Birds”. Feeling influenced yet? Not sure how shooting birds out of a rubber band at pigs to score points is going to change Western society, but there you have it. Rob Bell is apparently the preacher-du-jour for the evangelical set, so it’s no surprise I haven’t heard of him. Blake Lively is some young actress on a show I don’t watch that sounds as vapid as her name. I can’t even tell actresses apart anymore, they all weigh 85 pounds and look like they are 12 years old, for the most part.
I first knew how far from the cutting edge of entertainment I was when I started leaving “Entertainment Tonight” on while waiting for the only show I do watch regularly, “Big Bang Theory”. Two hosts that I don’t know effuse about numerous other people I’ve never heard of who claim to be celebrities.
I thought you had to actually be known and recognized in order to claim celebrity status?
At any rate, at my age as long as I still recognize myself in the mirror in the morning I’m doing pretty good. And looking at the list of Influential People, the longer I am able to go without their influencing the better off I’ll be. Still leaves one with the vague sense that life is passing you by, however.
In the meantime, guess I’ll just put another Perry Como LP (vinyl, of course) on the “record player” (remember those?). The Early Bird Special will be starting at the local buffet soon………..

It’s Not All IKEA and Meatballs…

Sweden also produces some funny illustrators!   Found this blog by a Swedish artist/illustrator by the name of Mattias Adolfsson.  He’s got a cute way of getting a point across in one page cartoons.  After looking through his stuff a little bit I came to the conclusion that the Swedes with a sense of humor stayed in Sweden and didn’t migrate to Minnesota!

My favorite is Star Trek, the Corporate Version….

Get Out Of The Funk, Get Rid Of The Junk

Well, I’d like to report that the weather has improved, but it hasn’t.  At least my disposition has, however!  I think I discovered the reason behind the ages-old “Spring Housecleaning” phenomena.

Living in a northern clime, you spend a lot of time with all the detritus of your existence.  The books you bought but haven’t read, the art project you haven’t started on yet….all the things that you had the best of intentions for at one time, but now seem as if a different person had them delivered to your house.

In the fall of the year, you naturally stockpile these “Winter Projects” as a guard against becoming a total vegetable by February.  You don’t start on them while the weather is nice, because you are saving them for the days when the snow is howling past your windows.  But as winter drags on, you somehow find time to avoid doing these things as well.  Maybe life gets in the way, maybe you discover something else.  Who knows……

But when spring arrives, you are heartily sick of looking at and stepping over all this stuff.  It seems like it belongs to a person that doesn’t exist anymore.  You’re like the squirrel who realizes that he doesn’t have to gnaw on the old, stale acorns he’s been storing since last year, because now fresh, plump, tasty ones are dropping all around him again.

So you push things off until the next winter, at which point maybe some things will be tackled, but probably not.  And the cycle repeats.

At some point you realize how tired you are of all this crap.  Maybe it’s your Minimalist Gene that ‘s been dormant for awhile.  And once you start the process, you realize how much better you feel by lightening your load, spiritually as well as physically.  Like clearing the decks for whatever is coming next in your life, whatever that may be.

Seems strange how sometimes the most enjoyment you get out of something that’s been lying around is giving it away.  And that’s just on the physical, tangible realm.

Makes you wish getting rid of stale ideas and concepts in our mind was as easy as a trip to the dumpster or Goodwill Store..

Feeling Minnesota

Feeling stuck in a rut today.  Winter has dragged on here on the prairie, and on days like today I can fully understand why the heartier pioneers kept on going past this part of the country….I can picture a guy on a wagon train saying “I don’t know where we’ll end up, Maw, but it sure as hell ain’t gonna be here!”

It’s beautiful in the summer (for all 90 days of summer) but this time of year the first signs of spring keep getting pummeled back by winter.  A teaser day of 60 degrees to bring you out of winter hibernation, only to wake up to a fresh coating of snow the next morning.  Makes it hard to feel like you’re making progress, internally or externally.

Man is affected by nature – at least for this generation. A few more years of exposure to LCD screens, cubicles, and flourescent lighting and nature will probably just be something that future generations rent from corporations.  But for now, thankfully, crappy weather still makes for a crappy outlook.

Climate explains a lot.  When I lived in California you took good weather for granted.  You were happy when it rained for half a day to break the monotony.  And the people’s attitudes were a lot more upbeat and friendly.  Here in Minnesota we don’t like to get too happy, because well, you never know what is around the corner.  Where else do you see people riding in convertibles with the top down but a winter jacket and hat on?  Can’t get too uppity…..

The only cure is to improve your spiritual forecast.  Stir down in the embers for what used to glow brightly and throw some light and heat back into your soul.  Soon you’ll be able to throw open the windows and breathe the fresh spring air, but on days like today, you still need to burn a little internal fuel oil to keep the chill out.

How is it where you are?