The fork in the road for social media and our society


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Christchurch social media
The horror from Christchurch, New Zealand, that exploded across newspaper pages and television, computer and smartphone screens this weekend captured imaginations in ways that no one could possibly have imagined beforehand. The fact that one individual armed with a semi-automatic rifle could visit such an outrage upon people worshipping in a place of religion isn’t the worst of it, awful and distressing though this event is with at least 50 people shot dead and scores wounded, some in critical condition. After all, we’re used to seeing and hearing about such mass shootings in America all the time. And it’s not because it happened in a country like New Zealand, a place many call a paradise on Earth. A place of rich beauty and a largely unspoiled natural environment. A place many of us in the UK see as made up of kinfolk, people with historic links to us, today
Facebook video
Mass murder for the Internet
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Near futures at scale


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On March 9, a technology trends report was published that is breathtaking in in scope and scale. Comprising a PDF of more than 380 pages, the 2019 Tech Trends Report from the Future Today Institute covers hundreds of trends in areas ranging from artificial intelligence and advanced robotics, to home automation and the Internet of Things, to workplace and learning technologies, smart cities and much more. As the publisher describes it:
This report is intentionally broad and robust. We have included a list of adjacent uncertainties, a detailed analysis of 315 tech trends, a collection of weak signals for 2020, and more than four dozen scenarios describing plausible near futures. Do not try to read it in one sitting. Begin with the Executive Summary and Keywords, then review the top tech trends listed for your industry.
Some good advice here. I started reading it yesterday, quickly realising that this is
Key Takeaways
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SDF Podcast 26: To regulate, or not to regulate, that is the question…


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“We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.“ So the famous US Supreme Court Justice and ‘crusader for social justice’ and breaker-upper of Gilded Age monopolies, Louis D. Brandeis is said to have said, perhaps sometime in the early 1930s. Today, perhaps the best-known neo-Brandeisian anti-trust advocate is Tim Wu, Columbia law professor, ‘father of net neutrality’ and author of a series of books likening today’s commercial excesses – in particular in the digital space – to the ‘Gilded Age’ of the late 19th and early 20thcenturies. Of course, it is not really an either-or debate. It’s a complex and convoluted, tangled web of interests and angles, and any claimant of simple solutions has likely got a degree from snake oil university. Neville discusses an article in The
GDPR
Facebook
Shoshana Zuboff’s thesis of surveillance capitalism
Led by Donkeys
Thomas Stoeckle
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Designed to Fail.


This post is by Steve Cody from Rep Man


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It seems that every new day brings with it another egregious self-inflicted crisis caused by racially and gender-insensitive marketers. The most recent examples are the truly horrific gaffes committed by Adidas and Gucci, respectively;

How could anyone think this was okay?

“There are somethings that just don’t make sense in life; Adidas celebrating black history month with this shoe is one example”

While the in-house marketing team and agency partners are unquestionably at fault for their lack of social awareness, I think the real genesis of these blunders lies with the designers and engineers. These are the uber cool and uber insulated types who are constantly trying to come up with the hippest, sleekest and most cutting-edge sneakers, sweaters and widgets. Having worked with designers and engineers alike, I know they live within their own ivory towers. They obsess over trends, technology and ease-of-use, but are oblivious to the
😎
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Shattering Glassdoor’s Reputation


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Achieving five stars on Glassdoor for an organization is the equivalent of a restaurant receiving the same rating from the Michelin Guide. But based on an explosive Wall Street Journal expose, all that glitters at Glassdoor is most certainly NOT gold. Here’s Peppercomm Partner Deb Brown’s POV. Personally, I’d give it 4.5 stars: What happens when your entire business model is questioned? That’s what happened to Glassdoor recently when the Wall Street Journal published an investigative report titled, “How Companies Secretly Boost Their Glassdoor Ratings.” That title has to hurt, especially when on its website, Glassdoor states, “Built on the foundation of increasing workplace transparency…”

Employers flood the ranking site with 5-star postings requested from enthusiastic staffers, leading to unusual spikes, a WSJ investigation found.

To be fair to Glassdoor, employees who are upset at their former or current employer are probably more likely to post negative reviews
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For Immediate Release 172: The double-edged sword of a Facebook meme


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Suspicion about the consequences and outcomes of the #10YearChallenge meme on Facebook kicked off discussion in the January episode of “The Hobson & Holtz Report”, aka FIR podcast episode 172. Is it just a harmless meme? Or is it a surveillance nightmare? Shel and Neville weight in. Here’s the line-up of all the topics that caught our attention and prompted lively conversation in this episode:
  • Lost trust in Facebook led to wariness about a user-generated meme.
  • Adobe is bringing part of “Minority Report” to life.
  • The Internet of Things was everywhere at CES.
  • A picture of an egg is the most viewed Instagram post ever. What does that bode for influencer marketing?
  • Picture what Google will look like if the EU implements Article 11 of the Copyright Directive.
  • Brands are weighing in on the U.S. government shutdown.
  • Dan York reports on the web’s growing complexity, Jeff Jarvis’s Facebook screed,
    FIR 172
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It’s a close shave


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No matter how one analyzes Gillette’s controversial new campaign “Is this the best a man can get?” it’s fraught with uncertainties. And it most certainly has further divided an already divided country.

Truly the best a man can get?

First, though, a tip of the hat (or razor) to Gillette’s management for having the courage to double down on its purpose and values. But have they? Or is the campaign a mere ploy or stunt as some detractors claim whose only goal is to drive sales? I think there are several factors to weigh when analyzing the Gillette campaign: 1) Is alienating a significant percentage of the male shaving market worth the risk of taking a stand and saying the right thing? We asked that very question of 50 CCOs and CMOs we interviewed in a joint research study with the Institute for Public Relations. One CCO, who managed
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What Businesses Should Do Before Taking a Stand on Social Issues


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It wasn’t very long ago when staying quiet and avoiding controversy were the tried-and-true PR rules for businesses. But the consumer-company relationship is quickly evolving, along with people’s expectations of companies. A recent study by Clutch shows that 71% of people expect companies to take a stance on social movements. Because this expectation is so new, many businesses struggle with what to say and when, always being aware of the risks involved. Best case scenario? They speak out and their stance resonates with the majority of their consumers, resulting in higher revenue, an elevated brand, and greater awareness for the issue. Worst case scenario? They speak out and their stance alienates consumers to the point of revenue loss and tarnishes their brand. Staying silent isn’t safe either. Silence might keep the company out of controversary, but if it’s regarding an issue relevant to the company’s brand, it could hurt the
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“Success has a thousand fathers while failure is an orphan.”


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While it’s a day late and a dollar short, I’m pleased to share this infographic with you. Created in partnership with BrandFoundations, our longtime strategic marketing partner, the list below analyzed the best and worst managed societal crises of the past year Note: We define a societal crisis as anything ranging from a mass school shooting and the Southern border chaos to trade wars and environmental rollouts. We’ve also included #MeToo crises and self-inflicted wounds. Traditional crises such as product recalls, financial malfeasance and price fixing were not included in the analysis. As you will see from the infographic, we chose to grade the organizations based on three criteria: – Speed: How quickly did the organization take a stand on a societal crisis that either aligned with, or was the polar opposite of, their values? – Strength: Was the stand taken by the organization unequivocal, or could it be interpreted
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SDF Podcast 24: Reading the runes for 2019


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The SmallDataForum celebrated its third Christmas with a highly calorific and somewhat alcoholic Italian lunch, followed by post-prandial musings about high- and low-lights of 2018, and some crystal ball gazing for 2019. Our regular followers / listeners – or just about anybody with any interest in tech and communication – won’t be surprised by a list being topped by Facebook, and then some more Facebook. Followed by GDPR and other regulatory activities, mainly by the EU. And of course we also touched on the topic that’s been with us from episode one, when it was called Brexit. These days, Brexitexit is beginning to sound more fitting. In his analysis of FB’s / MZ’s predicament, Sam combined review and preview. He sees FB’s annus horribilis as the beginning of the end for the meaningful global connector. At the time of the 2019 SDF Christmas lunch, he expects FB’s chief apologist to
Thomas Stoeckle
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9 Tips for Taking a Stand When a Societal Crisis Hits


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Social injustice, gender issues, immigration, #MeToo, gun control, and trade wars. These are just a few of the many societal issues about which large and small businesses alike are finding themselves increasingly pressured to stand up and speak out.
We entrepreneurs may think our comparatively small size protects us from the slings and arrows of the hourly news cycle or employees picketing outside company headquarters. But it doesn’t. A Glassdoor survey of 1,000 employees from organizations of all sizes found that 62 percent expect their employers to take a stand on important societal and political issues of the day.
Do I have your attention? I should, since remaining silent or saying the wrong thing could imperil everything from employee recruiting and retention to business continuity and even your exit strategy.
Source: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

My firm, Peppercomm, has interviewed more than 150 chief communications officers in the past 18 months,
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What if Santa’s database were hacked


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In the spirit of the season (and a sad reflection of the times), I’ve allowed myself to briefly escape to an alternate universe and imagine the ultimate Christmas crisis. What if Santa’s database were hacked? Let’s assume I’m the hacker and, thanks to a huge assist from a freelance elf named Yuri (a quick tip of the babushka to Yuri), I’ve gained access to the mother of all holiday databases: Santa’s list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. I’d swiftly change a few of Santa’s decisions and create my own. Here’s who would fill the top three slots on my naughty and nice lists, respectively (as well as the gifts an unsuspecting Santa will be putting in their stockings on Christmas Eve): NAUGHTY: 1.) POTUS. No surprise here but, hey, the guy’s latest chief of staff has gone on record as calling him “a terrible human
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Mega problems for mega industries


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I never thought I’d be writing a blog that included the NFL and Big Tobacco at the same time but, hey, social media makes for strange bedfellows. Both obscenely rich businesses find themselves in a world of hurt due to denial, deception and delay.   Let’s kick-off with the NFL. Did you know there are 72,000 FEWER high school students playing the sport today than just four years ago? Would you believe that outdoor track has overtaken football as the most popular high school sport? Somewhere Jesse Owens must be smiling. The reason why is obvious. Parents simply won’t let their sons play the vicious sport which, despite a few superficial changes to the rules by the NCAA and NFL, remains the ultimate end zone for players suffering from CTE and other debilitating brain injuries. By the way, here’s an interesting stat that was buried in the articles I read
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How Does a Beloved Brand Apologize to Billions?


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Today’s guest blog is authored by Melissa Vigue who suggests a few things Dolce & Gabbana might consider doing if they ever want to sell another product in China…. This weekend, we observed as one the world’s iconic luxury brands took a lashing following a huge cultural misstep in China. ICYMI, Dolce & Gabbana released eating with chopsticks, a series of videos, in the lead up to what was billed as one on China’s biggest fashion events ever, expected to draw not only the fashion elite but China’s most revered cultural icons. In an effort to grab attention by being humorous (?), the brand and its patriarchs have deeply offended those of Chinese descent worldwide and the rest of us who don’t think using race or cultural practices as fodder for marketing is acceptable. The situation was further exacerbated by supposedly racist Instagram posts by Gabanna. He and
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SDF Podcast 23: Pretty crazy ideas about the Facebook


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Facebook “The ever-present function of propaganda in modern life is in large measure attributable to the social disorganization which has been precipitated by the rapid advent of technological changes.” This is not the latest comment on the perpetual missteps, mishaps and misuse of Facebook, but a quote from Harold D. Lasswell, eminent media scholar and creator of the eponymous and never-aging model and formula to determine media effects: who says what to whom in which channel with what effect? Who said what to whom, and subsequent effects – that was also the theme of a multi-thousand-word investigative piece on Facebook and its executive team in the New York Times on 15th November. By now, I’m sure anybody with even the remotest interest in the SmallDataForum canon of themes will be familiar with the story and the fall-out: basically, Facebook got burned by burning all sorts of lobbying,
Ruins
Thumbs down
Screwed up
Thomas Stoeckle
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Ho. Ho. Whoa!


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Some organizations throw lavish holiday parties to celebrate the season. Others set aside a full day to help a local charity. And then there’s a Wisconsin company that is, hold for it, giving every employee a handgun for Christmas. I do my best to stay apolitical in blogs, but there are so many reasons why CEO Ben Wolfgram (pretty cool name, no? Fits his gift-giving idea like a gun to a holster) really shouldn’t be adding to the proliferation of firearms AND tying it to the season of peace, joy and glad tidings to all. Wolfgram, whose business, BenShot, sells beer mugs, wine glasses and shot glasses with BULLETS planted into their sides, says he had NO concerns about providing employees with firearms. “We wanted to give something nice and memorable to our employees,” said Wolfgram (who could be Instagram’s evil twin for all we know). “There were two aspects
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Emerging tech: Your bookmark for 2019


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Data has a better idea “We know from human history that developments in technologies over the centuries, ranging from the Industrial Revolution through to the invention of the automobile, then airplanes and so forth, the landscape of progress is littered with human casualties. People die because of these things being tested.” A provocative statement, the first thing you hear in episode 1 in the third season of the Digital Download podcast that I did with host Paul Sutton last month in which we discussed emerging technologies and communications and what’s predicted to hit the mainstream within the next two to three years. That statement was intended to sharpen focus on the dilemmas confronting all of us when we want to try something new or radically different to advance our knowledge, our well-bring, our development, where there are risks in doing so. It’s an extreme example of risk and consequence on the journey to that
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Did you hear the one about the executive assistant we’ll never forget?


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The Peppercomm team will be coming together next Thursday night to salute our late, great colleague, Dandy Stevenson. We’ll be holding one of our patented stand-up and improvisational comedy fundraisers in her name. All proceeds will be donated directly to the ASPCA (like me, Dandy had a soft spot for four-legged creatures). This blogger will be serving as emcee, and seven or eight current and former Peppercommers will be performing seven to eight minute sets. We’ll also be joined by sereval professional comedians as well as Peppercomm’s Chief Comedy Officer Clayton Fletcher. Having held countless fundraisers in the past I must tell you this one will be very special indeed. I hope you (and your BFFs) can be there to experience it with us. For more information and tickets visit the event page, here.

SDF Podcast 21: Attention, meaningful content and post-apocalyptic novels


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monitor Our latest podcast ended up being a tad longer than planned – clearly a sign of a lively, engaged discussion. In talking about various aspects of the attention economy, we managed to hold each other’s attention for a good 45 minutes. This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle. Many ‘attention economists’ these days quote Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon and his observation that a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. It is certainly a quote that has aged well, and one can only wonder what Simon would make of the world now, 47 years on from his famous statement. Sam doesn’t quite see the crisis of attention that brands often lament. But quality and controllability matter more than ever, and producers of content – especially the advertising and media industries – need to up their game to stay relevant. Users control their online experience through ad blockers
WTF
Thomas Stoeckle
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“All Ashore That’s Going Ashore!” Especially Kids!


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I like to foment unrest. It’s part of my DNA. I’d rather be remembered for taking a stance on a subject than disappear alongside the vast majority of Americans who choose to go with the flow. That’s why I’m devoting today’s column to Viking Cruise Line’s decision to ban ALL children from their highly-acclaimed river cruises. Let me begin by stating that river cruises hold no allure for me. I’m not the type to sit around with well-heeled, aging Boomers and gape at a Gothic cathedral as the ship glides majestically by. Nor am I the type to go sightseeing (unless I can first include an intense two-hour workout). The above notwithstanding, I salute Viking’s decision to prohibit kids from their uber high-end cruises. I’ve always said I adore my kids, but I disdain other parents’ offspring ? My feelings are based on multiple, first-hand experiences, two of which include the
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