Wikileaks founder Julian Assange gave a rare talk via video at annual tech mega-conference SXSW, where he came out swinging not only at President Obama but also Google and Facebook. Assange claimed that in the Obama administration, the intelligence agencies “wear the pants” and he called out Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as part of “an unprecedented theft of wealth.”
Since the global uproar over the National Security Agency’s spying practices were exposed last summer, there have been no major shakeups, Assange claimed. When a government wants actual reform, “someone is fired, someone is forced to resign, someone is prosecuted,” he argued.
Because few have faced sanction and the NSA continues its bulk collection of Internet and telephone records, “that means the Obama administration’s response is not serious,” concluded Assange, who has been holed up in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy since June 2012.
Since my Twitter and Facebook feeds have been cluttered with “Top #” and “Best Of” lists for 2013 in everything from advertising to most outrageous moments in pop culture, I decided to join the motley crew. Presenting a list of my most favorited Twitter accounts of 2013 (aka which accounts’ feeds have compelled me to click that glowing star at the bottom of a tweet time and time again):
Accounts that Made Me Smile (BEWARE: lots of cute, fuzzy animals are ahead…):
Accounts that Informed Me (of both the “important” and “non-important” events happening in the world…):
1. @ajam (Al Jazeera America’s official account; they find and tell the stories that a lot of major news outlets, like CNN, tend to overlook or deem too controversial. It’s unfortunate that Time Warner won’t pick up this channel on TV, it would do so much for America…)
Since I love Ted Talks so much and watch them almost on the daily, I wanted to start posting them here as often as possible for you to enjoy too.
First up: Gary Whitehill at (@TEDxBayArea) speaking about women in entrepreneurship and advising women that the time is now to “create your reality and always remember that luck is an accumulation of superior effort and focused execution.”
Raise your hand if you haven’t heard the words “big data” uttered at least once in the last year.
I’m expecting none of you raised a hand…
And that’s because chances are you clicked on the title of this post for one of three reasons: 1. You’ve heard those two words mentioned so frequently over the past few years (on social media, from industry experts, at conferences, etc.) that reading yet another post about “big data” seems like just another day (it’s become a bit of a habit, eh?), 2. You’re constantly tasked to find new ways of leveraging “big data” in your career and thus actively seek posts with the aforementioned buzzwords, 3. You, like every other marketer, advertiser, and business professional, are just looking for a way to make sense of “big data” in the greater scheme of things.
No matter what reason (mentioned above or not) brought you here, it’s important to note a few reasons why “big data” can cause many professionals to lose sight of what’s truly important for your company, brand and product.
We live in a world where “big data” is not only an asset but a necessity. Where the next “it” metric to attain data is discussed on the daily. Where companies demand even more data to make sense of new data. Where advertisers and marketers constantly struggle to make sense of this massive amount of excess data. Where innumerable numbers account for just one forehead of a current or potential consumer. In all of these scenarios there is one vital thing missing: the human.
Data is data, but what’s missing are the long-formstories behind the data – the human behind it all (and I’m not talking about one to two sentence “insights”). When was the last time you had a simple answer to a truly complex question, like “what’s the meaning of life?”? Not recently, right? That’s because a simple answer to most questions are rare. Despite the rarity, “big data” constantly strives to become a shortcut for discovering who a person is and what he/she stands for by attributing numbers to everything possible. But I keep wondering – how can a few, or more likely, many data points make up a whole person? Maybe I’m getting too philosophical here, but while data can tell you what I’ve purchased, watched online (and for how long), and what type of products generally interest me – it doesn’t really tell you who I am, how I see myself and how I’d like others to perceive me. That’s what I mean by human.
As humans it’s in our biological nature to generalize, stereotype and categorize everything we think about and do in order to understand the world around us. Despite that inbred desire to apply categories and now, data points to everything including people, why not take the more time-consuming approach? Why not take the time to get to know human beings and truly understand them and their experiences, instead of mass producing messages and products for “Person Type A” and “Person Type B”? Now you’re probably thinking that in order to stay relevant today and have mass appeal you needed more data ten minutes ago and long-form tactics will always be less applicable and cost-efficient in the long run. But for once, let’s take ROI, costs and mass appeal off the table.
I believe “big data” is a safety net and that’s why we constantly use it as a baseline or crutch. It’s used to support business decisions and defend business tactics. It allows you to place a number or keyword on a person or situation. But to me, all I really see is that it takes the human out of the human.
And what do I propose to put the human back in the human? Focus less on “big data” and more on user generated collaboration. First, take the time to listen to the community. Don’t just create experiences for “Person Type A” and “Person Type B” based on whatever data points you’ve collected and “insights” you’ve synthesized. And second, have the community create experiences with you – side by side. As a business or company, you already know who you are and what you stand for – it’s in your mission statement. So bring who you are to the table and have the consumer meet you there. Be completely transparent. Don’t ask consumers what they want and need, because frankly, sometimes we, as consumers, have absolutely no idea how to answer either question. Instead, ask us who we are, what we’ve lived through, who we want to be, what problems we have, and what we wish for. From those questions, you’ll start to see the human being behind it all. In order to create a valuable product, service or experience for consumers, you must fully understand their problem and why it’s a problem for that person and possibly, many other people. And it’s by doing this step with people instead of for them, that will create truly meaningful solutions for communities – both small and large, defined and undefined.
The next time you’re faced with KPIs, ROI and a million other acronyms, consider this: why are you crunching these numbers and are you really learning anything really meaningful about who you’re trying to target?
As always, comments and questions are welcome below.
As a diehard Anchorman fan who can never tire of conversations built around the film’s best one-liners (“Stay Classy,” “I’m kind of a big deal,” and so on), I felt the need to talk about just how amazingly well the film’s media team is doing to promote Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. I published the piece over on BuzzFeed, and I’d love it if you’d take a peek: http://ow.ly/rdg1l
So I have some big news. While this blog, The Social Sip, has served me very well for the last year or so – I’ve decided to add a new blog to the mix. If you’re a social media and advertising junkie much like myself, not to worry, this blog will remain a professional platform where I can and will voice my opinions on various media and advertising trends.
My new blog, Sassy & Smitten, is a much more personal venture – something I’ve been meaning to set up for quite some time. Aside from all things media, I’ve always held a deep passion for creative writing and the arts – something I’ve unfortunately neglected for the past few years. So as a means of diving further into my writing, showcasing other interests of mine and allowing the world to see the true woman behind the blog – the ridiculous, sarcastic, red lipstick-wearing sass ball I truly am, intermingled with all of the trials, tribulations, crazy and awkward moments bound to happen in my last year of college and beyond. With all of this in mind, I truly hope you make your way to the new blog – explore it a bit and let me know your thoughts!
After receiving a tip from a friend, I heard about the recent controversy surrounding the newest Cheerios commercial, “Just Checking,” and thought it was worth sharing. As a longstanding client of Saatchi & Saatchi, Cheerios has created countless heartwarming moments on TV that never cease to find simple ways of connecting their brand to the general public. In their most recent commercial, a biracial family is brought to center stage for their chance at adding to those warm and fuzzies the brand is so well known for, but instead of creating feelings of warmth some have taken to YouTube and other social media platforms with racist words of hate. It’s sad to see some people take such a sweet, lighthearted moment and turn it into a platform for hate. Biracial families are a reality in America and maybe it’s because I’m part of a younger generation that never really had to deal with race head on (though we’ve had our moments recently), it’s sickening for me to hear that issues like this still come up. This family is no different than my own; the color of their skin, though tied at times to culture and geographic location, has no reflection on who they are as people – no one is the lesser for something you cannot and wouldn’t want to change. It feels completely pointless and blase to have to write that sentence, because for me the difference in skin color has never mattered. No one should be judged or derided based on such an identifier – it’s just wrong, and people should not only know that by now but they should also be more accepting of the people they share this earth with – we’re all each other has to get through this life, you better make the best of it. Have a thought to add? Feel free to comment below!
All my best, C.
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The Social Sip – social media & branding commentary