Dr. Lee Weinstein is a client.
Dr. Lee Weinstein is a client.
I have often heard some people argue there’s a media conspiracy to get certain politicians elected or to push certain agendas. Yes, some news organizations have gained reputations for being either liberal or conservative. But I scoff at the idea that multiple news organizations and an invisible underground association of journalists conspire secretly together to get what they want. Why? Because most media are just not that organized. Here are some examples:
Evening producers sometimes assigned me stories they didn’t know the morning show already aired. If the media can’t communicate within the same room, how can they conspire nationally?
When management devises a new plan for delivering the news, they often quietly scrap that strategy weeks later. They couldn’t commit to a lengthy conspiracy.
Many journalists aren’t devoted to a particular political party. They are loyal to anyone offering them free food.
How bad was the communication in some newsrooms? I often emailed people two desks over to ensure I had a record of my words.
For every liberal writer behind the scenes in journalism, there is a well-paid anchor or manager not interested in paying one extra dime in taxes.
Many in media consider themselves an expert in all topics, so a conspiracy would almost certainly implode from within.
Managing a conspiracy would take too much time away from fantasy football and discussing shoes.
Many members would drop out of the conspiracy after learning the schedule didn’t allow a full hour for lunch.
The paperwork alone for filling out time sheets, delivering silly memos and taking care of reimbursements would make a conspiracy financially impossible and too slow to be effective.
Conspiracies don’t work by putting a bunch of people up front and in the public eye just because they have pretty faces.
Canters Deli has been serving Los Angeles since the 1930s. I recently visited for the first time, immediately knowing the place had the ingredients of genuinely good pickles and tuna fish sandwiches. Even the clanging of plates and silverware add to the atmosphere’s flavor. Waitresses deliver orders along with words of “love,” “honey,” and “sweetheart” to customers.
This is not where I expected thoughts of social media to spring up after climbing a flight of stairs. Up there, a wall of framed articles documented the restaurant’s history in the media. Photographs created a timeline of the people and stories which shape the business we see today.
The concept seems so familiar. I was reading and seeing an older generation’s version of social media. Similar to how people update their Facebook pages, the restaurant had posted on their wall (an actual wall in this case) its history dating back decades. No matter at what table people sit, they likely can see an image or story.
Seeing this while enjoying my tuna sandwich reinforced my theory that social media is not an entirely new concept. Many of us now present our own stories differently, taking advantage of today’s tools. One advantage of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the slew of social media cousins seeking seats at the adult table is these platforms allow us to tell our stories without people needing to actually visit our homes and restaurants. Reaching across the table takes on wider meaning.
However, the essence of social media is what we share. And dare I say being a person (and not a salesperson) has not changed much with the times. Yes, several social media experts act as if they are wearing white coats in science labs watching beakers bubble with formulas. If you struggle with conducting normal conversations with people, maybe you need a coach. But that would mean you need a coach in your corner whether it is 2012 or 1950. Business is relationships and building those still depend on finding common interests and sharing tidbits about ourselves. Sometimes strategies include offering coupons or gimmicks to persuade people to peek into the window or walk through the door. Sound familiar?
Some businesses don’t realize social media is a new platform, not necessarily a new way, and confuse themselves. They don’t understand how sharing pictures from the weekend makes sense. How different are such personal posts than flipping open a wallet years ago and showing someone you just met pictures of friends and family?
On The Flip Side, your Facebook page should not replace the face-to-face timeline you see at a deli like Canters. Take advantage of today’s more advanced tools, but don’t forget the effectiveness of also sharing stories firsthand over pickles and sandwiches.
When Apple released its latest software update for iPhones, one new feature intrigued me more than others: spoken, turn-by-turn directions from Apple Maps.
I wondered if this app would allow me to replace the GPS I place on my vehicle’s dashboard. And would I no longer need to pay to regularly update a GPS?
My excitement quickly turned to disappointment. The spoken part of the turn-by-turn navigation is not available for my older iPhone.
A few days later, I saw the promoted Tweet at the top of this blog:
“@MapQuest: Free voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation for *EVERY* iPhone – ”
I almost always skip over promoted Tweets. I don’t even read them most of the time. It’s as if I see out of the corner of my eye the small symbol representing the promoted Tweet and quickly avoid looking at it. I’m seeing (and not reading) more promoted Tweets. I’m receiving more messages encouraging me to promote a Tweet myself. I wasn’t buying any of it.
But the Tweet promoted by MapQuest stopped my scrolling finger in its tracks. It was as if I were the Tweet’s ideally drawn up target audience. I favorited the Tweet and later tried out MapQuest’s spoken, turn-by-turn navigational app, making myself the almost too perfect example of using social media to convert readers into customers.
Do promoted Tweets work? For me personally, not most of the time. Only one has spoken to me. However, in a game such as baseball, success is reached by getting a hit only 30% of the time. Someone might argue my one example shows how well promoted Tweets can succeed.
I’m also curious if this example was simply a successful shot in the dark or part of a well-crafted strategy. Did MapQuest somehow know I needed spoken navigation? Did people with no need see the same Tweet?
One of social media’s most difficult aspects is ROI. Some of those considered experts sound like professors when writing about ROI, but I often feel like they’re full of it and put emphasis on statistics that mean little in reality. Sharing anecdotes might be just as important in determining what in social media actually works.
When I round the hallway corner in the morning, I sometimes hear my dog Molly subtly step off the couch after trespassing there overnight. When I walk away from a half-eaten paper plate of food, Molly glances back at me, strategizing when she might make a move based on my positioning in the house. When she is in the backyard and her nose is sniffing perilously close to something it shouldn’t, she searches for my face peering at her through a window.
These examples indicate secret agent DNA might be built into dogs. But if such training is part of canine culture, then one particular class is horribly absent from the curriculum: the art of rummaging through trash.
I returned home to find the contents of a garbage bag lined up along the kitchen floor as if a parade passed through. No one did this other than the dog and yet she made no effort at a cover-up. She made a mess and left it all behind as if convinced I would believe a strong wind seeped through or the invisible man stopped by for scraps.
Go through the trash but for goodness sake, if for no other reason than pride, put the Hefty bag back together again. Whatever pooch acts as president over the canine world needs to take bold action and finally address this flaw in dog sneakiness.
Until then, the same set of circumstances plays out. The homeowner returns and scolds dog, who slinks away for a dumpster diver that took place hours ago. Please, for the dignity of dog kind, bring in a consultant if necessary.
If a dog can sneak a nap on the couch and carefully time out when to swipe a plate, he or she can certainly cover her tracks to and from the trash.
I’m watching a movie. One of the characters is named Molly. Molly also is the name of the terrier-German shepherd mix sleeping on my carpet.
A human Molly once stopped by. I told her my dog also is Molly. That felt awkward. Did she mind that I found her name suitable for my dog?
I did not name Molly. I rescued her and she came with that name. I didn’t change it. I didn’t want to confuse her.
I once read Molly is one of the most common names for dogs. I hope this doesn’t bother human Mollys. But I don’t know. I never met a dog named Keith. I honestly don’t think I would mind. But I might feel weird if I met a dog named Keith Yaskin.
When I was growing up, pets had pet names. My Dalmatian was Bandit. My orange cat was Frisky. His mother was Bootsy. After college, I adopted a tabby and named her Chicago after the city.
But if more pets are taking human names, should humans take pet names? I can imagine an old man named Frisky or a cowboy named Bootsy.
I must acknowledge in the past, when I worked with someone I really didn’t like, I sometimes day dreamed of adopting a pet and naming it after that person. I smiled, thinking of walking into work and explaining to that co-worker I just adopted a really ugly dog. You see where I’m going.
Molly is a very good dog. She brings a few bad habits to the dinner table. I think if human Mollys met her, they might appreciate the connection to such a good-hearted and loving creature. Molly is protective. She stands her ground against anyone or anything when necessary. But she doesn’t hold a grudge. She’s patient and by your side. She is comfortable with who she is and doesn’t mind having a beard.
Maybe it’s Molly who should wonder if some humans are worthy of her name.
Have you met a pet with your name?
We called a company to request what the industry refers to as a “courtesy credit. ” We first navigated the phone system, which requires the talents of Indiana Jones minus the hat and whip. The feeling of finally finding a real person must be similar to Indiana’s relief when he’s defeated all obstacles and the treasure is safely in hand.
What we didn’t anticipate was a customer service representative who, intentionally or not, liked to lay down some verbal booby traps. He explained our account didn’t qualify for a courtesy credit. Why? He listed possible reasons. Which reason applied to us? He didn’t know.
We asked if we could speak to someone else who might further assist us with our request. He said yes, but our statement apparently wasn’t clear enough. After some silence, he asked whom we were interested in talking to. “Your mother! We would like to talk to your mother and explain you’re being difficult.” We actually asked for a supervisor, which we thought was obvious but clearly needed to spell out in more detail. After another pregnant pause, customer secret agent man double-checked if we wanted to speak to a supervisor now as if scheduling a call for next month might be an option. When agreeing to make the connection, he couldn’t help but point out moving up the chain might not help.
When the supervisor later joined us, she might as well been his mother. She was nice, sweet, professional and granted our courtesy credit as if she was handing us a batch of chocolate chip cookies with a glass of milk. Her son seemed more like Dennis The Menace or Mr. Mayhem we see in those insurance commercials laughing at us at the other end of the line. Yes, we got our courtesy credit but after how much frustration and time wasted?
Give your front line employees some authority to make simple decisions that require mostly a strong dose of common sense. If employees can’t give what customers want, give them the tools to specifically explain why. If customers want to speak to supervisors or someone’s mom, train employees not to treat the request like an act of Congress. And don’t encourage those on the customer service team to discourage customers from seeking a supervisor’s help. Employees often tell us supervisors may not offer us a different result but they almost always do.
We don’t have an Indiana Jones hat handy. But sometimes we desperately feel like we need one.