Sword and the Script

Smart things: Pinterest, cogs, frogs and mackerel 2.10.12




This weekly post is usually about the smart things I’ve read or heard over the course of the week, but I’m shaking it up first with one thing that doesn’t quite fit that category.

Pawgo, an online pawnshop from Denver, which sent would-be guerrilla marketers to Boston to dump a pile of Butterfinger candybars in the middle of Copley Square with a sign that said, “Thank you Wes Welker.”  

The reference is to, as blogger George F. Snell III, summed up, “As many fans know, Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker dropped an admittedly difficult pass from quarterback Tom Brady that could have sealed a victory for the Patriots.  During the press conference after the game, Welker was holding back tears and took full blame for missing the catch.”

Like many fans from the New England area, I’m still mourning the Patriots loss.  I’m no fan of PR flame outs, but insulting prospective customers, especially those especially, fanatically passionate Beantown fans, is no way to convince people to bring oddities from the attic to your online store. Hat tip to O’Dwyer’s reporters for sharing the link.  

Now, on to the smart things.

1.  Pinterest reminds us we are the product.  Lots of chatter this week about Pinterest’s alleged business model this week.  Pinterest is using an affiliate program to change links to photos that are “pinned” by users from anywhere to ecommerce sites.  For example, a picture of a new pair of running shoes found in a photo album on Flickr would be linked to an ecommerce site that actually sells them, which makes it easy for anyone in the mood for buying. Unfortunately, Pinterest hasn’t disclosed to users that its making these changes, a problem that could easily be fixed.  I’m intrigued by the model — it’s something new and different and could develop a stronger tie between social media and sales.  TechCrunch had an inside story that’s worth reading, but writer Mike Butcher summed up a succint reminder to us all about these free services:

“After all, on free services, we are the product, right?”


2.  Cog of the machine.  Nieman Journalism Lab cites a media analyst who says that every journalist’s biggest fear is being a cog of the machine — espeically in a social media world.  When Charlie Sheen was up to his Twitter antics, several reporters within a circle of each other were all tweeting the same link to a story about Charlie’s actions.  It’s the result of a real-time world where the margin of quality drops dramatically in order to be first to publish. The epiphany Nieman is suggesting probably applies to all of us — bona fide journalists and marketing or PR types:

“publish less, and focus instead on producing original, high-impact journalism”


3.  Optimization – a frog in boiling water. Tom Webster wrote an intriguing post called The Venn Diagram that could Destroy your Business, on how optimizing content for people talking about your brand, may in fact distance you from the people that are actually interested in buying your stuff — what he calls the “optimization trap.”

“With each optimization, you’ve actually veered further and further away from the dead center of your market.”


4.  Holy Mackerel that’s creative!  TechDirt tipped me off to Terry Border’s thought-provoking post that really made me pause. “Think about the art of writing for a minute,” he wrote, “Think about creative, or biographical, or whatever kind of writing. Before blogging, how many people wrote any more than it took to fill the space of postcard?”  The idea he was espousing was summed up in TechDirt’s headline:

“We’re Living In the Most Creative Time In History”


5.  Feeling viral?  I’ve seen two solid posts this week on viral marketing.  Christian of SmartBoyDesigns wrote a post called Stop Trying to Go Viral and the ever prolific Gini Dietrich f SpinSucks wrote, How to Make your Content go Viral. Christian calls viral marketing powerful, but undefinable, while Gini says viralicious-ness (h/t Lisa) is “about great creative, great content, and some fairy magic dust.” Bottom line?  Viral can’t be made and the word is fast becoming overused:

“The phrase ‘go viral’ has become the new ‘synergy.’”

What smart things have you heard this week?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
Smart things: From Giraffes to CMOs (2.3.12)
Unintended consequences: don’t blink, it’s buyology

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