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Divisions within us, Part 7 in the series “On the Edge”

November 23, 2017 2 comments

This is part 7 of my series which started HERE with the Introduction and Index for the series, “On the Edge”, a perspective on our times.

Divisive Culture, Part 7 in the series “On the Edge” | Engagement – a point of view

In the days before Social Media, the majority of the news came from Mass Media, such a Television, Newspapers and Magazines … but through mass media, we are exposed only to the perspective of these media companies, especially when it comes to their opinion on the events concerned. The is a passive relationship, between the media company and the reader, as there is no conversation normally possible.

 

 

Social Media on the other hand offers us the ability to engage and project our own beliefs providing many different perspectives on the same event … some credible, some manipulative, some fake, others plain delusional – although it can be said that the divisions in society were already there …. The media, fake news and social media, opens the “sore” so to speak, creates more as well as exacerbating divisions – Social Media, particularly Facebook, seems to operate by exploiting human failings, one of the outcomes is that it dramatically polarises society for or against an issue – there are too few seeking to find something that approaches the true situation, for we must seek to find credibility in these resources and not just accept them without examination, just because they agree with our beliefs, our own confirmation bias. However social media also has a negative side … that is being exploited.

We have those perspectives from alternative media that feed into and manipulate the fears of their readership … proposing such theories that project Condemnation, conspiracy theories and blame (Like Governments who almost always blame a minority in the population) and straight out projection of personal beliefs, as always assumptions based on beliefs are dangerous ground for organisations which are meant, well hypothetically meant to factually report the news.

This is important I feel .. if you have any questions of concerns about the veracity of information you are receiving via the internet and particularly Social Media …. ask yourself the following questions ..

1. Who is writing the stories? – is the source credible .. though that is not always a guarantee of veracity to know if it is true or misinformation, designed to misinform and create divisiveness.

2. Who benefits from these stories? – does a political party or aspect of society benefit from say misinformation contained in the story .. please evaluate the story impartially, not through the primary filter of your political, social or religious beliefs.

3. Who is missing from these stories? The other side, a different perspective on the situation.

4. Verify anything that can be verified in the story, don’t share it or believe it merely because it agrees with your general beliefs or agreeing with your confirmation bias.

The whole concept of conspiracies (real or not) also feeds into our fears and powerlessness, our victim mentality – this can generate frustration and eventually anger and on occasion action to right a perceived wrong, if we don’t let it go or educate ourselves. Those that practise divisiveness and manipulation of the population have been wildly successful, since conspiracy theories, race resentment, Islamophobia, misogyny and other base bigotry, sorry emotions have a significant visceral appeal to ingrained beliefs amongst, those susceptible.

All of the above have the added advantage of diverting focus from the real and present problems in a society or culture.

Why people don’t look at peoples actions as what the true expression of who they are as people that they respect is quite beyond me .. those that vote for a certain party, because their Daddy did or they always have show a true lack of intelligent curiosity, however that comment is in itself a stereotype and hopefully will prove me wrong when people let go of these beliefs and move outside their safe beliefs and bubbles and reclaim their political power.

Social media is essentially about engagement, the creation of a relationship, the act of choosing who we wish to engage with and “disengaging” with those we don’t creates a bubble of people with like-minded beliefs … we don’ have to engage with those we don’t wish to. Hence we are not open to the opinions of others, their perspectives which may be creative and what’s more factual and therefore true – but we have little tolerance and it seems no empathy for others and their point of view or where they find themselves in the world, this choice further exacerbates divisions.

One cannot help to form the opinion that Paywalls installed by News organisations is an issue that is harming the ready availability of information and news. It may be a major reason for fake news.

Social Media

What will be the shape of society and culture in the future, this may be determined primarily by the economy at this time, but also how society relates to itself … and how we relate and engage with others.

We can look at countries that are a major influence on culture such as the USA which is or should I say was a trendsetter, a leader, now sadly it appears to be one of the most severely divided country of any …. It is hugely polarised, a country where people when they first meet after introducing themselves describe themselves, by including their Political affiliation … I found this many times in my recent trip to the USA …. This for someone from outside of America is odd and incredibly unusual. Depending on their political beliefs are people saying “beware”, it is almost setting the conversation that may come for possible conflict and blame.

Too few organisations actually just report the news … instead we have an opinion provided by the organisation, which is often the perspective from someone, they project their views (or the ownership’s views) onto us … too often that perspective is partisan, corrupt, wrong or manipulative.

Years ago, when I understood the concept of Social Media … I felt it would be a wonderful way to engage with the world, to build communities, to understand the world and to engage with Politicians to help keep them accountable. However the dark side has become ever present … along with the issue that there is no one in charge, it has become a harbinger or darkness through the worst of flawed behaviours that humans can generate.

Implications

We live in a culture that project their beliefs (in many cases uniformed, biased or bigoted ) onto others … in this way people set themselves up as a “better” person, a more moral, more aware … but we do not build a society only on morals we primarily build it on ethics … for people who criticise or attack others this doesn’t change the target of their attacks, it does change who we believe these people are who project their beliefs … they may be so empty or angry that they need to put others down to make them feel better – our western society seems largely built on ego driven desires, selfishness, ignorance and fear… this alone will mean that Twitter, Facebook and the like will thrive …. With Trolls, those broadly speaking people who wish to punish, blame and ridicule others .. all this means their anonymous behaviour in the most part ideal for Social Media as they are generally not held accountable, although that it changing.

From Neil Perkin, a current topic as below … a perspective

We live in a culture that loves to blame the victim. Women who report sexual abuse, sexual assault, and/or sexual harassment are perfect targets for those who would blame the victim. Even beyond all of the comments we could make about society working to protect the status quo of a male dominated culture there are psychological payoffs to blaming the victim. Blaming the victim helps us avoid that reality where horrible things can happen to any of us at almost any time. If we can blame the victim we can believe we have the power to avoid being a victim because we are smarter, wiser, more moral, and more careful.

Victim blaming seems to take one of two main forms with infinite variations. The first form is denial. “She is lying.” “It did not happen.” “It did not happen like that.” This provides instant comfort because the bad thing simply did not happen. The second form can be far more subtle and involves the victim being responsible for their own victimization. This blaming involves all of the wonderful suggestions such as “why was she there,” “why didn’t she just leave,” “why didn’t she just say no.” Often these also go with the high moral judgment of “I would have never.” Blaming the victim can be very seductive. However, doing so simply perpetuates and even fuels the problem.

The flaw here in that hindsight and anonymity that the internet provides is a woeful perspective, it is not in any shape reality, the unconscious, flawed behaviour of those that ridicule, blame and condemn, rarely have had the experience in question, they comment to enhance themselves – but they have no idea of the situation that confronted this person … the reality is that Condemning others does not liberate, it oppresses.

Personas

What we see generally of a “person” on social media is a persona that is created for the medium … we rarely see the person, hence although we use the internet through one of its strengths, in building relationships, sharing our thoughts and information … but it this happening? …. I would refer to this extract that discusses communities from Gizmodo.

Community

“…the price we pay for having more personal freedom is that we lose social cohesion on the larger scale. We become less committed to our neighbours and each other. If we are to survive in the global village, we must somehow find a way to recreate that sense of community.”

I can see this point, but I do wonder about the true impact of technology in all this.

The formation of collaborative groups has become easier than ever as it is the strength of the internet, for technology is so effective at bringing people together. Yet we don’t value it, for we have become disconnected from others and to some extent from ourselves… we idealise people who we have never met, hold them to impossible standards and yet fail to nurture and value our closest relationships in the house, in the street, in the community, the country we live in.

We judge … we label … we project … we dismiss … we blame others all to make ourselves feel better about ourselves and the possibility of being better at the experience of others, of that we judge. Through ignorance we do this without understanding what we are talking about …. Fear, selfishness and ignorance are in my view the main reasons in my view the world is in the state it is.

So is technology contributing more toward social fragmentation or cohesion? Do our own limitations, and the increasing mobility that the technology provides means that it is diminishes our sense of community, communication, engagement and belonging.

If we could only look behind the shut gates, the security measures and the closed doors into the hearts of mankind? – a perspective is that our lives sadly are not our own … politicians run a game of fame and attention that projects their emptiness and self-serving agenda onto the minds and lives of humankind. As millennia go by, any number of games of ideals are touted as the answer to mankind …. none have been as they all use the defunct command and control mentality … the ideology of self interest is all about “me”, a lack of compassion and empathy pervades …. hence we play a basic game of follow the leader, sadly there are too few that qualify to lead.

In my opinion, the future will eventually consider a collaborative, co-operative, a form of community consultation … leadership will come from within the group.

Belief and Religion Inspired Intolerance

Religions and Churches, have all exploited the credulity of believers not for some higher good, but to enhance themselves, their power base, influence and income.

Within these Churches, there are true holy men and women, however the trouble with any organisation, and particularly those that sets themselves up to show the way to “God” (however you perceive it) is that it is controlled by mere humans who are not perfect and along with their ego and desires they have taken opportunities through the ages to abuse people and inflict untold murder, abuse and sufferings.

Bigotry and Intolerance are learned behaviours, coming mainly ironically from a lack of education (travel is a great educator) … this lack of education and hence the resulting lack of understanding, empathy or compassion is in my view the main reason for conflict in the world.

Voltaire, had a poor opinion of the Catholic Church in France, as it was the dominant religion at the time, he said the below when he was speaking of the Church whilst he was in England ….

“If there were only one religion, then then Governments would very possibly become arbitrary, two religions and the people would cut each other’s throats, but as there are a multitude, people are happy and live in peace.”

Voltaire statement applies in my view equally to an ideology as to a religion, for they are in many regards a similar thing, an investment in the ideology itself, sadly it is my opinion that too many people become ideologues of religion rather than have faith in it, pray and do good and compassionate work.

All religions and ideologies as well, have their dogma – limiting yourself only to your bubble of beliefs in religions of ideologues, has down through the ages led to the worst in human behaviours.

Before you take what is shown on a web page in social media or elsewhere …. make sure it agrees with you innermost thoughts and values, do be curious and open to the new .. but ensure it is true … find other sources that confirm it … check its veracity. Be careful of confirmation bias.

Think, most of all think …. do not follow dogma … because dogma lessens us, betrays our full potential … don’t follow it just because it is easy … you are unique … make you own way. Steve Jobs had a beautiful empowering thought concerning this …

 

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s
life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of
other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown
out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow
your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want
to become. Everything else is secondary.”

– Steve Jobs

 

When we each create peace within us, only then can we project that peace out onto the world spreading peace and love for all us. … but is it too late for this generation for separation, division, judgement and projection has become for the many, dogma.

Dogma is just someone else’s thoughts, imposed on you, ( there is no guarantee it is right for today, or in fact ever was .. it is just accepted ) think for yourself, create your own path, your own direction, to your own bliss.

My posts are simply my perspective and are offered in the spirit of discovery, exploration and evolution – take what resonates with you and leave the rest.

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Facebook … the long term survival & Viability

May 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Change is inevitable, survival is optional

I think that is a truism, and seems to be ignored, is that nothing is permanent, we are constantly in a change cycle … the old generally gives away to the new … few companies from my youth still exist … companies such as IBM and GE come to mind, will the modern day companies be adaptable to change as these companies?

I wonder about FaceBook, from my point of view I have never understood the hype … for me it is essentially a modern day bulletin board … never believed how it could make the sort of income numbers the “industry sages” tell us it should, and with the recent Morgan Stanley fiasco over future income and hence profitability … there seems to be a dawning of this realisation.

I cannot see it blooming … if anything it will essentially stay stable, more likely contract from an income point of view.

It seems with the move of Ford out of Facebook advertising they may be one of the first to see the writing on the wall … at the end of the day .. advertising has to deliver … the money spent always comes back to results …

Over the next little while I will also look at other companies who are currently flavour of the month … next up will be Twitter.

Marketing, Relationships and Social Media

January 3, 2012 1 comment

We begin, by addressing some basic questions and assumptions first, superficially and briefly here.

Social Media is a disruptive concept, it is essentially an engaged interactive relationship, or it should be, as well it is a Marketing and Relationship creator, nurturer and building tool, all to add to the perception of your brand.

In Marketing, you need to define exactly, what is the market for your specific product or service, then you as the provider, the seller, create and build the relationship, which generally works by providing content that engages with your market. All of this work and content, is to build a relationship, a separate entity so to speak, which is feed and nurtured by both sides, in the case of the company, at some time, a option will be provided to further build the brand relationship and give the customer the option to leverage or in fact contribute to the relationship by perhaps engaging with the Companies content, quizzes for example, this has the effect of deepening the relationship.

Note this is important: Social Media is not a direct Sales Path

1. What is the function of the Internet?

Simplistically, lets start by looking at what the Internet is good at, besides the obvious world wide connectivity issues … access to almost any type of information at any time (with some of it actually true) and the ability to allow for quick and easy access to all sorts of information, and the ability to connect with people, products and services worldwide. One thing though, the internet is just an communication platform, an enabler if you like. It facilitates spontaneous and interactive communication in real time.

Primarily where the internet has come into its own, is in its ability to form communities … and allow for the connection of family, friends, interest groups and commerce, to in fact act as the global replacement for the town square, the meeting point, the notice board, the coffee shop, where people can easily connect for a wide variety of reasons, such as to stay in contact with as well as to develop and maintain relationships with family, friends, special items of interest, education, news and their community just for brief example.

Finally, the internet is only a electronic platform, the function being that it facilitates communication. What is primarily important about the internet is not the electronics but its content and the ability to engage and communicate with others.

2. What is Social Media ?

Firstly, Social Media is a truly disruptive concept, which can markedly change how you company is viewed and interacted with in your area, or globally, depending on your footprint.

Social Media allows using the infrastructure of the internet the potential to build a relationship, which will allow (if properly setup) for social communications between at least two parties in a commercial sense. It allows for the exchange of ideas, ideologies and user generated content of a a huge number of diverse types and interests. In simple terms it provides the technology which can allow the parties to create, nurture and build a relationship, in human terms.

Very few organizations have any idea what they are doing!. The other day I was speaking to a friend of mine and he said to me … Organizations try to use Social Media as a sales path, which it isn’t, as well Social Media’s main function from a business point of view is to allow the formation and maintenance of relationships, by providing the information, tools and engaging content to build credibility, as part of the fostering the brand relationship and by this, support a relationship between the two parties. At some point, it may be possible to leverage the relationship at the choice of the customer, by requesting involvement from the customer is some form, while still investing in the relationship

Too often, for organizations Social Media is used to try and close a sale, customers on the other hand want a relationship, so this is what is wrong with most people involved with Social Media, they try to close, this is flawed, but similar with many other types of ego driven entitled relationships from adolescent boys onwards.

There is a huge amount of content to cover here .. these are some of the items that I will need to look at..

  • What Social Media is, and what social media isn’t
  • All business is relationship driven
  • How to heal the disconnect between companies and their customers
  • Social Media is not Mass Media – this is important.
  • Engagement Strategies
  • Trust is the foundation for all relationships
  • The disconnect between Companies and customers
  • Everyone in your organisation supports the brand .. in other words all employees are part of your sales effort..
  • The de-personalisation of the customers, and the flawed paradigm that underlines the MBA programs
  • Customers want a relationship, they want to be valued, they want their voice to be heard, it you don’t ..
  • I know it is an old adage, but you really want to give a customer what they want in a fair contract and great after sales service  .. if you want your company to grow and survive.
  • Listen and consult with your customers in anything that will change the customers experience of your product or service.
  • Now and more Importantly in the future as new generations come, there be a story behind your advertising strategy – to build the relationship with your customer.
  • Social Media Platforms such as Twitter, FaceBook & others, their strengths and weaknesses
  • Klout and PeerIndex .. are they needed, what function do they fill
  • The Social Media relationship paradigm +++++++

One thing you must remember however, is to ask yourself the question, why is so much of the Internet and Social Media free ?  The answer is simple, because you are the product that these platforms are leveraging, at the end of the day, they care only about how you can help them, they have little regard for you as a individual or the safety of your information, they will use and leverage your presence and your information is anyway they can, that is legal and otherwise for their own benefit … so beware.

In my view this kind of attitude is the very antithesis of what Social Media is … but there is an underlying mismatch between management styles here, as although the market segment they are working in is Social Media, they bring all the baggage from worst parts of old media and old business to this new sector, this is why it doesn’t mix well.

My view is that companies, including legacy companies from the transport and communications sector that do not embrace social media and hence change the way they relate to the customers will within 20 years be found only in history books.

How to build influence without seeming to

November 4, 2011 2 comments

I have watched with interest how organisations that operate in the Social Media sector .. and I have some observations about how to define your strategy

Lets start with the function of Social Media ….

Social Media is not a direct influence or sales path …. it is a tool to build a contact .. to build a relationship and ultimately to add to an experience of your brand from which you can then leverage, while you continue to add value to the overall experience.

Social Media is the Internet’s extension in this insular world to your sphere of influence … your community, your friends, and those organisations that you engage with and others you are interested in engaging with.

Social Media has been hyped up to the point where people are living their life in this cyber space instead of the real world … please take note … Social Media is not your life, and the most important people in your life, are not on Twitter!, well they shouldn’t be (if they are, it’s something to think about) – professionally speaking I believe many mature bricks and mortar organisations would be more successful especially on Facebook if they de-activated their account – their strategy is all one sided, and is all about providing the information that they believe is important, just as Mass media does – which is not how you build a relationship .. One thing, numbers of Facebook does not means that they are actually listening to you … the provider must give something to the relationship, they must engage and so receive their customers perspective … I believe they must be more open and engaged and therefore interested and note that the un-follow button on Twitter or Facebook is a heart beat away.

In the early days, very early days on Twitter, on another account I did an experiment with that exact scenario .. and then changed the nature of the feed .. the response was immediate … that feed lost a large number of followers .. and note people remember … that … if you don’t value them .. well enough said

Now lets look at how to build influence

It is built by engagement and valuing the people you connect with, but you MUST speak with your own voice and from your own values …. if you do not offer up something of yourself then what makes you different than the thousands of voices of the Internet .. that say .. buy this .. do this .. see here … your strategy must be to enhance the experience of your followers … their world expands, perhaps made somehow brighter by following you on Twitter or any other Social Media channel, in other words you provide something they want in their life.

I have seen worthy organisations who are so focused on getting their message across, without seeing the other side of the picture …. you need to involve people in your world for they will become your best agents, for if you have engaged with them, they are then part of of your brand, promoting you because they believe in your brand, remember that not only organisations have a brand, people do as well.  Also if you are speaking as the voice of a organisation, you need to follow strict protocols of how you engage … what you say .. and how you say it … if you bring your personal views of what a customer did, or how they have treated you is counter-productive and will lose you followers.

There are specific processes and strategies to interest, to engage, involve the customer / follower, after you have attracted them and perhaps converted them to buy from you, the most important thing is to retain them, the long term viability of the brand relies on it, to use that connection as a leverage to a wider audience … but so many are missing the mark here …. to start look at your own interests and those sites you follow and ask yourself, why am I interested in this information, and how do they retain my interest and how do they interest, that I want to re-tweet or share my message to my followers, my community … this is a critical point … to a large extent I choose the people I follow and likewise unless I believe the overall experience of my feed will be enhanced and will add something to my message … I will not engage … so this is how I value them by not devaluing our relationship –  and therefore I will only re-tweet a message and content that I can relate to … and I believe my “friends” for want of a better world will find of value …. basically because I do.

At the end of the day … you need to remember on thing .. this is Social Media … it is not a one way passive “relationship” as in Mass Media, it is or at least it should be a engaged interactive relationship, that values and engage with your community … to build a joint experience, and note joint means together …. do not make the mistake of seeing your followers as a means to an end .. as the equivalent of email fodder … value them, respect them and you will succeed … don’t .. well we know what happens if you don’t.

You and Content

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

It doesn’t matter how the content gets to you, by what ‘road” or in what form,  whether in a library book, a hard copy magazine or newspaper, the web and its various forms of streaming … it has something in common … it has to engage with you .. and make you want you to focus and read on.

This has always been the case. How often have you picked up a book, and it didn’t engage with you, watched a movie, switched channels, went to sleep or worse still walked out of a theatre .. or reading a web page and thought , no .. and moved on …  read a Twitter stream and nothing, you either clicked un-follow or went looking for content that you can relate to, regardless of how the content is delivered to you, how you view it or engage with it, it has to value you and engage with you as a person.

The current thinking in Hollywood and Old Media in general is that somehow they are a special case, somehow entitled to and deserving of exemption from a thing  called change, something that happens to us all, it isn’t the change that is a problem, its the attitude to it that matters … and the choices one makes based on these attitudes.

Now and in the future, content of all types, from the written word to a movie spectacular will reach us whether we are at home, mobile on at some kind of outside occasion via a internet appliance, in other words via an i/p address (VOD, Hulu and Netflix +++) …. and it accompanying infrastructure –   this will soon be the case for public screening (when or perhaps if they will happen) as well, perhaps by some kind of version of Bit torrent service.

If you need any convincing of the change to Internet distribution, currently in the USA, Netflix accounts for 25% of total North American Internet traffic. With their first International expansion, they now have an added 800,000 users (10% of all users) in Canada , with other International expansion slated, probably in the first step into Europe. I have spoken about this in previous post, going back a number of years … do not sit with your head in the sand – change will happen, with or without you.

I feel very sad for those companies who’s core business is public entertainment, and the picture theater complexes and soon they will make more money as retail malls .. or car parking .. but again no, the internet is all prevailing … even the traditional focus on malls will change, those huge real estate investments will be a thing of the past … perhaps the land will be returned long term into something productive, perhaps growing food. These changes in the utilization of malls and other huge public and retail edifices, will happen, it will not happen tomorrow, but it will happen.

They say that Hollywood and TV production is a special case, this is such spin , it is not true, at the end of the day if the content is on You tube and you are engaged by it .. nothing else matters … now they have virtual scenery, and computer systems and CGI do so much inside a computer to generate content .. the quality will soon be available to have virtual actors .. so where is the future … where ever it is, it has to fulfill the emotional and entertainments needs of the customers, what they want … so for goodness sakes, ask them… perhaps back in the real world with real events, documentaries,  engagement with your viewers, (forbid the thought ..some sort of reality television) –   the content will need to relate to the needs of the viewers and have an emotional connection with the audience, the viewers … in this world not a virtual one. However being realistic, there will always be an need for entertainment that allows one to escape from the present, fiction or fantasy.

Hollywood is not a special case, get used to it .. change is here … mass media markets are now part of history, the future is niche interests and markets, so find and follow your bliss and there you will find your nirvana.

Back in 2008, I wrote a white paper on the then cliché phrase of the convergence of the internet with mass media .. at the time, I suggested that until band width is comparable with mass media models, that mass media had a little while, probably 3–5 years .. until the TV, Film and Cable business models primarily needed to be aware that there would be a problem, but they should be planning for this event now (in 2008) … because it would be a huge learning experience. However we are there early, bandwidth and distribution / streaming technology has made the jump to online media.

I always say in my day job, what make your business unique, what makes it different, why should the buyer come to you … this is never so apparent as the now, there is almost nothing unique about the Hollywood experience … and a small company can provide the content that people can engage with for a fraction of what the mass media market can .. but the key here is engagement, if I watch it , it is of value … how many times does the content producers play with us with the big fan fare with the new release, the new series, for a industry that is about the production of content .. with so much experience, you would think they would know what the formulae is and get it right more often .. but they so rarely do … occasionally with the NCIS Franchise, Grey Anatomy and Castle they do .. the BBC is about quality (well it was) others are great as well and are successful, however the vast majority of series are just taking up the air time with OK content .. measured by the engagement of people like you and I, as a ratings sample .. as soon as the engagement falls below a set point, they walk .. but seriously, why can’t they get it right more often, after all its their business … they don’t get it right, because they are not listening to the market .. they are producing content for a market that is not listened too or valued.  Does this sound familiar … it should be, it the song that corporations with flawed structures and cultures sing every day in all market segments that are only driven by a short term business view.

Hollywood, the TV Networks and the content producers are in denial, if they think they are in somehow a special case .. technology now has the ability to deliver digital pictures to a mobile device via a GSM or Wireless device .. by next year as the broadband speeds increase by factors of ten, or even multipliers by a 100 times, this will become the norm .. Goodness guys and girls … the future is here … adapt or die.

I have written a number of posts on this subject, going back 4 almost 5 years –  the attitude between of the content producers is desperation, they have almost no original stories that fit the Hollywood mold, and so the content producers regurgitate the same old formulae’s again and again … they do not rely on innovation, they rely on the past to provide their profit for the future … this reminds me of a old example but a good one, how do you think the last manufacturer of buggy whips did at quality control, through, over time, mergers and buy outs, I bet the last manufacturer produced the absolute best   product in the world, in what is defined as a shrinking. niche market, a long way from the Hey Day … we are seeing the same again … Hollywood is producing technically great content, all fluff and wonder, with almost no substance .. all fluff .. and relying on technical tricks, like 3D to enhance the viewing experience, it is not viable to do this .. I paid on 2009 for an adult and one child $40 for the tickets for Avatar .. (not including drinks, travel or parking ) … this is not sustainable.

Putting you content in a box, and controlling access, cannot and will not work in the digital world, this is a paradigm shift ladies and gentlemen, there are plenty of business models that will work, with this new technology, find another business model, even people of the Internet and New Media industry such as Google understand this, for instance, Eric Schmidt ex: Google CEO – “Free is better than cheap” work with adjacent income streams. This maybe an anathema to you, but it is reality.

Hollywood and its compatriots needs to realise that the dollar well is not bottomless, out here in the real world, money is not abundant (well nothing is really in the physical world) you have to appeal to your customers real needs and desires, I wrote a post about the current content production and MPAA  here …. which focused on the real situation of the motion picture content production industry .. their current healthy status and view of the future, please ladies and gentlemen, I do not want to be the one that says I told you so when a corporate liquidator is going through your asset list and seeing what they can make a return on .. do take note.

I have found another article on content and changes necessary by Jim Louderbeck, that brings more to this subject, I would suggest you look at it here

You and Blogging

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

I have been taking a lot of note of what happens on Blogs and in Twitter as relates to marketing and engagement … I have noticed one thing that seems to stand out, and it is said far better by others than I can.

The first is Glen Allsop who writes for Copyblogger.com, his post

Why Nobody Cares About Your Content (And What to do About it)

I seriously couldn’t say it any better myself.

Please take note …. the content of your blog has to matter to me … as a reader .. if it does not matter to me, well the next site is a click away.

I have other suggestions for excellent Marketing sales advice at the blogs of Seth Godin .. in particular the realities of the process at his link Seth Godin and Darren Rowse at true expert at this … with over 320,000 readers can be found at Problogger.net and an article of interest from his site about becoming a pro blogger here

I would also refer you to the three basic rules of sales blogging, be the expert, the authority a reader is seeking  by Attracting Readers, Engaging with them (with content) and Convert these contacts to sales …

I hope that this helps

MPAA and Film / TV Content Production and Distribution – the next 6-10 years

March 18, 2011 2 comments

My experience is in content production, distribution, Broadcasting & electronic Media.

Just doing some more research on the current “issue” or alleged issue of Piracy for the motion picture industry, which is primarily represented in the USA by the Trade Organisation the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America, http://www.mpaa.org).

Now until recently I was aware of the issue, but not of the financial details, now I am actually wondering if there even is a real issue, with the effect of the Global Economic Crisis being seemingly felt across every market segment imaginable, except the motion picture industry, which has according to their own figures had a 15% domestic increase and an International increase of 30% over the years between 2006 and 2010 … wow ! This despite the fact that the number of actual releases in theaters increased just 10.1%.

The price of the admission ticket, rose by 39.4% from 2001– 2010 and yet the cumulative cost of the CPI rose just 27.95% …. ?

OK all that aside …. the rise in the income 2008 –  2009 for theater sales can be expected, as if we go back to the depression, even in harsh economic times (because of the times in fact) the industry has been pretty much recession proof.  The major demographics for the audience goes from 12 to 39 year olds, it is a very niche audience which in these harsher than normal economic times seem to be the only ones that actually have any access to disposable income.

I could go on and on .. however the point is essentially this …. Yes there is a problem with Pirating ( a small one ), but it is not serious, how can it be when year on year the income from sales of theatrical releases has increased far in excess of the CPI … the figures for loss of income presented by the MPAA are not believable.

The following from the immediate past interim CEO, of the MPAA, Mr. Bob Pisano is basically unsubstantiated rhetoric, more commonly known as spin, how can there be a serious problem with over time the income to the industry has increased 30% … such statements as “We will continue to work with our industry partners to fight for common sense ways, through legislative, enforcement and legal avenues, to vigilantly protect the creativity at the heart of our industry from theft.” These kind of statements are making the industry look ridiculous, as well the U.S. Supreme court did rule that just copying did not constitute theft.

I do not agree with piracy, however, this mis-information, is on going and has not be substantiated, they are beat ups by what is essential a trade organisation with a big voice – these statements are not showing the industry in its best light … there are many other industries that employ far more people and families in the USA and worldwide … that actually are in serious and dire straits .. because they don’t have access to the Hollywood Media their voice is lost.  Many families on main street, also have no disposable income to currently invest in any sort of recreation, except free to air TV and maybe cable … remember cable, content on demand and it new variances will be the ever increasing choice for the distribution of content to the wider market.

There are a few issues that the MPAA and the industry in general needs to address… urgently

The price of tickets is not sustainable, bearing in mind that on top of these are the travel, parking, food etc .. taking your children is not the escape it used to be … I took my son to see Avatar at the local cinema and it cost one adult and one child over $40, not including parking, vehicle .. drinks etc…

The lack of growth is also a social one, and manifests as a result of the niche interests of the population, in their online lives – there will come a time, and it is not that far away where people will not go to the movies in anywhere near the same numbers, it is trending down in real terms and will continue to, for lots of reasons, some social, some concerning access, transport and financial to name just some, hopefully before then the studios will have come up with a way to reach people directly via Video Streaming in their lounge rooms, using the dreaded internet … this is here now – so change your business model or else basically … you have less than 5 years, probably less.  I wrote about the effects of technology on the film industry over 12 months ago, and it seems very much to be following the path and the time frame suggested then … in Australia with the NBN (National Broadband Network) this is supposedly designed to provide fibre access with data speeds from 100Mbps to 1 Gbps … this will have a major effect on  the access to On demand services including rich and video media content in Australia.

The Film industry, as with Television needs to start to make relevant stories that people will in the short term at least want to invest money in to go and see … perhaps the new business model is to make low budget movies that are truly an escape from the current meltdown and the huge pressures on families just to get by … but hopefully not too many more regurgitated sequels !!! – mind you that would not be too bad .. if they had a good story, as one can forgive just about anything if the writer and the Directors are at the top of their game –  unfortunately that is not the norm.

Also I have been saying this forever, content distribution is inseparable from content production … if you have funds you need to have been or will be investing in infrastructure for program distribution. The future will not be in venues as it is now, if you don’t now make these strategic investments or at least strategic partnerships, the future is going to be a difficult place as you are going to be a poor position at the bargaining table when it comes time to negotiation in 3–6 years …. because then you will have no distribution infrastructure that you influence, control or own.

Future distribution will not be by a Bricks and Mortar Theatrical release, ultimately the distribution will be in the form of data perhaps via a Peer to Peer network such as a Bit Torrent data stream, as explained in a previous article here  … think outside the box people .  Further the expansion of major releases will become a rarity, not the norm, and hopefully Hollywood will actually become a mature business instead of what it appears to be at the moment, an ego driven teenager with entitlement issues.

The uptake of new movies will have to have relevance to the actual market, talk to them, the real users, use the internet, that is its strength, where relationships and communities are the norm, not the exception .. also personally I am pretty tired of the predictability of the content coming out of Hollywood .. what about an original story please – also how about appealing to some level of standard and not the lowest common denominator.

To expand on the above via a personal observation, there are some unique and profoundly creative talents in the film industry, starting with unique writers that are true story tellers, their connection with the viewers illicit profound emotive responses, exceptional Directors with intuitive timing and insight, fantastic Cinematographers, gifted actors and support staff … with so much raw talent to draw from why is it so hard to put it all into an exceptional film that does not necessarily follow the prescribed formula … but that creates a real connection, and is not just some faded copy of a something that was once a profound original work.

Mainstream mass media including film, is normally a passive experience (except in the case of that true creative work), this mass media model also includes Newspapers, Radio, Cable / Satellite and terrestrial TV …. there is normally little to no  interaction with the viewer, that is not where we are going, the future will trend …. in the longer term your content will need to illicit a emotive response, or if you cannot create a masterpiece then at the very least, interactive ….ultimately the technology and the data speeds will materialize to make this a reality … unfortunately, the current trends for content is that it will come out of virtual sets, and actors as we understand them now may be a thing of the past, computer generation will be much more prevalent than it is even now.

Concerning the future distribution model, basically the Telco’s that currently own the fiber, need content just as much a you will need their fibre for distribution, however I guess if there is no successful negotiation, between you, then I guess content of the ilk of “I love Lucy” and “A Wonderful life” will be the only content … for distribution … funny that.

I realise that if I was again actively involved with the industry, that is back in the club, after a while, perhaps as little as three years, this type of objective perspective would be nearly impossible for me to create, as unfortunately those in the industry have an total inability to be objective and relate to their viewers, their users .. they are too busy doing, but doing what actually ? However a revelation will be forced upon the industry sooner or later, as they clearly don’t get it … change is here, recognise it, or suffer the inevitable changes that will be forced upon you, which you won’t like so much – it’s like I say “Change is the only constant, how we experience it, is up to us” ….

Here  is the link to the Actual financial report of the MPAA, the MPAA Theatrical Report 2010 PDF ….

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