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Archive for July, 2016

Looking back, moving forward.

Friday, July 29th, 2016

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What’s behind you helps move you ahead.

Shot by: Rick Painter

Does your brand .suck?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

The Internet can be both an asset and detriment for brands. It allows anyone to voice his or her opinion, whether it’s valid or not. It’s a powerful forum that gives a voice to both the pleasant customers who are always gracious and understanding, and the crabby customers who are never satisfied – we all know the type.

Today, even more power has been given to both consumers or other brands now that anyone can buy a “.sucks” domain name. Anyone can put the “.sucks” extension on the end of any known brand, such as apple.sucks, and create a site about how much they hate the brand. While this is a forum for people to air their displeasures, and some certainly are deserved, this means any crackpot can potentially create ruin for brands or companies. For example, a disgruntled employee who doesn’t think they should’ve been fired, even though they were definitely in the wrong. Or, an unreasonable customer who is not interested in productive problem solving, often because they did not review the company’s policies before making a purchase, and feel that an exception should be made for them, etc.

The question is, how should brands react to this newfound consumer power? Should brands be pre-emptive and buy up all associated .sucks domains and create their own content and redirects to avoid some of the trouble this should cause? Or, could these sites be contributive to brands, potentially helping improve products or services? Could they be used for the greater good, to alert people to major social issues that need attention?

According to Direct Marketing News, transparency and authenticity in social media, and every other part of business, is a must to build customer trust. A brand cannot control its customer’s online activity, and it should not want to. Honest opinions can help a brand troubleshoot and thrive. So, instead of focusing on controlling the problem, brands should focus on embracing criticism and managing it.

Is it fair that any fool can jump online and spread rubbish about any brand? Of course not. But it’s today’s reality. Instead of spinning wheels trying to get ahead of each new platform, such as .sucks domains, brands should focus on building good products and services that keep the masses from succumbing to the opinions of the disgruntled and unreasonable few. By utilizing constructive criticism shared online and embracing transparency and authenticity, brands can minimize the effects of tools like .sucks domains and prosper in today’s connected world.

The true you.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Social media is a tool that allows us to connect and stay in touch with people like never before, from new networking connections to old high-school friends. This makes social media profiles often the most public and widely viewed representations of individuals today. While it’s wise to create social media profiles that make the best possible impression on both old and new connections, sharing information or photos that create a skewed or unrealistic portrayal is futile.

So why do people share old and outdated photos as social media profile pictures that usually show a MUCH younger version of themselves? Realizing that people want to make the best possible impression is one thing, but what happens at the high-school reunion, when people are shocked to see what they really look like? Or, how about running into a virtual business connection at an industry conference and receiving a blank stare because they do not recognize the much older and different looking person standing in front of them?

In addition to younger photos, the content people share is often skewed, presenting friends or the public with an elevated or more accomplished version of a person. People often share only positive information and happy photos, instead of providing real representations of their life.

According to Cambridge psychologist Craig Malkin, even small gaps between social media users’ real and virtual identities can cause people to feel bad about themselves. They know that the images they are building up online aren’t genuine. Hiding less flattering aspects of their lives can damage their self-esteem, he said. The problem: they’re not truly the people who are being rewarded with “likes.” “Whenever we feel like we can’t be fully who we are in order to be liked or be admired, it’s bound to affect our self-esteem,” said Malkin.

Since social media is used, in part, to gain attention, it can be dangerous to equate “likes” or attention with self worth. When we post something that doesn’t get a lot of likes, we can feel rejected, which causes our self-esteem to take a hit.

Despite the prevalent use of social media, eventually people meet in the real world. So what drives people to create misleading virtual personas when they know the authentic version will inevitably be revealed? Are they mistaking social media “likes” as a real measure of self-worth? Instead of creating a hyper-idealistic social media profiles, being authentic is key to enhancing self-esteem and staying true to oneself where it actually counts – in the real world.

New is old again.

Friday, July 15th, 2016

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Images take on so many forms thanks to filters at the hands of anyone.

Shot by: Jon Keeling

TV about nothing.

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

It’s hard to turn on the TV — particularly cable TV— without hearing about a new and absurd reality TV show. Literally every week there are new shows popping up about ridiculous people and things. These shows are mostly about nothing important, except creating and exploiting drama.

There is no better example of drama fabrication than the ill-conceived reality show, Ex Isle. The show puts five on-again; off-again couples on an island together to try and, “break free of their toxic relationships forever.” Then the show adds an “unexpected twist” by throwing 10 eligible singles into the mix and encouraging them to try and “find fresh love” with the people who just ended their relationships. It’s a painfully obvious and degrading recipe for drama and tears.

Or there’s Selling it in the ATL; literally a show about female real estate agents in Atlanta, selling houses. There are plenty of real estate agents in every city selling houses. How is this an interesting premise for a show and who watches this?

Despite the uninspiring plots and transparent attempts to create drama between the pinheads that applied to appear on the show, viewers seem to become obsessed with each new show. Social media demonstrates this obsession by flooding newsfeeds with opinions and updates about this senseless rubbish each time a new episode airs.

What’s wrong with our society that we enjoy watching the drama and pain of others? And why do we need to live vicariously through other people’s lives when our own could equally be a TV show?