The Negatives of Social Networking Media

All the world is a Buzz about Facebook & Twitter these days. It’s almost like MySpace circa 2007, Google circa 2003 or Microsoft circa 1998. I don’t doubt the success, innovation or long-term viability of these social networking sites but I have seen that there are flaws in the system that mean that things won’t be perfect with the business along the way and we’re in for a bumpy road. Basically my point is that for all these sites give us in entertainment, social connections and opportunity they also have some negatives that are almost the equal and opposite pendulum action.

1. Time Suck – all social networking sites are using your time that you used to devote to other things. Maybe in some cases this is actually a better use of your time (instead of TV) but in most cases its time spent that you used to use for researching new information for work projects,  time actually spent talking with people in person (family/friends) or time spent doing things that really need to be done at work or home. Once the brain gets trained that you can go socialize instead of work at those times of day it’s a habit extremely hard to break. For all of us procrastinators looking for instant gratification its a real problem keeping up with work and affects the overall productivity of companies and the country as a whole. Internet access is much more prevalent and has far more users during the business day than it does at night, so there’s the proof. Unless your job is trolling these sites for sales prospects by “connecting” and making “relationships” with your customers, its a waste of time to spend more than 15 min a day.

2. Privacy – Of all the details analyzed about consumer privacy online (on Facebook) in the last few weeks the most suprising thing I’ve seen is that people really don’t care about their information online. Sure, nobody is going to post a ss number or cc number on their profile (duh) but they don’t really seem to realize the power of logging all their social interactions in one database and selling access to retailers and cpg companies who have even larger databases of information to analyze and strategize with. Is it really as fun when most of your friends are companies selling you things all the time? Twitter already has morphed into the largest opt in direct marketing platform I’ve ever seen. If people keep using it at this rate it will surpass email. The other obvious issues come with the work life balance thing and when people friend work makes and think nobody will see them rant about work or post drunk pictures on a sick day, but then again I’ve heard that its just people naturally selecting themselves out of the working pool.

3. Logic – the other issues I’ve seen coming for a while have to do with how everything that is built from large databases online with lots of consumer data seems to not work properly. There is always some algorithm developed by a science tech guy based on some theoretical calculus and it doesn’t provide relevant results. Which brings me to a repeating theme of data right now: we don’t really know what to do with it yet. Nobody knows enough real info about their customers to target them. (who has a budget for that?) And the database people just like to say they improved things a statistically insignificant amount with an algorithm tweak. The marketing strategy/process should always start with offline real life information about people and products and then develop an algorithm to show you information in that way. I don’t know why it’s always done backwards but it will keep our results irrelevant and marketing dollars wasted for a long time to come.

I am glad Microsoft didn’t buy Yahoo

Am I the only one who thought that Microsoft and Yahoo didn’t have the first thing in common? Microsoft is still deeply rooted in the OS/Software/Desktop culture, biz model and products. Yahoo is all about the web and always has been. They aren’t winning the battle of the web right now but they are certainly better at it than MSN. (yeesh) Yahoo handles classifieds, news, advertising sale and products as well as their home page better than Microsoft and MSN. And Microsoft wanted to own them and tell Yahoo what to do? Stupid.

Its odd to think that there are incompatible sets of engineers, technology and visionaries, but these to were never destined to be together.  It almost seemed like a hair-brained distraction tactic to keep everyone’s eyes away from something else. What else could Microsoft be trying to do with this kind of deal? And buying up companies that are better at something than you are is such an old school tactic. Why not be affiliates? Lisence their ad network? Become associates so you can foster some kind of working relationship and trust first before you go in for the kill and it will be taken as a lot less hostile.

I just think this whole thing was bungled and made no sense from the beginning. And I don’t even know anything internally about it. I don’t work for nor know anyone who works for these companies. This is just my feeling based on the news reports on the internet and radio.

It does make me worried about the future of Microsoft in a world where they are so off base and desperate like this and no one really has any affinity for them anymore. That said, I am typing this in IE but on a free blog platform and on a chinese computer. Things sure have changed in the past 10 years.

Online Christmas Shopping Coupons

I have gotten most of my Christmas shopping done even though it is not even December yet. I was smart and got online and got things bought the easy way. (without standing in long lines and driving all over the place) I do like shopping online more that shopping in malls this time of year and it’s much more productive. Luckily there are also great sales online and coupon codes for even better deals. Coupon Chief has been a site I have used before that I like because it has coupon codes to stores I actually shop at. One I shop at for myself more than others is Old Navy. They have great deals to begin with and then with a discount it’s almost like you’re getting stuff for free. I also shop a lot at Target for gifts because they have something for everyone. I have been able to find sports stuff for my brother, small kitchen appliances for my mom and well my dad is impossible to shop for. Check them out if you are stuck for what to get your family and friends this Christmas. They might give you some good ideas.

Who buys American Domestic Cars?

With Toyota on top as the world’s largest auto manufacturer now, one wonders who still buys american cars? I personally own a saab which is built in Sweden but owned by GM which is American. Who knows where that lands. But as far as traditional US built American brands go Ford, GM and Chrysler are the ones we used to call the big three. Now plagued by outdated impressions of bad quality and really high pension and health care costs of it’s workers they are not producing as many cars or selling as many in the US. It shows that the domestic brands are still skewing older than the imports, they also seem to center around the old manufacturing “rust belt” cities who are still feeling the pain of the loss of manufacturing jobs to japan, china and mexico. They are also skewing towards old media usage, which doesn’t mean they are the biggest new technology users or adopters. (which correlates with lower education levels in my mind) So, how can the American car brands buck the trend and get hip, young and relevant fast? (before their customers die?) Hybrids? Crossovers? Independent High quality and reliability awards? I’m not sure. Here is some data from the center for media research today that has some new stats and Here’s the full report:

The Iron Belt Wraps Around Domestic-Only Auto Owners

A newly released 88-Market national report from The Media Audit, analyzing automobile ownership by brand, reveals that 38% of U.S. adults own domestic-only brands, compared to 25.4% of U.S. adults who own foreign-only brands.

The surveys, which were conducted between January 2006 and April 2007, found that among those who are the most loyal to owning only domestic brands are adults who own a truck. According to the study, 47.5% of truck owners own domestic-only brands, making the audience 22% more likely than the average adult to own domestic-only brands.

Older adults are are also more likely to own domestic-only brands. Among 50 plus adults, 42.6% own only domestic brands, a figure that is 12% higher than that of the average adult.

The average age for the nearly 40% of U.S. adults who own domestic-o! nly brands is 47.2 years old, compared to 44.1 years for adults who own foreign-only brands.

The top ranking market for domestic-only automobile ownership is Detroit, Michigan with 73.4% of adults in this market owning domestic-only brands. Toledo, Ohio ranks second with 66.6% who own domestic-only brands, followed by:

  • Peoria, Illinois (65.3%)
  • Buffalo, New York (64.4%)
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan (60.1%)
  • Dayton, Ohio (59.7%)
  • Akron, Ohio (58.3%)
  • St. Louis, Missouri (57.4%)
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (56.2%) 
  • Cleveland, Ohio (55.6%)

The analysis further reveals that domestic-only vehicle owners exhibit above-average usage of television, direct mail, radio and newspaper. Those who own domestic-only brands are:

  • 18% more likely to be heavy television viewers
  • 12% m! ore likely to be heavy direct mail users
  • 9% more lik ely to be heavy radio listeners
  • 9% more likely to be heavy newspaper readers

Etsy Love

I just wanted to take a moment to state my love for Etsy. I am someone who loves to craft but doesn’t have time for it right now. So I go buy a craft or two for very reasonable prices when normal store type stuff just doesn’t fit the bill.

necklace garnetFor example, I got this great real garnet pendant from mcfarland designs for 36 bucks and I love it so much I am going to get them for christmas gifts for some people on my list.

I also got this solar lamp from Etsy but I haven’t gotten it in the mail yet, becasue I just ordered it yesterday.

I like surfing through all the listings, but a lot of the stuff isn’t really my style and keyword searching doesn’t seem to do the trick. (not all sellers may have things tagged correctly) but once in a while you find some really polished professional made goods at very reasonable prices. And I love that.

bag, messenger, baby, carry, bags, cheapPlus you find cuter than buttons baby things like these cherry booties , messenger baby bags and sushi baby costume. Stuff that is so creative it’s great. They have everything from artwork, to home goods, to clothing, to jewelry, to kids toys and clothes to eco friendly pet items. So check out Etsy for some really interesting and unique finds this holiday shopping season.

The U.S. Mortgage & Lender Mess

The mortgage and lending crash just keeps getting worse. I don’t know which is worse, the people not reading the contracts they sign and not understanding the terms involved with a baloon payment or adjustable rate or the banks and financial companies offering such bad manipulative terms. It seems like no one really did any research before buying these properties and now they are all foreclosing. I was just reading that the number of forclosures has doubled in the past 12 months for the month of September year over year. Yikces! And they say this isn’t the last of it. How many people are going to be loosing their homes and foreclosed on at Christmas and over the holidays? This is such a disaster for this country as a whole and a little embarassing to the rest of the world. Here we are suposedly the most wealthy nation in the world and people are loosing their homes. It’s sad and it’s the result of people not doing adequate research and getting bad mortgage advice from predatory lenders. Do yourself a favor and stay renting until you have 20% to put down as a down payment on a home and then do your research and go with a lender who has lent to a friend who has not had any problems with their mortgage and has had it for more than 5 years.

Advertising makes you less sensitive to price changes

Ah, so now they find this out? A new study says that a lot of advertising bombardment of customers makes them less likely to be sensitive to price changes.  I wondered why I could go buy the same things at the grocery store month after month and the cost seems to always be a little bit more. They must know to blast the TV and Internet with ads and a flashy new campaign saying why to prefer their brand and then hike up the price 15%. Well I guess it is predictable though. If you build value in a brand people are more likley to prefer it regardless of price. Hello luxury brands. So raising the price when it is prefered and top of mind does logically make sense. So we, as consumers have to be more careful of buying things because of ads and careful about price comparison when we are in the shopping isle at the grocery store. Is it really a better deal? Better whip out the calculator and find out.