Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 29, 2014 8:11 AM

Can Ello Take On Facebook? Can Anyone?

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio broadcasting out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 5 to 10 minutes every week - about everything that is happening in the world of technology and digital media. The good folks at CHOM 97.7 FM are posting these segments weekly to SoundCloud, if you're interested in hearing more of me blathering away. I'm really excited about this opportunity, because this is the radio station that I grew up on listening to, and it really is a fun treat to be invited to the Mornings Rock with Terry and Heather B. morning show. The segment is called, CTRL ALT Delete with Mitch Joel.

This week we discussed:

  • Of course everyone is wondering: will it bend? Is #bendgate for real? Does the iPhone bend? Apple says no... so does Consumer Reports.
  • Still it was a rough week for Apple due to iOS updates gone awry... did it do damage or did Apple prove how great they are by getting it resolved so quickly?
  • And, in the midst of all of this, Blackberry's new Passport device is out and getting (mixed) reviews. Are they about to exit the device business?
  • Ello is a new online social network. A Facebook competitor? Does it have any legs? Lots of people on jumping on board. I jumped in. Is it any good?
  • Are people getting Facebook fatigue... probably not. Even when they frustrate people.
  • Why are online social networks invite-only? There's a logical reason!
  • Google is running some great TV commercials.
  • App of the week: set-up your Medical ID within Apple's new Health app.

Listen here...

By Mitch Joel


September 28, 2014 7:07 AM

The State Of Business, Brands And Marketing With Tom Peters

Episode #429 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

I love Tom Peters. I've declared it before and it's true. So, this is a total fanboy moment for me. A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to up the quality of conversation on this podcast. At the same time, I realized that there are a handful of my true idols that I've always either been scared or intimidated to ask to come on the podcast with me. I decided to make a list. Tom Peters was at the top. I never thought that he would ever agree. He responded almost right away. I've met him, in person, several times over the past decade. We've had some great chats. My level of respect for his thinking about business, marketing, and branding grows with every tweet, blog post, article and book that he writes. If you have never had the chance to see him present, you really should. He puts on a clinic in how to deliver a great presentation that oozes with big brains. Don't know who Tom Peters is? Really? Few people have shaped the idea of modern management more than he has over the last six decades. In 1982 he co-authored the seminal business book, In Search Of Excellence, which has been named one of the top three business books of the century by NPR. That's just the beginning of his accolades. For my dollar, he's changed almost everything I thought I knew about business through a series of books called The Reinventing Work Series 50List Books. The Project50 (thanks for turning me on to this, Andy Nulman) and The Brand You50 are the ones that have sent me deep down the rabbit hole of business non-fiction books. In 2003, I devoured Re-Imagine! Business Excellence In A Disruptive Age, and it still sits within arm's reach on my desk (one of the only books to do so). So, how is business doing in 2014? What does he think of personal brands, considering that he wrote the article, The Brand Called You, in Fast Company back in 1997 and - literally - ushered in the era of individuals as brands? We tackle it all and more. Enjoy the conversation... 

You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast #429.

By Mitch Joel


September 27, 2014 8:54 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #223

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see".

Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another:

  •  20 GIFs That Teach You Science Concepts Better Than Your Teacher Probably Can - From Quarks To Quasars. "Every time my daughter asks me a question, I realize I can go to the Internet and show her as much as she could possibly want to know about it. In many cases, it's no substitute for the real thing -- but it is absolutely staggering how much we have access to today that simply wasn't available ten years ago. This page of animated GIFs explain some biology, physics, and math better than I could have imagined." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • The Deep Convergence Of Networks, Software And People - Normative."Tim O'Reilly sent this around a few weeks ago. It's one of the more thoughtful looks at how we are reshaping what we are and what we value, and how emergent behaviors are a fascinating part of tomorrow -- but are much harder to design ahead of time, because they're out of our control. Iteration is mandatory because prototypes are impossible." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Instant Gratification - The American Scholar. "Facebook et al are getting better and better at predicting what we will click next, and design their systems to show us that thing... so that we click. Facebook has been around for only ten years. Imagine what Facebook (or its heirs) will be able to predict in 25 years... when we've poured another couple of decades of behavioral data into networked computational systems that will be orders of magnitudes, if not quantum levels, more powerful than the behemoths that run our Internet today." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • The Ultimate Retaliation: Pranking My Roommate With Targeted Facebook Ads - My Social Sherpa. "If only Twist Image's Facebook team could offer their clients such detailed ad targeting on Facebook!" (Hugh for Mitch).
  • What's Up With Ello, the Anti-Facebook Social Network? - Mashable. "Are you on Ello yet? Everyone is talking about Ello. Ello could be the next Facebook. Then again, Ello could be the next... I dunno... how many online social networks have failed in the past decade, thinking that they're going to be the next whatever? I joined Ello. This way, if it explodes in popularity, I will look smart and prescient. I also joined Ello, just in case it fails. This way I can say, 'yeah, I got in early, but couldn't figure out the true value.' In conclusion, all I really have to say is: FIRST!" (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write - Arts.Mic. "I love to write (I know, you're not surprised). This article claims that writing does more than improve your vocabulary. Apparently, writing leads to 'strong physical and mental health benefits.' I'll take that. It bothers people (I think), when I tell them that I blog because I enjoy the process of writing. It surprises many, when I tell them that I am less interested in promoting the content and doing the back and forth in the comments (I don't mind doing it, but I really love to just read, think, see, do and write). My friend, Ann Handley, has a great new book out called, Everybody Writes. Now, she (and I) can let you know that it's not just good for your success in business, but it's good for your health too!" (Mitch for Hugh). 

Feel free to share these links and add your picks on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below or wherever you play.

By Mitch Joel


September 26, 2014 5:26 PM

Be Like Apple

Don't be like Apple.

Apple is always the worst case study to demonstrate anything to any other business. Apple is always the best case study to demonstrate anything to any other business. You could say that Apple is an anomaly. You could also say that Apple is an inspiration and aspiration for all businesses. Like anything this massive, global and dominant, the brand has its fair share of lovers (and addicts) and detractors (and sworn enemies). Personally, I am an advocate for their products, but somewhat ambiguous when it comes to how I really feel about them as a brand (on any given day, my opinions can be swayed, and this has little do with the price of their stock). Apple to me is like any global rock star. I've told this story many times, so skip ahead if you've heard it already. In the past, when someone would ask me why a particular rock brand broke through and became massive stars, I would always say the same thing: every famous rock band is an exception because there are no rules. Apple is like that. "Think different" was more than advertising slogan. It is how they conduct business. From corporate structure to product development to how they see their role within our world. Rarely do you get to sneak behind the curtain and hear a conversation about how they work. Yes, there are countless unauthorized books and accounts from past employees, but their senior management team is, generally, very tight-lipped. In a post Steve Jobs world, things are changing. Apple's new leader, Tim Cook, is not trying to be the extension of Steve Jobs, he's trying to be the best "Tim Cook" that he can be. On September 11th of this year, Cook made his first appearance on Charlie Rose. As usual, Rose is a fascinating conversationalist. They spent a significant amount of time talking about everything (and yes, this includes a little look at the Apple Watch). I've watched this conversation a few times from a different perspective then what he has to say about the iPhone or the future of TV. I watched this conversation while thinking about corporate culture, how to adapt in an ever-evolving times, how is marketing still relevant, and what it takes for a company like that to "win"? Several pages of a Moleskine later, and it became abundantly clear to me: this conversation is a master class in how to imagine and re-imagine what a business is, what it's capable of and how to get people (both customers and employees) to care.

If you watch one thing, this weekend: Charlie Rose - An Hour With Tim Cook - CEO of Apple (Part One & Part Two).

By Mitch Joel


September 25, 201411:04 PM

What Is Your Media Really Trying To Do?

That old saying about advertising and performance.

When people talk about media and advertising, they inevitably trot out the old John Wanamaker saying, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." That saying is like some kind of beacon to the realities of waste, lack of analytics and "go by the gut" instinct that has enveloped advertising for decades. It is also - without question - one of the main reasons that marketers within the organization are most often perceived as a cost center above all else in the c-suite. On the other hand, you have brilliant minds like Peter Drucker, one of the forefathers of business consulting, who once said, "The business enterprise has two-and only two-basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business." Which camp does your business sit in? What is your c-suite's core feeling about marketing? Is it a cost center or is it the distinguishing, unique function of the business?

In today's day and age, brands can have it all.

It's hard to argue that the media opportunities that brands are confronted with every day are boundless. It's hard to argue that the advertising space hasn't moved from a world of scarcity to a world of abundance. If you can't get your message out to the world at eight pm on Thursday night via network television, there are still countless (and unique) opportunities to do so anywhere and everywhere else... in real-time. As anyone who is old enough to remember, this is something new. In my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete, I brought forward the case of advertising destruction. The idea was to break down the media silos and to not think about channels (TV, print, radio, online advertising, search, email, social media, mobile, etc...) and to try and figure out when your media needs to be active or passive, based on how the consumer consumes or engages with it.

Let me explain.

Advertising works best when it is conducive to the platform it is on, the mindset of the consumer and the space in which it occupies. So, if someone is watching TV, it is best to understand that TV is primarily a passive experience (with the exception of infomercials), that has the consumer in a passive mindset (they are sitting back and soaking it in). Asking them to tweet follow, friend and chat forces them into another mindset. And, while this is possible - in a world where more and more people watch TV with another device nearby (smartphone, tablet, interactive remote, etc...) -  it is still an experience that creates friction. If you flip this, and look at Google's model, a consumer is on the Internet (which is an active experience) and the advertising models is aligned with the consumer's mindset (they are searching... or active) on a channel that is active as well (the Internet is driven by active consumer behavior... it does not just wash all over you). When brands complain that things like Facebook or YouTube are ineffective channels for advertising, I laugh (sometimes under my breath... sometimes out loud).

Let me explain further.

More often than not, they're simply doing passive and traditional advertising in a channel that is anything but that. So, this leaves the door wide open to think differently. To not just think about the channel or platform, but to guide all messaging in a more structured approach. So the next time you're doing a planning session, start looking (very intensely) at when  you need a branding message, and when you need a performance one? But don't stop there. Dig deep into the proposed channels that will have this messaging on it, and ask if these are the kinds of messages that people can or will connect with contextually to their experience and the channel experience. Case in point: Facebook. A lot of brands are looking for transactions and conversions on Facebook. After the targeting and localization is placed, spend some time looking at how many friends these people have, what types of content works for them? Brands will often find that they're branding in world where these consumers are eager to engage and connect. Conversely, many brands are trying to shill for something, without realizing that the folks on Facebook may simply be looking to graze the newsfeed, so an awareness/branding campaign could be enough to capture a quick impression, as the images get flicked up the newsfeed.

Breaking down the silos.

What if all media was proposed this way? What if we asked just two questions:

  • Question #1: Are our consumers active or passive when this advertising will be shown to them?
  • Question #2: Are our consumers ready from a branding or performance-based experience?

That feels more integrated (and smart) than most fully-integrated campaigns, doesn't it?

By Mitch Joel


September 24, 201411:39 PM

Blogger Burnout

It's not just blogs. There's burnout at every social media turn. Maybe not on the consumption side, but on the creation/publishing side. A very long time ago, I wrote a post about the quality versus quantity of brands and posting... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 23, 201410:12 PM

Lies My Brand Told Me

I got my iPhone 6. How about you? To be honest, I was surprised that I got it. I've been a customer of my mobile wireless carrier since cellular service was first introduced. That means that I am both old... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 22, 201411:38 PM

Was The iPhone 6 Worth The Wait? Is It All About iOS 8?

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio broadcasting out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 5 to 10 minutes every week - about everything that is... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 21, 2014 7:03 AM

Mistakes We Make At Work

Episode #428 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. I was walking through a bookstore while awaiting a dinner meeting, and I came across a book titled,... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 20, 2014 9:28 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #222

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see? My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete... Read more

By Mitch Joel