Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 27, 2014 8:16 AM

How Does The World See You?

Episode #420 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

Have you ever taken one of those personality tests? Some employers force people to take them (employees or recruits), while some of us come across them as we continue our journeys in life. Many of us take tests like this just to see if we're doing the work that we're supposed to be doing. Regardless, it's hard to argue that these test don't often pull out a thing or two about us that we may not have realized or paid enough attention to. Sally Hogshead is working on something similar... but different. In her latest business book, How The World Sees You, Sally proclaims that it's not about what you want to become, but how the people you interact with perceive you. Here's the thing: I'm typically skeptical about these sorts of efforts. I was blown away by the simplicity and accuracy that Sally has brought to this notion. In fact, since reading the book and doing the exercises, I've noticed a marked difference in my communication with people because I'm now filtering it by the outputs of How The World Sees You. Sally continues to be one of the most fascinating women in marketing today. He last book, Fascinate, dominated the scene for months, but Sally is much more than a best-selling business book author and speaker. In her second year of advertising, Sally won more awards than any other copywriter in the U.S., and was described as "the most successful junior copywriter of all time." After working at Wieden + Kennedy and Fallon McElligott, by age 27 she'd opened her first ad agency, with clients such as Target and Remy Martin. Three years later, she opened the West Coast office of Crispin Porter + Bogusky as Creative Director/Managing Director. 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 #420.

By Mitch Joel


July 26, 2014 8:10 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #214

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:

  • What We Can Learn From Past Anxiety Over Automation - The Wilson Quarterly. "I'm a big believer that, as a society, we aren't ready to deal with abundance; worse, that capital concentration will ensure that the boon of automation and software will be increasingly poorly shared among humanity. I get into a lot of arguments with people, particularly stubborn everyone-for-themselves Libertarians, about such things. But I've also had great discussions, and several memorable ones have come from my friend Kamal Jain. He posted this riposte to one of my recent Luddite polemics. Since those who can't remember the past are doomed to repeat it, it's worth a read." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • How I made $40k within Shopify's trial period - That Shirt Was Cash. "Saying, 'the rate of change is increasing' is a business platitude. It's always increasing. But one of the things that digital channels has allowed is massive, rapid experimentation. This fairly tongue-in-cheek post details how Shirtwascash (a shoestring version of Spreadshirt) made $40K --before the trial period on its shopping cart software had even ended. Retailers of the world, take note: this is how your empires crumble." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • The Sci-Fi Writers' War - Slate. "Life imitating art? The power of writing? Russian-financed propaganda? In a strange revelation about the conflict in the Ukraine, it turns out that for the past few years writers in the East of the country have been producing a small stream of dystopian sci-fi novels about armed conflicts between Russian-speaking Ukranians in the East and the Western-grazing government in Kiev." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • The Secret of Minecraft - Medium. "Robin Sloan takes on the amazing world of the videogame, Minecraft, and muses about its implication for everyone creating art of any kind." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Jon Stewart - The Sound Of Virginity - Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. "Without a doubt, Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is one of the most interesting video series on the Internet today. The concept is simple: Seinfeld calls up one of his comedian buddies, they go for a drive, have some coffee and talk about life, the life of being a comedian and the awkward ways that comedians live. It's awesome. Each and every episode. HIs latest is with The Daily Show's Jon Stewart. It does not disappoint." (Mitch for Alistair).
  • I'm Ira Glass, Host of This American Life, and This Is How I Work - Lifehacker. "Is there anything better than listening to what Ira Glass and his team pull together for This American Life? I think not. As someone who creates content, we often talk about the power of great storytelling for brands. We can teach it. We can encourage it. But, the truth is, that it's hard... very very hard... to be a great storyteller. Ira Glass is a great storyteller. How does he work? Wow, this Lifehacker piece delivers in spades. I'm a huge geek for pieces of content like this. So, when my buddy, Nilofer Merchant, linked to it on Facebook, I could not resist but to devour it... and share it with you as well." (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


July 25, 2014 5:40 PM

How To Do The Nearly Impossible

We live in very different times.

It's hard to imagine that we live in a day and age when individuals - from a very young age - can start a business, build something formidable and - literally - change the world. We can say, "harrumph" at that, but it's huge. The coolest part? It's not just software any more. Thanks to technology and even things like 3D printers and the lowering cost of building a prototype, nearly anyone can build not just the next Twitter but the next.. whatever. As many people have said before me, we're moving from bytes to atoms. Quickly. There's this interesting conference that takes in New York and San Francisco, and it's called Nearly Impossible. It's an event for companies that make physical products. At their most recent event, they had Seth Godin deliver a keynote presentation. As usual, Seth is amazing. You may know him as the author of bestselling business books like Purple Cow, Linchpin, Permission Marketing, The Dip, Tribes, and countless others (close to twenty, actually). You may know him as the founder of Squidoo or HugDug or as one of the best professional speakers in the business, but you've probably never seen him like this. In this presentation, Seth talks about how to do the impossible and how to get people to go along for the ride.

If you're in marketing, you really need to watch this - Seth Godin - Nearly Impossible 2013:

Seth Godin | Nearly Impossible 2013 from Nearly Impossible on Vimeo.

By Mitch Joel


July 24, 201410:52 PM

Brands Can Have Real Conversations

Are there any real conversations happening out there?

It's been a long day. I hopped an early flight to Boston to speak at the Marketo customer summit. Direct flights are a funny thing. On one had, you want the ease and practicality of getting somewhere without getting too much of the airport experience "on you." On the other hand, you are at the mercy of the airline's flight schedule. In today's episode of Adventures At The Airport, I chose a direct flight to Boston early in the morning, even though I was speaking at the end of the afternoon. But hey, it's Boston. There are worse (way worse) places to spend a summer day. With that, I was fortunate enough to have breakfast with C.C. Chapman (Amazing Things Will Happen, Content Rules, etc...) and then lunch with Ann Handley (MarketingProfs, Content Rules and the soon-to-be released, Everybody Writes). I first met C.C. at PodCamp Boston a long time ago, and I met Ann a few years later. Over the years, I've had the pleasure of spending personal time with both of them. Good people. Good good people.

That's not the point.

The point is this: I met them through (and because of) social media. Without blogs, podcasts, online social networking, I would have never met them. I have a lot of friends like this. Real friends. Not Facebook friends. Friends. The problem is this: I think I know what's going on in their lives because we're connected on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever, but I don't. I don't have any idea. Don't get me wrong, both C.C. and Ann share. They share a lot. But it's a filter. It's a thin veneer of who they really are. It's the "them" that they want you to see. And, for all of the marvels of technology that connects us, when you sit down and ham it up over some coffee or talk about the woes of the world over a BLT, that's when it really clicks.

The like button is more button than like.

I used to think that the true power of social media was the ability for brands to have real interactions between real human beings. That was the drum that I was banging back in the early 2000s. Now, it's 2014, and if you look at some of the research and data, what we're finding is that brands (and consumers) aren't having that much conversation online. Yes, there is a lot of quick responses to customer service issues, and tons of new and interesting memes and viral videos being pushed out, but a true conversation? Not much.

Don't you worry about a thing... because everything little is going to be alright.

It's hard to have a conversation if the main goal is to get people to buy from you. That's the big thing that big brands (still) don't understand. They see social media as another advertising channel... another place to put a message. Sometimes, that message is personal. A lot of times, that message is just a different kind of ad. I don't believe that social media has failed brands or consumers. The technology is ambiguous. I blame the brands. I blame the celebrities. Here's the thing, social media is a great place to let people know what's going on, especially if those people are both interested in following you and responding to what you're putting out there. The problem is that when everyone follows that model, the true charm gets lost. I can filter. I can create lists. I can follow real people. I can move brands to their own special place. Most people just let the firehose do what it does best... be a firehose. They're bystanders in social media. They're letting who they follow control their experience. And, for most (I'm guessing), it's not all that interesting of an experience. It's just another kind of news and information service. There's no (or little) back and forth. There's no depth. There's no new people to meet, connect with and share.

Don't let social media turn into a one-way street.

It's easy to sit back and let the newsfeed take over. People are sharing. They're sharing articles, pictures, videos, audio clips and more. You could spend years tumbling down the rabbit hole of what your online "friends" are telling you to check out. Or, you can push back. You can filter. You can be ruthlessly diligent with who you follow. You can create more tangible encounters and push for the conversation to come back. It's hard. Willing social media back to a time when you could really connect with people and engage in civil discourse seems all but for forgotten. It isn't. I'm so guilty of letting the newsfeed rule over me. I see posts from C.C. and Ann almost everyday. Sometimes I "like" them as a form of acknowledgement, but I mostly just let them wash over me. Then, when we sit down, in our protein forms, I realize what social media really can do. 

I think it's time for brands to get more personal. I think it's time for brands to realize what social media really can do.

By Mitch Joel


July 23, 201411:11 PM

Facebook Proves Us All Wrong (And It's Not Just Facebook)

All too often, we fall victim to a the market of one syndrome.

I was on Facebook when somebody I know (and respect) said something akin to: "Nobody I know has ever click on a mobile banner ad." That's the market of one. It's the, "I don't do it and nobody I know does it, so how can it work?" I hate when people talk like a market of one. The Montreal office of Twist Image is in a charming part of the city called, Old Montreal (it really is as close to a European city as you are likely to find in North America). At the end of every day, I have to trudge across the city to my house. On the journey is the infamous Bell Centre. This is our major arena. It's where The Habs play, it's where we have major concerts and events. On any given day of the week, there is a major event happening there. Sometimes, the arena is filled with close to 30,000 fans of... something. I don't know what. I'm fascinated by this. These massive get-together are happening in my city (that people spend their hard earned savings on) and, if I didn't have to drive by it every single day, I would have never known that it happened. So, if something is happening and I don't know about it, does that mean that it didn't happen? Does that mean that it's not relevant? Does that mean that it's not something that a brand should pay attention to? Of course not.

We say things that have no reality to back it up.

People are getting tired of Facebook. I don't go to Facebook anymore and neither do my friends. Nobody clicks on a mobile ad. Stuff like that. I get asked/told this kind of thing daily by people. Smart people. Marketing professionals. Senior marketing professionals. Then, Facebook comes out with their results. They were so good, that I find myself rethinking my own beliefs about what Facebook is... what Facebook has become... what Facebook will be (and, I'm already very bullish on Facebook). If you've been online today, you have seen the news. You have read the discourse. Have you really, truly and deeply thought about what this means?

Facebook's results should make you rethink Facebook.

Here's the headline: "Facebook grew revenue 61% and more than doubled second-quarter profit while making even more money from ads targeted at users on mobile devices, sending shares to record highs."

What Facebook means from a marketing perspective:

  1. Facebook is mobile. This is huge. A company that was established as a Web browser-based platform managed to pull off one of the greatest transitions to mobile seen since the dawn of the Internet. You may dismiss this as nothing more than developing an app, I would argue that it is one of the most underrated instances of true innovation that we have seen recently. You can read more about my thoughts on this, right here: What Facebook Knows About Innovation (That Every Brand Should Pay Attention To).
  2. Facebook continues to grow. Whether it's more people connecting to it, more geographic opportunities or simply people using it more and more on mobile devices (as more and more people adapt to mobile over computers), the fact is that you can't serve ads at this scale if nobody is using the service. You can think what you like about usage, but people are using Facebook more.
  3. Mobile advertising is nascent (and it works). As significant dollars shift to mobile advertising because the users are there, it's important to remember that this is still early days. Mobile offers a lot of powerful advertising opportunities that display advertising had a hard time delivering against. Location, motion, context and more can all play into the power of better, more relevant advertising, and Facebook is on the cusp of delivering against that. It's still early days.
  4. Great at local. Great at mass. Before sending an ad, Facebook knows a lot about its users. Let's repeat that: Facebook knows a lot about its users. We (as a digital marketing community) have long wanted to find a way to blend personal data, with localized unique opportunities, while at the same time having access to both scale and a more mass market. That's what Facebook is. You can get highly relevant in terms of who you want to speak to and - at the same time - they have mass reach as well.
  5. The newsfeed is the new ad format. This is less about the ads in the top right hand of the page. The action, heat and opportunity continues to be the newsfeed. As you flip and scroll through that newsfeed, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between when a brand is posting a cool piece of content or whether it's a sponsored post to download an app. Regardless, it fills the screen in a very non-intrusive way that is a congruous brand experience. You'll scroll past the marketing stuff you don't care about - much in the same way you'll scroll past that annoying friend of yours who is posting incessantly about their annoying kid. In short, Facebook has habituated its users to graze across content without the feeling of being interrupted or annoyed by an ad.
  6. Facebook is still growing. It's easy to dig a little deeper and see some chinks in the armor of Facebook's usage, but it's still growing. Yes, there are mature markets for Facebook, and yes, they may be stagnating in certain demographics, but the numbers and money doesn't lie. They're doing better than the analysts expected (and, if I'm going to be honest, they're doing way better than I expected as well). While they're still tinkering (and some would say faltering) with their video advertising, expect them to get this right and begin another huge push in marketing opportunities for brands. Instagram (which Facebook owns) is also slowly and intelligently rolling out advertising/content marketing. Facebook also launched a mobile advertising network last April to sell advertising on non-Facebook apps. If that's not interesting enough, the company is now claiming to have 1.3 billion monthly users. As the USA Today article (that I linked to above) concludes: "That means it has more users than India has people, and it's closing in on China." Facebook has its own world of users and it knows a lot about them today... and will know a ton more about them tomorrow (as users use it more, create more and share more).   

Don't buy Facebook stock.

I'm no financial analyst. I'm not here to tell you that Facebook is a sound long term stock investment. I am a marketing professional. I do see a lot of my peers dismissing Facebook because they're thinking like a market of one. Don't be that person. Look at the numbers. Think about the brand opportunities. As Facebook continues to grow, evolve and develop their models of advertising and marketing, don't dismiss what it can do... and should do. And, it's not just Facebook. Google, LinkedIn, blogs, YouTube, podcasting, you name it. Don't think that just because you've lost some interest, that they're still not powerful channels to connect your message with a broader and more targeted audience. The opportunities are everywhere.

Ultimately, the numbers don't lie. Where do you see the Facebook opportunity?

By Mitch Joel


July 22, 2014 8:16 AM

Are Your Customers Frozen? Let It Go!

The competition is fierce out there. The battle for the consumer continues to intensify. Brands used to battle with their competitors for the direct relationship, but something new is happening. While I discuss it in much more detail in my... Read more

By Mitch Joel


July 21, 2014 9:27 PM

Adventures In Visiting Google, Facebook And Apple In Silicon Valley

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


July 20, 2014 7:19 AM

Cognitive Economics And Consumer Choice

Episode #419 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, zesty pickles, and extra chunky tomato sauce. None of these products would exist without... Read more

By Mitch Joel


July 19, 2014 8:32 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #213

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


July 18, 2014 6:36 PM

The Internet's Own Boy (A Movie You Have To Watch)

Do you know the name Aaron Swartz? I never met Aaron. I heard his name only a couple of times as he was one of the people involved in the development of RSS, the organization Creative Commons, and the founding... Read more

By Mitch Joel