Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 20, 2014 1:59 PM

Winning Digital Metrics That Matter

Episode #406 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

I think of one word when it comes to describing Stephen Rappaport: enigma. I have no idea why anyone who is a professional digital marketer is not following and ensuring that all of his work (especially) his books are on the desk of everyone in our profession. While he is currently running his own consulting practice, he is the former Knowledge Solutions Director at the Advertising Research Foundation and, over the years, he has spent a crazy amount of time helping the digital marketing industry get that much better at understanding how to measure, connect and engage. He was the co-author of The Online Advertising Playbook back in 2007, then in 2011, he published Listen First! Turning Social Conversations Into Business Advantage. Most recently, he published, Digital Metrics Field Guide - The Definitive Reference For Brands Using The Web, Social Media, Mobile Media or Email. And yes, it is stellar. 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 #406.

By Mitch Joel


April 19, 2014 8:50 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #200

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:

  • Karateka - Jordan Mechner. "So we've been sharing links for nearly four years, and this is our 200th installment. I figured I'd choose things that make us feel old. First up, Karateka. When I was a young boy playing on an Apple IIe, there were a few games that pushed the 64K envelope of what was possible: Black Magic, Rescue Raiders, Lode Runner, and Archon 2. But nothing came close to Karateka. The first game by Jordan Mechner -- who went on to make the Prince of Persia franchise -- it had the music, animation, simplicity and humor that showed what was possible. A recent Facebook thread suggested this site (hat tip to Steve Hayter), which explains some of its history, with a link to a video about the game. Mechner's first computer had 16K. To put that into context, that's less memory than the logo on most modern websites. Dig around for a while and feel old." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Biomarkers and ageing: The clock-watcher - Nature. "What if your body kept time? And what if we could measure it accurately? Crime scene investigations are the obvious application, but what about the lifespan of transplanted organs? Or if cancer cells are different, can we detect them? For years, Steve Horvath had tried to find the body's clock, but when he found it, it seemed too good to be true. He was widely rejected by scientific journals. But he persevered, and it looks like he was right. You can even do it with pee. This story is as much about tenacity as it is about science. And, it reminds me that we're only a generation or two away from some kind of immortality -- whether that's artificial intelligence, downloaded brains, or life extension. Either way, we're probably too soon to benefit from it, which should make us feel even older than Karateka does." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • A 13-year-old eagle huntress in Mongolia - BBC. "Breathtaking photos." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • 6 Independent Bookstores That Are Thriving -- and How They Do It - New York Magazine. "A good-news story about book stores." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Scientists Find an 'Earth Twin,' or Perhaps a Cousin - The New York Times. "Astronomy is just awesome, isn't it? Here's the deal: Kepler 186f is the first validated, Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of another star. It falls into an area known as the 'Goldilocks zone' (not too hot and not too cold... but just right). You read that right. A planet that is about as close to Earth as possible. It's only 500 lights years away (not too close). It's also not perfect. According to this article: 'It is closer to its star -- a red dwarf that is smaller, cooler and fainter than our sun -- than the Earth is to its; its year, the time to complete one orbit, is 130 days, not 365. It is also at the outer edge of the habitable zone, receiving less warmth, so perhaps more of its surface would freeze.' Still, the thinking is that you could walk around, breathe and have gravity working for you over there. How cool is that?" (Mitch for Alistair).
  • 30 Knockoff Products That Are Almost Better Than The Real Thing - Buzzfeed. "I honestly don't know whether I should be laughing at crying at this. It's funny, because it's hard to believe how stupid certain unscrupulous business people are to make a quick buck... and how little thought they put into their plans. It's sad, because it's hard to be a brand on the receiving end of these knock-offs. You come up with an idea, you do your best to protect it, you gain market share, you get attention, you get people to care, and then the maniacal hawks (dogs) swoop in and do ridiculous things like this. Feels like something more than a simple 'lost in translation' kind of thing." (Mitch for Hugh).

Now it's your turn: in the comment section below pick one thing that you saw this week that inspired you and share it.

By Mitch Joel


April 18, 2014 2:45 PM

Collaboration, Sharing And The New Entrepreneur

When you think about entrepreneurship, who do you admire?

Names likes Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos come to mind. They are awesome. Their work is inspiring, creative and important. What do you think about Twitter? As powerful? As impressive? As life-changing? It's a tough call. Regardless of your stance, Ev Williams and Jack Dorsey get a lot of the accolades and attention. A while back, I had the chance to share the stage and spend some time talking to Biz Stone (who is one of the co-founders as well). What's immediately noticeable is his passion for creativity, asking questions and his humor. All of that comes through brilliantly in his first book, Things a Little Bird Told Me - Confessions of the Creative Mind (we also share the same book publisher). Stone went on to found two other startups that have been garnering a significant amount of attention: Medium and Jelly. In this short, under twenty minute, conversation with Charlie Rose, Stone covers a myriad of interesting concepts and stories that every marketer should pay attention to.

Tweet, tweet, tweet... this is Biz Stone...

By Mitch Joel


April 17, 2014 6:17 PM

The End Of Liking A Brand In A Move Towards Anti-Social Media

Be careful which brands you like, friend and follow going forward.

That was the headline yesterday in The New York Times article, When 'Liking' a Brand Online Voids the Right to Sue. What may seem like legal side-stepping to avoid things like class action lawsuits or individuals suing a brand, feels like a massive movement by brands to force consumers with any sort of issue to seek arbitration over the courts. There are pros and cons to this approach, but it is becoming a major issue for major corporations. With that, this New York Times article points this issue into an arena that may shock the marketing industry. From the article:

"General Mills, the maker of cereals like Cheerios and Chex as well as brands like Bisquick and Betty Crocker, has quietly added language to its website to alert consumers that they give up their right to sue the company if they download coupons, 'join' it in online communities like Facebook, enter a company-sponsored sweepstakes or contest or interact with it in a variety of other ways. Instead, anyone who has received anything that could be construed as a benefit and who then has a dispute with the company over its products will have to use informal negotiation via email or go through arbitration to seek relief, according to the new terms posted on its site."

What does that mean to social media? A lot.

Marketers have taken issue with these sorts of things long before this breaking news. Companies like Facebook, Twitter and others are constantly being criticized because of their terms of service and usage regulations and agreements. They are long, legal, cumbersome and very infrequently read or understood by consumers. Now, imagine this layer of confusion being added to mix. So, as this theory goes, if someone likes your page on Facebook, they are suddenly waiving their right to sue the company should something negative come about. While this may work for other industries, this seems even more restrictive when we're talking about food companies. Picture a scenario where you like this brand on Facebook and then months later are poisoned due to quality controls at the factory. Suddenly, you can't sue or take part in a class action suit because you clicked a like button for a completely different reason. If you didn't click that like button... does that make it fair ball to sue?

We have to get less legal about things.

No one will argue that we live in very litigious times. People suing fast food restaurants because they spilled boiling coffee on themselves by accident (how is that the brand's fault? They should not make the coffee so hot or they should put a warning on the coffee cups that the contents may be hot... for real). It takes all kinds. Still, in a world where consumers have demanded transparency, and brands have responded by attempting to be more open and real (in particular, on social media channels), it's astonishing that these types of antics will be - in some form or another - considered good customer advocacy.

Connecting the points.

What makes digital marketing truly fascinating (for me, anyways) is how it elevates brands above and beyond a world of advertising (shouting messages) into a bigger palette of marketing expression. With it will come challenges (as we have seen on numerous occasions). It forces everybody in an organization (from the CEO and CMO down to the people on the frontlines) to think differently about how they act, react, communicate and engage with an audience. On the the other side, if every attempt to do so is met with a need for the legal department to absolve the brand of any mistakes, we may be headed in the wrong direction. The article goes on to state: "Arbitration experts said courts would probably require General Mills to prove that a customer was aware of its new policy before issuing decisions denying legal action against the company." Translation: we are pitting brands against consumers and vice-versa... all over again. Over a decade ago, we begun to usher in this new type of connection and communication. It made me proud to be in the marketing profession. I understand the brand's perspective and their need to protect themselves from frivolous and unfounded claims. I also understand the consumer's perspective and their need to take action against anyone who knowingly does them harm. We have a legal system for a reason. That being said, forcing consumers to waive their legal rights because they "like" a brand on Facebook feels like a terribly anti-social statement to be making.

We have to ask ourselves if these types of legal arrangements are really empowering and entrusting our consumers or does it spell the end for social media? 

By Mitch Joel


April 16, 2014 4:18 PM

Shutting Down Blog Comments

I think that I provoked the blog comment Gods today.

Sorry about this, but the ability to comment on blog posts here at Six Pixels of Separation has been disabled. It's not you. It's not me. It's the spammers. I was recording a podcast today with Gini Dietrich of Spin Sucks (it will be published in the coming weeks) and we were talking about the many bloggers and news sites that have shut down their blog comments (Copyblogger being the one that has most recently decided to do so: Why We're Removing Comments on Copyblogger). I was marveling at how awesome and consistent Gini is at both engaging and connecting with the myriad of comments and feedback she gets all over the Web (and, you can read her side on the blog comments debacle right here: Why We Won't Shut Off Blog Comments)... and then this happened.

It's been going on for a few years.

As you may (or may not) know, I have been blogging for over a decade. Every day (or almost). That's close to 4000 pieces of long form content. The blogging platform used here is not WordPress (we're on MovableType because WordPress didn't even exist back then). We have a strong IT team here at Twist Image, but never had the need/desire to switch over to WordPress. With that, we have been using the blog comment capabilities of MovableType since the beginning. Don't get me wrong, it still catches way more pieces of spammy blog comments than the ones that go live and, every day or so, I would hop on to the backend and simply delete the ones that made it through. Lately, things are getting out of control and, in full disclosure, I started falling behind in cleaning them out. So, now it's a bit of a massive mess. That's not the real issue. Once Gini and I finished recording today, there was this massive and sudden influx of spam blog comments that made it through the filter. We had to shut it down. Like I said, I think I was tempting the blog comment deities after my chat with Gini.

I'm sorry... and what this means.

First off, I apologize. I love your comments, feedback and even those that disagree with me. I may not always respond or be quick to respond, but I care about your thoughts... I really, really do. I read every comment, tweet, status update and more surrounding these posts. So, I hate the fact that you can't comment here (for the next little bit). I also believe that one of the core components that still makes blogging one of the most fascinating publishing platforms in the world is the ability for anyone to add to the discourse. Our team is going to check out Livefyre and Disqus to see which solution might best remedy our current situation (and, if you have any thoughts, please do shoot me an email). I'm hopeful that it will happen soon/fast, but I can't be sure.

Until then...

Please don't stop commenting. I typically post to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn when I publish a blog post, and I would love to hear from you there (or even on your own blog, if something inspires you to write). Blog comments will come back at some point soon on Six Pixels of Separation, and it pains me to let the spammers win, but it is what it is at this point in time.

Once again, thank you for following, reading, engaging, commenting and sharing. Please don't let the lack of blog comments below stop that. 

By Mitch Joel


April 15, 201411:57 PM

Google's Third Wave Of Innovation

Is it normal that a search engine is buying up all of the robotics and drone companies? If you're in the marketing profession, you have to be scratching your head at the moves that Google has made over the past... Read more

By Mitch Joel


April 14, 2014 9:58 AM

CTRL ALT Delete - Weekly Technology And Digital Media Review - CHOM FM #27

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

April 13, 201411:11 AM

The Best That Social Media Has To Offer

Episode #405 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. Jay Baer is back and he's doing what most people in Social Media are not doing: making big... Read more

By Mitch Joel


April 12, 2014 1:57 PM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #199

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

April 11, 2014 4:08 PM

The Sad (And Hilarious) State Of Silicon Valley

This is Not Safe For Work (NSFW, as the cool kids say). I laughed, cried and almost could not watch this show in its entirety (it's both true and painful if you have spent some time out there). It is... Read more

By Mitch Joel