Texting During Dinner: Multitasking, FOMO, and Smartphone Etiquette

December 14, 2012 |  by  |  Social Media, Technology  |  2 Comments
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Emily PostSocial etiquette is becoming murkier everyday. Half of all adult Americans now own either a smartphone or tablet, and one-third use their mobile devices to view news stories and video clips at least weekly. -Half of U.S. adults own a smartphone or tablet, Pew survey says  Everybody’s on the phone. Yes Jimmy, but they’re not just talking on the phone.

Instead of reiterating the obvious, I will dive into the implications for IRL interactions.

Cultural mores dictate certain things you shouldn’t do because they’re rude. And usually there are exceptions to these rules. Common sense used to suffice in this realm. Mobile technology has introduced a host of new implicit rules and exceptions, not to mention the generational divide over what’s considered rude. The key is whether the other person knows you have an exception (assuming they care or loosely adhere to the following). Common scenarios:

Bad Tech Behavior Exception Caveat/Details
Texting during a meal/date/outing Texting a friend who is on the way/lost/running late. Instagram can be fine if the other person gets it or joins in Instagramming the fire hydrant or heart-shaped coffee froth. Mention to present company that the other party is the person you’re texting. Generally, just give your undivided attention to the other person.
Using your phone while watching/listening to a presentation or speech Taking notes; taking a non-flash photo of the speaker/event; tweeting about the presentation Even if you’re just notetaking on your phone (and do use Evernote), it would look better to use a tablet, seemingly more public and when so, associated with single tasks like notetaking, whereas a phone screen is smaller, thus less conducive to notetaking and more private. Phone is better at hiding your potential bad tech behaviors. Ongoing tweeting is acceptable if the presentation is meant to be live tweeted- definitely if the event has a hashtag. But try and look up.
Texting, web search, or checking Facebook while on a date Showing something on Facebook that is relevant to the conversation. Googling/texting a mutual burning question to an authority. If you want to get away with any of these behaviors undetected, do not post anything. The person may now be or may end up your Facebook friend. A simple calendar check would let them put two and two together: you were multitasking them, as in digitally double-booking them.
Forgetting to turn your phone on silent or vibrate in the movies or at a meeting Movie theatre: no exception. Meeting: Vibrate is acceptable if expecting an important call or email but only if the phone is in your lap, pocket, or purse — not on the table. In a meeting where others are aware (and better yet, mutually affected by the outcome) of your expected call or email or text, vibrate mode on the table is fine.




This Instagram video is one of my favorite social media parodies. This is us. You know who you are.

I don’t want to be always on. I want to be in the moment even when the moment is paused for a bathroom break. It’s part of the bigger picture: we need to silence our FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Multitasking is addictive because it produces dopamine. We instinctually want to multitask because the big DA is a powerful reward-based neurotransmitter. It’s what makes cocaine and methamphetamines such fun. We bathe in dopamine for that neurological reward and in order to supposedly maximize our experience of all the available technology. But digital stress on the brain from multitasking makes us perform worse. We really can’t handle more than two tasks at once. We really should focus on the main task at hand: each other.

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Dying of Loneliness on Facebook

May 9, 2012 |  by  |  Social Media, Technology  |  5 Comments
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Attack of the 50-Foot Woman star died at 82 completely alone: Mummified body of former Playboy playmate Yvette Vickers found in her Benedict Canyon home:

With no children, no religious group, and no immediate social circle of any kind, she had begun, as an elderly woman, to look elsewhere for companionship. Savage later told Los Angeles magazine that she had searched Vickers’s phone bills for clues about the life that led to such an end. In the months before her grotesque death, Vickers had made calls not to friends or family but to distant fans who had found her through fan conventions and Internet sites.

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman movie posterA great book about the breakdown of American community is Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam. The author provides an interesting analysis about U.S. society during the last century and last 50 years. Of course this has implications for marketing. Putnam examines the causes and effects of the fact that in the 1950s, bowling leagues, PTAs, church groups, and general neighborly interaction was very popular, while nowadays we spend a fraction of the time we used to spend socializing (and voting or participating in community).

Vickers is not the first elderly person to pass away unnoticed.

But a less dramatic form of loneliness pervades people of all ages; it is disguised as complete connectedness.

Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? New research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill.

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Get Mavericky and “Join the Conversation”

March 18, 2011 |  by  |  Marketing, Social Media  |  3 Comments
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crowd people mall emilybinder.comBrand conversation listening is important (obviously).

But simple, vague advice like “Listen to the conversation around your brand” and “Join the conversation” is inadequately qualified. I can find eggheads on Twitter who’ve tweeted these very platitudes. Without explanation, they’re worthless.

“Join the conversation” has become my cringe phrase of choice, replacing my favorite Sarah Palin gems “maverick” and “reign in spending” and “shore up.” Well, maybe those are worse.

Listening vs. Eavesdropping

I heard something poignant; may it guide our mavericky marketing ears: We should listen but not eavesdrop. (Idea from Steven van Belleghem, The Conversation Manager on Jaffe Juice podcast #145.)

join-the-conversation-tweets-emilybinder.com

A brand that eavesdrops and replies to the most insignificant mentions interrupts the consumers’ conversation, instead of politely jumping in where it is useful. This is where social media becomes a time suck. Plus, actions speak louder than words. Imagine a nasty tweet about your brand from a Twitter complainer who has a major sense of entitlement post-this crazy time of brand democratization. You must be able to differentiate the bitching from the truly problematic:

Properly handled tweet worth a reply:

ComcastWill :
@everysandwich can you send us an email we_can_help@comcast.com so we can have this resolved for you
2010-11-25 00:46:00
everysandwich :
@comcast Folks I’ve been trying for nearly a year to have you fix the siding you damaged on my house. Please *function.*
2010-11-25 00:24:47

Waste of everyone’s time, please unjoin the conversation even though you’re amusing:

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Cc Multiple Social Networks and Annoy

March 3, 2011 |  by  |  Marketing, Social Media  |  4 Comments
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Multiple Social Networks

Services that simultaneously post updates to multiple social media networks have become more popular. The first time I took issue with this was when LinkedIn added the ability to copy Twitter on a status update, and enabling vice versa by adding the hashtag #linkedin to a tweet. Some people abuse this: LinkedIn is simply not Twitter. The only updates on LinkedIn that you should duplicate on Twitter are few and far between. One acceptable category is professionally related posts, e.g. conference or event information/learnings. However, as wildly insightful and disruptive I felt my tweets at the last Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AiMA) Email Marketing event were, no one on LinkedIn would want to see ten tweets within two hours about email marketing. Further, Twitter jargon pasted onto other sites can lack translation and context:

AiMA Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association Email #aima twitter emilybinder

Check all those social sharing boxes and disperse your status with SEO greed — I will unfollow you. Remember that social = human. With all the noise, why follow one person on six networks if this social superstar carbon copies even half of their posts? I know Dino Dogan says content isn’t king. But shouldn’t it be?

Location-Based Social

Posting Foursquare check-ins on Twitter is usually annoying. The marketing folks I love following who typically tweet excellent content cheapen themselves by announcing check-ins to Taco Mac. Maybe some people think they are giving their online persona a personal touch by sharing places they visit. However, realize that spamming your followers with your every move is not analogous to the heralded Sharpie Susan act of uploading a thoughtful, personal avatar instead of a sterile logo (or worse, of course: the unthinkable dreaded egg head).

The reason different social media platforms exist is that each offers a different experience, and the parameters for participation vary. The expected candor on LinkedIn differs from Facebook. The demands of my beloved Twitter are greater (and arguably more challenging) than a blog that has free reign on length. Twitter is more forgiving about punctuation, spelling, and abbreviations because everyone understands 140 characters is limiting. Actually, this makes Twitter harder and more fun. Economy of words is powerful. If Twitter ever increases the character limit, I will quit. Besides, we have found ways to get around it. For example:

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Paying for the Anomalous 20th Century

February 21, 2011 |  by  |  Social Media, Technology  |  No Comments
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Egyptians protest Cairo

Egyptians protest in central Cairo. Photograph: Khaled El Fiqi/EPA via Guardian UK

20th Century Greatness

I’ve had a nascent theory in the back of my mind– maybe more so a gut instinct or fear — that the concentrated collection of destructive events in the last 10-20 years are a result of the pendulum swinging back after the glorious 20th century. It was simply too much, too fast, too good. I’m no historian, but I think the concentration of war and terrorism and environmental disaster from, say, 1985-2005 has been the universe somehow regaining equilibrium.

I recently researched the bubonic plague. The three iterations of the plague killed ~75 million people. Although it was arguably a deadlier and more destructive historic event as a stand-alone, if you add up several more recent terrors (a non-exhaustive list, at that): 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Haiti earthquake, 2007 tsunami, Iraq/Afghanistan wars, SARS/bird flu other biomedical scares — these seem implicitly worse, and eerily more so on a trajectory.

For lack of a better term, the universe may be putting society back in its place; reminding us that Mother Earth’s tsunamis and hurricanes are greater than we; the smoggy planet is angry after our Industrial Revolution. Further, and more importantly for the global marketplace, we are angry at one another after the catapult into a globalized economy. Rapid idea and information dissemination has — despite the trend of political correctness and increasing tolerance for diversity — perhaps increased our animosity toward one another. (Here, I mainly allude to segments of Middle Eastern/developing nations’ rising awareness, jealousy,  and resentment of Western values, lifestyle, and politics.) As such, I posit the following: Would Islamic fundamentalists have been inflamed enough to commit 9/11 if the previous century had been less an anomaly of transformative, progressive innovation and invention?

We talk about social media empowering consumers like never before. I love Twitter because it’s the ultimate democratization of information. It’s grittier than meticulous, revised blog entries and methodical Facebook posts.

Facsimile to Egypt

Egyptians protest Cairo

Egyptians protest in central Cairo. Photograph: Khaled El Fiqi/EPA via Guardian UK

Instantaneous access to news didn’t exist 15-20 years ago. Recall that the fall of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Block was mainly due the ability to send fax messages. The Solidarity Movement in Poland primarily communicated via fax because their phones were tapped. Technology has at least lubricated and arguably enabled the new social change.

This January, tens of thousands of protesters mobilized in Egypt to demand an end to authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30 year reign. The protests were organized in part through Twitter and Facebook. TechCrunch reported that Egypt blocked Twitter.com (website and mobile site) in an attempt to subdue the demonstrations.

Selected Egypt tweets from guardian.co.uk:

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Marketing to Baby Boomers

February 4, 2011 |  by  |  America, Marketing, Social Media  |  3 Comments
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Declining Community Participation

In Bowling Alone, Robert D. Putnam cites numerous statistics to illustrate the drop-off in Americans’ civic engagement and community participation since Baby Boomers’ parents were middle-aged (c. 1950s).

Bowling Alone book cover

In light of such information, and the overarching question Putnam posits about changes in community, there are myriad theories one could substantiate about the replacement of physical communal interaction with modern online, redefined communities. I will focus on connecting one area: Middle-aged to older adults, (in their 50s and 60s) have traditionally been more likely than young adults to vote and to engage in various forms of community (from bowling leagues to garden clubs to signing petitions to campaign participation).

Americans are less active today in such activities than ever before.

Social media use among Baby Boomers 55-64 rose from 9% in Dec. 2008 to 43% in Dec. 2010 (from Marketingcharts.com via David Erickson via Keith Privette).

Correlation or causation? Are 60 year-olds hashtagging #gardening tips instead of heading to a neighbor’s backyard club meeting? Probably (although most Boomers are on Facebook (73%) and not Twitter (only 13%). For analysis on the implications of the overall implications of these shifts in community definition involvement, read Bowling Alone.

Immediate marketing application:

Remember that with longer life expectancy and lower savings rates than previous seniors, Boomers are projected to spend an additional $50 billion over the next decade (via market-research firm SymphonyIRI). If your brand’s target audience is between 50-70 years old, maximize your use of Facebook and minimize your reliance on old ideas about 50-70 year old consumers. Avoid yellows and blues in ads. Be Kimberly Clark-like, (maker of Depends)- they’ve spent two years overhauling the incontinence brand to appeal to the anticipated higher demands of Boomers. By 2020, Kimberly-Clark expects 45 million boomers will need incontinence products, up from 38 million currently. Depends advertising: “We’re very subtle in that we don’t have to explain the problem and solution in the ads. Boomers like seeing the confidence part of it.”

When crafting the Facebook page, remember your customer’s main reason for participating in Facebook: “Creating and renewing personal connections online is the biggest draw for boomers. About 47% of online boomers maintain a profile on at least one social network.” Boomers don’t want to bowl alone too much, though they have readily accepted the Facebook era. Whereas Generation Me (babies of the ’80s) isn’t on Facebook with the organic, unadulterated goal of staying connected with friends sharing pictures of children and grandchildren; we’re on Facebook because the alternative is unthinkable and we know no other way. Connecting with friends is one appeal, but our culturally endemic narcissism is the real impetus for updating one’s Profile. Thus, marketing to twenty-somethings is completely different than to Boomers.

9 second attention span, 140 character limit

It’s no shock that Twitter appeals to younger people. We have a tiny ADD attention span of roughly 9 seconds (via Sally Hogshead and Fascinate‘s memorable goldfish book jacket). One hundred years ago, attention span averaged twenty minutes. This is no accident: People increasingly lacked the patience to sit through PTA meetings over the last five decades. The communal connections or friendships potentially garnered there were hit-or-miss depending on attendance and likeability of one’s neighbors. Online communities that are targeted or niche present no risk that you’ll struggle to connect with like-minded comrades. If the relationship is based on Twitter and never even leads to a real life meeting, it will still suffice nowadays to quench that community thirst. Although, Boomers might still need a bit more Facebook love. But the proliferation and massive success of Twitter, especially amongst those who will increasingly make up the majority of the population as decades pass, means one day marketers may fondly recall enjoying the 30 second attention span of a Facebook user.

Tupperware Party 1950s

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Targeting Consumer Segments in 2011

January 14, 2011 |  by  |  Social Media  |  1 Comment
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Looking forward

There are a few dozen reasons to be excited for 2011 in tech. I’ll focus on one: Better targeted email marketing campaigns.

“Nearly every major announcement and R&D trend in the social industry revolves around adding data or layers of connectivity. Just in the past few weeks you have Facebook integrating e-mail, PostRank integrating Facebook data, Bing integrating Facebook data, Cotweet integrating with ExactTarget…” -Jesse Stanchak, SmartBlog on Social Media- “Why 2011 will be the year of social media convergence”

Email and Facebook Marketing

If we could send emails only to customers who clicked a particular shortlink on Twitter, this would allow for very customized marketing. However, it needs to be proven that the time spent tailoring individual emails to different consumer segments would be worthwhile. I look forward to being able to send a Facebook message to my Page’s followers who have visited a particular page on my website. It is almost overwhelming the degree of detail proposed here, however. Rather, the overwhelming part is ascertaining the threshold at which the ROI from heavy analysis and calculation of segments and expected conversion rates becomes too minute to be relevant anymore.

Email Marketing emilybinder.com

If you can lower your cost per acquisition by using (hard cost = free) social media instead of pricy OOH advertising, for instance, you can probably only chip away at that number so much before the burden of sifting through your SM data raises it again. What I’m getting at, more specifically, is that I am tired of using ten different services to manage social media.

You have your eating disorder Twitter follower management services (binge and purge). You have post automation. You have auto welcome DMs to rotate and send. You have graphs tracking follower growth. You have Google Analytics with hits to your website and where they came from.  You have email campaign results with open rates and clicks. You have Facebook Insights.  Etc.

2011, let’s merge it all.  And hey, if anyone out there knows a service that already does this (and by service I mean a dot com or SAS, not a consultant or agency or individual workhorse tasked with conversation monitoring) by all means, comment. Note: I am partial to sendible.com of late, but it doesn’t meet all the above requirements.

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Now Consumers Have First Right of Refusal

December 30, 2010 |  by  |  Marketing, Social Media  |  4 Comments
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“The main reason for [companies not admitting dearth of Social Media skills] is personal technologies have outpaced business technology for the first time in a generation,” Keith Privette replied to me. Great observation- so key. Instead of consumers having second exposure after businesses have understood and implemented a new product or service, consumers have the essential dibs, the first right of refusal: they have chosen to popularize Social Media because of how innately useful, effective, and egalitarian (in the sense of a meritocracy) it is.

As you’ve read, I’ve been curious lately about where it’s all heading. In the next ten years, what will be the ultimate nuanced importance and overt importance of knowing that ten Facebook posts per day a real SM presence do not make? Working in Social Media is difficult in a different way than is, say, the field of law, because at least in the legal field, someone can respectfully/realistically aspire to – and one day actually be seen as – a guru. (Pardon my use of the word.) In an emerging field such as ours, it is difficult for someone to appreciate that seasoned, experienced SM strategists do base their expertise on learnable concepts. Those concepts, however, change everyday and that’s why SM gurudom is (and wonderfully so) like nailing jello to the wall.

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