Facebook or Disgracebook? The Social Networking Sight Settles Privacy Dispute

You can not deny the power of social media. However, ironically, Facebook is one of the top ten most hated companies (zdnet). Clearly it is a love/hate relationship that exists because the numbers aren’t going down, but the grumbles are undoubtedly going up. Most of the frustrations coming from consumers had to do with the privacy issues surrounding the site. Today, Facebook finally settled their privacy dispute with the FTC as discussed in this article. However, for many consumers the damage first began with charges that the company rolled out upgrades that overrode users’ privacy settings without obtaining their consent and shared their private information with third-party apps and advertisers. I know, I know, you’re going to try and convince me that nothing is private anymore, but the fact of the matter is, consumers felt they had autonomy over their social network settings. As Organizational Behavioral theories would argue, consumers felt they had perceived control.

The allegations were incredibly serious and had the potential to be detrimental the sight (as made evident by the sight’s approval rating). “The complaint also contends that Facebook made personal information available to advertisers in instances between September 2008 and May 2010, alleging that advertisers could access identifying details about users who clicked on their ads, along with other facts, like their browsing history” (zdnet). My advice to Facebook?  Steer clear of what I would like to call the Lindsay Lohan Effect. You are not the exception. Ms. Lohan has believed she is above the law, untouchable if you will, and while the laws of social media may be a victim of an intense cultural lag, the principles are the same. Facebook is not a monopoly and as much power as the currently hold, they too are susceptible to a younger, prettier, more talented actress (in the case of Lindsey Lo) or a younger, prettier,  “safer” social media site. If the risk is not worth the reward, we will revolt.

Currently, it looks like what some would call Disgracebook will go back to being the ever-successful Facebook that we all know and love, but let’s hope that the site learned an important lesson here. They may have dodged a bullet for now, but live, learn, and then get private. For now, the resolution is as stands: “To consumers, be assured that Facebook should seek your consent before overriding your privacy settings,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. Facebook is subject to a $16,000 fine per violation per day if it fails to comply with the terms of the order. In addition to obtaining users’ explicit consent before making changes that override their existing privacy settings Facebook must institute a privacy program that’s required to be audited by a third-party company every two years for 20 years.”

What’s the lesson? Shape up or ship out. Even though you are currently king does not mean you will have the thrown forever. What do you think? “Faze”book or Facebook?

 

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Effective Leadership

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. -Nelson Mandela

What makes a leader effective? Derek Sivers would argue that “the first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.” Regardless of how an individual attracts his/her followers, the point is, when they are in fact successful, there are characteristic trends within personality that most leaders share. “Every leader has a particular style of leadership that is innate. However, the behaviors, attitudes or methods of delivery that are effective for one staff member may in fact be counterproductive for another” (CNN).
Here are what I deem the most important leadership traits mentioned by the CNN article that comprises a good leader:
1. Honesty: builds trust
2. Focus: mission statement and direct understanding of expectations as well as a clear path to get there.
3. Passion: find it.
4. Respect: treat each other with dignity and equality. There is no room for favoritism.
5. Excellent persuasion abilities: find your “why”. (See previous post by me)
6. Be Empowering: make your followers feel valued.
Whether it was Ghandi, Steve Jobs, J.F.K, Dr. Greene, or the manager at your favorite local coffee shop, in order to be an effective leader, these characteristics are essential. I would argue that charm, charisma, and intellect also play obvious roles. However, as theories of organizational behavior would reinforce, inspirational leadership styles, or walking the walk is a transformative method of management.
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be..” The same is true in management; wherever your treasure or priorities lie, there too the desires of your business (or heart) will lie. If money motivates you, than that is where your heart is. If it’s within the people you guide, than that is where your heart is. Whatever it may be, your means to the end may vary, but the most common formulas have been prove to lie within the characteristics above. Where are you lacking?

WHY (as it applies to me)

Disclaimer: This blog breaks my traditional semi-objective tone and looks more at the purpose and motive that lies between my thoughts and key strokes.

I know, you’ve seen it, but it’s STILL relevant.

WHY: causality, a consequential relationship between two events. reason (argument), a premise in support of an argument, for what reason or purpose.

This is a question fit for every context ending with a question mark. In the above video, Mr. Sinek applies why to marketing. In this blog, I am applying it to me. Part of the process of graduate school is about taking an inventory of one’s self.

“Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why” I mean: what’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? 

If I follow the above logic, which by the way, I hardheartedly agree with, then in order to be successful, I too must find my why. What is my purpose? What is my cause? What is my belief? I want to not only work for a successful business, I want to be a successful business. Smirk if you want, but you do too.

We go around the room and most of us say that we don’t know exactly what we want to do. We are at one of the top universities in the country, and the best we can get is the simple feeling that we’re in the right program? We feel it, but when asked why, we look at each other in order to feel a sense of unity in our discomfort. Sure we can put labels on it: marketing, human resources, public relations, advertising, but when probed further, there’s a shared panic. I understand, I don’t have an answer that I am content with yet either, but this is what I’ve got so far:

I am here to make a difference. I know, Miss America pageant answer and I hate it too, but don’t disregard it yet..hear me out. There are only a few moments in my life where I have felt truly alive. My first was while in Kenya five months ago. I have never lived a more purposeful two weeks in my life. It is something that I hate trying to explain because words tend to only discredit the intensity of my experience, and if I’m being honest with you, your reaction if I were to explain it to you, would probably be highly disappointing to me too. I get it though, it’s something that is really hard to relate to. It’s like if you were really into Lady Gaga and she walked into Starbucks, I wouldn’t care, but you would be FREAKING.OUT. Anyway for now, just trust me when I say I lived. The second was when I found out that I got into USC. Why? you so appropriately ask? Because it signified the culmination of everything I had worked toward. It was my chance to do something bigger than me. I have a love for psychology that probably has a lot to do with growing up with a mother who is a licensed psychotherapist. I have a love for business that probably has to do with the fact that I like to feel like I am in control. It is the perfect combination. No, I don’t know exactly where I am headed, but I think what Mr. Sinek fails to mention is that sometimes a feeling can be just as powerful as an answer. Why? because sometimes the most meaningful things can’t be explained, only felt.

…and I feel like that’s okay.

What is your why?

The Man Who Taught Us All How to Think Different

I was in church one Sunday when my pastor asked the congregation how many of us want to go to heaven when we die. Naturally, everyone raised their hand. He then asked, how many want to go right now? No one raised their hand.We have things to do. We have people to see and places to go, but not even the greatest among us can escape death. Steve Jobs, innovator, genius, revolutionary and entrepreneur died at age 56.


I google-imaged apple and there are more pixels related to Apple Inc. then to an actual apple. How did this happen? The answer, Steve Jobs.

We all know about his products, we all probably own one, but that is not the emphasis of this post. Instead, I want to focus on the man, not the mogul. Undoubtedly, Jobs changed the world as we know it. Our children will not only think differently because of Jobs, they will live differently, but how much do really know about the man behind the curtain?

 

Steve Jobs Jobs was born in San Francisco to Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, a Syrian, and Joanne Schieble, an American of Swiss and German decent. Both parents were graduate school students. Jobs’ grandfather did not approve of his parents getting married so his parents decided to put him up for adoption. Steve’s biological mother later became a speech pathologist while his father taught political science at various universities. Ironically however, four months after Jobs’ grandfather died (and only ten months after they decided to give up custody of Steve), his parents married and had a daughter, Jobs’ biological sister Mona Simpson.  The marriage ended in divorce. Later in life, Jobs connected with Mona and had a distant relationship with his biological mother. Although Jandali’s attempts, late in his life, to contact Jobs were unsuccessful; Interviewed in August 2011 when Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, Jandali said, “I just wish I hadn’t been the selfish man I must have been, to allow both my children to turn their backs on me and pray it is not too late to tell Steve how I feel.” (The Sun)

Jobs was adopted by  Paul Jobs and Clara Jobs. Paul and Clara also later adopted a daughter, Patti. Paul Jobs, a machinist for a company that made lasers, taught his son rudimentary electronics and how to work with his hands. It was in Paul and Clara’s garage where Jobs’ and co-founder Steve Wozniak (shown above) began work on the first Apple computer. (Side note: the last name Wozniak is automatically saved in Mac spell check-just learned that).

Time past and Steve married Laurene Powell on March 18, 1991. The couple had a son and two daughters. However, Jobs also had a daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs (born 1978), from his relationship with Bay Area painter Chrisann Brennan prior to meeting his wife. For two years, Brennan raised their daughter on welfare while Jobs denied paternity by claiming he was sterile; he later acknowledged Lisa as his daughter (CNN). DUN DUN DUN.

Obviously, I did not personally know Steve Jobs and I am not here to bash his legacy. In fact, I have much respect and admiration for his professional accomplishments. I do not know if in my lifetime I will see the amount of innovation and complete transformation of our society by another name. I found out that Jobs had passed via Facebook (fitting right?) Millions of status’ were devoted to his passing, but one that I was exposed to I felt summed up his impact on my generation quite well. It came from one of my fellow Trojans who studied Music Industry and has a passion for everything that is music. It was as follows:

“Because of you, I’m able to write, record, and listen to music virtually anywhere I want. RIP Steve Jobs.”

 

A noticeably frail Jobs.

A copy of Jobs’ death certificate indicates that the Apple co-founder died of respiratory arrest resulting from pancreatic cancer that had spread to other organs (The Guardian).

Steve Jobs changed Human Behavior. He changed the way in which companies market, the way in which consumers act, think, and expect quality. He defines a movement of innovation. During one interview, Jobs stated, “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very very beginning. And we always will” – Steve Jobs

Starbucks: “Significant Investment, Significant Return”


Starbucks, the number one consumer brand on Facebook, understands, “Traditional marketing is changing dramatically. You can’t push people. You have to engage them in a conversation and they have to trust the source”-Howard Schultz, CEO and Chairman.

The New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/19/business/media/19starbux.html shows how the company directly applied social networking and digital media to their marketing strategies. Starbucks recently unveiled new advertising posters and invitied its consumers to search for the posters. A competitive twist was incorporated by being the first to post a photo of one of the advertisements on Twitter.

With the economic downturn, those who frequent the coffee chain are having a hard time rationalizing a five dollar white mocha each morning. Especially when McDonalds offers coffee at a fraction of the price. After all, coffee is coffee, right? Wrong, according to Starbucks. It should not come as a shock to us students of Human Behavior, Starbucks doesn’t only sell coffee, they sell a third-place environment; not home, not work, but Starbucks. The article, however, is quick to emphasize the quality of the brand. “The full-page newspaper ads goes to some length to describe how Starbucks selects only the best 3 percent of beans and roasts them until they pop twice, and gives its part-time workers health insurance.”

What is really quite genius about the brand is how they studied the embedded habits of social media users and were able to integrate their marketing campaign around behaviors that were already occurring, not the other way around. “The idea for the Starbucks photo contest came from watching what people already do on Facebookand Twitter.” The  brand was able to capitalize on behaviors that their customers were already participating in.

“It’s the difference between launching with many millions of dollars versus millions of fans.”

True, Starbucks probably spent quite a chunk of change on the new poster advertisement, (the wouldn’t reveal the exact cost) but that wasn’t their most significant breakthrough. Instead, it was what it translated to, a conversation online. While McDonalds spent 100 million dollars are their marketing campaign against Starbucks and other top competitors, Starbucks realized their strongest campaign was to join the one that was already alive and well within social media. How can your brand join the conversation?

Coloring Inside the Lines, Psych.

http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2008/06/color-psycholog.html

Psychological and sociological theories explain much of we do as human beings. The MHB program aims to not only understand these often-subconscious behaviors, but also capitalize on them. Color psychology is a field in which we as marketers, advertisers, and future men and women of business, can directly apply to our own strategies. Research has shown that colors, and the connotations they imply, have the power to modify the physiological and mental status of any given individual.

A study by Wohlfarth and Sam found that both blood pressure and hostile behavior may be changed by altering the light spectrum within an individual’s surroundings.  First and perhaps most importantly, one must take an inventory of the product or brand they want to market. What type of impressions do you want the public to associate with your brand? Let’s examine this theory further by applying it to brands we already know:

Yellow is the color of hope and imagination. Bright yellows represent sunshine, joy and happiness. No wonder kids love the golden arches!

Red: color of heat, passion and excitement. It easily grabs attention and evokes speed and energy. Need I say more?

Pink: is the color most associated with youth. It exemplifies energy, amusement and excitement.

Light blue: Favorite among anxious and depressed people

The article points out that it is important to realize that in different demographics or geographical locations, colors are associated with different attitudes and perspectives. Therefore, it is even more appropriate to consider your target audience and their cultural associations than normal.

Brand aesthetics are an essential tool to market branding and advertising, but in the end, it is the quality and reputation of the product that will prove to be most useful. Although there is something to be said for color psychology and the associations it creates. The importance of color doesn’t lie within the lines, it lies within the meanings the color creates.

Think Different.

How is the recession affecting consumer behavior?

http://www.forbes.com/2008/02/14/unsolicited-advice-recession-oped_meb_0215unsolicited.html

“The biggest risk a marketer can take is to hope to survive doing business as usual.” This is an era in which everything that once was, is no longer. Word of mouth has been replaced by word of mouse, wedding invitations are now e-vites, and billboards are on the side of our facebook pages. The Unsolicited Advice of Marc E. Babej and Tim Pollak was written in 2008, but with the advances in new technology as well as the economic crisis we are yet STILL facing, their advice is still as relevant as ever.

As a student of Human Behavior, I play a dual role as both consumer and analyst. I am a victim and a culprit of my own craft. With that acknowledgment, I feel I can play the fence a little. Babej and Pollak note that when the economy is on a downward spiral so too is American optimism of their own financial state. Simple enough, right? It’s my job to capitalize on frugality and still make a profit. This, my friends, is hardly as simple.

Finding opportunity in the market place for a recession is not easy, but The Unsolicited Advice is quick to point out the silver lining, and in traditional American fashion, we justify trade-offs. “Put another way, fiscal sobriety doesn’t always mean literal sobriety. Consumers who are feeling deprived often seek solace in affordable entertainment alternatives. Beer, liquor, movies and home entertainment tend to do well in hard times.” What we think of as a “trade-off” is switching from an iced grande decaf soy upside-down easy caramel, caramel macchiato to a McFrappe at our local golden arches. You’re welcome.

My point is, there is a place for profit. Undoubtedly, the recession affects consumer behavior. The vitality lies in realizing how we as both marketers and consumers are able to capitalize on such fluctuation. We must market to the middle. The marketing battleground is the broad middle which both experts refer to. The middle class in America is shrinking, but those trying to stay afloat will still justify their upward spending while the individuals at the top may scale down to secure their position.

It is a compromise of economic proportion.