Posts tagged ‘social media’

May 12, 2017

#128) Autopsy of an unfollow #4: Hey, “You Had One Job” – You had one job!

It’s time for another cautionary tale of a social media outlet that met a fate worse than death: the dreaded Unfollow!

Sometimes we need a humorous reminder that our life isn’t so bad and that we’re not the only ones who are idiots. A Facebook page called “You Had One Job” provided me with such reminders – until recently.

For a while, I’d enjoyed having my constant feed of kid pics and political fights broken up by the occasional picture of an intersection with “SOTP” painted in big white letters, cans of peaches labeled “TOMATOES” and the like. But “You Had One Job” stopped doing its one job.

As of the moment of my unfollowing, the last five posts on “You Had One Job” were:

  1. “25+ Crazy Tattoos That Will Twist your Mind”*
  2. “15 Hilarious Love Notes That Illustrate The Modern Relationship”
  3. “What If Guys Acted Like Girls On Instagram?”
  4. “Mom Sews Incredibly Accurate Costumes For Her Daughter To Wear At Disneyland”
  5. “Domestic Bliss: Mother Of Two Takes Darkly Humorous Family Photos

For me, it’s not so much that my desperate craving for photos of handicapped access railings going the opposite way of the staircase has been going more and more unfulfilled by “YHOJ” as it is that I’ve long been over-saturated by the type of content the site is sharing instead. I don’t want to see clever parenting. I want to see Storm Troopers coffee mugs in Paw Patrol packaging.

Would the novelty of “You Had One Job” worn off anyway? Possibly, but alas, I shall never know. The lesson: sometimes it’s better to be a one-trick pony, however niche that trick may be, than to become just another generic face in the social media crowd.

* Don’t even get me started on upstyle.

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May 23, 2016

#111) Autopsy of an unfollow #3: Cover Band Central

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The challenge that social media platforms present to businesses is providing enough content to stay visible without over-saturating. The victim of my latest unfollow, the Facebook page “Cover Band Central” is guilty of the latter.

Indeed, it’s a tough balance and finding that happy medium can be like finding the exact right spot on the shower handle. Unlike the subject of my previous two unfollows, Sci-Babe and The Sound, Cover Band Central usually stays on point with their posts (no puppies or Founding Fathers quotes here) while managing a variety of subject matters: articles from other music business outlets; humorous memes, inspirational quotes and more. The problem: most of it’s just not that great.

As of the moment of my unfollowing, the five most recent posts on the page were:

1) “Top Ten Reasons Why Your Cover Band Is Not Successful” (article from Spinditty) (I take such lists, especially those titled up-style, with a grain of salt; where does someone who’s supposedly gigging enough to justify telling me that I’m not doing more shows find the time to write such an article?)

2) A picture from Musicians Unite reading, “I simply love playing people’s favorite songs for them. I’m playing music and it feels great. That’s what it’s all about.” (Yes, it’s inspirational and peppy, but my mortgage broker doesn’t accept inspiration or pep as forms of payment. Additionally, as someone who’s often been saddened by seeing people talk over music that speaks deeply to me and absolutely lose it over music that I find rather superficial, I have trouble relating to this mentality.)

3) A picture of an enthusiastic conductor (Gustavo Dudamel?) conducting a symphony with the caption, “Most orchestras are just 1800s cover bands.” (Cute and witty but forgettable. I should note though that one of the user comments is on the mark: “I am sick and tired of people crying about cover bands….If they spent the time and effort that they spend on crying and hating them on their own material they would be farther along.” Well said, Jim Crise.)

4) An article by Steve Witschel for Musicians Unite: “What Is So Wrong With Playing Covers?” (Steve, if you love playing covers so much, why not just play them instead of writing about how much you love playing them?)

5) A picture with a Carlos Santana quote: “When you play from your heart, all of a sudden there’s no gravity. You don’t feel the weight of the world, that’s why people love it. Insurmountable problems disappear and instead of problems you get possibilities.” (Sure, everyone loves a good aphorism, but it’s easy to dole them out when you’re as successful and famous as Santana. A quote from him or any other legend about their early struggles and how they didn’t give up would be more interesting to me.)

Cover Band Central’s tepid oeuvre of shared content is a result of the page’s lack of a clear mission. As the self-described “#1 Page on Facebook for cover bands and musicians” they are “Designed to educate, motivate, entertain, and inspire.” I have found virtually none of the posts to be educational. When it comes to motivating and inspiring, more “show, don’t tell” would help the site and yes, I did pick up a few entertaining memes before the page ran its course, but most of them are available elsewhere online (if you’re reading this, ten bucks says one of your non musician friends has sent you “He told me he’s a musician, but he’s a ___ player” thinking they’re the first one to do it).

I have no ill will toward CBC and leave them with the suggestion of encouraging more user interaction, thus increasing the variety of perspectives and content while still staying true to the page’s expressed mission.

January 31, 2016

#106) Autopsy of an unfollow #1 and #2: SciBabe and The Sound

If there’s one thing that social media managers dread, it’s the loss of followers in the demographic that truly drives all popular trends: married white guys in their 40s, especially those whose blogs have dozens of views per decade. Because I fit that demo, I’m introducing a new series of posts, outlining when and why I decide to unfollow various outlets on social media.

The first two casualties are 100.3-FM The Sound, Los Angeles’s leading classic rock station and Yvette d’Entremont, a science author who is known as SciBabe. I have no ill will toward either of these entities; both provide a service of value. I’m just tired of them.

What’s interesting, depending on your definition of the word, is that I decided to unfollow them for the exact opposite reasons. I was originally drawn to d’Entremont’s Facebook page by the intelligent way in which she stirred the pot, skewering fad diets and kooky health/lifestyle ideas (read: anti-vaxxers) put forth by celebrities. (The cartoon of a blonde in a lab coat and black thigh-high boots had nothing to do with piquing my interest). It’s always fun watching people freak out online when their beliefs are challenged and d’Entremont’s calling out of “Food Babe” Vani Hari and kale-based diets often made people do just that. Soon though, the novelty wore off for me. The occasional shared post of shot glasses made of chocolate-dipped bacon or in-depth analyses of the physics of the second Death Star’s destruction notwithstanding, ultimately I’ve found d’Entremont to be a one-trick pony. OK, we get it: the “natural/whole foods” industry has ulterior motives and people shouldn’t get all their information from mommy bloggers. Find some new material.

On the other hand, The Sound has a Facebook page that may be described as “Jack of all trades, master of none” or perhaps more accurately, “Squirrel!” Granted the page is a trove of useful* trivia on music history (did you know that January 15th was the anniversary of the Stones’ appearance on Ed Sullivan when they were forced to edit their newest hit and sing, ‘Let’s spend some time together’? More importantly…January 20th was the anniversary of when Ozzy bit the head off the bat!). Unfortunately there’s also a lot of preachy quotes–“He who knows best knows how little he knows -Thomas Jefferson”– and pandering to trendiness. I, for one, don’t care that Coldplay has tapped L.A. Phil conductor Gustavo Dudamel to lead the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles to accompany them at their Super Bowl appearance. (Don’t get me started on anything Coldplay, much less the fact that they are going to be playing the Super Bowl.) The final straw was when the page posted a video of a puppy trying to walk down a stair case (“Adorbs!”)

Ranting about the shortcomings of social media is certainly a first world problem, but considering how many businesses and personalities rely on these channels, it’s only natural for them to want to know how effective they are. Too much ADD (even for me, which is saying a lot) or too much predictability and I check out. I wish both SciBabe and the folks at The Sound nothing but success and happiness, but their pages have both run their course for me. Until things change, I can be found curating the bacon for my shot glasses.

*D-Theory’s definition of useful: obscure and only truly useful if you want to win a late night bar room bet

March 1, 2015

#90) Gall bladders and crazy relatives (or why likes are the new calories)

What do the removal of my wife’s gall bladder and Facebook comments by an odd cousin have to do with each other?

I’ll get to that in a bit, but first let’s start with a simpler question. What do high calorie foods and social media recognition have in common? We’re hard-wired to crave both.

According to one theory, our predisposition to high calorie foods is left over from our caveman days when we didn’t know when our next meal would be. Seems like a fair enough explanation to me; it makes me feel less guilty about putting away Big Carls left and right. I also believe that props from our followers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and rest feed our appetite for recognition which, like our hunger for calories, is instilled in us early on. Popularity contests are nothing new of course, but they happen more quickly and intensely now than ever before, for worse as well as better (just ask Justine Sacco).

My dad’s cousin, in her late 70s, is a fairly avid Facebook user and while she’s no “Crazy Jewish Mom” she’s gotten off a few beauties in her time. When my wife jokingly used the word “pendejos” in in the context of sharing a “Bubala, please!” video, Crazy Jewish Cousin fired back with, “I don’t think you understand how offensive that term is.” When I posted pictures of my new dog, Meecham: “Bassets do NOT perk their ears up. He needs to be told.” (Duh, he’s not purebred–what do you think #bassetmix means?”) Recently she wanted to know, “I sure hope Instagram pays you for all the showings of your pictures that they use to advertise their product. What does Instagram have that just snapping a photo and posting it doesn’t have?”

The last part of that statement notwithstanding (I don’t feel like getting into an Instagram vs. Facebook debate just now) she did happen on an interesting point, if unknowingly. If Facebook doesn’t pay its users and in fact continues to alienate them while sites such as Bubblews and Bitlanders do pay users for their content, why don’t people just flock to the latter? Well, in the case of Bubblews they did, for a while. As of this writing, Bubblews holds an Alexa ranking of 4,946th globally: not bad, but the site ranked in the top 2,000 globally toward the end of last year, suggesting that it hasn’t gained market share. Bitlanders made a brief appearance in the global top 20,000 before dropping earlier this year; TSU had a brief flare last October. Throughout all of the above events, Facebook has retained its #2 ranking, behind only Google. According to Alexa data, the average time spent on Facebook daily is about the same as TSU, Bubblews and Bitlander put together.

Why? If you are reading this, odds are Facebook has outlived its usefulness to you. Yeah, some of you perhaps use it to promote or follow local businesses, bands, restaurants and communities, but by this point most of us have already reconnected with all of the long lost friends that we’re going to reconnect with. Why do we still log on? To get into political arguments? Parenting debates? No, to get likes, comments and recognition. Like calories, we’re addicted to them. Pinterest, Instagram and especially Facebook provide us with feedback that the little guys just can’t match.

Which brings me to the gall bladder. The gall bladder is left over from our caveman days, a storage chamber for us to stock up on calories back when our problem was too few, not too many. According to a recent blog post by Jenny McCarthy, “The gall bladder is vulnerable to stones, inflammation and polyps. For some individuals, it’s not only obsolete, it’s also a liability.” In other words, it’s kind of like Facebook.

Now, I have nothing against gall bladders, Facebook or calories. It’s just interesting to consider parallels between our relationships with social media and food. No one says, “I wish I spent more time arguing politics on Facebook.” Just as one has to weigh the tastiness of an item to its caloric impact, it might not be a bad idea for us to consider just how important those “likes” really are.

 

July 23, 2014

#81) An open letter to the restaurant customers mentioned in post #80

Dear restaurant customers mentioned in post #80,

Recently you collectively have come under fire for complaining about slow service when surveillance footage indicated that your behavior–mainly cell phone related–increased your length of stay by an average of 50 minutes.  In addition to being asked by the restaurant itself to “be more considerate”, you’ve also received your share of finger-wagging from those ranting about how rude today’s kids are, accompanied by cries for the banishment of electronics from restaurants.

I’m not here to add to that; I’m here to make a suggestion.  I’ll get to it later.

First of all, I support your right to take selfies at the restaurant; to take pictures of the food; to use the establishment’s Wifi connection.  (I get it; your data plan doesn’t grow on a tree.)  When you eat at a restaurant, you’re paying not just for food and convenience but also for atmosphere; you are entitled to include your cell phone as part of the atmosphere, at least if you aren’t gabbing away too loudly on it.  As I mentioned in post #80, if restaurants aren’t willing to cater to the cell-phone related needs of paying customers, they can’t cry foul when said customers head to more tech-friendly spots.

I also understand why you take selfies and pictures of the food.  It’s not about ego (okay, it’s a little bit about ego, but despite what they might tell you, baby boomers and Gen-X’ers have egos too; if the Kodachrome had been able to take good selfies, you can bet your entire library of Ellie Goulding downloads that the children of the ’70s would have taken tons of them).  It’s about keeping a memory alive.  Why do people spend money to go to Cancun?  The vacation itself is fun, but it’s really the memory. It’s perfectly understandable to take many pictures to keep the memory of a vacation alive, so why can’t one do the same at a restaurant?

As promised, here’s my suggestion.  While vacations come along once a year if you’re lucky, most people eat out at least once a month or perhaps more so.  Just enjoy the moment.  You may be bummed if the pictures from your once-in-a-lifetime safari or Greek isles cruise didn’t come out, but odds are you’ll be at another restaurant before too long.  You may enjoy the taste of your food more if you aren’t worrying about which filter to use when photographing it.

Yes, some meals are truly special occasions.  There are some restaurants you may only visit once in a lifetime.  I’m not telling you not to take pictures. I’m suggesting that the memories shouldn’t come at the expense of the actual experience.  It’s not your job to adjust your habits to make a restaurant staff’s job easier.  Don’t do it for them.  Do it for you.

 

July 14, 2014

#80) The restaurant time forgot (and what musicians can learn from it)

Note: this is a simulblog, posted on both D-Theory and Positive Music Place.

The story sounds familiar: a restaurant consistently received bad reviews, so they looked over surveillance videos to see what was going on.  The plot twist came when management looked over the film.  The results were surprising–not because they were shocking, but just the opposite.  There were no bodily functions performed on the prime rib; no one playing Words with Friends as a grease fire broke out; no managers putting the make on waitresses in the office; none of the employee hijinks that might be expected.  In fact, when they compared the recent footage to tapes from ten years earlier, the employee behavior was pretty much the same.  It was the customers that were different.

According the article about this restaurant’s findings, seven out of the 45 customers observed on the recent video asked their servers for the Wifi password.  Twenty-seven of the 45 requested that their waiter take a picture of their group; 14 of those 27 asked for a second picture.  Long story short: the restaurant’s conclusion was that customer behavior increased the average length of stay by 50 minutes compared to ten years ago.

Here’s where the restaurant missed the mark.  “We are grateful for everyone who comes into our restaurant, after all there are so many choices out there.  But you please be a little more considerate?” they implore at the end of the article.

The problem is, the restaurant doesn’t accept the fact that–whether or not they agree with it–for many customers, the cell phone is as important a part of the meal as the locally sourced vegetables and the craft beers.  The restaurant customer of 2014 expects to be able to take photos of their food and themselves enjoying it.  Savvy restauranteurs embrace the free advertising and integrate cell phones into the dining experience they provide;  proprietors stuck in the past complain about how kids today have no manners instead of trying to figure out how to better cater to them, thus resulting in poor online reviews.

So far you’ve read over 300 of my words (which I appreciate, thank you!); none of which is “music.”  What does this restaurant and their grievances with cell phones have to do with music?

Musicians face a similar dilemma in terms of getting their product out to new audiences.  Yes, we all want to do it our way, but trends, buying habits and tastes change.  Many consumers expect to be able to get music for free.  Music fans often see Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as ways of connecting with their favorite bands.  (Check out this post on CD Baby’s DIY Musician blog for more thoughts on the subject.)  The musician who evolves to fit the needs of  2014’s audience will likely have more gigs than the one who shakes his fist and rants about how no one appreciates AC/DC, Zeppelin or Sabbath anymore (the fact that I am writing this blog instead of playing a show might give a hint about the category in which I belong).

Elitism can have its place.  Fattburger’s slogan is “We’re not for everyone”; the Stone Brewing Company Arrogant Bastard’s bottle reads, “You’re not worthy.”  Businesses sometimes have funny have signs mocking Wifi obsessiveness.  Similarly, the independent musician who doggedly sticks to their guns and refuses to cave in to any trends, technological or otherwise, sometimes succeeds.  Let’s be honest though; these are usually the exception, not the rule.

I don’t claim to have much experience in the food service business (unless you count the lemonade stand my brother and I had as kids) but I do know this: the restaurant’s choices are to either to brand themselves as a cell-phone free zone (a move which may make their following smaller but more loyal) or adapt to changing times and train waiters to accept taking pictures of drunken customers as part of their job description.

Today’s consumer typically has more options for night life, dining and entertainment than they do time or money; as a band, restaurant or other purveyor of goods and services, you have a lot of competition for customers/fans.  If you look down on Wifi use at your restaurant, customers will likely go to the place down the block where it’s embraced.

Let’s face it, time can be a harsh mistress.  Yesterday’s rock star is today’s grumpy old man telling kids to get off their lawn.  Today’s rock stars–culinary, musical or otherwise–are often ones that let people on their lawn, but charge extra for Wifi.

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February 27, 2014

#74) Ten reasons why nobody’s reading your blog (and the fact that it might just kind of suck is #6)

Does having made a little over thousand dollars from blogging qualify me as an expert on the subject?  No?  Didn’t think so.  Oh well, I’ve never let that stop me before.  Here goes.

If you’re reading this, chances are pretty good that you write at least one blog yourself.  According to Brandon Gaille of wpvirtuoso, there are about 152 million blogs in existence – plenty to go around.  There’s also a pretty good chance, unfortunately, that you are not getting the type of traffic you want.  Here’s why.

#1) You do it too infrequently.  In the early stages of a blog, quantity can sometimes be more important than quality.  Getting your content out there – even if you end up revising it later – is important and if you do it consistently, you will start seeing better results sooner.  According to Gaille, blogs that are updated 20 or more times per month receive an average of 5 times as much traffic as those that only post 4 or fewer times per month.  Of course once you establish a base of readers, you don’t want to over saturate them, but cross that bridge when you come to it.

#2) You have too many opinions.  Expunge me!? You might be thinking.  A blogger telling people not to express their opinions on his site where he does nothing BUT express his opinions?  What gives?  I’m not trying to discourage your freedom of speech, but in my experience, information-oriented blogs tend to rank higher in search engines than those centering around the opinions of the author.   Most of my success (and I do use the term loosely) as a blogger has come from www.nobodyhikesinla.com, in which I provide information about hiking trails in the L.A. area.  NHLA typically gets more traffic in a day than this blog gets in a year and I’m OK with that; it comes with the territory.  Your opinions may be well thought out and skilfully articulated, but nobody cares about them, at least not yet.  You yourself probably google search for information/fact oriented items more often than you do others’ opinions on issues.  If you do actively seek out someone’s opinion, it’s likely because they’ve established themselves as a credible source and have probably paid their dues to get to that point.  You have to be a journalist before you can be a columnist.  You have to be a line cook before you can be a chef.  You have to be a bottom before you can be a….never mind, on to #3.

#3) You aren’t reading enough other blogs.  Reading other peoples’ blogs serves two purposes: it can give you ideas for your own blog and by commenting on, following or “liking” someone else’s blog you increase the chances that they may reciprocate.  Of course you don’t want to be too shameless about plugging your own blog, but if you provide thoughtful, encouraging comments on someone else’s work it’s not unreasonable to expect a little kickback.

#4) You haven’t exchanged enough links.  This can be a great you-scratch-my-back type of situation.  Think about it: most blogs you’ve read probably have a list of links to related sites.  (NHLA does.)  This is not only a valuable resource to your readers but if can funnel traffic to other bloggers, who in turn might see fit to throw a bone back to you by including a link to YOUR site on theirs.  Email bloggers who write about similar subject matter and offer to exchange links.  Most bloggers don’t want their site to be too cluttered with links but if your blog hits home with them, they just might include you.

#4.5) You haven’t embedded enough links.  This can be a good one to keep in mind if your attempts to exchange links with other bloggers aren’t successful.  You can always link to their blogs through your actual posts.  According to www.bluecorona.com, “Google ultimately wants its users to find what they are searching, so when you link to other authoritative and relevant websites, you are providing a great service to Google’s users. This makes your website a more valuable resource, in Google’s beautiful, primary-colored eyes.”

#5) You haven’t registered your domain name.  First things first: I realize that since this blog does not have a registered domain name, I’m not practicing what I preach, but I basically just do this blog for the fun of it.  Most serious blogs have a registered domain name.  Doing so through WordPress is cheap and easy; I’d imagine the process isn’t too difficult for other platforms such as Blogger.  Your own domain name makes your site easier to describe at cocktail parties; it fits better on a business card.  It also appeases the beautiful, primary-colored eyes of Google; since most domain names last for at least a year, it shows that you are committed and Google likes commitment.

#5.5) Google also likes boldface.

#6) Your blog might just kind of suck.  No one likes to hear that they have an ugly baby, but sometimes it just needs to be said.  How are your punctuation, grammar and spelling?  Do you read your blog out loud to yourself before you post?  How well thought out and substantiated are your opinions?  I don’t mean to sound like a middle school teacher but if you’re going to expect people to take you seriously, you have to take your work seriously.  Don’t be like the state of California which recently informed a friend of mine that his business address was invalid by sending a letter to his business address.

#7) You haven’t found the right subject matter.  This is easier said than done: it’s a balancing act.  Blog about the Kardashians and you’ll have a lot of competition; blog about Taylor Grey Meyer and your audience may be a little more limited.  Topical subjects might give your traffic a short term bump but not much else.  It takes a while to figure out which topics are the best match between your writing style and your audience (I’ll let you know when I get there myself.)

#8) Excessive monetization attempts.  While there’s no precise rule regarding this, it’s generally understood that the amount of advertising/donation solicitations/product pitches/etc readers will accept on a website is commensurate with the quality of the content on said site.  To put it in English, if readers find your blog to be valuable and enjoyable they won’t mind  if you’re trying to make a buck or two from it; they may even contribute.  If, however, they just get bombarded by ads, they’ll stay clear.  Learn from the rise and fall of Myspace, which as Wesley Verhoeve eloquently put it, “monetized [itself] into oblivion.”

#9) It doesn’t look good on a mobile device.   How does your blog look on an iPhone, iPad or Droid?  Are the pictures formatted correctly?  Are the links visible and easily accessible?  It’s been often said that people have plenty of information and not enough time to absorb it.  Mobile devices allow readers to catch up on their favorite blogs while they’re on the run.  You never know who your readers might be: busy salespeople in between (or during) meetings; customers battling checkout lines at Costco; funeral guests stuck at an endless eulogy.  Hell, according to a recent survey, 12 percent of moms use their phone during sex.

#10) There’s no story.  You probably tell stories on your blog but does the blog itself tell a story?  Does the blog as a whole, as a brand if you will, provide a reason for readers to return?  When Julie Powell started the blog that would eventually become the book and movie “Julie & Julia”, her goal was to cook every recipe in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” within a year.  Would she do it?  You had to read her blog to find out.  My fellow hiking blogger Jeremy Jacobus did a similar thing with his hiking blog–in which he set a goal of hiking a thousand trails in a thousand days.  “Meta” stories such as these can be compelling to a reader and make them want to come back – and tell friends.

That’s all for now – happy blogging and may your traffic be good and plentiful.

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