We will be Weightless on January 4th, 2015 an old hoax gets new life

Below is a link from my facebook feed.  Sure there is lots of crap in my feed and most of the ads are misleading BS.  This one sounded familiar and you know me, I try not to be swayed by my cognitive biases – and this one hit the ‘mere-exposure effect‘.

January 4th, 2015 at 9:47am PST the entire Earth will be weightless for 5 minutes.  Wait – because of Pluto?  Yep – the article claims that little no-longer-a-planet, Pluto will be the cause.  Of course a quick BS-Check on Google, Bing, Snopes will tell you that this hoax has been around since the 70s.  According to Snopes it was 1976, “took place in 1976, when British astronomer Patrick Moore informed a radio audience that the movement of two planets would result in an upward gravitational pull which would make people on Earth lighter at precisely 9:47 a.m. that day.”

What I find interesting is that Buzz Live’s page on this has over 616,000 shares on Facebook and 23,521 ReTweets without mentioning that it is untrue.  Somewhere on the page should be just a little mention that this is a joke.

Test Driving Beam from Suitable Technologies

I have used a lot of webcam and conference systems that are all designed to allow you to participate from miles away.  Today I got to test drive, Beam from Suitable Technologies in Palo Alto.  Emily from Suitable sent me an email with my invitation and a few clicks later I was ‘beamed’ into their sunny California office.

Beam is a remote presence device, think Avatar and Jonny #5.  I was able to take over a robot, drive it around the office and interact with people all from the comfort of my desk.

Here is the video of my test drive:

Transparency in Physician Payments

Open PaymentThe Open Payments Data system from the CMS is available online.  You can access the system (account needed – but free to sign up) with THIS LINK.

As part of the effort to increase transparency between Pharmaceutical companies and their payments to Physicians the CMS database (still in beta) allows the general public to see what payments were made to which physicians.  The system is robust supporting a ton of ways to slice the data or even export the data (using their API) into your own analysis tool.

Because this system has so much you will find a $9,645,117 payment from Genentech and a $13.52 payment for travel expense in the system.

Users can also conduct a search on a specific physician.  Put in some basic details like Name and State to get any information the system has on payments to a specific physician.

This is still in BETA and the disclaimer is clear:

“This is a beta release of a search tool to improve the ability of users to search the data. The beta release of this search tool only searches identified data. Additional enhancements will be released in upcoming versions, including summary data, visualizations, the ability to search de-identified data, and more. The datasets are large and the search tool searches millions of records. For some searches the results will take some time to load, please be patient.

JUST TO BE CLEAR: “Open Payments does not identify which financial relationships are beneficial or which may cause conflicts of interest.”

You can’t control Social Media (that’s the point)

USGSYou can’t control social media!  Stop it!  Stop it! Stop it!  The reason user review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor work is because people are free to tell the world how good or bad your product or service is.  Amazon ratings are hugely important to products. The site; SEARCHENGINELAND.com released the stat that “79% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations (source)”.

The latest comedy of marketing madness is the policy of the Union Street Guest House that states; “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.” (NY Post report).

The result so far has been a flood of 1 star reviews on their Yelp page.  I have already seen the typical BS excuse that brands try to make ‘this was all a joke, we didn’t mean it’.  That is another tactic that does not work.  The bottom line is you can’t control what people say and any attempt you make to control the voice of the customer will backfire on you.




What about your base customers?

Look_a_Distraction_Design_by_eecomicsI don’t mean to get off on a rant here but can we talk about the mess that FourSquare has caused in the effort to ‘evolve’ its brand?  FourSquare, the social media check in app that started in 2009 was always targeting the techier consumer.  Geeks would use the app to tell their network where they were and what places were offering.  It was gameified by offering badges for checking in repeatedly at coffee shops (yep I had that one).  If you checked in more than most at a location you could become the MAYOR.  As the system grew, brands jumped on and gave an incentive to be the mayor.  Some bars and restaurants would offer a free appetizer to the mayor or a special for checking in.  In 2011, FourSquare teamed up with American Express to offer a special rebate to customers that 1. checked in with FourSquare and 2. payed with their American Express.  That promotion/partnership was brand-spot-on.  The two services complimented each other and increased the usage of both.  If you checked in to a concert, airport or other popular venue it might say that the place was ‘swarmming’.  You could connect with other users and it was crowd sourced fun.  Fast forward to today.  FourSquare has divided their application (and ecosystem of users) by forcing check-ins to use a new application called SWARM and the main application, the one people know the name of FourSquare is a bad attempt to be Yelp.  Guess what FourSquare, I was already a member of both.  What your latest move has done is create no reason for me to keep your app.  Sure check-ins are getting competition from FaceBook and Yelp but FourSquare was the place for fun badges and deals (something Yelp and FaceBook) were not competing with.  Staying true to the start FourSquare was able to outlast and outplay the likes of GoWalla (closed in 2012) and Loopt.  FourSquare mayor-ship even made it into the “Gotta Share! The Musical” video in 2011.

Disregard for your base

Swarm-FoursquareWith 45 million users FourSquare is/was still a niche player.  It is the base/ core users that helped to create locations.  To establish social locations for small businesses that might not be ‘techie’ yet.  Similar to the Judgement of Solomon, FourSquare has split the baby.  Many users that have been with FourSquare since the beginning in 2009 are ditching the service.   IMO disregarding your base was not a good move for your brand.

Entrepreneur Barbie Joins LinkedIn

Entrepreneur Barbie takes to LinkedIn

Entrepreneur Barbie takes to LinkedIn

Barbie has joined LinkedIn.  As part of the Entrepreneur Barbie line the iconic dolls has established her page on the business social network.  Right now she has 50 followers.

In her post she writes:

“My new business is “Dream Incubator” where I act as a consultant, helping girls around the world play out their imagination, try on different careers, and explore the world around them. Our company tagline is “If you Can Dream It, You Can Be it!””

This is another example of humanizing brands to connect with consumers and from what I have seen so far they are going an awesome job.