Archive for the ‘Social’ Category

I was reading an article on msnbc.com entitled “The 8 lowest-paying jobs in America”, and it begins with the following sentence: “The United States may soon have to replace the expression, ‘the land of opportunity,’ with ‘the land of low wages.'”

The idea is that many workers in this country make very low wages, and the percentage is likely to increase as the post-recession job market introduces more lower-paying  jobs than anything else.

But it got me thinking about some of the slogans we use in the United States, and how they tend to portray us in more favorable light than we might deserve. If this country were a product, a case could be made against us for false advertising. So I decided to come up with versions of the slogans that communicate a bit more… humility.

1. The Land of Opportunity – “The Land of Low Wages” doesn’t seem to tell the whole story. For this one, I’d go with “The Land of Corporate Opportunity”. Despite all of the regulations that we have in place, corporate entities are still able to take advantage of workers, customers, and citizens in a variety of ways. The US poverty rate in 2008 was 13.2%. A lot of hard workers lie below that poverty line, many of them without health insurance or other benefits. And the rest of us continue to be taken advantage of by banks and credit card companies. True, an opportunity means nothing if one declines to make the most of it. But it would be nice if corporations didn’t get so many opportunities to break our stride.

2. The Land of the Free – This one is really hard to reconcile with the fact that the United States imprisons more people (and a higher percentage of its population) than any other country on Earth. Many incarcerations are the result of  victimless crimes, unreasonable statutes, and various types of profiling. Throw that together with an economy that was originally built on human slavery, and I think I would give the United States a very different slogan: “The Land of the Locked”.

3. The Melting Pot – This conjures the idea of a smooth blend of cultures that combine together to create something new and wonderful. But I think the reality is a bit less idealistic. So I’m going to go with “The Stew Pot”: a country where the flavors of the different ingredients touch one another, but they remain (for the most part) distinctly separate ingredients. Don’t misunderstand me; there’s nothing wrong with a nice stew. The problem arises when some ingredients are deemed less important than others, when certain flavors attempt to overpower the rest.

In case any of you are getting the wrong idea: I love this country. But, because I love it, I want it to be the best that it can be. We don’t make things better by pretending that they’re already perfect. With that spirit in mind, I don’t hesitate to point out what I perceive as flaws. If we keep hiding behind idealistic slogans, we’ll never reach our peak.

Do you have any slogans that you would apply to the United States? Please share!

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After the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12th, there was an outpouring of support from sympathetic people all over the world. But in the six months that have since elapsed, a lot of that initial attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis has faded.

It’s not that people don’t care anymore. It’s just that we’re still living our own lives, dealing with our own daily struggles. Worrying about our economic situation, about the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, about the wars we’re involved in on the other side of the world. About our own illnesses, our healthcare, our futures. Six months is a long time to think about something we don’t see, and media coverage of the Haitian catastrophe has all but ceased in recent months.

On top of that, we never felt like there was much we could do to help in the first place. They told us to send money and supplies. Many of us did, but it felt like a practically useless gesture. We’ve made donations and prayed, but mostly we just sat and watched, feeling helpless.

This is not intended to make anyone feel bad. I only want to set the background for the link I’m going to share. One of my favorite rappers, Immortal Technique, visited Haiti recently and wrote about his experience. Since I was unable to visit, I thought I’d share the words of someone who did. The opinions expressed are not necessarily my own. But regardless of whether or not you agree, I think that the perspective is valuable.

Here is Immortal Technique’s story, if you’re interested. Please keep Haiti in your thoughts and/or your prayers.

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Don’t look now, but the landscape of marketing is undergoing one of the most significant evolutions since the pre-Mad Men era.

Okay, now you can look.

What you just looked at is BlueGlass Interactive, Inc., an unprecedented amalgamation of some of the best online marketing organizations in the industry. By combining their specialties, they’ve become an extremely capable marketing and brand management firm that sits in a unique position on the cutting edge of online customer outreach solutions.

How, you ask? Imagine the following scenario:

You’re a single man from a small town, headed to the big city for the first time. You want to meet as many women as possible, and to have long-term, mutually fulfilling relationships with all of them. (Hey, it’s just a hypothetical.)

You’ve heard the names of some of the most popular clubs and bars, and you’re able to locate them on a map. You start club-hopping, hoping for success, but you have little luck with the ladies.

You find that these big-city women are different than the ones you’ve grown accustomed to; they have a wider pool of men to choose from, so they’re more selective. They’re constantly being hit on, so you have to stand out in order to catch their interest. Some of them just don’t understand your method of communicating; you’re just what they’re looking for, but you don’t know how to tell them.

You keep trying these clubs, week after week, but you don’t make many connections. There might be other clubs you could try, but you’re not familiar with them and you’re worried that you’d be wasting your time. But you almost feel like you’re wasting your time already…

If you’re an organization marketing yourself in today’s online world, your small town has grown into a big city overnight. You need a guide, a cool friend who knows the city like the back of his hand. Someone who knows all the clubs, even the more obscure ones, and how to get there and when to go. Someone who can teach you how to dress and how to talk — how to make yourself more attractive all around. Someone who will get you noticed and will teach you how to get yourself noticed. You need someone who will help you gain an edge over the growing competition.

You need someone like BlueGlass.

With the popularity of online interaction and the prevalence of social media, organizations of all sizes and types are able to reach out, communicate, and respond to customers (and potential customers) on a historically unprecedented level. Whether you’re a tea house or the White House, successful modern-day marketing and brand-building demand a mastery of social networking and online outreach.

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, blogs, videos, search indexing, and more — these are no longer just the marketing tools of the future; they are now the marketing tools of the present. The future of marketing is now.

To meet your potential as an organization, to reach out to the maximum number of individuals, to build the most impactful brand possible, you need a guide. You need a partner. You need BlueGlass.

For more information about BlueGlass Interactive, check out this press release.

For info about the upcoming BlueGlass Conference in LA, click here.

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This past Friday, April 16th, was the first Foursquare Day. I participated. Many others did. Many more should have.

If you’re not familiar with Foursquare, it’s a location-based application which combines social networking with a sort of urban exploration game. It’s often been referred to as “the next Twitter”; a comparison which seems oddly appetizing to business types, given that the wildly popular, four-year-old Twitter has only recently come up with an unexpectedly pedestrian plan to turn a profit.

Foursquare isn’t quite yet spreading like wildfire, due largely to a general public perception that is, perhaps ironically, similar to that of Twitter: “What’s the point?”

I still hear the question asked about Twitter four years after its inception, and I still find it difficult to explain when people ask me. Twitter is a brain-dump, sure. It’s also a great tool for networking and promotion, if one knows how to implement it. But so is Facebook. So why would one need a Twitter account if one already has a Facebook account? The short answers are that Twitter has a “smartphone convenience factor” that is not quite present with Facebook, Twitter allows more of a feeling of individualized communication, and of course it doesn’t hurt from a marketing standpoint to carry your eggs in different baskets. In fact, to an extent, the more baskets you have the more eggs you can carry.

Which brings us to Foursquare. “What’s the point?” I didn’t quite have an answer to that question at first, either. Foursquare’s stated purpose is to “encourage you to discover new places and challenge you to explore your neighborhood in new ways.” Okay. Great.

This is how it works: if you are at a location or business, you are able to “check in” using your smartphone (or other form of internet access; smartphone apps are usually most convenient.) If you  have friend connections on Foursquare, you can see where you friends have checked in and when. Badges are awarded for achievements, similar to video game achievement awards. If you have the most check-ins at a place, you become the “mayor” of that place. Yeah, it sounded kinda ridiculous to me at first too.

When I signed up (about two weeks ago), it was in order to try Foursquare out and see if I would find it useful, as I do Twitter. I was able to check in at a Publix supermarket parking lot. So far it wasn’t impressing me. “What’s the point?”

Then I heard about Foursquare Day. Quick background: Foursquare Day was dreamed up little over a month ago by a Tampa optometrist named Nate Bonilla-Warford. The idea was that on April 16th, local businesses would offer specials to patrons who “checked in” on that day, or who had become “mayor” by that time. At the end of the day there would be a “swarm” at a predetermined location. A “swarm” involves at least 50 people checking in at the same place within a short time period.

I thought that it would be a cool thing to participate in. It was conceived in Tampa, and it was focused on drawing attention to local businesses. I’m all about that, of course, so I began promoting Foursquare Day via Twitter and Facebook. By the time I heard about it, the Foursquare Day idea was spreading to different cities around the world, which made it even more intriguing. I was excited.

Then April 16th rolled around.

Let me begin by saying that the people who put Foursquare Day together and promoted it did a really great job. And I’m glad that all the people who participated chose to do so. I just wish that more people had participated.

I checked in at over ten locations that were offering Foursquare Day specials, and I spent money at almost every one. I did so because I felt that part of the purpose of the event was to demonstrate to businesses that Foursquare (and the tech community) can be a valuable promotional tool. To that end, I’m not sure that we succeeded. At the time of this writing, several Tampa businesses that offered specials on the Foursquare Day website have a total of only three or four check-ins. Ever. It’s a little disappointing that they reached out and didn’t get much of a response. Hopefully we can do better next year.

I understand that not everyone was able to participate to the extent that I did, and I also know that there may be some benefits to businesses that are not quite as noticeable as immediate sales. For example, I think that the businesses listed on the Foursquare Day website may have gained some notoriety behind the scenes. I’m a primary administrator for the Facebook page of a business that participated, and in the week leading up to Foursquare Day we had an unusual jump in Facebook fans. That could be a coincidence but I don’t think so.

But even if it is, I personally gained awareness of businesses that I previously was unacquainted with, some of which are hidden treasures of Tampa. Examples are Cafe Hey on Franklin Street and the Why Not Boutique on MacDill. If a few of us found great new places, we can tell our friends about them. And they can tell their friends.

Now, thanks to Foursquare Day, I see the point of Foursquare.

I’m looking forward to the next Foursquare Day, and what I’m hoping will be an increase in participation.

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