Tag Archives: google

The Right Place and Right Time: The Google Pixel Launches

 

Since the first release in 2007, the iPhone has become the world’s most popular smart phones – selling more than 800 million devices worldwide. Nine years later, Apple has kept the innovative trend, by introducing a series of new models of the iPhone, each with new cutting-edge features. Apple’s latest edition, the iPhone 7, boasts new specs such as its waterproof capability and a 12 megapixel camera. Of course Apple’s competition is not far behind. Apple has been competing against major players such as Samsung, which has sold more than 200 million Galaxy models, since their first release in 2010. However, with Samsung experiencing a series of glitches with their Galaxy Note 7 release, the company is losing market share and possibly loyal customers. This could result in a serious momentum shift for Apple, but there is another competitor entering the market. On October 4th, 2016, one of the world’s leading technology powerhouses launched the Google Pixel. To Google, it is not just any smart phone, it is a Google phone.

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL have been positioned in the market as premium devices with the capabilities to compete against major players such as Apple and Samsung.  Ana Corrales, Vice President of Global Operations and Google Store, claims that the Pixel is a device that will give users choice. “We’re not necessarily trying to compete against Apple. We’re just trying to provide choice at every level and continue our Android strategy.”   Google might want to claim that they are not trying to directly compete against major players, but their latest device suggest otherwise. The Google Pixel comes with a dedicated switch capability that allows users to transfer photos, videos, contacts, messages and more from one device to the other. The Pixel also hosts a feature called Google Allo, which allows users to video call their contacts. These features are coincidentally quite similar to the iCloud and Facetime function available on the iPhone. With this new capability, Google is able to target a wide range of customers, beyond just iPhone and Samsung users. The Google Pixel is targeting anyone with a Gmail account.

There are millions of individuals utilizing Gmail and Google services for either personal or work related purposes. Subsequently, there are also thousands of corporations and institutions that use the Gmail platforms as their internal business communication tool.  The Google Pixel phone will allow users to seamlessly integrate their work and personal documents in one space without compromising storage – a feature that could be attractive to millions of Google users. Although Apple provides its users with 5GB of free iCloud storage and Samsung offers 15GB free storage, the Google Pixel provides users with free unlimited cloud storage – something the competition simply can’t match at this time.

Google is finding its own voice in a market that Apple and Samsung have dominated for almost a decade. The introduction of the Pixel gives Google another opportunity to showcase their capabilities as another telecom tech giant. According to Digitimes, approximately 3-4 million Google Pixel units are expected to be sold by the end of 2016. The Google Pixel might not set record numbers, in terms of worldwide sales, but it has the opportunity to show consumers what the first generation of Google phones are capable of doing. The Google brand’s prestige will attract a myriad of customers trying to find the next generation of smart phones. This is an opportunity for the Pixel to become a huge success. It is still uncertain what the main impact of the Pixel will be against major players like Apple and Samsung. Regardless, the Google Pixel is raising the bar for new parameters in the smart phone industry. We are standing by to see what happens when the Pixel hits the market this October.

 

The Ron Burgundy of Tech

 

A book taking the business world by storm is Disrupted: My Misadventures in the Startup Bubble, written by Dan Lyons. The work is a scathing critique of tech startups and their Wonderland-meets-the-Hunger-Games sensibility, centered mostly on Lyons’ stint as a marketer for inbound software company HubSpot.

I haven’t laughed out loud in years while reading a book—although weeping might have been a more suitable reaction in various sections. Lyons describes the new normal of tech startups: a work culture that exploits workers within racist, misogynistic and ageist ecosystems; a business model that fosters neo-feudal economic realities where a few get very rich while the middle class gets atomized; an Orwellian atmosphere of mystic Groupthink where workers fall on their swords while simultaneously glorifying egomaniacal founders and supporting mediocre management.

Lyons, a former Newsweek reporter and current writer for the HBO hit Silicon Valley, makes HubSpot the centerpiece to his case for the toxic malady that are tech startups on the American workforce biology. Witness hallways teaming with beer taps, free candy, orange bean bags and overworked Hipsters. Witness endless meetings where a founder bestows a teddy bear an exclusive seat at the conference table. Witness realms of magic realism math where a company that has never made a profit can go public. And witness that Doublespeak tech lingo where a fired employee is called a “graduate” and never spoken of again, while management goes around telling employees that 1+1= 3 (and they better believe and make it happen).

That’s just scratching the surface of Disrupted. However, one can tell that Lyons does have fondness, empathy and even admiration for HubSpot. Personally, I can say HubSpot has brought value and useful information to my marketing life.

Lyons’ true wrath falls on an individual who seems to exemplify the corruption and greed of tech startups.

“The Ron Burgundy of Tech,” Lyons calls this person (and is the title of a chapter in his Disrupted). This is none other than Marc Benioff, the billionaire founder and CEO of Salesforce. Lyons’ revelation of Benioff occurred when he attended Dreamforce—Salesforce’s annual conference in San Francisco in late 2013. We might as well get to his insights from the book.

He starts the chapter by offering this formula:

Imagine Joel Osteen pumped up on human growth hormone. Imagine there’s a secret government lab where scientists have blended the DNA of Tony Robbins with the DNA of Harold Hill, the aw-shucks shifty salesman from The Music Man. Imagine a grizzly bear in a pinstriped suit, standing on his hind legs and talking about changing the world through disruptive innovation and transformation.

That’s how Lyons sees Benioff, watching him give the keynote speech at the Moscone Center.

The critique gets worse.

Lyons calls him “a buffoon, a bulls**t artist, and such an out-of-control egomaniac that it is painful to listen to him talk.” He says Benioff is like “some kind of cheesy talk-show host, roaming up and down the aisles, a man of the people” saying astral remarks like “the speed of now” and “the internet of customers.” He further mocks at how Benioff states: “Have you transformed the way you innovate?” (you can switch the two buzzwords around, and it makes just as little sense).

“There’s an art to this kind of horses**t, and Benioff is its Michelangelo,” Lyons declares, dejected at the speech while thousands of techies eagerly drink Benioff’s Kool-Aid. It gets worse for Lyons, as such figures as Sean Penn and Deepak Chopra appear to edify Benioff, while Huey Lewis and Green Day are prostituted to play at the festivities.

The rest of Dreamforce is a mixture of Roman debauchery and New Age spirituality. As mentioned, this where Lyons has his epiphany, the point the Red Pill fully goes down—for he sees Salesforce and the rest of the tech startup industry for they are (not companies who claim falsely, like Google and Apple, that they want to change the world). As he writes:

Having the best product has nothing to do with who wins. What matters is who can put on a great show, who can create the biggest spectacle, who can look huge and unstoppable and invincible, and who is the best at bluster and hype.

When it comes to these things, nobody comes close to Benioff. Nobody has cashed in on the bubble as well as he has. In 2012, Salesforce.com lost more than a quarter of a billion dollars, and in 2013 it will lose almost as much. In 2013 the company is fourteen years old and not making a profit. But its revenues are growing more than 30 percent each year, and growth is what investors are looking for, so even though Salesforce.com is bleeding red ink, its stock has doubled over the past two years, and Benioff’s personal net worth has soared to $ 2.6 billion.

Now, here in the Moscone Center, the P. T. Barnum of the tech industry is giving a master class in how the game is played. It’s the Marc Benioff show, brought to you by Marc Benioff, with special guest Marc Benioff. Fifteen thousand people are packed into this hall. Thousands more are packed into spillover rooms. It feels like a rock concert. In fact it is a rock concert.

Oddly enough, Lyons admits that he wanted to buy Salesforce software, such is the charisma of Benioff under the spectacle of watery lights and frenzied sound in the auditorium. More than a rock concert, the keynote speech event (and conference) is more like a religious revival where the audience devours the software like Communion.

Lastly, Lyons criticizes Benioff’s philanthropy because he makes it public and way to leverage customers—instead of being discreet like Bill Gates or other old tech guards. Okay, there’s more, but hopefully you have gained a taste of Disrupted and the alarm it sounds.

Personally, I’ve never used Salesforce and know little of Benioff. I suspect he has probably brought more light than darkness into the world. Still, Lyons characterization of the mogul, at the very least, is an allegory of what has befallen the tech startup industry. He is obviously not alone in this assessment (hey, there are more writers on Silicon Valley). The worst is not the dog and pony show of the tech startup industry, the smoke and mirrors full of self-mythologizing, or its vicious, Darwinist work philosophy dressed in Star Trek themes.

No, it’s the reality that, according to Lyons, another tech bubble bursting will soak the middle and lower classes even worse than in the 90s. Then the whole country will be disrupted in ways that might make the 2008 crash seem like a small interruption.

 

Note: A similar story appeared in Valleywag, Marc Benioff Is the Ron Burgundy of Tech, in 2013 and written by “Anonymous.” It’s not secret, though, that Lyons went to write for Valleywag after leaving HubSpot. No plot thickening here.

 

terminator advertisement

 

 

 

Most Market Research Jobs About To Be Replaced by Machines

 

In last week’s show, This Old Marketing Podcast drew future labor data from a recent MarTech Advisor research piece (which itself extracted the analysis of several economics and technology academics). The tone of the hosts, Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, was alarming for good reason: the takeaways indicate that humanity won’t have to bother with the rise of The Matrix or Skynet to face its doom.

The machines have already arrived, and they are going to take our jobs very soon. That includes a merciless conquest of the market research industry.

 

How Bad Is The Rise of the Machines?

 

 

No one is safe. According to the research, machines could replace 100 million U.S. jobs by 2025. This data is not a conspiracy theory and not just endemic to physical labor jobs (hello, Google robots). No, many of these lost jobs are actually in the analytical and technical arenas.

The data claims there is a 61% probability that algorithms and artificial intelligence will replace close to half a million market research jobs in the next ten years. When including other marketing positions like marketing specialist, for example, the MartTech Advisor article states “it’s safe to conclude that anything from half to two-thirds of marketing jobs are at risk.”

Hasta la vista, baby marketers!

In fact, the percentage could be higher, considering much of the research was conducted in 2014. In these frenetic days, a couple of years ago is ancient history. Machines have since advanced exponentially in creativity and social interaction.

 

Other Industries Massacred by the Machines

 

 

These jobs possess the highest likelihood of being exterminated in the next ten years by machines:

1. Telemarketing (99% probability – 234,520 jobs)
2. Budget Analysis (94% probability – 57,120 jobs)
3. Insurance Sales Persons (91% probability – 374,700 jobs)
4. Retail Salespersons (92% probability – 4,562,160 jobs)
5. Technical Writers (89% probability – 48,210 jobs)
6. Proofreaders and Copy Markers (84% probability – 10,500 jobs)

The first four are not that surprising, considering how online and automation worlds rule consumer lives. However, the eradication of mortal technical writers, proofreaders and copy makers shouldn’t be that startling—as computer algorithms can now easily edit and craft procedural copy. And beyond even: many news stories are presently written by programs and not Louis Lane.

In an odd dichotomy, the jobs the machines are likely not to steal in their vicious invasion are, on one hand, creative jobs like advertising, public relations and event planning; and sales jobs, on the other hand. Obviously, those who create and design our future machine overlords are safe when it comes to their careers.

(The Computer Probably of Selected Occupations, by MarTech Advisor, is posted at the end of this article).

 

How to Rage Against the Machines (and remain employed)

 

 For those in market research and other machine-targeted professions, understand that you won’t be alone. Some data suggests that half of U.S. jobs will be computerizable within two decades. I wish I could say that there is always work in the video store or phone book industries, but sadly it ain’t so…

In fact, that might be the goods news. Industries change and there is always a man behind the curtain of the machine. You may not be the creative/design or sales type, but beginning to migrate to computer or even engineering fields could not only save your career but upgrade it as well. Now, that’s a Red Pill you should take with tomorrow’s morning coffee.

You see, as long as we live a human consumer-based society, jobs for meat machines will always thrive. Remember, artificial intelligence is still artificial and good human judgment is what makes the business world go around…or more like forward. This is certainly the opinion of The Guardian’s Brook Rainwater in relation to lost jobs to machines:

None of this impacts human-centered work, the idea that people have critical comparative advantages that must be embraced, nurtured and developed. By using machines for things they can do better and bolstering the areas where we thrive, it provides opportunities to allow humans to focus on creative thinking and problem solving. We could in fact see a new renaissance where automation unlocks more creativity and innovation in humans as people are freed from repetitive tasks and rote production roles that we have been saddled with for generations.

If you are one of those market researchers who enjoy repetitive tasks and rote production, then you might want to fire up your resume right about now because not even Sarah Connor can save you.

For everyone else, there are experts that contend that for every job a machine takes a new one is created for humans. One such expert is tech researcher,  J.P. Gownder, who stated in an interview for Wired:

While these technologies are both real and important, and some jobs will disappear because of them, the future of jobs overall isn’t nearly as gloomy as many prognosticators believe. In reality, automation will spur the growth of many new jobs—including some entirely new job categories.

For the record, this article was written by a human. Who knows about the next one…

 

Job Threat_david raab

15 Free Market Research Tools & Resources When You Need A Hack

Lady holding umbrella underneath falling numbers

 

Market research is a discipline of precision. It’s also an industry that—if it could—would melt into the essence of numbers themselves. There are occasions, however, when a researcher might need some ad hoc statistics or data to support a project during nascent stages. Also, with market research budgets tightening across the business world, sometimes a researcher just needs a hack to gain a sense of perspective.

We’ve compiled a list of some free market research tools for the mentioned occasions. These can work from business development to brand analysis.

 

Economic & Financial Data

 

 

For mining the business and consumer landscapes, certainly start with FreeLunch. Moody Analytics provides the data, centered on capital markets and risk management. You can acquire data on an astonishing 180 countries that represent roughly 93% of the global GDP.

For sources with a little lighter scope, we recommend Quartz’s Atlas. This resource doesn’t exactly extracts profound insights, but it does provide sensible data in the form of charts and graphs you can embed in your documents or presentations.

 

American Demographics Sample

 

 

Our own government’s The American FactFinder allows you to search for any chunk of data related to any geographic location in the country. Gain access to documents such as demographic qualities, population estimates, housing valuations and business statistics. All data you find can be segmented further into age, sex, race, location and more. The US Census Bureau manages the search engine, which is a huge asset both for both exploratory and later-phase market research.

To understand a specific area’s lifestyle habits, you can then take advantage of Nielsen’s MyBestSegments. This platform offers tools to discover which areas would be most receptive to a brand campaign or launch—as well as nearby competitors and shifting shopping trends.

 

Brand Competition

 

 

With Upfront Analytics, you simply provide your company information and two competitors. The company then collects market research data through app games instead of traditional surveys—just to navigate biases and traditional response rates. In a few days, data returns to you with a national representative of the population as well as brand awareness statistics for your company.

As a companion, utilize Business Dynamics Statistics, which allows you see economic data on job creation, startups and shutdowns, business openings, expansions, and closures.

If you need assistance in where exactly to stay away from competition, there is ZoomProspector, a nifty tool allowing you to identify the optimal locations for startups, relocation or expansion of your or a client’s business.

Lastly, if you want to know how market research is evolving (and competing with itself), you can never go wrong with Greenbook’s GRIT Report.

 

Surveys and Focus Groups

 

 

If you want “free,” then obviously these tools are certainly quasi-scientific, at least in their no-cost levels. Nonetheless, they may present a snapshot of a brand or feedback on a product.

There are many and popular “free” survey platforms. We recommend the services of our sister company, QuestionPro, for their overall agility and intimate service (as they aren’t one of the mammoth survey providers). For an even simpler hack, Twitter and Facebook now provide polls if you happen to have a vibrant social media community for a quick data portrait.

Obviously, we recommend enterprise online surveys, which comes down to well-managed and highly-engaged panels. If you’re going the route of generic sample, use a free sample calculator to get closer to scientific.

As far as focus groups, Google Hangouts or a Skype group conversation is the way to go. Again, nothing scientific but certainly insightful or even stimulating.

If you really, really need brand analysis, try Userlytics—which provides a platform to test mobile apps, videos, display ads and more. It presents both a webcam and a screen recording of participant engagement. Afterwards, you can compare user answers with their reactions on video to understand how people are truly interacting with your brand. (Userlytics is not free, but it’s inexpensive, and that’s sometimes as good as free when you need a hack).

 

Conclusion

 

 

For a truly real free market research tool, we probably should have mentioned Siri or Cortana, but perhaps you already used them. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, as either platform is a close as rolling the dice as you can get. But you never know, right? In the end, there are more free market research tools available in cyberspace, but the ones we mentioned can move your research forward even as budgets and timelines move backward.

 

Poor survey data driving you crazy

Market Research vs. Marketing Research (The Great Debate)

You say toma-toe, I say toe-mato. You say marketing research, I say market research.

Are we saying the same thing, though? Are they interchangeable synonyms? (And aren’t all synonyms interchangeable anyway? Discuss.)

These questions have confounded marketers for thousands of years, appearing in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics depicting Horus and Set battling over the terms (okay, that’s hyperbole on my side, but you get the point). A debate will long continue even after humanity finds out why the chicken crossed the road (because it was conducting market research on the statistical analysis of dangerous traffic, duh!).

It’s a Campbellian quest to find out the differences between market research and marketing research. We present you with the Rosetta Stone on these terms:

 

The terms are already defined, yo!

 

According to The American Marketing Association, marketing research is:

The systematic and objective identification, collection, analysis and dissemination of information for the purpose of improving decision making related to the identification and solution of problems and opportunities in marketing.

According to Entrepreneur’s Small Business Encyclopedia, market research is:

The process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information about a market, about a product or service to be offered for sale in that market, and about the past, present and potential customers for the product or service; research into the characteristics, spending habits, location and needs of your business’s target market, the industry as a whole, and the particular competitors you face.

Still unsure? I don’t blame you, but the Devil is in the details and Angels dance on a pin of context. Let’s check it out.

 

Context and overlap

 

In one way, market research is a narrower term as it deals with the data in relation to a product and its audience. Marketing research, which of course heavily relies on data, involves the development, positioning and evolution of a product and its audience. On the other hand, market research is broader than marketing research as it can encompass political, social and even religious “markets.”

To make this clearer, marketing research always covers The Four P’s:

Product
Price
Place
Promotion

Market research is more segmented, focusing typically on only one of the four P’s, and it’s usually Place. I mean, Price is not relevant when conducting voter issues, as an example.

At the core of the discussion, an overlap exists between marketing research and market research. Here is an excellent diagram that covers the overlap:

 

market research vs marketing research

 

Marketing research scales on a larger and broader level, which may include advertising and even public relations, yet focuses typically on tangible brands and its entire journey to its targeted audience.

For more clarity (I hope), Quick MBA offers a distinction between market research and marketing research:

These terms often are used interchangeably, but technically there is a difference. Market research deals specifically with the gathering of information about a market’s size and trends. Marketing research covers a wider range of activities. While it may involve market research, marketing research is a more general systematic process that can be applied to a variety of marketing problems.

 

Which one is more popular?

 

We won’t allow Steve Harvey to give us that information. A cursory Google search grants us the insights on the relevance of the terms:

 

market research vs marketing research3

market research vs marketing research2

 

 

Before you go using “market research” solely in your next Egyptian archeological dig, Google Trends reveals that neither are that in vogue these days:

 

market research vs marketing research5

 

However, when it comes to Geographical usage, both terms will get you recognized if you use them in somewhat exotic lands:

market research vs marketing research4 market research vs marketing research6

Basically, you won’t have to worry about an argument on these terms if you’re in Lancing, Michigan or Beaumont, Texas.

 

Conclusion

 

The terms overlap, but it’s safe to conclude that market research is a subset of marketing research. Most market researchers will never have to worry about the font type on a logo or a content strategy for a pair of men’s slippers. All marketers should, however, be aware of quantitative data those men’s slippers. At the same time and for example, market research is more involved than marketing research in Donald Trump’s campaign (or maybe not).

It’s safe to say, by viewing the search engine statistics, that you won’t get arrested by vocabulary police if you do use these two terms interchangeably…except if you happen to be at a marketing conference in Zimbabwe.

qSample’s Breakfast With Google (and the important news revealed)

 

qSample recently had the pleasure of directly interacting with Google. The encounter revealed important shifts in Google+ and much of Google’s business-ranking on search engines.

Marketing Director Miguel Conner and Business Development Executive Maryana Stepanova attended an exclusive Google Partners Digital Breakfast. It was held at 150 N. Michigan (downtown Chicago).

The event was hosted by Tom Casale and Gary Sigman of Simplified Solutions (an online marketing firm as well as Google Partner).

The keynote of the Digital Breakfast was listening to the insights of Justin Perron, Google AdWords Certified Agency Development Manager. There were also fresh bagels and excellent coffee—as well as the theme of how crucial it is to advertise with Google. That’s not surprising, except for those who forget that Google is not about information but advertising (which is around 80% of its revenue).

However, some intriguing information was revealed during the Digital Breakfast concerning the recent evolution of Google+.

In essence, Google+ is moving away from being a social media channel. It is morphing into a blend of Google Places and Google My Business—perhaps aiming to be a mammoth Yelp-type entity. That is perhaps more sensible than trying to compete directly with Facebook. Even Facebook is attempting to recreate part of itself as Yelp.

The central takeaway is to ensure your business already belongs to Google My Business (and leverages an operational Google+ business page from it). That is an immediate search engine advantage.

In addition, Simplified Solutions and Perron offered these suggestions for a Google+ page and online branding in general:

 Post as many pictures as possible on your Google+ page (visual is the trend, after all). Oh, and make sure to Geo Tag any pictures uploaded, for that is what search engines are hunting for.
Create plenty of relevant content in available media channels.
Update both your Google My Business and Google+ pages frequently, at least every three months.
Don’t try to be global, as local is where Google is putting much of its SEO energy (in other words, give Google a physical address when it asks for one in any part of its channels).
Keep in mind that consumers are now more convenience-loyal than brand-loyal. Making it easy for consumers to find and buy your product is imperative.

As mentioned and beyond this, the dominant advice was to utilize both Simplified Solutions and Google AdWords. In the meantime, while the first quarter comes in 2016, these pointers should assist those wondering what to do with their Google+ page and those who haven’t subscribed to Google My Business—in market research and beyond.

Why Being Continually Online is Like Having a Bad Acid Trip

Woman having a drug trip while looking at her smartphone

Hippie guru Timothy Leary famously said, “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out.”

He may have been referring to psychedelics, but his quote is more relevant than ever when it comes to our culture’s connectivity with the cyber dimensions. No one is dropping out, however, and being constantly online is overloading our minds with dangerous results.

Hyper-connectivity—that state of being continually plugged-in to our devices—is a growing problem. There are solutions, as always, but first the bad news.

 

The damage caused by hyper-connectivity

 

We may be accustomed to living online, but how it stresses our brains is highlighted in an article by ATTN:, Here’s Why It’s so Important to Unplug.

Here are some of the weighty takeaways:

Fifty-four thousand words—in the form of digital content—is dumped on the average social media user per day.
We receive about 200 newspapers-worth of information every day.
An average person—via texts, posts, and other media—produces about six newspapers-worth of information a day.
There are 295 exabytes of data floating around the world—or basically 29,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 pieces of information. That is three hundred and fifteen times the number of grains of sand on Earth.

That’s just scratching the info-dump surface. The point is that hyper-connectivity is straining our minds that were never built to handle that amount of data on a daily basis.

qSample has researched the effects of hyper-connectivity on individuals, finding that social media users earn less income and that social media/internet is creating a split-personality culture that is harming Millennials, in particular.

Furthermore, the ATTN: article quotes the sober analysis of Max Blumberg, research psychologist from Goldsmiths University of London. He explains:

Our brains were never designed to be always on and permanently connected with the amount of stimuli that we get today. Our brains haven’t evolved to handle that level of high activity yet, and that’s a problem.

Blumberg explains that high stimuli like surfing the web are attractive because they create dopamine in the brain. He further states:

It’s really similar to having ADHD. People with ADHD, their big problem is that their cortex—the outer part of your brain that does the executive function like making decisions—doesn’t function in the way that it is supposed to.  Unlike animals, who are distracted by every stimulus they encounter, human beings have the cortex, which is supposed to help them weigh up whether what they are currently doing is more important than whatever the new stimulus is—whether it’s a Facebook notification, phone call, or email.

This can’t be good, and other researchers are finding that hyper-connectivity may be causing depression, insomnia, narcissism, and lack of empathy among various demographics of society.

On a more “real” level, Mashable recently reported that more people have died from selfies than shark attacks this year.

(Scarier than Dr. Evil’s desire in Austin Powers for sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads, what will happen if sharks acquire smartphones and attach them to their frickin’ foreheads…)

Being online is even ruining eating experiences! At least according to Food Trend TV’s Dana McCauley, who stated:

Technology has reached a point where almost every human function has been turned into a business, absolving us of the need to develop the virtues we need to get along. Activities that were once considered part of the human experience have been outsourced to the Apple store, and it’s a sad indictment of the state of our society.

Basically, we are staring at screens during our wait at eateries, skip the experience of connecting with those who serve our food, and abort the ritual of eating with other by quick deliveries at home. At least McCauley admits we don’t have to deal with the manifestations of the Soup Nazi, although she doesn’t see it as a positive because at least it’s a “real” experience.

All of this for that dopamine? Leary was promoting LSD in his day, but the “high” of hyper-connectivity is a thousand times stronger, it would appear. Except it’s akin to the infamous brown acid that hippies were supposed to stay away from at Woodstock. It’s often a bad trip instead a journey of enlightening information.

I mean, it’s not secret by now that being plugged into a mobile device or computer can create addiction, starting with the “endless scroll, that keeps us going, is actually affecting our brain and creating addicting patterns not too dissimilar to drugs.”

(Many would say there is nothing wrong with making products that are like drugs; after all, some have said that good marketing is simply making your brand addictive, giving it that aura that the consumer can’t live without it. And tech companies know marketing better than most.)

In the end and beyond companies wanting to make dough, Blumberg states that hyper-connectivity is destroying critical thinking. Also, youth who learn to temper being online (and television) will likely be more productive members of society and leaders of the future.

 

There solution to hyper-connectivity

 

Going back to Leary’s quote, the solution has to do with dropping out after too much tuning in.

In a New York Times article, Daniel J. Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, proposed some ideas to get us dropped out:

Segment your day in online and offline activities (and stick to them).
Also segment your online activities (as in a designated time to answer emails and another for posting on Facebook).
Find daily hobbies or activities that are not based or at least loosely connected to the Internet.
Take short breaks, walks or even naps when immersed in a prolonged digital period.
When taking a vacation, make sure it doesn’t involve the internet at your disposal.

Levitin states that these solutions will take practice. It’s not easy to get offline when various screens of information are always hovering over us. But our brains will thanks us with renewed cognitive energy.

If not, just approach it like a bona fide addiction. As mentioned, brands like it when you lose your willpower—as they are only following their nature of marketing—but your nature has never been to be inundated with information to the point you miss out of nature all around you.

South Korea has the highest rate of internet addiction in the world. The country’s solution is to set up boot camps to offer “digital detox.” The premise is that at the root of internet addiction is the problem of making too many friends and relationships online, and being dragged down by the gravity of continual “checking in and checking out.” Creating “real” associations inevitable urges people to venture out into the world and away from their devices.

I like this quote by Leary that also exemplifies our hyper-connected society:

We are dealing with the best-educated generation in history. But they’ve got a brain dressed up with nowhere to go.

It seems instead of nowhere we should take our minds outside and make a flesh and blood friend. Just be wary for those sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

Why Ant-Man Content Can Be Heroic For High Traffic

Picture of ant-man representing sorter content for marketing

Like many progressive tech companies, qSample has embraced a content marketing philosophy for branding and assistance to clients in the market research industry. Our work was even showcased recently in Piktochart—highlighting how leveraging the power of infographics has enabled us to thrive in a competitive field.

Content marketing truly relates to qSample’s philosophy of taking creative risks in order to continually engage an increasingly educated yet cynical culture (or convincing the “dinosaur in the boardroom,” as President Rudly Raphael calls the challenges of B2B initiatives in the 21st century).

Yet it seems content marketing might be in danger of becoming a dinosaur itself, stressed by recent and pack-like trends. Namely, I’m referring to the sought-after formula of article-length.

 

Those who contend longer is better

 

Leading the way are such luminaries as the SEO company Moz and content marketing guru Neil Patel. As examples, Moz declared that longer posts on their blog get linked more often, while Patel, in his How Long Should Each Blog Post Be? A Data Driven Answer, advocated length when it comes to content:

Once the word count exceeds 1,500 words, it’s in the golden share zone. In my own research on Quick Sprout confirms this. All of my posts that are more than 1,500 words receive 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes than the articles with fewer than 1,500 words.

…I’ve shown you the data that proves that longer content gets better ranking, higher indexing, and more sharing.

So longer is better? Titan word counts make readers and Google happy?

It’s possible, considering the sterling data provided by those I just mentioned. However, that formula-driven attitude is a reason content marketing came into being: to eliminate the cut-and-paste, key word-stuffed, and mechanical content that plagued the internet before the arrival of the savior-algorithms of Panda and Hummingbird. We simply live in a more organic internet.

 

Those who contend shorter is better

 

Why go full circle if suddenly dry formulas begin to enslave content again? Why not look beyond to see the future belongs to those who takes creative risks?

Or we can look at some examples in the past where Ant-Man content created unforgettable classics—from individuals who took those creative risks but were recognized as savvy content marketers in their respective fields:

Shortest Poem: Adam by unknown author, although some credit famed poet Odgen Nash. It simply goes:

Adam
Had ’em.

Shortest Short Story: Baby Shoes, Never Been Worn by Earnest Hemingway.

That’s the whole narrative. The title is the story.

This short story conjures many evocative notions to different readers. It’s as poignant as any long Greek epic because our imagination and experience sit on the front row of this story. Hemingway allegedly wrote it as a wager against someone who claimed he couldn’t write a story in six words or less. You really can’t get better copywriting than this in any agency.

Shortest Novel: The Dinosaur by Italian Augusto Monterroso. The entire story goes:

When he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.

This mention can be debated or even negated. Novels are generally classified as being at least 40,000 words in length. But in a summer where Jurassic World devoured movie records, let’s go with this.

Shortest Music Lyrics: I admit this is almost folly to tackle. There are countless instrumentals with brief voice insertions or background (e.g.: Why don’t we do it on the road? by The Beatles, where Paul just reiterates the title).

For the sake of argument (and maybe my word count!), a leading contender would be Five Years by Sugar Hiccup. The song goes

And he will never be back.

These lyrics repeat for a good five minutes.

Shortest film: Video is regarded as content, and a booming content marketing tool on the internet. It’s almost an impossible title to have, as there are whole film festivals dedicated to extremely short movies.

One would have to mention Fresh Guacamole. It’s considered the shortest film ever nominated for an Oscar. Thus, it’s noteworthy and it runs exactly 100 seconds.

Shortest sentence: There isn’t one. All written mediums have one-word sentences in many memorable works. On a side note, it’s notable that the longest sentence in all literature is in Ulysses by James Joyce. The bloody sentence is 4,391 words long.

(That might make Moz and Patel happy, though).

Yes, you may say, but what does that have to do with the hallowed present and the digital worlds?

One of the most renowned marketers today is Seth Godin. His blog draws incredible traffic. Guess how long his posts typically are?

Patel himself answers this question in the article, mentioning one post by Godin:

66 words.

The rest of Godin’s posts are a few words longer or shorter. He might as well write about a dinosaur wearing baby shoes…

In this spirit, our primary research reveals that when it comes to surveys, shorter questionnaires, shorter questions and shorter sentences just promote better online research.

 

Those of us in between longer and shorter

 

All of this, of course, does not mean that shorter is better in the overall internet scheme of things. Again, content marketing (and online research) should be about taking creative risks to continually engage an increasingly educated yet cynical culture (and the boardroom dinosaur, with or without baby shoes). It goes without saying that spreadsheets and data should lead the way in any market research; but again, the point is not to have unimaginative numbers dominate the internet as in the past.

Search engines are more intuitive than ever, so qualitative entertainment now balances quantitative presentation. Internet audiences have basically become protagonists in a Nirvana song, always clamoring: Here we are, entertain us.

In essence, content should be as long or short as content needs to be. As an example, Upworthy found little association between length and attention. Here we are, entertain us.

Gandalf famously said in Lord of the Rings:

A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.

As wizards of marketing and research warlocks, our content in various mediums should be as long as it’s meant to be. Somewhere in between the genius of Godin and Patel, we will find the voice to make clients and customers not just like our brand but experience our brand.

Here we are…

Hard to reach audience button

The Dark Side of Social Media Just Got Darker

Woman despondent while looking at social media on smartphone

There is no shortage of content on the mental and emotional hazards of social media, all readily found in…uh…social media.

Yet this dark cloud is getting darker by recent studies, supported by qSample’s own finding. It’s casting a larger shadow over a medium that once was believed as the great democratizer of society.

 

Here is how it gets darker

 

The most recent warning comes from Future Foundation, in a study of Britons on social media usage. The study arrived at a powerful conclusion: social media has created a culture of comparison like never before, leading youth and adults down a labyrinth of brittle self-esteem.

Some of the discoveries of the study:

63% of social media users ages between 17 and 33 feel they are failing in life (while only 37% of baby boomers feel this way).
– 56% of social media users feel they’re not reaching their potential.

The alarming numbers are likely caused by the notion of social comparison gone awry. Buffer explains the perils of social comparison in the Psychology of Social Media:

This can lead to feelings of insecurity—especially on Facebook, where we go to share our happiest, braggiest news. We’re constantly comparing ourselves against a stream of new babies, engagements, new jobs.

This isn’t just a Facebook issue; it happens on Instagram, where Instagram envy runs rampant, and on Pinterest, where a survey of 7,000 U.S. mothers revealed that 42 percent have “Pinterest stress”—they worry that they’re not crafty or creative enough.

Worse than social comparison gone awry, as the Future Foundation study relates, social media users actually wish their real life mirrored that of their social profiles—basically creating a schizophrenic society where online personas are different from real personalities. The research reveals that young men suffer the most in all demographics; but all sectors find themselves continually under the stress of matching their own projections with that of peers in various social media channels.

As mentioned, qSample’s primary study supports the deleterious effects of social media:

A recent study conducted with qSample’s general consumer panel reveals that more than 60% of respondents surveyed access Facebook 3-6 times a day. Results also show those who are logged in that frequently earn an income of $50,000 or less per year.

The study demonstrates that in general those with less social media footprints tend to earn higher.

 

Here is where it gets darkest

 

Obviously, a case (with many case studies) can be made on the positive effects of social media on both the individual and community. Regardless, it seems most miss the true nature of social media, as well as the internet itself. Understanding this nature is key to solving the dark matter that is social media pervading online universes.

Marketer Josip Petrusa nailed it in a blog article. He is not alone, drawing from the works of cyber-psychology pioneers like Chris Anderson, Malcolm Gladwell and Nassim Taleb.

It basically goes like this: social media and the internet do not improve or harm our emotions. No, they simply amplify them.

As he writes:

And though the internet increasingly became an amplifier of everything the world had to offer as a result of easy-access, the sudden increase of amateur creations and exposure to a seemingly infinite world, social media has established itself as the ultimate amplifier.

The amplifier effect bares no bias. Nor does it give privilege or favour anything directly. Its sole purpose is to amplify, everything. It is everything we are in this social media world. It is everything we perceive to be through our own perceptions.

This makes perfect sense when taken to a mass media level. Think about it. When an endangered lion is shot or a police officer acts irresponsibly, social media broadcasts latent emotions to all corners of the world. Animal rights and minority activists have been around for decades, moving the culture needle to more egalitarian spectrums. Social media simply leverages covert sentiments, injects them with the steroids, and then disseminates them in a mob-like wave across the web. In the end, it’s always the boots on the ground that make a real difference.

Another example would be the Arab Spring. Social media took credit for it—according to many digital commentators and marketers—but the mechanism for Egyptian freedom was already in the works and continues to imperfectly grind away. A University of Washington study even concluded that “social media did not cause the upheaval in North Africa.”

In essence, social media and the internet are not bringers of historical change but bringers of emotional range. Like all media, they capture a snapshot of human progress.

The greatest evidence for social media having an “amplifier effect” instead of societal impact is the reality of how issues swell and shrink rapidly. Our research shows how the internet has drastically shrunk the attention span of people to the point goldfish focus more than humans! Today’s dire issue is quickly forgotten, except again in the minds of activists of various stripes. I mean, is anyone still irate at Brian Williams or Eric Holder for whatever? Today’s confederate flag is tomorrow’s obscure meme on Facebook, at least in the mind of the general public.

 

Here is where the light comes it

 

Beyond morbid self-reflection and mob-rule mentality, social media seems officially darker than ever, if the Future Foundation research holds up.

How do we even know our emotions when they are fragmented and then amplified like in a psychic sugar-rush that later becomes a sort of ice cream headache for the heart? How can we combat gross projections on our social profiles as we attempt to compete with friends and followers who seem to have it all? As one therapist said on the emotional amplifications of social media, how do you stop from going into a “neurotic limbo”?

As with the negative aspects of social media, there is a galaxy of literature out there on solutions to the negative aspect of social media. It really all comes down to some addictive spectrum or another that either needs to be curtailed, eliminated or managed differently. As a Forbes columnist and tech executive wrote recently on Forbes: “Social media is rapidly becoming as bad as smoking for the human condition.”

Your mileage may vary.

But to solve the effects of Tyler Durden-like emotions, it seems the solutions was already stated in this article: Be an activists, any kind of activist even if it’s something small like “save the stamp collection.” Find a passion that only you care about—and know, as evidence reveals—that any real change will be in the material world and away The Matrix that is social media. That will eventually align your emotions and identity, and both will shine through on social media and beyond…in history…even if it’s in a list article on some blog.

It’s really that simple. Any more complication risks this being amplified on the internet to the point it gets lost in a short-attention span society.

And yes, please share on social media, Neo…

 

Infographic of the Week: Why Content Goes Viral

We all want our business content to viral (except maybe for last year’s Christmas Party pictures or the snarky email to HR after it removed Jean Friday). In the name of Chris Crocker, much of the world wants their content to go viral! It rarely happens, though, even when it involves cats. Viral content is as elusive as finding out the true age of Lorde.

In fact, no one really knows what the benchmarks are for measuring viral content, similar to finding the exact age demographics of Millennials (which Lorde claims to belong to).

Regardless, surging traffic and engagement are highly desired for internet success, and there is a science behind it that you can use, which at the very least will increase your metrics. This is the theme of this week’s infographic, based on research from our article 4 Research Studies That Can Holistically Create Viral Content.

We hope it assists in your content going viral as much as we hope this infographic goes viral (isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?):

Why Content Goes Viral

 

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