May
16

Social media infographics: fight data fudge!

Data fudge is everywhere. But it seems particularly rampant in infographics shared on social media.

Okay, I love really good charts and graphs – and nerd out about elegant infographics like ones I grew up with in National Geographic, or those shared regularly in FastCoDesign.  But no matter how pretty the picture, what about the data shared in the random infographics I regularly see in my social streams?

Case in point. This week, Jim Dougherty shared this  Infographic, questioning the infographic’s data and particularly this statistic: “90% of all organizations use content in their marketing”. Hmm. Really?

Fight the fudge!

So I decided to do some digging. And before I knew it, I’d created an infographic of my own…

How to spot data abuse in infographics -FUDGE

Here’s some advice based on only one data point: one awfully skewed statistic in a recent Demand Metric infographic.

Links:

Apr
15

Technology brands: hey “Cloud” product names: QUIT IT!

Dear brand managers: please get your heads out of the “cloud”.

Okay, I get it. The word “Cloud” is hot right now on planet Software Development. All the biggest online players in the world – from Google to Microsoft to Apple to Adobe – are launching “Cloud” versions of their software. But using the word ”Cloud” in a product name for a software brand? I Beg to Differ.

View from 30,000 feet: Ice Cream Castles

So, my brand manager friend. Before we talk clouds, give this song a listen: Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell.

Hear that? Joni’s talking about clouds – your favourite topic! Now, she’s talking about old fashioned air-clouds not cool Internet clouds.  But listen when she describes them as “Bows and flows of angel hair/ And ice cream castles in the air”. See? She’s like you. She agrees that clouds are really, really cool.

And from way up there, those awesome, baroque cloud swirls look kind of like what the concept of “Cloud” software looks like to you technology brand managers, and especially the product developers you usually report to.

It’s a magical fairy tale kingdom of Internet-delivered goodness that just makes so gosh-darned much sense.

  • Why wouldn’t people want the latest version of their software delivered by magic from the heavens?
  • Why wouldn’t they want to switch from buying boxes of plastic disks to online subscriptions?
  • Why wouldn’t people want to store their personal files in the wondrous land of “feather canyons”?
  • Why wouldn’t people LOVE such a super-convenient, and low-cost method of delivery?

Why indeed?

Which explains why every Silicone Valley dog and his app-development team is moving towards the cloud. And they’re so excited, they’re adding the word “Cloud” to every product name in sight. Just a few examples: Adobe Creative CloudApple iCloudMicrosoft Cloud ServicesRackspace Open CloudGoogle Cloud Platform.

Salesforce logo clouds it up

One of the ugliest logo mashups in history. Or, the reason neither Sales-people nor techies should manage brands.

Or how about SalesForce.com? They love the word “Cloud” so much, they named all three of their most-promoted products “Sales Cloud,” “Service Cloud,” and “Marketing Cloud“. They even changed their logo (at right) so you couldn’t miss their cloudiness.

All for love of those amazing clouds…

View from the ground:  rain and snow on everyone

But as Joni said, clouds look very different when they are looming over your head: “But now they only block the sun./They rain and snow on everyone”. Funny, but that describes how I feel when I look at a name like “Adobe Creative Cloud” or “Sales Cloud”.

Think about the product name “Sales Cloud” by Salesforce for a moment. Salesforce.com virtually invented the market for Internet-subscription software for business – or “software-as-a-service” as we used to call it in high tech board rooms. Customer Relationship Management was the first “killer app” and it made Salesforce into a household name.

But Salesforce.com never needed to say “Cloud” before because they were all-cloud, all the time: cloud storage, cloud subscription, browser-based cloud usage.

So check out this copy from the “Sales Cloud” section of their site.

Get started with the world’s #1 CRM sales app: Improve sales productivity, boost win rates, grow revenue. With Salesforce Sales Cloud you get all the CRM capabilities you need to connect with customers…

Funny, in the olden days, they would have just said “Subscribe to Salesforce.com”. Because that’s their real product name. It’s not a cloud. It’s a subscription.

The problem with clouds? They’re bloody CLOUDY.

So let me say this once and for all: the cloud is not a software product. It’s not a place. And it’s certainly not a thing I can buy. It’s that murky Internet space between me as customer and you the vendor. And so it’s not something I want to focus on, it’s something I want to see through to the real value for me on the other side. And if you’re doing your job as a brand manager, you’ll use product names that help me understand – and buy – your stuff.

Thanks Joni.

Feb
13

Tweets in space: Col. Chris Hadfield takes Social Media into orbit

Suddenly, the cold wastes of space seem a bit more human again.

If you aren’t following Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield on Twitter, Facebook, or through the Canadian Space Agency YouTube channel, go, now, and follow this man. Share his stuff. He’s doing more to inspire a generation of star-struck kids than anyone since Neil Armstrong or that Russian dog.

The quote and the photo are from Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield's magnificent Facebook stream.

The quote and the photo are from Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield’s magnificent Facebook stream.

When I shared the Facebook update above, my old college buddy Lloyd responded with this:

Commander Hadfield is the best thing to happen to the Canadian space program since they put a bottle opener on the end of the Canadarm.
And it’s true… except for the bottle opener part (note to Space Agency – get on that!). But in thinking about it a bit more, I responded with this.
Actually the best thing to happen to space exploration period Lloyd. He’s the most articulate, personable, plugged-in astronaut ever. And he’s just so golly-gee-whiz THRILLED to be doing what he’s doing. It’s a nice change from the boring old business-as-usual.

And more importantly, he’s a storyteller. He’s a creative guy who shares his photos, his songs, and the wonders of weightless living with this incredibly, engagingly geeky, enthusiasm. It’s clear that he loves his job – and okay, that part is easy; he’s an astronaut after all. The thing he does better than anyone is bringing us along for the ride –  and making us fall in love with space all over again.

But as great as all of that is, I wonder: How far beyond Canada’s borders is Col. Hadfield’s social media brilliance reaching? I’ll put the word out to some social media analytics gurus for their thoughts – updates to follow.

In the meantime, below are two of my favourite Candiana moments from the growing space canon of Chris Hadfield -with William “rocket Man” Shatner and a space jam with the Barenaked  Ladies.

What are your favourite Hadfield moments? Please share links in the comments!

UPDATE Feb 13:  So it seems pretty clear that Hadfield hasn’t broken out as an international phenomenon yet. I received this update from my friend, the digital monitoring ninja Mark Blevis. Of 120,934 tweets mentioning @cmdr_hadfield (Feb 1-today).

Update Feb 14: Well, after some back and forth with Mark, and Twitter input from Commander Hadfield’s son Evan, Mark’s blog post provides some more numbers  that  confirm Hadfield hasn’t reached the “Justin-Bieber-sphere” yet.

Jan
15

Ottawa brands: Seven reasons “Red Blacks” will never be our CFL team name.

You only get three downs in the CFL. And Ottawa’s new team has used up two…

So there’s a lot of talk in Ottawa about a couple of potential names being tossed about for the new/old/here-we-go-again CFL football team.“Red Blacks” is the latest, and seems to be gaining a few admirers as well as a host of detractors – including CFL Hall of Famer Russ Jackson. But it may not matter. This name was fumbled. And it seems someone else may have picked it up…

RussJackson

First of all, let me just say that I don’t mind the suggested name. It’s not exciting, but then neither is “Cleveland Browns” or “New Zealand All Blacks”. It *could* have been built into a relatively strong brand, and I’m sure it *would* have grown on the Ottawa fans. Remember, “Rough Riders” was always an awkward name to start with – between Saskatchewan having the same name and being named after an American military unit.

And it’s not nearly as embarassing as the former team name “Renegades”. Or the Rapidz baseball team – who played three seasons under three different names (thanks to Rock Norris for the reminder – shiver).

But it will never happen. And here’s why.

Seven good reasons Red Blacks can’t be the name

1) The first down: Ottawa Rush Smacked down

The first down was a Hail Mary pass from OSEG quarterback Jeff Hunt. But  the really awful name “Ottawa Rush” was prematurely “discovered” after the Ottawa Citizen found a trademark application, and then apparently abandoned when the public reaction smacked the ball out of the air.

2) Second down: Ottawa Red Blacks fumbled

But then they made the same basic mistakes with their second attempt. Again, the Ottawa Citizen found an application online “to trademark several variations of the name Ottawa Red Blacks, for use with a proposed football team.” And the name was then confirmed as an option in an e-mail from Jeff Hunt.

Hunt explained OSEG hasn’t made a final call just yet, because the group is planning to do some focus testing on potential names first (and) release the team name… in late January or early February.

3) Naming contests kill good names

You held a naming contest, and that was a giant mistake. Take my word for this. As nice and democratic as it sounds, this never works. I could go on for hours about this, but in your case, the biggest reason is that it made the people who care most take sides too early. You basically set the stage for a large crowd of vocal people to be disappointed whatever the outcome.

4) Negative public reaction

But of course, it’s too late for focus groups when nine out of ten people in an online survey have already decided they don’t like it. Of course, OSEG could ignore this feedback and push on (at their peril). But there are several bigger issues that will kill this name before it flies.

5) Trademark threat 1: Semi-professional team in Watertown, New York

Watertown Red and Black: Okay, it’s not a Canadian brand, but Watertown is just across the border – well within the reach of TV and radio broadcasts. And this team could make the case for trademark confusion.

6) Trademark threat 2: powerful US College football team

redandblkforever_largeUniversity of Georgia Bulldogs Ever hear of American College football? Yeah, well they know the value of branding, and this team brand, fondly called the “Red and Black” by its fans (see t-shirt at right) is about as big as they come – having just won their 2013 conference bowl game. And the UGA student newspaper (Red & Black) also owns redandblack.com. So let the confusion – and litigation – begin!

7) Web Address: gone

It seems that for all of their work on the trademark front, it seems the team did not secure any of the key Web addresses it would need to really build a solid brand online.  As a matter of fact, “RedBlack.ca” and “RedBlacks.ca” were just scooped up yesterday AFTER  the media storm began. And I’m willing to bet it wasn’t OSEG that registered them with GoDaddy.com.

So now it’s third down…

So Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. You’ve had two chances to launch your brand right, and both times you lost yardage. So your choices seem to be: punt or push on. But I’d like to suggest a third option:

Bring in a special team.

Branding – and particularly NAMING a new brand – is a tricky business, and it’s obviously not OSEG’s specialty. Call in the people who do this all the time. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least one local guy who could help.

But before I get too smarmy, any readers want to weigh in? What do you think?