Previous month:
September 2011
Next month:
November 2011

October 2011

#Occupy is changing all the rules, Nobody is writing the new ones

Livestream revolutionThe #Occupy movement has brought increased visibility to the power of our new global culture and it's implications on society.  Here's to hoping we as a digital culture can learn to do more than just yell and break down walls.  Somebody is going to have to start building our future.  

Learnings from the #Occupy Movement

  1. Connectivity is a human right.  The military should be able to shut down communications when fighting terrorists.  The police should not have this power.  Hundreds of viewers watching livestreams keep everyone honest.
  2. Police social polices aren't working.  Local and state police departments need more comprehensive and enforced social participation guidelines.  I am friends with, and friends-of-friends with members of major police departments from all across the US.  While these officers are good people, they should not be sharing their opinions about The or recollections of these protests, even with their relatively closed social circles.
  3. Protests require dialog ir order to deliver progress.  As Jeff Jarvis recently suggested, these protests need to come back into social media.  Protests will force attention on an issue.  But we now need intelligent and productive dialog.
  4. Mobile tech isn't considered a luxury.  The struggling masses consider technology a necessity.  Even the unemployed are tweeting and livestreaming from smart phones.  I make a living wage in tech space and not everyone in my family has a smartphone or data plan.
  5. The 1% don't get it.  If every employee of a bank making over $250K  were to donate 10% of their salaries to charity, they would come across as more human.  A centralized Employment Retraining Fund, paid for by charitable donations from employees at major corporations could provide many of these people with training.
  6. Media coverage stinks.  The media wants to show something unique, and there is nothing as unique as crazy people.  I'm sure that many people at these protests are normal people.  I have a number of friends who support the #Occupt protesters and movement who aren't wearing crazy hats or participating in a human megaphone.  Yet most of what we see on TV relates to the crazies.
  7. The fishbowl is alive and well.  There are pockets of conversation online from both sides of the #Occupy movement.  Rarely is there crossover in these conversations.  Most people are talking to and with others with the same opinions.  Rarely is there an pluralistic or respectful dialog.


Your social promotion is failing for these reasons

PrizesSocial promotions can be cheap and fun way to build and engage your community.  Social promotions can also be a great way to attract lots of promotions hounds who will never buy your product or interact with your social accounts or content following the promotions period.

Building the right social promotion can give your social marketing efforts a real kick. Building the wrong ones can do a great deal of harm.

Build the right social promotion require the skillful manipulation of the following five components: the platform, the messaging, the means of entry, the prize and the follow up messaging.  Skillfully crafting each of these five components can enable incredible success.

Below are my 10 rules of the road for social promotions:

  1. Start with a business strategy.
    Getting to 10 million Facebook fans is not a business strategy.  Generating awareness of a new product is a tactic in service of a strategy.  If you find yourself pressed for scale and do not have the ability to reorient your management's perception of your core metrics, consider how your social promotions can serve a broader strategy over time.
  2. Branding.
    Every brand should have a social voice and a brand personality.  Don't sell your soul and flush millions of dollars in branding down the drain for a sleazy giveaway.  Make the promotion speak to your brand personality and your consumer lifestyle.
  3. Target the right audience.  
    Build your promotion for your desired audience. Manipulate everything from your messaging and prizing through the means to entry to target this audience.  Remember that many others outside of your target may participate.  Consider how much spillover into other demographics you are willing to tolerate, and narrowing your promotional components appropriately.
  4. Build the right launch plan.
    Despite the hype, most social promotions fall fairly flat for two reasons:

    A) Contests that are less than remarkable aren't going to generate share-worthy conversations.  Make your promotional content, user actions and/or prizes conversation-worthy.

    B) The marketer fails to support the promotion through repeated messaging throughout the life of the promotion.  Not everyone reads everything the brand broadcasts.  Secondary messages should not be identical to the initial messages, and should add new information or value to those that have already read the additional message.

  5. Carefully craft your entry/participation action requirements.
    Many brand managers dream of the great video entries fans will create for them on the chance of winning an iPad.  However, creating, editing and uploading a video requires an incredible amount of effort.  Many people don't have the tools, time or bandwidth.  If you are a photo-video store targeting home video enthusiasts, a video contest may be appropriate.  But if you a kitchen appliance brand targeting wealthy mothers in their 30s and 40s, requiring high production value video isn't going to work quite as well.
  6. Consider the role of sharing.
    Sharing as a means of entry is a great way to generate awareness of your brand and promotions.  However, many Twitter contests involve sharing generic, canned messaging as a means of entry.  While this generates broad exposure, it will not create advocacy.  Asking people to spam their friends in exchange for an entry does more harm than good.  
  7. Carefully consider fullfillment.
    Many contests invite people to Tweet with a hashtag or leave a comment on a blog of Facebook page.  In order to award the prize, you will need to be able to communicate with the winner in private - I wouldn't recommend asking for someone's mailing address or phone number in public.  Get your ducks in a row before you run into trouble.  
  8. Remember that social is generally global.
    Different states within the US have different legal regulations governing contests and promotions, as do many countries and territories across the world.  Regional restrictions for contests are often neccesary.  Including all of this legal information in a tweet can be difficult.  While a link to additional information is a generally recommended best practice, be sure to work with your legal team to determine the legality of your promotional matierals.  On a final note, remember that Facebook tabs are by default visible to all regions.

  9. Know the platform rules of the road.
    Facebook Promotions in particular, can be very tricky for the uninitiated.  Read their policy, carefully.  Do not play games with Facebook.  

    As a general rule of thumb,
    - Avoid utilizing Facebook's native functionality - Liking, sharing, commenting, tagging or uploading media using Facebook's native tools - as the final means of entry.  This functionality can be used as part of the means of entry, but not the means of entry.  For example, you could require that someone Like a page and then enter their email address into a form on a tab in order to enter.  However, you cannot run a promotion that only requires a Like and a comment on a wall post as a means of entry.
    - Build contests and promotions into tabs rather than hosting them on the wall.  Be sure to disclose that Facebook is in no way associated with your contest or promotion on the front page of the promotions tab.

    Facebook has measures in place for detecting and removing off-policy promotions.  Do it right, or dont' do it all.

  10. Prepare your new fans for the transition to marketing. 
    People will continue to engage your page as long as your continue to provide value to them.  Organize your value-generating experiences and messaging transition plan in advance of your final contest date.  

  11. Build in metrics from the start, report regularly.
    Numbers don't lie.  But they can be deceiving.  Your metrics solution must be a direct reflection of your business objectives.  If your goal is to build a content library, fifty thousand new fans would be a failure whereas a few thousand video entries may be an incredible success.

    Regular reporting will give you an early warning sign if things aren't going right.  The first two weeks of a six week promotion should be a barometer that directs the following four weeks of activity.  

    Finally, Reporting and sharing your success is just as important to your team and your career as the actual business performance.  If you do something great, talk about it.  Get social!  

Siri + Apple know a lot about you, who cares about privacy?

SiriLast week I posted my perspective on Siri's initial privacy policy.  Siri's initial policy which was somewhat buried in Apple's general iPhone 4S policy.  Over the past week I have received hundreds of hits from people searching Google for "Siri Privacy".  User privacy in Siri was clearly an issue that concerned a number of users.  And Apple failed to meet these user needs by not providing sufficient upfront transparency on what user data they were collecting and why.

A few days ago, Apple posted an updated and fairly detailed policy.  You can read it here.  I have also included this policy in the bottom of this post for your convenience.  Given the tight turnaround, I have to believe that Apple had this policy written in advance and simply failed to publish it in a timely manner.  I wouldn't consider this a major failure, but rather a slight miss that was quickly corrected.

What does Siri's cloud services (aka Apple) know about it's users?  

    And why do they need this?

Siri uses the cloud to process your contacts, relationships, messaging accounts (such as email), and your media (such as songs and playlists).  By sending all of this data to Apple, Apple/Siri can better understand your commands to Siri.  I'm not an engineer, but it would be far better for the user experience if more of this could be done using local computing power, as this would make Siri available to users without a web connection.  However, it is very possible that the database program behind Siri's voice recognition may be too large to store locally.  This could very well be a technical limitation.

Apple and Siri also use your voice recordings to improve their service in aggregate.  By better understanding how users use their system, how well their system performs and where it falls short, Apple can improve the service.  Yes, this means that someone somewhere may be listening to your Siri voice inputs.  However, this data is not linked to your Apple accounts so it is unlikely that anyone will associate this data with your personal life.

Location data is also turned on by default.  You locations will be sent to Apple.  Many apps have this turned on in order to gather better analytics.  However in Siri's case, your location data also provides you with better services.  For example, if you set a geofence to remember to call your wife when you leave work, Siri will need your location in order to provide this service.  The same goes for asking Siri about restaurants, or about the weather.  As with all location-collecting apps, the user has the ability to turn off location data sharing.

Siri Maintains Your Privacy

Here's the bottom line.  Apple will have a lot of data about how users use the service.  They will also know a lot about you, your media, your relationships etc.  This data won't be passed on to a third party, and it will all be fairly anonymous.  If you don't want to use this free service, turn it off.  But if you're already using many popular internet services, you are already freely sharing this information.  There is nothing new to be alarmed about.

All smart services will require insight into your personal life, networks and behaviors in order to be "smart" about your needs.  It's now up to you, the user, to be smart about how you use them.

Siri's User Privacy Policy

 (updated 10/16/2011)


Siri helps you get things done just by asking. You can make a phone call, send a message, check the weather, or even dictate text. To better understand your request, your device will record and send to Apple the things you say and dictate, as well as other information from your device. This information is sent only with your consent.

Products Affected

iPhone 4S

What data is collected and how is it used

As part of providing the Siri service, Apple collects two general types of data to enable Siri to become better at recognizing what you say and how you say things: User Data and Voice Input Data.

User Data provides context for your request and helps Siri understand what you are saying. User Data collected may include information such as:

  • The names of your address book contacts, their nicknames, and their relationship with you (for example, “my dad”, or “work”)
  • Your first name and nickname
  • Labels you assign to your email accounts (for example, “My Home Email”)
  • Names of songs and playlists in your collection

User Data sent to Apple enables Siri to help you when you say things like "Call Dad" or "How do I get to work from here?"

Voice Input Data is used by Apple to process your request, to help Siri better recognize what you say and may be used generally to improve the overall accuracy and performance of Siri and other Apple products and services. Voice Input Data is associated with your verbal commands and may include:

  • Audio recordings
  • Transcripts of what you said
  • Related diagnostic data, such as hardware and operating system specifications and performance statistics

Data Apple collects while you use Siri is not linked to other data Apple may have from your use of other Apple services. 

The data will not be shared with third parties other than with Apple’s partners who are providing related services to Apple.


If you have Location Services turned on, then the location of your device at the time you make the request will also be sent to Apple to help Siri improve the accuracy of its response to your location-based requests (for example, "what's the weather like here today?"). You may choose to turn off Location Services for Siri. To do so:

  1. Tap Settings > Location Services.
  2. Slide the Siri option to "off." The Siri features will still be available on your device, but location information will no longer be sent with your queries.

Opting out of Siri

You may choose to turn off Siri at any time. To do so:

  1. Tap Settings > General > Siri.
  2. Slide the Siri option to "off."

Siri will no longer be available, and no further User Data or Voice Input Data will be sent to Apple in connection with this service.

If you turn off Siri, Apple will delete User Data and any recent Voice Input Data. Older Voice Input Data that has been disassociated from you may be retained for a period of time to improve Siri and other Apple products and services. Any data Apple retains from your use of Siri will not be associated with you or your device.

You can also enable explicit language filtering or restrict the ability to use Siri altogether under the Restrictions Setting.

To restrict the ability to use Siri:

  1. Tap Settings > General > Restrictions.
  2. Slide the Siri option to "off."

To enable Explicit Language Filtering:

  1. Tap Settings > General > Restrictions.
  2. Slide the Explicit Language option to "off."

Siri Passcode Lock

Siri can allow you to interact with your device without needing to unlock your phone. If you have enabled a passcode on your device and would like to prevent Siri from being used from the lock screen you can:

  1. Tap Settings > General > Passcode Lock
  2. Slide the Siri option to "off"

Privacy policy

Apple will treat information it collects in accordance with Apple's Privacy Policy, which can be found



Welcome Home Gilad Shalit

Corporal_Gilad_Sha_2024453cOn June 25th, 2006 a young, 19 year old conscript in the Israeli Army was kidnapped by terrorists.  Gilad Shalit was on Israeli territory when Hamas terrorists stole him away from his home, family and country.

For the following 5 years Gilad's family and country fought incredibly hard to bring him home.  With massive protests, active social media networks and relentless press coverage, Israel never forgot her missing son.  In synagogues around the world, a weekly prayer was added to the shabbat morning service beseeching Gd for his safe return. 

This morning our prayers were answered.  At an incredible price.

Israel freed hundreds of the most vile terrorists mankind has ever known.  These monsters planned and executed attacks on families, women, the elderly and children.  I witnessed a few of these attacks first hand.  In a country of 7.5 million, everyone is connected to everyone.  The decision to free hundreds of these monsters and allow them to escape justice was not a simple one.  Everyone knows someone who was victimized in body, mind or spirit by these monsters.  Israel set them over one thousand of these criminals free, all for one of their own.  This is the value Israel and Jews around the world place on one of our own.

We have no idea what physical or mental state Gilad will be in.  But we know that he is home.  Over the past few days I saw people smiling, hugging and crying on the streets while watching the television news.  Egged, one of the major bus companies, is running ads on buses welcoming Gilad home.  The atmosphere here is electric.

While the fear of what these monsters will do once they are on the loose is in the back of everyone's minds, today is a day to celebrate.  After 5 long years, our brother, our son is coming home.  Welcome home Gilad Shalit.

Siri and the looming privacy debate


Update: Apple has released a more complete Siri Privacy Policy. You can learn more about this updated policy here.

Apple's latest phone, the iPhone 4S boasts an innovative and savvy personal assistant software service known as Siri.  Siri allows users to speak to the phone as if it were a person, and the phone replies in kind.  This allows for an incredible array of interesting utilities, such as finding out the weather, sending and receiving text messages, scheduling appointments, getting directions, etc.  This is a very cool technology.

Siri will spark an incredible privacy debate.  

You can view Siri's privacy policy in context here.  For the purposes of this blog, here is Siri's privacy policy:

When you use Siri, the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple to process your requests. Your device will also send Apple other information, such as your first name and nickname; the names, nicknames, and relationship with you (e.g., “my dad”) of your address book contacts; and song names in your collection (collectively, your “User Data”). All of this data is used to help Siri understand you better and recognize what you say. It is not linked to other data that Apple may have from your use of other Apple services. By using Siri, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its subsidiaries’ and agents’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of this information, including your voice input and User Data, to provide and improve Siri and other Apple products and services. If you have Location Services turned on, the location of your iOS Device at the time you make a request will also be sent to Apple to help Siri improve the accuracy of its response to your location-based requests.  You may disable the location-based functionality of Siri by going to the Location Services setting on your iOS Device and turning off the individual location setting for Siri. You can also turn off Siri altogether at any time. To do so, open Settings, tap General, tap Siri, and slide the Siri switch to “off”. You may also restrict the ability to use Siri under the Restrictions Setting.

Siri is a learning software.  Over time, it will learn more about you and improve.  While it is not clear how much of the Siri solution is powered by the cloud and how much resides natively on the device, everything that I have read and heard suggests that there is a good deal of processing taking place in the cloud.  In other words, Apple's cloud services are in some way processing your appointments, text messages, location, commands etc.  This theoretically means that Apple "knows" as much about you as your personal assistant.  Scared yet?  It gets better.

Siri is only going to grow increasingly competent.  Over time, I would expect Apple to roll out a Siri-based API for thid party developers.  Software like Siri will be sure to pop up in dashboards in cars and a host of web connected appliances.  If the iPhone revolutionized the natural user interface, Siri is taking this to the next step with nearly human interactions.  We are going to tell Siri everything.  And if I were Apple, I would be listening.

I am sure that Apple will anonymize user data.  I am also confident that Apple will build product improvements through human and machine listening and analyzing of the anonymized data sent to Siri (they pretty much tell us this in their EULA).  I am also sure that the 10PM local news is going to love the conspiracy theory side of this story.  "Does Apple know too much?  Could someone be listening to your phone?  Find out tonight on the 10 o'clock news."

I for one, don't care what Apple or Google knows about me, so long as I (a) know what they know about me, and (b) I have the ability to opt out.  But the media circus is going to be a three tent affair.

Here's how this is going to shake out:

  1. Sometime over the next two months a blogger is going to cry foul over Siri's cloud processing and learning.  That blogger may be me, but I'm not convinced that I have that clout.  And I'm not that senationalist.
  2. This will make the media.  
  3. Everyone will yell about transparency.  A number of ambitious politicians will hop on the bandwagon.  
  4. Apple will evade the issue in public while educating those who will educate others (similar to the early iPhone 4 antenna gate strategy).  
  5. Apple will roll out an app update that allows the user to opt out of the tracking and learning.  

Apple, thanks for making us smarter and more capable.  Welcome to Google's world.  Welcome to the privacy wars.

Reed Hastings Doesn't Flip Flop, He Leads

10a_Images_Devices Leaders will make executive decisions.  They stick to their intuition in the face of adversity.  They push their employees, their suppliers and their pricing models to the limit.  They will live and die by the direction they take.  And when they make mistakes, they fix them.  This isn't flip flopping it's leadership.

Reed Hastings is a visionary.  Reed is a leader.  He pushed his business towards a radical transformation.  When his incredibly active and loyal market spoke, he made the executive decision.  

The resonating "flip flop" media coverage of Reed's recent experiment in radical business model revision is nauseating.  This isn't flip flopping.  It's leadership.

Waiting and seeing. Talking and debating.  Listening and integrating.  All good things.  But it takes a leader to lead.  Marketing people love to talk.  There is a direct correlation between the size of the organization, the confidence of the marketer, the height of the stakes and the time spent talking rather than doing.  The greater the fear, the greater the delay.  Talking is a great way to push off making the difficult call.  In the face of all of this advertisty, leaders find the strength to lead.

Great leadership is about more than making the difficult call.  Greatness demands making and sticking  to the unpopular decisions in the face of adversity.  In today's day and age, greatness demands telling your PR and social media teams to stop addressing the negative market and start believing in the organization.  Leaders don't just ask customers what they want, they build what they know their customers will come to demand.  

Reed is a leader.  So his bold experiment flopped, good for him.  That was a jump few us of would have the balls to have made.  Here's to leaders who know how to make a jump, and when to pull back.  Here's to you Reed.  Keep it up.

Now let's just hope this change in direction hasn't significantly impacted his consumer confidence.