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January 2012

Should Brands Be Allowed To Filter Their Facebook Timelines?



Facebook's Timeline offers a summary of the user's FB life based on an algorithm that is in my experience, pretty reliable.  Recent rumors suggest that brands may be getting their own Facebook Timelines as soon as the end of February.  This unique platform would pose a number of challenges for a number of major brands, many of whom have invested a good deal of human and financial capital marketing on Facebook.


Many brands would not be thrilled with a summary of their most engaging or active periods on Facebook.  Any brand that has faced a crises or two knows the veracity and volume of their community's outrage, as well as the minimal positive response from the community even when the brand engages the community in the conversation.

Facebook provides users with the ability to the filter or cleanse their timeilnes.  But what about brands?  Will brands have the ability to apply some makeup so their social black eyes?

The Marketer's Perspective

Marketers spend an incredible amount of time, effort and budget building their Facebook presences.  Marketers have not only funded much of Facebook's growth and revenue through their ad dollars, but they have invested a good deal in creating meaningful engagement for Facebook's users on Facebook's platform.

To not provide brands with the ability to pick-and-choose Timeline content would be a slap in the face to these same marketers.  These marketers have often engaged the community in good faith, making everything better over time.  Highlighting these periods of negativity would be unfair to the broader historical story of the brand community.

The Community Perspective

Summarizing a brand's activity includes their community's activity.  Allowing brands to whitewash their past gives them unfair and possibly an unethical advantages, and makes their Timelines less meaningful to users.

Three Possible Win-Win Solutions

  1. Feature the good alongside the bad and the bad alongside the good.  Allow brands to selectively filter their Timelines to include the brand response and engagement with the crises.
  2. Allow brands to selectively purchase advertising within or alongside their Timelines that highlights their engagement related to a crises.
  3. Create two default views - one that is brand filtered and one that is filtered by community engagement.  Brands will have the option of selecting their brand Timeline's default view, but users will always have the option to pivot to their preferred view.

I have a feeling that Facebook will go for the third option.  

Why do we expect more of our breakfast cereals than our presidents?


Social Goverment

Social government as a concept may well be a farce or a fallacy.  A campaign slogan and a campaign promise.  And an empty one at that.


Obama ran on a platform of Yes We Can.  But when he got elected the chants were Yes We Did, not Yes We Are.  Because social government is a pipe dream that is unviable in the present political landscape.  And yes, I am a registered Democrat who has voted in every major election I was eligible to participate in.  

The Obama campaign demonstrated incredibly savvy use of social and digital media.  The Obama presidency's record in social and digital was lackluster.  YouTube Town Halls were a token gesture.  But the administration failed to meaningfully address most of the popular petitions on, including a "no comment" type response to the #2 petition with over 52,000 signatures.  

It's time to accept a reality: Social Government is not feasible in the political status quo.  Politicians generally do not jump on hot button issues unless it is core to their platform.  Politicians who avoid hot button issues of importance to their constituents (even if it is only a fraction of them) are not ready for social government.  If any brand were to ignore the comments of their fans the way that this administration avoided the feedback of their public, the brand would be slaughtered.  

Isn't it sad when we expect more of our breakfast cereal and fast food than we do our presidency?

But it's not just social government that is a pipe dream.  Social campaigns are as well.  Every social marketer can tell you that communities do not live and die with marketing campaigns.  Even presidential ones.  Yet few politicians seem to be as tuned-in to the public once they are in office as they were during their campaigns.  In this past election was saw how quickly the Obama administration tuned out their digital networks.  Text messages all but stopped coming.  Communities went virtually dark.  Momentum died on the vine.

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice... 

The US public will not fall for a second or third attempt at promising and not-delivering on social government.  I recognize that social government poses incredible challenges to leadership.  But if you can't make it work once you land in office, we're going to stop falling for it when you flaunt it on the campaign trail.

I'm all for the candidates jumping on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Google+.  But I am unwilling to accept their silence when they get into office.  Community and social media are not about the campaign.  They are about the community, the country and the dialog.  

The new presidential voice and image does not involve tight message control or a perfect posture at all times.  The new presidential voice embodies mutual trust and respect of we the people, your public, our community.  And if you don't recognize this fundamental shift, good luck with your next campaign.

Anyone in K-12 Can Tell Apple Their Math Is Off


The math on the iPad for k-12 students simply doesn't line up.  Assuming that an iPad in daily use for k-12 students will last two years before requiring serious repair, we are looking at the following financial model:


  • $500 for a base model iPad
  • $15 per book
  • Assume at least 7 books per year (many schools use two books for one subject)

That's a total cost of $710 for two years of k-12 education.  This is an equivalent cost of $50 per book. And ibooks cannot be passed on to younger siblings or the next grade of students.

In eighth grade I earned extra credit by stocking the book room.  This not only earned me credit, but got me and four of my friends out of class for the last week of school.  While making book forts, shooting rubber bands and doing inventory, we learned that the average book was in circulation for about 5 years.  

Ibooks math

Higher Ed Is DifferentIf we were to compare these two models, the analog books could run as high as $253 per book before the iPad/iBook platform would be financially favorable for schools and families.  I do not know of any educational books for k-12 that cost $253.



In college, my average textbook (granted, I was a business and not a science major) was somewhere around $120 with an average resale value of about %50.  This was only 10 years ago, and prices are still pretty similar.  If college textbooks will really only cost $15, then the numbers work out favorably towards going the iPad route.  

Bottom Line

I very much appreciate that there is an incredible amount of value in interactive learning and up-to-date textbooks.  But I don't think that this value is strong enough to offset the significant financial strain this would impose on most k-12 students, schools and municipalities.

Apple will need to deliver either a leasing with insurance model to provide a longer lifespan, or a bulk-educational discount program.  Otherwise, it will be a while before we see iPads in most k-12 schools.

This Is Kodak's Golden Age

Kodak was one of the earliest movers in introducing photography to the masses.  We bought Kodak cameras, Kodak film and developed our pictures on Kodak paper using Kodak ink.  People today are taking and sharing more pictures today than ever before.  Pictures and photography play a greater role in our lives than ever before, fueled largely by the triple emergence of digital, social and mobile media.  This should be Kodak's Golden Age.

Kodak should have been Flickr.  They should have been Dropbox.  They should have been Snapfish and they should have been Camera+.  They should have been GroupShot.  They should have been Skype.  They could have been all of these and more.  

Kodak was home photography.  Thanks to the innovations that Kodak brought to the market 100 years ago, we are where we are today.  And thanks to Kodak's lack of foresight, Kodak is no longer in our picture.

We are not yet in Facebook or Google's Golden Age.  We are at the grade school stages of what is sure to be an incredible cultural revolution.  The greatest lesson we can learn from Kodak is to never stop evolving, and never underestimate the power or impact of new technologies.  Here's to the future.


Is Silence Inaction or Protest? #SOPA #PIPA

SOPA and PIPA are bad ideas.  But is my NOT posting to this blog today going to further the protest?  Would my silence be deafening, or would it not be missed at all?

The most effective way for major sites like GoogleWikipedia and major influencers like Robert Scoble to protest is to remain silent for a single day.  And to talk about their non-participation for weeks before and after the event.  Because for major, regular value-providers, we would notice their silence.

Do the rest of us have a responsability to continue to tweet, blog and converse.  I am not on Twitter all-day-everyday, and I don't post to this blog everyday.  Would my day of silence would be a waste of energy.  Even by taking this entire blog dark for a day, would the few hundred visitors notice the difference?

Should I stay silent?  Should I educate?  Which is the more powerful form of protest for the 99% of us without massive social followings?

My New Gig: Making A Difference @ Champions Oncology

Champions_Logo (1)
A few months ago I joined an incredible company.  Today, I would like to tell you a little bit about the wonderful team here at Champions Oncology.  Champions Oncology is a pioneering innovator delivering real value to cancer patients, leveraging a unique platform called the Personalized TumorGraft. 

This post is solely my own and reflects my own opinions.  If you have any questions regarding the contents of this post, please feell free to reach out.

The Need for Personalized Cancer Treatment

In the traditional cancer treatment model, nearly all patients with a particular cancer receive identical first-lines of treatment.  While some cancer therapies are futher developed, the first course of treatment rarely succeeds in meaningfully shrinking the patient's tumor.  While each round of treatment cost the patients time and money, there is a very real psycological and physiological toll as well.

All tumors are different and unique.  The Personalized TumorGraft platform empowers patients and physicians with a customized, individualized treatment approach.

The TumorGraft Solution

Following cancer surgery or biopsy, Champions implants a piece of the patient's live tumor into a series of mice, creating a panel of Personalized TumorGrafts.  The Personalized TumorGraft platform allow the tumors in the mice to grow into nearly identical copies of the original, human tumor.  

As the tumors grow and proliferate in the mice models, Champions works with the patient's treating physician to identify which treatments will be tested on the TumorGrafts.  By analyzing the Personalized TumorGraft responses to various anti-cancer agents, patients and treating physicians are empowered with personalized treatment information.


The Career Transition

Most of you know me from the marketing, technology, and social media space.  I have very much enjoyed working in this dynamic industry and will continue to participate in this industry dialogue.  But when I had the opportunity to participate in an innovative and truly caring company that was changing the cancer treatment paradigm, I jumped at it.

Everyone knows someone who has known the fear, pain and loss of cancer.  I personally have lost friends and family members to this horrible disease.  What I love about this company is that Champions isn't only delivering a first-class, innovative and meaningful solution, but these are genuinely great people.  The scientists here are first class innovators, heavy weights in the space and real industry visionaries.  I am blown away by the depth of scientific knowledge within this organization.  But most impressively, the entire organization is singularly focused on a single goal: improving and extending the lives of cancer patients.  

Working here over the past few months I have come to appreciate an unspoken credo: cancer is a disease that impacts millions of individuals.  We are here to help those people as the individuals they are.  Even within internal meetings, our patients and clients aren't referred to by a number, case or cancer type alone, but by their name.  And every element of the organization, from marketing through case management is driven by an appreciation for and focus on the patient.

What About this blog?

I will continue to participate in this industry dialog, lending my opinion and perspective to industry news.  And while my day-to-day professional focus has shifted, you can bet that there will be a social component to our fast developing marketing, CRM patient advocacy solutions.  The best is yet to come.

Radical Dreamers - Better Place

Car-news-big-3c5ccd07-07ba-4b65-9f20-5ce1c5c6009b-0-410x260Last night I had the pleasure of participating in a social media event at Better Place's Israel Visitor Center.  Better Place is a radically innovative company with a futuristic product.  And unlike so many futuristic innovations, Better Place is not just a dream.  Our future has arrived.

I first heard about Better Place four or five years ago when the Israeli, Tech and Automoative press were going crazy over Shai Aggasi's vision for Better Place.  I later watched his TED Talk, and carefully read every piece of news that came out about this wildly different company.  And after years of anticipation, they are here.

What is Better Place?

Better Place is a radical rethinking of the electric car concept.  We all know that oil dependancy is bad news.  From pulltants  and the environmental impact of drilling through price fluctuations and economic impact, down to reliance on foreign and often corrupt governments, we're long overdue for change.

But most electric cars have been unrealistic compromises.  The electric car was like the intel phone - always a few years away. More recently, fully elecrtic car owners have had to accept both limited ranges and limited speeds.  Better Place has a way around all of these challenges.

  • Smart charging stations in every home, as well as almost in every public parking facility allow the driver to tap their account card, and recharge their car from almost any parking area.
  • High capacity batteries deliver a range of  about 100 miles.  This is far enough for roughly 2 hours of driving and can cover most people's daily commutes.
  • Battery swapping stations allow drivers to swap out their low-charged batteries for fully charged replacements at no additional cost.  This enables unlimited range.  Swapping a battery takes less time than filling a tank of gas, and the process is fully automated.  The driver drives onto a platform and stops.  The floor under the car opens, and an automated robot makes the swap.  Simple, clean and fast.
  • Electricity is purchased by the mile (or kilometer) in preset plans or in bulk, much like cell phone plans.
  • Better Place is the underlying solution behind mainstream automobiles.  Innovative, mainstream manufacturers have been able to utilize Better Place's electric solution to power next generation all-electric engines with plenty of power.

It's Here

Charge-map-988fca9e-6b82-428d-9a8d-64010afd6b47-0-450x230After years of media hype, one's natural reaction to anticipated radical change is doubt.  Most of what we read in Popular Science and see at CES will never become part of our daily lives, right?

After years of planning, Better Place is now live in it's first country, Israel.  The first changing stations are already online, hundreds of cars are on the road and thousands of charging stations are being built throughout Israel.  Swapping stations will be coming online in the Spring.  Of this year.

The future is here.

What About The Cars?

Better Place equipped cars are not three wheeled future cars.  These are normal cars, manufactured by mainstream car companies that just happen to be using Better Place's charging and battery swapping platform.  The Nissan/Renault Fluence ZE is a beautiful, everyday, normal-sized car.  But it's missing a tail pipe.  Because there are no emissions.

How Does It Drive?

The Fluence ZE is a truly unique car.  And the wow starts when you turn the key.  Because there is no noise.  There is no traditional starter, or sound of an engine starting.  There are no car sounds  at all and there are no vibrations.  The car is so silent that the designers added a start chime, just to let you know that it is on.  During the demo drive, everyone that started the car had a little wow moment when they realized - That's it?  It's on?

And then there's the drive.  It's smooth.  It's silent.  It's beautiful.  I'm not an engine geek, but there looks to be only one gear.  Drive.  And it does this extremely well.

The only drawback is trunk space.  Much like the Prius, it looks like Renault chose to place the battery under the car and in the trunk, making the trunk far smaller than the typical car.  This trunk should be fine for your average grocery run, but isn't going to fit a double stroller, a trip to Cosco, or two medium sized pieces of luggage.

The Added Bonuses

This was clearly a very well thought out driving experience.  The in-board dash is fairly standard, with digital displays showing the equivalent of information a traditional car would display - estimated range, remaining charge (similar to a tank meter) and driving speed.

Oscar-switching-ac076fe5-85aa-4836-8fb5-82bac2389a6f-0-450x230But the center console is something really special.  The flip up screen includes not only the typical multi-media, phone and navigation options, but a dedicated customer service option as well as a smart charge management solution.  The customer service option is simple - with the click of a button you are connected with their always-on support team who can do virtually anything, including pre-ordering your coffee to go at the next battery-swap station.

The smart charge manager is truly unique.   This solution will look at your route, your current charge and will help you plan your trip to maximize your time on the road and minimize time spent traveling to and from battery-swap stations.  The design is elegant, and the experience shows just how thought out a concept the limitless electric car can be.

Bottom Line

The Renault Fluence ZE is priced to be in the same class as a Toyota Corolla or Hyundai i35 (Elantra) and the energy costs are promised to be offer real savings over traditional gasoline.  I'm all for saving the environment and not supporting many of the oil production pipeline and governments.  And with supporting infrastructure in place, the Better Place platform looks to be a compelling alternative solution.  

The great looks, wildly cool technology and ridiculously smooth drive?  That's all gravy.

And the most important part - my WIFE was impressed.  And wants our next car to be a Better Place equipped car.