United Aftermath: A Social Mob

Well, it's been an entertaining week for me and most of the internet, but maybe not the United public relations people. In case you've been living under a rock, United had a bit of an incident regarding removing a passenger from one of its flights. As many people often forget, everyone has a camera and is prepared to use it, so when the removal of one passenger went poorly, the whole world got to see it. Social media went absolutely berserk with its creativity and mob mentality. Here are some of my favorites:

There's nothing like a little "The Walking Dead" reference to get things going. 

Put your seat backs forward and your tray tables in their upright and locked position, because this little video shows a compilation of some of the more unfortunate video clips out there regarding airline customer service incidents, including our main topic. Internet Culture takes no prisoners, and this video is a perfect example of that. The last place a company or individual wants to be is staring down the barrel of a guy held by the internet. The constant and unerasable documentation that the internet provides gives commentators carte blanche ability to completely rail a brand or individual. 

The nervous anxiousness was expressed by passengers that were flying soon after. Most knew fine and well that nothing would happen to them, yet the nervousness was still present. 


Of course this gives great oppertunity for people to show their support for a competator. 

 United Stock:  Source  

United Stock: Source 

One of the most damning things to come out of the United blunder was a huge selloff in their stock. To be fair, almost immediately after the selloff, the price returned to similar values as before the implosion. But, that graph looks terrible. 



United didn't seem to help themselves very early on when they began to respond to the backlash. However, after a few more hours of being utterly pummeled by the internet, the executive team got serious about what had happened. In the end, it was probably too little, too late. Once the internet digs its teeth in, the best thing do is play dead for a while. 

Something every brand should be worried about, and plan for is public relations disaster recovery. Yes, hindsight is always 20/20, but United would have been much better off not providing a response until later. A mere "we are thoroughly investigating the situation" would have done wonders. The use of the term "re-accomodation" was clearly not the best choice, either. The world is usually willing to forgive, but modesty goes a long way in showing the world that your company or personal brand is truly sorry. 

- Trey Currid



  Graphic  by Randal Olson   

Graphic by Randal Olson


"Less is more." We have heard that sentiment time and time again with regards to design and aesthetic. However, when working with clients that are not trained in design, it can be a challenge to convince them. The infographic shows illustrates exactly why the "less is more" principle in design looks better and is more effective in getting a message across. 

More is only a distraction from the point trying to be conveyed. Pinpointing the data or message gives the audience a clear idea of what the presenter intends, and nothing else. 

This isn’t new news but it is part of the analog to digital mindset. Years ago editors assigned writers to an article in terms of page space. “Give me a 750 word piece on…” Now the non-word is just as important. If the topic can be explained in fewer words and a picture, then all the better. 

Listen to your designers and copywriters. The theory has been proven time and time again. Business owners in any specific industry typically focus all of their time and energy in refining their trade or product. Make sure when working with a creative specialist to take advantage of the designer's know how and experience just like any other industry. 

-Ray Currid


Social Media Dependence

An recent study was published regarding Facebook and individuals respective dependency on the social media platform. With a fairly small sample size and a wide age range, the study may not be conclusive, but it does give some insights into how social media can depended upon. 

Yes, the study did conclude that the people who signed in more frequently were more dependent -- which makes sense. However, the study makes a point in that dependency is different than addiction. Social media platforms are in a large part a way to get things done; setting up (in real life) social events, make new connections, teach, learn, share, resource, help and many more things. 

All too often social media gets a bad wrap for the vile aspects of humanity. But what is overlooked is the amount of good social media brings to the world. As with any technology, social media can be used to create good just as easily as bad. 

Think of all the running, crossfit, cycling, etc groups that have created a community around being active and promoting good health. The nonprofit organizations have been able to keep their members and donors closer and more up to date with their progress. Small businesses are able to market directly to their customers in a way that wasn't possible before. Moreover, these types of interactions are quantifiable in a way that has never been seen by other media sources. 

Humans need to communicate. Isolation can quickly cause long term or even permanent damage. Social media just happens to be the newest way interaction takes place and it happens on a very large scale. The outcome of the study about dependence shouldn't be taken as a negative. If anything, the study proves what has long been understood in the communications world; people need people. 

Now, go on, get out there! Do a social bike ride and dinner -- maybe at the same time.

-Ray Currid

Gone Viral: A Story of a Cyclist and a Puppy

One of the goals for any social media or online marketing program is to go viral. Going viral has a lot of possible implications; fame, product sales, what have you . In this case, a friend of mine and fellow cyclist, James McHugh,  rescued a puppy form the middle of nowhere while out on a ride. He documented the situation and rescue.

Originally, I came across this video on Reddit under the Houston sub. I noticed the rider and knew immediately who it was. Of course I messaged James and shared the video on Facebook. But what happened next was the interesting part. 

I started seeing the video again and again. Some were links to the original, and some were re-uploaded to various social media sites, others had their own text edits. It's a great video in general. Just about anyone can get behind a guy who is willing to save an abandoned animal. 

What's interesting to me about the proliferation of the video is more about copyright than the story in the video itself. Not that James would ever pursue legal action someone over using this footage, but when an organization that is setup for commercial purposes, even nonprofit ones, is making revenue from social media, it's still a copyright infringement. 

Too many small (and some big) organizations are taking leaps with regards to what is fair use. The problem with the misuse of other's intellectual property is that it opens the appropriators up to legal action. This understanding is lost in much of the vortex that is social media. 

Personally, I think that copyright laws should be relaxed in many ways, but as it stands they are not. And, since we live in a very fast pace world when it comes to social media, we need to be extra vigilant to not take low hanging fruit and use it as our own. Generating original content is hard work, but it always pays off in the end, and it keeps organizations away from copyright issues. 

-Ray Currid

PS: The puppy found a new and loving home. 

When Marketing Backfires

A recent study published by Dr Sara Evans-Lacko of LSE Research found a public service campaign against smoking has had the opposite effect than what was intended. The study revealed that by stigmatizing smoking, the campaign made "it harder for people to quit because they become angry, defensive and the negative messages lead to a drop in self-esteem." All of these emotions discourage the effort to change the habit.

One item the study seemed to miss is the self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to quitting. Most everyone with half a brain knows smoking isn't good for you and has long-term, negative health implications. The campaign for informing the population of the negative consequences of smoking has been effective. And yes, society shames individuals in various ways when it comes to being a smoker. However, a lot of campaigns have a large focus on how tough it is to stop smoking once the individual is hooked. Making the process seem extremely difficult to attain a goal is a huge discouragement for people when it comes to a lot of things; losing weight, getting a higher degree, paying off debt. 

While marketing a solution, one of the best strategies is to show people how easy it can be. When people are convinced that they can achieve a goal, the likelihood of them actually getting there is almost guaranteed. A study by Robert Rosenthal in the 1960's showed how labeling some students of similar IQ levels as "ready to bloom" had a marked effect on IQ gains. 

In campaigns designed to influence people to become better human beings, either for themselves or to their communities, the rule should be to shy away from emphasizing the negatives. Certainly, trying to scare or shame people doesn't work. That's not to say people shouldn't be informed of how they are harming themselves, it just shouldn't be the focus. Making people think a goal is harder to achieve is counter productive at best. Inspiring people to believe in themselves and think they actually can achieve their goals needs to be the strategy. 

-Ray Currid


Video: Get More for Less

Philadelphia rapper Lil Dicky recently released a music video turning traditional opulence trend on its head. Most rap videos promote the stars with expensive luxury homes, cars and even jets, not to mention the big rear-ended females. It's become a kind of hyperbolic standard for the industry, the idea that if you look like you're successful, you'll be successful. In marketing, there is a lot of merit to this idea. However, Lil Dicky decided to go the other way. 

The song and video for "$ave that Money" take a contradictory approach towards the embodiment of rap culture, yet still satisfy the format. In the video Dicky is seen going around the Beverly Hills area trying to "barrow" nice cars and use people's estate homes to accomplish his task. In the end, the production of the video was next to nothing compared to the budgets of his contemporaries.

The message from Dicky is an interesting one, especially for rap culture, but it also speaks to the budget nature of quality video production that can be produced today. It no longer costs tens to hounders of thousands to do corporate videos, and better yet, the production can be done in a much quicker manner than ever before. This means content can always be newly generated and stay relevant to the quickly changing times.

So, in the profound words of Lil Dicky, "we gonna save dat money."

Tax-free Online Purchases May Soon be Over.

Recently, new legislation has been placed in front of lawmakers that would level the playing field regarding sales tax between brick-and-mortar stores to online retailers. The Transaction Parity Act was introduced by Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas. 

How will this change the online marketplace? Will this help bring customers back to the brick-and-mortar stores? Only time will tell if the legislation is actually passed. For now, it's a game of wait and see, but it could be a major shakeup for retailers on both sides of the debate. 

Check out the Fashonista article for more details on this story.

Video for All: It's Not Just for the Big Companies Anymore

In a Forbes article released today, it explains how video is changing the game for online marketing, and it's not just for the big companies anymore. Since production costs have dropped dramatically in the last 5-10 years, producing quality video for smaller companies with limited budgets is attainable. 

Video is one of the greatest mediums for getting a message across. It provides a feel for a product or service that cannot be explained by text alone, video is closer to the real experience. Video also provides the personality of people in an organization. Being that business is done by people, video provides a possible client with a feel for who they could be working with. 

Whether it be a software application demo, process for manufacturing or getting to know the founders, video is going to be the best way to get a message across effectively. Don't get left behind.  

YouTube: 301+ is over!

YouTube has announced that the 301+ saga is finally over. For those who don't know about 301, it was the view number where your views would stall for a period of time, even though there were more views taking place. Eventually the count would resume but only after a large increment of views. This was done to stifle any sort of "cheating the system," where bots and whatnot are setup to make the view count synthetically high.

Ultimately, YouTube policies of yesterday may not be effective for today's balance of rating authenticity to accessible user data on a minute scale.  With every view being more highly scrutinized than ever, the detail should be a positive one for the smaller, up-and-coming content providers. 

Facebook Pseudonym Policy Challenged by German Privacy Group

The privacy group, Hamburg Data Protection Authority, came out against Facebook's anti-pseudonym policy. The recent article in  Digital Trends details the group's action. Although, this is not the first time Facebook's policy regarding individuals not using their real name has come up. 

Over the past couple of years Facebook has clamped down on individuals and businesses that use pseudonyms. The social media giant has required in some instances that people provide a copy of some form of legal identification or their account would be closed. There have been many people caught up in this policy, that seems a bit too stringent. On the other hand, the policy does create accountability for what people say and do on the site, although it's pretty baffling at times what people will write having their real name attached.

In many instances, the policy has been evoked regarding a business using a "person" profile page. This is probably due to the fact that Facebook wants every business to pay for sponsored posts. Moreover, business pages don't tend to get the views that personal pages do.