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Trying to figure out Facebook

I would prefer not to use Facebook, but I would prefer not to drive a car, and I'm not getting anywhere on exercising that preference either. I drive. I use Facebook. I know what I think about cars, traffic, and air pollution. I'm not sure what to think about Facebook. 

My customers and their customers are using Facebook, so it's important for me to figure it out. This article points out that different people see and use Facebook in different ways. 

Quartz: There are only four types of Facebook users, researchers have found, 2017-Jul-12

The massive social network is more than one thing to its customers, however. Some of us use it to keep tabs on distant friends, for instance, and others to promote their creative works, or “literally” too-cute toenails. Still others see Facebook as a passive medium, a television channel made up of shows starring everyone they know and some they don’t.

Now a new study, published in the International Journal of Virtual Communities and Social Networking, confirms that Facebook has a Rashomon effect: various user groups interpret the experience of using it very differently.

It's intriguing to see that people both experience Facebook differently AND they interpret that experience differently. In other words, not everyone can imagine how others are experiencing Facebook. So we have the blind men and an elephant problem... 


In order to help my clients with Facebook, I have to research and imagine the many different ways people see it and use it. We now have one study of 47 people (so few!) that categorizes four different Facebook experiences. So here's a start:

1) Facebook as communication tool used with friends and family (How was your vacation? I'm going to the concert--will I see you there? My daughter graduated, etc.) 

2) Checking Facebook without participating. These types often use it to research people or places. 

3) Using Facebook to share public, not personal information, especially news. These types see Facebook as a soapbox. 

4) Seeking attention on Facebook by posting selfies, accomplishments, and discoveries. 

So when we post on Facebook, we can expect that post to be received different ways. 

  • Did I learn something about people I care about, does it make us closer?
  • Did I learn something interesting about the world?
  • Is this information I can use to my own advantage?


The Harvey and I

Friday afternoon is the right time to write this post, although I suspect I shouldn't publish for a few days... 

I'm embarrassed about the fact that Harvey was a major inconvenience in my life. Not a tragedy. Not a detour. Not a sacrifice. 

Our family suffered no losses during/after Harvey except the ability to show up to our jobs and earn more money. (Except for my son, who has managed to hold onto a traditional salaried job, which he resigned right before Harvey but, considering, they ask him to continue for a few more weeks.) The rest of us are contractors. No work--no pay. However, we have not been damaged. We had savings. 

The thousands of people in Houston who live paycheck-to-paycheck were not so lucky. If they did NOT lose their homes, they still may lose their homes because they can't pay their mortgage because they can't work. And it's even worse for renters, who have to honor their lease even if the place is miserable. (If they can convince someone it's 'unliveable' they can get their lease canceled... if and when!)

I have Survivor's Guilt. 

I also feel guilty because I'm NOT one of those people who went out in boats or formed a new rescue initiative or showed up at the shelter and rekindled hope or anything. I just stayed out of the way. Because in the past, when I went to help... I just felt out of place. Never did it look like I could make a difference. 

For the record: I sent thousands of dollars. And I will send more. 

Hurricane Harvey caused me major anxiety because my mother's house was vulnerable. She has Alzheimer's and I was told to get flood insurance for her 4 months ago, and last month I finally got around to it, but it didn't go into effect until Sept. 15, so I spend the whole time anticipating that I was going to be punished with thousands of dollars of damage to the home she loves, her refuge, where she and my brother live. 

Probably the reason that my mother's home avoided damage is that my brother, who lives with her, is the kind of person who woke up in the middle of the night on Saturday, realized it had been raining hard for hours, jumped out of bed, grabbed a shovel, and headed out to the street to make sure the storm sewers were working. When he got there he saw many other people in the street, poking into the storm sewer openings and making sure they worked. No one on that street was flooded. Luck played a big part but vigilance made a difference, too. 

Hurricanes are complicated. Insurance and vigilance can help, but sometimes they make no difference at all. It can be very cruel. For one of my friends, Harvey was their third instance of water in the house. He and his wife have decided to be home owners no more. I don't blame them. 

Writing about Hurricane Harvey has made me feel better. I hope I can make you see that a hurricane is not a weather event. It's a life event that is different for each person who experiences it. I hope your experience was bearable. 


Hut Rewards from Pizza Hut jacks up the free pizza for loyalty race

Pizza lovers have to pick their poison to rack up free pizzas. Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Domino's (and others, I'm sure). All now have 'earn a freeby' programs that are pretty clear and friendly. Hut Rewards has generated a lot of excitement because during launch--now until October 1, you can earn a free pizza by spending as little as $50 online. 

The important point is that you've got to stick with a supplier! Online and mobile ordering are also usually required, and you'll still pay tax, tips and delivery charges. 

I expect this to become the industry standard, like frequent flier programs at the airlines. Which brings me to an important point. Many people gravitate to the most generous program, but some of us are more concerned about the experience. Pizza is not a big enough part of my budget to justify anything but my favorite slice. 

So watch these programs develop over time, and let's see if Pizza Hut continues to be the leader or if they jockey for position. 


Loyalty without trust

Power allows people to demand loyalty they haven't earned, but I'm not sure it should even be called loyalty. We usually call it "coerced loyalty" but the important thing is that it's not based on a track record of mutual trust. The interplay between trust and loyalty has been amazingly examined in Kendrick Lamar's LOYALTY video, directed by Dave Meyers & the little homies, featuring Rihanna. I'm not sure the point comes across in the lyrics as clearly as it does in the video, which contrasts coercive and trust-based loyalty vividly. 

Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna

Loyalty, loyalty, loyalty
Tell me who you loyal to
Is it money? Is it fame? Is it weed? Is it drink?
Is it comin' down with the loud pipes and the rain?
Big chillin', only for the power in your name
Tell me who you loyal to
Is it love for the streets when the lights get dark?
Is it unconditional when the 'Rari don't start?
Tell me when your loyalty is comin' from the heart

Watch the video at Vevo. Lyrics at Genius

Have you heard of the 'amplification' tactic for promoting women's ideas?

Recently, I was in a morning round table meeting where new people were trickling in but not chiming in. After watching for awhile, I interrupted a speaker who'd had the floor for several minutes to ask one of the newcomers to introduce herself. The speaker didn't appear to be annoyed. We need to help people speak up and get credit. This amplification idea is so powerful. 

Adam Grant: Wondering (Excerpt from June 2017, Question 1)

We all need to promote our work. I’ve learned in my research that successful givers are ambitious for others and ambitious for themselves. When you produce something you think is interesting or important, share it with people who might benefit from it. If that’s the only thing you share, it looks like self-promotion. But if you regularly distribute and recognize other people’s work too, there’s no backlash. You’re known as someone who has useful knowledge and is generous in sharing it.

That leads me to my favorite advice on this dilemma, which is to gather a group of supportive colleagues who will work together to make sure you each get the credit you deserve. A group of women did this brilliantly in the Obama administration: they called it amplification. Let’s amplify that.

Washington Post: White House women want to be in the room where it happens 2016-Sep-13 by Juliet Eilperin 

When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.

“We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,” said one former Obama aide who requested anonymity to speak frankly. Obama noticed, she and others said, and began calling more often on women and junior aides.


Prime issues with Amazon

Amazon Prime is one of the most popular loyalty programs in the country, and Amazon customers enjoy very high satisfaction levels. However, it seems that people are sorting themselves out into pro- and against-Amazon, as they are in so many other areas. (The 'against' group is definitely the minority.)

Amazon prides itself in operating on the edge of innovation, and that means breaking lots of rules. I don't object to that behavior in general, but Amazon often ignores human values which are core to me, such as fairness and protecting the vulnerable. That's why I don't buy from them if I can avoid it. 

The Verge: Why I'm never signing up for Amazon Prime, 2017-Jul-11 by Vlad Savov 

I don’t expect anyone to follow or join me in resisting Amazon’s primal pull toward Prime. You’ve got your own priorities in life and, in all honesty, nobody’s going to fix global injustice by disregarding Prime Day and taking a nice walk outside instead. But it makes me feel good to do exactly that, and so — in the ultimate expression of consumer choice — I’m opting not to consume Amazon’s enchanting deals elixir.

(By the way, this article has one of the best comment threads I've ever seen.)




Profitless to compete with Amazon?

Speculation about how Amazon will change Whole Foods is running rampant. I click on news stories only to find that experts are being quoted who have absolutely no real information about what Amazon plans to do. Why would Amazon tip their hand at this point anyway??

One thing is clear. The grocery business will be restructured. At least Krogers' CEO expects it will

Vox: The real reason Amazon buying Whole Foods terrifies the competition, 2017-Jun-20 by Matthew Yglesias

Competing with Amazon is terrifying for any incumbent business because the company’s executive team operates on a radical model whereby the company’s overall net income is nearly zero quarter after quarter.

That is by design, not because they can’t come up with any ways to make money. On the contrary, to the best of anyone’s knowledge many of Amazon’s specific lines of business — including, notably, Amazon Web Services — are perfectly profitable. But while Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook hire lawyers and accountants to amass vast stockpiles of cash legally held in overseas tax haven subsidiaries, Amazon simply chooses to barely accumulate any cash at all.

That’s an enormous problem for every grocery chain in America, which already operate on razor-thin margins. Nobody thinks Amazon bought Whole Foods in order to siphon off Whole Foods’ operating profits in order to subsidize something else. A Whole Foods under Amazon’s stewardship will almost certainly accept lower profit margins than it does as an independent chain — and that spells trouble for everyone else in the grocery business. 


Of course the nightmare scenario for the supermarket industry is that acquiring Whole Foods does allow Amazon to fundamentally crack the grocery home-delivery game in a way that leads Kroger to go the way of Borders.

But the reason the takeover is such a disaster for the industry is that the financial implications are bleak even if Amazon doesn’t succeed in bringing incredible game-changing innovation to the sector. Introducing a player into the market that doesn’t care about profit margins is going to be devastating to competitors who have to.

They won’t necessarily be put out of business, but they will be forced to respond to lower prices and lower margins with lower prices and lower margins of their own — making the current round of dividend hikes extremely difficult to maintain. From the standpoint of an executive at a conventional business it must seem extraordinarily unfair.