Monthly Archives: May 2015

Pretty Pictures Or Perfect Food?

It’s Foodie Friday and I’m shaking my head today.  No, not at the fact that we’re still walking around the Northeast wearing sweaters entering Memorial Day Weekend but at something I read about a “marketing” effort being made by the folks at Chili’s.  This from the AP:

Chili's Grill & Bar logo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chili’s says it’s spending about $750,000 a year for an egg wash that gives its burger buns a photogenic glaze. It’s part of an effort by the chain to get you to take pictures of its food and post them online.  In addition to using burger buns with an egg wash…the chain also recently started serving its fries in a stainless steel holder that “looks cool.” And ribs are no longer served in big slabs reminiscent of The Flintstones cartoons, but are cut into sections and stacked.

Hmm.  Why risk bad photos?  How about plastic food that’s perfect in each lobby?  Perhaps a little booth into which you can cart your burger and fries that’s perfectly lit?  Maybe the servers and bartenders need to be more photogenic while we’re at it. Even better – provide digital downloads via your free wi-fi so customers don’t risk getting their phones messy.  What’s that?  You don’t have free wi-fi?

This is not a great use of funds, but it’s also selfish.  This move is about Chili’s and not about their customers.  Chili’s wants to “go viral” with pretty pictures and good-looking food.  I wonder how viral really great food is.  Judging from what I pick up in my news feeds on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, great food gets posts (yes, I have a lot of foodie friends) and while some of the photos are lacking in composition or badly lit, I’d try anything my friends think is worth the calories.

In each of its past two fiscal years, sales at established Chili’s locations rose less than 1 percent.  Maybe better looking isn’t the answer.  I’m willing to bet better tasting, reasonably priced and served efficiently with a smile are ahead of it in line.  You know – that silly customer-focused stuff you’re ignoring in your quest for social traction.

What do you all think?

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Filed under digital media, food, Huh?

Faust And Facebook

You might be aware that Facebook has started yet another new program with a few publishers.  Called “Instant Articles”, the program lets a select number of news organizations publish stories directly to Facebook and the publishers keep the ad revenue. There are nine launch partners, including BuzzFeed, The New York Times and NBC News.  If you use the Facebook app on an iPhone you might already have seen it.

Facebook logo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A number of news reports have used the term “faustian” to describe the program and I agree.  You’ll recall the legend of Faust and his deal with the devil – he got something he wanted in return for the devil owning his soul (and eternal damnation!).  While it’s a bit of a stretch to equate Facebook with the devil, it’s an apt metaphor.  All publishers – especially those whose business models are dependent upon lots of content views – want greater visibility.  Facebook is the largest platform and in this case the publisher can monetize those views.  Makes sense, right?

Not really in my view.  Sure, if you’re happy with “one and done” traffic it’s fine but this is no way to build a loyal audience.  Many of the publishers I know count repeat visits as a KPI.  This doesn’t build that.  It’s especially bad if any of your model counts on subscription revenue.  The breadth and depth of your content offering – the quality that drives the justification for the subscription – is negated.

Facebook controls the terms of this news-publishing deal.  Ask any brand if they’ve experienced Facebook changing the game in the middle of play and they’ll say yes.  After all, this is the platform that encouraged brands to build pages and followings and then took away news feed access while encouraging ad spend.  Who is to say that this program won’t change again in a few months?  It’s especially troubling that news outlets will be able to publish so-called “branded content” directly to Facebook.  I’ve made my views on native ads that are indistinguishable from your own news content well-known.  Embedding them on Facebook makes them even more difficult to identify as sponsor messages (and who is to say when Facebook will demand their cut).

Don’t misunderstand.  I see high value in using Facebook both for publishing and for advertising.  I just think that abandoning the efforts to drive users to your own platform is ultimately self-defeating.  When you think about it, Facebook doesn’t produce content. They produce a platform but users and brands populate that platform with the real value – content. Companies that don’t produce value in the long run disappear and if you’ve put your eggs in the Facebook basket rather than continuing your own efforts, it really may be a deal with the devil.

Make sense?

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Filed under digital media, Huh?

One Thing You Can Do Right Now For Your Customers

Attention business people! We have a problem. OK, many of us have more than one, but the one to which I refer is pretty important so listen up. In short, our customers don’t trust us. Think I’m kidding?

The latest Pew study is out and as the release about it said:

In the almost two years that have passed since the initial Snowden (former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden) revelations, the public has been awash in news stories detailing security breaches at major retailers, health insurance companies and financial institutions. These events and the doubts they have inspired have contributed to a cloud of personal “data insecurity” that now looms over many Americans’ daily decisions and activities. Many find these developments deeply troubling and want limits put in place, while some do not feel these issues affect them personally.

Some may not feel that but the vast majority do. Most folks believe it is important that they be able to maintain privacy and confidentiality in commonplace activities of their lives. Most strikingly, these views are especially pronounced when it comes to knowing what information about them is being collected and who is doing the collecting.  Compare that belief with the data:

  • 76% of adults say they are “not too confident” or “not at all confident” that records of their activity maintained by the online advertisers who place ads on the websites they visit will remain private and secure.
  • 69% of adults say they are not confident that records of their activity maintained by the social media sites they use will remain private and secure.
  • 66% of adults say they are not confident that records of their activity maintained by search engine providers will remain private and secure.
  • 66% say they are not confident that records of their activity collected by the online video sites they use will remain private and secure.

So what can you do right now to help?  Be transparent about what you’re collecting and why.  Don’t bury that information in your Terms of Service.  Explain who has access to the data, how it is shared (or not) with business partners, how long it’s retained, and offer to present the user with a copy of everything you have.  Most importantly, to the extent you can, allow the customers to opt-in and explain why that’s a good thing for them.  Turns out it just might be a good thing for your business too.

Do you do business with people you don’t trust?  Why should your customers?

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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Huh?