Top 10 Reasons Why Twitter Activity Is Declining

A few months ago, The Atlantic published an article titled A Eulogy For Twitter. In it, the authors wrote:

“Something is wrong on Twitter. And people are noticing. Its users are less active than they once were. Twitter says these changes reflect a more streamlined experience, but we have a different theory: Twitter is entering its twilight. Twitter used to be a sort of surrogate newsroom/barroom where you could organize around ideas with people whose opinions you wanted to assess. Maybe you wouldn’t agree with everybody, but that was part of the fun. But at some point Twitter narratives started to look the same. The crowd became predictable, and not in a good way.”

The authors goes on to give their hypotheses for the decline. If you are–or have ever been–active on Twitter, the article is well worth the read.

***

I can relate to the points in the article–I’m not as active on Twitter as I used to be. Nobody died and made me spokesperson for the millions of people whose Twitter activity has declined, but here’s my take on the top 10 reasons why we’re less active on Twitter:

10. Because we don’t care what inspirational quote you came upon this morning that has you motivated to attack the day (especially when inspirational quotes are the only things you tweet);

9. Because we don’t care what cutesy thing your 5 year-old said this morning. I have three kids who have said what your kid said–at least twice–and my kids are all smarter, better looking, and more athletic than your kids;

8. Because we don’t care what the celebrity who just died meant to you;

7. Because we’re watching the same freaking soccer match you are, and we can see for ourselves that some guy just scored a GOOOOAAAALLLLL!!! (oh, and, that you apparently didn’t get the memo that now that the World Cup is over, nobody cares about soccer again);

6. Because we don’t care that the guy next to you on the bus, train, or plane is annoying (look in the mirror, jerkface);

5. Because out of the 25 links you retweeted in the past two minutes, we couldn’t care less about 24 of them, and the one we did care about we saw two hours ago, when the 1,000 other people we follow tweeted the link;

4. Because we don’t care about your loony-tune [right/left]-wing political views;

3. Because we really don’t care what those social media gurus that you worship and retweet incessantly have to say (and, anyway, didn’t their 15 minutes of fame pass long ago?);

2. Because we don’t need to read tweets of you retweeting someone else’s retweets of your tweets;

And the number one reason why we’re not as active on Twitter as we used to be…

1. Because you just don’t get it that Twitter is all about you paying attention to me, not the other way around.

***

The irony here is that, as a blogger, I live and die by Twitter. No one will read this unless you retweet the link to it (that’s not entirely true–there are 7 people who will read this on LinkedIn, and 4 who will get the entire post emailed to them). One retweet from an influential tweeter could drive hundreds of hits.

***

Seriously, though, I think a lot of the decline in activity can be explained by this: People aren’t getting what they want from the platform (as much as they previously did, or had hoped they would). For me, it’s a lot harder to have meaningful conversations than it used to be. That’s what *I* want from Twitter.

The authors of The Atlantic article wrote:

“For a platform that was once so special, it would be sad and a little condescending to conclude that Twitter is simply something we’ve outgrown.”

Sad and condescending maybe, but there is a lot of truth to that. But the opposite is just as true: Twitter has outgrown us.

Resigning My Spot At The FinTech Titan Table

 With all apologies to the Beverly Hillbillies….

“Come listen to my story about a man named Ron,

A real tech moron, could barely turn his PC on,

And then one day he gets a message from his bank,

And now he has to give up his FinTech Titan rank.”

***

It was an honor to be named a FinTech Titan by Meniga CMO Duena Blomstrom. To be included on a list with the likes of Brett King and Chris Skinner is pretty damn good.

But I’m afraid that some events have transpired that compel me to resign my spot at the FinTech Titan table.

***

Woke up Saturday morning, went down to get my coffee mug off my desk, saw my smartphone sitting there unplugged, and turned it down to check the power level.

What I saw was an alert from my bank notifying me of some suspicious activity from an unrecognized IP address trying to access my account, and a link to reset my password. Clicked on the link, entered my ID and password and hit enter. The next screen asked me to verify my address and social security number.

***

At this point, you’re sitting there thinking “What the hell were you thinking?@!#”

And that’s exactly the problem–I wasn’t thinking (I was first going to get my coffee cup). When I saw the prompt for the SSN it finally dawned on me that this was a phishing attempt.

The fact that I’ve never given my bank my cellphone number never seemed to make its way into my consciousness.

***

Picked up my iPad, which is the device I typically use to access my bank accounts (because, really? can anyone my age really read anything on a smartphone?).

Logged into the mobile app from my bank, saw the money was still there, and started hunting around the app to figure out how to change my password.

For the life of me, could not figure out how to do that.

***

Put the iPad down, got out my debit card and handed it to my wife and asked her to read me the phone number on the back of the card (G*d help me if I ever need to call my bank when no one else is around, because the font size of the information on the back of the card is way too small for my old eyes to read).

Dialed the number….”Para espanol..”

Oh for chrissakes….<Ron presses ZERO about 100 times>

“Please enter your account or card number”

Did it.

“Your account balance is…”

<Ron presses ZERO 100 more times>

“In order to get you to the right person….”

Then my wife suggests: “It would be quicker to go the branch.”

Good idea. Grabbed the car keys, drove the two minutes to the branch. Only to find out it was still closed and wouldn’t open for another 30 minutes.

Called my wife, told her the branch wasn’t open, asked her to make the call. Headed home.

Got home, got handed the phone by my wife, who told me she had talked to someone, asked them to place a hold on the account, and was told she would have to transfer my wife to someone in wealth management.

Wealth management? For g*d’s sake, those people don’t work more than 10 minutes on Monday thru Friday, g*d knows they won’t be there on Saturday.

And they weren’t. Call never went through. Hung up. Dialed again. Started going through the process all over again.

Wife said: “Branch opens in 15 minutes. Maybe someone will be there early and let you in.”

Good idea. Grabbed the car keys, drove the two minutes to the branch. And they did let me in early. Well, if you consider 8:59 to be “early.”

***

So now I’m in the branch. Explained to the woman who let me in what I needed, she said, “go right in here, Tom can help.”

Explained to Tom what happened, handed him my statement, debit card, and drivers license, and he gets into my account. “Nothing has happened to the account.”

Phew.

“Let’s get your online account closed,” he said.

At which point he picks up the phone and calls the online banking support number

“Are you calling into the same number that customers call into?, I ask.

“Yep.”

I’m thinking: “You’ve got to be freaking kidding me. An employee can’t call in and avoid the wait?”

So we’re sitting there waiting for the contact center to pick up.

“Your call is very important to us. A representative will be with you shortly.”

I’m freaking sitting across from a representative you automated idiot!

As we’re sitting there, Tom says “you’d be surprised how many people this happens to.”

And I say: “I’m a freaking FinTech Titan, Tom! I know g*ddamn well how many people this happens to!”

Except I didn’t exactly say that out loud.

And then I had to deal with that thing known as TRUTH: “This happens to millions of morons all the time, and sadly–I am one of the morons.”

***

A call center rep finally comes on, asks how he can help. Tom tells him who he his, and gives the rep his employee ID and access code (which I now know).

Online access is shut down, a new ID and temporary password is established, and I’m good to go.

Until Tom says, “I know you didn’t come in to talk about this, but I can see from your accounts that you qualify for the Super-de-duper Plutonium Level of our new rewards program.” And pushes a brochure across the table.

Looking at the rewards (if you want to call them that) that I qualify for, most won’t do me any good since I won’t be getting a mortgage or HELOC any time soon. But the extra bonus on the cash rewards credit card is really good.

I asked Tom if he gets anything if I sign up, and he says he won’t get a commission or anything, but will get “brownie points” if I enrolled in the program and even more brownie points if I apply for the credit card.

“Go ahead and enroll me in the rewards program, Tom. But I gotta talk to the Mrs. first to see if we want the card.”

And went home.

***

Got home. Told my wife we were all set. And then showed her the brochure for the rewards program.

“Damn, this is really good isn’t it? Given what we spend on gas and groceries, this would more than double the cash we get back on our current card. Let’s get it.”

So what do you think I did next?

RIGHT. Grabbed the car keys, drove the two minutes to the branch. Sat down with Tom, and applied for the credit card.

***

So there you have it. Within the course of an hour, I:

  1. Fell victim to a phishing attempt;
  2. Visited a branch three times (or two, depending on how you want to count it); and
  3. Applied for a credit card in a bank branch.

At this point, I’m afraid that the only honorable thing to do is resign my spot at the FinTech Titan table. I’m not worthy. Not sure I ever was.

And the next time some smart ass market researcher asks me “What channel did you use the last time you applied for a credit card?” I’m gonna have to embarrass myself and say “The branch.” Like all the other morons who had to go there to fix their phishing mistakes. 

 

Marketing Gurus And Marketing Morons

Dr. John Dawes nails it. In a white paper titled Marketing Gurus and Fads – how to avoid them, Dawes writes:

“Marketing abounds with ‘fads’ – which over-promise and under-deliver. These messages are sometimes presented as the ‘secrets’ of companies that are supposedly fantastically successful at the moment. The sad fact is that most of these messages are incredibly over-optimistic and at worst, downright deceitful.”

Dawes defines some of the techniques that marketing gurus use, like:

1. Using concepts we already believe in. As an example, Dawes cites a recent text, “The New Marketing Manifesto”, which relates the “12 Rules of New Marketing” (not old marketing, mind you). Rule 1 is ‘Get Up Close and Personal,’ Rule 2 is  ‘Tap Basic Human Needs.’ As Dawes says “this is essentially about understanding customers, doing things customers like, and creating likeable advertising.”

2. Over-generalizing a specific example. This is when gurus attribute the success of a company to one thing–the thing the guru is trying to sell (e..g, customer intimacy, focus, etc.). Dawes suggests that when we hear a guru do this we should ask “you are suggesting that the company was successful only because of X. How do we know that it would not have been as successful without doing that?”

3. Tautologies.A tautology is logically true, but says nothing useful. Dawes’ marketing example is “for a new brand to succeed, every aspect of the marketing mix must be right.”

4. Taking anything that sounds vaguely good and claiming it is an example.

5. Thinking up a catchy list of words. As an example, Dawes mentions a “European academic who thought up the ‘twenty one R’s’ of marketing.” As Dawes says, “this is just catchy list creation masquerading as good ideas.”

Dawes continues by doing a great job of tearing up the “emotional branding” fad. All in all, a great paper. It’s short and readable–not the all-too-typical long-winded, overblown hooha that marketing professors publish in the name of “marketing science.”

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Dawes does leave one question unanswered, however:

Why do marketing gurus succeed and persist?

The simple answer is: Because marketing morons exist.

Go back to the laws of economics, folks. A market is made when there is both a demand for a product or service and a supply of that product/service.

Marketing gurus/fads are the supply. Silverbulletitis is the demand. I first wrote about this affliction, which many marketers suffer from, about six years ago. I defined it as:

A condition in which the sufferer expects easy answers and solutions to difficult problems.

By virtue of reading this blog post, you’ve self-selected yourself into a group of marketers that don’t suffer from this condition. I’ve been very fortunate that the readers of this blog are the intellectual cream of the marketing crop.

The problem, however, are your lazy, pea-brained marketing colleagues. They’re not physically lazy (wouldn’t want to offend my fellow-couch potatoes). They’re intellectually lazy. They’re not willing to accept the fact that marketing is hard. It’s a science (or could be) and an art (or should be). Not willing to accept the fact that human behavior is complex, and that defining, designing, and executing marketing strategies that seek to shape and capitalize on these complex behaviors is hard.

In other words, your colleagues are marketing morons (they may not be morons in a more general sense, but hey, they might be).

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Dawes’ paper does a great job of helping us recognize and understand the techniques marketing gurus use to ply their trade (hell, it might even become a good guide to help some of us become marketing gurus).

But as long as marketing morons walk among us, the supply of marketing gurus won’t diminish.

If I Had My Own Business

The marketing pundits tell us personalization and customization is key to successful marketing. One-to-one marketing, they call it. Recognition that every customer is different, and should be interacted with differently.

If I had my own business, I would wholeheartedly subscribe to this approach.

But how to implement this one-to-one marketing, that’s the hard part.

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Personalization — based on segmentation — is hard. On what basis should you segment?

Some pundits tell us we should market to “women.” Like all women want the same experience. 

Others point out the differences between the generations. Based on some of their research, I would qualify as a Gen Yer. I know Gen Yers, and I, sir, am no Gen Yer. 

There’s no shortage of ways to segment consumers, but none seems to work well in order to personalize the customer experience.

If I had my own business, I know how I would do it: I would ask each customer who s/he works for.

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If I had my own business, and you came in to buy something, and told me you worked for a (an, or the) …..

Bank….and you wanted to return an item you bought….I’d tell you to go online to schedule an appointment with me, make you come back at a later date, and then still make it as difficult as I humanly could before accepting your return.

Airline….I’d send you over to another line with a metal detector, make you take your shoes off, go through your bag, then make you sit (in a narrow, uncomfortable chair) for an hour before letting you buy what you wanted to buy.

Doctor…I’d ask to see proof that you could pay for what you wanted to buy…then make you sit next to a sick, coughing kid for 30 minutes, then make you sit in a small room on a reclining table covered with European toilet paper…before letting you buy what you wanted to buy.

Government….I’d have your credit and debit cards canceled, and tell you to come back after you’ve applied for and received new cards. The website to apply for those cards wouldn’t work properly, and only on unspecified blocks of time, at that. There would be no security on these sites, so your personal information will be stolen by identity thieves, so good luck getting what you came in for. 

Online publication…I’d ask you — AS SOON AS YOU WALKED IN — to take a survey asking you about your experience (which you wouldn’t even have had yet) with my business. Then I would ask you for your ID and password in order to shop in my store. And if you didn’t have one, and wasn’t willing to pay for one, I’d let you shop around in the section of my store where all the crappy products are.

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So, tell me, where do you work?

Songs For The Citi

According to the Wall Street Journal:

“The banking industry has spent countless hours and dollars trying to make up for the damage done by the financial crisis. Banks have run feel-good ads, waged aggressive lobbying campaigns, even sponsored bike-rental programs. Now Citigroup is trying a new tactic: singing. On national TV. Citigroup’s London office opened its skyscraper to a BBC crew filming the popular TV series “The Choir.”

Hmm. Interesting. 

Apparently, the group’s repertoire includes something from a Delibes opera, something from someone named Mary Mary, and a Michael Jackson tune. 

Ehh. Boring. 

Here are my top 10 suggestions for what the bankers should be singing:

10. Animals, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”
9. Bee Gees, “Stayin’ Alive”
8. Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are a-Changin'”
7. Jane’s Addiction, “Been Caught Stealin'”
6. Led Zeppelin, “Dazed and Confused”
5. Barry McGuire, “Eve of Destruction”
4. The Surfaris, “Wipe Out”
3. The Smiths, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”
2. The Temptations, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”

And the number one song Citi should sing:

1. Stevie Wonder, “Living for the Citi”

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Got any suggestions for what Citi should sing?

Bank Slogans For 2014

The new buzzword in marketing is “authenticity.” And if banks are going to get on the authenticity wagon, they’re going to need to update their slogans. I, of course, have some suggestions for them:

20131104 HSBC

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Discover slogan

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Bank of America slogan

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JPMorganChase slogan

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USAA slogan

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BBVA slogan

(Making Americans bank in Spanish)

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Allstate slogan

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bank slogan

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Got any suggestions?