Facebook Statuses and Breast Cancer Don’t Mix

Due to an amazing marketing campaign, October is pretty much synonymous with breast cancer awareness. Initiatives, fundraisers, rallies, walks, and numerous athletic events are devoted to the theme of breast cancer awareness. I really should not even just isolate October as the sole breast cancer awareness month because it seems as if much of the whole calendar year is devoted to the fight against breast cancer. I think this is wonderful. Breast cancer is an awful disease that is the most prevalent cancer in women. I really think there can’t be enough done to fight it.
However, while I do support the round-the-clock, constant breast cancer awareness message, I do question some of the methods used to bring this awareness.  My thought is to continue to use the techniques that actually bring about awareness and that raise funds for the cause while dumping silly and pointless schemes that don’t do anything.
Before I disclose what I think is a huge stretch when it comes to breast cancer awareness, I do want to defend a certain method that always seems to come under fire. Perhaps because this particular part of the breast cancer campaign is so visible and prevalent on a national stage it is bound to generate a lot of criticism. Whenever something is seen by a mass amount of people, there are going to be a lot of different opinions and thoughts on its effectiveness. Anyway, I am talking about the implementation of “pink games” in athletic contests on all levels in seemingly all sports across the nation. Come October, everyone from the Class B high school volleyball squad to every NFL team in the league holds some sort of pink game. You know the drill, fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game, pink ribbons are readily handed out, referees use pink whistles and flags, teams wear pink uniforms, etc. There are a lot of people out there who roll their eyes at these breast cancer games and think wearing pink to these contests does absolutely nothing for the fight against breast cancer. Many fans will grumble and act above the cause by saying something to the tune of, “I don’t need to participate in this silly initiative. I am a diehard fan and I will be wearing the traditional colors of my team on the day of the pink game. Aren’t I macho?!”
You see, many of these people don’t understand or don’t bother to look at everything else that is going on at these games besides the very visible pink layer that covers the athletic facility. For majority of these games there is always an organization that is directly tied to breast cancer awareness that is sponsoring the event while at the same time fundraising for the cause. At most of these events, the proceeds from the pink clothing that you were too proud to buy in fear that you might assault the tradition of your team are going directly toward breast cancer research. Survivors who defeated breast cancer are honored at these games, giving hope and inspiration to the people in the stands who are currently battling the disease or who might find themselves up against it in the future. Information by way of pamphlets, ads on the jumbo tron, and messages scrolled across the scoreboard all give direction and support to people who are fighting breast cancer. Most importantly, this theme is displayed in front of a community of people who are gathered together…whenever you have a large amount of people participating in a joint effort, a message (in this case, breast cancer awareness) is going to make an impression. I am a big proponent of pink games.
However, some efforts at “raising breast cancer awareness” make me shake my head. I can’t stand the stupid Facebook status games that people participate in to try to say that they are supporting the fight against breast cancer. I am sure most of you have seen the most recent incarnation of this. Women are supposed to build a status using this model: “I’m going to live in ____________ (a country) for ___________ (a number) of months.” Today while eating lunch at my desk I saw where one of my friends who has been trying so hard to find a job outside of Missoula had written “I’m going to live in Amsterdam for 20 months.” With people already starting to leave comments of congratulations under her post, I made sure to leave one as well. I had no idea that this was a breast cancer status. Later on in the day I caught up to her and got to wish her congratulations in a more personal way. She then told me that the status was not true. I felt pretty stupid. If you have not seen this one yet, I am sure you have seen other “breast cancer awareness” status examples. One entailed women simply putting down a color as their status (men would later figure out that it was their bra color) and another one had women saying “I like it on __________” Despite the suggestive nature of the status, the blank was just supposed to be filled in with where that particular girl put her purse when she got home.
I am not going to go on a tirade bashing these statuses though. I mean really what more can I say besides the fact that I have no idea in hell how these statuses help with breast cancer awareness. Many men (and women in fact) will go through the whole day never knowing at all what that status was actually alluding to. At least for pink games you see the pink and you know right away what is at the forefront of discussion. Even if eventually everyone knew by the end of the day that the status game that played out all day on Facebook was some type of tribute to the fight against breast cancer what would anyone take away from it? I did all the research I could to figure out exactly how it is aiding breast cancer awareness and I could not find one thing. Pretty pointless I would say. I guess it was a funny game and it had a lot of people scratching their heads on what exactly was going on but at the end of the day there is no powerful message promoting breast cancer to take home.
Messages can be killed when they are presented in a way that is too cute/tricky/mysterious. In many cases, simplicity is the best. If  you are trying to pass along an important message, such as breast cancer awareness, don’t ever try to initially exclude anyone. Once you shut them out the first time there is no guarantee that they will still be hanging around at the end of the day to hear the explanation of the big joke. Breast cancer awareness is a much too serious of a subject to be sneaky and sly about. Don’t Blink.

Want to Fire People Up? Change Facebook!

When I am sick and feeling like crap, I tend not to smile as much as I usually do. However, one thing that became a reoccurring theme today made my lips move ever so slightly from my constant frowning position into a faint smirk. While scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed I saw all the people having heart attacks over the new changes to the most popular social networking site in the world. You honestly would have thought that overnight someone must have gone into the houses of some of these Facebook users and robbed them of everything they owned, killed their dog, and then set fire to the place based on some of the reactions of outrage that I saw. Likewise, for every two posts of outrage that I saw, I read at least one post using just as many capital letters and just as many exclamation points as the anti-new layout people by Facebook users who wanted to make their point that “change happens” or to “just live with it.” I found it humorous how so many people let the new Facebook changes impact them one way or the other to speak out against it on, ironically, their Facebook pages.
To be completely honest, back when I was a Facebook rookie I too would get a little agitated when I would go to sleep after using one version of Facebook only to wake up the next day and see that it had been replaced with a version that made it so my notifications were in a new place or that certain chat settings had been changed. Didn’t Mark Zuckerberg know that my whole social existence hinged on Facebook and by pulling the rug out from underneath me he was severely damaging my cred? You know though, after about the third time changes were made on Facebook about four months into my initial time on the service, I kind of stopped getting worked up about it.
If you are over eighteen years old and you have been on Facebook for two years or more, you should probably not act as if the world is ending when changes are made. Let’s face it, changes on Facebook approximately every two or three months is about as likely as the sun rising and setting each day. What I find so amusing is that the new changes will occur, people will bitch about it for a day, they will get used to it, and then they will pretty much completely forget about what the older version was like before  they were introduced with the new version that they initially despised.
I think the only people I feel sorry for when changes are made are the “older” generation of Facebook users. I know my mom is going to go on and she is going to be a little puzzled about the bigger pictures and the numerous help bubbles that are going to pop up explaining to her the new changes. I do expect a phone call from her the minute she logs on (“No Mom, it is not your computer acting weird. Everyone now has this version of Facebook. Yes, you still write on my wall the same way you always do. No Mom, that girl is just a friend.”)
To the people who let the complaints about the new Facebook layout get to them: Take a deep breath and don’t let the complaining bother you so much that you have to devote a status update to it. Just realize  that these complaints are just as much of a sure thing as the Facebook changes themselves. No matter how elegantly or non-elegantly  you put it, people are always going to resist the change, it is just a fact of life in pretty much every aspect.  Hate to break it to you, but your attempt at trying to make people “grow up” and “get on with their lives” is falling on deaf ears. Just give it a rest.
In business, it is a catch-22 when you have a successful product and you have to wrestle with the prospect of change. If you ride your successful product for a long time without change, there will be a group in your customer base who will become tired of the same old thing and they will put pressure on you to add something new. Once you appease that group and you do add new components to the product, you piss off the other group in your customer base  who can’t tolerate change and who probably eat the same thing for dinner every single night. It is impossible to please everyone.
Just a quick non-Facebook example of this: At my job, we produce the best in-stadium game day football experience at the Football Championship Subdivision level and one of the best experiences in all of college football. Yes, we could continue to do the same thing year in and year out but we would get crucified by people in our fan base who expect to see new and exciting elements each year. Once we do add new stuff though, the old school fans will complain that things “are not done the way they were three years ago, and the way they were done three years ago was much better.” It is amazing how people resist change so much that they can get a vastly superior product placed right in front of their eyes and still tell you with a straight face that they think the past version was better.
I am an advocate for change in the modern business model and I do support Facebook making frequent changes. Do you understand the gold mine that Mark Zuckerberg has? Do you know how many aspiring social networking sites he has chomping at his bit right now? The dude is a competitor and he is going to keep tinkering and improving his product every chance he gets to keep his monopoly. It is just what successful business people do. Facebook could care less about pissing people off for a day or two after they make changes because they know that they will eventually adapt. If Facebook kept the same version they had three years ago they would be about as relevant as Myspace is right now.
People  need to chill when Facebook makes changes…both the people who dislike change and the people who dislike the people who dislike change. Instead of spending your time spewing out an emotionally charged status update, either (if you dislike  change) take the time to understand the new version and appreciate the fact that the company is trying to offer you a better product or (if you dislike the people who dislike change) save your frustrated energy and take comfort that you will probably make a lot of money when you grow up because you understand the necessity of change. Besides, if you wise up the people who don’t like change you are just going to be adding more competition to your chances of achieving your big pay day one of these days. Enjoy Facebook. Don’t Blink.

Facebook Ambushers

Many of you who know me know that I am really big into social media. Not only do I utilize it on a personal basis, I also utilize it to make a living as social media is a huge part of my job. I love social media so when I see it being abused, I get a little defensive. I have made up my mind that I am going to devote a few separate blog posts on what to  avoid with social media. These posts will not be in succession of each other but will be spread out over a couple of months. One of these posts will deal with ex-significant others and ex-flings who try to get back at you/play games with you via social media. I can’t wait to lay into that one. So honestly, stay tuned to my blog because you won’t want to miss it. I feel like probably everybody in my reading audience is going to be able to relate to that slimy practice.
Tonight though, I want to talk about a social media practice that is less personal and more on a professional/business level but is also done by cash hungry individuals as well. I want to talk about the practice of businesses and individuals using ambush marketing on Facebook pages of other entities.
I promise this will be a very quick marketing lesson.  Ambush marketing is when an advertiser tries to profit and feed off of an entity (such as a business, organization, famous person) it has no contract with. Basically, they are attempting to make money off of something or someone without giving that something or someone any type of initial compensation. Examples of this include using a logo of a company on your own product to try to get it to sell, infiltrating an event sponsored by a competing brand and trying to push your product, or flat out lying that your business is associated with another entity when it really is not. You get the picture, you envy someone’s success and you want to get a piece of it by capitalizing off of them and not paying them a dime.
Ambush marketing on Facebook is when a business/organization/dumb person decides to push their name on the page of someone else. From here on out, I will refer to it as Facebook ambushing.  For my job, I am in charge of a Facebook social network that has garnered over 80,000 likes. Our brand is very popular and unfortunately it has gained the attention of many Facebook ambushers. But I do not want to focus entirely on my work in this post. Facebook ambushing is a problem that is very prevalent on the Facebook walls of many successful businesses and brands across the world. I know all of you have seen it over and over. What is the big deal you ask? Bottom line, it is an unethical business practice. By engaging in Facebook ambushing you are soiling the name of the entity whose wall you are posting on, ripping off the other companies who have a legitimate presence on that entity’s wall, and demonstrating that you are the laziest business/organization/individual there is.
Okay, so obviously you have an admiration for the company you are about to ambush. But does that mean that they have an admiration for you? Hell no! Just because you think the chick who lives next door to you is smoking hot does not mean she will feel the same way about you.  So how disgraceful is it for you to climb the fence, trample in the yard, and then kiss her? This is what Facebook ambushers are doing when they randomly post on the wall of  another entity. They are trying to make it look like they have a relationship with the entity they are ambushing and, even more maddening, they are trying to look like they have a relationship with the fan base as well. Okay, you all know I work for Grizzly Athletics. It really hits a nerve with me when some random business posts on our wall by saying “Hello Griz Fans, we hope you are excited for this Saturday’s game…(enter pitch right here).”  First off, don’t post on our wall  with your sales pitch PERIOD. Secondly, do not make some lame attempt to reach out to our fans. It is incredibly tacky. What is concerning though is that with 80,000 fans on our Facebook network, there is bound to be a healthy chunk of individuals who see the random company’s name on our wall and think there is some type of relationship with our department. This is damaging. When a marijuana legalization group decided to spread their propaganda on our wall I just about flipped out. You can’t have a green leaf next to Monte.  I know that is an extreme example but  you get the point. Don’t go on someone else’s territory and try to fake a relationship with the mom and then make a run at all the kids too.
Another reason why Facebook ambushing is harmful is because it cheapens the investment other companies have made to have a rightful spot on the wall of the entity that you are hijacking. Many innovative, savvy companies have recognized that it pays off to advertise and/or run promotional campaigns on the social media platforms of their partners. These companies who are advertising on the Facebook and Twitter pages of other companies have paid good money and have taken the time to plan a well thought out, tasteful campaign. For some flea market store from the planet Pluto to come out of nowhere and paste their company’s name all over the wall of the advertising company’s partner is highway robbery. While running social media for Grizzly Athletics I want to make sure our wall is sacred space and not some dumping ground where anyone can post their garbage. I want to keep our Facebook accounts in tip top shape so our guys who sell for us can assure partners who want a social media presence through Grizzly Athletics that they are going to be getting a good deal.
My third  reason for disliking Facebook ambushing is that it is just plan ol’ lazy. What moron couldn’t hop on a computer and copy and paste their company’s crap on Facebook page after Facebook page? Please tell me you are paying your advertisers and marketers to be a little more creative than that. By unfairly capitalizing off of someone’s social media audience you are just making yourself look bad. I said that a good chunk of people are going to see what you write on the wall of other entities and believe that you have an affiliation with them but there is also going to be a good chunk of people who see right through what you are doing and realize that no official relationship exists. And you know what? These people who are smart enough to figure this out are usually those who are making a bit more money than the others and whose opinion carries with it a little more pull than the others, so in essence they are the people who you want to put your best foot forward towards… not the people you want to feel that you are lazy.
If you are interested to know what I do about Facebook ambushers or if you have any other questions regarding social media please ask me sometime, I am very passionate about this new type of communication that has taken over our society. Remember, respect the territory of others and only climb the fence when given permission. Don’t Blink.