Posts Tagged ‘social media’
Seeing lots of chatter online today about the pending shutdown of World Nutella Day. World what-what? Yeah, World Nutella Day.
Now, I’m not a user of the world’s favorite hazelnut spread. But plenty of people are. But many people are. Enough that back in 2007, an American woman named Sara Rosso who lives in Nutella’s homeland of Italy created (of her own volition) World Nutella Day.
Since then, their site has become a go-to destination for people who like the product (created by the same people who make Ferrero Rocher, Kinder candies, and Tic Tacs) for recipes and stories. Rosso and her Nutella-loving pal Michelle Fabio also have written the e-book The Unofficial Guide to Nutella (affiliate link).
But apparently, no more. Rosso’s website says (I’ll paste the text here in case the site disappears):
“On May 25, 2013, I’ll be darkening the World Nutella Day site, nutelladay.com, and all social media presence (Facebook, Twitter), in compliance with a cease-and-desist I received from lawyers representing Ferrero, SpA (makers of Nutella).
Seven years after the first World Nutella Day in 2007, I never thought the idea of dedicating a day to come together for the love of a certain hazelnut spread would be embraced by so many people! I’ve seen the event grow from a few hundred food bloggers posting recipes to thousands of people Tweeting about it, pinning recipes on Pinterest, and posting their own contributions on Facebook! There have been songs sung about it, short films created for it, poems written for it, recipes tested for it, and photos taken for it.
The cease-and-desist letter was a bit of a surprise and a disappointment, as over the years I’ve had contact and positive experiences with several employees of Ferrero, SpA., and with their public relations and brand strategy consultants, and I’ve always tried to collaborate and work together in the spirit and goodwill of a fan-run celebration of a spread I (to this day) still eat.
I have hope that this is not a goodbye to World Nutella Day forever, for the fans’ sake, and hopefully it will live on in one form or another in the future.”
So. From all appearances, this is a big corporation knuckling down on a humble blogger. Certainly, that’s the theme on the Nutella Facebook page, where several hundred comments are roundly criticizing the brand for its actions. Some are even posting video responses:
Doesn’t get much more emphatic than that.
But… what if there’s more to this? As a teacher, one of the case studies I have used for a long time in social media classes has been what’s become known as “The Ranger Station Fire.” This 2008 incident began when Ford sent out a cease and desist letter to someone operating a web site dedicated to the Ford Ranger.
Here’s Ron Ploof’s summary, an eminently useful document.
So at this point, all we have is the World Nutella Day website. We don’t know the contents of the C&D letter (which is more than likely in Italian). We haven’t seen any response from Ferrero. On page 8 of “The Ranger Station Fire”, Ploof describes the fact that the Ford fan site was selling unauthorized products with Ford’s logo on them. They then (VERY quickly) separated out the demands for the URL and compensation from the IP issue.
What needs to happen now? Two things:
- Sara Rosso needs to make very clear exactly why Ferrero has asked her to cease & desist.
- Ferrero needs to do the same thing.
Right now, it’s impossible to know if Ferrero has done something really stupid, or has done something right & executed badly, or whether this is the best of their alternatives and they’re just communicating poorly.
If Ferrero has no compelling reason to have taken this action, they are likely going to be a case study for teachers like me to use in the future — in how to alienate the people who love you.
I have asked Ferrero for comment, and I’ve also sent questions to Sara Rosso. I’ll update this post whenever I have new information to share.
UPDATE: around 4:00 pm EDT, I saw a statement from Ferrero on their Italian site. Get the update in this post.
There’s a certain irony apparent (at least to me) in Chris Hadfield returning to earth after what is undeniably one of the great examples of communication in action and the government for whom he works being roundly pasted for its “rebranding” of the National Research Council of Canada. And there are lessons to be learned here. And I have to tip the hat to friend and colleague Susan Murphy, whose post this morning “Chris Hadfield: Social Media Un-guru” got me thinking about all this.
First, let’s précis Chris Hadfield. In his five months on the International Space Station, he has, in the words of tech blog Gizmodo, “made us care about space again.”
How? They say “Hadfield straddled the lines between teacher and performer, educated expert and screwball with a camcorder, just about perfectly.” His Larrivee parlour guitar wasn’t just a recreational toy. He used it to record an earth-space collaboration with a choir and with Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson that became a national singalong on “Music Monday.” His camera became a tool for a unique set of eyes on our planet and a record of all sorts of land, sea and skyscapes. Look at Cape Bretoner Parker Donham, who posted twice when Hadfield “took pictures of my primary residence.” And then, as he prepared to return to earth, he released a moving cover version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”
Meantime, the Canadian government refocused and rebranded the venerable National Research Council last week. The refocusing moved the historic institution “away from basic science” and towards a focus on applying science and collaborating with business.
The move has been criticized by many people, including Maclean’s columnist Paul Wells and US-based science blogger and author Phil Plait, who called it “monumentally backward thinking.” Some point to the current government’s uneasy-to-hostile role of muzzler / gatekeeper between scientists and researchers. It also was a matter of some concern inside the agency too, according to this CBC blog post.
Chris Hadfield was able to do what he’s done because of a few things:
- He’s a charismatic person, and we’ve been able to see that because we see him.
- He had five months to tell a compelling story and to build an audience for that story.
- He was willing to tell human stories in a human way.
- He was willing and eager to engage with people.
What’s the latest video on the NRC’s Youtube channel?
Is it fair to compare these two videos? Probably not. Is it fair to compare the two channels? Maybe.
- NRC: 102 subscribers, 11,786 views, comments disabled on most videos
- CSA: 153,623 subscribers, 22,970,172 views, dozens and hundreds of comments per video
- NRC: 2,194 followers, 229 tweets
- Hadfield: 879,225 followers, 4,919 tweets
- CSA: 45,510 followers, 13,821 tweets
What we’ve seen in the last five months has been a demonstration of the power of social media. That demonstration will only be truly useful if other parts of the government which funds agencies like the Canadian Space Agency and the National Research Council see that potential and make use of it.
Here in Canada, yesterday was budget day. This is a major event on the political scene in Ottawa. The leadup lasts for days. The Finance Minister goes to get new shoes for each budget speech (it’s a tradition with unknown origins), and that’s always a media event.
Leaks and trial balloons abound in the media as speculation mixes with officials sliding out ideas to gauge the public’s reception.
And on budget day, dozens of journalists, stakeholders, analysts and generally big-headed people are locked in hotel ballrooms, sans Blackberries and iPhones, getting sneak previews and briefings so they can sound intelligent when the Minister of Finance rises in the House of Commons at 4 pm to deliver the budget.
One of the big storylines this year is that the Department of Finance is using social media as never before. They’ll stream the speech. They’ll have an “enhanced” buget speech with extra features. And they’ll be tweeting the budget.
All of this is great. Except… It’s more than likely just a stunt to “get the budget messages out.”
The leader of Canada’s Green Party, Elizabeth May, told CBC Radio that she felt federal budgets were becoming “PR documents rather than financial projections.” While I am used to people using “PR” in this pejorative way, I understand what she’s saying.
And the plain and simple truth of things is, that our federal government is lagging badly behind when it comes to truly exploiting the potential of social media.
Why? There are a number of reasons.
The first is a structural fact. In Canada, there is a tradition that governments speak primarily through the elected cabinet ministers. Public servants report up to a Deputy Minister (a professional public servant), and he or she interacts with the Minister and his or her staff.
Sometimes, public servants become well known. David Philips is a meteorologist with Environment Canada who does hundreds of interviews, puts out a calendar each year that sells thousands of copies, etc. A woman named Colette Gentes-Hawn was a longtime spokesperson for the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and did countless call-in shows each year to answer questions about income tax. But those are exceptions. Most of the time, public servants work in relative anonymity. That’s a historic challenge that needs to be overcome.
The second is an unfortunate truth — Canada’s federal politicians have for the most part done a poor job with social media and those in positions of power have done an even worse job empowering the public servants who work in their ministries.
There are people at the highest levels of power — most prominently Industry Minister Tony Clement — who have mastered one or more social media tools and used them dextrously to achieve their own ends. And my friend Mark Blevis has made a bit of a splash for himself evaluating the digital performance of Canada’s Members of Parliament.
But Canada lacks a true governmental champion to lead efforts to use social media as it truly can be used. So what you’ll see if you explore social media use of Canadian federal government websites is… a lot of using social media as an add-on to the traditional pushing out of “key messages” that most professional communicators would be familiar with: news releases, Q&A documents, backgrounders…
It would appear that the Prime Minister, as well as his cabinet, are happy with this state of affairs. So that’s what is happening with the 2013 federal budget (or, as the government is calling it, “Economic Action Plan 2013”).
There’s not much more leadership at the top levels of the public service. Here’s a quote from a speech by Daniel Caron, the Chief Archivist of Canada, given in November 2012.
“The Government of Canada now uses social media and websites to conduct its business. It is fair to say that it is taking a measured and sensible approach to adopting these new platforms as part of its communication practices.
Why? Because of the unpredictable nature of technological innovation.
Government of Canada institutions have to provide Canadians with timely, accurate, and complete information about federal programs and services.
This is necessary in our democratic process.
It is also the key to safeguard Canadians’ trust in public institutions.
We must therefore be prudent in the use of new communication platforms to assure continued confidence in these public institutions.
Charged with the responsibility of spending taxpayer dollars wisely, those of us who oversee budgetary expenditures cannot trade off fiscal responsibility for the desire to embrace the latest trend in communications technology just to appear “cool.”
How are these communication technologies, such as social media and interactive websites, changing how public institutions conduct their business? Is the change profound or are we just replicating the use of traditional media on new platforms?
The impact and consequences of this shift are probably profound, but these communication technologies still rely on platforms that enable us as public institutions to exchange information with Canadians.”
Not exactly a passionate advocate. Another of Caron’s speeches, at the Canadian Library Association conference in May 2012 was the subject of a firestorm of negative reaction from conference delegates on Twitter. One of the things they found most outrageous?
“Back in 2008, LAC launched its Flickr account. It provides thematic image sets about the institution and from the collection, and to date has had approximately 400,000 views.
Our Twitter account was launched at the end of February and now has over 600 followers. It provides information to stakeholders and citizens, allows the organization to reach new audiences, and facilitates access to LAC’s services and collection.
This week has also seen new forays into YouTube and Facebook.
We have integrated the content from our four YouTube channels into a singular departmental channel, organized by themes in order to raise awareness about LAC’s holdings and activities.
And our official Facebook account has just been launched. In addition to institutional messaging and news about launches of events and new products, LAC will initiate original features to engage with Canadians, such as “Today in History” and “What do We Have Here”?
Finally, our LAC podcasts highlight significant collection items, share expertise and specialized knowledge that will facilitate discovery, access, and engagement between Canadian users and LAC’s collection.
This will be done through a variety of technical podcasting models, including audio, audio with images, and video.
Each podcast episode will feature different content and, will maintain a common focus on engagement with the collection, accessibility and client autonomy.
LAC has launched two podcasts so far, Project Naming and Canada’s North and The Lest We Forget Project. Upcoming podcasts include the War of 1812 and the Double Take travelling exhibition.”
They’ve gotten up to seven podcast episodes since they started, in February 2012. Their follower counts for their bilingual accounts total about 3200 now. I can’t verify their claims about the Flickr stream. But when it comes to updates, there’s nothing since January.
The third thing is related to the second. Over the last couple of years, I’ve taught a fair number of public servants while doing social media courses at Algonquin College or at Eliquo Training & Development. Those two organizations are far from the only ones — there’s even social media programming at the Canada School of the Public Service. The people taking these courses are not stupid, they don’t lack motivation, and they show up on time. But they feel that there’s no room for them to really “do social media”: to engage with the citizens who pay their salaries, to get problems solved in the ways that you’d expect someone at Dell or Zappos to, and as a teacher, I sense their frustration.
The hard part for people like me is to find ways to teach them about social media that they can actually put into practice and use.
So what would make it a LOT easier for both public servants learning about social media, as well as those who teach them? Some real leadership from those at the top of the federal government.
I think it goes without saying that government organizations tend to be cautious. Most of the time, that’s not a bad thing. One legendary example of incautiousness was John Manley proudly announcing that he, as Minister of Industry, now had an e-mail account, and that he would answer his emails PERSONALLY! That lasted less than a week.
What has become more common is federal internet thinking that lags the “real world” by months or years. One particularly glaring example was the November 2012 ceremony in which Canada’s Governor-General (the Queen’s representative here in Canada — we are a constitutional monarchy) welcomed a number of Canadians into the Order of Canada, our highest civilian honours. The GG’s office webcast the ceremony — great! But it was only accessible via Internet Explorer, a browser used by less than one in five people, and one that the German government had recommended the public stop using due to security issues two months earlier.
To this rather depressing state of affairs, take a look at the Government Digital Service in the UK.
Where we have tons of policies and guidelines written in impenetrable prose, they have plain language, witty writing, and accessible policies. (NOBODY in Canada’s government would write a blog post and title it “Widgets, badges and blog bling.” Trust me.)
Their Foreign Office has hundreds of bloggers (literally, hundreds) of bloggers. Many departments have effective and well-written blogs that are tied to people. Sometimes the head of the agency, sometimes not.
There are people and organizations trying their best within the Canadian government. There’s a site called “GCPedia” — an internal wiki for public servants. Organizations that have a level of independence from the government, such as the Privacy Commissioner, have done some innovative and well-received work. And individuals like Nick Charney with his CPSRenewal blog are tireless activists.
But the sad truth for Canadians is that we don’t have a champion either at the political or public service level who is willing to carry the torch for the EFFECTIVE use of social media. And until we do, we will have government social media that reflects the PR strategies of the 1950s.
One of the classic quotes from the world of business is attributed to John Wanamaker:
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.
I’m guessing this is a familiar refrain for many business owners. It’s easy to spend money on advertising, whether it’s in the community paper, the local daily, radio, or online. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a gauge that you could use to measure the effectiveness of that advertising?
But before I give you a few tips, a couple of theoretical points to address. First, it can take multiple exposures to a message before people will act on it — or even notice it. This is called, in the business, “effective frequency.” So don’t think that you can simply run an ad, and based on that one exposure, people will flock to your business.
Second, advertising plays a different role for businesses at different stages of their lives. Al Ries, a renowned brand strategist, characterizes it this way: “PR creates brands; advertising defends brands.” So if you’re a new business, you might be focusing your efforts more on the PR side. If you’re an established, mature business, advertising may be taking a more prominent role.
So once you have a strategy in place and understand the role advertising plays in it… how can you tell if you’re wasting your money? There are some simple things you can do:
- Track online. QR (Quick Response) codes are those square barcodes you see on ads, posters, and the like. If you use QR codes in your advertising, you can track how many times those codes are scanned. Even if you don’t use the QR codes, utilities like bit.ly offer similar abilities to track clicks (By the way, bit.ly will generate QR codes that you can use too). And plan out what your call to action will be. Don’t just send people to your website — create a specific page to point them to. Then you will know by traffic if your message is getting through.
- A/B testing is your friend. This may sound a bit intimidating. But the concept is simple. Don’t just run one ad. Run two, with a variation in imagery, copy, and the like. Then use the tracking tools mentioned in tip 1 to look at which one is performing better. The easiest place to do this is online, using platforms like Facebook Adverts or Google Adwords, but you can do similar things with other forms of media, like print or direct mail. And it’s particularly important to do this when using Facebook ads, which according to online marketing smart guy Brian Carter, “burn out” far more quickly than other forms of advertising.
- USE YOUR KNOWLEDGE. All of this stuff is only cool if you use it. Tracking the impact of your ads, measuring A/B results — you need to dedicate the time necessary to understand what the numbers are telling you.
There are as many different social media tools out there as you can imagine. If you don’t believe me, check out the “conversation prism” that Brian Solis created:
Confused yet? Good. That’s what keeps people like me in business!
When you’re engaging with your audiences using one or more of these tools, one thing to keep in mind is the timeframe for your message. I was reminded of this recently when I was listening to a podcast (WTF with Marc Maron, if you must know). The podcast was great, but there was a sponsor who was pushing a Christmas special. (I’m writing this in June).
Different social media have different shelf lives. Twitter is (arguably) ephemeral. It’s here, then it’s gone. Facebook pages, less so. Blogs, semi-permanent. Things like podcasts live on forever; despite the fact that my Stephen King podcast is currently on hiatus, I still see thousands of downloads each month.
So when you’re working out strategies for social media, keep in mind that each tool will have its own sense of time. Why advertise for Mother’s Day when people will still be hitting that note in November? Key your messages to take into account the shelf life of the medium.
(This is post number seven in an ongoing series of posts aimed at providing practical advice for small businesspeople in the areas of public relations, communications and social media. If you ever need help with your small business… why not get in touch?)
(PS: Sorry for the late post; I should have pre-written for the Friday, but I didn’t, and I was driving to Boston yesterday. With a quick stop here.)
The phrase “the tyranny of the app” seemed to come up out of nowhere as we talked about creativity and the way people learn.
It was a minor epiphany, or so it seemed to me at the time. And I do think it actually has a little impact, so I’m going to expand on it here.
The backstory: while I’m one of three boys in my family, I was fairly distant in age from my brother — six and 12 years. So in some ways I was an only child. And what did I REALLLY love when I was a kid? Lego (or Legos, as I referred to them then).
Back then (the 1970s), Lego blocks were … blocks. There was the occasional curved piece. But most of them were slaves to the 90 degree angle. Squares, rectangles. Flat ones for foundations, bricks for building, long ones that joined structures together or served as wings… When I got one of these:
I was done. That was IT. The world had provided a great gift to me (or at least my parents had).
The point of Lego in those times was to build things. I can remember getting small kits of things that made model helicopters or the like. But most of the time, it was to create a microcosm. A world, a building, a place. And it came out of my brain.
And as I watched kids put the kits together, the idea wasn’t to create a world, to create; it was to replicate the picture on the box.
What does this have to do with the “tyranny of the app?”
We have two ways of learning, two ways of interacting. We can create, or we can complete. We can follow a plan, or we can make a plan. We can build according to our own vision and desire, or we can take the instructions we’re given and complete them.
Either way, we make something. It’s up to you to decide which way of making something is more significant, more important. Better.
Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about escaping the tyranny of the app.
Yesterday was an uncharacteristically big day for me in terms of keeping an eye on sports.
Here in Ottawa, some friends were running in the Ottawa Marathon, so I wanted to know how they did (PS: WOO Karen!) In Indianapolis, one of my favorite drivers, Dario Franchitti, won a thrilling Indianapolis 500 victory. In Monte Carlo, the classic Monaco Grand Prix was won by Mark Webber.
But most important of all for me: young Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria, BC, won the Giro d’Italia. Ryder is the first Canadian cyclist to win a “Grand Tour”, as races like the Giro are called. Ever. To this cyclist, the accomplishment is superhuman. In three weeks, riders travel the equivalent of Vancouver to Sault Ste. Marie (or, if you’re an American, from the TransAmerica Tower in San Francisco to Harpo Studios in Chicago.) Along the way, they ride some incredibly difficult climbs, with gradients that can average over 10% and peak over 20% (think bicycling up flights of stairs). At the end of each day, the sprinters push their bikes up to over 40 mph and jostle their way to the ribbon.
And cyclists do this day after day (in the Giro and the Tour de France, there are two rest days in the three weeks of riding), sometimes after falling. Remember this from last year’s Tour de France?
The second rider falling was named Johnny Hoogeland. He went upside-down into barbed wire. He got 33 stitches. After he finished the day’s race! And then he finished the tour – 12 more days of riding. With 33 stitches.
My point is: cycling is a tough sport, an incredible feat of athleticism. In Europe, it’s also a massive sporting event. The budget for the Tour de France in 2009 was $140M US. 15 million spectators see the Tour pass by them, and it’s estimated that spectators spend more than $50M US. It’s broadcast worldwide, and there are 3.5 BILLION television watchers.
But in North America, it’s an extremely niche sport, even after Lance Armstrong. Most of my friends are casual observers of cycling at best. When I went to my local pasta shop yesterday, I suggested they do a Ryder special to celebrate the victory. I might as well have suggested a “Red Planet” special to celebrate the existence of Mars.
What’s all this cycling crap mean, anyway? What’s my point? Well, I have two.
When you’re doing social media work for your business, you need to have an intimate knowledge of your context, and your culture. If you’re selling baby clothes online, then don’t talk about Maxim magazine. If your chosen community is marathoners, don’t talk about swimming.
How do you figure out what to talk about? What matters?
Step one: LISTEN. To understand your audience, your community, your market, LISTEN to them before your start talking.
Step two: CONVERSE. Don’t pitch. Don’t sell. CONVERSE. Talk to people about what they do, talk to people about what’s happening in the interest that you share.
Just because you care deeply about something doesn’t mean your friends, your customers, or your community automatically does. Test the waters. Understand the culture of your community. Understand the context of your business. You don’t make the rules. The community does.
Except in this case, where I got to talk about Ryder Hesjedal.
It’s not hard to find evidence that video is a huge part of social media life, and that it can have massive impact on businesses. There are tons of case studies, from Caine’s Arcade to “Will it Blend?” to Dynomighty to “The man your man could smell like.”
All this buzz may have you thinking you need to use video for your small business. I don’t want to tell you NOT to, but video is a tough nut to crack at the best of times. So before you go and buy a camera or hire the local Cecil B. deMille, think about the following. First, before you start a video initiative:
- Where does this fit into your overall marketing and communications strategy? (If you have one. You DO have one, right?)
- Sure, everything in the world has a camera in it that can be used to shoot video, and computers come with free video editing programs. But that doesn’t mean that your smartphone and off-the-shelf computer will make quality images and videos.
- Whether you’re hiring someone to do production or going full DIY, ALLOW FOR TIME. Yes, it takes only a few minutes to upload a video to Youtube. But it’s all the steps BEFORE the upload that take time.
- The tools don’t help you tell stories. Telling stories via video is not always easy, and it takes a particular kind of thinking. If you can’t afford someone to help you with the process of prepping for a video production, then practice on your own time. Turn your vacation videos into development opportunities before you do a business video.
Once you’ve made a video, your work is done? NO WAY. You still have lots of work left to do.
- Tag and categorize your videos on YouTube or on whatever video host you use.
- Track your stats. See that little icon next to the view count? If you click on that for any Youtube video, you’ll see lots of statistical information. USE IT.
- Share your videos and integrate them into your other marketing and communications work. See that Share button in the screenshot? USE IT to embed your video on your website, and encourage others to do the same. Have a promotional strategy in place for your video BEFORE you upload it.
(This is post number six in an ongoing series of posts aimed at providing practical advice for small businesspeople in the areas of public relations, communications and social media. If you ever need help with your small business… why not get in touch?)
I am so tired of hearing about how people who Tweet are engaging their audiences. In fact, many don’t actually engage but just push out info in a one-way channel. And how do they deal with anyone who challenges them? Easy, they just use that trusty block feature. In my book, you take the good with the bad and that’s the way actual Twitter engagement happens.
My esteemed correspondent was talking about Twitter, but his point can be made for any social media tool that you choose to use in your business, and it’s a valid one. My advice goes like this:
- You can use social media tools in a one-way, push-information-out fashion. There’s no “Ten Commandments”, no matter who tells you there are. You can do it. It might even be the right thing to do for your business.Even social media leaders like Seth Godin push out material without offering people the opportunity to engage in conversation. If you visit his blog, you’ll see lots of Facebook “likes”, lots of “plusses” on Google Plus, but … no comments. He doesn’t allow ‘em. Look at Godin’s Twitter page. It’s simply a retweet of his blog posts. He follows nobody, he doesn’t engage.
I could argue he’s doing it wrong. But he’s an award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author, with 170,000 people following his Twitter feed. And I’m … me.
- You can also choose to use social media tools such as Twitter in a more conversational way. That implies that you listen to other people’s conversations about your company or organization, and you engage where appropriate. For example, look at Southwest Airlines on Twitter. Their corporate account chats with customers, commiserates, solves problems, and runs contests.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both strategies. And perhaps unfortunately, I’m not able to give you a magic formula that tells you whether your organization should go one-way or two-way when it comes to online communication.
What I would argue is that if you’re going to use a social media tool, you should make clear HOW you’re using it. If people expect responses, then you need to respond. If you aren’t prepared to respond, then set out some ground rules and make people aware of them. Don’t tell people you’re “engaging” with them if you’re really just shouting at them.
My correspondent described one of one of the worst ways of dealing with negative voices in social media: blocking all challengers or critics. Next week, I’ll describe how to triage comments your organization receives and decide when and how to respond.
If your small business needs some help choosing from the nearly infinite set of social media options, get in touch. I’d be happy to help. I love finding ways of helping small business that are affordable and effective for you and profitable and rewarding for me.
I was unplugging a phone charger this morning, when I looked at the outlet. What did I see?
One of those. Except mine was full. Then I realized that most of my outlets, instead of just having two things plugged into them, had one of these plugged in, so I could plug SIX things into them. In some cases, one of those might be a power bar, meaning there might be 11 separate things going into that electrical outlet (by the way, did you know that the standard electrical outlet, with its three prongs, is called a NEMA 5? Specifically a NEMA 5-15R? Me either). And thankfully, the picture of a truly epic (and stupid) cable octopus is NOT taken in my house.
It made me think about two things. First, the houses we live in. We still build houses with the standard two-outlet (called a twin-duplex) configuration. Most new houses have more outlets than older houses. But they’re still the same old outlets.
I think the difficulty with managing electrical outlets in older houses can tell us a lot about the change in the way we live.So we maximize their use for our computers, stereos, home theatres, routers, portable hard drives, telephone chargers, battery chargers, and on and on and on… If you live in an old house, you know just how hard it can be to manage electrical outlets. And that’s especially important for folks like me, who spend a lot of their work time in their house. My home office has a lot of devices plugged in. My computer might draw 50 watts, not like a clothes dryer or my electric oven. But put all those little drains together, and we’re using lots of power.
The second thing it made me think of was my brain. Huh? Think of the devices in your life. The phone, the tablet, the laptop, the digital camera the desktop, the TV, the iPod, the stereo, the clock radio, the landline, the office phone… Think of all the things we plug in, and that we can’t imagine living without. Each of those is as much a drain on our consciousness as their corded counterpart on is on our electrical service.
And with each new media creation — radio, gramophone, telephone, mobile phone, television, internet — we’ve increased the demand in our brain for places to plug all this stuff in. But we still have two eyes, and two ears, just like those old outlets. How much power drain do we experience from the multitasking?
I’m not saying UNPLUG EVERYTHING! here. Most of the time, I love the things that all this connectivity has allowed us to do. Social media, increased opportunities for individuals and businesses to communicate with each other and share information and content: that is good, and powerful .
But it’s worth thinking about a bit more conscious management of the cables and plugs that bind our devices to our houses — and our brain.