Numbers

From a recent issue of The Week comes two interesting stats:

Just 30 percent of Americans aged 17 to 24 are eligible to become soldiers, according to the US Army. The remaining 70 percent of young people are either too obese or are disqualified because they have a criminal history or didn’t finish high school. – Stars and Stripes

From 2000 to 2013, advertising revenue for America’s newspapers fell $40 billion — from $63.5 billion to $23 billion, according to a new report by the Brookings Foundation. At the same time, Google’s ad revenue has soared to $57.9 billion. – The Atlantic.com

Times, they are a changin’.

The Feedback Machine

Why blog? Why maintain Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. accounts? Obvious answers to these questions would be, “To express myself”, “To keep in touch with friends and family”, “To find interesting people in the world and see what they’re doing” and probably dozens more. One that may not come immediately to mind is, “To build an awesome feedback machine!” From Fred Wilson’s excellent AVC blog:

But blogging is another helpful tool in reminding yourself that you are not all that. Marc Andreessen said as much in his excellent NY Magazine interview which was published yesterday. I loved the whole interview but I particularly loved this bit:

So how do you, Marc Andreessen, make sure that you are hearing honest feedback?

Every morning, I wake up and several dozen people have explained to me in detail how I’m an idiot on Twitter, which is actually fairly helpful.

Do they ever convince you?

They definitely keep me on my toes, and we’ll see if they’re able to convince me. I mean, part of it is, I love arguing.

No, really?

The big thing about Twitter for me is it’s just more people to argue with.

Keeping someone on his or her toes, making them rethink their beliefs, making them argue them, is as Marc says “fairly helpful.” That’s an understatement. It is very very helpful.

That’s the thing I love about the comments here at AVC. I appreciate the folks who call bullshit on me. There are many but Brandon, Andy, and Larry are common naysayers. They may come across as argumentative, but arguing is, as Marc points out, useful.

It’s easy to focus on the toxic elements of online commenting, but Wilson’s approach is far more useful. Sure some comments are so imbecilic that you simply have to ignore them, but for the most part if you pay attention to what people are sharing with you on your various social media platforms you’ll get a pretty good picture of how you’re being perceived.

As the married father of three young adults I don’t lack for sources of honest feedback, but when I stop to think about it I’ve learned a LOT from folks who comment on Facebook or reply to something I’ve written here on the blog or shared on Twitter. You can rest assured that if I have a moment of stupidity, and I often do, that I’ll be called out on it and that’s most helpful. In fact it often prevents me from doing it at home which spares me plenty of grief.

Tweet This, Facebook That

SmallBusiness.com has an interesting post about how the uses of Facebook, Twitter and Reddit differ depending on the subject:

  • Platform usage is context-dependent. Entertainment events are more likely to be discussed on Facebook, while sporting events (and live news events), like the NFL Kickoff or the Napa earthquake, are more likely to be discussed on Twitter. Reddit tends to be the dominant platform for political and international discussion.
  • Timing is crucial when posting to certain social networks. Facebook tends to be the dominant platform to discuss and publish stories 2-3 weeks around an event; but Twitter and Reddit are more reactive, dominating 2 to 3 days around an event.
  • Within 24 hours of a major event, 85% of sharing occurs on mobile devices.

This next one was very interesting:

  • News events like the Napa earthquake and the Ferguson riots are highly localized with sharing. Missouri saw a 7.7x surge during the riots.

Back in the early days of blogging it became trendy to “liveblog” at conferences. Basically attendees would send out rapid fire blog posts sharing what they were seeing, hearing and learning. While it still happens that action has been largely replaced by people Tweeting their experiences and using a hashtag so that their observations will be group with other attendees’ in a stream of conference-related information that any Twitter user can see. That’s why every conference now has a #ID printed on everything so that everyone knows which one to use and they can generate some real-time conversation.

Facebook is also used at conferences but usually it’s people posting photos, letting people know they’re there, or at the end of the day saying things like “Had a great day at JonCon. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s session on excellent enemas!” It’s not nearly as spontaneous and, to use a real world analogy, is the conference yearbook vs. Twitter being the conference newspaper.

What does all that mean? If you’re using social media for business, church, non-profit, school, club or whatever, you need to make sure you utilize the proper social media channel at the right time. If you don’t you’ll be whistling in the wind.

Everything Old is New Again

A local news station just ran a story about people being freaked out by something they got in the mail. That something was a direct mail promotion from a car dealer that consisted of a fake news item with a “personalized” post-it note on it saying “Check it out” and signed J. Here’s the deal: that direct mail tactic has been around at least since the mid-90s and I know that because I actually worked on one of those campaigns for a publishing company back then. Heck, we stole the idea from a magazine publisher and I’m pretty sure every human in America received a mailer like that from one company or another around that time.

I’m not sure what irks me more about this story; the lame local take on ‘Rossen Reports’ style of TV news which is itself the dog crap on the bottom of the journalism shoe, or the fact that I’m getting long enough in the tooth that I can remember marketing tactics that are so old that the whippersnappers think it’s something new.

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Recessionary Snips

From the Atlantic Wire:

A study published in September found that half a million fewer babies were born thanks to the Great Recession, and now new research points to one factor that could have contributed to the decrease—about half a million more men had vasectomies between 2007 and 2009.

Researchers from Cornell Weill Medical College presented their study at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual meeting. They analyzed data from nearly 9,000 men who responded to the National Survey for Family Growth between 2006 and 2010 and found that before the recession, 3.9 percent of men had had a vasectomy; after the recession it was up to 4.4 percent. That comes out to 150,000 to 180,000 extra vasectomies per year.

Anyone who’s had kids will tell you there’s a simple relationship between kids and money: more kids usually equals less money. Given how hard times got during the recession the rise in snip jobs doesn’t come as too much of a surprise.