Monthly Archives: August 2011

Are You as Real as Vin Diesel?

Yes, I’m a Vin Diesel fan. Does it mean I love all of his movies? Of course not–I haven’t even seen all of them. Does it mean every one of his roles resonates with me? No, but I can’t say that about any actor (not even you, Daniel Day-Lewis). But for those of you dismissing Diesel based on “The Pacifier” and your dislike of movies about reckless driving, I say this: Have you seen “Find Me Guilty”? No? Well, then, go rent “Find Me Guilty.” Sidney Lumet was onto something: the man’s got range.

Plus he’s been working for years to make a movie about Hannibal of Carthage. As a history geek myself, I can tell you that you have to have paid attention to remember Hannibal of Carthage. I’m not sure why there haven’t already been movies made about him–he took on the Roman Republic. With elephants. But there haven’t been movies made. He’s obscure enough that most people have never heard of him. The fact that Vin Diesel is so committed to this idea tells me that Vin Diesel is interested in things, and that makes him interesting.

But what’s also interesting is the way he uses social media.

A couple of years ago, I became one of the 27 million fans of his Facebook page. And what’s clear about his page is this: The person posting on it? Is actually Vin Diesel. That’s not a publicist or an assistant.

He posts photos from the sets and from his travels. He shares memories from his childhood. He puts up photos and art created about him by his fans. And he clearly values those fans and their support. In Likeable Social Media, Dave Kerpen (CEO of Likeable Media) writes:

Why is Vin so popular on Facebook? In a word, it’s his authenticity. . . . Vin is real with people.

When it comes to public figures, we spend a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop. Someone’s always lying to us. So if you think about it, there’s something nice about the fact that Vin Diesel does his own Facebook stunts.

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Google+ Wants to Sell You Stuff

Henry Luce: Now, I want them all to meet my people who will write their true stories, Naturally these stories will appear in Life magazine under their own bylines: For example, “by Betty Grissom”, or “by Virgil I. Grisson”, or…
Gus Grissom: Gus!
Henry Luce: What was that?
Gus Grissom: Gus. Nobody calls me by… that other name.
Henry Luce: Gus? An astronaut named “Gus”? What’s your middle name?
Gus Grissom: Ivan.
Henry Luce: Ivan… ahem… well. Maybe, Gus isn’t so bad, might be something there… All right, all right. You can be Gus.

–“The Right Stuff”

Although maybe not on Google+. NPR reporter Andy Carvin sums up Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s stance thusly: “He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information.”

So who benefits from this “identity service”? Schmidt would say that you do, because if people have to post under their real names, then they won’t say nasty things about you on the Internet. But as venture capitalist Fred Wilson points out, there are some hefty benefits for Google as well–namely, that they are now better able to target ads.

To any of you who have Gmail, this isn’t new. But what are those “future products that leverage that information” that Schmidt mentioned? We don’t know yet. But apparently they require Google to know exactly who you are. And based on this Search Engine Watch post, that means you have to:

  • Use your full first and last name in a single language.
  • Put nicknames or pseudonyms in the Other Names field.
  • Avoid unusual characters in your name.
  • Your profile and name must represent one individual.
  • Don’t use the name of another individual.

Not only is there no room here for pseudonyms, there’s no room for common nicknames. Well, my Google account doesn’t use my full first name, so I guess I’m in violation of their policy. But how would they determine that without, say, Social Security records? (Aside from the fact that I’m stating it openly, that is.) I use “Kathy Lisiewicz” because that’s what people call me. It doesn’t make sense to use my full name on Google+ when I’m not using it anywhere else online.

So, how private do those Circles feel now?

Don’t Waste Your Customers’ Time

I regularly pass a bus stop sporting a poster for Lifetime’s new-ish series “Against the Wall.” It shows a woman wearing casual Friday clothing and a smirk, standing behind a table of taciturn uniformed men and a wistful Kathy Baker (who I mistook for Laurie Metcalf in the poster). The tagline for the series is “Her job is hitting too close to home.”

Here’s the thing: this poster tells me nothing about the series. Is she a defense attorney? A social worker? A crusading journalist? Are the men cops? Members of a European military force? Dog catchers? Is Kathy Baker their mother? Is she the social worker?

I finally went to Lifetime’s website to look. Not because I really want to know more about the series, but because I’m so annoyed by the generic, characterless campaign. “Against the Wall” could be about anything (for example, in 2010 it was about a high-tech game park), and the tagline sounds like it was created by a committee. Here’s what the site says:

“Against the Wall” follows the trials and tribulations of Abby Kowalski (Carpani), a single Chicago police officer who finally scores her dream job as a detective; but it turns out a nightmare for her close-knit family of cops. As the newest hire in the department’s Internal Affairs division, Abby suddenly finds herself at odds with her fellow officers, including her father and three brothers. She must now figure out how she can pursue her dream of being a detective while keeping her family intact.

So why not pick a title and develop a campaign that gives passersby some sort of hint? Call the show “A Question of Trust” (although maybe that’s a little too “Lifetime” even for Lifetime) and write a tagline like “Can she be loyal to her family…and the truth?” And maybe clip a badge to her belt, so that I have a clue what she does for a living.

What’s the lesson? Be distinctive. Let your customers know who you are, what you do, and why they should want to do business with you. Don’t make them work to figure it out. If you waste their time, they’ll be someone else’s customers. Watching some other network’s cop show.

Personal Brand: You Tell Me

Jim De Piante of the Voices on Project Management blog has a post on managing your personal brand.

Here’s the thing about branding: at its heart, your brand is how people perceive you. It’s not what you say you are, but what they say you are. So how you see yourself (or how you want to see yourself) is not necessarily the same as how others see you.

What do I see as key elements of my personal brand? Here’s a start:

1) I’ll get the job done. You have a problem, and I’ll help you solve it. You won’t have to worry about progress, because I’ll be on top of it, and I’ll let you know how things stand.

2) I’m great at asking for help when I need it. I don’t need (or want) handholding, but I know when I need support–and I’ll ask for it when I do. Your project is not going to take a nosedive because of my pride.

3) I pay attention to goals. A former boss told me that she could always count on me to know when something was good enough. She didn’t mean that I settled for adequacy; she meant that I knew what it took to complete the project and meet or exceed standards, and when a particular flourish might be cool–but would be too expensive, or too time-consuming, or inconsistent with the larger effort.

But that’s how I see myself, and that’s only part of the story. At least as important is this: How do you see me?

Social Media and Ethics

See No Evil
Social Media Club‘s motto is “If you get it, share it.”

With a motto that succinct–seriously, can anyone get to the heart of “social” more clearly and efficiently than that?–it’s not surprising that their new Code of Ethics is also clear and concise.

Take a look. Although the preamble specifies that this is for club members, it’s a really useful tool for all of us. And by “all of us,” I mean that statements like “Be honest and authentic in all communications” should be applied far beyond the Internet.

Does your organization have a Code of Ethics? If so, what is it? And if not, what should it be?

Photo by tim ellis, via Flickr.

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