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Lessons from Lexus’ “offensive” tweet about introverts

A recent tweet from the Lexus marketing department sent some tweeps into an fury. There is value in being offensive AND in being offended – let us examine both.

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Lexus stepped in it on Twitter

Want attention? Be offensive. Or perhaps even easier, be offended. Pick a fight. It works better than anything else.

Remember when you were in high school and a fight broke out in the hallway? What did you do? Two things:

1- You ran as quickly as possible to watch (unless you were the one rule follower who found the nearest teacher and ruined it for the rest of us).
2- You gossiped about it for the rest of the day.

Drama, drama, drama

We love drama. We are drawn to it. We can’t stop talking about it. Want proof? Ask yourself how in the world more than eight people watch the Kardashians or Jersey Shore or whatever is stupid and yet popular right now.

This attraction isn’t new, but there is something distinctly different about how it draws our attention today – the amount of information available to consume. In 2008, people consumed three times as much information as people in 1968. And that was five years ago (or 25 years in internet time)! I don’t know about you, but the difference in my consumption rate from 2008 to today is like the difference between me having wine with dinner and going on a frat party beer bender.

What you must know when picking a fight:

The consequences matter to us as individuals and even more to those of us whose job it is to get people to pay attention to particular things- brands, people, ideas. Here’s what you need to know when you approach this:

The more information we consume, the harder it is to get and keep our attention. Enter the value of offense. Want to get people’s attention? Offend someone. Unfortunately, we have very little control over the random nature of what will actually offend the right person to gain the traction being sought. Plus- despite the mantra of ‘all attention is good attention’- sometimes that just isn’t true. The more direct route? Be offended- as Susan Cain so effectively did toward Lexus, causing this huge uproar in the first place.

This works today more than ever because we have become suckers of irrelevancy. This isn’t just my opinion. This is according to science (Stanford Professor, Clifford Nass to be precise). The more information we consume, the less time we have to process it, to think about it, to analyze it. The result? We end up talking about random crap that doesn’t matter, and ignoring stuff that really does.

The good news for you who want to pursue the ‘be offended’ route to getting the attention of the masses- it’s really easy to do in a world that only has 140 characters. Tell me if you are offended by the following paragraph:

Some people are prone to speak less, to be less likely to exhibit risky behavior, to be the center of attention. This is perfectly okay. However, what if you want to change that? You might want to step out of your comfort zone. You want to get noticed. One way to accomplish this is to buy a flashy car. That would get you noticed. That would make you stand out… of course, only when you want to, because it’s okay for you to be more reserved.

That took a lot of words, but I’m confident I found a way to speak about introverts making a choice to demonstrate extroverted behavior without offending anyone.

On Twitter, here’s how that could translate. “Introverted? That can be changed.”

Now, we are offended

The reality is that words are merely symbols used to communicate ideas. Words like ‘introvert’ have many layers of meaning. Lexus probably meant it as ‘someone who tends to be quiet, to not stand out.’ Susan Cain made it about 50 percent of the population’s core identity. Lexus has since responded, saying “Introverts, Extroverts, we LOVE you all!!!” but most will only remember the initial tweet, innocent or not.

Sidebar: Does anyone else find it completely hilarious that people are threatening to not buy the most well respected car on the market because of a tweet one person in the marketing department sent? Personally, my car buying choice is going to be based on the issues that actually matter – like whether the car has air conditioned seats.

Being offended by this statement is ridiculous, but it’s the world we live in. When you’ve got 140 characters, its easy to turn a phrase into something offensive. And it’s the easiest way to rise above the noise. So here’s to being offended.

Curt Steinhorst loves attention. More specifically, he loves understanding attention. How it works. Why it matters. How to get it. As someone who personally deals with ADD, he overcame the unique distractions that today’s technology creates to start a Communications Consultancy, The Promentum Group, and Speakers Bureau, Promentum Speakers, both of which he runs today. Curt’s expertise and communication style has led to more than 75 speaking engagements in the last year to organizations such as GM, Raytheon, Naval Academy, Cadillac, and World Presidents’ Organization.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Chris Johnson

    September 24, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Also, people that are offended are not likely to be able to be customers of Lexus.

  2. rolandestrada

    September 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    This just goes to show that we have become a nation of whiny little wimps. Anyone that was offended by that tweet is a loser. How’s that for for offending people.

  3. Pingback: Turns out a lot of people are in between introverted and extroverted - The American Genius

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Instagram for Kids: Do kids really need social media that young?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Instagram for Kids is a terrible idea that we’ll have to contend in the not-so-distant future as social media becomes more prevalent in our lives.

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Young girl playing phone, exploring Instagram for Kids

As a Facebook company, Instagram is used to pushing the envelope, and not always in a good way. One of their most recent initiatives, dubbed “Instagram for Kids”, offers pre-teens the opportunity to use a parent-controlled Instagram version—but global criticism is already mounting.

Instagram has a 13-and-up policy that restricts pre-teen kids from signing up for the app (in theory), but Instagram for Kids would allow younger users to share and interact with photos without the pressure of ads and inappropriate content (again, in theory). The goal behind a social media app for 12-and-unders is curious, given that acceptable teen social media use already starts at, arguably, a younger age than is responsible.

According to Instagram, though, their motivation for the app is simply to reduce access to harmful aspects of the web without instilling FOMO in younger children: “Kids are already online, and want to connect with their family and friends, have fun, and learn. We want to help them do that in a safe and age-appropriate way, and find practical solutions to the ongoing industry problem of kids lying about their age to access apps.”

Instagram also promises to “consult with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates to inform [the app experience].”

That’s all fine in—and I cannot stress this enough—theory, but several members of the original internal discussion about this version of Instagram acknowledged that existing Instagram users who are under the age of 13 probably won’t switch over to the new platform, making Instagram for Kids obsolete for any illicit users. That leaves only one conclusion: That Instagram for Kids is for a substantially younger audience.

It’s difficult to find a morally upright justification for creating a social media app for, say, 8-year-olds. Parent control or not, the potential for data collection, early technology addiction, and breaches of privacy is very real. Add to that the fact that the children who are likely targeted by this app can’t exactly give informed consent for their information to be shared (not that 13-year-olds can, either, but that’s a different thing), and it starts to look pretty shady.

Instagram is already tangentially responsible for things like false marketing, eating disorders, and mental health decline in otherwise healthy adults. Adding pre-teens to that list is not only irresponsible—it’s morally bankrupt. Please keep your kids off of apps like this.

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Reels: Why Instagram can’t compete with TikTok… yet?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The future for Instagram Reels is uncertain, since even Instagram has acknowledge that TikTok is far ahead of them, but what does it mean for their future?

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Phone camera on stand in foreground with two women filming for TikTok or Instagram reels in the background

If you’re a TikTok user, chances are you’ve scoffed at Instagram’s attempt to compete with the hype. Yes, I’m referring to the Reels feature.

In an attempt to step in and absorb all the TikTok user run-off in August, when Trump announced the TikTok ban, Instagram launched Reels. Short, catchy and sharable clips, Reels are almost exactly like TikTok videos – but are they catching on?

In an interview with The Verge’s “Decoder” podcast, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri says that he isn’t yet happy with Reels, stating that TikTok is still “way ahead”. While Reels is growing in terms of shared content and consumed content, it’s not nearly where Instagram hoped it would be by this point. Perhaps this is because TikTok is still alive and well. Or perhaps there’s something else to it.

It’s interesting to note that some of the most popular Reels on Instagram are simply reposted TikToks. This poses the question: Is Instagram’s Reels simply a channel where the ‘cream of the crop’ TikTok videos can get posted in a second location and exposed to a new audience, or is it actually a platform for creators?

Mosseri also hints at some sort of consolidation across Instagram’s video features (i.e., IGTV, in-post videos, Reels). Without being entirely sure what that will look like, I’m already skeptical – is this all just another example of Facebook (via Instagram) trying to hold a monopoly on the social media sphere?

My opinion? As long as TikTok is still in operation, it will reign supreme. While the two apps have a ton of overlap, they are simply different cultural spaces. TikTok is a trend-heavy, meta-humor creative space that relies on engagement between users through effect, duets, and other TikTok-exclusive features.

Adversely, Reels is a space for Instagramming millennials and Gen Xers who might be choosing to opt out of TikTok (which has sort of become the cultural epicenter for the younger Gen Zers). The feature might also be used by Insta influencers and creators of all ages who toggle between the two apps (i.e., reposting your viral TikTok on Instagram to gain more traction).

Whatever the reason is for engaging in Reels, I’m fully certain the feature will never amount to the success of TikTok – but I guess we’ll have to wait to see what Instagram has in store for us next.

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How this influencer gained 26k followers during the pandemic

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Becoming an influencer on social media can seem appealing, but it’s not easy. Check out this influencer’s journey and her rise during the pandemic.

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Influencer planning her social media posts.

Meet Carey McDermott – a 28-year-old Boston native – more widely known by her Instagram handle @subjectively_hot. Within a few months, since March, McDermott has accrued a whopping 26k following, and has successfully built her brand around activism, cheeky observations of day-to-day bullshit, and her evident hotness.

“It mostly started as a quarantine project.” Said McDermott, who was furloughed from her job at the start of shelter-in-place. “I had a lot of free time and I wanted to do an Instagram for a while so I thought, ‘I might as well take some pictures of myself.’”

To get started McDermott, used a lot of hashtags relevant to her particular niche to get noticed, and would follow other influencers that used similar hashtags.

“I definitely built a little online community of women, and we all still talk to each other a lot.”

Like many popular influencers, McDermott engages with her audience as much as possible. She is sure to like or reply to positive comments on her pictures, which makes followers feel special and seen, and subsequently more likely to follow and continue following her account. She also relies heavily on some of Instagram’s more interactive features.

When asked why she thinks she has been able to build and retain such a large base in just a few months, McDermott explained: “I think people like my [Instagram] Stories because I do a lot of polls and ask fun questions for people to answer, and then I repost them”.

But it’s not just fun and games for @subjectively_hot – Carey wants to use her account to make some substantial bread.

“I’ve gotten a bunch of products gifted to me in exchange for unpaid ads and I’m hoping to expand that so I can get paid ads and sponsorships. But free products are nice!”

Additionally, McDermott was recently signed with the talent agency the btwn – a monumental achievement which she attributes to her influencer status.

“Having a large Instagram following gave me the confidence to reach out to a modeling brand. After they looked at my Instagram, they signed me without asking for any other pictures.”

To aspiring influencers, McDermott offers this advice:

“Find your niche. Find your brand. Find what makes you unique and be yourself – don’t act like what you think an influencer should act like. People respond to you being authentic and sharing your real life. And definitely find other people in similar niches as you and build connections with them.”

But McDermott also warns against diving too unilaterally into your niche, and stresses the importance of a unique, multi-dimensional online persona.

“[@subjectively_hot] is inherently a plus size account. But a lot of plus size Instagrams are just about being plus size, and are only like, “I’m confident and here’s my body”. I don’t want to post only about body positively all day, I want it to be about me and being hot.”

And you definitely can’t paint this girl in broad strokes. I personally find her online personality hilarious, self-aware, and brutally anti-patriarchal (she explicitly caters to all walks of life minus the straight cis men who, to her dismay, frequent her DMs with unsolicited advice, comments, and pictures). Her meme and TikTok curations are typically some of the silliest, most honest content I see that day and, as her handle suggests, her pictures never fail in their hotness value.

For McDermott, right now is about enjoying her newfound COVID-era celebrityhood. Her next steps for @subjectively_hot include getting paid ads and sponsorships, and figuring out the most effective way to monetize her brand. The recent spike in COVID-19 cases threaten her chances of returning to the place of her former employment in the hospitality industry.

With so many influencers on Instagram and other platforms, some might find it hard to cash in on their internet fame. But with a loyal fanbase addicted to her golden, inspiring personality, I think Carey will do just fine.

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