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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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Social Media

Facebook’s Hobbi app was a complete flop

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook seemingly has enough money to throw away projects and apps they know will fail. Hobbi is their most recent flop.

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Facebook failed Hobbi

Due to its abysmal underperformance on the App Store, Facebook is killing their new app, Hobbi, just months after its rollout in February.

Hobbi was the brainchild of Facebook’s New Product Experimentation Team, whose stated purpose is to rapidly ideate, build, and launch experimental new apps – then pull them if they aren’t successful.

Hobbi was designed to help users document their progress on their various personal projects and, well, hobbies. Complaints centered primarily on its threadbare feature offerings. Notably, Hobbi does not allow its users to browse the works of other creators through the app- it only packages media like photos and videos for sharing elsewhere.

A post on the Tech@Facebook blog states that they “expect many failures” from the NPE Team, suggesting that Hobbi was not necessarily intended to last. But you have to wonder… what is supposed to be the point of a tool like this?

Stories are a popular feature on most major social media websites, including Facebook itself. And Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) already allows its users to curate and group posts about whatever they want, including personal projects, hobbies and interests, through their story highlights.

So Facebook created a product that was already made redundant by their existing properties. What is experimental about that, exactly?

Hobbi originally drew comparisons to Pinterest. Both are like digital scrapbooks; Pinterest is a platform for content that inspires creativity, and Hobbi creates progress reports for creative undertakings.

One could also compare Hobbi to the underperforming video streaming platform, Quibi, which recently became infamous for its ostentatious ad campaign, aggressively flaunted celebrity cameos, and ultimately, its overwhelming failure.

Jeffery Katzenberg, Quibi cofounder of Disney and Dreamworks fame, blamed the coronavirus pandemic for Quibi’s flop – a questionable claim, considering just how much free time many have had to binge Netflix’s Tiger King during the lockdown.

The same could be said about Hobbi. People have been taking on projects like crazy in the time that has Hobbi been on the market. Quarantine cabin fever has us baking, crafting, painting, cleaning, and redecorating like never before. Yet Hobbi went nearly untouched.

Nobody used it because nobody needed it. Surely some cursory research would have demonstrated this?

One conclusion is that the app itself was the research – that Facebook’s NPE team isn’t really creating finished products, but rather testing the waters for potential new ones. (Could this framing be an elegant form of damage control, though? It’s easier to say “I meant to do that!” than it is to admit failure, especially in business.)

Still, creating throwaway apps in a bloated industry feels like cheating, whether it was meant for research purposes or not. There are plenty of indie app developers who create great tools with way less funding. Filling app marketplaces with lemons makes it harder for folks to find those gems.

Either way, hopefully we will see some original ideas coming from Facebook’s NPE Team moving forward, because this was clearly a disappointment.

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Can Twitter ever secure data privacy, like even once?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter releases private information affecting already hurting businesses, should this even be a surprise anymore? They have a history of privacy breaches.

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twitter privacy

Dear Twitter,

I don’t know if you’ve seen the news within the past two years, but Facebook’s been under continuous scrutiny for privacy malpractices that affected millions of its users, so unless your goal is to be the next social network to infringe upon our first amendment right to privacy, I suggest you GET IT TOGETHER!

Over the weekend, users, specifically businesses, realized their billing information was being stored in their browsers cache. This is devastating news for business owners who rely on Twitter to promote their product, or stay in touch with their customers, who over the recent months have already faced monumental challenges. It is hard as a business owner to not feel this is an intentional overreach of privacy.

In an age where we have actual robots to vacuum our floors, and 3D printing, I speak for the people when I say this is unacceptable.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has been caught privacy breaching. A little over a year ago, Twitter announced that they were fixing a bug, many weren’t even aware of, that released phone numbers, location, and other personal data. AND GET THIS, even those who selected the option to keep their information private were affected, so what the hell is the point of asking us our preference in the first place?!!!

What about the time that Twitter accounts could be highjacked by ISIS and used to spread propaganda? All because Twitter didn’t require an email confirmation for account access. Or what about when Twitter stored your passwords in plaintext instead of something easily more secure. Flaws like these show a distinct ability of Twitter to just half ass things; to make it work, but not think about how to keep the users safe.

Like I said in the beginning, get it together Twitter.

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Facebook’s Forecast wants ‘qualified’ predictions, but no one’s asking why

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is asking a bunch of so-called experts to chime in on what the future holds, but can we trust them with the information we’re giving them?

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Forecast app

These days, trolls don’t necessarily lurk beneath bridges in order to ensnare unsuspecting travelers. Instead, they hide out in the comment sections on social media posts, ready to incite wrath and stir up controversy with their incendiary remarks. Because Facebook knows how quickly reasonable discourse can quickly devolve thanks in part to these online trolls, they’ve made a move to establish intelligent discussions through their new “Forecast” app.

The premise of Forecast is fairly straightforward. Facebook has invited an assortment of so-called experts (whether they work in the medical field or academia, or some other field) to cast their vote on predictions about the future. Not only will they share their vote, though, they’ll also pitch in their own two cents about these predictions, sparking what is expected to be insightful and reasonable conversation about the topics.

However, while the premise is exciting (smart people! not basement dwellers! talking about serious stuff!), there’s more than a small amount of risk associated with Forecast. For starters, what exactly is Facebook planning on doing with all of this information that is being volunteered on their app? And secondly, are they going to take precautions to help prevent the spread of misinformation when these results are eventually published?

The fact is, Facebook is notorious for propagating and spreading misinformation. Now, I’m not blaming Facebook itself for this issue. Rather, the sheer volume of its user base inevitably leads to flame wars and dishonesty. You can’t spell “Fake News” with at least a couple of the same letters used in Facebook. Or something like that. The problem arises when people see the results of these polls, recognize that the information is being presented by these hand-picked experts, and then immediately takes them at face value.

It’s not so much that most people are simple minded or unable to think for themselves; rather, they’re primed to believe that the admittedly educated guesses from these experts are somehow better, smarter, than what would be presented to them by the average layperson. The bias is inherent in the selection process of who is and isn’t allowed to vote. By excluding everyday folks like you and me (I certainly wasn’t given an invite!), undue prestige may be attributed to these projections.

At the moment, many of these projections are silly bits of fluff. One question asks, “Will Tiger King on Netflix get a spinoff season?” Another one wonders, “Will Mulan debut on Disney+ at the same time as or instead of a theatrical release?” But other questions? Well, they’re a little more serious than that. And speculating on serious issues (such as COVID-19, or the presidential election) can lead to the spread of serious — and potentially dangerous — misinformation.

Facebook has implemented very strict guidelines about what types of questions are allowed and which ones are forbidden. That, at least, is a step in the right direction. It’s no secret that expectation can actually lead to the predicted outcomes, directly influencing actions and behaviors. While it’s too early to tell if Forecast will ever gain that much power, it undoubtedly puts us in a position of wondering if and when intervention may be necessary.

But I’ll be honest with you: I don’t exactly trust Facebook’s ability to put this cultivated information to good use. Sometimes a troll doesn’t have to be overtly provocative in order to be effective, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see someone in a position of power exploit the results of these polls to influence the public. It’ll be interesting to see if Forecast is still around in the next few years, but alas, there’s no option for me to submit my vote on that to find out.

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