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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

There’s a subreddit that is literally moving the stock market

(SOCIAL MEDIA) “You can’t change the world on Reddit all day.” Hm. Wanna bet? Some people do bet on whether a stock will rise or fall on Reddit.

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I don’t gamble. RIP to Mister Kenny Rogers, but this whole folding, holding, walking, running business is bad for my heart.

So playing the stock market is out for me, but apparently, you don’t even need an accountant to place your bets? The good, if foul mouthed, people of r/WSB aren’t just proving that, their playing and paying outside the traditional trading room is actually moving markets!

The subreddit, full name r/wallstreetbets, is 900,000 users strong, and boasts members that have been involved for years. They show off their stock market wins, losses, jokes, and opinions with varying levels of insight on all contributions.

Ordinarily, this’d just be an interesting collection of folks talking stock, but some of their threads have been shown to have an effect on share prices!

Users don’t just share what and how they’ve traded, they also gamble on what stock prices will do, without actually purchasing or selling any. Options contracts allow users to cast lots for less cash, while retaining the power to show actual purchases as hotter or colder and literally moving the temperature dial on them by word of mouth (and possibly pure conjecture) alone.

So I could hop in, put a marginal amount of money down, and say ‘Stock in Pressure Valve Company X is going to go up since more people are buying bidets in the wake of the Corona-based toilet paper hoarders, and they’re a key component’, then pepper in some off-color jokes about personal hygiene and everyone’s moms to blend in, and potentially wait to collect!

Neat.

After all, not only are surges of humans looking at these bets, web algorithms and cookie crawlers are staring too. It’s chatrooms of the dotcom boom all over again, except more chaotic, more gif-laden, and more monitored by outside forces.

It’d be sinister if the vibe of the sub wasn’t ‘Take literally nothing seriously’. Try discussing ‘chicken tendies’ in a boardroom sometime and see what I mean…although the tide on that might be shifting as well.

The one forbidden thing here is actually using the forum for insider trading. Directly profiting from the rumors gets users exiled, and gets users interacting with them booted too.

Serious business actually DOES occur, who would have thought? I wouldn’t have. Which is why I don’t gamble.

It’s easy to write Reddit off as just an online echo chamber slash cesspool, but when it comes down to it, the American Psychos of the world are on the same internet as the basement-dwellers, and the gap in financial literacy between the two ends of the spectrum is pulling a reverse Pangea.

We need to start recognizing that.

I’m still staying away from 4Chan though.

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Social Media

Facebook messenger gets a major facelift for speed

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook messenger has been around a loooooong time and has started to suffer from build bloat. So the new project lightspeed has redesigned it.

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If you’ve ever spent time in an old-school, family-built home, then you have an idea of what the inner workings of the Facebook Messenger app look like. It began with just a few rooms, but as the needs of the family grew, they kept adding on rooms wherever they fit until the layout no longer made sense and the home became a bloated maze.

Facebook Messenger has been suffering growing pains ever since it branched off into its own app in 2011. As the app became more popular developers worked to make it more engaging by adding new features like stickers, GIFS, and video calls.

At some point, they realized that the app had gotten away from them. The Facebook Messenger currently on your device has move 1.7 million lines of code. An app that big is slow and takes up a ton of valuable space on users devices, so the team knew it was time for a change. The project became internally as Project LightSpeed.

Facebook Messenger is a valuable app for connecting with friends, family, and business connections across the globe. You don’t even need to be Facebook friends with someone to message them making it an invaluable tool for long-distance teams or new business connections. In recent years, the app has begun to slow down making it vulnerable to competitors like WhatsApp.

The development team’s goal for the new app was to make it small, fast, and simple. In order to achieve this Facebook’s team of engineers has reduced the core code by 84%, taking the original 1.7 million lines of code down to 360,000. The new app will be about a quarter of the size of the current app.

A smaller app will load quicker and be more responsive, even if you’re using an older device or you’re in an area with lower connectivity. Current tests put the new app as being twice as fast as the current version, while keeping all the features that users have come to expect. Don’t worry, you will still be able to send your friends stickers, pictures, and obnoxious amounts of GIFs.

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Facebook wants to hear from you. Literally. For innocent reasons

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As if Facebook didn’t already own everything that is you, they are asking to hear you say a specific phrase for their new voice services.

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Good news, Facebook is now offering to pay you to let strangers listen to you! Well, kind of.

Users connect to Viewpoints – a different app under the Facebook umbrella – which allows them to participate in market research. In this case, participants repeat the phrase “Hey Portal, call,” followed by the name of a Facebook friend, and submit the recording. The whole ordeal is about five minutes, tops.

By finishing this and other tasks, participants can expect to make a grand total of…$5. It’s not much, but at least that’s a fancy cup of coffee for work you can do while waiting for the ads to finish on your TV show.

So, why is Facebook shelling out $5 for people to make voice recordings? Surprisingly, it’s because AI is not nearly as smart as we sometimes assume – especially when it comes to voice commands. There’s a whole host of things that go into how we communicate, like posture, tone and even slang, which can make understanding vocal commands a much bigger ordeal.

In order to make improvements to the system, it often requires teams of humans putting in the leg-work. This means studying the disconnect between humans and machines, as well as creating solutions. Unfortunately, this human touch is also the excuse companies like Amazon use to justify listening in on your conversations. (Sure, users can ‘opt out’ but come on. That’s not exactly something Amazon advertises.)

As more people grow aware of the potential breach of privacy that tech like Alexa or Portal can bring, however, it’s put pressure on companies to scale back. Which is where Facebook’s new paid survey comes in. Unlike an anonymous employee listening in on a random Portal conversation, this way participants opt in, rather than out, of having their information shared.

The academic in me is slightly skeptical. There’s only so far a paid study like this can get, especially when it comes to the nuances of voice command. The conspiracy theorist in me is also skeptical, mostly because although Facebook promises they won’t sell your information or publicly share it, there’s still plenty of nefarious things to be done. That said, at the end of the day, at least Facebook isn’t just swiping information off your Portal…and you even get some pocket change in exchange.

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