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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

Why Trump’s lawsuit against social media still matters

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Former President Trump snagged headlines for suing every large social media platform, and it has gone quiet, but it still deeply matters.

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It was splashed across headlines everywhere in July: Former President Trump filed a lawsuit against social media platforms that he claims unrightfully banned him during and after the fallout of the January 6th capitol riots. The headlines ran for about a week or so and then fell off the radar as other, fresher, just-as-juicy news headlines captured the media’s eye.

Many of us were left wondering what that was all about and if anything ever became of it. For even more of us, it probably passed out of our minds completely. Lack of public awareness for these things is common after the initial media blitz fades.

Lawsuits like these in the US can take months, if not years between newsworthy milestones. The most recent news I could find as of this publishing is from August 24, 2021, on Yahoo! News from the Washington Examiner discussing the Trump camp’s request for a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit.

This particular suit shouldn’t be left to fade from memory in the shadows though, and here’s why:

In the past few years, world powers have been reigning in regulations on social media and internet commerce. The US is actually a little behind the curve. Trump may have unwittingly given us a source of momentum to get with the times.

In the European Union, they have the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), widely acknowledged to be one of the toughest and most thorough privacy laws in the world, a bold title. China just passed its own pair of laws in the past four months: The Data Security Law, which took effect on Sept. 1, and The Personal Information Law, set to take effect November 1st. The pair is poised to give the GDPR a run for its money for that title.

Meanwhile, in the US, Congress has been occupied with other things and, while there are five bills that took aim at tech monopoly currently on the table and a few CEOs had to answer some questions, little actual movement or progress has been made on making similar privacy protections a thing in the United States.

Trump’s lawsuit, while labeled by many as a toothless public relations move, may actually create momentum needed to push regulation of tech and social media forward in the US. The merits of the case are weak and ultimately the legislation that would give it teeth doesn’t exist yet.

You can’t hold tech companies accountable to a standard that doesn’t properly exist in law.

However, high profile attention and someone willing to continue to make noise and bring attention back to the subject, one of Trump’s strongest talents, could be “just what the doctor ordered” to inspire Congress to make internet user rights and data privacy a priority in the US, finally.

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Even solopreneurs are doing live commerce online – it’s not just QVC’s game anymore

(SOCIAL MEDIA) When you think of watching a show and buying things in real time, it invokes thoughts of QVC, but social media video has changed all that.

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After the year everyone has had, one wouldn’t be remiss in thinking that humanity wants a break from live streaming. They would, however, be wrong: Live online commerce – a method of conversion first normalized in China – is the next evolution of the ubiquitous e-commerce experience, which means it’s something you’ll want on your radar.

Chinese company, Alibaba first live streamed on an e-commerce site in 2016, allowing buyers to watch, interact with, and buy from sellers from the comfort of their homes. In 2020, that same strategy netted Alibaba $7.5 billion in presale revenue – and it only took 30 minutes, according to McKinsey Digital.

But, though western audiences have proven a desire to be just as involved with sellers during the buying process, live commerce hasn’t taken off here the way it has elsewhere. If e-commerce merchants want to maximize their returns in the next few years, that needs to change.

McKinsey Digital points out a couple of different benefits for organizations using live commerce, the main one being an influx in traffic. Live streaming events break the buying experience mold, and consumers love being surprised. You can expect that prospective buyers who wouldn’t necessarily visit your store under normal circumstances would find value in attending a live event.

Live events also keep people on your site for longer, resulting in richer conversion opportunities.

The sense of urgency inherent in in-person shopping doesn’t always translate to online markets, but having a stream showing decreasing inventory or limited-availability items being sold inspires people to act expeditiously rather than sitting on a loaded cart–something that can kill an e-commerce conversion as quickly as it starts one.

There are a ton of different ways to incorporate live events into your e-commerce campaigns. Virtual auctions are popular, as are markets in which individual sellers take buyers through inventory. However, the live event could be tangentially related–or even just something impressive running in parallel with the sale–and still bring in a swell of revenue.

Screen fatigue is real, and there isn’t a true substitute for a brick-and-mortar experience when done correctly. But if you have an e-commerce shop that isn’t utilizing some form of live entertainment–even just to bring in new buyers–you’re going to want to try this strategy soon.

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LinkedIn is nixing Stories this month (LinkedIn had Stories!?)

(SOCIAL MEDIA) LinkedIn tried to be like the cool kids and launched “Stories,” but the video feature is being shelved and “reimagined.” Ok.

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Creating the next big thing is essential for social networks to stay relevant, continue growing, and avoid shutting down. Sometimes, this leads to businesses trying to ride along with the success of another app’s latest feature and creating their cloned version. While the logic of recreating something already working makes sense, the results aren’t universal.

This time around, LinkedIn is saying goodbye to its short-lived Snapchat-like video product, Stories. In a company post, LinkedIn says it’s removing its Stories experience by the end of September.

Why is LinkedIn retiring Stories?

According to a post by Senior Director of Product at LinkedIn Liz Li, “[LinkedIn] introduced Stories last year as a fun and casual way to share quick video updates.”

After some testing and feedback, they learned this is not what users wanted. Seems like they could have beta tested with users and heard the same thing, but I digress.

“In developing Stories, we assumed people wouldn’t want informal videos attached to their profile, and that ephemerality would reduce barriers that people feel about posting. Turns out, you want to create lasting videos that tell your professional story in a more personal way and that showcase both your personality and expertise,” said Li.

What does this mean for users?

Starting on September 30, 2021, users will no longer be able to create Stories for Pages. If you’ve already planned to have an image or video ads run in-between Stories, they will now appear on the LinkedIn feed instead. For those who used Campaign Manager to promote or sponsor a Story directly from your Page, the company says “these paid Stories will not appear in the LinkedIn feed”, and the user will need to recreate the ad in Campaign Manager.

What’s next for LinkedIn?

According to Li, LinkedIn is taking what it learned from its finding to “evolve the Stories format into a reimagined video experience across LinkedIn that’s even richer and more conversational.” It plans on doing so by using mixed media and the creative tools of Stories.

“As we reimagine what is next, we’re focusing on how we can provide you with a short-form, rich interactive video format that is unique to our platform and that better helps you reach and engage your audiences on LinkedIn. We’re always excited to try out new things and learn as we go, and will continue to share updates along the way,” the company said.

Although Stories didn’t work well for LinkedIn as they hoped, one thing is for sure. LinkedIn isn’t giving up on some form of interactive video, and we can only hope they “reimagine” something unique that keeps users coming back for more.

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