Tag Archives: lesbian

A Special Thanksgiving Lesson – From Mobile Social Networking

Thanksgiving is a holiday that all Americans, regardless of culture, ethnicity, religion and politics seem to rally behind. I decided to put this notion to a test.

A couple of years ago, I decided to run a small social experiment during the Thanksgiving season. At the time I was CEO of UPOC. I invited members from several diverse groups into a special “What are you thankful for…?” – mobile chat group. The idea was to have everyone give a “shout out” of thanks. The experimental part of this mobile chat group was the source of the member groups that were invited.

These groups included: Christian Fundamentalists, Atheists, Communists, Hassidic Jews, Muslims, Anarchists, Right to Lifers, Republicans, Druids, Democrats, Red Sox Fans, Yankee Fans, Reform Jews, Blacks, Asians, Gays, Lesbians, Hispanics, Satanists, Israeli and Palestinian, Young and Old.

Yes! I even invited Red Sox fans!

I tried to get the most diverse group of individuals I could possibly imagine that had open chat profiles. In the end I invited about 5000 people and got about 500 to join.

In the week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, I was careful to hide the sources of the groups of the members.

Different Cultures, Religions, Ethnicity, Sexual Preferences, and Sports Affiliations. None of the differences were obvious, just the similarity of giving thanks.

Leading up to the holiday, the expressions of thanks were heart warming. Many gave thanks for Family, Friends and God. Some expressions of thanks were deeply personal including being thankful for a second chance with a loved one, being paroled from jail, having recovered from an illness, having the opportunity to see a loved one for the holiday, etc. The expressions of introspective appreciations knew no boundaries of culture. If you hid the chat handles from the messages you would have had a very difficult time identifying the group that a specific message had originated. It seems that people are really just people.

Everyone has their share of joy and “meshugas”

The second unexpected part of this experiment happened after the long Thanksgiving weekend. The expressions of thankfulness stopped and biases and bigotry emerged.

By the end of the week the word had gotten out to the participants who some of the other members of this group really were. That’s another side of social networking, its tough to keep secrets.

Right and Left Wingers began to spar, Fundamentalists started to try to save the Satanists, Hassidic Jews were condescending of Reform Jews- And the Red Sox and Yankees fans – it was just too ugly to repeat…

Stripped of their diverse background identifiers, people of vastly different cultures have very similar things to be thankful about.

Once the identity veil was lifted I was thankful that everyone in the group was in cyberspace and not really in the same physical room. I removed the group a week after Thanksgiving to avoid potential bloodshed.

Maybe there is something we all can learn from this social experiment in this season of Thanksgiving.

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Filed under Gaza, Hamas, Isarel, lesbian, mobile, politics, sex, Social Media, social networking, Thanksgiving

Is Facebook a Culture?

This afternoon I had an interesting debate with several colleagues about the roles and differences of brand and culture.

Can a product or service create a culture of customers?

Choose Wisely!

Choose Wisely!

While creating its own culture is the holy grail of a brand manager, it is rarely if ever achieved. A well executed brand will have consumers associating positive qualities about the product or service. The brand will elicit emotional reactions and creat a self-branded consumer image through these positive traits.

For example the Mercedes brand denotes luxury, class, status, sophistication and wealth. Mercedes has invested heavily to create their brand. Their customers feed off this image. If you own a Mercedes you are …..fill in the blank. This is, however, an example of good branding, not a culture.

By the way, what I associate most about Mercedes is a significantly different Brand image.

Mercedes Branding?

Mercedes Branding?

Culture is anthropological. It is a collection of societal norms, behaviors, customs, beliefs and values. Culture requires human contact, communication and structure.

Cultures exist at many different levels. Nations, religions, regions, teams, and companies all have cultures. Any collection of humans that interact on a regular basis will develop a culture. Successful companies understand the importance of corporate culture and attempt to manage the culture to support their product/service creation and delivery process. Conservative companies such as utilities or financial institutions will have a conservative culture to match their conservative brand. Standard offices, boring office art, formal business attire, strict hierarchy and low risk taking would be a typical culture for these brands.

alley1Emerging data service companies in Silicon Alley will likely be more progressive. Open office plans in a remodeled loft building, funky furniture, relaxed (but always stylish) office wear, and more ad-hoc communications would be the culture to support a more avant-garde Web product. Culture supports brand. Brand does not create external culture.

 

Companies that produce products have cultures, what they produce has a brand.

There is a hybrid concept put forth by marketing consultants called “Brand Culture”. My view is that this is pandering to brand managers who want their brand to become a culture. It also pads the wallets of those pandering consultants. Good market branding on their part!

Brands can however tap into cultural trends and capitalize and what exists in different cultural groups. Brands can even strengthen and reinforce cultural values.
Sometimes this connection between a brand and it cultural constituents is planned and intentional and sometimes it just happens. Axe body products have created products that tap into the young teen boys culture. This is a culture desperately wanting acceptance from the recently discovered females. axe_million_dollarcapitalizes on their culture, their values, their fears and desires and created a brand image that with one quick spritz of their product, woman would fall at their feet. This sounds almost too ridiculous to be taken seriously.  Yet, from personal experience with a relative recently in that demographic, I can definitely say that the brand tapped into this culture as they doused themselves in Axe on a daily basis. Of course after several years of using the product and not having it deliver on its brand promise, the fantasy and the use vanishes.

Brands do not create culture.  Brands can capitalize on existing cultural trends and can even enhance pre-existing cultures.

Source:www.gaywheels.com

Source:www.gaywheels.com

An unintentional example of a brand tapping into a culture is Subaru. In the 1990’s Subaru realized that their cars were very popular with Lesbians. Their brand had tapped into a culture without a targeted plan to do so. To Subaru’s credit they realized their strength in this segment and have attempted to enhance their brand as being gay-friendly. Subaru was a major corporate sponsor for the Showtime series, “The L word”.L Word

This discussion leads to the title of this blog and one of this afternoon’s debate points. Is Facebook a culture? Do people who use Facebook form a culture?

My answer is no. Facebook is a reflection of the There are many diverse cultures that exist in our world. If you use Facebook try this exercise. List all of the cultures that you belong to outside of Facebook. My list would include: My immediate family, my extended family, my local friends, my life long friends, business associates, my religion, high school friends, college friends, etc. Each of these groups has a somewhat unique culture that is further encompassed by a New York Culture and an American culture. We live in many different cultural environments with some dominating others depending on any particular situation.

Do you have your list?

Log into Facebook and compare your Facebook network to your existing cultural groups. How many total strangers have you really met on Facebook that are outside of your pre-existing cultural groups? Do you associate Facebook membership at the same level as your religion? Your nationality? Your family?

Facebook is a service that is branded with qualities of worldwide reach, connections, communications, simplicity, etc. It may serve to connect existing cultures, strengthen and extend others, but a culture onto itself? Nope.

If you can think of a product or service that has manufactured and maintained an external culture that would stand shoulder to shoulder with any anthological culture, please post them in the comments of this blog.

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Filed under advertising, facebook, gay, holy grail, lesbian, mercedes, mobile, New York, subaru