Momentary Ego Boost

Usually our students let us know if our lectures are going long.  A few of them even start packing their stuff up in the last minute or two of class.  Today, I looked up at the clock and realized I had gone five minutes late and everyone was still paying attention.  I was impressed with their patience and also felt good that I had kept them interested in the material despite running late.  I quickly told them I was about done and finished up eight minutes late, giving my poor students only two minutes to make it to their next class.

As I was shutting down the computer, I noticed it was only 9:45 AM, opposed to the 9:58 AM displayed by the the clock on the rear wall.  One of our students had obviously adjusted the clock to ensure class was dismissed on time.  I’m not sure if it was aimed at me or someone earlier (I will keep him anonymous, but the person who teaches before me often runs late).  At any rate, I thought this was a great example of problem solving by one of our students.  And I no longer feel proud that the students were paying close attention despite the class running late…

Dead Cat, Vanity Followers, and Problems with Social Media

The number of followers a person or organization has on social media is a type of currency.  It theoretically shows how many people are influenced by your thoughts.  In practice, how reliable is this measure?

Rob Manuel, the editor of Us vs Th3m, paid just under $40 (25 pounds) to buy followers for a Twitter account for his dead cat.  Sure enough, he quickly had about 90,000 followers.  Based on Twitter analytics, exactly zero (0) of these 90,000 followers saw his first tweet.  He tried again and 340 people saw his tweet and he receive one comment from an obviously false account.  So these “followers” are most likely accounts who exist to inflate the number of followers for other people.

Once his article came out, Twitter closed the dead cat’s account.  (That’s a sentence I did not anticipate writing when I awoke this morning.)  However, this story shows both the growing importance of social media and the current trust and validity problems when it comes to the number of followers.

Global Alarmists Predict Meltdown, Get Stuck in Ice

When I was growing up, alarmists were talking about the coming global ice age.  Obviously that never came to pass and the experience has left me skeptical about dramatic claims.  Over the last two decades, some people have been claiming global warming is imminent and that Antarctica will melt away.  I’ve paid attention to their claims and look for articles that provide evidence that either supports or refutes their theories.  A recent example inadvertently epitomizes the risks of publicity.

Some climate change researchers were so convinced their global warming theories were correct, they  chartered a ship to measure the predicted melting ice in Antarctica.  Not only did they find evidence that ice was increasing – the opposite result forecast by their theories – but their ship got stuck in the ice.  From a marketing perspective, that is the worse possible outcome for their cause.  Not only did it provide visible evidence against their theories, but it made them international laughingstocks.

This is a great example of why publicity is risky.  You cannot always control the outcome and you certainly cannot control what others will write.  Good marketers will consider both what could go right and what could go wrong before engaging in risky behavior.