Discover more from The Reputation Algorithm
Summer Marketing Reading List
Digital Marketing News: Advertising, Artificial Intelligence, Social Media, Society & MUSIC MONDAY!
I’ve been meaning to put together a list of books that have influenced me over the course of my communications career. So don’t expect this to be a list recent or current books but rather books that remain relevant today and are worth checking out, especially if you are in the morning of your career.
11 Books About Strategic Communications
Without further ado, these are my book recommendations
11. Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and the Science of Customer Centricity
By Avinash Kaushik
This book is not so much a hands-on book about analytics so much as it is an explanation about how to think about analytics. It is more strategy than execution, so it remains relevant today despite the fact it was published in 2009. Amazon
10. Spoiling for a Fight: Third Party Politics in America
By Micah L. Sifry
The only reason I’m citing this one is because I’m quoted in it (page 34)!🤣 Amazon
9. The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America
By Daniel J. Boorstin
Boorstin is one of my favorite historians. This book, published in 1962, introduced the notion of a psuedo-event as one that is created specifically in order to be reported upon. Think press conferences and political debates. The book also provides my favorite definition of celebrity as “a person who is known for his well-knownness.”
Extrapolate the ideas from this book to 2023 and you will see pseudo-events everywhere you look! Amazon
8. The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual
By Doc Searls, David Weinberger, Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Jake McKee, J.P. Rangaswami, and David Gillmore
This is the founding document of the social media age. Amazon
7. The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web is Changing What We Read and How We Think
By Eli Pariser
This was really the first book that raised the red flag of the potential damage content silos can do to society. Published in 2011, it predicted the internet echo chambers we have since all become familiar with. Amazon
6. Emotionomics: Leverage Emotion for Business Success
By Dan Hill
This book examines human emotions and how they can be measured to reveal how a given audience responds to your marketing communications. Amazon
The Reputation Algorithm is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
5. The Hero and The Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes
By Carol Pearson and Margaret Mark
This book explores the use of archetypes as cultural shortcuts to brand marketing. It is the book that led me to a deep dive in understanding archetypes and it’s a rabbit hole from which I’ve yet to emerge, as you’ll see reflected in these subsequent titles. Amazon
4. The Hero With a Thousand Faces
By Joseph Campbell
Building on Carl Jung’s insight into archetypes, Campbell outlines the “hero’s journey” through a detailed examination of the world’s mythic traditions. Campbell’s work heavily influenced George Lucas’ creation of the Star Wars universe. Amazon
3. The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories
By Christopher Booker
This book surveys a wide range of literature and film and breaks them down into seven basic plots that all stories adhere to, identifies the archetypal characters therein and defines their roles in propelling a plot forward and how each interact with the other. Amazon
2. Generations: The History of America’s Future. 1584 to 2069
By William Strauss and Neil Howe
I read this book in the mid-2000s and it fundamentally reshaped how I think about strategic communications specifically and history broadly. The authors posit a theory of cycles in history being driven by generational dynamics, that history is shaped by generations reacting to one another. Their explanation of a generation’s personality formation, or archetype, informs my understanding of how to—or not to—communicate with a given generation.
Written in 1992, this book predicted the current crisis our society is experiencing. Amazon
1. The Fourth Turning Is Here: What the Seasons of History Tell Us about How and When This Crisis Will End
By Neil Howe
Published this year, Howe’s book builds on he and Strauss’ theory of generational cycles to examine the crisis we now all find ourselves in, how it might end, and what our collective future might look like once it is resolved. I’m currently about 200 pages into it. Amazon
What books do you recommend?
Digital Marketing News
Slate - Twitter is making companies advertise to keep check marks and users pay for Twitter to be less crappy. The business model is hostage-taking. - Musk could have responded to these self-induced shortfalls by fixing them. Instead he has made a different bet: that with X in such rough shape, he can position his business in such a way that the only way for people to improve their experience is to give Musk more money. Most tech companies want to turn users into addicts; Musk is trying to take hostages.
A brilliant political ad, created by the Marjorie, Taylor and Greene agency:
Ars Technica - ChatGPT’s new personalization feature could save users a lot of time - OpenAI announced a new beta feature for ChatGPT that allows users to provide custom instructions that the chatbot will consider with every submission. The goal is to prevent users from having to repeat common instructions between chat sessions.
The feature is currently available in beta for ChatGPT Plus subscription members, but OpenAI says it will extend availability to all users over the coming weeks.
This is an interesting and potentially very useful new feature that I haven’t yet experimented with. It occurs to me, though, that an obvious benefit to OpenAI is the collection of user profile data.
TechCrunch - Stability AI releases its latest image-generating model, Stable Diffusion XL 1.0 - Stable Diffusion XL 1.0 is improved in the area of text generation, in addition. While many of the best text-to-image models struggle to generate images with legible logos, much less calligraphy or fonts, Stable Diffusion XL 1.0 is capable of “advanced” text generation and legibility, Penna says.
And, as reported by SiliconAngle and VentureBeat, Stable Diffusion XL 1.0 supports inpainting (reconstructing missing parts of an image), outpainting (extending existing images) and “image-to-image” prompts — meaning users can input an image and add some text prompts to create more detailed variations of that picture. Moreover, the model understands complicated, multi-part instructions given in short prompts, whereas previous Stable Diffusion models needed longer text prompts.
I’m looking forward to spending more time experimenting with Stable Diffusion. You can try it out at DreamStudio.
Insider - I've worked as a data analyst at companies like Amazon for 20 years. Using ChatGPT for data analytics is a risky move — AI can't do the work we do. - To ensure decision quality, leaders must avoid putting the cart before the horse when it comes to AI tools and models such as ChatGPT.
They must first focus on fully understanding the challenges within their analytics environments and resolve those challenges before building automated tools on top of these environments. Failure to do so will almost certainly result in poor decisions, corporate and financial risk, and erosion of trust by employees and customers.
It’s a good warning. I give you the phrase: Garbage in, garbage out.
The Prof G Pod - Understanding AI’s Threats and Opportunities — with Mo Gawdat - Mo Gawdat, the former Chief Business Officer of Google [X] and an expert on happiness, joins Scott to discuss the need to control our response to AI, how this technology is impacting society, and the four major threats he’s identified. We also hear about Mo’s transition out of tech to focus on happiness.
Very sobering conversation. It aligns with my belief that the backlash to AI will be a growning hunger for obviously human-created content. But also that the system in which AI operates presents the prisoner’s dilema at every turn. Maybe I should have a section called AI Jeremiad.
Newsweek - AI is the Scariest Beast Ever Created, Says Sci-Fi Writer Bruce Sterling - Tech manias are pretty common now, because they're easily spread through social media. Even the most farfetched NFT South Sea Bubble can pay off, and get market traction, if the rumor-boosters cash out early enough. Today's AI craze is like other online crazes, with the important difference that the people building it are also on social media.
It's not just the suckers on Facebook and Twitter, it's the construction technicians feverishly busy on GitHub and Discord, where coders socially share their software and their business plans. AI techniques and platforms—which might have been carefully guarded Big Tech secrets—have been boldly thrown open as "open-source," with the hope of faster tech development. So there's a Mardi Gras parading toward that heat and light, and those AIs are being built by mobs of volunteers at fantastic speed.
I firmly believe that one of the things that makes me good at my profession is my love of science fiction. I devoured my brother’s scifi novels by Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and Herbert as a kid. So when a contemporary science fiction writer like Sterling comments on technology, I pay attention.
- How AI Is Reshaping Hollywood - The convergence of accessible digital cameras, professional editing software, and easy-to-use 3D modelling, animation and VFX tools, combined with the emergence of new media platforms like YouTube, has created a fertile ground for aspiring filmmakers to master the craft, experiment and share their stories. We have creators such as Corridor Digital, RocketJump and many more entering the stage, pushing what is possible with these new tools. We have also seen passion projects such as Astartes, created by a single talented person over many years, being created and becoming viral successes.
Maybe we will see a new explosion of creativity, thanks to AI-powered tools that make movie-making more accessible. This new wave of filmmakers will shoot their movies on phones, enhance them with AI-powered tools and then upload them on YouTube or TikTok for millions of people to experience them.
This echoes my post from last week:
Harvard Business Review - Threads Foreshadows a Big — and Surprising — Shift in Social Media - The launch of Threads signals an important…shift to protocol-based social media [that] will have major implications for both users and companies. If this trend continues, users will increasingly have a unified social media identity across different applications, and the flexibility to switch platforms without having to start over each time. For companies, a protocol model would catalyze third-party developer ecosystems to innovate on top of social media content and network architecture, contributing to broader innovation in the space…Today’s top social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are designed as “walled gardens” — self-contained ecosystems that lock users’ data inside the platform, and tightly control access. Although a user can export the posts, photos, and other content they’ve created, there’s no easy mechanism to migrate it elsewhere (other than re-uploading it manually, piece by piece). Moreover, there’s typically no way to extract reputation information such as “likes” or network information such as the follow-graph, which means that whenever users join a new platform, they have to re-establish their following and reputation. Power users — those with the most curated content feeds, and/or the biggest audiences — are particularly disincentivized from switching.
This is encouraging but my advice from the beginning of social media remains the same: Don’t build your audience on leased platforms; acquire your audience from leased platforms.
This is one of the primary reasons I decided to publish this newsletter on Substack: Substack allows publishers to export the email lists of thier subscribers, so I can maintain a direct connection with y’all if I want to move to a different newsletter provider.
A note of caution: While I agree with the benefits of portable social media, this article is written by a reasearcher at az16crypto, which is a property of Andreessen Horowitz, one of the primary cheerleaders of the failed Web3/NFT/Crypto craze. This appears to be a pivot to selling the glories of blockchain in a different context. Read the article with that in mind.
Slate - The Great Clout Reset - Jill Filipovic, a lawyer and journalist with a substantial 160,000 total followers, is staring down the same ultimatum. She, like so many other Twitter success stories, built her empire all by herself. Filipovic didn’t incubate in legacy magazines or host prime-time cable news desks. Instead she composed a vast litany of freelance blogs and thoughtful tweets, and planted them in cyberspace. Before long, she had rallied a fandom that was eager to purchase her books and listen to her podcasts; her authority was evidenced by the numbers on her timeline. None of this would’ve been possible without Twitter’s open terrain, but in a more cloistered, more decentralized social media environment, she does worry her particular media fiefdom could face foreclosure.
Again, see above. ☝️
New York Times - What Happened When 15 of Twitter’s Top Celebrities Joined Threads - We compiled a list of 15 of some of the most-followed celebrities and high-profile figures on Twitter who joined Threads, including Katy Perry, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Gates, Britney Spears, Shakira and Oprah Winfrey. Then we compared their activity on Twitter with their activity on Threads every day since July 5, when Threads was released. We also looked at what they did on Instagram, which is owned by Meta and developed Threads.
The idea was to see which social platform kept the celebrities — who either declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests for comment — the most active. What we found is just an early snapshot, but it may provide some clues to where Threads is headed.
Interesting but this has no bearing on whether or not Threads will succeed, which is how the Times has framed this story.
The Atlantic - The Wrath of Goodreads - The terrible power of Goodreads is an open secret in the publishing industry. The review site, which Amazon bought in 2013, can shape the conversation around a book or an author, both positively and negatively. Today’s ostensible word-of-mouth hits are more usually created online, either via Goodreads or social networks such as Instagram and TikTok.
Publishers know how important these dynamics are, and so they send out advance reading copies, or ARCs, not just to independent booksellers who might stock a title, but also to influencers who might make content about it. “There’s an assumption that if you receive an ARC that you will post about it,” Traci Thomas, host of the literary podcast The Stacks, told me—“whether that’s on your Goodreads, on your Instagram, on your TikTok, tell other people in your bookstore, or whatever. And so that’s how it ends up that there’s so many reviews of a book that’s not out yet.”
That matters because viral campaigns target unpublished books all the time. What tends to happen is that one influential voice on Instagram or TikTok deems a book to be “problematic,” and then dozens of that person’s followers head over to Goodreads to make the writer’s offense more widely known. Authors who reply to these attacks risk making the situation worse.
Heard mentality supercharged by network effects. It’s a problem.
by - How Facebook does (and doesn’t) shape our political views - …it seems clear that the design of Facebook does influence what people see, and may shift their beliefs over time. These studies cover a relatively short period — during which, I would note, the company had enacted “break the glass” measures designed to show people higher-quality news — and even still there was cause for concern. (In the Journal’s story, Phelan observed that “compared to liberals, politically conservative users were far more siloed in their news sources, driven in part by algorithmic processes, and especially apparent on Facebook’s Pages and Groups.”)
Perhaps most importantly, these studies don’t seek to measure how Facebook and other social networks have reshaped our politics more generally. It’s inarguable that politicians campaign and govern differently now than they did before they could use Facebook and other networks to broadcast their views to the masses. Social media changes how news gets written, how headlines are crafted, how news gets distributed, and how we discuss it. It’s possible that the most profound effects of social networks on democracy lie somewhere in this mix of factors — and the studies released today only really gesture at them.
Widespread media literacy is more important than it’s ever been.
Forbes - TikTok Has Pushed Chinese Propaganda Ads To Millions Across Europe - TikTok has served up a flood of ads from Chinese state propaganda outlets to millions of Europeans in recent months, according to a new ad library published by the company on July 20. The promotions range in topic from defenses of Chinese Covid-19 lockdowns to adorable cats playing on the Great Wall of China to efforts to recast the country's Xinjiang region — where it has persecuted and detained more than one million mostly Muslim Uyghurs — as a spectacular tourist destination.
An analysis of the ad library conducted by Forbes showed that as of Wednesday, July 26, more than 1,000 ads from Chinese state media outlets like People’s Daily and CGTN have run on the platform since October 2022. They have been served to millions of users across Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom. The ad library does not yet display data on ads presented to users in the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries outside of Europe.
So concerns about state Chinese influence over TikTok are overblown?
Washington Post - Pro-China influence campaign infiltrates U.S. news websites - The Shanghai-based firm — Shanghai Yihuan Cultural Communication Co., Ltd., which goes by the brand name Haixun Press — says on its website that it can plant news articles globally, and can boost the content by providing paid inauthentic social media likes on platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The articles — which have appeared in financial news subdomains of at least 32 websites including the Arizona Republic and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — include Chinese state media stories and scathing critiques of U.S. policymakers, academics and others critical of Beijing.
I refer you to:
I was working at corporate headquarters at Dayton Hudson when Sinead O’Connor made the infamous appearance on Saturday Night Live during which she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II. A colleage was outraged. I shrugged my shoulders; I’d never bought into religious beliefs.
O’Connor was a staple of my college years. I loved her music, her beautiful voice, and her evocative presence. I did not know at that time the complicity of the Catholic Church in the coverup of child sexual abuse by priests. The woman was the very definition of courage: Doing the right thing despite knowing risks and consequences. That moment derailed her career and made her a punchline for years.
So, today on Music Monday, as a Minnesota boy, I must share the song Prince wrote and which O’Connor covered, launching her stardom:
I had a chance to see The Eagles (along with Fleetwood Mac and Pablo Cruise) when I was a kid. The concert featured two iconic albums of the 1970s: Hotel California and Rumors. I did not have the money for the tickets but to this day it remains one of my bigges musical regrets. I’ve subsequently seen Fleetwood Mac several times and have tickets to see The Eagles this November.
Had I seen The Eagles in their heyday, I would’ve had the pleasure of seeing original co-founder of the band, Randy Meisner, who also died this week. Here he is singing lead on one of The Eagles many hits, Take It To The Limit:
Glorious Midjourney Mistakes
Check out these outtakes. Midjourney does seem to have a problem protraying natural-looking legs when they’re crossed. Also, weird things happen to legs when there are more than one person in the composition.