Why am I not surprised that Facebook's top notch public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, pitched false stories claiming Google was invading people’s privacy? I am sad to say it, but that is the sorry state of American business ethics.
We live in a time when it's OK to sell homes to people who can't afford them. Lending freely and aggressively to unqualified borrowers who were doomed to foreclosure as the variable rates on their mortgages kicked upward. When it's hunky dory for these loans to be bundled and sold as bonds to both large and small investors. OK for the major bond rating firms to rate these bonds highly without really looking (wink, wink). For investment bankers to hawk these like used car salesmen. Except that these used car salesmen were making millions in bonuses. Then, when the hammer drops, they force -- not ask -- the taxpayer to prop up this house of cards.
We actually reward greed, error, mismanagement and, in some cases, out-and-out corruption. With few exceptions these fine folks are back in business, lined up like hogs at the feed trough. CEO pay is higher than ever, bonuses are back, and all is good at the country club. Except, of course, for the wrecked pension plans, the average American investor's life savings and the unemployed by the thousands.
What does this have to do with Idea Elevator? Everything. When we quit making money on real initiative, invention and production, we are done. When free enterprise only allows “members of the club” to really participate in the deals, we are in double trouble. When we reward those who screwed up it is deplorable. It is not al-Qaeda that frightens me, it’s the guys in the suits who are putting my country at risk.
Natural disasters seem to bring out the best in Americans. Of course, it's sometimes a pity that it takes earthquakes, tsunamis and other such devastation to get us to think about people other than ourselves, but I digress...
After the tornadoes that hit the southern U.S. in early April (April 14-16), a bleak picture was painted with more than 150 tornadoes touching down in a three-day period, dozens dead and thousands displaced from homes. Just a few weeks later (April 25 - 28), it got worse. More than 400 tornadoes were reported in the southern, midwest and eastern portions of the country, and early estimates put the damage near $5 billion. Hundreds were killed and hundreds more are still missing. However, with all this doom and gloom, there is a positive note on the horizon...and social media is playing a huge role.
Those interviewed after fires, tornadoes, floods, etc. are often heard to say they don't care about the house or the furniture...it's just "stuff." But the things they mourn are the pictures, family videos and birth/marriage certificates that chronicle and define the riche lives the person - and their ancestors - led up to the point of the storm. Enter, Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes.
This is just one of many such sites that have popped up in the last few days/weeks....and I'm sure more are to come. Take a look through the site at the photos, birth certificates, paychecks and other documents that have been lost and found...and returned to their rightful owners thanks to Facebook. If this isn't a brilliant use of this tool, I don't know what is.
As a side note...in case you hadn't heard, Japan has pledged 10 million yen ($125,000) worth of blankets and plastic sheets for people left destitute after the tornadoes. Love it!
"In a time of destruction, create something."
— Maxine Hong Kingston
Six weeks ago the VA State Police Department issued an AMBER Alert for a 12 year-old girl named Brittany Smith and posted pictures of the missing child on the VA State Police Facebook fan page. With the click of a button, photos of Brittany and a description of the suspected kidnapper and his vehicle were released to 24,000 people via Facebook. Five days later, a woman who had seen the Facebook link recognized the missing girl and the suspect outside a store in San Francisco and the child was safely returned to her father in VA.
Col. W. Steven Flaherty of the VA State Police Department stated that they “…wouldn't have had nearly as many leads to help them in this case had it not been for the sharing of this info among Facebook fans…Social media certainly enabled law enforcement to reach beyond our borders – to find the endangered child.”
Today, 53 AMBER alert pages have been created on Facebook (one for each state, Puerto Riceo, D.C., & the U.S. Virgin Islands) and with a half-billion Facebook users, the new pages signify an important expansion of the National AMBER Alert program.
I ran across this holiday website add on today, and I had to share. American Eagle's kids' division, called 77 kids, released this fun app within their site. You can create your own virtual paper snowflake using their click-to-cut scissors and then post it to your Facebook profile.
Of course, I had to give it a try. And then again. And again. And...
You start with your pre-folded paper ready to cut. Simply clicking around on the paper creates your pattern. Then, once your cutting is complete, you get to see your creation! You get to name your creation and make a wish on your snowflake. I wished for back-to-back showings of "Christmas Vacation" on television this weekend.
Of course, now we get into the marketing part...enter your information so they can put you in a contest. Who cares about that part, though...I get to share my snowflake on Facebook so all my friends can see how clever and creative I am!
I really do love this idea. Anything that gets people to your site - even if it's just to play with the app, helps create awareness. And, heck...I have kids, but I had never visited AE's kids section online before. But you can rest assured I have now.
Go check out this cool little app. It's fun and easy...even the kids will love it!
McDonald's was the first. Nearly two weeks ago they offered players of the popular Facebook game, Farmville, a branded and interactive "neighbor farm" where players could grow mustard and tomato seeds, earn McCafe consumables within the game, and even earn a big red hot air balloon, painted with the well-known golden arches, to place on their own farms.
In a similar move, this week Farmers Insurance will start offering virtual crop insurance to Farmville players. Placing the familiar silver Zeppelin on a player's farm insures against what you might call "virtual crop wither."
I love this idea of product placement within online interactive gaming. With more than 60 million players, Farmville is a great place for brands to get their name - in a fun and funny setting - placed before would-be customers.
I haven't heard reports yet about the cost of this type of product placement, but it can't be cheap with access to the millions of people currently playing Zynga (and other) games. What other brands make sense for Farmville placement? And what of the other Zynga games available on Facebook? Will we see Smith & Wesson do brand placement in Mafia Wars? Will Purina give PetVille a test run? What do you think about this new arena for advertisers?