Google’s China Syndrome

(originally posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010)

There’s been a little tug-of-war going on between (Google in China) and the Peoples’ Republic of China. The world’s most powerful search engine has been battling the government of the world’s most populous country over their requirement that must utilize content-censoring software that filters out any information the Chinese government finds objectionable.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, as the Chinese government has long practiced censorship, mainly to crack down on the spread of ideas relating to human rights. had complied for a while with this requirement (as have Microsoft’s Bing, and Apple Computers who restricted Chinese access to any apps related to the Dalai Lama), but recently they took a principled stand.

They moved to Hong Kong, just off the Chinese mainland but light years away in terms of freedom, in an attempt to conduct business openly. While they did in fact violate their agreement with the Chinese government, the move signals a core belief that information is out there, it is free, and it can’t be stopped.

Critics argue that’s business is dwarfed by China’s own search engine,, and that revenue from accounts for only 1% of Google’s global revenue, so it was easy for them to do this. Supporters of the move say that businesses with a conscience will win in the end.

So we want to know: should a company’s altruistic principles trump a country’s laws—even those that are condemned by the rest of the world? Did Google do the right thing, or are they merely thumbing their noses at the Chinese government?

Click Here For Your Nobel Peace Prize

(originally posted on Monday, March 15, 2010)

If you thought President Obama’s Nobel award was worthy of at least an eyebrow raise, then start paying attention to this year’s selection process right now. The Nobel Peace Prize committee in Norway is actually considering The Internet worthy of this prestigious and historic award.

Well, why not?

The Internet is known for many things. Some good: like e-commerce email, social media, and the expansion of human communications in general. Some bad: like hate groups, spam, cyber-stalking and other abuse.

But there is a case to be made that The Internet has made our lives better. Communications options between people are more abundant. The sharing of ideas between people is more efficient, and dynamic. And human expression has an entirely new portal of display, distribution, and data analytics.

People did not exist or live this way just 20 years ago. Even Hip Hop is older than The Internet in terms of its effect on human culture. But why the Nobel Peace Prize, as opposed to say, one of Dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel’s five other prizes?

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses.

The Internet is arguably all of these things. Social Media has no doubt increased fraternity, viral communications have exposed injustice and military corruption, and the plethora of information available throughout the web has provided the basis for healthy debate on how to bring nations and peoples together for peace. As The Internet expands its reach, it brings us all a little closer, and allows people to speak up more and be heard. Has it created world peace? No, but The Internet is responsible for mankind understanding itself better and what makes us all a little different from each other.

The Internet For Peace Group, the group that nominated The Internet for the Nobel Peace Prize, states that, “Contact with others has always been the most effective antidote against hatred and conflict. That's why the Internet is a tool for peace. That's why anyone who uses it can sow the seeds of non-violence. And that's why the next Nobel Peace Prize should go to the Net," the group wrote on its web site.

Sounds like a reasonable nomination. However, perhaps The Internet is more deserving of this recognition because of its ability to create peace on a smaller, more personal level. If you’ve ever had a maddening day and don’t know how to break the cycle of anger and frustration, just click this link and bookmark the “Instant Rimshot” to your browser: It instantly turns any peace disturbance into a stand-up comedy act, and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and de-pressurize any situation before it turns into a global disturbance.

Instant Rimshot is just one of the many wonderful things you’ll find on the World Wide Web, and one reason why we back the bid to award The Nobel Peace Prize to The Internet.

Social Media: Annoying Buzzword or Business Essential?

(originally posted on Friday, March 12, 2010)

"Marketing Trends Report 2010” from Anderson Analytics and the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) uncovered some interesting, if not confusing, trends amongst marketing executives.

The report found that 72% of respondents were planning a social media strategy this year, and that “Social Media ROI” was an “important buzzword” to 36% of respondents. This seems about right, considering how much of a marketing impact is being made with vehicles like Facebook and Twitter.

But the counterpoint to these numbers is very telling: 30% of the respondents also said that the term “social media” was “annoying”, with 15% being particularly tired of hearing the word “Twitter”. Even more confounding is that 41.9% of these same respondents claim to be increasing their spending on social media and “viral word of mouth”.

We think this all means that Social Media Marketing has evolved to the next stage of maturity. It’s no longer the new, hot technique. It is now accepted as being an essential consideration for any marketing program. Marketers have arrived at the “don’t tell me, show me” state of mind, and no longer need to be oversold on it. They expect it, and they expect it to work.

At The Weinstein Organization, we see Social Media as just one component to work with in a successful marketing campaign. It’s not a destination or a goal, but a channel of communications to reach your goal. No different than a BRE or an email or a PURL in theory. Social Media is where many prospects and customers are spending a lot of time, but it is not the only place to find them.

So when measuring your Social Media ROI, it needs to be in the context of your overall campaign ROI. What is the value of having fans or followers if they aren’t following you to the bottom line.

What Would Richard Sears Have Thought Of The Internet?

(originally posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2010)

Last night CNBC ran a terrific biography on Sears, Roebuck and Co. This all-American company began as the farmer’s alternative to the high prices at their local general store, by offering lower prices on everything they’d ever need from Sears’ 500-page mail order catalog.

The first Sears catalog was published in 1888 and by 1906 it was considered “the consumers bible”, selling everything from clothes, refrigerators, stoves and groceries, to sewing machines, bicycles, sporting goods, automobiles, and even houses.

Virtually everything a consumer needed could be found in the Sears catalog, and the mail-order business thrived for decades. Most people don’t realize that Sears, Roebuck and Company didn’t open up their first brick-and-mortar store until 1925, by which time they were already the largest retailer in the world.

What is fascinating to think about is that Sears’ business started out as sort of the “dot-com” of its era. No storefront, no salespeople, just a catalog that showed up in the mail that offered everything you could ever want. And the merchandise was shipped right to your door.

There was no internet, Facebook, Twitter, or viral videos—there wasn’t even radio when the first Sears catalog came out. But it was an immediate success because Richard Sears built his business on some very basic principals: offer the customer anything they could want, at a price they can afford, and make it easy for them to get their merchandise. Add to that a money back guarantee and the best possible customer service (via postal correspondence!), and Sears was able to retain customers and boost their loyalty for generations.

Sears didn’t start out with a brand concept or a media plan or a Twitter strategy. He started out with a great idea, and the business spread “virally” by word of mouth. From farmer to farmer, the catalog was borrowed, browsed, and ordered from. And every new order added a new family’s name and address to the Sears “database” (they called it a customer list back then—how quaint!).

The point we are making is this: e-commerce, social media, email, mobile apps, and viral videos are great, modern marketing vehicles. But they are not ideas. Everything Richard Sears did in the 1880s is exactly the same thing marketers should be doing today. The only difference is how the marketing message gets delivered.


(originally posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2010)

Statistics say most information is shared via Facebook. Interesting…we heard about this on Twitter.