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internet Uncategorized

Online contests: stop selling your followers.

Savvy companies know the value of a meme. Viral advertising pays for itself, so marketers employ a variety of techniques to get their brands trending. The perfect celebrity endorsement. The quirky video. The well-managed controversy. Another sure-fire way to kick-start some buzz? Contests. Offer a sparkly prize, and require your fans to share your message in order to enter.

It’s not hard to find examples of this strategy in the wild:

https://twitter.com/ThatKiddKuda/status/588123329053200386

Of course, businesses sponsored contests long before the advent of social media. The difference? Social networks give marketers a direct line to customers’ eager eyeballs—through their Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds.

Stated plainly: when you pass along these companies’ “advert-contests,” you’re selling your friends. You’re bartering your followers’ attention for a raffle ticket. You’re exchanging your friends’ time for the chance to win a vacation (or a PlayStation, or a car). You’re saying to them, “I value even the possibility of free stuff more than I value you.”

Would you sell your friends’ phone numbers to a telemarketer? Or give their home addresses to a door-to-door salesperson for cash? Would you slip ad brochures under your friends’ windshield wipers, if it meant you might win the lottery? Chances are, these exchanges would make you queasy. Yet we enter online contests without a second thought. We don’t ask, “Is this appropriate? Do I want to leverage my friendships into a chance to win a toaster?”

Your social graph is an asset, and you’re free to spend it as you see fit. You can sell your friends to marketers. But don’t be surprised if that friend count takes a hit. For many (including me!), it’s an automatic unfollow.

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culture internet Uncategorized

CAPITAL LETTERS: the unforgiveable Internet sin

Curse out someone’s grandmother. Threaten to burn down their house. Spew slurs that would get you arrested anywhere else. On the Internet, just about anything goes. But there’s one thing you cannot do. One thing that will earn you sworn enemies and get you banned from the crudest of forums. YOU CANNOT TYPE IN ALL CAPS.

By all means, use bold weight. Use italic styling. Use asterisks or /slashes/. But don’t use ALL CAPS, or you’re clearly a frothing, misanthropic maniac. “Stop screaming!” others snap, hands pressed to virtual ears. “My eyes!” they weep, hiding their faces.

Can’t we redeem the CAPS LOCK key? Bold, italic, and asterisks all require multiple, laborious keystrokes (“I have to hit ‘b’ AND ‘Control’?! Ugh!”). But good ol’ CAPS LOCK requires just one quick tap. Can’t we celebrate its gloriously convenient ability to EMPHASIZE and DECLARE?

Categories
culture

CAPITAL LETTERS: the unforgivable Internet sin

Curse out someone’s grandmother. Threaten to burn down their house. Spew slurs that would get you arrested anywhere else. On the Internet, just about anything goes. But there’s one thing you cannot do. One thing that will earn you sworn enemies and get you banned from the crudest of forums. YOU CANNOT TYPE IN ALL CAPS.

By all means, use bold weight. Use italic styling. Use asterisks or /slashes/. But don’t use ALL CAPS, or you’re clearly a frothing, misanthropic maniac. “Stop screaming!” others snap, hands pressed to virtual ears. “My eyes!” they weep, hiding their faces.

Can’t we redeem the CAPS LOCK key? Bold, italic, and asterisks all require multiple, laborious keystrokes (“I have to hit ‘b’ AND ‘Control’?! Ugh!”). But good ol’ CAPS LOCK requires just one quick tap. Can’t we celebrate its gloriously convenient ability to EMPHASIZE and DECLARE?