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Dilapidated buildings in Cuba

Sometimes creating a path for the future requires reconciling the past. The passing of mother earlier this year and a series of life events (COVID included) has triggered such an exercise. The following four mistakes

These mistakes are ordered in a manner that hopefully provides a coherent and interesting read. If there is one take-away, consider Shakespeare’s famous line from Hamlet: “To thine own self be true.” If you let others become your career guide, you may lose your path.

1) The Sound of My Silence

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Ship Harbor Trail

In recent years I stifled my voice. Writing this article seeks to remedy that. Many, many times in the past ten years, I restrained my tongue and pen. …


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Social media wrought a sea change in the journalism industry, changing form, delivery mechanism, and content style. To survive, many mastheads transformed into social media and digital outlets, creating new provocative content to foster engagement online and generate revenue. The end result has been polarizing, less factual, and in general, toxic for our society.

Many traditional print newspapers did not adapt in time and shuttered their doors, a process that continues to this day. Surviving mastheads adapted to the social format.

To do that, social network algorithms must be triggered to serve content, in turn causing content that’s engineered to create shares, comments, and replies. Clicks equate to page views, which equate to new readers, advertising dollars, and in the case of paywalled publications, new subscribers. …


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Nothing is clear with social media challenges.

Social media finds itself mired with polarized communities filled with distrust, hate, troll armies, fake media, relentless stalkerish ads, and government tracking of conversations, to name a few things. How did this happen?

People fell for the promise of connections via conversations with their peers and to a lesser extent the brands we love. Adrenalized by new social recognition, communities formed and engaged with each other. News stories broke, change movements arose, and newfound relationships happened.

When web 2.0 was booming with blogs and Twitter and Facebook were taking the technology world by storm, words like authenticity, two-way dialogue, and transparency dominated discussions about the trend. …


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Looking back at the past five years in marketing, perhaps the greatest mistake I have repeatedly made was simply coasting, going about each task the way I always have. Instead, I should have constantly sought out new tools that might help.

Machine learning advances in marketing technology have produced an app that can help or assist just about every task in my worklife. In essence, if you have a need, an AI-enabled app probably exists for that. …


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The cover art for my forthcoming book Welcome to the Machine: A Primer on AI for Marketers

A few folks asked me why I used a unicorn on the Welcome to the Machine cover to depict marketing AI. The answer is simple. While like others I think AI will become woven into the very fabric of most marketers day-to-day tasks, there is a clear and evident hype curve about marketing AI that will leave many marketers disappointed.

AI or perhaps better described as machine learning has already proliferated many small tasks in the marketing department. From chatbots and analytics alerts to suggestions in our various advertising, marketing and social media platforms, AI makes incremental improvements in outreach.

Machine learning will continue to become a part of our everyday marketing tasks. It will become so pervasive that one much-discussed fear — losing a job to AI — is partially true. …


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Maci Peterson of On Second Thought, won the Women Startup Challenge Pitch Competition 2015, and received a check for $50,000 from Women Who Tech, presented by Allyson Kapin9 (right). Image: Kristin Johnson, Women Who Tech

Interviewing really bright people about their perspective of the business has to be my favorite part of writing a book. For Welcome to the Machine, I decided to reach out to Allyson Kapin, Co-Founder of Rad Campaign and Founder of Women Who Tech, to discuss how AI will impact social media marketing. Here are her answers to my questions.

GL: What value does AI offer the social media world?

AK: One of the biggest opportunities AI offers the social media world is that it can tailor content based on what people search, like, and purchase in real-time. …


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The Hashtag Economy visualized at Social Media Marketing World

Looking back at the social media era, a two-way conversation was supposed to empower new freedom and break down traditional power structures. Seminal books like The Cluetrain Manifesto promised a world where consumers were empowered to fight back against advertisers.

Things started out well. New voices rose with blogs, and later social media accounts. They offered differing views from conventional magazines and news outlets. Brands like BP during the Deep Horizon gulf oil spill were suddenly held accountable with massive waves of backlash on Twitter. Brands quickly built out their own presences online to participate in (and hopefully mitigate) those conversations. …


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The AI future is uncertain, but generally, I think it will improve life.

I was one of the 900+ futurists interviewed for The Pew Research study released yesterday, “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humans.” Conducted with Elon University, the study revolved around AI and the 50th anniversary of the Internet.

The report asked three questions to find out if emerging algorithm-driven artificial intelligence (AI) continues to spread, will people be better off than they are today? Below are the exact questions asked, and my full answers. You can also see my cited quote on page 92 of the report.

PEW/ELON: Please sketch out a vision of how the human-machine/AI collaboration will function in 2030. Please consider giving an example of how a typical human-machine interaction will look and feel in a specific area, for instance, in the workplace, in family life, in a health care setting or in a learning environment.


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Taken at the Hirshhorn Museum’s new exhibit Pulse by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. The tiles are actually people’s fingerprints, and the lights pulse on and off with someone’s heartbeat. It makes me think of an AI examining all of our personal profiles.

If there is any aspect of marketing that can benefit from machine learning, it’s digital advertising. Digital advertising relies on wide swaths of online networks, retargeting empowered by cookies, and “precision” spends based on keyword performance and tightly-honed customer profiles.

When an ad achieves double-digit percentage rate of increased engagement, click-throughs or sales, brands celebrate a tremendous victory. Meanwhile, customers groan at the relentlessly targeted spam.

As each year of the Internet passes, the online medium becomes more intrusive. Online consumers are subjected to forced advertisement plays on YouTube, unrequested interstitials and offers for additional content and experiences, and pay-to-avoid advertising firewalls. The vast majority breeze by the ads, some not even seen, others willfully ignored. The overall click-through rate online is just 0.05 …


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AI has been making inroads in the videography and photography arenas. In both cases, media players and software developers are actively working to create machine-generated videos and images that will be accepted by the public.

Pure-play AI video programs have been attempted on several occasions, most recently by Xinhua, a Chinese state-run media company, and Sogou, a Beijing-based search engine. The two companies debuted Chinese and English speaking AI news anchors at this autumn’s World Internet Conference.

The bots’ movements are based on the gestures and facial expressions of real actors. However, the stilted-speaking awkwardly-moving AI bots were deemed creepy by recipients, a clear indicator that the companies had not yet created a minimum viable product (MVP). …

About

Geoff Livingston

Digital marketing pioneer, professor, consultant, and photographer. http://livingstoncampaigns.com

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