Monthly Archives: December 2007

Soldiers in Airports Part II

I always feel humbled, grateful, and somewhat awkward when I see soldiers at the airport. Is it appropriate to talk to them? Certainly I have nothing in common with their most immediate experience.

Sometimes it’s a man in his mid 40s. You see the wedding band and know that he has someone he’s leaving behind, maybe a full family. Sometimes it’s a woman in her mid 30s. She couldn’t wait to start a family, and they make it work with her deployment.

Sometimes their unit patches or their carry ons tell you whether they are career soldiers or reservists. Every single one of them is a normal person who struggles with family, money issues, life aspirations. And on top of everything else they have chosen to shoulder an incredible burden.

An hour ago, we went through security at Reagan. The woman in front of me has silver matching Tumi luggage, a French manicure, a designer down parka, and a bunch of fabulous accessories that I’ve never seen before but look really expensive. She’s really put herself together for this trip.

The kid 10 feet behind me is in his mid 20s, and the first thing I see is his cane, the second the digital camo pattern on his rucksack, and then his high and tight haircut. He’s probably infantry. His face is wrinkled and hints at

He’s so polite. The woman behind him is asking him all sorts of personal questions, the kind you sometimes don’t mind answering but can be irritating when you don’t feel like making small talk or are occupied with something else. “Yes, ma’am…”, “No ma’am” is how he begins all of his answers. Most of his answers are curt but still convey an enormous story. Why is he in Washington? He is being treated at Walter Reed. Where is he going? Oklahoma. How is it there? There’s 2 things you can never predict about Oklahoma, the people and the weather.

Is he excited to go home for the holiday? Yes. This is the first time he’s been home for Christmas in 5 years.

I’m speechless. I’m overwhelmed.

Facebook’s Silent Revolution with Sponsored Ads

Amid all the outcry over Beacon’s privacy concerns, (like having Facebook tell your wife what she’s getting for Christmas) the simple brilliance of Facebook’s on-site advertising is going unnoticed. Here’s a personal account of how Facebook’s relatively straightforward “sponsored messages” are finally making personalized word-of-mouth a reality.

In addition to banner ads, Facebook now features sponsored advertiser messages in their homepage feed. I rarely look at them, but like all ads you unconsciously take them in with a glance. I decided to click on one that was a new Apple video ad lampooning Vista. Funny and so true. As an XP user who purposely avoided Vista, the message was relevant. It wasn’t going to make me rush out to a Mac store, but I did click the integrated link to post it to my Facebook profile because surely someone else would think it was funny. What followed was a debate with three Facebook friends who were silent Mac advocates. My conversations with them also spurred 2 offline conversations (which I alluded to in a comment posting on that Facebook thread.)

Word-of-mouth on product review sites and bulletin boards is nothing new. Likewise, I could always get a word of mouth reco on any product when I ask someone in my offline (or online network). But this was different because I didn’t intend to start a conversation. I wasn’t seeking an opinion. In this case, the advertiser (Apple) planted the seed and what ensued was an awakening of mac advocates who were people in my closed personal/professional network; these are people I trust far more than any expert on CNET and more than the aggregated opinions of hundreds of reviewers on Amazon. I could also have received this video by email, but it wouldn’t have spurred the same interaction that a small Facebook Thread captured (and preserved) for all of my network to see. Not to mention the analytics that Facebook or Apple could get from this episode.

Here are some guesses at what an advertiser might be allowed to see in the analytics, in order of increasing value.

  • Impressions: number of people who might have seen the ad blurb because it was on their feed page
  • Video Views: Number of started/completed views of the mac commercial
  • Number of forwards to friends
  • Number of adds to profiles
  • Number of viral views (forwarded link views plus views after posting to profile)
  • Number of discussion comments
  • View actual discussion comments (tone/subject of the discussion)

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