The High Cost Of Integrity and Independence

Being RightSince returning from three and half weeks of business travel, for speaking, I’ve been in a somewhat contemplative state. I admit to having tuned out most of the ‘debt ceiling debate’ while on the road. Hopping from city to city, and country to country, in major chunks by car and plane, gives you quite the opportunity to be introspective.

At a relatively early age, I think most of us learn that life isn’t fair. Recently, I’ve become more aware of the plummeting value of integrity and ethics. I know… this is a wedding marketing blog. Somewhere along the line, I made the declaration that…

“…marketing is everything that touches the customer.’

In the wedding industry, it has become far more complicated than that. The interactive dance of bride-media-venue-vendor-et al has become a conglomeration of overreaching, on too many occasions.

Code words such as: “my bride” or “my couple” are mindless inferences that a single business has ownership of the bride or wedding couple and their decisions.

When someone says “I recommend them because they always follow our rules.”, it may be code for: “We don’t want anyone’s creativity interfering with our ability to get home in time for Saturday Night Live.”

“I’m not a public service, I have a business to run.” is code for: “I know I’m doing business with a jerk, but if it brings me business, I’m going to employ situational ethics.”

“The percentage we take for referring business is simply the cost of doing business.” is a ham-handed way of saying, “We narrow the field of leads for you, and if the value of business is worth it to, your business will happily pay it.” – Fair enough, but with the absence of transparency (revealing that percentage to the customer), I’m not sure if the policy passes the complete smell test.

I continue to look for fairness or reasonableness from time to time, but mostly find abuse of power, situational ethics, and lack of integrity.

You’d think I’d be used to it by now. Not so… I continually seek to do business with like-minded people.

How about you? Do you think about who (and what companies) you do business with? What bugs you? What makes you happy?

Share YOUR wisdom… and philosophy.

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Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Facebook On Fire: Sometimes the Best Reaction is Muted Reaction

Opinion, News Analysis, and Social Media 

facebook-on-fireFacebook is a lousy place for a group discussion. There are no debate or discussion guidelines. Reading a Facebook rant is like watching a coyote howl at the moon. Surely a message will be heard, but it’s likely misunderstood and won’t change anybody’s mind.

Depending on one’s vantage point, events and outcomes of the past week or so generated wildly different reactions. The biggest matter at hand was/is the SCOTUS Ruling on marriage equality.

“Facebook is the public square for the digital age, and thunderous array of posts, observations, and opinions has caused it to short-circuit.” ~ Andy Ebon

Forming Perspective

People see virtually everything through experience: Geography, neighborhood, country… the politics of our parents and relatives, the sophistication of our schools… the brands and products used in our household, music influence from an older sibling or friends… the religion practiced in one’s family, teachers who taught the process of critical thinking, dinner tables discussions which allowed for differences of opinion.

Enter, The Bell Curve

Facebook in FireIn any set of polling numbers, there tend to be 3-5 distinct segments of opinion. Using the simplest set of three opinions, there are two extremes. each with roughly 20%. The middle segment is the remaining 60%. The extreme opinions tend to be rock solid, whatever their reasoning.

The middle group is more likely to shift with discussion and debate. And somewhere along the line, a majority opinion is formed.

Don’t quibble about my suggest numbers. It could be 30% – 40% – 30%, but the personalities still apply. There is also another segment defined by frustration. In election and proposition politics, these people can become disenchanted and choose not vote.

Public Opinion is Evolutionary and Slow-Changing

,,, and the politicians are usually the last to figure it out.

  • in 1920, our country was almost 150 years old, when women were ‘granted the right to vote.’ (19th Amendment) In five years, celebration of women voting will reach one full century. Many developed countries, worldwide, have elected Prime Ministers and Presidents, yet the USA has barely tapped the potential of its female citizenry for the Senate, Congress, and Presidency.
  • In 1969, came the tipping point for the America’s gay community. “The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community  against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of ManhattanNew York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United Statessource Wikipedia
  • And this past week, marriage equality became the law of the land in the United States, 48 years after interracial marriage became a reality.

A Key Historical Note

The United States was built on two key platforms (among others): Freedom of Religion and the separation of Church and State. (note: see this detailed explanation of Freedom of Religion in the United States).

Extreme Facebook

Facebook in FireThese last few days Facebook has been a torrent of aggressive pontificating, in part lacking specific knowledge of the events and symbols of history, that led up to these landmark changes.

It’s reasonable to understand the celebration and jubilation of oppressed citizens as blue skies began to appear.

It’s also fair that people who hold longstanding religious practices or skewed social outlooks immediately shout ‘Hell, no!’. 

“The fact that the Supreme Court has decided (in a 5-4 vote)  for reasons of law, with the current beliefs of 60% of the population does not wave a magic wand over the remaining 40%. Getting more closely aligned will take more time.” 

~ Andy Ebon

Facebook: In the present tense

How about calling a timeout on projecting extreme opinions on Social Media? You know… let’s all take a chill pill… for maybe a week or two. Don’t make awkward attempts at sexual humor or people who are different to you. What’s funny to you may scare away some of your closest friends in business.

People who were MIA during the run-up to the marriage equality by SCOTUS are experiencing backlash, being labeled as bandwagon jumpers and opportunists; suddenly the alleged low-hanging fruit in a windfall LGBTQ marriages.

The nature of Social Media begs us to pop off. Let your thoughts marinate… then edit them, and see what social media platform they belong on, IF ANY.

Facebook in FireSearch for Empathy

It wouldn’t hurt any of us to develop a feel for empathy; understanding another person or group’s perspective through their eyes and context.

Combining empathy with being somewhat slower to react to events, large or small, makes for better collaboration, decisions, and middle ground.

Hope to meet up with you on the middle ground of reaction… It’s a calmer, and more thoughtful place.

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Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Love Wins – SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Marriage Equality

love winsToday is the tipping point for establishing Marriage Equality across all 50 states. Today, I shall not be writing about the business ramifications of this watershed moment, preferring to share some small personal perspective.

Jubilation and Relief

Those are the emotions I feel. I have been quietly ‘on-edge’ for days awaiting the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality and a number of other key cases.

I was sipping coffee at about 7:00am at my local hangout. The climate was normal… the usual suspects chattering about the price of who-knows-what, and complaining about a laundry list of other alleged important issues.

Me? I was not overly confident about a favorable SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality. It’s not as though I was waiting to disappointed. Rather, the vote would not be a landslide, and I was ready for anything at anytime.

… and then various news feeds on my iPhone blew up with ‘Breaking News’ alerts of the 5-4 SCOTUS ruling. I looked around the room for someone to hug, to share the moment. They all seemed somewhere else; a different planet perhaps.

San Francisco or Supreme Court Steps?

A Star Trek moment would have been nice. ‘Scotty… Beam me back to San Francisco’. I imagined watching the pure joy of so many longtime wedding industry friends.

love wins
WeddingWire Team at SCOTUS, June 26, 2015

And then, ‘Scotty… Beam me to the Supreme Court steps in Washington D.C.’ A representative team from WeddingWire gathered there, to ‘represent’ and soak in the earliest notice of the ruling.

After those fleeting ‘Star Trek moments’, I simply headed for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to see what the various reactions were.

In Retrospect

Despite living and working in the wedding industry in a diverse city, San Francisco, it took me far too long to appreciate the uneven application of equality across-the-board. Over time, I came to strongly empathize with those people who consciously omitted from the equal rights due to all Americans.

What Comes Next?

‘What comes next?’ can wait until Monday. Supreme Court rulings, like parades after sports championship, are fleeting.

Hats off to all the activists and communicators who fueled the recently rapid pace to marriage equality. To some, this ruling may appear to have been ‘an overnight success.’ …Not exactly!!

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Facebook Manipulates Users

FacebookNEWS, ANALYSIS, and OPINION

Facebook has a love-hate relationship with its users, both business and individuals. I’ve written and rewritten this post several times in the last few weeks. Why? Because Facebook continues to change its rules and policies. And does so, rather quietly.

Algorithms

These are the formulas… the filters… which decide which updates (posts) you see as a user. Conversely, which business updates are seen by your followers. In addition, ‘sponsored posts’ go through a similar filtering process, to deciding who sees what.

Facebook updated its algorithms around the beginning of the year and the impact was significant. At any given time, when a person logs in to Facebook, there are about 1500 messages ready to appear in one’s news feed. That firehose of ‘news (updates)’ is diluted to a level that is manageable by you, me or anyone else. What you may not realize is that the number of messages that will cross your news feed is reduced to about 6-7% of the total.

Businesses, in particular, are feeling the pinch. Business entities spend countless hours and effort to develop a following and now only reach 60 to 70 out of 1000 followers. Of course, it’s not just about reducing news feeds to manageable numbers, it’s about generating revenue for Facebook. You can reach more of your followers by BOOSTING YOUR POST. Or, as an individual user, PROMOTING YOU POST.

This isn’t a simple process. Just throwing more money at a given post may or may not get you the result you’re looking at. Achieving vastly improved reach is, in large part, attained by organic sharing of your business or personal update.

This week’s news

It has come to light that Facebook did some data analysis of about 700,000 users. They did so, not just by analyzing user data, but choosing certain updates with a decidedly negative or positive mood, to see what the emotional reaction would be, in response.  It’s likely that in Facebook ‘terms of service’, we authorize some use of our data/actions on Facebook. However, this activity seems to be a stretch.

Months ago, Mark Zuckerberg ripped the United States Federal Government, as it related to NSA data gathering, and called for greater transparency. These Facebook actions smack of the pot calling the kettle, black.

Look to main stream news, as well as online news, in the next few weeks for major league backlash. It just doesn’t feel right, and I suspect both users and businesses are going to take a more skeptical view of Facebook.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog