I am a marketing strategist with a focus on copywriting and web design. I am the co-founder and CEO of Cited, Inc. I write on a wide range of topics including: marketing, persuasion, current affairs, technology, cybersecurity, and privacy. U.S. Army Veteran
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We Need to Think Straight

It is often disturbing to see how even intelligent people do not have straight thinking minds of their own. The pattern of the mind, whether toward conformity and compliance or otherwise, is conditioned rather early in life.
-A.M. Merloo, The Rape of the Mind

No matter what side of the issues one is on politically it should be a matter of concern the lack of emphasis these days on people actually thinking for themselves.

We should not simply follow pundits or supposed experts but learn the facts for ourselves and make our own determinations.

We may be taught conformity from an early age, it is critical we break out of this cycle.

Sorry Twitter and Facebook You Are Already Judging the Value of Content

Social media platforms are stating they don't want to be in a position to arbitrate on speech and in theory that seems like the right move, but they are already blatantly doing so with their verification system, so it is time for them to open verification to anyone who is willing to prove their identity.

One of the mysteries of Twitter, Facebook, and others is what qualifies one to receive their checkmark and have a verified account. All of the platforms claim that verification is not an endorsement and they may believe that but it does create a caste system on the platform therefore they are already judging the value of content put on their platform.

The official story behind verification is that it is for accounts in the public interest. Twitter for a period of time opened verification up to the public and was random about who they approved, not even following their own posted guidelines as far as requirements.

It has been almost two years since Twitter stopped general verifications and they have not provided an update since then. The only obvious reason Twitter in particular doesn't want to solve this issue is because they rely on bots to boost their traffic numbers and this would reduce the amount of bots, which should be a goal of theirs.

This is a question that Congress should be asking the leaders of these platforms when they testify. How is it if they don't want to be in a position to evaluate content can they be in a position to decide who is an account in the public interest.

Either social media platforms should open the verification process to everyone or they should admit that they are evaluating the value of people's opinions.

There Aren't Really 57 Tools You Need to Run Your Business

I follow a lot of blogs, probably too many. One subject that seems to pop up a lot is the X number of items you need to have to run your online business.

Some of these lists are quite extensive such at 57 things your website must have or 31 tools every blogger should use. I have fallen into the trap at times thinking that all these things were needed but it isn't true.

There are probably about five tools you need to run an online business. If you have a website and a way to capture email addresses you have the core of what you need. Yes, there are tools that can help you and make life easier but remember it isn't about the tool but the implementation.

Hypocrisy Isn't an Argument

Can we stop with the hypocrisy arguments?

If you believe that nobody should be censored for their views and you get upset when someone is boycotted for something they say the response when it happens on the other side should be to just ignore it or not do anything.

When you start demanding that things need to be fair then you become a hypocrite.

Hypocrisy is not going to solve any of the issues. If we want to mock safe spaces and say that people need thicker skins maybe you shouldn't get all worked up when someone says fuck.

The issue occurs on both sides but certainly see it more on the right. They claim to support free enterprise but want to regulate any business that they feel isn't fair to them.

If you really think government needs to be out of people's lives then that includes women's health care.

If socialism and subsidies are bad then you should be speaking out against farm subsidies that are paying for someone's temper tantrum.

Let's cut the bullshit and move past this stupidity.

Meta Misinformation

We have entered a time of meta misinformation. Not only are we constantly being exposed to misinformation, whether intentional or accidental, but we now have people giving false information on how to identify what is true or not.

This relates to a previous post we can't outsource thinking. This also is important with how we look at disinformation.

When learning to understand misinformation you need to be willing to put in the time to understand how these messages are spread.

For example, there is a below average cartoonist out there trying to explain things and thousands of people take him seriously. Instead of looking at actual peer reviewed data and making determinations most people are blindly following people who post online.

There are great sources like First Draft News that provide solid information on how you can look to make your own decisions.

We must take ownership of our thinking.

How I Use Facebook

It is well known that if you don't pay for a service you are the product.

I hope the recent news about Facebook is bringing this to more people's attention.

I would love to say goodbye to Facebook but it does have two main purposes that keep me around.

First, is that it is a great way to get in touch with people I may not maintain regular contact with but do want to reach out to.

Second reason is for groups. Too many organizations rely on Facebook as the way to communicate with members. I am hoping the listserv comes back to replace Facebook.

Not to say I don't scroll down the news feed when I am there to see what updates my friends post but that is secondary.

Steps to cut the information I am giving away to Facebook:

  • I use a separate browser to going to Facebook. Currently, I use Brave built in blockers for ads and tracking. A side benefit is spending less time on Facebook. Now I only waste time on Twitter :)
  • Do not use Facebook on the phone. I would delete it but unfortunately my phone does not give me that option. But, I am not logged in and do not have Messenger. I do not need Facebook tracking my location or anything else.
  • I scrubbed the likes and groups I was part of. This has the added benefit of reducing clutter in the news feed.
  • Removed personal data such as religion and political preference from my page.
  • Take a look at your friends list, make sure you actually know the people there.

If you were only to do one thing, I would suggest scrubbing the groups and pages you have on your profile. Ask yourself, "is the benefit you get from that group worth the privacy you are giving up."

Most of us are not going to give up Facebook. We can take steps to limit the information they get for free.

There Won't Be A Savior

Stop hoping some individual, group, or particular issue will be the savior.

First it was Special Counsel Mueller, then Michael Avenatti was going to bring down Trump, then the kids from Parkland and gun control would save everything, then we had the new group of Congresswomen that things would surely change, finally Nancy Pelosi would come in to save us all.

There never was and will never be a Savior. People need to stop with elevating these public figures and hoping they will solve everything for you. The world doesn't work that way.

There is a savior, look in the mirror and you will see it.

The Internet Allows for Individuality, So Why So Many Copycats

The internet allows for being an individual and for doing business the way you want to do it. That is the great thing.

There are a lot of people who talk about this. The importance of having your market and doing your thing. But then they just copy what someone else goes and does.

There was someone who decided to put out a new style of email. The following week I had five people copying them in my inbox. Some were even labeling the email the same exact thing.

One person says that everyone should be on TikTok and then all of a sudden everyone starts preaching it.

We are dealing with self-fulfilling prophecies. If you have enough of a following then you can just make a prediction and then will have others jumping in based on what you say.
People talk originality and the independence but then they seem to rely so much on what someone else say. People are still scared to make a decision and take the risk of being wrong.

Why? There is so little downside for most of these things. How about someone actually just be original and see what happens. You don't need to be everywhere but make wherever you are count for something.

Be your own person and follow your own path.

In a Time of Uncertainty

When in times of uncertainty anyone who has the definitive answer is full of shit.

If you are certain about what the government must do, how the primary should be handled, or what to do about impeachment you are full of shit. I don't care what three letter agency you worked for, what your PhD is in, or how many followers you have.

When looking for guidance from "experts" learn for those that provide the route to look at, the tools to use, and other ways of empowering people to make their own determination.

Those that are positive of the answers, no matter what side of the spectrum, are the ones we need to be cautious of.

While it is great to learn from others and gather insight and direction in the end you need to make your own decision and not let someone tell you what is right.

Free Speech Doesn't Guarantee Free Reach

When social media sites first started things were pretty equal and content was distributed pretty evenly. But then the companies needed to try to actually turn a profit so they started selling ads. Once ads were introduced the companies became ruled by the advertisers.

When Twitter, Facebook, etc... decide to show someone's content over another person the actual decisions are being made based on an algorithm.

These platforms are private entities that are running a business. If they desired, they could say politics is off limits as an area of discussion.

The great thing is in 2019, the technology is out there with free and open source tools that anyone who really wants can create their own social network.

But playing the victim card is so much easier. So that is what conservatives choose to do.

There are plenty of liberals on Twitter who do not have verified accounts, there stuff hardly shows up on feeds, and they aren't promoting conspiracy theories of shadow bans and other things out to silence conservatives.

No, it could just be that people aren't really that interested in what you had to say.

Also, these platforms exist to make money. Advertisers may not want to show up next to certain messages.

Spread your message but nobody owes you a platform.

The Conversation In Their Heads

“Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer’s mind.”
-Robert Collier

When you are writing to customers are you positioning it from what matters to them or what is important to you? As Robert Collier stated, you need to enter the conversation taking place in their head already. When you write what is important to you it may not address the reader's concerns.

When writing to customers make sure that the words you use and the perspective you write from joins the conversation in their head.

Stop Thinking You Have All the Answers

We live in fucked up times. There are excellent lawyers, historians, former law enforcement, and others providing analysis and ideas for what is going on.

There are also actors and random cows and horses on Twitter that seem to have all the answers.

Bottom line is that nobody has all of the answers or even knows all of the questions that should be asked. While we want to be able to turn to someone to tell us what to think the world just doesn't work that way.

Just because someone has credibility in one area doesn't mean that everything they say about the situation is correct. While historians get upset about people using Wikipedia to argue with them, being a historian doesn't make you a political and media strategy expert.

There are a lot of people who work in other fields that have insight into these matters.

Bottom line it that just because someone has a blue checkmark next to their name doesn't mean that they are the expert on all areas.

Setting the Agenda

"The press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about."
-Bernard Cohen

Agenda setting theory talks about how the media influences the topics that we talk about on a given day. The information provided in the news has a tremendous impact in what people think about.

We saw this in the 2016 election with the emphasis on the Clinton email server over many other issues. While it may have not been a truly important issue for many people the fact that it was always in the news kept the attention on it.

We are seeing the same thing with the issues with Hunter Biden as the media keeps the story alive. The problem is we now have alternative sources that are creating fake controversies that then get mixed in with the mainstream media.

This works as long as people aren't impacted by the item discussed in the news. When it hits you personally such as losing your job or your health insurance then the issue is no longer controlled by the media.

We see this with politics that someone will support a candidate until their factory shuts down and then they shift sides.

To counter this, when you hear something in the news it is important to take a moment and decide if it should be a focus. We need to make a conscious effort not to let the media control the conversation.

How Queen Elizabeth Can Help You In Your Marketing

I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too...
-Queen Elizabeth I

Is there something about your product or service that your customers and prospects may have doubts about? As we see from Queen Elizabeth I, it is best to just get it out in the open and counter it. When you try to hide something and then it is later revealed it looks bad. When you are proactive you have the opportunity to set the narrative and the message.

An example of this is Avis Car Rental, "We're Number Two, And We Try Harder". Instead of letting the competition brand them in second place they claimed it and were able to leverage it.

Or as George Bernard Shaw said:

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”

Don't be afraid to be honest about where your service may be missing something.

It Is About Taking Action

Business letter writing is not a study of form and usages. It is rather a study of human nature and "how to use words so as to make people do things."
-Sherwin Cody

When writing to customers while it is important to have the core grammar elements and to appear professional it is important that your words are driving people to take action.

With the fast pace of communication we see people trying to go viral but while their message may be shared it is quickly forgotten and no true benefit comes from it.

When writing copy for customers the goal is for them to say, "where can I by that?" not "what a great tweet." Of course, the ideal would be to have the combination of the two.