The Value of Rest: A Note to Target, WalMart and KMart Shoppers

11.14.12

I’ve started this post a dozen times and deleted hundreds of characters. I wanted to explain to you the import of rest. I wanted to tell you that shopping after your Thanksgiving meal is obscene. I was going to remind you that you weren’t really saving money buying sale tchotchkes that you wouldn’t otherwise have purchased. I was going to remind you how utterly depressing it would be to look at a checker at WalMart, KMart or Target and know that they just don’t get a normal holiday because you showed up.

I was going to ask you to stay home after your Thanksgiving dinner.

Then I realized that if you’re looking to bail on your family and friends that Thursday night we are likely at an impasse before we begin. It’s inconceivable to me that anyone would want to cut the evening short and you likely wouldn’t trust my opinion anyhow.

What I would hope we all keep in mind is the need for rest. Every religion has a sabbath and every physician has prescribed rest for ailments ranging from colds to cancer. Athletes know that rest days increase both strength and endurance. When our children are little we work hard to maintain their sleep and nap schedules, when they outgrow naps there is often scheduled downtime in the afternoons. Then we send them to school and tell them they’ll rest when they retire.

Obesity is linked to bad sleep habits.

We emphasize hard work and reward it with praise and money. When the Greek economy collapsed and we heard about their work hours and early retirements we rolled our eyes and said, “of course”. When executives come here from England and Australia they are horrified by the lack of vacation days and the fact that they may sit at their desks in the evenings. We do things differently here in America.

When my husband proposed in London he presented me with a ring that was a little loose. I needed to have it sized or at a minimum to buy a ring guard. On the evening of December 23rd that was impossible and it had to wait until the 26th and even then not everything was open. During the Olympic games shopkeepers in London were allowed to stay open longer hours on Sundays (they have laws about those things) and someone mentioned to me that they hadn’t actually made more money, just worked more hours. I suspect that is true but cannot confirm.

Sometimes when you’re weird you’re cutting edge. Sometimes when you’re weird you’ve just got problems.

I used to be really good about taking a digital sabbath. I used to be the mom that would power down her phone when she was with her kids because if the kids are with you there can’t be an emergency, right? Recently I’ve slipped into answering emails in the early evenings because my iphone makes it so easy.

You see we’re all guilty of not prioritizing and the businesses aren’t making us behave the way we do. They’re just reacting to our behavior. One of Target’s employees has started a petition, knowing full well she’ll likely be fired for it, asking them to take the high road and save Thanksgiving. I’d never want to legislate the hours that stores can be open, but I’m game for a bit of shame.

WalMart, Dildos and Booze.

02.7.11

I’m putting advertising back on the blog. I’m not sure how long it will last. As I recall my last ad network experience was way more trouble than it was worth.

I’ve had nothing but conference calls with networks today (no Federated didn’t call to insult me again) and they couldn’t be nicer. All of them. The problem is that I’m very tired from my weekend and I’m a little anxious about my husband’s pending surgery. I realized after the very last phone call that I really need to not work the rest of the day.

NICE AGENCY MAN: We would have you in our parenting vertical, and we have some great national advertisers there.

ME: Can I ask who?

NICE AGENCY MAN: ____, ____ and WalMart are all on board.

ME: [interrupting] Can you control who your advertisers are? I mean can I?

NICE AGENCY MAN: To a degree you can, but it’s not granular. We make sure there are no adult or liquor sponsorships…

ME: [interrupting again] Oh no, I like _____ and _____ and I’d totally rather have dildos and booze than WalMart. I just wanted to ask if I could be with you without WalMart?

And he was nice, charming even, because I couldn’t hear him sigh or hitting his head against the wall. There was no, “Jessica you’re a nutcase.” Just a simple explanation of how they were selling the space.

And then he said I could totally have dildos and booze on my channel but I’d have to take a little WalMart but I certainly could say anything I wanted; and I thought, Oh this poor man could not possibly have thought his MBA would bring him to this moment. ┬áNo more calls today. I’m just done. D.U.N. Done.

Hashtag Spam

03.5.10

Hashtag Spam and twitter parties (they are synonyms). If you are not familiar with Twitter, you might not be familiar with hashtags, surely you are familiar with Spam.

Twitter is a microblogging service. You can update your status using just 140 characters. It’s not quite a bulletin board, but it’s not a blog either. In order to maximize your very brief updates, you can add a hashtag to a word and twitter will make is searchable. A hashtag is the number sign #. When groups of people use a hashtag it makes it easier for them to find each other. Quite often at an event there will be a predetermined hashtag in use. The 140 Conference uses the hashtag #140conf take a look at how helpful an event hashtag can be. Shortly, we will all be able to see SXSW emerge as a trending topic, and, for lack of a better term, get the back channel of the conference and it’s parties (or is it the parties and the conference?).

Hashtags, like anything, can be used well, or can be the source of spam. Spam is defined by wikipedia as “the abuse of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.” Hashtags are free to create, and could be a marketing dream. Marketers appear to have forgotten that a “free hashtag” isn’t a one way street. Remember when Skittles thought that they would build a platform based on a simple feed? Walmart tried selling mom jeans just two short months later with a “twitter party” (more on twitter parties later), that ended with this (click the picture for a close up):
Walmart Porn

What’s most shocking though, is that all these months later businesses still haven’t learned. Recently Maria Bailey used the hashtag #WashThemGrow to sell Suave baby soap, but when people asked about the toxicity and the facts surrounding some of it’s ingredients, the twitter party shut down and this was posted about 24 hours later (*eyeroll* I know). I know that Corporate America moves slowly, but this chugging along is ridiculous. Learn something, learn now.

Hashtag parties are spam. Jessica Smith recently wrote that “hijacking a hashtag” is spamming people. I would disagree. The corporate creation of a hashtag is incredibly intrusive. Businesses should be thrilled and honored if they get mentioned on twitter, why on earth would they feel like they have the right to a free focus group? Further, I’d argue that if you actually look at these “parties” it’s the same group of 100 women every week. Can’t you just send them an email? It appears that they are willing to sell just about anything to each other.

Every Friday Twitter becomes unusable to me. I love the way #FollowFriday began, but (to borrow a phrase from Scoble) it has devolved into a mess. I can’t see through the lists of names to actually get to the content, and I don’t want to unfollow people for just one day. May I kindly suggest that if you use #followfriday that you limit it to just one person and also give us all a reason that we should follow them?

I’d like to suggest we all take a page from the Twitter Handbook, listen and love. It’s incredible that Jack‘s interest in the routes of New York City messengers could bring about Twitter. I know some of y’all don’t recognize the import of Twitter, but those newfangled telephones were considered pretty intrusive too. In 1876 folks just hated that darned thing. Much like twitter, they started out as a party line. I think twitter lists and DM’s have brought us closer to the Baby Bells.

Again, if you can look at the internet and see it as one gigantic party line, well, you’d see that Hashtag Parties alienate more than they embrace. They serve the same small circle of potential customers each week, and they are seen by the rest of the community as corporate sponsored spam.

The reason that people are hijacking your beloved hashtag is because it irritates them. I know that sometimes we look at our own work, and can’t see the flaws. This isn’t bad, it’s normal. Sometimes an outside observer is needed. #Journchat is never spammed, why? Because #Journchat brings immense value to the people who participate in it, and (people like me) who simply read the stream either live or later. The world doesn’t owe you anything, and Twitter is a place that recognizes and quantifies that.

Have I said it enough ways?

If you’re having a party conference, by all means let people pick a hashtag, but if your party only lives on twitter… well, congratulations, you are a spammer.

UPDATE: AdAge has an interesting and related post: Do People Tweet About Brands More Out Of Hate Than Love?

A Big Announcement: I’m One of 11 Moms

04.1.09

I want to thank Wal-Mart for allowing me the opportunity to write with them.

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I am pleased to report that I am now officially one of Eleven Moms.

In future posts I’ll have the opportunity to share money saving tips with you, great products and exclusive discounts. As you know Wal-Mart is all about building communities and they give so much to us Moms, especially the Mom Blogging community.

It’s both humbling and exciting and I hope you’ll join me on my new adventure.

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Walmart Once Again Bungles, Offends and Alienates

12.16.08

I don’t hate Sam Walton, I don’t hate jobbers or discounts or international trade. I don’t even hate many lawyers. I hate when corporations jump through hoops to set up faux social media (social media includes listening) in order to reach out to everywoman and then they trample us.

Literally.

There is only one thing for Walmart to do at this point in time.

Apologize.

There’s a dead man and his father had to bury him. Yes, a father buried a son so that someone could get a flat screen TV, cheap. Rather than apologize Walmart has just today taken this off their website.

Just to be sure that search engines pick this up properly, let me give you the text.

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Bring a buddy!!! If you guys think you can do this alone, think again people! These shoppers are die hard and they’ll run you over like there’s no tomorrow! The more you have, the better!

This comes from Kim at Hormone Colored Days. Naturally the mom who had originally posted it come through with a thoughtful comment.

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