Facebook’s Selective Feed: Did you “Like” It?

Have you noticed how Facebook is becoming very selective in giving you notifications of friend’s updates? Unlike 50 notifications a day no matter who posted it from your friends’ list, it is now focusing on fewer selective feeds based on the level of interaction (e.g., liking or commenting) with your friends. The less you interact with a friend, the less likely you receive notification from Facebook in the news feed. Well, if you spend a lot of time liking and commenting on pretty much everybody, you won’t be able to tell the difference in the new feed stream. But the good part of this selective feed is that you are not tired of using facebook since your feeds are selective. Sometimes you might wonder how come Facebook knew from whom you expect status updates most! We don’t feel like being spammed like we feel about our emails, where many of us are already having over 1,000 unread emails accumulated from the past, that we did not feel like to delete but was never opened at all!

There is a problem though. Even if you very much “liked” somebody’s post in the past who was not frequently active in Facebook, the lower interaction arising out this situation may make his feed less visible to you in future. This does not mean that you liked his posts less. It seems that Facebook treats “very much like” and “somewhat like” at the same level once you click the “like” button. And it is legitimately so because our emotions are in our minds, and a mouse blinking with pesky led bulbs has no way to tell facebook about the strength of our likes.  This sort of selective feeds may sometimes lead you to search for friends in facebook because you feel they had no status updates, where they actually had status updates that became missing in your feed. So where is the improvement then? Facebook revealed these changes and experiments in the beginning of 2015, and we hope it would be able to read our minds better on what news-feed we really want and what we don’t.


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Supersize Cellphones: What is the Future?

(You might be interested to read the Part I first).

Have you noticed why we don’t complain much about all these bulky gadgets? Because the functional leap is huge. That big thing in our hand is a powerful communication hub, our news source, our weather channel, our navigation equipment, our banking services, a video camera to catch up our memorable moments, or we can just take a casual snap of an interesting event and instantly share with friends, what not? The whole world can be connected with so many apps and interesting features. So why complain about the size when you have overwhelming functionality?

In future, more surprises are probably waiting for us. The upcoming Nano-technology would most likely find a way in future cellphones. Internet would most likely be free. The only thing we might need to carry is the screen (of course, in a user-friendly format:), because everything else will be compact and light-weight. Probably the screen size won’t be small, but it might become extremely light-weight, compact and with a supercharged long-lasting battery. How about functionality? Only time will reveal. But it is most likely that the next generation of consumers would laugh at the configuration and functionality of our current smart-phones just as we did to our earlier generations of cellphones!

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Supersize Cellphones: the Past & the Present

Cellphones were big when they were commercially introduced in the ‘90s. If you could get hold of an earlier model of Motorola, you would lough out at its size, weight and configuration. But that thing amazed us in the 90’s because it was simply an awesome idea at that time—it ran on a battery, you could carry it with you without wires and you could talk while moving! It was a paradigm shift at that point, so the size and weight did not matter, the functionality did. However, any stranger could easily tell that you are carrying a phone because your pocket looked unusually bloated!

Then there came a wave of tech advances. Phones started shrinking in size, increasing in its functionality and configuration. There came a time when companies were competing on how smaller these gadgets could get with its increasing functionality. Remember how Nokia 1100 became a flagship with its battery capacity, compactness, light-weight built and an amazing torchlight?

Then came the wave of Qwerty phones and this was where the size started growing, reversing the trend of micro-sizing the earlier phones. With the advent of smartphones in the early 2000’s, the size started growing again, of course, along with increasing functionality. Today, many of us have bigger phones, almost bigger (but flatter) than the early ones that consumers saw in the ‘90s. Ironically, today’s phones are not only bigger, they are battery eaters too! In order to support these power-hungry gadgets, we have now devised “power banks” which are as big as these phones are. Voila! Now we carry two big gadgets with us all the time. Today, just like early days, anybody can tell that you are carrying a cellphone because your pocket is unusually bloated, or your lady’s purse is full of it! Oh, where is the advancement then? (Here is Part II)

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Whom do we tell to have patience?

If you call a mobile service provider to talk to a representative, you might often be thanked for your patience. Visit a crowded bank or superstore, for example. Oftentimes they don’t have service planning based on peak hour and a calculation on how many service counters would be needed to support the peak demand. Hey, stay on queue and have patience, and thank you very much for your patience.

In a connected world where we cannot wait to share anything starting from our new-hair-cut-gone-wrong to a bunch of half-done potatoes on our oven, where in the world a company can tell customers to have patience? Not having patience is my consumer right and if you cannot put up with me, I have other companies who are more than willing to accept me as their customer. You don’t even know when I clicked to another channel because you just started those lousy advertising. I will be right back when you are done.

Therefore, in a competitive world, it is about how companies can become patient and not customers. Companies need to build capabilities and efficiency to serve customers better. This is where we see online self-care options and automated services for frequently faced problems. Companies probably need to think about reversing the patience factor and make some “wow” changes, so that eager customers cannot wait to have their services.

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Can Volkswagen Reclaim its Innocence? Part II

(Following Part I)

Down the road, the image loss is huge. Volkswagen scandal will be included in the future business texts as a case study with Volkswagen name in it; law students will find the brand in cheating case studies; software engineers will study this as an ethics case in software development; corporate practitioners will be referring to VW as how corporate leaders fail in upholding business ethics—and so on. The image cost is enormous, probably beyond US$ 82 billion.

So what? So are the histories of many renowned brands that had scandals in the past. Big corporations have a history of getting away with big scandals. Almost nobody served jail time for the Wall Street fiasco, the Ford Pinto’s gas tank failures, the General Motor’s  ignition switch disaster, or Toyota’s sudden acceleration defects, or any number of other corporate-driven criminal or damaging activities. With great lawyers, dilly dally tactics, political connections, lobbyists and power projection at right places—all these add up to cost and face savings in the long-run. With future innovation and wider consumer acceptance, connected by the “system” support, some day consumers will forget and forgive these issues. Brands will follow its course with its corporate parents who were not as honest as expected.

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Can Volkswagen Reclaim its Innocence? Part I

Innocence lost, innocence gone. Nobody believes a cheater for the second time. But things may be different for Volkswagen. There might be at least four reasons why it would be so:

First, it happened to a German brand, a rare incident in its culture of strong law enforcement and compliance. The rest of the world would consider this as an “outlier” and it might not be difficult for the brand to recuperate. In fact, stern measures are already under way. Heavy fines and criminal charges are in the offing. Credit Suisse estimated that the scandal might cost Volkswagen up to US$ 82 billion (the company will apparently become bankrupt). However, the company has earmarked about US$ 7.3 billion to handle the crisis. Of course, the bankruptcy may be out of question right now because the cost would accrue over time and can be spread over a series of lengthy law-suits.

Second, the key to manage crisis is to handle the crisis situation quickly. Volkswagen’s top official resigned, indicted diesel model is under prompt recall, refit or shipments halted, two engineers are already under probe and Chancellor Angela Merkel is already in the assuring mood to the rest of the world, refuting the media claim of long term effects on German economy.

Third, only the diesel engine model is under scrutiny (still about 11 million cars worldwide). It is highly unlikely that other models will have the same issue since the scandal is related more to the detection of emission of diesel engines. EPA of USA would obviously come up with stronger scrutiny now and in future on such issues.

Fourth, the company has the ability to support innovation. As time passes, the company can launch innovative models and set aside the past scandals that might already have hurt the consumer sentiment.

Therefore, Volkswagen may face short-term market bumps and costly law-suits, but with a right mix of salvaging strategy, the brand is more likely to rebound later. (Here is Part II)

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Another Day, Another Time

Like people, brands have hiccups. An incidental failure of a brand does not mean the end of its world, albeit the subsequent repercussions may haunt it for a long time. Smart brands learn from hiccups. There is always another day and time that it can rebound and grab a respectable market share. The first obstacle towards reaching a sunny day is to admit that there had been a problem that should have taken care of. Ratan Tata did it very well with Tata Nano. The initial failure was boldly faced with dealership re-arrangement and drivers’ training. Nano platform is also expected to enter the USA and European market this year with Tata Pixel (how will it look like?). We almost forgot about the rebound story of Tylenol in the USA! How about Pran Chananchur from Bangladesh? Faced by regulatory bottlenecks and technical barriers while exporting to India, Pran has now a manufacturing plant in India—there is no more need for export, it is now an Indian product.

It appears that hiccups have an upside, when brands are open to learn. Brand managers need to play a leadership role to push a limping brand to another day and another time, to help their brands lead the market again. And with the right mix of strategy, this is going to happen.

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Templates of Our Minds

If you ever used ready templates in various software, you know how handy they are for the purpose.  You can readily format an official invitation, your resume, or even a complain letter—what not? All you have to do is to find out the right template. Once you open your desired template, you already know how the printed output would look like.

Similarly, most of us have certain templates in our minds, that are reflected in our behavior pattern. We are molded to think and behave in a certain pre-formed ways just like some ready templates. That’s what has made us predictable. But this could be problematic when it comes to leadership at times. When leaders apply “behavioral templates”, we already know beforehand what he/she is going to say to our new advertising budget! When leadership applies behavioral templates, we already know what he/she would do to a deserving employee who already met his/her sales target. “How much sale could we gain by spending this much advertising money?”- said the leader. “Ms. Smartini, you achieved your sales target this month, nice. We will be raising your target by 20% next month as a reward for your achievement!” We knew the management would be applying these ready templates, yeaa!

The big question is, do ready templates work? If they don’t, why managers use them more often than not? Well, sometimes you cannot avoid facing these templates, i.e., the obvious reactions from leaders. But oftentimes, we become smart enough to play around and make the leader choose or make another “template”. This whole process results in nothing but lack of trust and decrease in efficiency. Templates are oftentimes counter-productive. So, what is the take-away for leaders? Here is a one-minute solution (imho): leaders must know which one is a routine situation and which one needs to be handled differently. For routine situations, apply templates. For non-routine cases, go beyond the template and create something beautiful. If you cannot differentiate between the two, then probably your brand will be at stake in the long-run.

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Is Facebook Making a “Dislike” Button?

The straight answer is “No”.

In a recent question and answer session, Mark Zuckerberg was asked about the possibility of introducing a “dislike” button. Zuckerberg responded that many people were asking
about this for a long time, and Facebook was considering “something” like this.  Then the mainstream media took this statement and interpreted that Facebook was coming up with a dislike button! Hold on, Mark Zuckerberg continued, “We did not want to just build a dislike button because we don’t want to turn facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s post. That does not seem like the kind of community we want to create.” So, there is no “dislike” button. However, he also maintained that there were certain posts that people wanted to show empathy, e.g., a sad news or event, where people would feel uncomfortable to click the “like” button. So, there would be an alternative button to show empathy or sorrows. It seems that the new button would be more like an “empathy” /“feel the same”/”sorry” button rather than a straight “dislike” button. Yea, we may need it. What do you think?

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