What’s your coachability score?

January 6, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The world is moving faster, powered by information.

Keep up by being coachable.

I know the U.S. has education issues. See Waiting for “Superman.”

But there have never been more quality teachers available.

On YouTube, on Twitter, we can take courses at the best institutions in the world.

One suggestion is to concern yourself not with how many are following you, but who you are following.

When I’m reading and notice a smart comment, I follow the source on Twitter and read what he or she is reading.

We can learn from everyone and we can now learn from the best.

And don’t forget to thank your teachers.

What’s your coachability score?

Are our Facebook profiles stealing our identities?

June 11, 2010

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

We tell our life story to the world and to ourselves. We think about it, we write it down, we share. This is my name, this is my job, this is my role, this is what I believe, this is something I like. And we think that’s us.

Asian. American. Minnesotan. Male. 34. Son. Brother. Husband. Father. Buddhist. Engineer. Failed architect. Successful entrepreneur. Lover of novels. Healthy. 329 friends on Facebook. Likes the Twins, ice fishing, golf, adidas originals, the Clash.

These can all be true but is this really anyone? The more we allow our minds to absorb the material and the external about us as who we are, the less we may be willing to explore further to find our own individual essences.

Narcissus by Caravaggio

This is easier to do now because of how we are “forced” to tell our stories these days.  All of the social networks have similar blanks, depending on the site’s focus: business, sports, religion, politics, family. The forms dictate the ends: a series of boxes for us to fill in with “ourselves.” They push and mold us to fit, and in that act we become homogenized and less true to our real self.

With all of our information kept on one page and viewed multiple times a day by our Facebook “friends,” Linked-In associates, all our subscriptions, etc., it seems like constantly looking in the mirror and saying, “Yes that’s me.”

But is it?

I have heard, “This is only my virtual self.” But do others see that? Do we really see that as we move from page to page, hypnotized by the repetition and familiarity?

With all the talk of privacy invasion – this is theft. Spiritual identity theft.  And it’s not Facebook but we who are the culprits! Whoever we are. (I have on my profile “I am funny,” so I added this.)

Seems this is the contemporary story of Narcissus. Instead of water reflecting our image, we get our digital reflection bouncing back in bits and pixels. Nowadays that information is instantly spread through our networks and so more untrue reflections of our false self are causing mass confusion.

The latest advancement in social technology is the “Like” button. Seems fine on the outside, but having my likes counted, monitored, and housed by Facebook and sometimes  distributed to marketers furthers the solidification of my false self. I can see that it will better help them be relevant in marketing to the “me” of my profile but, in the end, I don’t believe there can be a virtual self.

I should thank Facebook for making me ask, “Who am I?”

Now, as I ponder, I am wishing there was a multiple choice box to fill in.

Nah, I’d never fit.

The Ever-Evolving Social Network

May 17, 2010

By Fiona Beitdashtoo, Business Manager @ NYCA

Over the past few weeks Facebook has made some major changes affecting its users’ experiences. We’re playing around with them here at the agency.


Users will now be asked if they “like” a page (brand, product, cause, public figure, etc.) rather than “become a fan” of a page. This decision to re-name the “fan” function contradicts the idea of building community. When Facebook users had the ability to “become a fan,” it gave them the sense of joining something special. Whether a cause, car brand, favorite restaurant, athlete, or idea, Facebook users were comfortable saying – “yeah I’m a fan.” Now, with the ability to merely “like” a page, the idea of being a part of a niche community has become diluted.

Still, don’t underestimate the viral “fan” power that Facebook still has despite the change in semantics. In this changing Facebook environment, marketers should fuel conversation on the pages that they administer and around the social network by providing content that matters to the people. Cool content rules because:

  • when people comment on your content, Facebook alerts that person’s network that they interacted with your page by posting that activity on the homepage wall.
  • it gives you a good reason to continually touch advocates. Tip: Whenever you post cool content on your page, announce it via a status post!  By doing this you will alert that person who “likes” you, and their network of friends. If the content you are promoting is region-specific you can geo-target your status posts!
  • you can use this content to develop Facebook ads. Homepage sponsor ads, while they can be expensive, do provide marketers with power to share rich content such as video with people who may not know your page even existed. These ads are a great opportunity to give people who should “like” your page a taste of the great content they can experience if they opt-in.


Facebook is now giving users the opportunity to link their interests from their personal profiles to pages within Facebook. Facebook suggests which pages a person should link to. With thousands of pages on Facebook, the chances a person will be matched with an “official” page versus a page created by an Average Joe is to be determined. My guess is that Facebook serves the page suggestion based on what page is most popular (meaning has the most people who “like” it), or algorithms based on key words.

So now applying SEO strategies in the Facebook environment is essential. Marketers can do this by integrating their brand’s key words in content created for their page. Key areas for SEO key word integration are:

  • Company bio
  • Product description
  • Photo descriptions and Photo album names
  • “Notes” posts
  • Status posts

To increase the number of people who “like” your page, we recommended that companies engage in both paid and earned media opportunities. The paid media (Facebook ads) will drive traffic to your page, and the earned media (content you create for your page) will keep people there and hopefully inspire them to share your brand page’s content with their friends.

Let’s face it… Facebook is ever-evolving. It’s creating a dynamic environment for people to stay connected to people and brands. We’ll keep you posted with our POV on future developments.

Yesterday we interviewed a candidate and someone else showed up.

March 3, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The senior writer had his site up in our conference room. Six of us walked in for our usual group probe. At NYCA, we surround candidates like Disney hyenas. “What was the strategy behind the creative? How did the work perform? What would you do now to make it better? What’s your work process with other departments? With clients? What are your thoughts on consumer generated content and also social media?” All that stuff.

Suddenly up popped an instant message from a Facebook friend: “Yo.” We all laughed; well, one of us didn’t – she was texting on her Blackberry and missed the moment. A causality of time shifting. The candidate’s instinct was to shut it off and get back to his pitch. “NO! Wait!” we said. “Tell him you’re in an interview.” The candidate good-naturedly followed the pack. We found out the fb-er was an art director in Chicago. “Ask him to tell us something about your work,” we dared. The Chicagoan im-ed back a cheeky, “Good or bad?” At our urging, the candidate wrote: “The truth.”

There was a sticky moment of tension, the kind you get when you’re on the verge of something that could go either way. We waited. “You’re a solid writer” came up. That’s it? Really? In an interview, you say “solid” about your fb friend? Maybe it’s easier to be honest or inconsiderate screen-to-screen than checking references on the phone? But what if it was a set up all along? What if the fb-er Chicago art director had raved – would that have influenced us more? More than if he’d said the same thing later on a call? What is the persuasion value of in-the-moment testimony? There are possibilities here to change the dynamic of the interview by bringing along a posse. The point is today you can.

The lines and boundaries are forever blurring. Editorial is really ads, ads show up as content, personal conversations are corporately sponsored, friends are purchased or bartered for, so why can’t intimate business meetings turn into a large social events on behalf of a business decision?

We went back and forth some more; it was just too novel to stop. We even started interviewing the art director. As for the writer, the intruder event didn’t appear to sway us one way or the other. This time.

It just shows how accessible we all are now. Even in the protected space of an interview we can be found. And perhaps be found out. We’ve all checked on candidates, future bosses, blind dates and companies through social networks before and after we meet. Guess now we can consider doing it as we meet. It’s a collision of the virtual and the real – though sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which.

I’ll never forget that interview and the writer’s work was pretty good too.

Relevance is cool.

June 16, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director/CEO @NYCA 

What is the future of advertising? Selling stuff.  Yeah, still. How: Relevance. Not fancy self promoting cloudlike techno-marcom-digital-social-speak. Delivery systems will relentlessly evolve, but the only thing that will ever get to and hold the consumer’s heart and credit card is dramatic relevance. Only through relevance in product, messaging and media context will advertising do its good work – and it’s not enough to engage only, or to educate, or to tickle a remembered laugh out of them. You have to sell. Selling takes empathy and trust, and you can’t get there if you are not taking the superhighway of relevance. Now, you might say, relevance isn’t sexy. There’s no award show category for relevance. Relevance is not the first one asked to the marketing dance floor, sadly overlooked in search of the new hot trend. But relevance touches you deeply. Your mom is relevant. Your home is relevant.  iphone The iPhone has apps that people want, like a counter that tells them how many calories they are ingesting. If you’re a dieter, that’s so relevant. That’s why it’s selling so well.  Wal-Mart is cheaper and has lots of stuff in one place so you can check off your list all in one stop without wasting gas or time. That is so relevant. That’s why people are shopping there now who weren’t before when luxury cool was “in.” But what’s “in” now is relevance.  Take relevance for a spin. Be brave. Drop the attitude, walk over and just ask.  Selling is the new cool.