Businesswoman screaming at her laptopIf I had to give a penny to everyone on the team each time I yelled at my computer, I would be really, really broke.  How is it that our computers can make us online marketers so mad that we respond to them like they are real people?  We know a computer is not human, it has no brain, nor can it feel, yet we find ourselves talking to them as if they understand what they are doing to us.

Clifford Nass, a professor of communications at Stanford University recently published a book entitled, The Man Who Lied to His Laptop.  Although I have not had the opportunity, i.e. time, yet to read his book, I did catch an interview with him on NPR which prompted me to started thinking about the ways us marketers interact with our computers.

In his book, Nass touches on how technologies can help us improve our relationships and interactions with real people.  Since we often apply the same social rules to our computers as we do with the people in our lives, we end up having high expectations of them.  What Nass argues is that when we project a feeling or emotion on to our computers, it ends up getting projected back onto ourselves.  More often than not, we tend to project too much criticism instead of positive affirmations.  The idea is that flattery is incredibly powerful and we can essentially use our computers as a means of practicing the art of it.

Behave Like an Online Marketing Professional

So when my coworker tells me that my computer is not being nice to me, because I am not being nice to it, perhaps she has a point.  So my plan is to be the make this online marketing professional turn over a new leaf…by giving my computer the love it deserves.  However, before that happens, I do need to get a few things off my chest.  So below are the top 5 sites that more often than not, cause me to utter words that I would not say in front of my mother (someone please hide the soap).

An emoticon with its tough sticking out and Facebook online marketing site logo as one of the eyes

#1 Facebook

There is no doubt that large quantities of slanderous, hateful words often projectile vomit out of my mouth when I am on Facebook.  Yes, I do have to say, Facebook is like that high school friend that you should have dumped long before you did, because they treated you like you were a piece of poo.  Unfortunately, with over 500 million active users (and counting), I have to remember the fun times, when Facebook made me feel loved and special, and try to put aside those memories of when it failed me miserably.

There is no denying that there are great things about Facebook as an online marketing site.  It is, of course, the first social network site to gain mass popularity – MySpace couldn’t even touch a candle to it in its heyday.  It is also fantastic for running exclusive promotions.  However, what Facebook giveth, it also taketh away, sometimes leaving you feeling used and abused.  Change is good, but it would be nice to be notified and even nicer if us millions of users actually had a say in what features Facebook ads or removes.

There are a few other things that drive me bonkers.  Take for example me trying to help a friend out to get her account up and running.  Her roller derby name is Puffy Bangs.  She is indeed a real person, but Facebook decided, however it magically does so, that Bangs was perhaps too risqué.  Oh and did I mention how bad their search function is; it just downright sucks.  Google does a better job of finding what you are looking for in Facebook.

An emoticon with its tough sticking out and Twitter online marketing site logo as one of the eyes

#2 Twitter

Although they recently improved Twitter with a facelift – which I do like, at this time it still makes me use bad words.  Twitter does have a very straight forward, pleasant and simple user interface.  The ability to customize your page is quite sophisticated for an online marketing site.  They have added some nice features over the years like the lists, the hash tags, and trending topics.  However, what is up with that darn whale.  It might be cute and friendly, but it is still a pain in the butt.  Now I don’t mind the whale on occasion, I understand that Twitter has 75 million users, which is not something to take lightly, but really, get your you-know-what together already.  It’s not like the site is new.

An emoticon with its tough sticking out and LinkedIn online marketing site logo as one of the eyes

#3 LinkedIn

You have so much potential LinkedIn, yet you disappoint and break my heart.  You are like those new shoes that seemed so comfortable, yet when you put them on, they pinched and irritated your toes.  I have a few works of advice, please beef-up your features or some other company is going to come along with a better interface and beat you to it, and then all that work you put in will be moot.

Thank you for allowing us to reorder the sections on our profiles, adding products and services, and for integrating Twitter, but can we please get clear notifications, make things more open and public, and gosh darn it, make things more visual.  I know the site is for business to business use, but businesses are exciting, not drab and boring.  Maybe just ditch the old school Windows blue/grey palette for something a bit more modern – the internet is a visual world.

An emoticon with its tough sticking out and Yelp online marketing site logo as one of the eyes

#4 Yelp

Help I have to go on Yelp.  I want to love Yelp, with it’s fairly straight forward interface, ability to integrate local listings sites with reviews, check-ins and event listings, but I find myself yelling or should I say yelping every time I have to use it.  Could you make it any more difficult to claim a business?  It wouldn’t be so bad if Yelp actually called you when you put in a request.  Oh and forget about trying to get a hold of someone to answer a question, because like Facebook, no one is there.  Amazing to me since they are an online marketing site based around user-generated content, which you think would make them actually care about getting back to you.  P.S. Good luck figuring out why they took down that great review from one of your customers, because, well they just felt like it.

An emoticon with its tough sticking out and Forum online marketing site logo as one of the eyes

#5 Forums

Bad forums.  You know who you are, and there are a plethora of them out there.  Old, outdated, terribly run forums that just feel like they are sucking the life out of you while you are trying to navigate through them.  I still cannot figure out how so many of these have survived.  I know many of them are run by people who have day jobs and they spend their free time moderating them, but it just seems a shame that sites that should be brought into the future of the web, have been allowed to hold out this long.

What will happen as the web becomes a more visually appealing place, when HTML5 and CSS5 become mainstream.  Forums are a great place for exchanging ideas and interacting with people within a niche market, but they just feel like dinosaurs to the industry.  It can be maddening for online marketing professionals to have to weed through all of the posts to find something legitimate and relevant.  Need I also mention that forum moderators often suffer from the God complex and decide to give you the boot for no real reason.

From Online Marketing Madness to Gladness

So that was my Debbie Downer, Negative Nancy, Party Pooper, Depressed Dana, Hateful Heather post.  Now that I have gotten through that, I plan to spend the day telling my computer how much it means to me, projecting positivity along the way.  After all, we are social beings who want to socialize, so it is only natural that we would do so with our computers.  If all goes well, my next post will be on the 5 Sites that Make a Marketer Cheer.  Until then, let us know what online marketing sites make you scream, run for the door, or crawl under your desk.