Technology marketing is all about defining a really big a problem that your product solves. If you can define the right problem, then your product is the logical solution and who can argue with logic, right? Spurred by an article in IT World by Dan Tynan, I was intrigued by BeehiveID who sowed some good olde-fashioned Fear and Uncertainty in me by proposing that the web is rampant with bots and spiders and their service was designed to help me tell the difference.
A few years ago, I ran an experimental service called Siteroll which was designed to help people post trackable links to Facebook and Twitter. Part of the algorithm I created was to differentiate human clicks from robot clicks. What was remarkable to me was the sheer volume of robot clicks from these services. On Twitter the ratio was 24 bot clicks for every one valid click; on Facebook the ratio was a slightly more palatable 22 to 1, both out of control and overwhelming. Thus, my interest in BeehiveID and their proposal.
So, I was good bait for BeehiveID’s effort at a viral campaign, that being to connect them to my Facebook account and they would prove the value of the algorithm they have created by analyzing my Facebook posts and determining… well, something, I wasn’t sure what as I approved their connection. What I didn’t expect, after some whirling images designed to give me the sense that the system was thinking, was to learn that I’m not human after all. Despite their claims (see the nice graphic above) that my score of 652 (out of 850) is a “strong score!” a little bit of good old human arithmetic shows me to be an unenviable 56% human.
There are several things that are extremely wrong about this whole marketing idea. None the least of which is that I am human. There are even several people on the planet who would attest to that. I have proof. But, apparently not in the way I use Facebook. I’m too robot-y for their algorithm. That picture of me and three friends celebrating the Red Sox winning the world series? Too robot-y. That comment on some action Congress is taking to block FOIA requests that have to do with Big Agriculture? Too robot-y. The post a few weeks back about the forthcoming American Masters episode on Jimi Hendrix…
Beckoning me in to check my own score was a marketing mistake of monumental proportions, a total no-win for them as a company and as a technology. By not giving every respondent a full human rating, how can they possibly think that they aren’t going to alienate the vast majority of the people in the world. But, if they did give everyone a full human rating, it would hold no credibility. This is some crazy marketing idea that started off wrong and went downhill from there.
Being robot or human is a binary question. I can’t be 56% human (and not feel sad about it…oops that’s a human trait). The results from this little online quiz I was suckered into would be better displayed as either a Yes or a No. Even if I was only 56% human, that would be enough for me to get a “Yes” and then I might feel good about myself and about them. But 56% human? Mmmmmm, I can’t help but think they’re wrong and therefore their technology and their algorithm are bad.
But, going this score route belies what they really want. Like Klout, they want me to behave in a very robotic manner and check their service regularly and make sure that I adapt (oooooh, assimilation!) the way I post commentary to Facebook to increase my score. They want me talking with friends about my score. They want me to feel proud that I have increased my score to 58%, then 60% all the way up the long slog to their IPO or other “liquidation event.”