In 1975, New York City was a real s—thole (I should know, I was a teenager growing up in the area at the time—yes, I’m that old). Dangerous, dirty, rundown, corrupt, without a trace of its current chicness and style, and, most significantly, broke.
Now, this isn’t a political blog so I’m not going to take sides, but the rap on the city down in Washington, D.C. at the time was that the pain was all self-inflicted (a raging recession notwithstanding). The city was on its knees because it had been sucker-punched by a bunch of pantywaisted, tax-and-spend liberals who didn’t know how to say no.
President Gerald Ford, at the urging of some of his more conservative cabinet members, decided to say just that to a federal bailout of the Big Apple, and to give the city fathers a good verbal spanking while he was at it. This prompted an editor at the New York Daily News to write the most famous headline since “Dewey Defeats Truman”:
“Ford to City: Drop Dead.”
In fairness to Ford’s memory, he never actually said “drop dead,” but if you read what he really did say, you can see that the headline was accurate. Opinion is divided on whether New York pols really needed that kick in the panties to dedicate themselves to resurrecting the city’s finances, but one thing is certain: the headline galvanized New Yorkers—mostly in anger towards Ford and his fellow Washington Republicans.
Ford changed his mind a few months later and bailed out the city, but many now argue that by then it was too late. Indeed, the following year Ford lost New York City, New York state, and the presidency, to Democrat Jimmy Carter. Ford acknowledged that the headline had lost him the election and most historians now agree.
If you’ve managed to make it to this point, you may be wondering, why the hell am I telling this story and what does it have to do with S(blank)0s? And what does S(blank)0s mean?
I don’t mean to be cagey, I’m just trying to make a point. The (blank) in this case is “E” for “engine.” Put those three letters together and you know what I’m talking about, right? Add the “s” on the end, and you describe the crapmeisters who try to convince you that you need their help.
So why not just spell it out? Because I want to make a point as strongly as I possibly can: Keyw#rds and your rank on G##gle don’t matter. The quality of your marketing ideas and c#ntent do. (I’m breaking up any possible “keyw#rds” in this post to keep it from going to anyone except those who really want to read it). No one searching on S(blank)0 is going to find this post and I hope they don’t.
Because if they’re searching for it and they work in marketing they are misguided.
Let me explain. If that headline writer at the Daily News dared submit it to his S(blank)0 “experts” today, they would reject it out of hand. “Ford? Can we be a little more specific, dude? Are we talking about a car? The dead guy(s) who used to build them or the president? City? Wanna at least specify the hemisphere it’s in? Dead? Bad words rank higher, but might not make it past the spam filters.”
In other words, a headline that has the power to alter an election and change the fortunes of a major world city forever might not make it today.
Do you use this S(blank)0 crap to write your content? Your headlines? If so, do you know how boring it makes it?
I’ve stopped following anyone on Twitter who puts S(blank)0 in their bio. Mostly because the bio usually comes with a picture of a 20-year-old kid with his tongue out and one of those ridiculous “stingy-brim” fedoras on—or there’s a picture of dragon. Or worse, there’s someone who looks like he or she used to be a legitimate marketer. S(blank)0 is usually part of a list in the bio, like “Life, love, boldness, $$$, and S(blank)0.
Most of these people are shysters preying on people’s insecurity about their marketing c#ntent and its ROI. S(blank)0 is a wonderful game. Since G##gle’s algorithm is complex and secret, S(blank)0 experts can claim that they know more about the secret than others. And since that knowledge can be neither verified nor refuted, it’s a great way to sow doubt among those who haven’t researched their audiences or taken the time to develop the research and thinking needed for compelling c#ntent.
The most popular post I’ve ever written on this blog is titled, How s#cial m+dia muteness endangers your company: The crisis at McKins@y. I guess you could say that “s#cial m+dia” is a keyw#rd, but “s#cial m+dia muteness”? Not exactly a trending topic on Yah##.
I like to think that people read that post because it was passionate, opinionated, yet backed up with research and factual evidence. Plus, it was really fun to write. Try it sometime, you might like it—your target audience might, too. Or so you (my target audience) told me…