Use Your Middle Initial(s) to Appear Intellectual

Names impact people’s perception. Students whose first name begins with A or B have higher GPAs in school. Names “perceived to be white” get more call backs from resumes. Supposedly people with last names in the beginning or end of the alphabet engage differently in various impulse and scholastic behaviors. But those traits are outside of our control. Presenting your middle initial or not is 100% in your control. When researching likability and names, I found this study originally published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, The impact of middle names: Middle name initials enhance evaluations of intellectual performance.

Methodology of Studies

The full details are in the article, but they essentially ran a series of tests to see how people perceived the subject based on the presentation of the name. Subjects were asked to rate things from a scale of 1-7 from not-at-all to very much. The details varied in each test.

Evaluating Writing Performance

On a writing competence evaluation (study 1), those with middle initials had an average score of 5.62 instead of 4.92. The highest results were three middle initials (6.00) or a single middle initial, 5.80, while two middle initials was not significantly higher than none (5.05).

The fact that using three middle initials in ones name rased the score a full point out of 7 is pretty substantial, since it is costly. But the single middle initial was nearly as high.

Almost everyone has a middle initial, you should always publish using it, and I just added my Middle Initial to by blog and LinkedIn Profile.

Perceived Performance

We all want to be evaluated well in performance. Can something simple like your middle initial make a difference? In Study 3, they tested the perceived performance for intellectual pursuits and non-intellectual domains (athletic performance).

To evaluate this, the testers were asked which team they wanted to join, where Team A had more middle initials than team B. In the intellectual area, Team A won with 5.43 vs. 4.54 for Team B. In the athletic arena, there was nearly no change, and no statistical difference was inferred.

Perceived Status and middle Initials

Organizations perceived in higher intellectual status were expecting middle initials (study 2), which was reinforced in the performance study, but the more interesting branding question is your perceived status (study 4). The addition of middle initials raised the perceived status to 5.14, from the control group’s 2.99. If you want to be perceived as high status, use your middle initial.


I found the paper fascinating. But the primary business take-away, if you want to be perceived as high status or intellectual, use your middle initial. If you can do something extreme like use three middle initials, it may work better, but two middle initials seems counter productive.

Given the paucity of the 2/3 letter combinations in the 6 studies (it was only in study 1), I recommend that those wishing to be seen as high status or intellectual use their middle initial.

2018 Social Media Strategy Overview

Two heads sharing questions and ideas

There is no one side fits all strategy to Social Media, but ignore it at your risk. There are several major platforms and a plethora of minor platforms, but for small business brands and political brands, there are a few to focus on. Thank you to Pew Research for putting these facts together.


YouTube, by reputation, is that of a video streaming service, but the site is a much broader social platform. Comments, discussions, sharing, and thumb up/thumb down scores all contribute to the YouTube experience. Sure you can embed a YouTube video on your website without using those functions, but is now the second largest search engine (after, and Google Video searches rely heavily on YouTube. A strong YouTube presence, including the social components of commenting on related videos and replying to comments, is very important. As of January 2018, 73% of Adults use YouTube.


The largest of the pure Social Platforms, 68% of Americans have Facebook Accounts. Only Facebook knows what percentage of them are regular and active users, but Pew pegs it at 74% of American Facebook users use it at least once a day. That’s self reported, so take it with a grain of salt, but Facebook may be the easiest and most direct way to reach people. It is not sufficient to have a Page that you share content to. Links to your website, with proper boosts, and audience building campaigns are critical to brands having the ability to engage with people that interest them.


Instagram, the Facebook property, is in third place with 35% of Americans having accounts, 60% of whom use it at least daily. That makes Instagram an important, but not as critical, part of your social media strategy. A simple Instagram account, with a regular picture and caption being added, with good hashtags, can go a long way towards building your brand. A serious effort to build followers and engage can have more serious results, but it depends on your brand. If your goal is to build deep relationships with users (premium luxury brands), Instagram should be front and center. If you need a more casual relationship with the bulk of the population (think politicians, Instagram can be more perfunctory).

Niche Platforms: Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter

These platforms, are relatively popular, all having a decent population, with dominance in their area, but lack a universal presence. The usage gap between these platforms and Instagram is only a few percentage points, but Instagram is rapidly growing and these niche platforms are relatively static in their user base. For completeness, Pinterest has 29% of Americans, Snapchat 27% of Americans, LinkedIn has 25%, and Twitter 24%. These aren’t small audiences, with large segments of the population in their niche.

Pinterest is very popular, but is demographic specific, being 81% female, and a median age of 40. The active pinners are younger and even more female, and among Millenials it equals Instagram. It has a strong advertising platform, and is very strong around lifestyle, hobbies, and brands. If you market your brands towards women under 50, Pinterest is a great addition to your platform. (OmniCore’s Pinterest Statistics)

Snapchat is popular, but niche. The advertising platform is immature, and it is challenging for non-celebrities to build a following here. Unless you are in fashion, music, or other youth targeted segments, it is probably more worthwhile to focus on other platforms. But if you are targeting college students and younger, SnapChat is essentials. (OmniCore’s Snapchat Statistics)

LinkedIn is a valuable, and expensive to market on. If your target audience are business professionals, it’s a critical platform. Sales Professionals live and die by LinkedIn. Gainfully employed people may only look at Linkedin when job hunting. If you are selling into corporate markets, LinkedIn needs to fit your platform. If you are marketing to consumers, LinkedIn is probably not going to generate an ROI.

Twitter is a super strange platform. It’s relatively small, but sometimes has an out-sized influence. It is popularly credited by the media with dominating the 2016 election, but there are so few people on it. It is more popular overseas, where the lower data needs and more free-flowing conversations avoid censors. Twitter is extremely possible with journalists, public relations firms, and celebrities. The ability to run the messaging from a cell phone makes it much flexible for those in the business of communicating with those industries. While Twitter shows Videos and Images, pure text messaging still works. If your business is looking to reach journalists, generate publicity, or communicate with customers in a free-wheeling fashion, Twitter should be part of your communications strategy. Twitter’s advertising tools are shockingly primitive, but it’s very powerful if you are trying to reach the demographics active there.

YouTube as Search Engine

YouTube is the Second Largest Search Engine.

People go straight to YouTube, looking for content.  In addition, content on YouTube filters into Google Video Search and Google Video Results on the “All” results page, but YouTube searches themselves are increasingly valuable.

Is your Brand Utilizing YouTube Properly?

YouTube Channels Matter

You definitely need a YouTube Channel, and that Channel should be optimized on your name.  When you are uploading videos, you want to make certain that people looking for you find your official page.  (Yes you can create multiple YouTube Channels, but how and why you’d do that is a more advanced topic).

Your Name, images, description, all these things matter.  Setting up your Brand Account is critical if you want to share access with others, or separate your professional and business life, and you can learn about Brand Accounts from Google, Manage your Brand Account.

YouTube Video Optimization Matters

If you are competing on a competitive generic phrase, you can spend endless hours working on learning SEO both on your website and on YouTube as a platform.  For Basics, you want to focus on the core areas of ranking:

  • Use the Brand Keyword in the Title
  • Compelling Thumbnail and Title that encourages people to click on your video
  • Say Your Target Keyword (so it gets transcribed)
  • Invite people to comment and subscribe in the video
  • Ask People to Subscribe to the channel
  • Promote Your Video to get Views (on your Blog, on Twitter, in your Email Signature, everywhere)

YouTube Can and Will Drive Quality Traffic

YouTube gets people looking for entertainment and information.  If your video offers either, it’s a great way to promote your brand, and a great way to engage with your customers, clients, and prospects.


Branding in Politics: All the Difference in the World

Retirement Savings is probably the most challenging economic issue facing the country. I presuppose that the issues with resolving the “crisis” are not political, but marketing.

Nataxis Global Asset Management commissioned a survey, and Time Magazine is reporting that 82% of Millennials support mandatory retirement plans and 75% support mandatory matching contributions.

Intuitively this makes sense, 82% of Boomers are counting on social security, but only 55% of Millennials think that social security will be there for them.

Interesting, if you ask people about expanding or cutting social security, according to Huffington Post, support for increasing social security reaches 70% among Millennials and 75% for Baby Boomers.

What does this mean:

  1. Expanding Social Security is VERY Popular
  2. Mandatory Retirement Savings in personal accounts is VERY Popular
  3. Mandatory Retirement Matches is VERY Popular
  4. Cutting Social Security is VERY Un-Popular

Notice a pattern here? Social Security is funded via a mandatory payroll tax on the employee and employer, a “match” if you will. The “optional” Bush Plan 10 years ago was super complex, was based on optional contributions to private accounts that would reduce benefits, and other confusing options.

What if instead the plan were phrased as:

  1. Expanding Social Security with Mandatory Retirement Accounts
  2. Employees and Employers would be required to contribute
  3. The accounts would be private, and default to Treasury Bills
  4. People could move their Social Security Investment Account to fiduciaries, or not, with limited investment options

That sounds economically, exactly like privatization. But every branding exercise would focus on expanding social security. Now sell your Social Security Expansion plan via Social Media, and you have a winner.

Playboy to Launch Work-Safe

Playboy, once seen as a risque adult magazine, but now a relatively tame magazine, is now launching a new website that is work safe.  The persistent joke about reading Playboy for the articles has ignored the fact that it actually was a well written magazine, albeit one best known for the Centerfold.  Playboy has launched a landing page with a signup on their new site,, a nod to the fact that the company is as well known for it’s Smoking Jacket clad founder as for the bunnies and the naked spreads.

The idea of a non-pornographic gentleman’s lifestyle magazine being promoted by Playboy is intriguing, and definitely capitalizes on an extremely well known brand.  In recent years, Playboy’s iconic magazine has been a money loser, with the value from the brand in royalties and merchandising, plus the pay per view movie channels being the dominant areas of growth.  With the collapse of well known magazines in recent years, it will be interesting in Playboy can extend their brand to the non-adult fare.

In middle school, our science teacher brought in an interview conducted by Playboy, which was an extremely good interview, with much amusement from the class about the source.  She told us she sent her poor embarrassed husband in to purchase the magazine for her to run off copies of the article for us to read.

While I’m certain that the school district had a copyrighted materials policy, I’m pretty sure that a purchase order for 50 – 100 copies of Playboy magazine would have raised red flags, even if they were able to cut out the pages of the interview without the “dirty bits.”

Ad Effectiveness Higher on Content Sites

For branding, it appears that advertising on Content Sites is 21% more effective than on Portals and through Ad Networks.  This seams like good news, as the consolidation of Traffic on the Internet has undermined the small is beautiful of the gold rush era.  An advertiser needing to spend a $1,000,000 budget doesn’t have the ability to cherry pick places to spend ads without spending expensive employee resources finding sites, but a niche player looking to advertise can identify where their traffic is and has an edge.

Portals and Ad Networks generally charge higher CPM rates for apparently inferior results.  This ought to give hope to independents that targetted advertisement can give results.  Let the big guys spent $8 CPM running ads across networks, you can get 21% more effective results at $3-$4 CPM rates, and the local content players will be thrilled compared to the $1-$2 they get through the networks… it’s not that networks take a 75%, they take a 25%-50% cut and then don’t sell the inventory.

And if you like developing unique content, don’t despair, your advertising inventory is increasing in value!

Branding in Social Media Worlds

Consumer Branding companies appear to be wising up that the Internet can be used for more than CPC/CPA deals for Internet dealers.  Not only can you do CPM advertising deals to promote your brand like you did on television, but interactive media helps you engage your customer base.

Look at, PULL-UPS The Potty Project, with a reality TV type approach showing 6 families potty training.  This follows their viral success of the Potty Dance, where families could send in their videos of the Potty Dance for a competition.  They received 75 entries and over 600,000 viewers… not bad for a brand whose primary process if keeping the child from peeing over the house.

Using Social Media, companies are finding a large click rate despite not incentivizing the offers.  In part because of the newness, social media interactions aren’t seen as intrusive the way email marketing has become.