Archive for “November, 2010”

Are you captivating your audience with story?

The audience will not tune in to watch information. You wouldn’t, I wouldn’t. No one would or will. The audience will only tune in and stay tuned in to watch drama. ~ David Mamet

Robert Bruce over at Copyblogger writes about the importance of story telling as core to effective communication using advice from a memo playwright David Mamet sent to a team of writers on The Unit.

Story telling is important in all channels, but this is resonating for me in the context of social media marketing. Are conversational calendars judged for their daily engagement metrics to the detriment of story telling? Frequently, I think we miss the potential in social channels to use stories to engage our audience and instead settle for the easy push of “information”.

As Bruce writes:

Information is simultaneously too much and not enough.
Information is impotent to reach the hearts and minds of those who can use your idea, product, or service.

David Bruce at Copyblogger: How to Captivate Your Audience with Story (From America’s Greatest Living Playwright)

Worth a read is the text of the original memo available at Movieline: David Mamet’s Master Class Memo to Writers of The Unit

SMG Roundup for November 26: Turkey Time Edition

Mmm.mmm..Coffee Gravy.

Turdunkin

Maggie and I hereby nominate the Turdunkin take first prize in the Great Turkey Meme for 2010. (via someecards)

Cookie Monster Auditions for SNL

Muppets Studios releases cool social content around Thanksgiving (last year’s video has 17.3 million views), this year it is this video and Facebook social media appeal for fans to lobby for Cookie Monster to host Saturday Night Live. As of this writing, the video has 875,228 views and the FB page has 92,012 fans. I am an easy mark for the Muppets and have much respect for clever campaigns, so I’m just going to file this under the letter “A” for Awesome.

I’ll keep it short this week as you recover from yesterday’s festivities and today’s Black Friday traditions. Enjoy those leftovers.

RockMelt: A first look at the social web browser

When I first heard about RockMelt, the “social browser”, I was intrigued. When I found out that I could test a beta copy of it, overly excited would probably be a good measure of my reaction. For those of you who may not be familiar with RockMelt, basically it is a new web browser still in beta, that adds social media like Facebook directly to the sidebars of the window to make it easier to share web items through a user’s social media accounts. After using RockMelt for the last week and a half, here are some of my thoughts.

RockMelt: The Good

Have we met before?

For those familiar with Chrome, you may find yourself doing a double take. When I first launched RockMelt, I had actually thought I accidentally launched my copy of Google’s Chrome browser as RockMelt is almost identical to Chrome, upon first launch. This is because the core of RockMelt is the Chromium open source which Chrome is also built upon. In my opinion, this isn’t an issue as I like the simplicity of Chrome. I was also happy to find that the normal Mac shortcut keys, like CMD+T opening a new tab, worked out just fine without any tweaking.

RockMelt browser

Give that browser a speeding ticket

RockMelt is built using Chromium open source as it’s base. This means that the browser is really fast…like really fast. I like that RockMelt also takes this a step further and works to download/render websites based off the current page and links that you are on to speed up your surfing even more.

Move over Safari, you resource hog!

This is where the nerd in me completely comes out. One of the most impressive things to RockMelt so far has been its memory (RAM) and resource management. Don’t get me wrong, I do really like Safari as a web browser. But when using it for a day means that over a gig of my RAM is locked up in it, even if there are no open websites or windows, something has to change. The image below shows the memory that is taken up after freshly launching Safari and playing one YouTube video with it. In comparison, when the screenshot was taken, RockMelt had been open for 4 hours and had 4 tabs open, one being the same YouTube video. The low system resources needed to run this browser will make it especially appealing to those running devices that may have limited resources like laptops.

RockMelt - Resources

Didn’t your mother teach you to share?

If she did, then RockMelt is the browser for you. My Facebook friends and Twitter followers will attest to the fact that I share a lot of content throughout a day as I come across great articles, comics, and other media. I really like how simple RockMelt makes it to share items from the site that you are on as well as update statuses. From any web page, a user can click on the Share button an be given the option to share out the link or media to their Facebook friends or via a tweet on Twitter.

Similar to the Share button is the easy ability for a user to update either their Facebook or Twitter status by clicking on their avatar on the left edge. This is great, of course, since you don’t actually have to load up Facebook or Twitter in another browser tab to update your Facebook and Twitter statuses.

RockMelt - Share button RockMelt - Status Update

Plugged into the Matrix all the time

The right and left ‘edges’ of the RockMelt browser are the most notable features of the browser. The left side will show a user which of their Facebook friends are currently online and allow the user to chat with them directly from a small pop up window. Users can also create a favorite list of their friends who that actually care are online. The right edge contains an area for the user to put in whatever feeds they would like to keep track of. The top feed shows updates to the users’ Facebook news feed followed by, if enabled, the users’ Twitter feed. Users may also add in any site’s RSS feed for updating. For example, I love movie trailers, so I have the trailers.apple.com feed on my right edge. As new trailers are added to the feed, I’ll receive a small notification that there is something new to look at. When the feed is clicked on, a window pops open showing the latest updates. The user can then click on any update and load the page in the main browser. The right edge is also completely sortable, so users can sort their feeds in any order they like.

RockMelt - News Feed

RockMelt: The Bad

Holy plethora of distractions, Batman!

The most notable downside to RockMelt is one of its greatest strengths. Having access to Facebook, Twitter, and selected feed updates as they happen becomes a distraction that the user has to intentionally ignore. I used to reserve looking at feeds, Facebook, and Twitter to a few times a day such as when taking my lunch break. No joke, the first day I used RockMelt, I had to quit the program and go back to Firefox and Chrome as I was getting way to distracted as I tried to work. I’m much better now as I’ve forced myself to ignore the updates until a logical break point, but having your feeds constantly updated as it happens can be a very tempting thing to look at. If you’re like me and you have a lot of friends who use Facebook and Twitter all day… you can see how one could spend all day looking at the updates. I think for this reason alone, I don’t think we will see that many businesses, outside of the social space and monitoring departments, adopting RockMelt.

Sure, take over my Facebook account

One of the first things that a user is greeted with when installing RockMelt is the Facebook Connect screen before RockMelt will open. After entering my login details, my jaw dropped. I was shown what RockMelt would be given access to on my Facebook account and the short answer is “everything”. I literally almost stopped right there as I follow a pretty strict policy of not giving any application that kind of access to my social accounts due to hacking, bugs, and general concern for some sort of privacy online. In the spirit of testing, though, I made an exception to my rule and granted access. This is a major problem for me, though, as it brings in concerns of hacks or bugs in the system somehow opening my Facebook account up to those with less than pure motives. I would also imagine that this is a full stop, game ending requirement for some people. Unless RockMelt changes how it accesses a user profile on Facebook, I wonder if it will ever become widely adopted.

RockMelt - Privacy Request

No advanced preferences or extensions

Granted, it is still a brand new browser and it is still in beta, but one of the things that I always never was a big fan of Chrome for was being a little too simple. One could argue that simplicity is the point. Since it is built on Chromium, RockMelt can technically install any extensions that are created for Chrome but it basically hides those extensions after install. This becomes frustrating for a user like me as I use a lot of tools for monitoring and stat pulling that require the use of extensions. So it would appear that RockMelt will be a browser for the masses and pros like me will have to use something like Firefox.

RockMelt: The Summary

Overall, after using the browser for over a week now, I can say that I like the browser. Most notably, it is basically a version of the Chrome browser that performs just as fast and adds in some fun and useful social media capabilities. Since it can become quite distracting and doesn’t offer some of the more advanced extension capabilities like Firefox, I don’t see RockMelt becoming the go to browser for professionals who rely on those capabilities. That said, from a consumer/user perspective, RockMelt is a fantastic browser that makes it so you can surf the web and monitor all your favorite feeds and social networks without having to navigate over to other tabs or browser windows. I’m interested to see what features and fixes come with the full official version.

So what do you think? Have you tired RockMelt? Is it the browser for you?

Social Media Roundup for November 19, 2010

Got a Minute?

Would you give a minute to make your city better? That’s all that CEOs for Cities, a “civic lab of today’s urban leaders” is asking you to do. Their new Give a Minute program encourages citizens from Chicago (with Memphis, New York and San Jose to come soon) to enter into a public dialogue with their leaders via social media. The initiative asks, “Hey Chicago, what would encourage you to walk, bike and take CTA [Chicago public transit] more often?” Users then submit their ideas to the site directly or via SMS. Responses, on colorful post-its no less, appear on the site to be reviewed by community leaders like the chairman of the Chicago Transit Board.

While some suggestions might not take off (as a Chicago-area native and CTA veteran, I think a Starbucks at every stop might be a bit hard to pull off), there are plenty of reasonable ideas like train-tracking apps for your phone or pricing incentives. For everyone who’s ever thought they had the secret to fixing their morning commute, this is a much more productive outlet than grumbling into your coffee cup.

Let’s Analyze Some Tweets

In exciting news for data geeks like us, Twitter announced this week that they’re testing an analytics product for a possible release later this year. According to Mashable,

“With Twitter Analytics, users will be able to see a plethora of data about their account; for example, information about which tweets are most successful, which tweets caused people to unfollow, and who the most influential users are that reply and retweet their messages.”

As if that wasn’t enough good news, rumors indicate that the product will be free.

Underworld Goes Online

In what is bound to be the most interesting news about the Underworld action movie franchise, filmmakers of the latest edition are searching for their talent somewhere new: online. With this first casting call posted to Face of the Fan, Sony Pictures’ foray into virtual casting calls, potential stars can log in, download selections from the script, and upload their audition videos to the site. Will aspiring actors from the Midwest stop packing up their things and moving to Hollywood now that the casting call is on their laptop? (via Onion AV Club)

Facebook Has a Message For You

As many predicted, Facebook’s big announcement this week was about their messaging and email capabilities. Over the next several months, Facebook will be bringing users a new type of messaging, complete with a facebook.com email address. But Zuckerberg & Co. stressed that this is not email.

“There are no subject lines, no cc, no bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key. We modeled it more closely to chat and reduced the number of things you need to do to send a message. We wanted to make this more like a conversation.”

It’s going to differ from email, as well, in that Messages will build a conversation history for each person you correspond with, whether it’s by chat, email, or SMS.  And similar to Gmail’s Priority Inbox feature, Facebook Messages will sift through conversations to separate out those that are “more meaningful” (i.e., from your friends and friends-of-friends). Will this be enough for you to move your correspondence into the Facebook system?

Activist Wizards

Photo courtesy of TheHPAlliance.org

With Harry Potter fever going strong this weekend, NPR ran a feature on the Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes young people to take action on campaigns like Helping Haiti Heal or Wizard Rock the Vote.

“Our mission is to empower our members to act like the heroes that they love by acting for a better world. By bringing together fans of blockbuster books, TV shows, movies, and YouTube celebrities we are harnessing the power of popular culture toward making our world a better place. Our goal is to make civic engagement exciting by channeling the entertainment-saturated facets of our culture toward mobilization for deep and lasting social change.”

The HPA should serve as a model for any group trying to mobilize young people. They reach out to kids using cultural touchstones that are important to them, in the shape of the pop culture icons that they love, and utilize social media tools to bring them together.  It’s no surprise they’ve been so successful; their campaigns have raised thousands and helped countless numbers of folks in need.

Roundup Flashback

While this isn’t exactly new, it’s new to me, and too fun not to include. Did you know that rapper Coolio has his own YouTube channel? Did you further know that instead of uploading his music videos or clips from his stint on Celebrity Big Brother, this channel features mostly his web show, Cookin’ with Coolio? Neither did I. Enjoy.

(via @bud_caddell)

Online Privacy: You're Doing it Wrong

Today I delivered a keynote at Defrag 2010, one of the best and most interesting conferences I am lucky enough to be able to attend (their tagline is “accelerating the a-ha moment”). I was pretty anxious about this presentation because it was in the “big room”, in front of all attendees, and they’re a smart, demanding crowd.

This year I decided to talk about privacy, and the fact that we think about it all wrong. My presentation was titled, “Privacy is a Commodity, Not a Place”. The basic premise is this: privacy laws in the U.S. are based on the 4th Amendment, which guarantees “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”. Note the language: it’s all about physical space. The Internet has dramatically changed that, and made the physical space analogy quite inaccurate. Finally, I examined what the real value of your private data is in the real world, and who wants it most.

Here’s the deck. Let me know what you think about your privacy and what it means online:

Social Media Roundup for November 12, 2010

Living Your Life on Facebook

Artist Maxime Luère has created a video, showing one man’s journey through life, as documented by Facebook. “A Life through Facebook” follows Alex Droner through the process of joining Facebook, making friends, and finding and losing love.

Old folks like me weren’t on Facebook until we were well out of school and partnered off, and may have never experienced changing relationships on social networking sites. For teenagers and those in their early twenties, who’ve grown up with profiles on Facebook,  I would think this would probably ring quite true.

(via Kotaku)

Twitter and Ping Join Forces

Beginning on Thursday, Twitter has joined up with Ping, iTunes’ social network. By linking their accounts together, users will be able to integrate the systems. Like a song on Ping, and it will be tweeted to all your followers. Click on a Tweet with an iTunes link, and you’ll see the song in Twitter. Given Ping’s lackluster adoption rate thus far, will this be the push it needs towards mainstream popularity?

Your Own Worst Enemy

For all of us who have ever said something that they came later to regret,  CNN has outlined four different ways for us to embarrass ourselves online. From calling an old contact in our phones that we’ve been meaning to delete (hi, ex-boyfriend!) to hitting “send” too quickly on an ill-advised email, it’s easy to make a social faux pas. It becomes even easier on those nights when we’re out on the town. After a few drinks, posting our feelings to Twitter or replying to our boss’ post on Facebook starts to seem like a great idea.

Luckily for us, now there’s a social media sobriety test to slow us down when that urge strikes. Once you’ve installed this extension to your browser, you’ll need to pass a short test during pre-specified hours. So if you’re unable to type the alphabet backwards, you won’t be able to put that post up declaring your love for your ex.

Facebook Launching Email?

Facebook has an event scheduled for Monday in San Francisco, and the rumor (as reported on Techcrunch and elsewhere) is that they’ll be announcing a new email feature to compete with big boys like Gmail. Moving beyond the messaging capabilities Facebook currently has, this new feature would be a fully capable webmail client, complete with an @facebook.com address. So many of us have invested quite a bit of ourselves in Facebook–are we ready to turn to it for our email needs, too?

OK Go’s New Video Makes Us Feel Nice and Toasty

Amazing video artists OK Go have released a new video this week. Like their previous vids featuring Rube Goldberg machines and gents on treadmills, this one is something to see. They’ve teamed up with artist Geoff McFetridge to etch an animated vision onto toast…lots and lots of toast. Produced in collaboration with Samsung in support of their release of the NX100 camera, “Last Leaf” was created using stop motion animation and is hard to look away from. The song isn’t bad either.

Now Hiring: Social Media Group Intern

How would you like the chance to start your career with Social Media Group?

We’re looking for a student or recent grad who can join our growing team and hit the ground running. This is an entry-level opportunity for a three-month contract. You’re the right fit if you’re detail oriented and driven to produce results. You need to be seriously passionate about marketing, digital, interactive, communications and all things social media.

If you’re interested in this position, please check out the details on our Internship page. The deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. November 26, 2010.

(image via Our Hero)

Social Media Roundup for November 5, 2010

Yee haw! Calm yourselves, little doggies, it’s time for the weekly Social Media Roundup!

Over 50,000 people check-in to vote

This past Tuesday was the mid-term elections in the US and while races heated up, so did social media. There were a number of cool stories and studies like the New York Times showing how actively users were tweeting about different candidates or Mashable pulling in sentiment statistics for Republicans and Democrats. One of the things that caught our eye was Foursquare offering a special badge for people who checked-in in at a voting location and put #ivoted in their shout out. In the end, 50,416 users checked-in to Foursquare from 23,560 different voting locations. Of course this is a very small percentage of all the people that voted in the US on Tuesday, but could it be a sign of services and things to come? Did you get your iVOTED badge?

Foursquare iVOTED

Foursquare iVOTED via http://elections.foursquare.com/

The Big Tweet Off

Speaking of Foursquare, this Thursday saw debate come alive on Twitter via The Big Tweet Off. The site is the creation of Paul Sutton and Beth Carroll who thought of the idea after an afternoon going back and forth on whether or not Foursquare users were “the modern equivalent of stamp collectors”. The basic idea is that it will be a regular “tweet off” between two people with totally opposing views on a subject debating via Twitter using the hashtag #bigtweetoff. At the end of the debate, those watching the hashtag will be able to vote on who the winner is. What was the topic of the first Big Tweet Off? Foursquare and its ability to be social. After 550 tweets from 90 participants, Foursquare fell. If you’re interested, you can check out the whole debate transcript here. The next Big Tweet Off will be announced soon.

Facebook is your breakup Magic 8 Ball

Let’s face it, dating and relationships are hard work. Many end with a breakup that can sometimes feel like it comes at a completely random time. Or is it random? David McCandless data-mined almost 10,000 different statuses on Facebook and was able to map out the frequency of breakups to show when people are most likely to experience one. Unlucky for all of us, one of the biggest spikes happens about 2 weeks before Christmas. So according to the study, you might find yourself single in about 4 weeks. That said, during Christmas breakups drop down to almost nothing as David thinks it just might be “too cruel”.

Breakups on Facebook

Facebook breakup graph by David McCandless

(via InformationIsBeautiful)

It’s an ear trumpet, not a time traveler

Proving once again that they like to ruin people’s speculation with cold hard facts, scientists this week may have debunked the cell phone using, time traveler video originally posted by George Clarke. In case you missed the video, you can check it out below. Basically, in the video, George speculates that a woman walking in the background of a 1928 film showing the premiere of a Charlie Chaplin film was holding a cell phone. Seeing as it was 1928, his only conclusion was that the woman had to be a time traveler. The video went viral with over 49,000 comments and views approaching 5 million inside a few weeks. Scientists, however, said that the woman in the film was most likely using an ear trumpet which was the hearing aid in the 1920′s. As Gizmodo writer Kyle VanHemert put it, though, “maybe it was a time traveler from the future using an antique ear trumpet…”

(via Gizmodo and Life Science)

Sesame Street: There’s an App for That

Finally this week, Sesame Street proves that it is still cool and up with the times by releasing a song called “There’s an App for That”. The basic idea is that the characters all sing and dance around a really cool new tool called the iPogo that features useful apps for things like combing a cat and cutting butter. For certain, Apple was probably disappointed that it didn’t come out with the idea first. Of course, my first thought was “who really uses a pogo stick anymore?”

And that’s the Social Media Round up for this week. As a parting thought, there are only 50 days until Christmas, will you be checking-in on Foursquare at the mall soon?

Demonstrating Social Media ROI

A few weeks ago, I delivered a presentation at BlogWorld Expo 2010 about some of our recent work in blending earned, paid and owned social media (I also recently did a 90-minute Bulldog Reporter PR Unversity Webinar on the same topic, which is available here on demand). While I was in Las Vegas, I had the chance to speak with Abby Johnson from WebPro News about the concept, and here’s the video:

The notion of paid social media is really just beginning to emerge, and while many organizations and agencies are starting to talk about bringing earned and paid together, Social Media Group has been actively doing client work in this space since 2009 (in fact, we wrote a whitepaper on it). Our connections in the industry have helped us bring clients on board at the beta stages for both Digg and Twitter paid social media programs, which has been really interesting for us. For our clients, the results have been mind-blowing.

What do you think the opportunities are in to bring together paid, earned and owned social media?