All posts in “snl”

Book Review: Grant McCracken's Culturematic

Michelle McCudden is a Client Engagement Director on the Client Strategy & Innovation team at Social Media Group. Follow @mmccudden1

What do Burning Man, fantasy football, and Saturday Night Live’s Digital Shorts have in common? On the surface, probably not that much. But they’re all examples from anthropologist Grant McCracken’s latest book, Culturematic.

As McCracken describes it, a Culturematic is a “little machine for making culture” intended to “test the world, discover meaning, and unleash value.” It’s something that’s easier to describe through examples, rather than by definition, and as such McCracken spends most of Culturematic describing and analyzing examples. When Saturday Night Live allowed Lonely Island to create a series of digital shorts, it was an experiment. It was a test, of new formats, of integrating comedy, celebrity, music video and new ways of reaching the traditional SNL audience, online vs. on TV.

Burning Man and fantasy football are also presented as examples of Culturematics, but with slightly different roots. With no corporate backer at their onset, their creators came to them organically—doing something for personal enjoyment that caught the attention of like-minded others and soon took off as a phenomenon.

One of McCracken’s goals for the text was “to make innovation a little more practical and a lot less fashionable.” The Culturematics he presents certainly still seem fashionable, but practicality is a harder road to sow. Many of the Culturematics seem to have worked through corporate support (Lonely Island and Lorne Michaels) or through blind luck and momentum (fantasy football and Burning Man).

Working in the digital culture industry, Culturematic is certainly inspirational. If nothing else, it’s an excellent compendium of cultural artifacts that have touched the zeitgeist in the last few years.


The Lonely Island ft. T-Pain [I’m On A Boat] (SNL Digital Short) from G O O D C O M P A N Y on Vimeo.

Twitter is Just One Piece of the Influencer Puzzle

Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

social media group

If you’re a regular SNL watcher you would have seen this past weekend’s ‘You Can Do Anything’ skit, poking fun at “the incredibly high self esteem of the YouTube Generation.” They featured bloggers, an independent filmmaker, a popular tweeter and a YouTube personality in the skit. You can watch the entire skit below. (Our Canadian readers may not be able to view the video, I’m sure they’re savvy enough to find a screener online though :))

This quote says it all:

Roger Knight (Independent Film-maker): Tell us about yourself
Taylor Dawn (Popular Twitter Personality): Well, I’m what you would call Twitter Famous
Roger Knight: Which means?
Taylor Dawn: Not famous.

Admittedly I did get a few chuckles out of it, but it made me think about how online influence is perceived not only to us in ‘the biz’ but to the general public, and how brands and agencies alike need to ensure they’re aligning with the right influencer partners when executing earned media campaigns.

Mark Schaefer wrote a post in March of last year about how important Twitter influence is (as it pertains to Klout score) and he basically told us there is little true influence on Twitter.

But wait, don’t freak out! That 2012 influencer campaign your client just approved isn’t about to fall apart. Twitter is just one (albeit integral) piece of the entire digital influence puzzle. Marketers should be looking at the whole picture when identifying influencers for campaign partnerships. What does that mean? It means Twitter, Facebook and most importantly – blogs.

A successful digital influencer campaign starts with top-notch high quality earned content—content that lives on the blog. Facebook and Twitter are both extremely important to amplifying that content and driving awareness, but it starts with the blog.

BlogHer’s April 2011 Social Media Matters report found that both blog readership and social media use are on the rise in the United States. BlogHer reported 40 percent of online Americans surveys said they read blogs (up from 37 percent in 2010).

BlogHer 2011 Social Media Matters


In May 2011, eMarketer estimated the number of blog readers in the US would reach 122.6 million in 2011, representing 53.5% of internet users. Furthermore, they expect that number to reach 150.4 million by 2014, representing a whopping 60% of internet users.

social media group


Okay, okay, blogs are important. We get it, right? So how do we identify the right bloggers/influencers who will provide high quality content and increased reach through their social properties? Do your research.

Facebook Likes, Twitter followers and a high Klout score does not guarantee quality content or awesome ROI. It merely provides a benchmark for potential impressions and if the content isn’t good, the impressions won’t help. Influencers need to be able to offer companies and brands something of value in return for what they’re getting. For starters, they need to have awesome social media marketing skills, and know the rules of professional blogging inside and out.

Here are a few other rules of thumb:

  1. What does their blog look like? Is it aesthetically pleasing to the eye? Does it look professional?
  2. How active is the person? Do they blog daily? Weekly? Monthly? (Hopefully not annually!)
  3. How engaged is their audience? Do you see the potential influencer engaging in conversation on their blog comments and/or Facebook and Twitter? Do they provide additional value to their readers through these conversations?
  4. How relevant to their market is their content? Is your tech blogger writing about the new oatmeal recipe he’s trying?
  5. Have they worked with competitors in the past? This is a big one. Be sure to inquire about potential conflict of interest, even if it was years ago – you need to be made aware.

You should have an evaluation system in place when it comes to identifying the perfect influencer(s) for your campaign. We use SMG Rank™ (SMG’s proprietary influencer identification and ranking methodology) when determining appropriate influencers for our client campaigns. It’s a pretty awesome secret sauce of metrics…not to toot our own horn 😉

So would Taylor Dawn, the SNL Twitter personality, make a good influencer? Not if his only claim to fame is a large Twitter following and his budding songwriting career.  Remember, when it comes to choosing influencers for your earned campaigns, look past the Klout score, Facebook Likes and follower count to see what they’re really made of before you pitch.