Category Archives: Social Media

How Samberg and Social Media Saved SNL (repost)

andy-samberg

In the seasons following the exits of Ferrell and Fey, Saturday Night Live seemed to struggle not only amping up talent and (let’s face it) laughter, but also viewership. Hold up, I know SNL has had some prior low-points and that in its nearly 4 decades of seasons, it’s had some not-so-stellar stints (that are before my time – Yes, I know who Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd are), but, I would argue that when Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon cleared out, things looked pretty grim.

Enter salvation in the form of:

ANDY SAMBERG

It was a sinking ship until a fresh-faced comedian and writer, Andy Samberg, joined the cast in 2005, bringing with him his two Lonely Island partners Akiva Shaffer and Jorma Taccone as writers and an updated comedic direction. “Lazy Sunday”, one of the first of SNL’s “Digital Shorts”,  was one of the most widely-viewed and talked-about SNL creations since Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush impressions.

This video garnered much attention from the media, which was only heightened with further Digital Shorts like Iran So Far, featuring Adam Levine of Maroon5, and Emmy-winning “Dick In A Box”, with Justin Timberlake (coincidentally, LaunchSquad client, Barely Political created a parody video called “Box in a Box”)– all of which were written by the Lonely Island team for SNL.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Digial shorts: Samberg,  who stars in the online-only videos, and the Lonely Island team, spearheaded these seemingly amateurish videos, that created such a sensation that when “Lazy Sunday” was posted to YouTube (illegally) it was viewed five million times before NBC pulled it for copyright infringement.

YouTube leads to Hulu: Fans can now find clips on YouTube, but that was not always the case. The short “Lazy Sunday,” which aired on SNL on December 17, 2005, with its massive viewership caused quite a stir in pop culture, but also helped legitimized YouTube as a viable medium for brands like NBC to invest in. In late 2006, NBC began uploading SNL digital shorts on YouTube themselves. The short “Dick in a Box” which aired on televelision in December 2006, was viewed more than 28 million times on YouTube.

NBC advanced its online video campaign, realizing that many of us go online to watch TV and and expanded into Hulu, a joint venture of NBC and News Corp. The video network provides high definition (if often incomplete) versions of the episodes and allows users to comment.

This brings up a larger point of the growing trend of online television: according to a recent NYT article by Brad Stone and Brian Stelter, “Some Online Shows Could Go Subscription-Only”, the online video network yields a huge viewership, boasting 5 million unique viewers in February. Sounds like NBC really took a cue from YouTube and took it to the next level, but it’s interesting that this service that’s saving not only SNL, but the network, could switch to a subscription model when part of the reason it’s so popular is because it’s free.

Video embedding capabilities: In October of 2008 Mashable reported that SNL producer, Lorne Michaels, was planning an on-demand Website featuring popular clips as well as providing the embed code so that bloggers and news sites and… well anyone can embed the videos anywhere.

It’s the virality of these videos that inspired to NBC to wise up and embrace outlets like YouTube and Hulu, a decision that allowed them to reach not only a far more massive audience but also a young audience. This audience not only lives online, like the videos now do, but relates more to Samberg’s “in your face” and often brazen comedic style and also appreciates his savvy talent pairings with high-profile pop stars Justin Timberlake and and T-Pain. These attributes ensure that Samberg and his Lonely Island cronies are very well-suited for the task of recruiting the next generation of Saturday Night Live fans, restoring SNL to what it was meant to be – relevant and funny – and by God, he delivers.

This was original posted on LaunchSquad’s Exclamation blog.

Contributions of, Like, Generation Y

picture-81

It’s sort of an office joke, here at LaunchSquad, that I am a “Digital Native” – yes, that really is the punchline. Those of us born between 1982-2001 also answer to “Millennial” and “Generation Y” and occasionally, since we can still manage it, we participate in the multi-generational phase of “disenfranchised youth.”

I find that I don’t really relate to my generation since I hardly exceed five text messages a day, I generally rely on my sense of direction rather than an iPhone when I get lost, and prefer to meet new people in person rather than on Facebook – call me old-fashioned. This could probably sound like denial on my part, except that I don’t feel resentment toward my generation because while, collectively, it may look like we have nothing to offer, we are a mighty force in consumer and technology trends. And I kind of like that.

According to a 2006 USA Today article, Generation Y usurped the Baby Boomers as the most influential group to retailers, citing a statistic that 13-21 year olds influence more than 80% of their family’s apparel purchases and over half of their car purchases. How does this happen? Well, it could be that we’re the most brand-conscious, information-driven generation yet.

As far as Generation Y in the workforce? Earlier this year, an episode of 60 Minutes entitled The Age Of The Millennials asserted that members of this generation are exceptionally tech-savvy and are especially tuned to their own value in the job market. We’re a good generation to have around in tech and media dilemmas. In a world of infinite access to news everywhere, thank god that the media’s driven by a generation with an attention span shorter than a Jonas Brother.

And despite all of the negative things we’ve pioneered, like cyber bullying and the incorporation of text message abbreviations into our vernacular – contributions that might not be so memorable – we must be recognized for an increasingly established global trend: Online Oxygen. According to trendwatching.com, “Online Oxygen,” is, essentially, the idea that constant and convenient Web access is seen as an “absolute necessity” to a global degree and there’s no slowing of the integration of the internet and daily life.

Oh, SNAP! Our greatest contribution to technology is our demand for it. We multi-task better than any generation, simultaneously downloading music, sending e-mails, updating micro-blog feeds and ordering new running shoes all on the way to the gym. Our information addiction is fed by our dealer – gadgets and smart-phones always on our person – iAppendages, really. Instant access to a wealth of information keeps us clever, resourceful, ambitious and demanding.

And while we may seem obnoxious, self-serving and ridiculous, if it weren’t for that persistence, people, you’d might still be stuck with dial-up internet.

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Originally posted at here, LaunchSquad’s Exclamation blog.

CEO 2.0

courtesty of directnews.co.uk

courtesty of directnews.co.uk

On one of my accounts, the CEO has become pretty obsessed with Twitter as of late. I’m  happy that he was into it because I’m all about engagement and transparency and other great perks of swimming in the Web 2.0 ocean, and I’m not yet very good at convincing clients that a 140-character blurb every now and then is worth their time, so I’m glad that not a lot of prodding was needed on my part. Also, it was nice because, while I manage and maintain the Twitter activity for the company feed, when people have issues with a product, I often don’t know enough about the technology behind it or the industry itself to answer these properly – the CEO, though, can do it very well. It’s an awesome combo – CEO personal Twitter used in conjunction with the company’s…

I was asked, however, to create a little guide for his Twitter activity and realized — People, this is the age of CEO 2.0. What have we progressed to when the CEO is no longer a suit behind closed mahogany doors and on executive planes and golf courses? When they actually interact with the users, no matter how influencial, to trouble-shoot, discuss the product and the industry, or respond personally to reporters. It’s a beautiful thing.

That said, I wanted to pass along this outline for your CEO to start his very own feed. Below are some tools and examples of a Twitter feed done WELL (some of these are review from an earlier post -@JetBlue, @MightyLeaf)

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Tools

Desktop app: Twhirl

  • Gives you the updates on the feeds you follow, and functions like the Web page.
  • You can follow, send messages, @replies.
  • The nice thing about Twhirl, though, unlike the traditional service which only lists the @replies that are in the beginning of posts, Twhirl, lists all @replies that are called, no matter where they are in the post.

Search: search.twitter.com
Scheduled Posts: Future Tweets let’s you schedule Tweets ahead of time.
Regional Interest
: http://www.twitterlocal.net
Conversation/Thread tracking: Tweader.com
Trends on Twitter: http://www.twitscoop.com/


Successful Business Twitter models:

Jet Blue: https://twitter.com/JetBlue

  • Their 7,500 followers are resulting from updates about their flight schedules, flying/travel tips and steady responses to customers and other Twitterers.
  • A steady flow of updates keeps you on the feeds of those following you.

Mighty Leaf Tea: https://twitter.com/mightyleaf

  • They’re not tech, but they come up with useful ways to discuss their products over Twitter and currently have nearly 1000 followers.
  • They post “relevant” issues and articles and are engaged in their industry beyond just their product, engaging in current events and eventually bringing it back to them.

Comcast: http://twitter.com/comcastcares

  • This feed is devoted solely to addressing customer concerns and directing them to new services and solutions.
  • They’ve got 18,000+ updates which illustrates that this is their new customer care model.
  • “Can I help?” is a common @reply to some customer’s venting their concerns.

Evernote: http://twitter.com/evernote

  • Evernote is a great example of how a small company can leverage Twitter, though their model is more centered around updates and announcements rather than industry news and they don’t engage with with @replies. They probably Direct Message everyone who starts following them. Another great way to engage without crowding your feed with @replies.
  • They have over 6,000 followers because they incorporate need-to-know information in their updates so that users can maximize their use.

PLEASE NOTE: Comcast is an extreme model, but it’s the truest when it comes to customer engagement. JetBlue and Mighty Leaf engage with customers, but they also focus on industry news as well. JetBlue even features a “Tech-travel Tuesday” weekly tweet devoted to how technology is having an impact in travel.

Executives On Twitter

Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com: http://twitter.com/zappos

  • This is more of a daily log of activities, interactions with other journalists, and daily goings on at Zappos. But it does a great deal to humanize the company and they have nearly 20,000 followers because of it.

David Sifry, Chairman of Technorati: http://twitter.com/technorati

  • He recently did an interview on his Twitter engagement: I subscribe to lots of people who say interesting things, and I listen [and] read a lot. I find that these people become a sounding board for ideas, and I learn a lot from them.”
  • Many CEOs are finding this a good window into current events and insights into their industry.

It’d like to reiterate that, it does help if you garner some of the nuances of Twitter, blogging and other Web 2.0 engagement tools for your personal use – SEO, Web presence, visibility before you attempt to do the same for your client.

Have at it.


Don’t mess with my SEO – Battles with middle schoolers

I found another Megan Soto — IN OREGON.

#8 In the results for the Google search:

picture-32She does the long jump for Cascade Middle School’s track team.

picture-22What are the odds?! I mean — seriously.

Wired wants me to kill this thing: Can we just talk this through?

In a recent article in Wired, Paul Boutin of Valleywag writes “Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.”

Not sure why I decided to discuss this over a BLOG. However this might be my only outlet with which to discuss it. I do not write for a big-name blog or contribute to an established magazine, Paul.

In the article he brings up a good point: the personality and intimacy that once drew now-famous bloggers to the activity is now gone. At least from well-read sites. He references a typical day on Technorati where the top blogging activity doesn’t highlight the personal prose of the individual, but rather sites that boast many well-known, uber-Tweeting contributers and thus mass readership and exposure. They no longer capture the discourse of an individual, but, more often, as is the case with the Huffington Post and TechCrunch, a releasing and rehashing of recent news. A professional outlet, rather than personal.

This is a problem, for sure, for PR professionals who are now including “Company Blog” as a tactic in their PR plan strategy for clients. Will it get read? Will it be taken seriously? Is it still a resource? These are the stakes in Boutin’s assertion.

I guess what I’m wondering is where this is stemming from? Why should blogs be a stagnant model for logging daily (semi-monthly, in my case) activities and thoughts and not evolve and transcend into a mass consumption outlet like ALL OTHER MEDIA?

Yes, there exist some big names that tend to monopolize the attention of he masses, but there exist many blogs that are personal and not professional. This one, for example.

Others:

The Unbride blog – A wedding blog that gets tons of readers, but is just one girl’s log of how she’s planning her wedding. Yet many people see it as a resource for their own planning.

The Cool Cat Teacher blog – Vicki Davis’ personal thoughts on education and technology. Widely read and an incredible force in the Edu-blogosphere.

Howsed – A home improvement blog written by a guy in Colorado. Gets tons of comments because he offers his personal “two-cents” on Do-It-Yourself projects.

These blogs continue to uphold the essence of the activity – a conversation, a discourse while still retaining the original charm of one person disclosing their ideas on a topic.

This whole situation reminds me of when a friend said, “You know Facebook is over when your mom joins it.” I disagree. I think that means it has become a commodity. Just because more people are starting to understand it and see its potential doesn’t degrade its value to those who originally and successfully invested in it.

I think what it comes down to is that I like my blog. I like being able to write and publish my thoughts without having to condense to Twitter all the time. Essentially, I want be able to keep blogging and not feel stupid for doing it.

Is there any hope for me?

* Image courtesy of http://www.asa.org.uk

Fresh Meat Advice: Contribute what you know – in my case, Twitter.

On a tip from Kelli Matthew’s PRos in Training blog, to which I still subscribe, I read the post by Julia Roy called “Getting More Twitter Followers and Twittering for Business.” In the post she talks about gaining more Twitter traction – a whopping 4,000 followers – and how she decides to follow people back.

STUDENT TWEETS: Everyone has to start somewhere.

I started Twittering in February with no idea what I was doing. How did I become acclimated? I was online three or four times a day looking up tech news, reading Mashable and TechCrunch, NYT Tech columns, PRWeek, Business Week, poring over Google Trends, getting GMail alerts for news and blog posts on PR and Social Media, virtually all of the blogs in my Google Reader were tech and PR blogs. I needed to be able to engage with the people who were on Twitter about things that were important to them.

When LaunchSquad, found me on Twitter, though, it was because I’d “tweeted” about one of their clients – Vivaty.

TWITTER ON THE JOB?

JetBlue was one of the first business Twitter feeds that I followed and actually tweeted back at. They are one of the best Twitter business models I’ve seen.

When I started here, one of the first things I was asked to do on each of my accounts was either establish or revamp their Twitter activity. I wrote a Twitter strategy based on a case-study on JetBlue’s Twitter activity.

WHY I PAY ATTENTION: Their 4,800 followers are resulting from updates about their flight schedules, flying/travel tips and steady responses to customers and other Twitterers.

WHAT I TAKE AWAY: To be savvy with customers and Twitter, you need to pay attention to what they’re saying. People often express frustrations with software and companies on Twitter.

Another great example is Mighty Leaf Tea. They’re hardly tech, but they’re in the East Bay and so here in San Francisco – and silicon valley, we’re big fans. They’ve got great, unique flavors which makes for great “Tweets”. 

WHY I PAY ATTENTION: They’re not tech. At all. They sell tea, for god’s sake. But they come up with useful ways to discuss their products over Twitter and currently have 500+ followers in their pocket.

WHAT I TAKE AWAY: They post “relevant” issues and articles and are engaged in their industry beyond just their product – like the above post: List an interesting article and bring it back to the product. Very nice.

THE SKINNY

I suggest before taking on a client’s Twitter campaign, work on beefing up your own feed in addition to the rest of your online presence. Social media savvy applied to personal uses can only help when you’re asked to do it for a client.

A friend of mine and former intern here at LaunchSquad, Ben Kessler, has a great blog as well as a juggernaut Twitter following (currently at 579) and has managed 6,200+ updates so far – In September he averaged 24 updates a day. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

In my own case, I eventually found an even balance for my Twitter feed: my initial rabid tech/PR discourse combined with a cultural commentary (articles, music, film, events) and have – to reinforce Julia Roy’s point – seen a steady increase of 5-10 new follower’s a week.

Once you’ve honed this aspect of social media – and not to imply, by any means, that I have – you’ve become a valuable asset to any company, client and agency as they all are trying to figure out what Twitter means and could do for their business.

The Twit-Pire Strikes Back: Mad Men on Twitter

The Cast of Mad Men

The Cast of Mad Men

The frustration that often comes when I try to explain to my friends and family the usefulness of Twitter stops here. Actually, probably not, but please take a moment to contemplate just how powerful the more than 1,200 8,7000 followers of @Don_Draper can be. To recap, Early last week, feeds from certain characters from the AMC show Mad Men began to show up on Twitter and interact with other users – and of course, their numbers of follower’s sky-rocketed.

The updates on each feed are genius: perfectly tailored to each character in language and content and often talk about plot related activity. They give their followers a feeling that each plot twist is actually happening between each episode.

For example, last Friday @Don_Draper, all of whose updates are as ambiguous and guarded as his character is, put out an update saying “@Joan_Holloway is going to tell me who my new secretary will be” when we were looking forward to last Sunday’s new episode The New Girl, in Which Don gets an attractive new secretary.

For a list of characters on Twitter, check out Ben Kessler’s initial blog post here.

Monday Morning: Finally up-to-speed with the second second season (though waiting to watch my Tivo-ed recent episode until that night), I was pleasantly surprised to recieve a notification that @Betty_Draper was following me. We proceeded tweet about housewives and mothers embracing technology and asked if she’d checked out Blogher – a tech-savvy group of like-minded women, I promised her.

Later that day, I briefly reflected, with my co-worker @greerkarlis, how “nerdy” it was that we were so obsessively following these characters even though we knew (or believed at the time) that they weren’t the real actors themselves but rather someone hired by AMC.

That’s where we were wrong.

That night, Ben Kessler informed me that the feeds of Don Draper, Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway were suspended by Twitter. The mystery was on. Within a half hour, MG Siegler of Venture Beat had written a post about it and had contacted Twitter who responded within an hour that the Mad Men character feeds were, in fact, NOT written by people affiliated with the show or AMC and the network didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of someone not affiliated with the show, posing as these characters.

But as Siegler pointed out in his post, everyone who’s been following these characters KNOWS it’s not the actual actors updating them. We don’t follow because we’re starstruck. We follow because they spice up our feeds and more importantly, tide us over until Sunday night when there’s a new episode. In other words, it couldn’t be better for AMC. Not only is the individual or team behind the Mad Men Twitter activity putting out relevant content, they’re doing it in a space that so filled with facts, this bit of fiction was sure to attract a strong following.

Perhaps that’s why, after 24 hours of uproar from Twitterers, AMC allowed the Mad Men updates to continue. One of the smartest moves their marketing department could have made and, as the Reuter’s article says-, Don Draper would approve.

UPDATE 1: If you’re a visual learner, this post might be good for you.

UPDATE 2: Here’s a new site by the creators of the Mad Men feeds addressing the situation.

*Image courtesy of Vanity Fair.