Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Monday, September 27, 2010

You Can't Measure Community

Gary Vaynerchuk, who wrote the excellent social media strategy guide, "Crush It" will be publishing "The Thank You Economy" in March of next year.  The product description on outlines his contention that "the people and companies harnessing the word-of-mouth power provided by multiplatform media - those that can shift their outlook and operations to be more customer-aware and fan-friendly - will pull away from the pack and profit in today's markets."

This is really the key, I think, to understanding the real practical purpose of social media.  So many people try to analyze the worth of social media by using old-school standards and measurements - "What's the ROI?" being the most common question. Social media, being a social strategy, can't be evaluated as a simple marketing tool. After all,  As this great video based the book Socialnomics asks, "What's the ROI of a telephone?"

Public perception sometimes is a brute; it doesn't invite subtlety. It demands simplicity. It resists change. The emergence of social media - and it's power to create a real personal connection with fans/followers/friends - is still a difficult concept to understand or apply.

Social Media is providing each of us the opportunity to create our own personalized community. How we use that community - from simple human interaction all the way to building product (or personal brand) loyalty (if that's your thing) - is entirely dependent upon our own individual imaginations - and our appreciation of our followers/readers/customers/viewers.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It Takes a Story

I drove up to Santa Cruz for a “Social Media Meet-Up.”  It actually turned out to be a small event, but my conversations with KenRG and KevyNova were quite intriguing.

I’ve known Ken on and off since high school – I was a silent observer of his social media activity long before I dove in myself, and he’s one of the reasons I decided to take the plunge.  

I met KevyNova  at the meet-up  – Ken’s been chatting, tweeting and blogging about this talented musician for a while now.   In memory of his father, who passed away from cancer twelve years ago, KevyNova recently held a 24-hour marathon to raise money for cancer research – the entire event consisted solely of himself performing before his  Macbook iSight webcam.  Though both personal contacts, word of mouth, and social media, he raised over six thousand dollars.  It’s quite an impressive feat – and a great lesson in the power of networking.  He’s not a YouTube star- he doesn’t have a huge following. 

What he does have is a powerful story, the passion to make it happen, and the sincerity to make it real.  That almost sounds like the rules for a successful, meaningful life…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Video Woes, Audio Goes!

My Flip Ultra HD died last week.  My iPhone 4 was born this weekend.  It can also shoot HD video, but it's much more light sensitive, and so less flexible.  I'll certainly use it as part of my vlogged efforts, but it doesn't return consistant quality (correctly light-balanced) video in anything but the most optimum conditions.  I'll need to purchase another HD cam of the Flip variety (though I'm not certain which as yet - I've been considering a number of recommendations).  As I'm attending the Social Media Meet Up in Santa Cruz this weekend, I'm hoping to see a few possible replacement cameras and make a decision.

Tonight, I tried to record one of my regular vlogs in my office, but my Iphone couldn't return a decently balanced picture.  It does it's best with sunlight, of course, and the low-energy lights that dominate our lives these days aren't a pure enough white to create good results.  I'll record my vlog tomorow morning when I have a nice morning sun.

One of the reasons I purchased the Flip was to have a camera that effortless - that I could simply whip out and start using at the slightest inspiration.  The Flip, after a time, failed - with battery issues, freezing issues, and just plain being undependable.  It's recently prevented me from being able to create as consistently as I'd like - where inspiration takes me.    It's downright depressing to be limited as I build my social media footprint.   I need a replacement that I can count on!

On the other hand, I'm loving my channel - it's great fun, and purely effortless.  Either I speak into a mike plugged into my laptop, and then instantly upload - or do the same with my iPhone.  Either way, it's a pleasure to use.  Once my camera issues are solved, I hope to return to my vlogs with the same ease that I've found with audioboo.

Here's my latest "boo," an interview with Patte Dee McKee, once a contract actress to Howard Hughes:


I encourage you to head over to my channel on audioboo and check it out.  If you like it, why not sign up for the site, follow me...and try it yourself!

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Podcast: "A Performer's Passion"


Check out my Audioboo channel at

You can subscribe via iTunes or RSS, if you would like - or join the audioboo and comment directly on each podcast.

Social Media - Using the Tools to Grow the Community

If you're a social media "enthusiast," (in other words, you likely don't make your living from social media), you've probably faced one of the most common questions of the curious, "Yeah, but can you make money with it?"

In a field full of pundits, how-to books, and a world of a bad economy, social media is too often presented as part of a modern gold rush - a quick and easy way to make a living - today's "get rich quick" gimmick.

Even my favorite social media book, "Crush It," by Gary Vaynerchuk, is accompanied by the unfortunate subtitle, "Why Now is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion."  In fact, I very nearly passed on the book because of the usually misleading words, Cash In.  As it turned out, one of the lessons of that particular book was that social media isn't a "thing" - it's a strategy.

You don't benefit from social media in and of itself.  You benefit from applying social media strategies to achieve your particular goals and ambitions.   If you don't know what your ambitions are, or if you don't have a clear image of who you are as an individual, it will be very difficult to find a "productive" purpose for social media.    Social media is simultaneously a tool and a means of self expression.  I think that's an exciting convergence; it also presents an entirely new challenge that changes and evolves from person to person and cause to cause.

The legions of the curious, though, still far outnumber active users.  YouTube viewers far outnumber active members of the community that comments and interacts (which, in turn, is much larger than the active YouTube content creators).  Most people, I think, are dabblers in social media.

Case in Point:

Last week, there was a fundraiser for UNICEF, hosted by a couple of top British YouTubers, including Charlie McDonnell (known on YouTube as Charlieissocoollike).  The numbers that viewed the 24-hour live streaming show were underwhelming by mainstream media standards (10,000 - 20,000 at any given time) though the funds raised wasn't bad given the viewers (about 20,000 pounds - twice their stated goal).  The program was promoted by a number of noted YouTubers on their channels, each of whom contributed shot videos that played at various times throughout the show.  The show itself consisted of the two YouTubers, talking, answering questions, interviewing guests, and performing various audience challenges...etc. - you get the idea.  Even with it's modest success, it seems to me that the numbers should have been much higher, considering the aggregate subscribers of all of the YouTubers involved.

To both social media and traditional media readers, I pose a question:  Using social media tools or traditional media approaches, how would you have embarked on this sort of campaign to create a wider appeal to the YouTube community and beyond?

If you happen to see any of this show, I'd also be curious about your reaction.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Teaching Social Media and the Personal Brand

I had a great time the other day talking to students in the television production classes at Arcadia High School, taught by my friend Bill Citrin.  One class taught television news production, and the other, single camera production.

We talked about some of the basics of storytelling - which cuts across all forms of media - a good story is a good story, whether it's a minute long news piece, a short film, or a special effects-laden motion picture epic.  Or, for that matter, a good vlog on YouTube.

We discussed social media in general, and YouTube in particular.  Students with YouTube channels ranged from 1/4 to 1/3 of each class - even fewer posted on their channels on any regular basis.  Interestingly, some were surprised that YouTube was just five years old - it's become such a huge presence so quickly that it seems like it's been around forever.

But it hasn't.  When YouTube began, the term "social Media" was virtually unknown - Facebook, a year old, was still a small, college-centric site, and MySpace, the first huge social media destination, was all of two years old.

Now, we're bombarded with social media tools and destinations from all sides.  It's social media strategy that's still being invented.  Despite libraries full of instantly published books on succeeding in social media most with 2009-2010 copyright dates), and endless online resources, the vast majority of teens and professionals alike still struggle to find a relevant career-related "use" for social technology beyond simple networking.   Solutions are being developed, but  there really isn't a clear path to learning these methods.

I think that's why more students in a media-related class aren't yet involved in using social media.

Maybe the answer isn't simply to teach site-specific skills, but to explore the entire concept of building a "personal brand."  In other words:  Consider the tools available (social networking sites, social media sites) and then create a public image strategy designed to achieve personal and professional goals.

Comments on this blog are particularly invited!