LOTD: 1/31/08

  • Sometimes, an organization trying really hard to make its way into social media sites tries a little too hard, and gets caught. Good job, Andy Baio! (TB)
  • Funny how the world works, huh? Did you notice that Amazon purchased Audible? (TB)
  • MarsEdit continues its coup to get bloggers using it with a slew of new features in version 2.1, including the “Save As Draft” on the server feature for Movable Type. Awesome. (TB)
  • iTunes has surpassed RealPlayer in unique users, a report iLounge is citing from Nielsen Online. Well, I most certainly hope so. (TB)

Dear Twitter,

Believe me, this is a hard letter for me to write. You’ve been such a great partner since we met. You let me speak my mind, let me connect with people whose thoughts I enjoy reading and are just great.

When you work, that is.

But that is becoming less and less frequent. I appreciate that you tried to keep our relationship fresh with a new downtime graphic (despite the fact that “Something is technically wrong” sounds like lawyer-speak. I think what you were trying for is “Something is wrong technically.”) but when that’s primarily what I see…well…it’s disappointing.

Don’t think I’m going to go see other micro-blogging platforms. I’m not, really. I’ve tried a few others but the lack of users and not quite as slick interface just doesn’t work for me. No, more troubling for you should be the fact that it’s quite easy to ditch micro-blogging entirely. It’s an add-on to my day, not an essential.

So let’s call this a trial separation. I know you’ve been getting other letters like this and hope that you’ll take them in the constructive way they’re intended. But if you really want people to continue to use your site you need to let them use your site. You’ve gotten a lot of free passes and second chances, but if any other site stopped in its tracks as frequently as you do we’d all have ditched it a long time ago.

It’s not me – it’s you. Fix yourself, then we can talk more.

Flaming hunk of car

Watch this video of a train hitting an abandoned car on the tracks from two days ago and keep in mind I was on the second train, the one that brings the flaming hunk of car back into frame.


Book Review: Join the Conversation

I really hope you haven’t come here looking for an impartial, objective review of Joseph Jaffe’s latest scre… um… manife… um… tira… book “Join the Conversation.” If you have I hate to break it to you but you’re going to be more than a little disappointed. I’m a fan of Jaffe’s blog, of the client programs he’s put together and his previous book, Life After the 30-Second Spot.

Join the Conversation picks up more or less right where LA30SS left off, with a loud and clear call for marketing professionals to leave the past behind them and begin thinking differently in order to adapt to a world where traditional tactics don’t have the same impact they once did. In the previous book that call was focused on moving beyond the existing commercial formats and doing more to reach people in a targeted manner with messages that were relevant for them at a time that was convenient for them. Instead of “here’s when we’re speaking and all of you better pay attention now because I’m only going to say this 68 more times” he wanted marketers to go out with messaging that said “I know you’re busy but it seems like now might be a good time for us to chat because I think you’re going to like this.”

In JtC, though, Jaffe takes it to the next level and pushes marketing professionals to actually get down in the muck – he often uses the “ivory tower” as the marketer’s preferred environment – and talk with the customers. That requires a drastic shift in thinking because customers, both current and potential, are usually treated as idiots to be talked TO and certainly not WITH.

But, and this shouldn’t be a shocking point of view to readers here or most other places, engaging in meaningful discussions with members of the buying public has the upside of showing what’s working and what’s not, even if what they have to say deviates from the key messages the corporate team decided on.

It doesn’t even have to be direct dialogue that occurs, as Jaffe points out. Sometimes it’s as simple as sponsoring a platform people are already using to connect with other like-minded individuals. Sometimes it’s soliciting feedback, even if it’s anonymous in nature. His point, and it’s a good one, is that it’s time to listen more and talk less because people have a voice (through blogs, social networks, podcasts or other tools) and the means to amplify that voice (RSS feeds, friends updates, search results) so knowing what’s being said is more important than ever before

In addition to being filled with plenty of instances and case studies that help to flesh out and prove his point, Jaffe’s very writing style should not be overlooked. It’s very conversational and natural, very much like he wrote this in the same manner he speaks. In fact, as with LA30SS, the enjoyment of the book (I laughed more times than I’ll admit here) is increased if you’ve met him or listen to his Jaffe Juice (nee Across the Sound) podcast. If you haven’t I highly recommend doing so.

Join the Conversation is a natural for anyone working in this industry or field and is recommended without reservation.

Drop video-sharing site opposition

New numbers from Pew Internet and American Life Project show that 48 percent of online users visited a video-sharing site in 2007, up from just 33 percent in 2006. That sort of adoption means we’re well beyond early adopters and are into the mainstream. People have figured out how to watch videos, how to add them to their Facebook profiles, how to put them on their own blogs or simply how to email a link to a friend who might also enjoy that video.

Now to be sure not all of these visitors are going to YouTube. Some are going to FunnyorDie. Some are going to Blip.tv. Some are going to PodTech. Some are going to Break. Some are going to Revver. Some are going to Viddler. I could go on and on, but you get the idea: There are a lot of video sharing sites out there.

Studios and TV networks often decide where and when to upload videos to sharing sites based, seemingly, on one or both of two factors. Either it’s because the site is owned by the same corporate parent as the studio or it’s because the video is deemed to be “important” enough for distribution online. Both of these reasons only serve to limit the reach of the videos and so need to be discarded in favor or these two overriding mindsets:

  1. Go all in: If you have video, get it out there. It doesn’t matter if it’s a trailer, a TV spot, a promotional video, a behind-the-scenes interview or anything else. The rule of the Long Tail is fully in effect here. There will be an audience for it if it’s made available. It might be a small audience, but often that small audience is made up of people who are passionately engaged and who are going to think that video, if I might sound like a YouTube commenter here for a moment, rocks. Showing that you, as a corporate entity, are committed to making a wide variety of material available online also establishes you as an important resource for the audience, creating some of that elusive positive brand association so many brand managers are always chasing after.
  2. Go all out: Don’t let the fact that you have a video-sharing site as a corporate sibling influence your uploading strategy. If that site, for instance, only enjoys a market share of 13 percent, the reach of your video is going to be a subset of that subset. Here’s a number you should remember instead: 100%. That’s how many people who use video sharing sites have visited a video sharing site. With the sheer number that are out there it makes sense to put videos on as many sites as possible so that wherever people are – something they determine and not you – they can find your content. And don’t let the notion of uploading the same video multiple times discourage you. There are sites like TubeMogul that allow you to upload the same video to multiple sites simultaneously so it doesn’t add unnecessarily to your workload.

Look at what CBS and, to some extent, other networks have done. CBS realized it was getting little to no traction on CBS.com with its streaming primetime shows. So it cut deals with Joost, Brightcove, AOL and other online outlets to distribute its programming, an admission that it’s more important that people see the content at all then that CBS.com get pageviews. Considering CBS’ livelihood depends on building viewership of shows the strategy makes sense. Demanding they visit the homepage would have continued a slide into irrelevancy.

Studios need to think the same way when it comes to distributing their trailers and other promotional videos (we’ll address actually movie distribution later) or they risk that same fate. So many choices await the online audience that they’re able to build their own media experience from a multitude of options. If you haven’t made yourself part of as many of those options as possible your message won’t just be ignored by the audience, it will never have reached them in the first place.

Movies in the classroom

This Onion story on how a science teacher is justifying a screening of Total Recall in his class is hilarious to me. That’s largely because in high school I had a social studies teacher who, as part of his lesson plan, had us watch Last of the Mohican’s not once but twice.


Via Rex comes Rob’s Party Mix an MP3 playlist someone compiled of all the songs that are played during Rob’s party at the beginning of Cloverfield.

What’s the deal with the Wackness backlash?

thewacknessposter.JPGI’ve been trying to figure out what is behind this push by some bloggers in the movie community to pile on Sony Classics as a result of their buying The Wackness at Sundance. This movement, summed up nicely by Cinematical, seems to be centered around the idea that Sony’s specialty arm will absolutely muck up the marketing and distribution of the movie, resulting in it never being seen by a wide audience.

And we’re basing this on what exactly?

I get that right now Fox Searchlight is seen by many (including, to be honest, me) as probably the best of the minor majors, meaning specialty arms of major studios. They’re having a really good streak right now that includes Once, The Savages, Juno, Waitress and The Darjeeling Limited. You could even stretch back to Little Miss Sunshine and others if you wanted to.

But what exactly has Sony Classics fouled up? I’m not sure why this movie in particular is causing such outrage. I hear that people think it won’t give the movie the support it needs but isn’t that true of about 90 percent of the independent films out there?

There are so many movies – from a wide swath of studios – that don’t get the advertising support they need. (I’ll save you all from another round of “engage, don’t advertise but assume that it would go here.) I don’t think Sony Classics is exactly alone in this and I don’t think their marketing of The Wackness will be any different from previous efforts.

So let’s settle down and be a little more constructive in how we think Sony Classics could do a good job of promoting The Wackness instead of lamenting their eventual winning of the rights to distribute the movie.

MST3K gets Shout-out

Shout Factory to handle making all MST3K episodes available on both DVDs and as digital downloads.

It’s a long way from the dozens of tapes I had in my bedroom all those years ago.

The Onion tries once again to short out my computer…

…by almost making me do a spit-take.

TV Critics admit to never having watched The Wire.

Many reviewers from top media outlets assured reporters that they would start watching the Peabody Award–winning show just as soon as the first season reaches the top of their Netflix queues.