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February 2009

youtube forgot to rinse and repeat

You tube innovate YouTube was once a game changer.  But when was the last time YouTube innovated?

YouTube used to be the destination for online video.  Whether it be catching up on clips from American Idol, last night's The Daily Show or entire seasons of 24, YouTube was your answer.

But how have they challenged the status quo lately?  How have they innovated?  Cemented their leadership?  All I've seen of late are distribution extensions (mobile, Tivo) and minor content quality tweaks.  I'm not "blaming" YouTube for not signing traditional content licensing deals, but they could have done something.

Do you remember our excitement around YouTube debates and President Obama's first YouTube messages? Where has this momentum gone?

Last night, while the world was watching President Obama address the nation, the YouTube homescreen was dominated by old clips from The Oscars.  While YouTube was showcasing last year's news, Hulu was live streaming a major presidential address to Congress and CNN/Facebook was delivering social co-viewing.

So what could YouTube be doing better?

  • YouTube could be integrating with Twitter #hashtag discussions (ala CurrentTV).  
  • YouTube could be powering a partnership with a major newschannel or sports league to deliver live co-viewing of appointment based video.
  • YouTube could be partnering with Qik, Kyte, Seesmic or any of dozens of innovative platforms, if only to "own" the restreaming experience.

But they haven't.  They haven't changed.  They haven't innovated. 

YouTube was our video destination.  Now they are our short-form video library.

YouTube painted themselves into a corner.  Can they work their way out?  Should they?

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Update: within hours of this post, YouTube reached out via private channels to discuss further.  Great people, great team.  Listening to the conversation is always a solid start towards fueling innovation.  Looking forward to learning more about their new products/features.

6 tactics for living happier... FOR FREE!

In light of the gloomy atmosphere that seems to permeate our culture (of late), I will be devoting the next eight Tuesdays to sharing stories and strategies that focus on positivity.  If you have any good stories or strategies you would like to share, please feel free to email me or tweet me.

6 Strategies For Living Happier... for free!
  1. Smile bananaEvery morning, write a list of 5 new things you are thankful for.  Do it first thing in the morning (with you first cup of coffee?).  Start with the basics - two legs, 10 fingers, a good friend/spouse, your internet connection is working, you don't have bad allergies, the feeling of freshly laundered towels etc.  Keep this list running.
  2. Every night, write down 5 things you have accomplished that day.  Save this list.
  3. Say thank you to a stranger at least once a day.  Do it with a smile, they will smile back.  And you will feel better for it.
  4. Do something for someone you care about without being asked.  This can be doing the dishes, taking out the garbage, bringing home a single red balloon or bringing your office-mate a cup of coffee in the morning.  Don't ask for credit or recognition.  Do it for them, and you will be proud of yourself.
  5. Set up 15 minutes everyday for being.  Don't write.  Don't talk.  Don't type.  Don't read.  Just reflect.  We are human beings, not human doings.
  6. Smile.  Right now.  Just smile.  If you don't feel like smiling, push the corners of your mouth up with your fingers for a minute and try again.  It works.  Smile.  Fake it for now if you don't feel it. It works.  (As a bonus, ask a friend to smile for you. They will love you for it)

Anytime you feel down, you feel bad, worried, stressed, overwhelmed, scared or alone, pick up your lists.  Look at all you have to be thankful for.  Look at everything you have accomplished.  It just may change your day.  It changed my life.

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This post was inspired by the wonderful Rabbi Noach Weinberg (may he rest in peace) who taught me the importance of formally recognizing the blessings we have in life, and Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman (my eighth grade teacher), a man who can only be described as an angel walking on earth. He taught me to live for humanity, to love someone as you love yourself and to give for the sake of giving.

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media/social/societal negativity and fear

Outlook Some blame the media.  Some say the media is a reflection of society and blame society.  Some say it's all about the numbers, driving business (eyeballs = advertisers).  But one way or the other, the fact remains: you cannot turn on news radio on a Sunday morning drive without exposing your family to "news" about rape, murder or family abuse every 10 minutes or so.

And the print media is just as guilty.  Open up a Newsweek, Time, or even (occasionally) a Wired magazine.  You will find at least two feature doom and gloom stories about war and genocide, political instability, global warming or a global financial crisis.

Obama spoke about the politics of fear.  But there is a greater story playing out here - we are becoming a society fueled by fear.

There are two ways to motivate people to change:

  1. make them believe in their potential or
  2. scare them into changing. 

It's far easier to scare people, but far more effective when you can make someone believe in themselves.

And so I have to ask, why are we ruining our society by filling our tanks with fear?  After 9/11 the news media ran stories of heroism, of inspirational sacrifice.  New Yorkers came together from all walks of life to help one another.  Is today's world outlook any bleaker than the average NYers on 9/12?

We have a responsibility.  I have a responsibility.  We must, as a society, reorient ourselves.  Instead of focusing on what isn't and the possible consequences of what is, we need to learn to focus on the inspiration to grow to what we can become.

Wouldn't you rather open a newspaper in the morning and be inspired?  Wouldn't you rather feel meaning and purpose over depression and fear?

I don't have the answer, but I know that if consumers demanded positivity of brands, then advertisers and sponsors would demand it of the media. So how do you propose we get this ball rolling?

setting the record straight: Techcrunch - the community

People on a bridge
Networks Vs Communities

A network is a connection.
A community is built on top of a network.

A network does not require activity.
A community is active, built by and of people.

Where do blogs fit in?

A blog is a publication in a social context.

Communities are built around shared affinities.
Shared affinities are discovered via front-facing social objects that draw like-interested individuals. 

When thousands of active readers converge on a blog, engaging in threaded commenting and lengthy discussion - is this a blog or a community? 

Blogging has evolved.  There are now three categories.  And a fourth is just around the corner.

3 Primary Categories of Blogging

  1. Social Journalism - NY Times blogs - professionally authored and published, the social arm of a traditional media property
  2. Community Blogging - blogging as part of a conversation, a broader community. 
  3. Broadcast Blogging - traditional publishing in a blog setting.

While the technology suggests that TechCrunch is a blog, it is only a matter of time until the next category emerges.

4. Content/Community Blogging - creating social objects as conversation pieces to inspire an active community.

A blog on a community page may currently serve this purpose.  But a community function on a blog (similar to Mashable's Community) changes the blog dynamic.

Disqus and Typepad Connect bring threaded conversations to blog comments.  But I'm waiting for the technology that connects comments and commenters, enabling deep, structured conversational engagement in the comments.  I'm waiting for the community in the comments. 

Blogs are no longer one size fits all.  Comments are no longer one size fits all.  It's time we recognized them as such.

Inspired by a tweet from Andrew Weissman. Kudos to Howard Lindzon for sharing via retweet.

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Amazon vs Verizon : customer service 1.0

Image representing Amazon as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

About 7 years ago I had my first customer experience with Amazon.  I had ordered a college textbook. It shipped 2 weeks later, which they told me (via email) was normal.  I was behind on classwork and furious with them.

Two years ago I had another issue with an Amazon order.  I used the click-to-call button on their website and in seconds my phone was ringing with a HUMAN customer service rep on the line.  I was very impressed.

This morning, I got the following email from Andrew P, a longtime close friend:

I called Amazon today, as there was confusion for a refund I received.  Spoke to a very nice guy, American, English.  The order was some of Aliza's textbooks.  The confusion was resolved simply. 

Afterwards, I asked him to check the status of my order I placed last night for a textbook (not sure if I told you I started an MPA program at FDU).

When I finished the call he says, "And good luck in school."
I thought that was a great personal touch.

Amazon didn't win this advocacy via paid media.  They didn't even utilize cutting edge technology.  They put a smart and capable customer service rep on the phone.

With all this talk about technology, good marketing is about the right mix of great people with solid delivery (often powered by tech).  Kudos Amazon, for getting it right.

Verizon Communications Inc.Image via Wikipedia

Compare this to Verizon.  Two years ago I and my fiance (now wife) both had Verizon phones under contract.  Our phones were dropping calls regularly. As it was cheaper to switch to Cingular/ATT, we asked Verizon if they could offer any breaks.  The Verizon rep told us while we could switch carriers, we were violating a contract (how offensive!).  Cingular on the other hand, threw in an extra $100 to cover the cost of switching carriers. 

Verizon couldn't get their sales support in line with their product offering. Not much has changed.

From the looks of the video below, Verizon still has some serious customer service issues.  While they are spending millions on media, they still cannot get a handle on the basics - human service.

Verizon, if you're listening please feel free to shoot me an email.  We should talk. 

Hilarious Verizon Support Video Below

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plant and inspire

Potato plant. To ensure continuing worldwide a...Image via Wikipedia

You can seed.  Or you can plant.

You can talk.  Or you can discuss.

You can buy.  Or you can earn.

You can force.  Or you can inspire.

You can do business as usual.
Or you can drive remarkable success.

Business as usual puts you in the middle of the crowd.

Is this a position you want to be in? 

Is this a position you can afford to be in?

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10 Reasons CEOs Need Social Insights ... and 6 Steps to Setting this up

executive CEOs are busy people.  They don't write the market briefs, they read them.  CEOs look to a trusted inner circle of resources, both people and data, to inform their decisions.  Likewise, they rely on trusted people and resources to execute their visions.  But is social intelligence part of this trusted inner circle?

Matt Dickman recently posted:

A recent CMO Council study, however showed that only 16% of 400 executives they surveyed have an online listening plan in place. 56% have no plan to track of drive word-of-mouth and only 30% thought they had the ability to resolve complaints quickly. Why such a low percentage? What is stopping these CMOs from implementing a plan?

Below please find my 10 Reasons CEOs Should be Listening to the Conversation

  1. Reporters are listening to the conversation.
  2. Verbatims from the conversation are organic. Verbatims from focus groups are not.
  3. Your consumers are talking.  They need to know that you care.
  4. Two minds are better than one.
  5. Crisis prevention - get out in front of the rising issues.
  6. You cannot start a conversation without getting to know the conversational conventions of the community.  This is true at the high level report to CEOs and broad activation strategy as well.
  7. Metrics point to data. Insights speak to people.  Machines don't purchase your product.  People do.  Get to know them.
  8. Break out of your comfort zone/echo chamber.  Social insights offer broader scope than focus groups and traditional market research.
  9. Social insights are both timely (near live) and time sensitive.
  10. Relationships start with mutual respect. You are the executive face of your brand. If you aren't listening, then your brand isn't ready for a two way relationship.

6 Steps to Setting Up Executive Listening

  1. Identify your listening goals and communicate these efforts to senior leadership.
  2. Identify a passionate and informed social maven for social leadership.
  3. Engage a social listening solution that fits your staffing, social goals and activation dlieverables.
  4. Establish your reporting gameplan.
  5. Share insights and gather feedback from the CEO's inner circle, optimizing social insights for maximum reach.
  6. Establish communications plan for publicizing these efforts (and potentially participating further down the road).
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Hulu : Ads as Content - With Ads

We all know that many of our friends and family members tune into the Superbowl for the ads.

In a sense, Superbowl ads are the ultimate short-form branded content. 

And so, Hulu has chosen to run mini-pre-roll in front of the creative spots run during the Superbowl.

Erick Schonfeld over at TechCrunch finds this offensive.  But I find it sensible.

If an ad is a 30 second slice of content, it's only natural to put a 3 second spot in front of it right? (see video below)

My only gripe is with the format.  Hulu should be streaming these ads back-to-back with only the occasional 3 second interuption.  Nobody goes to Hulu's Superbowl Ad page to view just one ad.  Get with the medium, get with the people.

Hulu, you challenged the world once, proving that traditional media could get digital right.  Let's keep the groove alive, ok?

Hulu Superbowl Ad Widget

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