Tag Archives: Facebook

“Sorry, I’m Not on Facebook”

21 Feb

‘Sorry, I’m Not on Facebook: The Reality Show’

Scene: A busy New York City street during the evening rush hour

Cast of Characters: JustAllie and her co-worker C; millions of busy New Yorkers rushing from here to there; an old friend

‘Sorry, I’m Not on Facebook’:

C and JustAllie, engrossed in conversation, are walking down a busy Manhattan street when C suddenly looks up and starts shouting ‘Hey! Hey Man!’ to one of the countless New York commuters passing by on the street.  C stops mid stride and turns to walk towards one of the passerbys as he  continues to enthusiastically shout ‘hello!’ to him.  {JustAllie stands awkwardly to the side, paused in confusion}.  The man slowly turns around, a look of annoyance and confusion clearly written across his face.  As he turns towards C, his unpleasant look turns to one of recognition and  pleasant surprise, and his face breaks into a wide grin as he recognizes C.

The random commuter C has decided to shout at is not in fact, a random stranger, but an old colleague and friend of C.  The two exchange pleasantries and catch up on each other’s lives since they last saw each other- was it the concert two years ago or that mutual friend’s wedding three years ago?  The chit chat continues for a few minutes until the old friend glances at his watch and exclaims that he is going to miss his train if he doesn’t get going.  He says he’s loved running into C and suggests they grab a beer sometime, and asks C for his information.  C checks his briefcase and wallet for a business card, as does the friend.  Neither can find one, so C says- don’t worry I’ll find you on Facebook.  The friend looks at him and says, Sorry, I’m not on Facebook- what’s your number?’

They shake hands and C and JustAllie continue walking one way while the friend heads the other way, both parties rejoining the countless other New York commuters eager to arrive at their evening destinations.  C and JustAllie pick up their conversation from pre-friend run-in, but JustAllie is distracted… she’s ruminating on the idea that C’s friend- who, by any outworldly observation, is a successful New York businessman with basic social skills (and not some guy living under a technology rock)…  still isn’t on Facebook.

End Scene: C and JustAllie go their separate ways, and we’re left with JustAllie standing at an intersection with a dumbfounded look on her face.  Cabs and pedestrians whiz by as if in super-sonic speed while JustAllie seems to be stuck in slow motion.  The camera comes in for a close up, and we see JustAllie mouthing the words, Sorry, I’m not on Facebook?’ while slowing shaking her head in disbelief and confusion.

To Be Continued…

Get MTV on the phone, stat! This reality show is sure to be an instant hit (and so much better than Skins).  The intrigue, the drama, the suspense! How can this man socialize without social networks? Will he ever join Facebook? Can C and JustAllie reconnect with other friends outside of using their social networks, or was this just one random occurrence?   If this man isn’t on Facebook, is he on Twitter?  How does he survive not knowing his Klout score, and even more shocking- how could C and JustAllie even deem to talk to him not knowing his Klout score?

<now go back and read that last paragraph again- but this time, make sure it’s with lots and lots of sarcasm>

It’s hard not to get caught up in theI love social media- and everybody’s doing it- bubble.’ The stats alone are staggering- in 2010, Facebook was the most visited website in 2010, (Hitwise) 1 out of every 8 minutes online were spent on Facebook, (Comscore) and  100 million new users signed up for Twitter (Twitter).  In 2010 in the US, 9 out of every 10 Internet users visited a social networking site each month, and time spent on social networking sites accounted for 14.4% of Americans’ (aged 15+) total online time. (Comscore)

While I think we’d be fools to say that social media sites don’t offer a valuable conversation platform (for both individuals and companies), I think it’s important every now and then to take a deep breath, step back ,and detach ourselves from the ‘I love social media bubble. <And I say this as a huge advocate of social networks>.

What about the 1 out of every 10 Internet users that don’t visit a social networking site each month?  Are they any less ‘social‘ because they don’t have 600 friends on Facebook, or any less ‘influential‘ because they don’t have a Klout score of 70+?  And what about that 85.6% of time that wasn’t spent on social networking sites– was this time any less ‘social‘?  Or what about the time that wasn’t spent online at all– was there any ‘social networking‘ happening then?

‘Social networking’ isn’t new, and the first social ‘network’ started long before the Internet was born.  But as the adoption of technology has changed how we live our lives (from play, to work, to education, to socializing…), the concept of ‘social networking’ has also evolved, making way for these online ‘social’ platforms to become a part of our ‘personal/business/political/advertising/etc. conversations.

We’ve seen how social networks can be a powerful tool in our personal/business/political/etc conversations- one example that immediately comes to mind: the recent Egyptian revolt.  Did the use of social networks start the uprising in Egypt? No.  Did social media play a role in mobilizing and  accelerating cohesive action? Yes, I believe so.

But the protesters in Egypt- were they sitting at home, on the computer, posting status updates or tweeting about the revolution? Were they worried about how many ‘fans’ they had on their ‘Down with Mubarak’ Facebook group page? Did they care how the revolution was affecting their Klout score on Twitter? Or were they out being social, and being part of a network: protesting in the streets?

Yes, online social networking platforms can be very powerful tools- but stepping outside of the ‘I love social media bubble’, we can’t forget that relationships exist offline, and it’s what happens both on and offline that create the entire social/political/business/advertising/etc conversation.  ‘Social media’ is just one piece of the pie, as is bumping into someone on the street– and every interaction that we have, both on and offline, defines the complete conversation.

While the stats behind social networking sites are staggering, and there is no denying that social media is and will continue to be a part of the <social/business/political/advertising/etc.> conversation, I think we need to remember two things about social media: 1) in the long run, the basic premise behind social media is to provide a platform for people to interact and connect with each other, and these connections should be enhancing the overall conversation, not distracting from it and 2) there’s a large portion of the population that mostly or only socialize outside of social media networks.

So take a deep breath and step away from the ‘social media’ bubble for a minute- are you really connecting with others online? Are your interactions/connections on social networks enhancing the overall conversation or detracting from it?  Does it really matter what your Klout score on Twitter is, or what your ‘friend count’ is on Facebook?  In the end, I think it all boils down to the act of being social- being part of the conversation— and you can be social and be a part of the conversation without participating in ‘social networks.’ And remembering that participating in social networks could actually hurt your conversations if you live only inside of the bubble– for example, if Egyptians had only tweeted about the government, nothing would have happened.  It was the action outside of the social media network that really mattered.  It’s a balancing act- online social networking platforms can only work in tandem with offline social networking platforms.  Don’t become so ‘social’ in the social media bubble that you forget the importance of being ‘social’ offline!

And don’t forget to look up from time to time while you’re walking down a busy street- you don’t want to miss the social networking opportunities!

(I was going to make an awful joke about social networking platforms and the subway platform being one of these social platforms, but I refrained so you’d revisit JustAllie :))

Creative Musings

17 Jan

A recent article in FastCompany (have I mentioned I’m obsessed with this magazine) caught my eye and sparked a little creative thinking:

Inside Xtranormal‘s Budding Do-It-Yourself Movie Empire:

‘Xtranormal puts simple tools at the disposal of regular people. Choose from a selection of several dozen characters. Enter text (profane or otherwise) for your characters (bears or otherwise) to act out. Set your camera angle. Sprinkle in sound effects. Presto! You have your own mini-movie, ready for its online premiere… the company’s original goal was to produce an application to give film studios a storyboarding tool during preproduction. Hollywood loved the idea, but the animation and controls were too basic. Not true for the do-it-yourself crowd… revenue now comes from selling special characters and sets to users. While the company has yet to make a profit, [Xtranormal] anticipates getting into the black during the first half of 2011. With plans to go mobile and allow for collaboration over social networks, the challenge for [Xtranorma] will be to keep things simple while giving Joe Public more options to unleash his inner Tarantino.’

Read the full FastCompany article here.

And Spark!: my creative juices start flowing and the ‘what ifs’ just won’t stop…

What if… a cable channel used this ‘make your own movie’ site for a viewer ‘create your own promo’ contest?  The cable channel would invite viewers to create their own promo for a popular show with Xtranormal’s tools, and then the cable channel would pick the best promo (or few) to run on air.  Xtranormal’s revenue ‘now comes from selling special characters and sets to users’ (FastCompany)– so what if revenue came from creating customized characters/sets/sounds/actions/etc for the cable channel’s promotion?

Brainstorming this idea:

Situation: A cable channel is set to premiere a new season of a popular show (or a high profile special) and wants the  show/special’s promotional mix to include social media.  The channel thinks leveraging fans through social media would be a good way to connect with viewers and to spread the word about the show.  The channel has seen competitors embrace social networks to increase viewer engagement and knows it needs to amp up previous efforts in order to really make a splash with this new show/special.  They’ve been looking at some recent examples of how other cable channels are engaging viewers (just 2 among many, many others):

1. Bravo’s championship of Twitter and it’s creation of @BravoTV, ‘a real-time social media experience and interactive site where fans can engage with each other 24/7 about their favorite Bravo shows and Bravolebrities.’ (via FutonCritic)

2. Starz launch of the Facebook game ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena’ to the first 10,000 fans to sign up, a few weeks earlier than the show’s linear premiere to ramp up interest in the new show and to ‘[c]ater to fans’ growing belief that a TV show should live on in other forms of media’ (via Mashable)

The cable channel starts to see a trend: let the viewer be in control of  their own ‘viewing’ experience, (viewing in quotations because they know watching TV is no longer a passive viewing experience by traditional definition, but an interactive experience that spans platforms and senses) yet keep the TV show as the center of the conversation.

But what to do to make their own interaction with viewers unique? Hmm…

And then, a crafty researcher picks up her latest issue of FastCompany and reads the article about Xtranormal. Shazam!  The lightbulb goes off–

Solution: The cable channel lets it’s fans create the promos for the upcoming show/special.  Winning promos will run just like normal promos, giving the lucky winner (or winners) his/her 15 minutes of fame.

How the contest would work: The cable channel would promote the contest on air/off air/through social networks/on its website.  Promotions would drive viewers to the channel’s website, where the microsite for the contest would have videos about the upcoming show/series, contest guidelines, etc.  so viewers could learn about the show they are going to be creating a promo for.  And of course- the most important aspect of the microsite would be the embedded Xtranormal technology, allowing the viewer to create his/her promo directly on the channel’s website.  Viewers would only be able to use the custom characters, voices, sounds, actions, settings, etc. that Xtranormal would have created for the cable channel (back to the FastCompany article- the company is hinging making a profit on customization).  If each viewer has to work with the same customized elements, then it’s the dialogue/action/overall creativity they choose that will make the promos unique and entertaining but at the same time still ‘on-brand’ for the channel.

And talk about easy…viewers would simply have to create the promo with the customized elements and hit upload.  And the social networking aspect? A viewer would have to share the video on at least one other social site when they submit the video to the channel’s website. (think of the ubiquitous ‘share now’ buttons that link to twitter, facebook, digg, stumbleupon, etc. ) The ripple effect from sharing could be, in my humble opinion, huge.  (People love to share weird/interesting/unique things with friends, especially when incentivized)

Why I think this contest could be a big success: All three parties involved- the cable channel, Xtranormal, and viewers would benefit.  And it’s pretty simple.

1. Cable channel benefits: What better way to ensure that promos resonate with viewers than if the viewers create them themselves? And the cable channel would also benefit from letting viewers do a lion share of the promotion for the show through sharing videos through social networks… ah the ripple effect.

2. Xtranormal benefits: Perhaps help them turn a profit?  From the FastCompany article: ‘revenue now comes from selling special characters and sets to users.’  Creating custom elements for a cable channel would increase revenue by a larger scale than just selling special characters/sets to individual users.  Also, lots of added promotion for Xtranormal through the cable channel’s use of the technology (assuming the cable channel would either keep the Xtranormal tag on the video or at least link to the Xtranormal website)

3.  Viewer benefits: Chance for your creative work to be on TV? Not too shabby… and the chance to feel like your thoughts matter/can influence a cable channel? Also, not too shabby– I’ve written about it before, but I think the more viewers/consumers feel involved with your brand, the better– for all parties involved (past post here)

Now all I need is a cable channel and Xtranormal to buy into my idea… but I do think the idea of uploading video as a way to engage viewers is a very simple and workable idea… so hopefully this idea is a real possibility!

I haven’t done much research on as to what demographics best fit this idea, but judging from the stats and demo information from YouTube and Twitter/Facebook, I’d say video upload/watching attracts a broad audience:

‘People are watching 2 billion videos a day on YouTube and uploading hundreds of thousands of videos daily. In fact, every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube…Our user base is broad in age range, 18-55, evenly divided between males and females, and spanning all geographies. Fifty-one percent of our users go to YouTube weekly or more often, and 52 percent of 18-34 year-olds share videos often with friends and colleagues. With such a large and diverse user base, YouTube offers something for everyone.’ (via YouTube factsheet).

Gender is also relatively equally split on facebook/twitter, and the 18-44 age break accounts for 70% of users for both facebook and twitter. (information via this infographic)

Given this small amount of research, (my data lovin’ self is begging for more, but you probably aren’t) and the findings that both YouTube and Facebook/Twitter’s sweet spot in terms of age looks to be 18-44, (taking into account that 18-34 year olds mentioned as the ones who share videos instead of the 18-55 age group for Youtube and the 18-44 age break for the social networks) a younger skewing cable channel would probably benefit most from this type of promotion.  I would also assume that a channel with an already strong online ‘fanbase’ would most greatly benefit from this type of promotion, as the cable channel would have to leverage these core fans to be the first guinea pigs (or referencing The Tipping Point, the influencers who will spread the word about the project).

And why do I call the idea simple? The idea of uploading video isn’t earth shattering- or hard- and Xtranormal touts itself as a simple, easy to use platform.  From their info page on facebook: ‘ If you can type, you can make movies. The characters in the movie speak the dialogue in the script, and react to performance triggers—icons that are dropped directly into the script, just like smileys in IM/chat. Movies can be shared through e-mail, blogs and online video sharing and social networking sites such as YouTube™, MySpace™ and Facebook.™ And a cable channel running a contest?  Not exactly earth shattering, either. 

Simply, this idea embraces social networking, advances in technology, and the changing ways in which viewers consume television to, hopefully, successfully promote a television show/special & engage viewers.

So what do you think? Feasible? Silly? Boring? Willing to try it out?

At the very least- am I showing you that maybe, just maybe, researchers can be creative thinkers?

And just for some giggles, the video I made on Xtranormal… in about 5 min… just to show how easy it is:


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