Star Wars story told by a 3 year old

Because I know you all miss my posts while I have no Internet access at home due to the house move, I’ll provide you with comic relief in the form of some of YouTube’s cream of the crop.

Everyone loves Star Wars. Everyone loves kids. Everyone loves YouTube. (sort of.)

Let it snow!

Just a short video of the snow today. Lovely big snowflakes falling softly while we’re comfortably sitting indoors.

The Secret Strategies Behind Many 'Viral' Videos or why Dan Ackerman Greenberg is an idiot

[Disclaimer: I realise the last thing I should be doing is giving this guy more visibility and mentions on the web, but his original article, as well as his follow-up REALLY rubbed me up the wrong way and I need to vent it out.]

When I took on my first marketing role, some years ago now, I quickly realised that the term marketing, like sales came with a lot of negative baggage. Since then, I’ve met enough marketers who fit the awful cliché to see why the name has been sullied for good.

I’ve made it my personal goal to never, ever fit in with the stereotype of the marketer who is willing to lie, cheat and sell his firstborn child for the sake of hitting some haphazard target numbers set by a boss in an executive leather chair in a clinical office boardroom. I want marketing to be about a great product and an honest passion for the community to whom it brings a solution to a problem. I only want to work for company directors who have visions I can agree with, and marketing managers who have their heart and their ethics in the right place. Call me idealistic or naïve, but that’s how this girl rolls.

This morning, I came across a TechCrunch guest post by a guy called Dan who claims his viral video marketing agency can take average videos and shoot them into the viral fame sphere. He candidly starts with this introduction:

“Have you ever watched a video with 100,000 views on YouTube and thought to yourself: “How the hell did that video get so many views?” Chances are pretty good that this didn’t happen naturally, but rather that some company worked hard to make it happen – some company like mine.”

Now, I’m not new to paid blog posts, fake forum users and spam comments encouraging users to go view videos. I know very well how much money some companies will pay to get some of that hard-to-get attention time from viewers. In fact, I’ve been asked in the past to take part in every single one of these types of grey-area tactics, and have held my position. The Internet is polluted enough as it is, I won’t be adding to the spam that goes around by lowering myself to talking to myself on a public forum, pretending to be some teeny bopper who loves whatever product I’m asked to market.

What rubs me the wrong way is the apparent pride with which Dan talks about his agency, while knowing very well that what he’s doing is a. ethically wrong, b. taking the lazy route, c. quite likely to one day blow up in his face.

In his follow-up post, Dan apologises for the tone he took in his article and does a 180 degrees on his claims of spam tactics. His attempt at saving face with the sudden claim that he does not spam or manipulate people is pathetic and pretty damn weak.

There are two scenarios that could’ve led Dan to require that second mea culpa post:

  • Either he does use dirty tactics and was a bit too honest, which makes him a moron for not foreseeing how others, with more ethics than him, would be incensed and angered by his post. If he can’t foresee consequences this obvious, do you really want him marketing your product?
  • Or he’s being a gusty bastard and did this specifically to get a rise out of people for the sake of some publicity, spicing his article with a few sensationalistic techniques he doesn’t necessarily always use. If that’s the case, he’s still an idiot for claiming to use frankly spammy techniques.

Either way, Dan, it still makes you an ethically-twisted little shit.

Unlike me, Ian Delaney doesn’t get his knickers in a twist, and focuses on the positives in Dan’s post, and highlights the things we can learn from successful viral videos.

  • Make it short: 15-30 seconds is ideal; break down long stories into bite-sized clips
  • Design for remixing: create a video that is simple enough to be remixed over and over again by others. Ex: “Dramatic Hamster”
  • Don’t make an outright ad: if a video feels like an ad, viewers won’t share it unless it’s really amazing. Ex: Sony Bravia
  • Make it shocking: give a viewer no choice but to investigate further. Ex: “UFO Haiti”
  • Use fake headlines: make the viewer say, “Holy shit, did that actually happen?!” Ex: “Stolen Nascar”
  • Appeal to sex: if all else fails, hire the most attractive women available to be in the video. Ex: “Yoga 4 Dudes”

So while there’s a bit to learn from Dan’s posts, I just hope everyone remembers that there are plenty of ethical, community-centered and honest people in the marketing world who will agree that dodgy spamming and paid links just isn’t fair play. While dirty tricks might work short-term, you can’t build a community through it, and in the long run, that’s what matters.

FOWA: Some evening fun with Diggnation

After a number of interesting panels in the day, it was time for beers and Diggnation.

Think of being 10 years old and looking up to your biggest, most favourite music star. Now imagine the excitement if you were told you’d get to meet them. That’s how I felt yesterday.

Vero & Alex @ Diggnation live in London

I filmed a good part of the live Diggnation show (which I’ll put online tonight), but then the guys bravely took on the mobs of 16 year olds and joined the Carsonified party at the Excel pub. Once the crowds went home, only a few people were left. But surprise, while Kevin buggered off to the hotel, Alex and the Totally Rad Show guys stayed for some drinks! Having a chat with them, they’re just as lovely as I’d hoped.

If this kind of event and show format is the future of TV, I’m going to feel right at home.

Apple TV, Diggnation and chicken stories

A few weeks ago, we bought an Apple TV. For those who aren’t familiar with it but have used a recent Mac, just picture it as Front Row on steroids. And on your TV.

Apple TV

The first logical thing to do was to put as much music as possible on its weighty 160GB hard drive, so that we could listen to it without worrying about having a laptop nearby to control the music being piped out by an Airport Express into the lounge stereo. While that was good, it became about 10 times better once we added our own pictures instead of the handful of default flower pictures Apple sticks on the Apple TV!

Every time we listen to music in the lounge now, we’re treated to a medley of pictures going back as far as ten years. “Who on earth is that?” “Was my hair seriously that bad?” “Wow, she was drunk at that wedding…” It’s a laugh really. As long as there are no cheeky snapshots of me in only my underwear, post-sunburn on holiday, trying to take a tank top off while causing myself the least amount of pain possible. *grumbles*

But in the past few days, we’ve discovered a whole new side to the Apple TV. Video podcasts. I’m not new to podcasts at all, or videocasts. But watching them on a normal tv instead of the corner of your computer while you’re working brings them to life.

My video podcast diet recently has mostly consisted of:

  • Diggnation episodes: The format is two guys sitting on a sofa (Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht), some beers, two laptops, a bunch of ranty stories. Somehow, it should suck. Yet, it’s oddly entertaining.
  • Some Ctrl+Alt+Chicken which can be described as non-cooks cooking, drinking and generally risking food poisoning. Or more succintly, as something resembling a TV trainwreck. But I still like it.
  • Some surreal TikiBar TV: Still can’t figure out who’s making money and how out of this show. It’s plain weird.
  • All topped off with a few eps of the Merlin Show which hasn’t had me as riveted to the TV as I had hoped. I’ll give it another chance though.

You can download any of these via iTunes. And you can feel free to recommend any of your own favourite video, or audio-only, podcasts!