Monthly Archives: June 2013

Digital game changers: Social media interns

social media interns

I regularly extol the virtue of interns.

Having been an intern myself, I know how much I learned from simply being in a professional environment.

Benefits flow both way.

For the intern, it’s a great opportunity to grow and develop real world skills.

For the business or brand hiring interns, it’s an excellent opportunity to pre-screen potential future staff and get work done at the same time.

I routinely recommend interns, for both the free labor (yeah, I said it) and the inherent skill set today’s interns bring to the table.

Back in the day, interns were simply young people you took under your wing.

It was more of a mentor/mentee type relationship.

You were the sage, they the sponges soaking up knowledge at your feet.

They interned specifically because they wanted to know what you knew.

Experience the real world.

Build their resumes.

And hopefully land a paying gig after college if they played their cards right.

Interns could type, make copies, get coffee.

All the grunt stuff that secretaries executive assistants were for.

Interns of today, however, provide far more valuable than interns of old.

Why, you ask?

Social media, that’s why.

Eff typing and making copies.

These kids today know social media like the backs of their hands.

They routinely Facebook, YouTube, Tweet, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine in their sleep.

They tweet, post, like, share, and favorite more times before their sugar-laced breakfasts, than you have in the past year.

They engage more forms of social media than you and I even know exist.

More so you, than I, but I digress.

They’ve got time on their hands and spend an inordinate amount of it on social media.

Their mobile devices are virtual extensions of their fingers.

Have you ever seen kids texting without looking at their screens?

Or speed texting?

Unlike my generation, these kids are growing up with the technology that still baffles most of us.

Of you, rather.

My point is that today’s interns are bring a lot more to the companies with work for in this new technological and social media landscape.

They get it.

Inherently.

The understand the nuances of social media, as no two platforms are alike.

There is a distinction between Facebook and Twitter.

YouTube and Vimeo.

Snapchat and Vine.

Instagram and Pinterest.

For some organizations, the whole social media learning curve can be steep.

But virtually every brand has an online and social media presence.

I won’t beat you upside the head now about it, because I know that you know you need it.

More importantly, you need people who know it.

The ability to sustain that presence turn upon whether you have people within your organization, with an intimate understanding of the inner workings of each platform.

And bodies.

To sustain a successful online and social media presence, you’re going to need the bodies to throw at it.

As my friend James Andrews put it, you’ll need a social media command center.

And while you could pay a social media expert to man the helm of all your social profiles, you’ll get far more bang for your (free) buck with (social media savvy/connected) interns.

Cats I’ve turned on to the importance of social media – and social media interns, are killing it.

I’m talking followers and likes in the tens of thousands (peep Free Angela on Facebook).

So sleep if you want, but if you’re really interested in turning your social media around, get you some interns.

I mean who else is willing to work for Doritos and a reference?

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Filed under digital advocacy, opinion, social media

Jay Z and Samsung go digital. Apple, you’ve best bested (again).

Samsung has once again upped the ante in the war of cool against Apple.

This time, they've enlisted the aid of hip hop heavyweight, and all-around media mogul, Jay Z.

If you've been paying attention to the interwebs, you might have caught wind of the latest partnership between this mainstream music icon and the tech company actively trying to dethrone Apple.

The pairing, in and of itself, isn't particularly novel.

Not even for Samsung, who previously enlisted King James at the start of the season last year with the Galaxy Note II.

But what is exceptional, is the fact that Samsung is giving away Jay Z's next album.

You heard me.

Everyone who owns or cops a Samsung Galaxy device, will also get Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail album a full week few days before its released in stores.

Now I don't know how many people are actually going to buy a new phone or trade up, just to get an album they can purchase for 10 bucks.

But Samsung definitely gets dumb cool points for inking a deal with Hov for the right to distribute advance copies of his album with their phones.

I mean really, how cool is that?

Jigga Jay Z?!

Apple may have made digital music cool with the iPod, but Samsung just made digital music way cooler with this coup.

Jay Z is veritably hip hop royalty, so this deal is a pretty big….deal.

The bigger issue, as I see it, are the possibilities for media and technology companies to do these types of collabos in the future.

I've always been a proponent of utilizing technology as a means through which to build audience.

With the plethora of artists and devices out there, nowadays you need a hook if you really want folks to pay attention.

Something to differentiate your offering from the masses and reel your audience in.

And recently, I've seen evidence of the more savvy brands implementing the strategies I talk about ad nauseum.

Check the FunkFlex App, and you'll see what I mean.

FunkMaster Flex is one of the few artists that I've seen, who thoroughly gets it when it comes to merging celebrity with technology.

And he's freaking it, at that.

The FunkFlex app comes preloaded with goobledy gobs of content.

He dropped his entire mixtape via his app and it features a who's who of hip hop and R&B.

FOR FREE!

To this day, if you cop the app, you'll still be able to get loads of exclusive free content.

As a result, his digital footprint is large, and growing daily.

Movie studios are also starting to realize the inherent value of producing apps to accompany the lead up to the release of a new movie.

Virtually every movie I've seen in the recent past has had an app.

Some good.

Some not-so-good.

But all players with skin in the game.

Which underscores my point.

Every new artist should have a app.

Old ones too.

It shouldn't be an afterthought.

It should be the way you introduce your artist to the masses.

That app should be preloaded with a bunch of songs, videos and pictures, and every single social media profile that artist uses to interact with their fans.

Music should stream, in full, and the app should be enabled with push notifications, featuring calls-to-action, inviting users to rate the app, purchase tickets and use the embed social share features to broadcast their affiliation with the artist to their larger network.

And giving them the ability to buy tracks wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Don't trip.

Having an app is not an inexpensive endeavor.

Samsung dropped serious coin for the right to distribute Jay Z's album.

To the tune of $5 million.

And we all know that every artist can't afford to do Samsung/Jay Z type deals to attract new users.

But I'm sure Samsung thinks they got a bargain, so it's all relative.

The truth is, deals like this don't have to be so one-sided.

New artists should seek out brands like Metro PCS, Boost and Virgin Mobile, who all want to enhance their phone offerings to compete with the big boys.

While contract free phones are all the rage, having a phone pre-loaded with free music from underground or up-and-coming acts is definitely a strategy we're going to see more of.

Magna Carta is just the beginning.

 

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Filed under apps, branding, digital advocacy, mobile, technology

WWDC 2013. iOS 7. Meh.

wwdc13

Yeah. I said “meh.”

What’s it to ya?

WWDC 2013 was much ado about nothing.

And the centerpiece of the keynote-that-wasn’t, was unquestionably iOS 7.

While Apple wants us to believe that the latest iteration of its OS is the next best thing to sliced bread, the rest of us know better.

So effing what they’ve adopted a “flatter” look.

Who the hell cares that they’ve changed the appearance of their icons.

Big deal if you’ll be able to flip through your open applications in a vertical Cover Flow fashion.

As much as I’m loathe to admit it, most of these “innovations” already exist on Android.

Earth to Apple: just because you do something doesn’t make it great.

I mean really?

Swipe a tile to the side to get rid of it?

Side reveal to open apps or menus?

New transitions?

Android.

Android.

Android.

If they announced one more Android standard as a new iOS feature, I was going to puke.

Yeah, I’m going in on iOS 7.

But to be frank, the entire WWDC keynote was a snorelax.

It wasn’t as bad as Google’s I/O 13, but it wasn’t much better.

Apple’s presenters actually appeared to be alive.

Beyond that though, the entire keynote was almost indistinguishable from Google’s in its sheer underwhelmingness.

I know, underwhelmingness is not a word.

But how else to describe an event so totally devoid of life and energy?

There was no punch.

No pop.

No pizzaz.

Especially when you start with a massive demo fail, when Anki Drive’s robotic car failed to….drive.

We all had to suffer through Anki founder, Boris Sofman’s plastic grimace smile as he waited impatiently for the program to reboot.

And things just went downhill from there.

Now to hear Apple tell it, WWDC 2013 was a huge success.

They unveiled all sorts of new features and products.

The Mac Pro, new MacBook Air, blah, blah, blah.

Each new reveal was as lackluster as the last.

Oh, and by the way, just because you say “isn’t it beautiful” over and over again, doesn’t make it so.

I, for one, am totally unenthused by iOS7.

But developers get ready, Jony Ives’ technicolor nightmare is upon us.

They recently published guidelines for developing apps consistent with the iOS 7 guidelines.

From here on in, the apps you create have to comport with this new LSD induced design aesthetic.

And all I can say is meh.

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Filed under digital advocacy, iPad, iPhone, mobile, technology

Why tablet web? Why not? 6 reasons why tablet web is right for your brand.

I’m frequently asked why a brand that is currently seeing their tablet users converting at high rates on a non-tablet optimized website, should invest in optimizing their site for tablets.

If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Right?

Wrong!

As many online retailers are starting to see the ranks of tablet customers swell in their online user base, this conversation of tablet web optimization begins to take on added significance.

An Adobe Digital Index Report issued last year reinforced the fact that tablets are providing online retailers new opportunities to engage customers in shopping experiences that are extending engagement, conversion, loyalty and retention.

As the WWDC keynote yesterday pointed out, many brands are seeing higher rates of conversion on tablets than on PCs.

As such, tablets are becoming an increasingly important component of the e-commerce toolkit for brands and businesses.

My response to the “why” question is usually long-winded and rambling.

Me? Long winded and rambling? Nooooo.

So I’ve decided to collect my thoughts and offer them here.

6 Reasons You Need a Tablet Optimized Site:

It was originally going to be 10 Reasons, but I started to lose steam after 5.

form and funciton

1. Form and function. The truth of the matter is that desktop sites were not designed for tablet use. The navigation for a desktop site and that of a tablet are different. The desktop relies on a mouse for point and click, while a tablet relies on a finger or stylus. While a user can select items using their finger on a desktop site from a tablet, it’s not as fluid and is more often than not frustrating. This frustration (of users attempting to select items on your site that are too small or poorly spaced) can be avoided entirely if your site is optimized for use on a tablet.

touch the screen

2. Tablets are for touching. One of the primary benefits of a tablet experience is the ability to touch the screen to access and manipulate content. A desktop site accessed from a tablet loses much of the ability to engage a visitor with tactile interaction. A tablet web site that incorporates standard gesturing into the user’s experience can enhance the overall interactivity of that experience and enables a user to easily access content elements. A site which a user cannot swipe through to see additional items, easily access menus, pinch, zoom, rotate or otherwise manipulate the screen (the way they can with native applications) significantly detracts from the inherent fluidity of tablet navigation.

No-Clutter

3. Reduce clutter. The desktop site contains multiple levels of content designed for consumption on a PC. The best tablet web sites are designed in such a way as to remove clutter and reduce distractions. Each screen focuses on a core user task or piece of content, leaving a simplified experience for the user. Menus are tucked away or vanish when not being used, banners and ads cede to the more functional elements of the user experience.

kiss

4. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Well designed tablet optimized sites provide utility with simplicity. Navigation is clean and intuitive with navigation elements that are easy to find. Simple design tends to enhance, rather than distract from, the user experience. By making it easy to move about your site, reducing the number of steps required to access desired content (without having to rely on clunky and distracting breadcrumbs or other extraneous navigation elements) you’re enhancing the user’s ability to interact with your brand and convert.

less is more

5. Less is more. Most websites are extremely complex jam-packed with content. This complexity rarely translates well into a mobile or tablet environment. In contrast mobile sites are built with simplicity in mind. There are fewer options, with only the core elements available to the user. Tablet websites should adopt the simple form of mobile, while simultaneously taking advantage of the larger form factor available to present content.

No White Space

6. Reduce white space. On a tablet, space is at a premium. Unlike the desktop, where users are used to seeing empty spaces, tablets are designed with as little empty space as possible. Since the majority of what tablet owners do with their devices is shop, eliminating white space and utilizing that space for some functional feature or page element (larger PDPs, compelling CTAs, or special offers) is key.

Ultimately, whether you make the leap to tablet optimized web goes to how you value your customers.

While they can use your desktop site from their tablets, they shouldn’t have to.

More importantly, you shouldn’t want them to.

You should want your users’ experience with your online properties to be optimized for the device they are consuming them from.

To be clear, in my opinion a native tablet app provides the best user experience, but if you’re testing the waters, then a tablet optimized web experience is the way to go.

In this age of tablets and mobile technology, optimization should be every brand’s highest priority.

If it’s not your’s, you’ve got to ask yourself, “why not?”

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Filed under advocacy, digital advocacy, tablet web

AfroBeatles: Fela + The Beatles. Yoda is real.

The AfroBeatles. John, Ringo, Fela, George and Paul.

The AfroBeatles. John, Ringo, Fela, George and Paul.

I’m sitting in NY Penn Station jamming to an AfroBeatles mash up.

I’m sorry.

What’s an AfroBeatle?

The Afrobeatles are an imaginary group from an alternate universe.

It’s The Beatles meets Fela Kuti.

In this alternate universe, these two musical icons (who, through fate, were never able to collaborate in life) create a musical journey and show us what the “what if” would have looked, sounded and felt like.

This universe contains a series of music and video mash ups of the AfroBeatles musical collabos.

Right now, I’m rocking out to Drive My Car with ODOO.

Its a mash up of the Beatles’ Drive My Car from the Rubber Soul album, and Overtake Don Overtake Overtake (ODOO) from the Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80 album of the same name.

This is an assignment I’ve been given by Yoda.

Not this Yoda. The real Yoda.

Not this Yoda. The real Yoda.

Who is Yoda?

He’s my sensei.

I’m his student.

Digital kung fu.

Per Yoda: “If we transplant a concept of any serious value in the digital space, it will germinate and grow. But you must be attentive to it for it to initially sustain itself.”

So I’m documenting AfroBeatles.

Which I’ve just planted in all of you.

Did you see what just happened?

You’ve become part of Yoda’s experiment.

You’re in the Petri dish.

You’ll probably never experience his all-seeing eye.

But it’s on you.

No camera necessary.

You’re already a blip on his mental radar.

You wouldn’t even know how to avoid it if you could.

It’s been trained on all of us for a long time.

I. Sound. Crazy.

One day, you’ll think back on this post and be like “Oh yeah. He did say that was gonna happen.”

That being this AfroBeatles thing.

You’ll be able to point to this post and know when you were officially put down.

It may be because we took a walk down AfroBeatles Lane together.

Or because one day you see your neighbor on TV talking about their “walk down AfroBeatles lane” from an AfroBeatles concert in London.

And you’ll wonder, “how the hell did they get to London?”

I never really listened to the Beatles back in the day, so this will be somewhat an education for me.

Sure, I know a few of their songs, but I can’t say I’m familiar with their full body of work.

My “assignment” from Yoda is to document the AfroBeatles movement.

Including the symposia where the project will be discussed, the concerts and screenings taking place along the way.

Of course, you’re invited.

And I’ll gather more data about you.

I’ve been reflexively typing as I’ve been listening to this, so AfroBeatles music clearly has a creative effect on this listener.

My feet have been tapping this whole time, and I’m bopping my head.

Outside looking in, there’s a dreadlock on the train jamming to something.

Baby you can drive my car…

But if you got up close you would see me rat-a-tat tatting on this iPad.

Anyway, here’s how to formally participate in Yoda’s experiment:

1. Visit AfroBeatles.com (it’s a work in progress)
2. Listen to any mash up in the timeline.
3. Decide for yourself, the minute you finish listening it, within five seconds, whether you want to walk down AfroBeatles Lane.
4. If “yes” document your walk down AfroBeatles Lane. Read the blog, listen to more tracks, download, like, share, comment and become a fellow blip.
5. Record where you are the day AfroBeatles becomes mainstream.

Yoda predicted lots of blips.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Oh…welcome to my world.

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Filed under advocacy, branding, digital advocacy, movies, music, opinion, social media, technology, work

“Hey Facebook, does this shirt make me look fat?”

Does this shirt make me look fat?

Hey Facebook, does this shirt make me look fat?

Note: You can file this under “rant.”

Do you know what I absolutely hate?

People who live their every breathing minute on Facebook.

It’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

You know who I’m talking about.

Troll your feed and you’ll see them.

They’re the ones with the frequent status updates.

Every Frappuccino consumed.

Every traffic jam.

Every stubbed toe.

Every <insert other inane activity you could give  a shit about here>.

And the pictures.

Loads of pictures.

They post every vacation ever taken, airplane wing, cocktail umbrella, toe shots and all.

Every shot of their kid from ultrasound to graduation.

Every shoe, seashell, snowfall.

Riddle me this Joker: why do people post multiple head shots of themselves?

Have they forgotten how they look?

Do they fear that without that same-angled-plastered-smile-arm-length-self-portrait shot, we won’t remember them?

Maybe it’s just vanity.

I mean, Facebook is a big ego-stroke.

It was designed to give its users a platform to share.

But damn!

Zuckerberg didn’t necessarily want you to reveal the most minute and insignificant detail about yourself and your every waking hour.

I mean, do we really need to know that your STD test came back negative (or positive)?

Or that your momma had her bunions removed?

And it’s not Dear Abbey.

“Hey FB fam, I just shat. Should I wipe front to back or back to front?”

“Facebook, if he’s sleeping with her, but tells me he loves me, should I stay with him?”

“I’ve got a toothache, Facebook. Should I take something or tough it out?”

Stop asking for advice.

Don’t you realize that your proclamation that you “don’t need a man!” only serves to alert the world that you are (once again) alone?

And – in point of fact – actually in need of a man?

All I’m saying is that there is such a thing as over sharing.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

Yes. I live in a glass house.

Right now it’s full of shattered panes as I toss rocks at the rest of you.

I know I’m guilty of the occasional over-share or posting of frivolous bullshit.

Once I even posted a picture of myself on the throne.

Which I’ve tastefully and artistically recreated above for my loyal readers.

But I digress.

Seriously, take these small bits of advice.

Unless you’re an exhibitionist or shameless fame seeker, keep your Facebook posting to a dull murmur.

If you’ve added your mug to your Facebook album, wait at least a month before posting another. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

The multiple shots of yourself in the car, in the ladies bathroom at your job, sitting at the bar in TGIF – is overkill. Be selective.

If you’re mad at someone, tell them – privately.  Fighting on Facebook  is just…immature.

Finally, every once in a while, post about how you’re going to be taking a break from Facebook.

Everyone loooovves getting that post.

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Filed under rant, Smack talking, social media