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Watching TV on the toilet. Simulcasting to apps is the future (of broadcasting)

You must master the four screens.

You must master the four screens.

This weekend, I was watching The Alien, 48 year old Bernard Hopkins defend his title against Karo Murat, the 30 year old challenger from Germany.

The fight was fairly spirited and I was thoroughly engaged.

But as my salsa and cheese dip decided they wanted out, I had a difficult choice to make.

Do I suffer through the next six rounds and try to suppress my bowels or make a b-line for the commode and miss the fight?

My trips to the latrine are rarely brief.

My intestines got the better of me, and as round six ended, I reluctantly broke for the bathroom.

Back in the day, this story would have ended with me Googling the results or checking The Bleacher Report or ESPN.

But something told me to check out the App Store to see if there was an app that would let me watch the fight live from the toilet.

The fight was on Showtime, so I decided I’d start there.

What was there to lose?

As I plopped down upon my throne to handle the affairs of state, I whipped out my iPhone and quickly located the Showtime Anytime app.

showtime anytime

I downloaded and launched the app, and true to form, there was a Live TV tab in the footer.

When it pulled up the program choices, there was a ‘Watch Now’ button next to the Hopkins/Murat listing of the fight.

Before I knew it, I had taken in six rounds of boxing on the crapper, and I realized that broadcasting had come a long way.

The future of broadcasting was in my hands.

No. Not the toilet paper. I had already flushed that.

Although toilet paper is a wonderful invention.

I’m talking about apps which allow you to consume live media.

I think HBO was the first content provider to drop an app which let their subscribers access content from their mobile devices.

Others quickly followed suit and there were similar offerings from the likes of ESPN, A&E and Cartoon Network.

Soon regular broadcast players joined, including ABC, PBS, CBS and TBS.

Not to be left out, cable providers made sure they had skin in the game with their apps, including Time Warner, Cablevision, Verizon Fios and Xfinity.

The battle for eyeballs has gotten so fierce that if you’re not present on all platforms, you’re giving up valuable ground to the competition.

It used to be enough to have a broadcast channel with good content.

Back in the day, all you had were the broadcast television networks, like ABC, CBS, and NBC.

The networks had a virtual monopoly.

Then came cable, which changed the game.

No longer were you restricted to ‘tame’ television.

You had options. And no commercials.

And then the internet decided to change things up a little more, offering tons of video content that you couldn’t find on television or cable.

And for the most part, it was free.

YouTube was the genesis of this, but other players like Hulu and Vimeo kept things interesting (and ever expanding with user generated videos and internet only shows).

When Netflix brought their DVDs by mail into the home, first streaming over the internet and then through set top boxes, the broadcast ecosystem fractured even further.

And now there’s mobile.

It’s not enough that you’re proficient on one platform at the expense of the others.

To meet the needs of an increasingly mobile and demanding audience, you’ve got to master them all.

And as a content creator, you’re going to want to leverage distribution methods that ensure you’re meeting your audience, wherever they are.

If you’re not simulcasting (or offering your content simultaneously across multiple platforms), best believe the next guy is.

As technology evolves, users are going to expect faster, more streamlined access to all forms of media.

I predict that in the future, we’re going to see more players offering content that is traditionally delivered to televisions being delivered to set top boxes, online, and through apps simultaneously.

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Is Social the Future of Television? You Better Believe It!

Have you heard of YouToo?

YouToo. Be On TV.

YouToo is the world’s first social tv network allowing viewers to interact with one another over a national cable television network.

Youtoo claims to be “the next frontier of social networking” because it’s both a social network and a television network which uses “advanced technology that makes them work together.”

What about Trendrr?

Trendrr. More signal. Less noise.

Trendrr is a tech solution that helps content producers process and understand the multiple streams of data from television, online, and social media, and put that data to use.

Trendrr measures the social media activities tied to television broadcasts, and the increasingly significant impact that social has on brands and audiences.

You must have heard of Revolt, right?

Sean Combs is launching a new network called Revolt.

Revolt is the new music video cable network of Sean “P Diddy” Combs that’s slated to launch next year on Comcast.

With a focus on artists, Revolt’s mission is to revolutionize the way artists are promoted using social as a platform.

These are just a few of the brands that are focusing on ‘social television‘ the intersection of television, social media, connected devices and audiences.

So what does it all mean?

It means that there is a growing nexus between television and social interaction, and businesses are paying attention.

The recent record-breaking numbers in viewership and social chatter with the Super Bowl, Grammy Awards and the Oscars, aptly demonstrates this point.

More importantly, the availability of low-priced, more powerful smartphones and tablets, means that more people will have the ability to take advantage of these intersections.

Connected devices make it even easier for brands to interact with their audiences, regardless of whether they’re in front of traditional television screens or not.

It also creates opportunities for brands to engage audiences in ways that simply didn’t exist as recent as a year ago.

Twitter hashtags, on-screen QR codes, text calls-to-action, voting and integrated mobile apps are just a few of the methods television programmers have embraced to become more social.

Home shopping networks, like HSN, have been leading the way for years, giving shoppers the ability to browse for products and make purchases from the convenience of their couches, home computers or mobile phones.

I suspect that this trend will continue well into the conceivable future, which will undoubtedly provide even greater opportunities for brands to interact ‘socially’ with their audiences.

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My nieces are so over Facebook.

Facebook, some people are so not into you.

As a technology and social media evangelist, I regularly recommend that my clients explore using technology and social media platforms to reach niche audiences, by employing the medium used by these audiences. Invariably, services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and their progeny feature prominently in my discussions.

With the ever-increasing number of users, and the development of widgets and other technologies, like Tweetdeck, which enable users to access platforms on-the-go, social media services are becoming inextricably intertwined in the way many of us live our lives.

Conventional wisdom dictates that the younger you are, the more familiar you are with advancements in technology, and the more readily you adopt them. Conversely, the older you are, the more out of touch you are when it comes to technology and social media platforms.

Take me, for example. I’m fairly adept at texting, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. But when compared to my 21 year old brother, I’m a sloth, groping blindly to grasp the nuances and intricacies these platforms have to offer. I figured that my little microcosm reflected the real world. However, as of recent, my assumption has been turned on it’s head.

You see, this weekend, I spent some time with my nieces, students at Spellman, and I was amazed to learn their perspective when it came to their use of, and familiarity with technology and social media platforms.

My older niece is a texting monster. Every few seconds, her Blackberry Curve is buzzing. She regularly engages in multiple conversations simultaneously. With many of her friends far away at their respective homes, texting became their main form of communication.

She loathes Facebook and Twitter, as unnecessary invasions of privacy. She sees no purpose in posting every intimate detail of one’s life online and believes that it gives strangers (i.e. friends of friends) access to information that they would otherwise not be privy to if they didn’t know you personally. Her younger sister, also an avid texter, is similarly Facebook and Twitter averse.

Both of them regaled me with stories of the various ‘beefs’ raging on Facebook, caused by one person posting a status update or picture that offended another. They narrated one instance in which the reputation of one Spellman student was put on full blast, because people she had friended, engaged in a smear campaign using the viral nature of the platform to spread misinformation about her.

This lack of privacy and ease for abuse has made many, like them, very Facebook averse. So while Facebook and Twitter are all the rage for some, for others, not so much.

As this little insight into social media from my nieces demonstrates, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. And while brands may have different concerns from college students, many of the issues they face will be similar.

Knowing which nodes to tweak to reach which person becomes invaluable as user preferences differ widely. The digital and social media marketing mix employed by brands should be designed to tap into the digital spaces in which folks naturally congregate.

At the end of the day, I encourage my clients to jump, feet first, into the technological/social media fray, because you can’t have a dialogue with folks, if you don’t speak the language.

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Virtual Promotions

So last night I threw a party at this great little spot in Soho called Gallery Bar.  I haven’t thrown a ‘proper’ party for years, and just decided one day, that I wanted to.  So, being a digital person, I determined that the best way to create the event was to only use viral tools to promote the party.  I wanted to see if I could get people to come out to an event ONLY using viral methods (email, text, social network sites, blogs, etc.).

The first thing I did was hit up a few folks via IM, using IMO.  I got my boys Ben Tannenbaum and Richard Burroughs, and my brother, to all agree to promote the party through their networks.  From there, I sent a text on my iPhone to my boy Phil Graci, with TriAgency, to shoot me over some logos for the e-flyer that Ben and I were creating.

One of the online party flyers for ReFLIX courtesy of Ben Tannenbaum

One of the online party flyers for ReFLIX courtesy of Ben Tannenbaum

Richard hit up a bunch of his contacts with clubs in the city to find one suitable for our event, by IMing, texting and placing calls to folks until we landed at Gallery Bar (big ups to Darren and his crew!)  We put our e-flyers on a few select online party destinations, such as Fusicology, Yelp, Metromix, Going, and had over 25 RSVPs within a few moments of those postings.

Ben set up a Facebook event called ReFLIX, and invited all of our friends to join the group.  We then created the ReFLIX event within Facebook, as well, and once again, invited people to attend.  In total, we sent out invitations to about 300 people, and reminders and alerts thereafter.

One of the options we offered, was the ability to RSVP via text, by simply texting in the word RSVP to our short code.  They received a confirmation message, and another alert on the day of the event, which included directions to the venue.  Of course, people were also able to RSVP via email, but we expressly didn’t let people call to RSVP.

We had a running ticker counting down to the event, presented as status updates on our respective FB or Twitter pages.  Each day, we put up a new flyer, comment or picture on the event page, and kept people informed of new sponsors, films or items of note.

Despite the fact that it was a cold Wednesday (humpday, boo!), by 9:30 p.m., the place was packed.  We hit a technical glitch or two, which I exascerbated with my lateness (note to self: never show up late to a party you’re hosting if an element of the party has to be in place before you arrive).  But all-in-all, it was a nice party.

What made it especially unique was that there was not one paper flyer, no mass street team campaign, no crazy phone calls.  Facebook, texting and a few emails were all it took to put about 100 people in the spot.  The night ended well before the scheduled time, but I had proven my point: virtual promotions work.

In hindsight, it would have served me well not to neglect traditonal methods, like word-of-mouth, because I forgot to invite most of my friends, who (for privacy reasons) remain off the Facebook grid.  I just assumed that everyone uses Facebook, the way I do, and took the simplest and most effective form of communication for granted.

My advice to anyone interested in promoting an event, small or large, make sure you tap into the resources available to you right at your fingertips (oh, and make sure you call your friends!).

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Denene and Nick

A Love Story

A Love Story

In Lesson One, I put forth the premise that ‘you are the brand.’ That lesson may seem a little amorphous, so I feel its appropriate to provide context and give ‘concrete examples of people being the brand.’ Interestingly, after I penned that entry, I was chatting online in Facebook with a friend of mine, who I thought would make a perfect case study for this first principle.

The person I was chatting with was Denene Millner, who I’ve known for about 10 years. I met Denene and her husband Nick Chiles, through my wife, Chanel, who’s best friend, Angelou, is Nick’s younger sister. Denene and Nick are both award-winning authors, who have written at least ten books between them. Originally New York City reporters who met in Room 9, the legendary press room at City Hall, Denene and Nick are both Atlanta -based full-time writers, and the embodiment of being the brand.

Denene and Nick are constantly writing and promoting their published works. Each book-signing or announcement is done in a signature fashion. One of their book signings, for The Vow: A Novel (written with co-authors Mitzi Miller and Angela Burt-Murray) was at Harry Winston in their Fifth Avenue designer showroom. It was the most glamorous book signing I had ever attended. Despite the fact that Denene is barely taller than 5 feet, she commanded the room with a presence that rivaled the numerous diamonds and gemstones on display.

Denene and Nick are keenly aware of the need to promote themselves, as well as their books, in whatever they do. I recently received an email blast from Denene, upon the release of her latest book, Hotlanta, in which she implored all of her friends to not only ‘support a sistah’ but also to tell our friends to do the same. She was shameless in her appeal, reminding us that she had helped all of us out at various points in time and that she was cashing in her chips.

For anyone who has ever shopped at a Barnes and Noble or visited the Strand, there are countless titles from countless authors competing for our attention (and our dollars). Very few of those books ever see the ‘best seller’ list or get any of the ‘prime retail’ space reserved for hot authors or Oprah’s “book of the month’ selection. Needless to say, competition among authors is fierce (albeit passive).

What makes Denene and Nick remarkable (and why I chose to use them as my example for Lesson One) is their approach to writing. First, they are collaborative writers. Almost all of their books were written together or with other co-authors. Their ‘What Brothers Think, What Sistahs Know” series of books, offer gender-based opinion on issues ranging from sex and relationships to money and politics. Their novels explore the depths and complexities of male/female relationships, covering topics including fidelity and earning and income disparities.

Second, they know that a large part of the appeal of their books is them. The subject matter they write about, while always interesting and presented in a fresh (and Afro-centric) way, is still rather pedestrian and can be found in any number of books. But the fact that Denene and Nick are the authors imbues their work with something special that makes their books ‘must haves.’ More accurately, the fact that Denene and Nick announce themselves as the authors of their books, makes it clear that you’re not just buying a book, you’re buying into their celebrity.

Denene and Nick know that they are the brand, and they make it a point to keep that message at the forefront of everything they do. They started a marketing and communications firm called Odyssey Media, which publishes Odyssey Couleur and offers a full range of boutique leisure services to a discerning clientèle. Once again, the value of their personal brand has allowed them to expand into other areas.

‘You are the brand’ means that when it comes to promoting anything, the value that people attach to whatever it is you’re pitching, starts with the value they attach to you. Therefore, the more you cultivate your personal appeal, the greater an impact you will have when pitching yourself or any extension of yourself.

Until next time, class dismissed.

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