Ramblings of a Nutbar

You’ll probably regret this.

The face of Social Media & Marketing in 2009

Do you enjoy social media? Do you enjoy understanding the benefits of social media to the worlds of Marketing, PR, and Customer Service? Are you a social media junkie who wants to position yourself in a way to appeal to corporations looking to get with the times?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then this paper is a must-read. It’s predictions for social media in 2009, written by some fairly well-known players in the growing industry. I loved this paper, in part because it’s great insight, but also because most of it has been what I’ve preached all along.

If you’re a little ADD, and 23 pages freaks you out, here are a few things that stood out to me:

  • Human interaction trumps all. For the last…oh, forever, businesses have taken a “create an ad, dump it someplace, and don’t touch it” aproach. In 2008, businesses started using social media to connect to customers, and there was this revelation: Consumers LIKE interacting! In 2009, expect to see many more businesses adopting this approach to social media.
  • A problematic economy will INCREASE social media marketing. Think about it: Ad agencies, TV, radio, and newspapers all cost money, and in some cases a lot of it. How much does it cost to set up social media accounts? Virtually nothing, and the entire planet has access to your company. Not bad.
  • Realization that quality of friends & subscribers is more important than quantity. For the last year, there has been this mentality that the best way to get your product seen was to promote it with the most popular bloggers, YouTubers, etc. Slowly, some businesses have realized that this doesn’t really work effectively. In many cases they’ve learned that 5,000 subscribers that fit your target audience is better than 100,000 subscribers who don’t fit at all. In 2009, many businesses will put down the shotgun, and pick up the sniper rifle.
  • Spectators are people too! Spectators are those people who watch your stuff, but never subscribe. For example, while I only weigh in with 2,200ish subscribers, almost a million people have viewed my material. The trend in 2008 was to ignore the people who didn’t “sign up”; in 2009, businesses will realize that the ones who don’t sign up to follow have great value.
  • Redefining the metrics of advertising value. Many businesses are realizing that page impressions, clicks, CPM, unique views, etc, are all so 2007.  Social media is about satisfaction, engagement, and viewer retention. A blog or video that 1,000,000 people watch for 5 seconds and click out of is less effective than the one that gets 5,000 loyal viewers coming back each time, who watch all the way to the end. Expect more businesses to put to bed the use of traditional metrics to determine what’s valuable.
  • Big business gets back to small-business approaches. Businesses that have grown so big to become faceless corporate entities are slowly realizing the value of good old-fashioned principles, like friendship has to be earned, fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and people want to connect to real people. Social Media in 2009 will draw more businesses into to world of real human interaction.

That’s the general gist. There’s a lot of great stuff that I didn’t put in here. One could honestly blog about 30 posts from notes on this paper. It’s good stuff. I also liked their prediction that Google will buy twitter. One can dream.

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December 17, 2008 Posted by | Social Media | , , , , | 2 Comments

After piles of mistakes, YouTube GOT IT RIGHT!

I am happy.

Verry Happy.

So happy that I’m dancing around and singing and generally making this recent video look mellow by comparison.

Why is this?

Because today I’ve noticed someting that YouTube has done that will make life for partners on YouTube so much easier.

It’s the custom thumbnail.

 

New Feature to upload a thumbnail. Rock on YouTube!

New Feature to upload a thumbnail. Rock on YouTube!

That’s right. It looks like from here on out that YouTube partners (I checked on one of my non-partner sock accounts, and it’s not there) can specify a custom thumbnail for their videos. 

The implications for this are enormous. No more working your butt off trying to get the perfect shot in the center frame (which YouTube recently fried anyway). No more hoping you don’t get three crappy thumbnails to pick from. From now on, partners can control their thumbnail.

You might find yourself saying “Okay. You can pick your thumbnail, big deal. What’s the hulabaloo all about?” It’s a commonly known fact that the thumbnail is a big part of what drives views to a video. It’s the very tiny window into your show, and sometmes it’s the only thing someone will see of yur video. If yu want to market your videos, the thumbnail is very important. And now, thanks to YouTube, partners can more effectively market their productions.

Thanks YouTube. I take back anything negative I’ve said lately. You rock, at least until I find something else to complain about.

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Making Better Videos, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How YouTube Plans to Self-Destruct

I’ve long suspected that somewhere deep down inside the central heart of YouTube Corporate HQ, Chad Hurley has a little room, 10′ x 10′, completely empty save a marble pedestal with a Magic 8-Ball Sitting upon it. And I imagine that every morning he walks into this room, shakes up the Magic 8-Ball, and whispers “Today can I drive it all into the ground?”

Yesterday, the 8-Ball said “Yes”

So Chad rolled up his sleeves, and called together all of his top programmers, including Melvin, the guy who insisted on programming a 500 Internal Server Error into every 6th time you click on your Inbox, and they went to work.

A few moments ago, I happened to spot that Nalts wrote a blog entry pointing to YouTube’s Blog. In a release dated Yesterday, YouTube made the following announcement:

As a community, we have come to count on each other to be entertained, challenged, and moved by what we watch and share on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make the collective YouTube experience even better, particularly on our most visited pages. Our goal is to help ensure that you’re viewing content that’s relevant to you, and not inadvertently coming across content that isn’t. Here are a few things we came up with: 

  • Stricter standard for mature content – While videos featuring pornographic images or sex acts are always removed from the site when they’re flagged, we’re tightening the standard for what is considered “sexually suggestive.” Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they’ll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older. To learn more about what constitutes “sexually suggestive” content, click here.

  • Demotion of sexually suggestive content and profanity – Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions. In testing, we’ve found that out of the thousands of videos on these pages, only several each day are automatically demoted for being too graphic or explicit. However, those videos are often the ones which end up being repeatedly flagged by the community as being inappropriate.

  • Improved thumbnails – To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically. You’ll still have three thumbnails to choose from, but they will no longer be auto-generated from the 25/50/75 points in the video index.

  • More accurate video information – Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited folks from attempting to game view counts by entering misleading information in video descriptions, tags, titles, and other metadata. We remain serious about enforcing these rules. Remember, violations of these guidelines could result in removal of your video and repeated violations will lead to termination of your account.

The preservation and improvement of the YouTube experience is a responsibility we share. Let’s work together to ensure that the YouTube community continues to thrive as a positive place for all of us. 

At first this sounds like a great attempt to clean up YouTube. I would fully support making illicit and profane content harder for minors to get their hands on. I also hate dishonest thumbnails. But when one takes a moment to stop and think about these changes, one can see (even in a state of total sleep deprivation) that the changes are going to hurt more than they help.

First, and what I see as the biggest problem, is the issue of no longer taking the 25/50/75 points in a video for thumbnails. Now, as I demonstrated in my test video, the thumbnails were not falling on the exact 25/50/100 points anyway, but they were close enough that one could aim to make sure a clip was placed that properly represented the video. This is called branding folks! It’s putting a pretty wrapping on your box that shows you the best part of what’s inside.

Yes, people do sometimes abuse the system, but why punish the 95% of people who don’t regularly commit this dastardly deed, just to force the 5% of abusers to figure out a new way to cheat the system (which they will). I lose branding control, and the scum just have to try a little harder to get what they want. Nice. This hurts, especially considering how many content creators wanted MORE choice in picking thumbnails, not less.

Really, the whole article reeks of “Quick! Somebody’s planning to sue us! Let’s do a super quick fix to make it all better!”. It doesn’t look like a lot of time and planning went into this.

My sincere hope is that it’s something that after a few days YouTube will realize their error and correct their mistake, but I do sometimes wonder if there really is a room at YouTube HQ with nothing in it but a marble pedestal and a Magic 8-Ball…

December 3, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

YouTube Live – An Abysmal Failure

But I jest.

 

I got home this evening excited to tune into the first ever live stream off YouTube. And while I was very impressed with the interface, beyond that, the event was just “blah” to me. Some stuff (like the MythBusters – the main reason I was watching) had been waaay too short. Other parts seemed to drag on forever and ever. A lot of the popular Tubers I really would have liked to see (Nalts, thewinekone, etc.) Didn’t get more than an occasional cameo on the backstage cam.

From a technical end, I think the event was absolutely amazing. If they can offer that sort of streaming to the rest of us, it will far surpass the popularity of blogTV or Stickam (though i doubt we regular folk will get that anythime soon!). While I heard some complaints on twitter about losing the feed, I never lost it on my end.

My other gripe is that the event seemed to cater to two crowds: 14 year olds, and people who last logged into YouTube in 2006. It seemed to flip back and forth between the first featured viral videos on the site and acts like Fred. It wasn’t “bad” per say, I just felt like anyone 25 and over was sort of out of place.

Bottom line. It was a neat event, but the performance itself was a little lacking.

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Another One Bites the Dust

It’s happened again, online video lovers. This morning I received an email from AOL Video informing me that they’re the latest video site to throw in the towel. Here’s an excerpt from the email that was sent to all registered users today:

Dear AOL Video Uploads User,

We’re writing to inform you that the AOL Video Uploads site is no longer accepting new video uploads and will close on Dec. 18, 2008. We hope that this does not cause you an inconvenience.

And another one bites the dust, it would seem. For those of us using TubeMogul to distribute videos, the list of valid sites seems to shrink on a daily basis. (Side note, even if you don’t “mass deploy” every video out there, Tube Mogul has some exceptional tracking and statistics info. Sign up – it’s worth it.) So why are all of these sites dying? Well, we’ve got a fresh body on the table, put on some gloves and join me for a video sharing site autopsy.

We know that Video killed the radio star, and that I shot the sheriff (but I didn’t shoot the deputy!), but what killed AOL video and possibly a number of the other corpses of video sites out there? Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Overzealous censorship – People, especially us overweight, needy Americans, are used to expressing ourselves however we want. One of the major issues with AOL video was that where most sites have very mild censorship (think YouTube here folks) AOL video was very restrictive.
    Naughty Jim! Crap is a baaaaad word!

    Naughty Jim! Crap is a baaaaad word!

    How restrictive? Well here’s an example. About three months ago I created a video about the air cannon I built, which I fittingly dubbed the craplauncher. Using Tubemogul I uploaded the video to a dozen different sites. One site, and only one site rejected the upload: AOL Video. Want to guess why? The term “crap” is apparently offensive and unfit for AOL video. Don’t believe me? Look at the picture! Now I’m no fecal matter specialist, but I don’t find “crap” offensive. My friends at the conservative Southern Baptist church I grew up attending used the word, for crying out loud! Ultimately, people want to have freedom of expression, so they will avoid places that are highly censored.

  • Inconsistent censorship – Okay, so an amusing little video with the word “crap” in the title is unfit for AOL’s viewers, but this shining gem has been on their site for 15 months! If you posted that video on YouTube, you’d have it taken down fairly quickly (at least in comparison) and you might even get booted off the site if enough people flagged it. Here’s the deal – if you’re going to censor innocent fun and allow lascivious behavior to sit there, I don’t want to be a part of it.
  • Awful Interface. As much as we YouTube regulars complain about the 500 Internal Server Errors and quarks that pop up, the bottom line is that most of the time the site works. In contrast, most of the time AOL video didn’t work. I found myself constantly dealing with problems, like having a video upload, but it wouldn’t show up for a week, or when a video uploads, when you click on my name to see what other videos I have, it would spit out pages with stuff like “No videos” or “No such user” etc… It was just unpleasant.
  • Branding identity issues. They started out as Uncut Videos. Then they were AOL uncut. Then they were AOL videos. Imagine going to the store looking for your favorite soda (in my case Jones Soda) and discovering a soda that looks just like your old soda, comes in the same packaging, and is even made by the same folks, but has a different name. Maybe you would buy it, but if that happened a third time, I think the confusion would cause you to go to a more consistent brand, such as CocaCola or Pepsi. This is one of the reasons I am “somecallmejim” everywhere I go online. It’s branding, baby! AOL’s many faces and name changes very likely confused some would-be regulars.
  • They’re not YouTube. Let’s face it, when YouTube came out, they stirred up so much of the world that they instantly became the brand associated with online video, just like how Sheetrock is associated with drywall, Kleenex goes with facial tissue, and in much of America Coke is with carbonated soft drinks. First faces in a new market have the potential to become the household name for that market, and that’s one of the reasons YouTube is still around despite a lot of mistakes. AOL had a well-known brand, but was relatively unknown as a source of online video.

What’s my final thought? I think non-YouTube video sites can exist. One day, such a site might even surpass YouTube for popularity. But for today, let’s stitch up the body and let the next of kin know that AOL was pretty much doomed from birth. Rest in Peace, oh fair and gentle site. Rest in peace.

aolvideo21

November 18, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment