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Occupy Conan: A New Level of Community Interaction for Television or a Lame Stunt?


When we talk about video and new media, we’re usually talking about web series. But I think we would be wrong to ignore the ways traditional television shows and networks are also finding new and interesting ways to connect with their online audiences.

So, last night when I was channel surfing and happened upon the very beginning of Conan, I knew I had to blog about their “Occupy Conan” show today.

For “Occupy Conan,” the producers posted an entire episode of the show online and asked users to submit videos of their favorite parts, being as creative as possible. They then stitched together the video submissions in small blips to recreate the entire episode. Submissions included clay-mation, live action with green screens, puppets, videos from celebrities like Tina Fey and Joel McHale, and even an homage to Stick Stickly. At some parts, they showed the real show in a split-screen action, but most of the time they simply showed the user submissions.

Through the entire episode, Conan himself was live-blogging from the duel-screen app, available for download on his website.

Here are a few of my thoughts on this show:

The Good

  • This was an amazing idea to build community by making them part of the content creation process.

As many online content creators know, video is hard. Although many fell into the so-bad-they-are-good, some of the submissions were amazing in terms of quality. When someone spends that much time creating content for you, it really solidifies their fandom. Even people who didn’t create videos get the warm fuzzy feeling because the submissions are from “us” – the Team Coco community.

  • It encouraged people to watch the entire show.

If you were one of the people who submitted a video, you definitely watched the entire show to see if clips of yours were used. However, I certainly didn’t submit a video, but I still watched the entire show. Why? Several of the clips were really goofy. I wanted to see what they’d show next!

  • Pattern interrupts are good.

“Occupy Conan” was really different. I’m usually a “sometimes I catch it while flipping” Conan viewer, but this was so weird that I had to watch. Late shows are all pretty similar, so even though an entirely fan-created show was definitely a risky idea, doing something different is a breath of fresh air.

  • It was great promotion for their social sync app.

I bet a lot of new people checked out the duel screen app in order to see what Conan was live blogging. After every commercial break, he had a short clip promoting the app and talking about what they were doing.

  • If they do it again, it will likely be even better.

Now that people have seen one, I bet the next time, people will create even cooler stuff to submit. It’s a contest of sorts, since there’s only so much airtime and they can’t show everything. The bar has been set.

  • The episode is sure to get press attention.

Whenever you do something weird, you get attention from the press. I’m sure Conan will be heavily discussed over the next few days, and whether people liked the show or hated it, starting a conversation online, especially where people can debate, is definitely a major way to promote your show while spending no advertising dollars.

  • They used social media to keep the experience live.

Not only did Conan live blog the episode, but they also took the conversation to social media. The episode had its own hashtag, which was mentioned several times, giving fans a way to interact on Twitter. Creating an episode-specific or even just show-specific hashtag is something I think more shows need to be doing. Chris Hardwick announces a hashtag during each episode of The Talking Dead, for example, and it is a great way for fans to interact with one another.

The Bad

  • They didn’t receive that many submissions.

At the start of the show, they said they received “hundreds” of submissions. Now, to you or I, getting hundreds of video submissions might seem amazing, but Conan averaged 1.1 million viewers per episode in 2012, according to Nielson. That’s a huge community, so to receive only “hundreds” of submissions makes me think that that they didn’t advertise enough, didn’t give people much time, didn’t explain the directions well enough, or had some other problems. They should have gotten thousands, not hundreds.

  • This isn’t something they can do often.

It was a good idea, but it’s not something they can do every week. Once a year, if ratings were good enough, is pretty much as often as they can do something like this without it losing its appeal. So, although an interesting idea, it’s not one with a lot of mileage.

  • This was likely an expensive episode for TBS.

One of the appeals of late night talk shows is that they are relatively inexpensive to produce. Sure, you have to pay the host, but the set doesn’t change from week to week, and guests are there to promote stuff, not get paid. This show, however, undoubtedly took a long time to create because people had to sort through submissions and edit them together. Time is money, so I’m sure this wasn’t a cheap endeavor.

  • They missed an opportunity to credit fans.

As far as I know, there were no prizes for people whose clips were used. However, they missed an amazing opportunity to give a little prize of credit and encourage even more social media action. With each clip, they could have put the creator’s Twitter handle somewhere small on screen so that people could Tweet at and follow their favorites.

The Ugly

  • There were butts.

Not every submission was a winner, and I’m sad they showed that one. If you saw the episode, you know which one I mean. Talk about ugly.

My final verdict is that this was a great idea, despite having some problems. Did you see the show? What did you think of it? What would you add to my good/bad/ugly list? Was it great strategy for competing with web TV or a silly publicity stunt? What have you seen other shows doing to be more interactive? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Image Credit: John J. Kruzel/American Forces Press Service

Texas Teen Ben Breedlove Uses the Power of Words and Video to Touch Thousands


There are most likely hundreds of blog posts on tips and tricks to making a video go viral. You ask yourself what your audience wants to see or if you should upgrade to a better camera. Or maybe if you just had that high priced video editing software, your videos would be shared with thousands.

What if you just simply shared something of importance? No fancy equipment. No music. Just you and your message.

Texas teen Ben Breedlove sat silently in front of a camera, with some notecards he had written on and held them up for all to read. Nothing fancy. Just his words he needed and wanted to share.

This was a two-part video the 18 year old shared about the heart condition he’s been living with called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He shared how he’s cheated death 3 times and what he remembers from those moments. He ends the video with “Do you believe in angels or God? I do.”

Breedlove died on Christmas Day (December 25, 2011) and these videos titled “This is My Story” were uploaded just a few short days before he passed. His videos now have more than 2 million views.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Ben Breedlove.

What Louis C.K Can Teach Us About Selling Digital Content


Louis C.K. has always published his comedy specials in a traditional way. He’s been quite successful, and I’m sure that there was no shortage of production companies wanting the rights to his latest special. Yet he chose another route – self-publishing on a website of his own.

He shelled out a ton of money to make it happen, but ultimately saw his investment multiply. And, while I’m sure people are still downloading his special illegally, the $5 price point made it a lot more accessible to fans on a budget.

Louis C.K. might not be a digital mastermind, but I think all of us online content producers can learn a few things from his success. You don’t have to be a celebrity to replicate what he did and find success of your own. Here are a few take-away points I think are extremely important:

1. Don’t clutter your website.

Check out louisck.net, or louisck.com for that matter. They redirect to a purchase page. You don’t get some kind of splashy homepage or profile or store with tons of options. There’s no flash intro, no silly sidebar with links to everything under the sun, no long sales page. You get a link to buy his special. If you look for it, you can get to the news page or watch some videos, but the site isn’t cluttered with a million things to take the buyer’s attention away from doing anything but buying. If you’re going to sell something, don’t distract your potential buyers.

2. Save your fans from dealing with tons of annoying restrictions.

People pirate digital content. I’m not okay with that; everyone deserves to be paid for their work. But making buyers jump through a bunch of hoops to give you their money is just silly. On Louis C.K.’s site, he specifically addresses would-be pirates and talks about why he formatted his content the way he did, even if it does make it easier to share illegally. For him, it’s more about making it easier for the fan than making it harder for the pirates, and I think a lot of people responded to that and clicked the “buy” button because of it.

3. Give buyers a way to stay connected – if they want.

I hate when I purchase something and am automatically added to a mailing list. It’s really just one step above spam, if you ask me. On his site, there’s a mailing list, but you can easily opt out of it when you make your purchase. If you never want to hear from Louis C.K. again, no sweat. In fact the “No, leave me alone forever, you fat idiot.”* option is default. You have to make a conscious decision to add yourself to his mailing list. It’s respectful. Treat your fans that way too – let them decide whether or not they want to stay in touch before you fill their inbox with tons of emails trying to sell other products before they even know if they like the first one.

*his words, not mine!

4. Be transparent.

Most people shy away from talking about their process. They just show you a finished product to buy and allow people to make the purchase. They definitely don’t follow up with sales stats in most cases. At least, not super specific sales states.

Louis C.K. took a picture of his PayPal account balance. He also talked about how much the special cost him to make, what he paid for his website, why he decided to sell his content digitally, and what he planned to do with the money. All of that makes me trust him so much more. It’s almost like your fans get to know you when you’re not only personable, but also transparent about the fact on your website.

5. Don’t be greedy.

It’s easy for your eyes to light up when you see big numbers, but let’s be honest; nobody needs a million-dollar salary to survive. Instead of keeping all the money he made, Louis C.K. was honest about what he really needed. He gave the rest to his employees (along with big bonuses) and charities. As a potential buyer, I’m more inclined to buy when I know that part of the money I spend is going to good causes. And it’s really attractive to know that the artist is deciding how the money gets divided, rather than a Hollywood production company, especially given the SOPA bs happening in Washington right now.

6. Let your fans get involved.

To go along with point number five, I also thought it was very interesting (and smart) that Louis C.K. crowd-sourced via Twitter to decide what charities deserved some of his cash. When you get your fans involved, it not only helps build community, but it’s extra press for your products. Every people tweeting with him was advertising his special to their followers. While I don’t necessarily think it was a marketing ploy on Louis C.K.’s end, I do think that he probably saw another small sales spike around the time he was interacting with people on Twitter, trying to choose charities.

7. Don’t pretend to be an expert when you’re not.

Lastly, if you’re not an expert on something, don’t “fake it ‘till you make it.” People will smell that bs a mile away! Louis, for example, is not technical genius. He doesn’t understand torrenting, and makes that pretty clear on his site (in fact, he makes a joke out of it which is even better). Do what you know how to do; you’ll sell more products and build a more trusting, loyal fanbase than if you claim to be some kind of expert when you’re not.

Even if you’re not interesting in buying you can check out Louis C.K.’s Live at the Beacon Theater page here to see a good example of someone selling their digital content in a positive way.

Image via Wikipedia.

Instagram Co-Founder Tops Forbes 30 Under 30 for Social & Mobile List


Forbes came out with their 30 under 30 list where they highlight some of the brightest minds and most successful people in different categories such as media, social & mobile, science and entertainment.

Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom, is featured in the 30 Under 30 for Social & Mobile list. It’s no secret Instagram has become a huge success and wildly popular. It was just back in August the site reached 150 million downloads in just 9 months.

Systrom spoke to Forbes about the app saying, “We worked really hard on making it really easy for people to share their lives in a beautiful way. It’s one thing to share a photo. It’s another for that photo to be gorgeous.”

Other names who made the Social & Mobile list include Tumblr creator David Karp, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Pinterest creators Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp.

You can see the entire list here. You also might want to check out their 30 Under 30 list in Media. There are definitely a few names you’ll recognize there, such as Mashable’s Pete Cashmore.


Aaron Sorkin is Strongly Considering Steve Jobs Movie


The Steve Jobs book is still on Amazon’s best-selling list in the number 2 spot and has been in the top since the day it came out.

Since the book is doing so well, how do you think a Steve Jobs movie will do? And what about The Social Network’s Aaron Sorkin doing the screenplay?

Sorkin won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network, so it would seem obvious he’s the right man for the job.

At a recent event Sorkin said, “Sony has asked me to write the movie and it’s something I’m strongly considering.”

Sony has acquired the rights to Walter Isaacson‘s authorized biography of Jobs and Aaron Sorkin is their first choice to pen the film. Sorkin shared that he is still in the “thinking about it stage” and says a Steve Jobs Movie will be huge and great no matter who writes it.

Steve Jobs passed away in October of pancreatic cancer at the age of 56.

Now the question is, who should play Steve Jobs? I’ve heard George Clooney’s name thrown out there.

Ashton Kutcher Hands Over His Twitter Account


When Ashton Kutcher saw on the news that Penn State football coach Joe Paterno had been fired, he did what he usually does and headed to Twitter.

The Two and a Half Men star tweeted “How do you fire Jo Pa?” Little did he know the background on the story and exactly why the coach was fired. Needless to say, some of his 8 million Twitter followers were infuriated.

One user tweeted, “Who is more ignorant? @Aplusk, or the over EIGHT MILLION idiots who follow him?” Kutcher replied back with “honestly it’s me.”

Another person tweeted, “with 8 million followers, you MAY want to reserve your opinions until you know the whole story.” With Kutcher replying with an “agreed.”

All of these tweets have been erased from his feed.

As most of you probably know, Paterno was fired  over how he handled child sex abuse allegations against an assistant coach. Kutcher somehow missed that part of the story.

So, what does a celebrity do after a huge snafu like this one? He hires a Twitter Management team, which some are calling a huge mistake.

In a post titled “Twitter Management” Kutcher explained the situation and reasoning behind his decision. He talks about the fact that he has posted virtually every single one of his tweets on his own, but feels now that 8 million followers is too hard for one guy to manage.

A collection of over 8 million followers is not to be taken for granted. I feel responsible to deliver informed opinions and not spread gossip or rumors through my twitter feed. While I feel that running this feed myself gives me a closer relationship to my friends and fans I’ve come to realize that it has grown into more than a fun tool to communicate with people. While I will continue to express myself through @Aplusk, I’m going to turn the management of the feed over to my team at Katalyst as a secondary editorial measure, to ensure the quality of its content. My sincere apologies to anyone who I offended. It was a mistake that will not happen again.

One of Kutcher’s latest tweets was “As an advocate in the fight against child sexual exploitation, I could not be more remorseful for all involved in the Penn St. case.” I guess this is possibly his last tweet done by him and him only?

Is Ashton Kutcher making a mistake and committing Twitter suicide? Sound off in the comments.

Image Source: Twitter

Jimmy Kimmel’s Halloween Candy Video Goes Viral, 16 Million and Counting


While at BlogWorld LA last week, a few of us were crammed around a computer laughing hysterically. It was all because of a challenge late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel had given parents.

He told parents to tell their kids they ate all of their Halloween candy and film their reaction. What followed was tons of submissions, a lot of crying kids and a video gone viral.

Before I go on, if you haven’t seen it yet, here you go. If you have seen it, you know you want to watch it again.

It’s so mean it’s funny right? The video has done so well and currently has 16 million views and counting. Jimmy Kimmel’s videos usually average around 5 million views a week, so as you can see, this one is a huge hit for him and the ABC network.

Before this Halloween candy fiasco, his single most viewed video was when Justin Bieber surprised a three-year-old fan back in March 2010. Crying kids outrank the Biebs. (For those of you who don’t know, “The Biebs” is a nickname for Justin Bieber. If you already knew that, you’re probably a Belieber.) The Justin Bieber video does have 37 million views, so it will be fun to see if the Halloween candy one can surpass it.

The two kids who stole the show were the ones at the end of the montage – CJ and Jacob. The reaction of “What the heck?” was priceless, as was the little brother trying to add 2 and 2 together. He got 5. So, so close. CJ and Jacob have been invited to Los Angeles to be guests on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” this Thursday, November 10. I can’t wait to tune into that!

So, why did this particular video resonate so well with audiences? It has 16 million views and it just went live November 2nd! I think we all love to be entertained and obviously we all love to see little kids cry. What is wrong with us?!

Long story short, you never really know if a video will go viral or if your idea will take off. As Amber Naslund said in her keynote, “Sometimes you need to take a step on the path before you see where it’s going to lead.” Come up with a creative idea and go for it.

Steve Jobs Was Working On Next Apple Product


It’s no secret that Steve Jobs was an incredible man who had a mind for technology. He knew the products people would want, before they even knew they wanted them.

It doesn’t surprise me that news came out today Steve Jobs was working on the next Apple product the day before he died.

PCMag broke the story.

Masayoshi Son, CEO of Softbank, was talking with Apple CEO Tim Cook the day of the announcement for the iPhone 4S. While they were talking, Cook received a call from Jobs.

Son said, “I visited Apple for the announcement of the iPhone 4S [at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California]. When I was having a meeting with Tim Cook, he said, ‘Oh Masa, sorry I have to quit our meeting.’ I said, ‘Where are you going?’ He said, ‘My boss is calling me.’ That was the day of the announcement of the iPhone 4S. He said that Steve is calling me because he wants to talk about their next product. And the next day, he died.”

He was dedicated to creating brilliant products up until the day he died. He had a passion and love for Apple and their products. This latest story proves that.

Now the question is, what was he working on? I can’t wait to find out.

All Apple U.S. Stores to Close During Steve Jobs Memorial Service


Tomorrow (October 19th) is the memorial service for late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, as well as a celebration of his life.

According to Reuters, Apple has decided to close all U.S. stores for several hours on Wednesday. They want store employees to take part in celebrating Jobs’ life.

The event is happening at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino at 10 a.m. PT to 11:30 a.m. PT. Apple employees can use the time off to view the service via a live broadcast.

The celebration is following a private memorial service held at at Stanford University. Silicon Valley luminaries, politicians and celebrities will attend.

For employees in Asia and Australia, they can view a re-broadcast of the event.

Steve Jobs died on October 5th at the age of 56.

iVillage Launches New Celebrity-Centered Blog Where the Celebrities are the Bloggers


Social Media has opened up a whole new world for celebrities and the ability to connect with their fans. From their tweets on Twitter to their status updates on Facebook, they can personally reach out to their fans. Social media makes celebrities more real, more relateable and a lot of celebs are completely on board with that.

Another way for celebrities to connect with their fans is through blogging. They can let us know first-hand what’s happening in their work-life and home-life.

iVillage is using their large reader base of women and launching a new celebrity-centered blog, where the celebrities are the bloggers. They understand how much their readers love to hear about the personal lives of celebrities and want to share in their life experiences.

Angela Matusik, iVillage‘s Chief Content Executive, told The Hollywood Reporter “We know that our readers love hearing from celebrities about what they’re going through in their real life, especially when it comes to parenting and being a mom”.

Kicking off their new blog, called CelebVillage, is Denise Richards. Her very first article is about life with newly adopted daughter Eloise, as well as older daughters Sam and Lola. Denise will write for the blog once a week for the month of October. Singer Alanis Morissette will take over in November, followed by Dancing with the Stars contestant Ricki Lake in December.

Who would you like to see jump on board with CelebVillage and write about their personal lives?

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