Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I got together with a bunch of old buddies last week at a cabin deep in northeast Oklahoma on Grand Lake of the Cherokees.  It was too cold to fish, so we just sat around and swapped stories, face-to-face, like we used to.

Unlike Facebook, we enjoyed the nuances of character and gesture that only proximity allows.  Unlike e-mail, my friends could easily tell when I was being sarcastic.  Unlike Linkedin, no one was wearing their resume on their sleeve.

But guess what?

Social networking made it possible.  The seven of us were always a loose coalition at best.  But over the last couple years, like seemingly everyone on earth, we’ve all been Facebooking with greater and greater frequency (some through significant others).  Eventually, we had the momentum to pull off a far-fetched reunion weekend way out in the middle of nowhere.

Some have opined that the elaborate social networking tools at our disposal will replace much of the actual in-person socialization we do.  Well, it does help with the details.  Think how many phone calls it would have taken to get seven of us together – flights, arrival times, rides, cabins.  But here in the age of social media, it took exactly zero phone calls. 

Never did like the sound of a phone ringing anyway.

We all arrived in Ketchum, OK armed to the teeth with the tools of our social media trade: smart phones, laptops, 3G cards, so we could keep in touch with kids, wives, the office. 

The wonderful irony?  

None of us could get a signal of any kind.  Social media conspired to bring us together.  And then made sure we’d really talk to each other.  Face to face.  Like old times.  And it was good.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

On Web Movies

SEO statistics show that online video viewings daily has passed the total number of searches on the “core” engines.  (Core = Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, and Ask.)

And that if you post a video on your website’s front page, up to 80% of visitors will click on it FIRST. 

Eighty percent?  More videos than queries on the big five?  Are you kidding me?

A decade and more ago, everyone talked about “the convergence.”  The biggest challenge would be the battle between the ‘lean forward’ nature of computing and the ‘lean back’ posture for watching movies and TV.  Well the future is here and nobody cares.  We’re screen agnostic, and we watch moving pictures on any device.

(I’m leaning back just now, even as I type, because my tilting laptop table from Ikea nuzzles perfectly against my comfy armchair.)

So, if you build videos into your site, they will come.   Here are four things to think about:

1.  You have 5-10 seconds of initial attention span to work with.   The video needs to be compelling from the start.  Look for a hook – a single graphic or image, engaging music, a unique voice and great copy – that demands they continue to watch.
2.  Give it personality.  In the You-Tube era, surfers expect a certain quirkiness and authenticity.  Try not to be slick and over-produced.  The whiz-bang animations that look so good in the edit suite will be wasted on the small screen.
3.  Tell a story.  Meaning it has a beginning, middle and end.  And get a call-to-action of some kind in there, even if it’s just a web address at the close.
4.  Help the virus spread and watch it grow.  Make your video search-engine friendly with tags and easily shareable with links.  And make sure you use all the cool metric tools on your host site to see who’s viewing.
One great source for ideas is the video mash-up Vidque.  Check out http://vidque.com/business/popular/
For thoughts about your online video needs, remember that iFilm consultations are free, and screen agnosticism is part of the DNA.