Breaking Barriers With Web Series

In today’s economy many young adults are unemployed or underemployed.  Young adults have a degree, but are having a hard time breaking into the competitive job market.  Especially those who want to break into the entertainment industry.  Sometimes you have to take matters in your own hands and do things your way.  There are people who are brave enough to make their own opportunities rather than wait for an offer letter.   Issa Rae and other black web series creators have done just that.

I remember the summer of 2011, and all of my favorite shows were on their hiatus.  There was nothing to watch on TV, but one day Stacia suggested I watch “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” online.  I decided to check it out and I fell in love with it like the rest of Black America.  I waited every month or two for the next episode to premiere to see how the main character, ” J” would handle her next awkward situation.  I thought the idea of a web series was brilliant.  It is brilliant because there are an underwhelming number of scripted television shows that have black producers, directors, writers and actors. Issa Rae, the creator of “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”, I believe is successful because she decided to tap into the underrepresented audience of media consumers.  She is authentic and hilarious which is a great combination. Since starting her web series, a production company and partnerships with Pharrell Williams and Tracey Edmonds, Issa has garnered over 20 million viewers.  Within a small amount of time Issa Rae’s popularity grew and her “Awkward Black Girl” brand began to trend.  Next thing I knew several series were popping up that feature characters that I could identify with.  She started a movement of the Black web series and set a precedent of how to market and grow an online brand.

Here are some of my favorite web series that I think you should watch and support:


ROOMIELOVERFRIENDS

Roomieloverfriends is created by Dennis Dortch and Numa Perrier and produced by Issa Rae.  This web series is about a roommate situation that turned into a complicated relationship.


HELLO CUPID

Hello Cupid is created by Dennis Dortch and Numa Perrier; Produced by Brian Ali-Harding.  This web series is about two friends who get caught up in an interesting online love triangle.  This show stars Ashley Blaine Featherson, who is a Howard alumna.

 


QUARTER CENTURY

Quarter Century is created by Shayla Racquel. This web series follows six college graduates as they endure their own personal quarter life crisis. This series features many of my Howard classmates.

 

TWENTIES

Twenties is created by Lena Waithe and produced by Queen Latifah.  It is not a web series but a pilot presentation that is set up like one. This series also features Ashley Blaine Featherson and follows young black adults in their 20s as they try to discover themselves.  This is a really creative way to gain momentum for a project.  Lena Waithe is not new to using YouTube to start a movement, she wrote “Ish Black Girls Say” and dropped the concept trailer for “Dear White People”. Its popularity helped raised enough money on Indiegogo to begin filming the movie.

 


THE CHOIR

The Choir is created by Issa Rae for Tracey Edmond’s online network called, Alright TV.  Alright TV is a faith-based online network that features content and web series on relationships, health, wellness and comedy.  You might even catch a sermon from one of your favorite Pastors on the channel.  Tracey might not have a television network yet,  like Oprah or Magic Johnson but she is taking her own steps into creating something similar online.

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The Perks of Google Places

                                      

I’ve always known about Google Places and it has helped me explore restaurants and bars in the City.  But besides reading the reviews from Google Places members, I never once thought to share my experience on the website until now.

Google has come up with a way to make your reviews benefit you.  I follow Southern Hospitality on Twitter and noticed a tweet about a Google Places free happy hour.  I assumed it was in relation to Social Media Week so I decided to attend in hopes to network and snack on some barbeque sliders.  However, I gain so much more from this happy hour.  I learn that Google has a community group in New York City and they host free events with the partnership of local businesses in the City.  The catch to attending the free events and winning prizes is to actively submit Google Places reviews.

I met with a group of active reviewers and they shared with me all the free things they have won with Google Places.  Some have won gift cards, shopping sprees and tickets to a Broadway show.  Others have been able to win a spot on a bus crawl to the best pizza and ice cream spots or win a 5-course meal to restaurants.  After listening to their enthusiasm about this program, I knew that I must sign-up.  The benefits for me will be to meet new people and trying new things for FREE.  I was also told that Zagat has a similar program.

The group told me to sign up ASAP so that I could enter the contest to win a seat a Midnight Brunch.  I entered the contest and began to review immediately and I won a ticket.  Tonight I will be dining with other winners for a Brazilian Carnaval experience.  Midnight Brunch is an exclusive supper club and is well known for its dining experience hosted by Emily Cavalier who is the founder and chef of the club.

 Look for my post tomorrow on my 1st Midnight Brunch experience but in the meantime: Follow @GoogleNYC,  Like Google New York and sign up for the newsletter so that you can start winning, too.

Social Media Week 2012: Reflection of the 54th Grammy Awards

While trying to find networking opportunities in the City, I stumbled upon Social Media Week 2012.  Ever since I took the social media class at Howard University, I have developed a love for the digital industry and all of its social media segments.  Looking at trends and playing with new social media tools has become a hobby of mine that I am interested in pursuing as a career.

Social Media Week was held in 25 cities this year and there were around 350 events in New York City.  The events included topics on health care, consumers, brands, politics, entertainment and much more.  I unfortunately found out about the week, a day before the registration deadline and I was not able to attend many events of my interest because it was full.  I did learn that I could attend the events for free and I found an interesting discussion surrounding the 54th Grammy Awards and I decided to register.  I also RSVP’d for the Instagram Party and a Google Places event for the same day.

I began my Social Media Day at the Hearst Tower for the “Reflecting on the 54th Grammy Awards” event lead by Beverly Jackson, Director for Marketing, Strategic Alliances and Social Media.  I walked in and stopped by a table to pick up my entry bracelet for the Social Media Week that included a QR Code that links to my Scanz account.

 I was so excited to finally have my own QR Code for people to scan and have access to my digital profile.

 Below you can see the  a preview of what you will see once you can my QR code.

Before I walked in the theater, I connected with a Howard alumna who owns an advertising/media company and who is a close friend with Beverly Jackson who is also a Howard alumna.  It was great to meet these two women and to share with them my story and to hear theirs.  I was able to sit in the front row and watch Beverly share with the room the digital strategies of the Grammys for the past four years and the success of the tools that were used for this year’s award show.

Facts from the event:

3.9 million explicit mentions of the Grammy handle on the night of the Grammys.

The Grammys wanted viewers to watch two screens at once.  They wanted viewers watching their television and also watching their mobile phones or laptops.

The Grammys had 12 social media pages that featured content for contest, articles, photos, music and more.

The Grammys used Get Glue, Spotify, Google Plus and the other major social media tools to push out content.

The Grammys received over 65,000 tweets per second beating the 2011 BET Awards and this year Super Bowl.

Most of the buzz around the Whitney Houston tribute was positive.  81% favorable sentiment.

Beverly stated that when Jennifer Hudson performed the Whitney tribute that Twitter traffic stopped as though in a moment of silence.  People put down the keyboards and just watched.

Top buzzed about moments during the Grammys were about Adele, Rihanna, Whitney Houston and Chris Brown in that order.

(Picture of a chart that shows Grammy artists’ mentions on Twitter during the show and Adele is #1)

The iPad app for the Grammys went to number 1 on iTunes in downloads.

The Grammys used 5 hashtags but later learned that Twitter users created over 100 unique hashtags during the live show.

It was great to live tweet during the event with other attendees.  For more tweets on this event, search #smwnyc and #smwhearst.  All of the events during the week could be viewed on Livestream.

Click here to see the actually event online

Overall, it was a great experience.  I was able to network and learn about how the Recording Academy uses digital strategies for Internet entertainment during the Grammys.  I think that the Grammy team did a great job and I look forward to seeing what is to come and how they compare to other live shows.

Checking Into Entertainment: Social TV

We have been tweeting and creating status conversations about what music we are listening to and what we are watching on TV since Facebook and Twitter were created.  My favorite moments on Twitter would have to be during award shows, Super Bowl or season premieres but what if you could get stickers and interact with other fans on a different platform.

All of this is called social television, “It’s a niche section of social networking dedicated entirely to (usually influential) entertainment enthusiasts, and the networks and brands that want to reach them,” Jennifer Van Grove said.

Now there is a social media website, GetGlue that allows you to check-in to your favorite shows.  You can even check into a movie, the artist you are listening to and the book that you are currently reading. According to Socialtimes.com, analytics published by social TV service GetGlue, there was a 55% increase in check-ins in the month of April 2011, proving that the check-in is far from going out of style.

Readwriteweb.com explains how GetGlue works: “After you’ve checked in to the entertainment you’re experiencing, GetGlue tells you who else is thinking about it, how many times you’ve checked-in, where it is trending on the site and how many others are currently checked into it. It connects people around entertainment, a trend that is increasingly becoming more mainstream as social TV expands.”

Major television networks like FOX, ABC, BET and MTV have partnered with GetGlue and created Stickers that one can be awarded after checking into an episode or a book.  These virtual stickers can be become real stickers that GetGlue will send to your home for free.

So far I have collected 70 stickers.  The majority of my Stickers come from ABC shows like Pan Am, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Private Practice.  I have many Glee and Jersey Shore stickers.  I hope in the future E! Bravo and VH1 will join the other networks by providing stickers.

I have also collected stickers when I check-in for an award show or special television documentary.  I think this is an amazing idea and I see one can get stickers for watching the Republican Party debates.  I have collected stickers for listening to Beyoncé and J. Cole.  One thing that I hope to see is check-ins for concerts.  I would have loved to get a Watch the Throne sticker.

This website benefits entertainment companies and publicists because it is another way to keep track of the buzz circulating cyberspace about their show.  It is also a way to identify fans and get feedback.  I hope to see contest in the future for using this tool.

I had GetGlue send my first 20 stickers to me in the mail:

Socialtime.com also shares that the social entertainment check-in service also points out that, “GetGlue check-ins are helping to stimulate conversation on Facebook and Twitter.”  GetGlue is also integrated with Tumblr and Foursquare and has a mobile app for Blackberry, Androids and iPhones. “Every day in April, over 50,000 shares went from GetGlue to Facebook and Twitter, seeding the entertainment conversation to 40 million friends and followers.  Facebook Insights reports an average Facebook per Share greater than 20 for check-ns published across user’s News Feeds.”

GetGlue started off as a browser extension, later transforming into a semantic and social recommendation service combined with an emotionally charged space for discussion around popular shows and movies. Earlier this year, GetGlue made a shift toward location, adding geo-location sports check-ins and Foursquare integration (readwriteweb.com).

Yahoo! recently started a new similar service called IntoNow.  According to The End of Television.com, “The unique aspect of the check-in service that IntoNow provides is the capability of the application to recognize the TV content you are watching, both on your television and laptop or tablet, by recording and matching the sound ‘fingerprint’. After recognizing the content you can share this with your friends on Twitter and Facebook and find more information from channels like IMDB, Netflix and iTunes. Furthermore, it allows you to see what other people within your social circle and beyond are watching.” This is similar to many apps that can identify the music that is playing and will give you the artist name and song title.

The End of Television said, “The quick growth of the service, the acquisition by Yahoo! and the popularity of second screen TV applications makes IntoNow one of the most promising check-in applications to take on the competition with GetGlue and Miso. Although they miss the strategic partnerships and are still behind when it comes to reach, their SoundPrint platform provides a key advantage over manual check-ins.”

Miso is an interactive content experience that plays on your phone while you watch TV. Get fun trivia, guest star info, funny quotes, and much more – all synchronized with what’s on TV. All Sideshows are created by fans. Learn more about Miso Sideshows with the video below.

Introducing Miso Sideshows from Miso on Vimeo.

SOPA & PIPA

Over the past few weeks I seen a tweet or two about SOPA, but it was not until last night when news flooded my timeline about these law proposals.  Talks of Wikipedia shutting down for a day made me do some research into how this will affect me.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

I love the Internet and most of my time is spent searching, reading and sharing.  I search for news and opportunities.  I read blogs and tweets.  I share articles, videos, pictures and my thoughts on the web.  These laws will affect my use of the Internet and today as cyber space goes on strike, I see how it will affect me.  On Wednesday, I wanted to look at my favorite blogs for entertainment and I could not do it.  Even when I went to the Google search page, I was not greeted with their multi-primary color logo.  I was presented with a black block.  I wanted to blog about SOPA and how proud I was to see people unite against it and I could not because WordPress and Tumblr were on SOPA strike.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

If SOPA and PIPA were to pass then these websites and eventually Facebook and Twitter would be shut down because of a copyright violation or a piracy infringement that was shared on the website.  Not only will we as individuals be sued, but these companies would be sued and rules would be made to obey the government.  These companies would then have to hire many people to monitor every profile or account to make sure there are no violations.  This would even affect the way we use search engines like Google and companies who are spending money on AdSense would be affected.

 I do not like the government regulating this aspect of my life. I do understand that it is unfair to the entertainment industry and they deserve to be paid for their artistry but to affect the way we use the Internet is unfair too.  There has to be a plan and a way to compromise.

 As of Thursday the SOPA and PIPA bills are off the table and the FBI decided to shutdown one website called, Mega Upload.  This is definitely an issue that we will have to keep an eye on.

Obama’s Social Pulpit

       

Think back to the 2008 Presidential campaign season.  I remember going on Facebook and my newsfeed would be flooded with Barack Obama messages.  Even my favorite blogs featured his YouTube videos.  President Obama took social media to a new level and used it to his advantage to reach an audience that had notoriously been under represented at the polls.

Obama had about 13 million advocates “engaged and empowered” using social networks, text messaging and online video.

Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign changed the way political campaigns are ran in this country.

In Edelman’s white paper, “Social Pulpit: Barack Obama’s Social Media Toolkit”.  It lists social media lessons to be learned from Obama’s campaign.

1.     Start early

2.     Build to scale

3.     Innovate where necessary; do everything else incrementally better

4.     Make it easy to find, forward and act

5.     Pick where you want to play

6.     Channel online enthusiasm into specific, targeted activities that further the campaign’s goals

7.     Integrate online advocacy into every element of the campaign.

I was impressed to find out that Obama was not the first presidential candidate to use social media.  McCain’s 2000 campaign raised a million dollars online and Dean’s 2004 campaign use Internet grassroots efforts to mobilize online supporters to MeetUp in their local communities.  According to Edelman’s report, McCain failed to convert his online donors into votes and Dean failed to channel the online fervor into effective ground support.  Obama was the first to do both.

During his campaign and now as President, Obama has embraced a new way of communicating which is different from the traditional top-down approach.  He is utilizing public engagement to influence conversations.

Below is a chart of Obama’s campaign numbers:

 With the support of Silicon Valley, I believe Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign will heighten the use of social media.  I’m interested in seeing how he will make use of tablets (iPads) and social location based networks or even virtual worlds.  It will be interesting to see how the Republican presidential candidates utilize social media and if they will use Obama’s success to create a new dynamic to this new way of campaigning.  I do however; believe that no one will master it like President Obama.

Photo credit (Responsiblemarketing.com)

19 “New” Rules for Social Media Copywriting

Social media marketing is a tool that companies must have if they plan to reach a particular audience that may be actively using social media.  Social media marketing is not public relations or advertising, but it is a mechanism that requires a two-way communication.  The target audience in social media wants to have a conversation with companies, they want engagement and they look to their peers for recommendations.

How can a company use this tool to its advantage and receive a ROI?  Nicky Jameson may have the answers to that question.  She developed 19 “new” rules for social media copy writing to help companies who are joining the social media bandwagon learn to effectively create messages to their target audience on social media.

Nicky’s 19 Rules:

1.     Use Strong Headlines – You have to capture your audience to get them to stop and read what you have to offer.  Make your reader curious.

2.     Make Your Message Desirable – According to Nicky you have to “Craft content that gets attention, stirs interest, builds desire and compels an action on the part of your audience.”

3.     Create a Relationship– Make the message personal as though you are speaking with a friend.  Make your readers feel comfortable.  Make them feel like they can trust you.

4.     Write in First Person– Give your reader’s a strong sense of who you are.  Make the content authentic by using “You” and “I” help make a personal connection with your readers.

5.     Speak Their Language– Know your audience and use their jargon,

6.     Make Your Message Viral– Nicky suggests that you, “write relevant newsworthy and compelling content and people may pass it on virally via popular Social Media Networking Tools like StumbleUpon, Digg, Facebook, MySpace, etc.”

7.     Start the Conversation- creates conversation pieces that with develop a dialog between you and the reader.

8.     Tell a Compelling Story– share the happening of your company’s world.

9.     Be a Mirror– Use social media to show your audience that you are listening and that you understand their needs.

10.  Create Discussion Topics– Nicky believes, “Blogs are an excellent tool for initiating discussion on a limitless number of topics which then may be shared in specific user forums.”

11.   Generate Buzz- uses your content and makes it available for sharing among other social network websites.  Promote your blog or website on Twitter and Facebook.  Create videos for YouTube that can attract visitors to a blog or website.

12.  Use the 4 U’s- “Create Urgency, Usefulness, Uniqueness and Ultra-Specificity to stimulate interest.”

13.  Create Intrigue, Interest and Emotion

14.  Get to the Point– Make it short and simple.  You have to engage your audience quickly or they will loose interest or become impatient.

15.  Provide Social Proof – Nicky says, “Testimonials, expert endorsements, links and referrals are Social Media Copywriting staples.”

16.  Energize! – Be excited about writing for social media.  Love what you do.

17.  Sweeten the Deal- Offer a free deal to your readers.  It will 1) motivate your reader to accept the offer and 2) motivate your reader to take action.

18.  Agitate- “Choose an issue likely to be on the minds of your audience. Then tell them how to solve it.”

19.  Include Keywords- This will help with your search engine optimization.  It will make your content easily searchable and a stand out amongst the million other websites that are a part of the World Wide Web.

A Second Life with Virtual Worlds

Above is a picture of my avatar for the social networking virtual world known as Second Life.  One day my classmates had to meet up with our professor on Second Life which is comparable to the Sims games.  You can find people from all over the world on this site.  Product placement is used and many brands are placing advertisements and other unique items on this site to drive consumer engagement.  Brilliant!

I had an interesting time on Second life. I enjoyed flying around on the site and using its other functions, but I did not like the harassment that came with the website.  Many people from other countries use this site and would approach me in pursuit of a conversation, but I’m not fluent in Spanish and I have no idea how to speak anything else, so it got quite annoying. There are many other virtual worlds that are free.  Click here for a list of other virtual worlds.

This video explains how and why virtual worlds are growing:

Prosumers

Social media is relied on for product or service reviews.  We are no longer just consumers, but we have taken the role as prosumers. “We are professional consumers and don’t want to be sold, tricked, or manipulated.” Social media has now created a forum to seek suggestions and tips on product and services.

The Social Media Bible says, “People want transparency, sincerity, and authenticity when it comes to product recommendations and advertising.”  Publicists, brand employees and endorsers have come under scrutiny for leaving commentary on websites about products and services that they represent without stating that are contractual involved.

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/resource/flash/video-player_400x3335.swf

The FTC has recently set up regulations involving this issue.  Now it is required for publicist and endorsers to announce their relations to a product when writing about it or tweeting about it.  Ever see one of the Kardashian sisters’ tweets or a Snoop Dogg tweet?  Celebrities have to be specific when endorsing on their twitter by using the word Ad or stating what companies they endorse on their website.

Many websites like Yelp!, CitySearch and Zagat are forums where you can look up a business and read its reviews from people who have been there.  Some of these websites have been coined “Bad for Business”, because businesses cannot control their reviews and bad reviews are subject to be displayed.   Yelp! have had many complaints about bad review removal and lawsuits over the issue of extortion.

 

I believe it is necessary to have good and bad reviews and I do not think that every bad review will turn people away.  For example, when I was looking for an Atlantic City hotel to stay in for spring break, I looked through the reviews and made a choice based on what I’m looking for, what the reviews state, and the price.

I believe the use of these websites is important to the growth of businesses especially small ones.  Now that mobile apps are available for these websites it is important to have a page on Yelp!  to create a forum where you can engage with consumers.  Check out this interview with Isaac Mogannam, the owner of Phat Philly Cheesesteaks and how he uses Yelp!

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/g8sRgZuMLgI%5D

Google has recently launch +1 for their search.  Now users can add tips and recommendations that can be found in your search list.

We are now in control and we are turning to our peers of recommendations and tips and there are now places for us to engage.  All of this makes me want to be proactive and begin leaving commentary of my experiences at places for my peers.  By the way, a bonus for your review is the discount or a freebie!

New Media and a New Way for News

Last week my class had a guest speaker from CBS Radio.  He started his presentation by asking us, “How do you get your news information?”  The majority of my class including me told him that we get our news through our phones especially through Twitter.

According to The Social Media Bible, a recent poll showed that:

37% of Americans regularly go online for their news

27% picked up a newspaper on any given day.

39% turn to cable television.

Those who watched a nightly news bulletin on TV fell from 34 %to 29% over the past four years.

Some of you might laugh at the thought of getting your news through your phone, but if you are following thought leaders and major creditable news sources like CNN, Washington Post, Breaking News.  Even email services like Yahoo! And AOL has news updates when you log into your account.   It is important for us to realize how much our world is changing especially in the way we receive news.

Social media is growing and contributing to the way we receive news.  Yesterday, I was in class when the WNBA draft was on and I looked to my Twitter to keep me updated because my childhood friend who plays for JMU was up for the draft.  My phone is how I get news during the day.

Ironically, social media is, also, becoming the news breaker because now our creditable news sources are relying on the “average Joe” or citizen journalist to break news. For example, our eyes were glued on Twitter as employees of the Discovery Channel in Silver Springs, MD and nearby spectators broke the news of their hostage situation in the building.

Another example is when Ronald Isley tweeted the news that Teena Marie had passed away.

And just recently we heard the voices of Egypt rise through technology and they fed the world with social media updates of their protest.

Director of BBC’s of Global News, Peter Horrocks, told his staff in 2010 to embrace Twitter and used it to find stories.  Many reporters are doing this because even I have major news sources following me on Twitter.

This can be a good or bad thing, because news sources are aggressively trying to find news and be the first to break it but sometimes fact checking is ignored and the wrong information is reported.  Ethics come into play because we expect journalists to report unbiased and fact driven news.  Not every citizen journalists’ tweets are reliable, and according to The New Media Relations, reporters and editors say:

o   84% of social media sources were “slightly less” or “much less” reliable than traditional media

o   49% of social media suffers from “lack of fact checking, verification and reporting standards

It is clear that the way we receive our news is shifting.  Communication students and professionals have to be award of this change in order to find new and unique ways to disseminate information.

(Photo: tmforum.org)