Videos With the Personal Touch

If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it is an online startup-funding site. The official description is “a funding platform for creative projects.” It’s a chance to invest in projects and products for regular folks. You don’t need a ton of dough to participate and there are some very unique opportunities. Paticipants are given a chance to showcase their project or product and are allowed a certain amount time to reach their funding target goal.

One such project is Spark. The device they are looking to manufacture provides the ability to control lights via the internet. Think turning lights on and off with your smartphone or a light flashing when you receive a text message. While I had chance to meet the founder of this company, Zach Supalla, and was immediately impressed with him, what drew me to the project was the video they made.

Think about this, your company is given a short amount of time to convince someone, most likely someone who has know idea who you are, to invest money in your project. How are you going to find a way to tell your story…convincingly…quickly.

I think Zach pulled it off by putting together a video that accomplished many things in a short amount of time:

  • He showed his enthusiasm, knowledge and sincerity without doing anything fancy. No stunts, no comedy, just him talking to the camera.
  • He created a connection with the viewer by sharing a very personal story about his deaf father and the important role light played in everyday communication.
  • He didn’t get bogged down in the tech and spent his time more in the experience.

Zach also has a compelling demo set up to serve as s next step in using his device. It started with a lighting a light in their office via Twitter and now, controlling the holiday display at his house.

The next time you do a video in hopes of convincing someone…whether it’s to invest money, buy a product, or give you a call…think about keeping it real, personal and sincere. You’ll see some great results.

Did You Know…

…that 40 million people have been rick-rolled? Or that ABC, NBC and CBS combined (businesses that collectively have been
around for 200 years) receive 10 million viewers per month while Myspace,
Facebook and YouTube (none of which were around six years ago) reach 250 million monthly unique vistors?

No really, it’s true…as noted in the latest “Did you know?” video. This one was developed for the Economist and their upcoming Media Convergence Conference. (The original “Shift Happens” video, also developed by Karl Fisch and modified by Scott McLeod, went viral back in 2007. There have been few iterations since then.)

Changing the World: Behind Obama’s Ineractive Design

I had the chance to take in this presentation by Scott Taylor (SimpleScott) last week compliments of the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA). Scott’s storytelling and insight were fascinating and shed a great deal of light on the thinking that went into one of the world’s first…and most successful…use of interactive media in a political campaign.

If you’re interested I posted a more complete recap of the event at Minnov8. It was also reposted at MinnPost. It doesn’t matter what you plan on doing with Social and Interactive Marketing…there are valuable lessons to learn from Scott.

Adventures in Video

I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks…even few months…doing more with video. I’m really loving doing more with a medium I really haven’t done much with since college. And yes, it has taken me away from blogging regularly here. (Insert Social Media guilt here.)

Over the last couple of years I’ve managed to get a real kick out of using Animoto and some other services to build elaborate slide shows with some soundtracks, but beyond that I’ve been more of a viewer than producer.

That changed for a couple of reasons. First, my adventures with Minnov8 have allowed me to do some interviewing with members of the interactive community and some “man on the street” stuff here in the Twin Cities. It offers a nice change from a straight forward interview article/post format. And frankly, doing this stuff along with my friend and colleague Steve Borsch, it has proven to be a blast…not to mention working with guys like Brian Stemmler and 612authentic is also a treat.

The second reason for this new zeal for video was the purchase of my Flip Mino HD. From chronicling my trip to SXSWi to interviews, like the one I did for Localtone Radio, to filming family events I’m happy to report that I haven’t had to hoist the antique handy cam to my eye for quite awhile. The Mino has allowed me to take video I wouldn’t normally have considered because of the inconvenience and iMovie has allowed me to do some editing as well.


I’ve even done some aggregating and embedding of video for many of the projects I’m involved in like ComicTwit.

I suggest that you spend some more time experimenting and integrating video into your online travails. You’ll find it will provide a more personal touch and bring some refreshing change to any static text or photo projects you’re involved in…whether it’s original or shared content.

Virtual Aircheck Is a Virtual Mystery

 At first blush, this may look like a post that is of interest only to radio people. In reality, though it caught my attention as a ‘radio guy’, it highlights lessons that can be learned by any business on the web.

Because of my love of radio, especially as it could be, and through my active participation with The Conclave, I’m always looking out for new resources that can lead to improving content and the talent that produces it. Hence my interest in checking out a new service called

For those not caught up in the broadcast vernacular the “aircheck” is simply a sample of on-air work like a DJ’s show or an on-air program of some kind. The practice of “airchecking” usually refers to a talent sitting down with their boss or talent coach and reviewing the recorded sample looking for ways to improve the content moving forward. I’m sorry to say, this is something that happens less and less frequently as Program Directors become responsible for an ever increasing list of duties they can no longer delegate…because those to delegate to are being “downsized”.

Anyway, offers a service for talent to upload their 7 minute aircheck to the site. It is then reviewed by “a panel of PD’s with over 70 years of combined experience.” and a complete report is then sent back to the talent with comments and coaching tips. This is all done for the low, low price of $24.95…and up. On the face of it, this is a very solid idea.

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Today’s post…blah, blah, blah…

Any question in anyone’s mind that we are all stressed for time? If there is consider the “blah, blah, blah” or, as Seinfeld made famous, the “yada-yada”, or one I hear more and more, the “da-di-da-di-da”.

Blah-Blah is defined by Webster’s as “silly or pretentious chatter or nonsense” and yada-yada, it’s first use tracked to 1948, is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “Conversation glosser-over, similar to blah, blah, blah” These are a “stop me if you’ve heard this” for any discussion, story, or joke.

In the online world there are a ton of sites and applications reducing the blah, blah. Just look what Sony is doing with Minisodes. If you can reduce a 30 minute TV show to 5 minutes, there’s some blah, blah, blah, plenty of yada-yada and a smidgen of da-di-da-di-da.

Of course, you can’t forget about the likes of Twitter or Utterz. Their sole mission is to eliminate yada-yada. Even much of online advertising is getting shorter. Wha-hoo!

I’ve always been a big believer in editing. In fact, when editing I prescribe to the “cut it in half” mentality. Too often we get caught up in hearing ourselves talk or reading what we have written. If you hold true to being merciless, (something allot of Hollywood producers seem to lack these days) you’ll never need the blah, blah, or the yada-yada or worry about somebody doing it when they quote you…or playback your presentation.

The down side is that we could eliminate much of the art, the character development, the storytelling that makes any form of communication richer. Knowing not only what to edit but when to edit is crucial.
Whether you’re strapped for time or catering to technology make sure you are cutting out the real yadda-yadda, the genuine blah-blah. Not the good stuff that makes the content compelling.

(Extra: While looking back at the Seinfeld Yada-Yada episode I came across this great exchange…

Elaine: …Anyway, guess what? Beth Lookner called me.
Jerry: Ooh. Beth Lookner, still waitin’ out that marriage.
Elaine: What are you talking about? That marriage ended six months ago. She’s already  remarried.
I gotta get on that internet. I’m late on everything.

…I had to share. What great writing…and no blah, blah, blah.)

Is what you’re saying getting “the look?”

You know the look I’m talking about…the one similar to a dog
looking at a ceiling fan (so ably demonstrated by our family pet, Belle). “The look”
has also been referred to as the “deer in the headlights look” (Sorry, I
have a pet deer…so please refer to said dog.) It’s that look you may get after
you’ve just explained your theory, concept, or next million-dollar idea. It
made complete sense to you. It had everything…explanation, application, reward.
Why on earth is your audience (one person or a hundred) looking at you like you
just spoke in gibberish? Perhaps, to their ears, you have.

It is seen or heard so often, especially in the internet and new media
world. There are ideas, applications, websites, widgets and entire companies
that may offer something to a potential consumer or their business that could
change their lives…or, at least make them easier. But the explanation was so
bogged down in industry speak that they tilted their head nodded and said
something like…”Cool, let me get back to you.” Never to be heard from again.

Let me give you an example with this line from a blog (that
shall remain nameless) regarding the recent Open Social platform from Google.

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