The Grand Social Media Experiment. We learn by doing.

Leave a comment

Star Wars Kid Ghyslain Raza

Original Star Wars Kid

Star Wars Kid, Ghyslain Raza

My first experience with “Star Wars Kid” was on a favorite show of mine, Arrested Development. George Michael was embarrassed as his video was accidentally shown to the Bluth family. Arrested Development had spoofed many things, but I wasn’t aware of an original “Star Wars Kid” until now.

“Star Wars Kid” was one of the first videos to ever become viral. Canadian Ghyslain Raza recorded himself as he wielded a saber against imaginary antagonists in his school’s recording studio. He forgot to take the 8mm recording with him when he left for the day, and months later, it was later found by classmates of his. They thought it would be funny to post it on Kazaa, a peer-to-peer file sharing site that originated in 2001. (As of August 2012, the Kazaa website is no longer active). This was in April 2003.

Original “Star Wars Kid” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPPj6viIBmU#t=56.

Almost as soon as the video hit the internet, people began remixing it, adding sounds and glowing light-saber-like effects to the stick Raza brandished in the video. The original and remixed videos began appearing all over the internet on popular humor sites. As soon as classmates at his school found out about the video, Raza was humiliated to no end. They harassed him by saying he should just kill himself because he was such an embarrassment.

In July 2003, the students who originally posted the video and hundreds of other fans of the video raised over $4,000. As a way to say thank you, they bought Raza a 30GB iPod and a large gift certificate to an electronics store. But because of the mortification Raza faced, he had to drop out of school and seek psychological help. His parents sued the classmates’ families for emotional and psychological damages, seeking a quarter million dollars. This was the first time privacy invasion became a concern on the internet, and has been a hot topic since.

Since Ghyslain Raza’s portrayal of Darth Maul was first uploaded to the internet in 2003, it has been estimated that the original, unmodified “Star Wars Kid” video has accumulated well over one billion views. Even before social media as we know it today, interesting content found its way around the internet. Raza’s original and remixed versions of “Star Wars Kid” still receive views, although interest level has waned.

Today, Raza is the president of Patrimoine Trois-Rivières, a company dedicated to the conservation of his hometown. He also studied law at McGill University in Montreal. Raza has recently been inspired to come forward to speak out against cyberbullying. Because of the rise in suicides resulting from bullying, he is taking steps to do something.

For more info: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/star-wars-kid.

Arrested Development’s George Michael recreating the Star Wars Kid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-EouZi1mvQ

“Star Wars Kid” picture from: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/story-behind-the-star-wars-kid-20110805-1ie0k.html.



Leave a comment

World’s Ugliest Woman


Be STRONG when you are weak. BRAVE when you are scared. And HUMBLE when you are victorious.

Be STRONG when you are weak. BRAVE when you are scared. And HUMBLE when you are victorious.

Lizzie was a sweet little girl, born to two very excited first-time parents in Austin, Texas. She was very small at birth—she was born four weeks premature and weighed less than three pounds. Lizzie was nurtured and cared for by her loving parents and grew to be quite a precocious child. She was blessed with two younger siblings, many relatives, and had a very charming, very normal life. At least that’s what she thought until she went to school.

Little Lizzie was very excited on her first day of school. She had a pretty dress, new hair ribbons, and a snazzy lunchbox. She couldn’t wait to make new friends in kindergarten, but when she got to school, things didn’t happen as she thought they would. No one would speak to her. When she talked to them, they backed away. She had a very bad first day.

When Lizzie got home, she told her mother what happened at school. It was then that she discovered she was not like other children. Her mother told her they would learn to like her and they quickly did. Throughout Lizzie’s school years, there were those who stared and were mean and insulting. There were also those who were very good to her—who loved her and stood by her side when other kids mistreated her. Through all of this, Lizzie remained positive and kind.

Lizzie was very smart and had a great sense of humor. Whatever she wanted to do, she did and was successful at it. Lizzie prospered in school, joined lots of clubs, and was on the cheerleading team. One day, while distracted and not wanting to do homework, she listened to music on YouTube. Lizzie saw a video on the side that looked familiar to her and had over four million views. She clicked on it and was horrified to see her face in a video titled “World’s Ugliest Woman.”

This is how I discovered Lizzie—I was watching something on YouTube, a news program or something, and saw a video on the side where Katie Couric interviewed the ugliest woman. I hadn’t ever seen Katie Couric but was familiar with the name. I was curious to see who she was more than I cared about seeing an ugly woman.

What I saw made me sad and happy at the same time. Lizzie Velasquez is an amazing young woman. She is funny, upbeat, kind, and adorable. She was born with a disease so rare that it doesn’t even have a name. She has no fat cells in her body and cannot gain weight. She is also blind in one eye. Lizzie has put up with so much—wherever she goes she is stared at and treated as if she is a monster. But Lizzie is a special beauty with many loving friends and a wonderful family.

I was so moved by her story that I wanted to learn more about her. I watched a few Ted talks she has done. Lizzie is an inspiring motivational speaker and encourages people with her story. She has decided not to let the bullies win—the video that made fun of her made her even stronger. She vowed to not let it get her down and speaks out against cyber bullying. Lizzie lives every day to the fullest.

I found Lizzie at a time when I needed to hear her story. I was very stressed and things were going poorly for me. Lizzie is so strong! If she can move forward with all that is against her, I think I could too. Lizzie has a website and uses Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumbler to share her story. Lizzie’s story has appeared via broadcast, on-line, or print media all over the country and internationally. She has written three books, of which I now have two. I’m so glad I was distracted that day and virtually met this amazing, inspiring young woman.

You can hear about her story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1tydA1MraE. Just don’t read the comments—they will make you sick.

PS: I screen-captured the beautiful pictures of Lizzie from http://lizziebeautiful.tumblr.com/post/98397430713/be-strong-when-you-are-weak-brave-when-you-are (top) and http://ryantowephotography.com/blog/lizzie-velasquez/ (bottom).


Lizzie Velasquez

Beautiful Lizzie


Leave a comment

Twitter Tips for All

Twitter logo

Tweet! Tweet!! A little birdie told me…

Thinking about using Twitter? Not sure why you would or if it’s even worth it? Twitter is many different things to many different people. It’s a great place for keeping in touch with friends and family, staying current with what’s happening in the world, and informing others about your business’s products and services.

Twitter is like blogging (it started as a micro-blogging service) and instant messaging combined. It is the ultimate in social messaging, as you can connect with lots of people whenever and wherever you want. It is an event coordinator, a business tool, a news reporting service, and a marketing device.

In order to effectively use Twitter, I’ve put together a list of things to keep in mind as you enter the world of Twitter and get ready to “tweet” (or post) a brief message:


  • Maximum length of username is 15 characters—the shorter the better. It will be easier for people to find you.
  • Maximum number of characters per tweet is 140. Leave at least 20 characters free as space for people to retweet you.
  • Twitter shortens links with their internal shortener, or you can use bitly.com. Each link uses up 22 or 23 characters.
  • Starting the beginning of a tweet with @username is a reply. It will only be seen by that person and people who are following both of you (it will also show up on your profile page and in Twitter search). If you tag a username anywhere but at the start of the tweet, everybody following you (including the user) will see that message. This is called a mention.
  • Images dramatically increase social media engagement. A picture on Twitter uses up 23 characters.
  • If you make an error in a tweet, to fix it, delete it first and then re-submit. You cannot edit tweets.


  • To be social, when you are mentioned (@username), you should respond to that tweet.
  • Retweet, reply to, and favorite other people’s tweets.
  • People who tweet frequently attract more followers. An active Twitter presence can help a business generate more revenue.
  • Link your tweets to interesting articles you find.
  • Hosting a creative contest or sweepstakes is a great way to improve engagement for businesses.
  • Join a worldwide public conversation by participating in Twitter trends (#hashtags). Twitter provides a daily list of trending topics near the top of your Twitter page on the lefthand side.
  • Behind-the-scenes info and photos are a great way to humanize your business.
  • You can live-tweet anything that would interest your followers and friends. Concerts, low gas prices, Elvis sightings, etc.
  • Quotes are always popular no matter what social media platform you’re on.
  • Create an original meme that fits with your company or product. Everybody loves memes and they often go viral.
  • Use one to two #hashtags per tweet for maximum engagement.
  • Become an expert: inform, talk about your company and other things your audience is interested in.
  • Use Twitter daily—search, lurk, post, retweet.


  • To grow your community, add your Twitter ID to your email signature and other content, both online and off.
  • It’s OK to schedule tweets, but don’t automate anything.
  • Don’t be a salesperson on Twitter. Instead, be informative, entertaining and social.
  • Don’t ask people to follow you. They probably won’t. Some may unfollow you.


  • Everything you say can be seen by anyone, right from the start.
  • Your tweets can be found in Twitter search and also by Google and other search engines.
  • Search your company on Twitter. See what people are saying about you. Respond whether good or bad—make things right!
  • Follow 20-30 good users.
  • Google search companies doing well on Twitter and check out what they do; follow them.

Don’t be nervous! The best way to learn is to jump right in and as Nike says, “Just do it!”


Leave a comment

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE, well, you know….

What should you do with positive and/or negative comments on your channels? How do you handle controversy or problems that come with being on social media?

The main thing about dealing with all comments, the good, the bad, the ugly, is that you handle it swiftly and adeptly. Do not let the bad things fester publicly or the great things go unacknowledged. I was going to give the examples of KitchenAid, Kenneth Cole, and the NRA as examples, but they are actually examples of companies who CAUSED their own crises….(um, LOL?) I found a great blog on this subject here: http://www.1to1media.com/weblog/2013/09/5_things_not_to_do_in_a_social.html.

So while I agree that the timing in responding to any comments, good or bad, is important, what you say and how you say it is very crucial as well.

The negative things are obviously more difficult to tackle . . . if someone is really wailing on your organization’s political views, bad customer service, or about something wrong with your product, it would be somewhat hard to know exactly the right thing to say. But the most professional thing to do would be to accept responsibility by apologizing that the person is having a problem (no matter what the issue is) and make yourself available OFFLINE to have the person get in touch with you personally to discuss the matter in private. Do not engage the person online with argument . . . that would be the wrong way to go! I think that handling things privately, and with effective communication and finesse, will usually settle matters in a way that makes everyone happy. Now if you have a crazed internet troll, that is an entirely different matter, and you can have their posts deleted and report them to whatever Social Media channel they are using. And there are A LOT of internet trolls. (I was thinking of being one for Halloween….)

But I digress. If someone is rabidly exclaiming that your organization is fabulous, your product is wonderful, or your band just totally rocks, ACKNOWLEDGE, ACKNOWLEDGE, ACKNOWLEDGE! Even if someone just sounds wacky and over-the-top in their post, responding to them immediately or as soon as you can really lets the person know that you care and are listening to them. They think you’re great – be very gracious and thank them profusely. It also gives you some insight that you are doing something right, and that’s really good feedback for your company or organization, no matter what you’re hawking.

-paw (week 2)

Leave a comment

Wk 2: What should you do with positive and/ or negative comments on your channels? … Respond quickly. Be nice.

=^..^= Witty Kitty – Week 2: What should you do with positive and/ or negative comments on your channels?  How do you handle controversy or problems that come with being on social media?

Katz logoSmart Cat pix

Words of Wisdom from the Witty Kitty:

The different forms of social media need daily monitoring.

Think before responding.

Always be positive.

Of course, share the positive across other media.  Try to communicate with the negative comments in a more private forum. Publicly ask them to contact you personally.  People want to be heard.

Don’t make promises that you can’t keep. Involve higher ups to clarify the organization’s response. When you answer, you are speaking for the organization, not your personal opinion.

I would be interested in your feedback on this subject. Please send me your insights.

Thank you for listening.

1 Comment

Positivity | Negativity — which one drives social media traffic?

Week 2: What should you do with positive and/or negative comments on your channels? How do you handle controversy or problems that come with being on social media?

I’m thinking of a blog I used to read, now closed down, where “conflama” (conflict + drama) was the order of the day. Practically the norm. This blogger (personal finance universe, very much a beginner) asked for help and guidance on particular topics of concern. Fine, so far. There were numerous posts where commenters offered ideas and suggestions that a newbie to personal finance blogging might want to talk about, and also have personal issues dealing with. I even offered some, where they were relevant to my own experience and background. Then it became a wave of backlash. Blame the commenters for most everything. Any suggestion was perceived as dagger-pointed criticism of her directly. No nuance was detected or understood in her responses. A pity party always set in. Then some remorse, and then the whole, “I’ll be better, please come back to my blog and give me advice.” Rinse. Repeat. Over and over and over.

So, what’s the message here? I think the first is obvious. Don’t fight with your blog readers. Don’t scream at them, yell, call them names, or throw profanity on them. All things this blogger managed to do (even to me). Here’s the thing – this was low key, a personal blog seen and read by a small number of people, not something seen by the readers of Money magazine or the Motley Fool website. As social media goes, it was small potatoes. And what of our little personal finance blogger? Shop closed. Ragged remnants on the web with her screen name remain. No blog. No advice. No engagement, at least for now.

The lasting story is how negative stories, like this one, can really be positive, and for all the right reasons. If you are an organization that values its reputation and professionalism, what does it say when you argue online with your clients or customers? Will it leave a sour taste in the mouths of those who are potential clients and customers? Quite likely. Will it mar your reputation? Certainly. What do you do? Clearly, you engage in conversation from a positive perspective from the beginning. As we saw with Amy’s Baking Company, bad press only further eviscerates one’s reputation.

As we now face the end of school, and look forward to the world of work, what might we see in our future places of employment? Researching these companies requires looking at their interactions with social media. How are they engaged, and to what degree? Will having social media responsibilities be a component of the new job? If so, understanding the breadth and depth of what it can encompass is critical. Your name as a representative of your company is out there, for all to see. Instead of creating a cascade of negativity, make it a reflection of something good. Show the world the positive side of you and your company.


1 Comment

Comments and the art of social media home maintenance

Is there any better season to procrastinate than summer? When it’s too hot to weed and mow, and a pile of unsorted mail is cluttering up the kitchen counter, let’s find a nice, cool place to chew over social media. I’ll have a tall, virtual glass of iced lemonade with that, how about you?

Comments in your channels are like handwritten notes among the ads and bills in your mailbox. In an over-hyped, over-messaged, over-memed world, someone noticed you and cared enough to respond. So now that you have an audience, what should you do with positive or (gulp) negative comments?

Managing your channels is an essential skill for social media success. Skillful management can be tactical or strategic. Clever tactics are great in the short run, but smart strategies will prepare you to handle—and possibly avoid—controversies or other problems that come with the territory. With that in mind, let’s consider how to handle comments both tactically and strategically.

• Why are you using social media? If you just want to start a conversation, consider it done. But if you want to promote something specific—a brand, idea, product, or service—look for patterns in the comments. Then ask yourself whether your message and channels are reaching your intended audience.

• Who is commenting, and why does it matter? If you just want to filter out spambots, use a CAPTCHA utility to identify human visitors. But if you want to build relationships and align values, develop what linguists call “communicative competence”: the ability to use language appropriately for your online community. A values-based community supports its members—and you. That matters.

• What is the overall tenor of the comments? If you’re mainly concerned about verbal abuse, install a profanity filter, post a comment policy, and maintain it consistently. But if you want to grow a supportive community, engage people with courtesy. Thank them personally. Ask open-ended questions. Healthy debate is is a sign of engagement.

• Concerned about complaints? If people simply want to be heard, a kind word at the right time may be all they need. But if you want to earn their loyalty, help them solve a problem. Your professionalism will shine through, and your engaged community may come up with an even better solution.

• When controversies arise, don’t ignore them. Regret is not an admission of guilt. Let people know what they can realistically expect from you. Resolve private issues offline. To be proactive, include social media strategy within your organization’s crisis communications plan. You’ll be better prepared to turn problems into opportunities.

Think of comments as linguistic currency that builds social assets. Managed skillfully, comments ensure that messages, channels, and audiences are consistently aligned in support of your mission and objectives. An engaged, supportive, values-based community is an asset that money can’t buy.

So be authentic. Don’t settle for astroturfing. For real grassroots support, cultivate your comments and answer the mail. You’ll have an online home that welcomes visitors again and again.

Now back to work!—(LA)