The Grand Social Media Experiment. We learn by doing.

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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 (As of August 2012, the Kazaa website is no longer active).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.



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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


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Feedback: Positive or Negative-What’s your action plan?

Tw2-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? LL

Handling positive comments, much like any other positive feedback is simple; you thank your clients and ask them to tell or share with others, their positive experience.

Regarding negative feedback, well, you do not ignore it with hopes that it will disappear. You will need to face and address the situation as soon as you are in a place where you can, acknowledge the problem, apologize if it warrants, quickly provide a solution within your realm of authority, and finally encourage feedback from your client to ensure they have experienced a level of satisfaction. This series of responses will hopefully turn your social media foe into a social media friend. LL

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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)

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Blogging without a license

Learning to use social media is a nightmare of freeway driving in a foreign country.

Lanes are not marked. The highway patrol is a mob. Government and corporate satellites track every move. Signage in a strange alphabet appears and disappears without notice.

Traffic zips by at varying speeds, from all sides, and in random directions. The other drivers—many of whom appear to be drunk, drugged, or deranged—are watching cartoons, making pornography, spreading gossip, and swearing into their cell phones.

Road rage is the norm. Crashes are common. Crowds gather by the side of the road to photograph, jeer, and assault the victims.

What on earth is a sane person doing in a social media class?

Fulfilling an academic requirement. Learning to survive in an alien culture. Wondering if the human race has lost its collective mind.

Out on the freeway, the clouds circle overhead, the sky turns a sickly green, and a whirlwind drags its deadly finger through eight lanes of traffic.

In cities across the land, citizens choking on tear gas have occupied the spaces that belong, by rights, to all. The mainstream media are broadcasting penguin videos and beauty contests.

There are the needs. Here are the resources. Surely there is something one person can do. Something as simple as blogging without a license. Perhaps, if they are asked, others will help.

And when the sun comes out, the crowds disperse, the freeway roars again—what then?

Maybe, just maybe, one posts a beacon. A hope. A friendly roadside sign.

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How to Handle Positive & Negative Comments on SM by Sierra Leone K. Samuels

For most of my blogs I will be blogging from my own experience, as I do manage a non-profit’s SM sites, along with my son’s SM sites. For this particular blog I am going to use a good example from one of my son’s, Jamal “Shango” James professional boxing matches against Corey Rodriguez. In MN this was one of the biggest fights of the year. There was a lot of hype for this fight on various SM sites, positive and negaitve. It was extremely hard for me to take some of the negative comments that were posted before the fight, as well as after the fight. Jamal won the fight in the 7th round due to a TKO (it was scheduled for 8 rounds). There was a lot of controversy on social media sites after the fight from Boxing fans regarding theoutcome, including many negative comments about Jamal. Here is one blog with comments that took place, some good and some bad, including my own comment regarding remarks that were being made about the fight. Icould no longer keep my mouth shut, but I did my best to do it tactfully and respectfully: MNBoxingLeague.com. Here is the video from the fight as well (for those that would like to see for yourself).

When I first read many of the negative comments, I automatically was angry and frustrated and my initial reaction was to respond in a negative and disrespectful way. However, realizing that professional boxing is a business and you cannot take things personally when dealing with business I had to learn self control and really analyze the situation and respond in a way that was intelligent, factual, and respectful. On socialmediatoday they list “12 Priniciples for Responding to Negative Online Comments,” which I find to be extremely helpful and good advice.

OAN – I’m trying to hang with the published Paige Elliot when it comes to these posts. Following one of the best in our cohort 😉

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PT- Responding to Negative Press, A Case Study

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over one million people commit suicide every year across the globe.  In the United States in 2010, 38,364 people took their own lives.  Suicide is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly.  So when I discovered that Innocean Europe, the in-house advertising agency for Hyundai Motors, made light of suicide in a recent commercial, I was flabbergasted.  Then disgusted.  Then irate.  After my personal emotions subsided, I thought of this week’s topic- reacting to negative press or social media comments.

Below is the original ad.  PLEASE BE WARNED!!  These images are disturbing.  Understand that before you watch.  


Here is a link to a reaction from Holly Brockwell, an advertising professional.  She creates advertising.  It’s her job.  And her father committed suicide when she was a young girl.  Her reaction sums up the inappropriateness of the ad and shows the real harm such insensitivity can cause.  


And so, now on to the reaction by Hyundai.  Mathew Herper of Forbes provides updates in his article here:


The initial reaction of Hyundai Europe was:

We understand that some people may have found the iX35 video offensive.  We are very sorry if we have offended anyone.  We have taken the video down and have no intention of using it in any of our advertising or marketing.

For the commotion it spawned, this is woefully inadequate. Later Hyundai added the following:

We at Hyundai Motor America are shocked and saddened by the depiction of a suicide attempt in an inappropriate UK video featuring a Hyundai. Suicide merits thoughtful discussion, not this type of treatment.

So at this point they have acknowledged that there is a greater issue than they apologized for initially.  But as the S-Storm continued, they offered up this nugget:

Hyundai Motor deeply and sincerely apologizes for the offensive viral ad.

The ad was created by an affiliate advertising agency, Innocean Europe, without Hyundai’s request or approval. It runs counter to our values as a company and as members of the community. We are very sorry for any offense or distress the video caused.

More to the point, Hyundai apologizes to those who have been personally impacted by tragedy.

In this latest update, Hyundai uses the cliched defense of “we didn’t know, so it’s not our fault”.  I will be very interested to follow this story, because I’m certain it’s not over.  Some of the comments from the blogs above argue about banning the ad versus freedom of speech.  Insensitivity versus parody.  Humor versus bad taste.  But a few go further to state, as Holly did, that they will never buy a Hyundai because of this add.  I strongly doubt that the ad will prompt someone to buy who otherwise would not have.  So the loss in potential sales could be huge.

I don’t know what Hyundai’s best reaction should have been: some sort of link to suicide prevention hotlines; an immediate donation of a large sum of money to related causes; the public firing of anyone involved in the making of the ad; dissolution of Innocean Europe.  But what I do know, Hyundai did a terrible job of reacting to the crisis, and it will likely cost them dearly.