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The Grand Social Media Experiment. We learn by doing.


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Social Media Can Also Improve Relationships

Social networking (and other technological advances) has altered how we stay connected to friends, make purchases, network with colleagues, and find out what’s going on in the world. It has been known to destroy relationships by rekindling past flames, beginning covert affairs, replacing face-to-face intimacy with imaginary online closeness, revealing too much information, and cyber-stalking to ease or confirm jealousy.

Some things to remember that will help keep relationships running smoothly online (and offline) are:

  • Anyone involved in a committed adult relationship shouldn’t be afraid to be public about their status on Facebook or other social media sites.
  • Your partner should be your friend on social media sites. If you can’t see what each other shares publicly online, this could be a sign of impending trouble.
  • Reminisce only briefly with past loves. Anything any more than that could put distance between you and your significant other.
  • Never vent personal information online when you’re angry. In fact, never do it offline either. Give yourself time to assess the situation and address it without pointing blame.
  • Online content is permanent! Even if something posted is deleted (and forgotten), it isn’t really. Nothing ever permanently goes away, and you don’t want it to resurface when you least expect it.
  • Don’t over-share. A better way to learn about people is to have face-to-face conversations. Also, don’t publicize every little detail about your relationships and personal life online.

Often, social media does couples more harm than good. However, social media can also be a positive thing that fortifies bonds between partners. Social media is a great way to connect and encourage loved ones during the workday, or whenever they are away. Anytime you can stay connected and increase communication will benefit a relationship.

Here are some fun ways to stay connected and put a smile on that important someone’s face during times when you are apart. Use social media to:

  • Remember the good times by reminding them of a special moment you shared.
  • Express thankfulness for kindnesses they’ve shown you and for their friendship and love.
  • Make them laugh with a funny meme or other online content that you think they will enjoy.
  • Just say “Hello” or send a smile (emoticon).

A celebrity who does an awesome job of showing his wife how much she means to him and is an inspiration to us all is Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad. He just might be the most perfect husband ever, complimenting his wife Lauren Parsekian every chance he gets. Read about this very-much-in-love couple here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/aaron-paul-wife_n_4032479.html. Awwwe!!

Remember—you have the power to build and maintain quality relationships. The golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is excellent advice; it is as powerful now as it was c. 2000 BC, “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule)

What are you waiting for? Go reach out to your special someone!

—Laura

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13 Ways to Increase Your YouTube Views

YouTube-icon-full_colorThere are a few simple things you can do to make your videos stand out and get more views. The next time you get ready to upload a video, follow these tips:

  1. Quality is quintessential
    If you want your video to do well, it… Has. To. Be. Good. The more interesting your content, and the more creatively you shoot and edit your video, chances are better of viewers liking and sharing it.
  2. Titles, tags, and text
    Use keywords in your titles, and also include them in the video’s description and tags. This will make it easier for your video to show up in searches. In addition, you can caption your videos (YouTube can do this automatically—sometimes with very funny results—or you can do it manually. You can even edit the automatic captions). Anywhere there is text, it is searchable.
  3. Timely topics
    Upload videos about current trends or news topics. Videos based on world topics, parodies or covers of popular songs, spoofs of celebrity gossip, and product tutorials or demos are a few examples of view-worthy videos.
  4. Create continuously
    Your subscribers and viewers look forward to your future videos. Create content regularly. The more videos, the more views. They don’t have to be lengthy; approximately 80% of online videos are less than one minute long.
  5. Authentic concentric
    Commit to authenticity from the start of your video to the final edit. Your video should reflect what you consider to be important. You can’t predict what will resonate with others, but you will have a style and content your viewers can rely on and you can be proud of.
  6. Produce playlists
    You improve your chances of getting views by putting your videos together in a playlist. After one of your videos finishes playing, the next one in the playlist will automatically start. Also, playlists make your YouTube channel more user friendly, as videos are organized into logical groups.
  7. Sharing is caring
    Use Facebook and Twitter to tell your friends and followers about your new video. Post something interesting about its content in the message. You can do this more than once—just be sure to change the message content.
  8. Respond rapidly
    When you receive comments, respond as soon as you can. Thank viewers for watching, answer questions. Respond to all comments, both good and bad. Engage with your viewers.
  9. Advise the audience
    Tell your viewers to take action. Ask them to leave a comment, like your video, share it on Facebook, or do whatever you want them to do. State it in the video, or write it in the description.
  10. Add annotations
    Take advantage of YouTube’s annotations feature in the editing area. You can use annotations to let your viewers know of additional information important to your video, make something more clear, or give a call to action (like subscribing). You can put annotations anywhere you want on the video.
  11. Location, location, location
    Post announcements of your new video (see tip #6) everywhere you can online, and embed your video on your blog, website, etc. and allow others to do the same. When a video is embedded, it plays on the site where it’s located, but it’s played through your YouTube channel.
  12. Game on!
    People love contests and being rewarded for something easy—like watching a video. Let your fans know that when your video reaches a certain number of views, you’ll release a follow-up “secret” video or other exclusive content. You can even involve them in coming up with ideas for your next video.
  13. Google+ presence
    What you do on YouTube ties into your Google+ profile. Videos you upload show up here, as well as your replies and any comments you make. If you want to develop good YouTube viewership, you should be active on Google+. Add new people to your G+ circles, follow some pages, and start interacting. The more people you connect with, the better.

 

YouTube is an amazing community! Good luck to you and post great videos!

—Laura


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My Little Pony: Every Pony Has His Day

My Little Pony Ponies

Derpy Hooves, Shining Armour, and Princess Cadance at MLP-MSP 2014

Four sharp-dressed men strode into the hotel lobby, looking much like the characters of Reservoir Dogs. Without guns, of course. Three of these men were long-term associates, one was a more recent addition to the group. Two go by their given names, two have aliases. These men were on their first mission together—one they successfully accomplished in one weekend, after months of planning, Skyping, tweeting, posting, and other online collaboration.

In June 2014, fans of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” gathered at MLP-MSP, Minnesota’s First-Ever Brony Convention. Most of the attendees weren’t little girls—they were adults dressed like colorful ponies complete with pink wigs, horse tails, unicorn horns, and Pegasus wings. Some of the pony costumes were meticulously handmade, while others cost as much as $2,500 to purchase. One wonders, why were these grown men and women willing to face possible public humiliation by dressing like cartoon characters?

“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” is a cable TV program in its fourth season. Although the TV show was originally intended for young girls, it attracts male and female viewers of all ages. Millions of young men (called “Bronies”) follow each episode, living by the show’s tag line, “Friendship is Magic.” According to Walt Disney, “Animation offers a medium of storytelling and visual entertainment which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world.” Disney has said, “You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.”

Fans of the show are hooked by its clever scripts, high-quality animation, superb acting, and original songs. They are drawn by the show’s characteristic loyalties and kindnesses. The ponies typically rely on goodwill and friendship to resolve moral dilemmas such as bullying, gossiping, or jealousy. The essential story elements are honesty, kindness, laughter, generosity, loyalty, and magic (which happens when the other elements are in place). These principles apply to all people, extending beyond age and gender. Additionally, Bronies say the show draws them in with pop-culture references to shows such as “Mad Men,” “M*A*S*H,” and “Arrested Development,” as well as parodies of songs and popular phrases.

Brony fandom is a global phenomenon, with about thirty conventions held around the world each year. This trend has inspired several documentaries and a great deal of academic research. There are very few cultural sensations as unique and unexpected as “My Little Pony” fandom. Bronies experience a sense of community and friendship from the cartoon, and this carries over into their day-to-day lives. Brony online discussions are usually civil and helpful instead of insulting and hostile like many chat boards. Because it promotes friendship and acceptable behavior, “My Little Pony” seems to attract nicer people. Some fans have found that this kinship has helped them with their confidence levels and to deal with depression.

There are approximately three million Bronies ranging in age from 14 to 57 years old around the world, the majority of which are male. They have many different backgrounds, including soldiers, physiologists, scientists, and students. There is an entire community of Bronies in the military, traditionally a very masculine environment. “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” reflects many of the most important values in the military, such as loyalty, duty, and respect. These men push the boundaries of what society considers appropriate behavior, especially for adult males, because they enjoy watching episodes of “My Little Pony,” collecting memorabilia, and attending Brony conventions like MLP-MSP.

The three-day MLP-MSP affair was packed with a full schedule of events. The entire agenda was posted on Google Calendar and made public, which made it very easy to find information about individual events as well as create calendar entries on smart phones and tablets. MLP-MSP had about 750 attendees. Through social media outlets, such as Tumbler, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and chat communities, this con attracted people from all over the United States and as far away as Canada and Israel. The events were live-streamed through YouTube, and the chairs live-tweeted highlights of the convention all weekend long. Although this was relatively small for a Brony Con, it was well-organized with everything handled quickly and expertly.

On the last day, after all was packed up, the chairs left the hotel in street clothes, returning to their families and other commitments. We don’t know their real names, but they’ve got what it takes to run a con. And they will be back.

—Laura


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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.

—Laura


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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).

—Laura

Lizzie Velasquez

Beautiful Lizzie

 


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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:

MISC. INFO

  • 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.

USING TWITTER

  • 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.

ADDITIONAL TIPS

  • 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.

REMEMBER

  • 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!”

—Laura