Scarface School Play Video: A Blog About A Blog (I’m so meta…)

Scarface School Play VideoWhat’s a viral video? No mom, the term ‘viral video’ doesn’t refer to those movies my 13 year old brother has recently discovered and started crashing the family computer with. Although, advertisers tend to get just as excited about the potential payoff of a good viral video as 13 year old boys get about the potential payoff of those other videos.

Seriously though, a viral video refers to any piece of web-based content that manages to make its way from the creator’s computer into the watercooler conversation at your office. It’s just the web geek term for a big hit that generates a lot of buzz and amasses a larger than average audience.

Advertisers love them because they’re the cheapest, and often most effective, form of brand building out there at the moment. And consumers love them because they tend to be some of the more creative, accessible and authentic content out there. Of course, accessible and authentic aren’t exactly words that play nicely with the idea of brand building. Which is why successfully creating and capitalizing on a viral video is truly an art.

And, why people like my friend Tyler – who culls the web’s best viral content for Break.c0m – get to earn their paycheck by watching funny videos all day. Tyler recently started a blog, and his first entry is a brilliant behind the scenes take on the recent viral smash “Scarface School Play.” It’s well worth a read, whether you’re interested in creating viral vids or just interested in understanding what all the fuss is about (as if the concept of kids reenacting Scarface as their school play leaves any doubt about that).

And yes, I managed to get through that entire post without making one joke about saying hello to my little friend. . .

Twitter Trends: Twitter’s Future — At Least For The Next Four Years

In honor of Twitter’s fourth birthday a few weeks ago, Mashable published a story today detailing the 5 Big Twitter Trends to Follow Right Now. From the @anywhere API to the increasing niche-ification of the Twitterverse, I think Jennifer Van Grove was spot on with all of her predictions.

But, I also think she missed a pretty big one – location. Whether you’re talking about services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt literally sending updates about where you’re at straight to your Twitter stream, or about sites like Yelp adding location data to the aggregated content they deliver across multiple platforms (of which Twitter is only one), location is – at least imho – about to become the big buzzword of 2010. And the Twittersphere is no exception.

When you’ve got hundreds of cable channels, millions of websites, scores of local businesses to choose from, countless products being sold at you and to you at any given time and infinite possibilities for content to be delivered directly to your device of choice – anywhere, any time – it’s hard to know how to filter all of that into a manageable, meaningful stream. Which is why more and more people are relying on recommendations, whether direct or indirect, from people they know and/or trust. Emphasis on the ‘and/or’.

Word of mouth marketing has always been a pretty powerful tool. But social media – especially Twitter – has helped its power increase exponentially, and helped it to become more location-based than ever. Every time you Tweet about a TV show, del.ici.ous a site you digg or check in before you chow down, you’re sharing your location. And I’m not just talking about the physical place you’re standing in.

I’m talking about where you are, what you’re doing and what you think of it – whether that’s your couch, your car or your favorite spot in cyberspace. The nature of the social web, where connections are often created via ever-expanding concentric circles of friends, friends of friends, followers of friends of friends, etc. means that every time you Tweet, you could be sharing that location with a potentially infinite number of other people.

For some people (cough, cough, mom), this is truly terrifying. (Not that this stops my mom from regularly checking the Twitter stream on my blog to see where I am, what I’m doing and what I’m thinking). But, to her and the people like her, this trend signals the loss of privacy, the growth of groupthink, the death of deep, meaningful human relationships and all sorts of other understandably apocalyptic phenomena.

Personally, I find the social sharing of location data to be far from apocalyptic. First of all, it helps level the playing field, by allowing mom and pop advertisers to compete with the big box stores and their even bigger budgets. When the best advertising comes courtesy of your customers, you get rewarded for producing quality goods at reasonable prices – not just being able to afford the latest and greatest celebrity spokesperson.

And, of course, whether you’re looking for the best source of political news or the best spot to score a dirty martini, isn’t it better to hear recommendations from reviewers you trust – not just the latest and greatest celebrity spokesperson? Play your followeds right, and you might even find yourself getting exposed to things you never would have seen, heard or done otherwise.

All of which makes location sharing some pretty powerful stuff. And – at least in my opinion – it also makes it Twitter Trend #6 worth watching in 2010.

Twestival Los Angeles 2010: Tonight!

It’s not too late to buy your tickets for tonight’s Twestival LA event. I could spend the next ten minutes of blog post time telling you how awesome it’s going to be (and it is going to be awesome), but I think the event details speak for themselves.

Organizers include local tech + social media mavens like Stacey Soleil, Rynda Laurel, Shira Lazar, Brian Wilkins, Paula Gould and Kimberley Kearney. Every LA-based social media organization worth tweeting with will be there, including Digital LA and Girls in Tech LA. And, entertainment runs the gamut from a pop-up photo booth to a top secret performance by a major musical guest. Not to mention the fact that all proceeds go to Concern Worldwide, a truly worthy cause if ever there was one.

So, buy your tickets now, donate as much as you can and help us raise some money (and some seriously fun social media hell) all at the same time. After all, what else are you going to tweet about tonight?

Social Media + Fashion: Designing The Perfect Location-Based Marketing Plan

From Marc Jacobs to Lucky Magazine, it looks like the fashion world has finally jumped on the social media bandwagon. This year, for the first time, bloggers were sitting in the front rows at all the major fashion shows — right down the aisle from the upturned nose of the mighty Ms. Wintour.

And now, even Mashable’s getting in on the trend with a rundown of the ways the world’s most cutting edge clothing and beauty brands are jumping on the location-based social media marketing bandwagon. And boy is that bandwagon getting crowded.

Not that that’s a bad thing. For my money, the more sectors of industry that embrace location-based marketing, the better it is for everyone. Mom and pop shops have as much chance of competing on the location-based level as multinational chains, and sometimes even more so. Consumers get the benefit of coupons and daily deals. And, social media becomes an even more engaging and enriched space. The only obvious losers are the privacy advocates, and to those people, I say what I’ve always said – you don’t have to participate.

The rest of us will be perfectly happy sipping our half off lattes in our exclusive Marc Jacobs blazers and exchanging mayorships all day long at that little local bar we found on Yelp. But don’t worry, I’ll invite you via DM if you wanna come.

New Ben & Jerry’s Flavors Hit Spring 2010 Shelves: Mud Pie, Milk & Cookies & More

I don’t feel much like blogging today. Didn’t sleep so hot last night, and without going into all the gory details, suffice it to say it’s been a long week, with another long month coming up. Right now, all I wanna do is curl up in bed with a pint of ice cream and some daytime television. But, barring that, reading about ice cream while scarfing my sandwich down during my all-too-brief lunch break will have to suffice.

Lucky for me, today did bring some good news – although not for my ever-expanding website-worker waistline. Looks like Ben & Jerry’s (my high school employer, thank you very much), just introduced a slew of new sweet treats just in time for spring. And, as usual, Serious Eats has the scoop. See, even my puns suck today.

Someone better get me some Dulce Delish, stat.

Twitter Birthday: First Tweet, Fourth Anniversary

Today marks the fourth birthday of what is arguably one of the most influential social media services on the web right now – Twitter. Exactly four years ago today, Jack Dorsey sent his very first tweet. Now, four years later, Twitter is just now getting stable enough to run without crawling.

It’s finally started sinking its teeth into some of the more substantial issues in its purview – from location-based sharing to verified celebrity accounts to its rumored monetization strategy and an improved API. It’s starting to speak more regularly, and with more self awareness. And, it’s still growing. In short, Twitter has officially reached it’s toddler stage. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens next.

So, happy birthday Twitter! I’d bake you a cake, but I couldn’t find a recipe in 140 characters or less.

Twestival 2010 LA: Twestival Brings Social Media Together For Social Good

Reprinted from my earlier post on Girls in Tech.

Girls in Tech LA is very proud to announce our involvement in LA’s very own Twestival on the 25th. Started in 2009, Twestival is a fantastic event that brings together local social media communities in over a hundred cities to raise money for a very worthy cause.  

This year’s LA version of the popular festival is happening at the legendary Roxy Theatre, and proceeds are going to Concern Worldwide — which brings incredible, educational programs to the world’s poorest and most marginalized children. Tickets are only $20, and well worth it, because the event is shaping up to be pretty great.

Our very own GIT LA member Shira Lazar is co-hosting, and entertainment includes Youtube’s official video mixing DJ-Mike Relm,  the TweetMuseum of one-of-a-kind celebrity Twitter art, the Polite in Public Digital Photo booth and 16 year-old DJ prodigy and music blogger Jake Simon. Plus, there’s going to be a surprise performance by a top alternative band that’s currently on tour. Not even we know who it is, but we do know we’re excited to find out.

You can find more info on the GIT LA Facebook page. Hope to see you there!

GPS: iPhone Apps Make Getting Lost A Lost Art

I have two different kinds of GPS apps on my iPhone. I also have a glove compartment full of maps my well-meaning dad gave me when I first started driving. Given my unique ability to get lost even when driving through my own tiny 27 mile hometown, I’m sure he figured I’d need the help.

What he didn’t figure was my total lack of directional ability. Frankly, when it comes to reading maps, I’m about as hopeless as Chris Brown at a NOW convention. It just ain’t gonna work.

Usually, I can find my way around town via Google Maps, which I tend to send to my email before embarking on any unknown routes, since I don’t always trust the version on my iPhone to know exactly where I am when I’m already moving. I’ve already had far too many screeching u-turns to catch a left at a stop sign I’d already passed two blocks before the list of directions even loaded. Trust me, a talking (and rapidly updating) GPS device has been on my birthday wish list since the things were invented.

But, until my constant lost lateness wears someone I love down enough to merit them shelling out for a fancy GPS system, I’m sorry to say I won’t know the pain Michelle Slatalla details in this week’s excellent edition of the Wife/Mother/Worker/Spy column in the New York Times. In it, Slatalla mourns the loss of getting lost, and bemoans the fact that once you know exactly how to get where you’re going, you never really get to explore the journey again.

It’s a poignant piece, as most of her writing usually is, and it almost made me glad that despite my constant connectivity, I still have one weakness that even all my wireless technology can’t fix. Maybe my sheer inability to master modern technology’s virtual guarantee that you can go anywhere and never got lost again is actually a good thing. Maybe it means I get to enjoy the journey just a little bit more than all those linear people who understand directions and get places on time. Maybe if I could just stop cursing and sweating about my lateness long enough to stop and smell the exhaust fumes I might be able to appreciate my travels more than all those other drivers clogging up the freeways with their GPS-recommended routes. Or maybe someone should just hurry up and get me a damn GPS device already.

Easter Egg Hunt: Google Edition

Who doesn’t love an Easter egg? And no, I’m not talking about the kind you ruin your heirloom kitchen table painting. I’m talking about the type of easter egg that quickens the pulses of nerds from 4chan to Foursquare. The kind of easter egg that keeps entire forums afloat. The kind of easter egg that makes a developer’s day.

Yup, I’m talking about those quirky, crazy coding tricks that can be unlocked by doing certain things on certain sites. From naked chicks in Grand Theft Auto to the famous Facebook lens flare trick, there are more easter eggs on the web than there are in the seasonal aisle at your local CVS right now. So why do devs do it? Well, because it’s fun. And when you spend all day staring at code, you take your fun where you can get it. And then you hide that fun so that only the coolest of your core users can find it. Unless of course, you happen to be Google. In which case, your easter eggs are easier to spot than Lady Gaga’s phantom phallus. Especially when Mashable decides to fill a slow Saturday by publishing 5 of them for all the tech world to see.

Of course, that doesn’t make them any less fun to play with. Especially if you – like me – have some time to kill on your own slow Saturday. After all, the new Real Housewives episode doesn’t hit the rerun airwaves for at least another 30 minutes. . .

Twitter Background: My New Custom Twitter Wallpaper Isn’t Really All That New At All, Is It?

Just threw a new background on my Twitter. Figured I’d share the easy steps for doing so, in case you too feel the overwhelming urge to pimp your profile. Basically, all you’ve got to do is set up a canvas that’s 1680px by 1200px in your favorite image editing program (cough cough, use Photoshop, cough cough).

Then you want to set up two or three rows of images, knowing that your brilliant design will be partially obscured by the big ol’ Twitter feed smack dab in the middle of your profile page. So, it’s best to stick to something with a clear pattern and a relatively clean-lined design. Save that baby as a jpg with medium quality (it’s got to meet Twitter’s relatively stringent file upload max), plop it into the proper fields in the ‘design’ tab of your settings page, and you’re good to go.

You might also want to then play with the colors on your fonts, links, and sidebar, just to make sure everything is in sync. When you’re done, you should have a gorgeous new custom Twitter background to ogle while you’re goofing around at work. Recognize anything familiar about mine?