July 25, 2008: Today’s inspiration and hero, Dr. Randy Pausch dies

I realize I’m late with this post but I wanted to really collect my thoughts before I wrote it all down. Truth is that I wouldn’t have ventured into blogging or even charteried into unknown territory in this vast social media space had it not been for Randy Pausch. It was The Last Lecture that really made me think about my life from a few perspectives: family, passion and life in general. My earlier blog post indicates how significant he has changed me as a person. Since that day I have made significant changes in my life. Dr. Pausch has provided a window for me to explore my passions with unrelenting ambition. At the same time, I’ve been able to view this part of my life as it relates to everything else –> most importantly my husband and children. It’s so easy to convince yourself that you can manage everything in your life; that your busy lifestyle won’t impact your relationship with your kids or spouse; that your kids will continue to love you despite your constant absence; that eventually everything will be fine despite the challenges you face today. I was kidding myself for a long time and I needed to face reality and stop the bleeding. These past few months have been a blessing for me. I have spent the much-needed time with my family. I have rebuilt the relationship with my children and husband. I have learned to appreciate the moments: the before-bedtime books I read with Maddie and Nate and the prayers we say together each night; the hugs and kisses I receive when I pick up my kids; the smiles and laughter when we’re playing tag in the park; the comforting contentment as we watch TV together. My perspective has changed and so has my life. And I owe it to Randy Pausch who forced me to change before it was too late. Thank you.

Here Comes Another Bubble

This was sent to me by someone I just met today. Ain’t it the truth!! In search of the holy grail….and a wad of cash to boot! The video tells the story….enjoy!

The Secrets Behind Many Viral Videos…..Part II: An Apology

My previous post drew some interesting comments from other bloggers but it also profoundly affected the person about whom the article was written. This blog post is to apologize to Dan Ackerman-Greenberg and The Comotion Group. I guess when you don’t have all your facts straight and you declare something in this “delicate” online space it could really harm reputations and I’m here to try to make amends for any damage I’ve caused. I’m also here to represent Dan’s point of view on this subject and his intent when he followed-up to his initial post on TechCrunch in December 2007.

When I initially found the video, I assumed it was a synopsis of the strategies that Dan and The Comotion Group employed to their client base. When I met up with Dan later he was frustrated with what my post implied, specifically using the term, “anti-Christ within the Social Web”. My intent was not to draw further controversy but to allow marketers to see an alternative to traffic building and how to implement it effectively within this space. The problem with the web these days is that every blogger assumes he is a journalist but most do not own those “values” that include depicting the facts first before they publish. Most of the stuff posted these days, mine included, are opinions — the bigger the blog following –> the higher the potential impact (good or bad) it’ll have on the subject matter. So, Dan, I apologize for any negativity this has caused. I truly believe what you guys are doing is remarkable. From a marketer’s standpoint, there is true merit in how you guys achieve success and to set the record straight — without “fakery” or “manipulation”.

Here are excerpts of the communication I received from Dan. I’d much rather put it in his own words so he can clarify his position without interruption:

“With all of the followup posts to the TechCrunch post, the trickiest thing to clarify is the fact that neither I nor my company engages or has ever engaged in most of the “strategies” I talked about in the post almost a year ago. That post was intended to be me, someone with insider knowledge, pulling back the curtains on what companies are doing to promote video virality. Not me claiming that my company ever paid bloggers to fake posts, manipulated hundreds of comments, or tricked anyone into watching videos. Of course that’s not the company I’m building, because that is not a sustainable company.

It’s the same as the SEO industry and the same as companies who help get “MySpace friends” – there are standard practices in the industry that no one talks about or blogs about. The same goes for the video marketing industry – the rules have not yet been agreed upon, but there are clear strategies that people are using (for a few examples see youtube.com/athenewins and youtube.com/illumistream). I was naive enough to be the guy who explained these strategies to the public, which means now I get to be the fall guy (or Antichrist!) for an entire set of marketing practices that I don’t use.

Looking back, I think the reason I posted the article was just that I realized I had some really interesting information that no one else was talking about online yet, and I wanted to get it out there.

The short answer is that clearly, the key to success with viral video marketing (or any video marketing, on or offline), is to make a video that people enjoy and want to engage with. The “strategies” for marketing a video are still being explored, but I’d say that the single best (and most obvious) strategy is to create an awesome video, then send the link to all of your friends. If it’s truly “viral” (“viral” being the situation when on average, one person seeing a video results in that person sending it to an average of at least 1 person ), then sending it out to a few hundred people will be enough of a seed to get it started. If it’s not truly “viral”, then it’s never going to go viral. That doesn’t mean it’s not effective to use video as a marketing tool though. It just means you aren’t going to get marketing for free through peer to peer virality – you’re going to have to go through standard marketing channels to get people to watch your video, i.e. video ad networks. And if a video is compelling (even if not viral), it will engage people to explore your product further (even if they don’t share the video).

The Secrets behind many Viral Videos….the anti-Christ within the Social Web

I have seen many attempts to produce a formula for viral video to drive sales. A lot of the rules are similar but one would argue that “viral” is the result of the effort as opposed to the strategy. Anyone intending on creating viral video can absolutely expect to witness incremental growth in traffic or sales if done right but it can come at a cost. The video below summarizes one of those strategies from The Comotion Group.

I have had the pleasure of working with Dan Ackerman-Greenberg, founder of The Comotion Group. This was the infamous post that was featured in techcrunch titled “The Secret Strategies Behind Many Viral Videos” and the immense controversy it drew. The tactics used by Dan and Matt to successfully get videos to the number 1 position involved using staff to create comments to draw attention to the post and seeding the video in networks, and even faking headlines. Hmm…sounds like something any company would do to drive sales.

In the world of social networking, Rule No. 1 talks about authenticity ie being real. Authenticity has always been a difficult position to maintain where marketing is concerned. Let’s face it — you are selling a product. You have limited time and limited budget. To build authenticity follows a set of new rules. You need TIME — time to build a network…time to build credibility….time to build a legitimate following….Only then can you even hope to drive that traffic or start evangelizing your products. It’s not within the realm of possibility when you have to meet quarter-end goals. Dan has a proven formula that works. If you look at his website, it’s merely a webform. Both Dan and Matt have had such huge success as a result of the article they haven’t had time to even create a website. Yes, it’s controversial…but it can be a potential short-term gain for those who don’t have the luxury of time. The consequences can also be enormous. So…proceed with caution.

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