Category Archives: fad

Your Personal Brand Part 3

MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, etc… All social networks designed to let you stay in constant connection with your family, friends, fans, co-workers, bosses, strangers and Tila Tequila.  We’ve come a long way from BBS’s and email addresses and how you represent yourself online is clearly visible to the whole world.

You’ve all heard the stories about the girl who blabbed about how much she hated her boss on Facebook, her boss, who was her Facebook “friend”, saw the update and fired her.  I believe the story originated in England, but there are many times that the news has reported that it has happened.  Or what about my friends who are “friends” with co-workers online and see drunken parties that these “friends” attend only to have those “friends” call in sick the next day.  We willingly surrender a degree of privacy every time we log on and, as those examples clearly illustrate, it is easy to forget who our friends are.

I remember my first social network, Friendster.  I joined because I was invited by my dear friend Jeff Garvin to help stay connected.  I remember the first comments page, which were treated more like compliment boxes, and photos and when I first saw a page that wasn’t a real person – in fact it was a muppet style monster.  The owner of the page updated in the voice of the monster and it was a generally funny page, but it was just the beginning of what MySpace made into an art, poser pages!  Pages made as characters so people could pretend to be the people they always wanted to be.  I was not immune to this.  I had, still have, my personal MySpace page, but I have created my share of character pages – sometimes to promote a movie but other times just for fun.  The anonymity level was determined by how honest you wanted to be and how you wanted to be seen.

Facebook has changed this, to a degree.  It is intrinsically designed to be a page representing the “real” you, but privacy settings and personal editing still control how you are precieved.   Oddly there are lots of folks that seem to forget this.  In an era where your employers, or potential employers, can do a Google search and see all of your drunken exploits or your family can see where you really spend the weekends you were supposed to be visiting grandma it is amazing to me that people aren’t more careful.  To know you is to love you and now people can totally get to know you without ever having to meet you!

When you are in the entertainment industry this can be a great tool.  Here’s a little secret, I will “friend” anyone who asks on MySpace and, to a more limited degree, Facebook.  It’s in my best interest to be able to connect with as many people as possible, especially if they like me enough to help support my projects.  A lot of work goes into maintaining my online identity – and frankly I could be doing more.  My pages?  All maintained so you, the public, know what I’m doing.  This blog?  Designed to communicate and report about things I think are interesting or cool.  I don’t talk about everything, you don’t need to know about funerals I attend or about all of my political leanings, but the ones that are really important to me I mention and endorse/rebut.  I’m certainly not purposely posting embarrassing pictures, although there are a few floating around out there and, though I’m not a fan of censorship, I don’t “drunk tweet” or “drunk update” anymore.  There were a couple months right after the divorce where that happened, but… ugh, more trouble than it was worth.

I can’t stand on a pulpit and claim that I have all of this “online stuff” figured out.  Like I mentioned, there’s more I could do to maintain my online presence.  My personal webpage is a complete disaster and I still haven’t figured out why FriendFeed stopped playing nicely with Twitter and Facebook so that those sites were notified and then broadcast-ed that a new blog post was ready, but I’m not famous enough for people to care… yet.  In the end I still need to protect and portray my online persona in a way that lets people see what is appropriate while still letting me connect in an honest way.

So what am I getting at after three posts?  Self examination.  Take a look at what you have online.  Think about what you’re posting.  You twenty-somethings  who post all the drunken madness, don’t forget that those pictures are online until the servers die – and they don’t do that a lot.  Even if you “clean up” your page who knows what your friends still have up – or worse, your enemies.  And business folks, don’t fear the social networking!  It provides you with an unprecedented way to connect with your customers and, as Pepsi is proving with their bold move to exclusive online advertising, it appears to be the wave of the future.  Use the things you are comfortable with.  Not everybody is meant for Twitter.  MySpace is great for media, not so much for selling mattresses and the whole world is on Facebook.  The opportunities are plentiful, but, as with anything worth doing, there is a certain amount of risk to the unwary.  Responsibility doesn’t end when you log-in and the internet isn’t near as anonymous  as it used to be.  We’re used to portraying our “personal brand” in person, but now that extends to the virtual world.  Be aware of what you’re putting out there and I’ll see you – or at least the “you” you let me see – out there on the interwebs.

See you tomorrow!

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Filed under art, Facebook, fad, filmmaking, friends, making movies, social commentary, social networking

Your Personal Brand Part 2

Branding as a concept is hardly new.  Any student of business or advertising can tell you that your brand name and brand recognition are extraordinarily important.  The brand name tells the consumer what to expect and, for better or for worse, the level of trust they will place in a product.  There’s a reason why billions and billions of dollars are spent every year making sure that you know that Coke is the Real Thing or that Frosted Flakes are GRRRRRRRREAT!  Johnson & Johnson?  They’re the family company and I’ve heard that Snickers really satifies your hunger.  The name is the product and the product is the name.

Have you heard of the Mars Bar?  It’s a candy bar.  They have a version in the UK, but the kind I’m talking about is the all American Mars Bar, milk chocolate, nougat, almonds and caramel.  Man I love those!  They’ve been my favorite candy bar for a long time.  I don’t even buy them that often because I will eat all that I see until they are gone.  This is a really good candy bar, but sales were down.  In fact the Mars company, the company for which this candy bar is named after, knew that they had to do something.  It’s a good candy bar, it’s a flagship candy bar so how do you raise sales?  They decided to re-brand this candy bar.  See the Mars company also sells a candy bar that you may have heard of, the Snickers Bar.  The Snickers Bar is one of the top selling candy bars of all time.  One act plays have been written about the Snickers Bar.  Say Snickers in a room full of 6-11 year olds and you will be attacked until you produce the candy.  Thus the ever so tasty Mars Bar was re-named – re-branded – Snickers Almond.  The company took the trust and name recognition of the Snickers Bar – the candy that out sells their own flagship bar – and used that to help boost sales.

It worked.

Most people don’t know the history of Snickers Almond.  I know that a few folks thought that it was a new candy bar when they first got one.  I knew it wasn’t and it was a bit disappointing that this great candy bar that everyone was now enjoying could have been enjoyed just as much but not as many people would give it a chance because of its name, its brand.

But what does all of this mean for people?  What does it have to do with email and social networking?  Quite a bit actually.  Whether you like it or not if you are online you are advertising yourself.

Think about it.

It doesn’t matter if you only have an email address and nothing else, anything you have online represents you to those that might find you on the web – and that could be anyone on Earth.

So what do we, the older generation do?  I feel like we are a bit behind the curve with execution, but ahead of the curve when it comes to content and expression.  Any teenager can tweet right to their Facebook and then post a video about it on YouTube all from their phone.  I need to use my Blackberry to do all those things and, with the exception of  Twitter, really can’t get it done right unless I’m sitting in front of a full fledged computer.  I’m just not culturally accustomed to it.  And from my experience I’m about middle of the road for my age group.  I have some friends that are as savvy as a 13 year old, and some whose grandparents are better online.  Although we may not be able to do as much as the kids, what we can do is take advantage of what we do… do.  My friend Mark is an artist.  He does fine art.  He is looking to branch out and wants to do so online.  He has a website and a Facebook but he wants to try Twitter and see if MySpace can do anything for him.  I know a PR firm who only operates in social media and does a great business advertising their clients only online.  PepsiCo has decided to not advertise on the Super Bowl this year because they are moving to a mostly online advertising model.  Interactive social media is becoming more and more important all the time and even the big companies can’t deny it, which brings me back to the title topic, your brand.

Because being online is now almost a requirement how you allow yourself to be seen is more important than ever…

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Filed under art, Facebook, fad, filmmaking, friends, making movies, social commentary, social networking

Your Personal Brand: Part 1

Hi!  I want to give this next series of blogs a bit of a forward because this is a long blog, or at least it was before I decided to chop it into a few bits.  The idea of a personal brand isn’t new but it has come up a lot lately and so I thought it might be a good idea to really explore the idea.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t really kept up with my blog and this entry is part of the reason why.  I’m really hoping and looking forward to the discussions that this subject might spawn.  Enjoy!

I was talking with Rene recently about people, how the mob mentality works and the effect of social media.and then the subject raised again at a friend’s birthday party.  We were talking about social networking and social media and how it has effected our lives and business.  The conversation took an interesting turn when we discussed our ages.  All of us are in our 30’s-40’s, we’re the last generation of people who grew up without the internet in our homes.  For us we’re learning the internet as a tool,  not as a “given”.  We did research for papers when we first found the internet, now you can make friends and can instantly give opinions on just about anything.  Privacy is now marginalized.  People younger than I am don’t necessarily consider privacy the same way as people my age or older do.  It’s a rapidly changing world and the technology isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, but what does that mean for me and people like me?  What does it mean for the younger set and all the children who are being born and growing up in a world that they partially inhabit online?

I’m gonna’ roll back the clock here – to 3rd grade, Mrs. Guazzo’s class and our first trip to the computer lab.  This was 1986 and my family didn’t have a personal computer.  In fact none of my friends at the time had a personal computer, that I remember, except for Tommy Pollard and the only thing we knew how to do on it was play “California Games” which was a collection of beach themed sports, surfing, skate boarding, etc., other than that my trip to the computer lab was the only real encounter I had had with a computer.  I remember hearing my classmates getting excited, “Can we play Oregon Trail?” and murmuring about other things that they had apparently already seen.  There was no Oregon Trail that day, or any day after actually.  Sometimes I feel like I’m the only kid that never actually saw or played the game Oregon Trail and now you can download a pretty advanced version of it to play on your cell phone, but I digress…
We walked into the computer lab, a class room that had tables covered in computers instead of desks, and we were sat in front of our own Apple IIe’s.  Kind of neat, actually, considering that now that classroom must be an actual classroom now and I doubt that class sizes are small enough that each student would get a computer.  Although I remember, even then, times when we had to share two to a computer, but that’s not important right now.  What we did in computer class was practice our computer skills, this included typing (a skill I still haven’t mastered or taken the time to re-learn – although I do type around 60-75 words a minute even with my hunt ‘n peck), turtle shuttle (a game where the “turtle,” the arrow that is on your screen RIGHT NOW, was moved around the screen by typing commands  about how many degrees to rotate and then a numerical value that would equal a certain distance across the screen.  There were maze transparencies that they would tape in front of the screen that we were supposed to navigate.  A line coming out from behind the turtle would show your path and keep you honest.  I really liked that game.  There was also a game where you drove a car and had to run a certain number of errands for your aunt before you ran out of gas.  I liked that game too, but remember thinking how much gas the car we “drove” must have used because you really couldn’t get very far, maybe three blocks, before you needed to refuel.   Not very “green,” but it was the 80’s and we only cared about saving the whales back then – they even made a Star Trek movie about it!

I remember the first Macintosh computers coming to homes.  I remember BBS’s and when my friend Scott came home with a 14.4 bod modem that cost him hundreds of dollars!  I remember when America Online was THE way to get on the internet and how they used to charge you by the hour.  Chat rooms and ICQ.  The beginning of online gaming and when email started to overtake snail mail – and it’s when email became so prevalent that only the smartest of people began to realize what it really meant to have an email address.  That email address was your online persona.  It represented you in the digital world and to those of us that were too young or too shortsighted to see the future it seemed like a fun new fad and not the necessary business tool that it has become.  We had fun monikers, like my first AOL account name chickenshackkid which was the only name I could come up with that wasn’t already taken.  They were alter egos, things that we wanted to be or thought of ourselves in an alternate life.  Mine was the name of a character I had played a few years before I got my address.  I chose it because I wanted the world to know, even if it was in a very obscure way, that I was a working actor – no matter the caliber of the role.  I remember screen names and email addresses like naughtyprincess, cubsfan238, or eric51 all names that identified the owner by how they wanted to be known in the digital world – but many of these names weren’t thought out enough to carry into the “real” world.  And then came the DOTCOM boom and suddenly if you had a business you were trying to figure out how to take it online…


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In today’s post I wanted to share my four favorite “literal versions of…” videos. For those of you who may not be aware of this phenomenon yet, these are videos where the song is re-recorded and the lyrics correspond to what is actually happening in the video. YouTube has a LOT of these, but not all of them are good. After watching them with Rene last night these are the four that I enjoy watching the most.


Filed under fad, geek, music video, pop