Bank of America is Your Sweet But Senile Grandmother on Twitter

momDigiday writer Saya Weissman lists Bank of America in the top-5 brand fails on Twitter, and I just had my own amusing experience with the bank. Today’s lesson for brands is simple: while it can’t hurt to integrate your customer service help desk with your social media efforts, you probably shouldn’t have customer service reps manning the Twitter voice.

I’d characterize Bank of America’s Twitter voice as “well intentioned but lacking mental clarity.” But we can’t judge or condemn the bank! It’s kinda like an aging grandmother who may not be completely lucid, but she certainly means no harm.

Weissman’s gave BOA a “fail” because the bank provided a human but robotic response (“we’d be happy to review your account“) to tweets by activist Mark Hamilton (@darthmarkh). Hamilton, of course, wasn’t exactly keen to discuss an account. He had been tweeting about being chased away from a Bank of America by cops… it seems Hamilton had been drawing an anti-foreclosure message on the sidewalk.

My recent experience with the bank was almost as strange. Yesterday I saw that Bank of America television commercial (“Flowers“) featuring a dude bringing his gal a bouquet of flowers. Inexplicably the dude decides just one flower will do, so he leaves the rest in his cab.

My reaction to the ad wasn’t quite “I need to open a Bank of America account.” I was more thinking “I wonder what the next cab passenger thought when he found a bouquet of flowers in an otherwise empty cab?” So I tweeted: “I found the rest of the dude’s flowers in a cab. Can I keep them?” I didn’t expect a response, and frankly I was pleased to have one.

Naturally, my Tweet made absolutely no sense to anyone but me. That’s quite often my MO on Twitter. So we can’t blame Bank of America for asking for account details for clarity, right (“I’m not sure I understand the question… please send me a DM with more detail.” It’s just an odd response that sounds more SIRI than human. The logic appears to be: “when in doubt, a comment about our bank is probably an inquiry to discuss an account.” Hey that’s cool, though. The next time I have a problem with my account… I’ll just tweet something like: “increase my credit by $5K.”

Bank of America on Twitter: Your confused but sweet grandmother
Bank of America on Twitter: Your confused but sweet grandmother

 

 

 

Do We Need a Site/Tool for Mobile Video Sharing?

Sure we want to share online video directly from our iPhone without the torture of downloading, synching, editing, compressing and uploading. But can the online-video mobile market sustain a middle-man brand/app for this activity? Or will this ultimately resolve itself when mobile devices standardize on how they behave with existing video sites?

We had it rough...

I enjoy some of the unique and free tools that connect our mobile phone’s video with social media sites, but I don’t see many of these sustaining. It’s simply too hard to keep track of various apps, tools and websites… While these puppies solve an immediate need, it seems hard to imagine more than a couple players serving the void between mobile device operating systems and more popular video-sharing sites like, um, YouTube. It’s a redundant, confusing, crowded and poorly differentiated landscape… and most of the names/brands are forgettable or horrible.

That said, here are a few options with different strengths and weaknesses, and most rely on Twitter/Facebook for login, so perhaps they’re just hoping to get acquired by the highly profitable sites. 😉

online-video mobile sharing
SocialCam boasts as the "easiest place to share videos" and is iPhone and Android compatible.

Today I read about Socialcam, which is basically a social-media video sharing app that was spawned by Justin.tv and uses Facebook for login.

Viddy is the "Instagram" for 15-second-or-less video creators

Then there’s Viddy, which caps you at 15 seconds, gives you Instagram-like filters for retro/cool effects that will certainly age like fine French milk. It allows you to launch your video elsewhere, but has a bit of community too. It improved off of the now-RIP 12-Second TV, which in 2008 was an early entry, and died last November.

 

TwitVid is one of the earlier entrants with a name that is easy to remember.

TwitVid has been around for a few years. But now twitpic offers video uploads too, so one seems redundant.

Yfrog, which is a name I’ll forget in 10 minutes, offers a unique ability to play the shared video through less usual viewing formats, from wmv, .flv, .mpeg, .mkv, .mov, .3gp, .mp4 to the archaic but quaint .avi format. The even more forgettably named twitc (which I’ve already forgotten) offers some cool ways to organize your videos regardless of what website is hosting them… and allows you to organize them into various albums for sharing across other sites. That’s fairly differentiated, and difficult and unlikely for any video-sharing site to do solo.

But wait. There’s more (see review)… Twitlense, ZocialTV (the poorly named winner), Bubbletweet and Screener. And probably loads more.

Intravenous Twitter Drip of Online-Video Enthusiasts

Without bookmarks, RSS or e-mails, there are a few sites I remember and visit randomly.  It’s usually because I’m bored or curious (but don’t know what I’m curious about). For instance, TechCrunch, Cheapskate, TheOnion, Google News, Yahoo Buzz. What are yours?

On TechCrunch I found an article about Blekko, a search engine that avoids spam by only indexing sites identified by people (like 2100 university sites). You use slashes to refine your search, so I tried Nalts and /date. That awakened me to a SocialTimes piece Megan O’Neill (Tel Aviv) curated a bunch of people and websites worth following on Twitter if you’re an online-video enthusiast. It’s quite handy, but I’m biased because I made the cut. 🙂

The Twitter accounts include ReelSEO’s Mark Robertson, GigaOM’s Ryan Lawler, Shape Shifting Zadi Diaz, as well as a bunch of people I consider “Friends” by a broad definition (meaning I have met them in person, I like them, and we share interests). Author Steve Garfield, Revisiond3’s Jim Louderback, Michael Buckley (WhatTheBuck), iJustine, Charles Trippy, Kassemg (the guy I know least among these). By a pure definition they’re not exactly friends, though. But isn’t the term “friend” changing because of Facebook’s use of the term?

Hey on that note, what’s a close friend? I’d consider a “close friend” someone you’ve known for a year or more, you’ve exchange meaningful information, and you know well and vice versa (meaning you each know your family/friends/significant others). For me, a friend isn’t competitive, they listen, and they share values. They can differ in many ways, but enjoy each other’s conversation and company. Most importantly, they forgive lapses in communication (something important to me because I’m spread thin and often vanish). I can think of dozens of people who are too frustrated by my intermittent communication to consider me a friend, and others who I can call after a long lapse and it’s like no time has passed.

Photo by Jim Davidson (Bucknick)

Anyway, Megan also assembled a nice collection of online-video stats and news websites (these are her words below). I’d suggest adding a few sites sites like ViralBlog, ReelSEO, Urgo6667‘s stat site called Social Blade, and Renetto’s MyU2b).

  • Unleash Video – Unleash Video is a video entertainment sharing website.  On their Twitter account they tweet about videos and news from their website, but they also tweet about general news in the online video space and they always have something interesting to share.
  • Web Series Today – If you enjoy web series then Web Series Today is definitely a must-follow.  Web Series Today tweets about the web’s top video series and is the best source for unfiltered web series information online.
  • Viral Video Chart – If you love being the first of your friends to know about the latest viral video hits then Viral Video Chart is the Tweeter to follow.  Viral Video Chart tweets about all the latest and most popular viral videos on the web.
  • Viral Viral Videos – Viral Viral Videos is also a great source, tweeting about viral videos as they go viral.
  • Web Video News – Finally, Web Video News is a great source for online and web video news, research and trends, compiling news from a variety of different sources across the web.

My list of linked sites is somewhat arbitrary and antiquated, but I hope to revise it. Please let me know what else you read for news about online video, and I’ll try to refresh the list with these and others!

Morgan Freeman IS ALIVE (proof via phone)

Morgan Freeman finally reacted to the CNN Twitter hoax! Mark Robertson (ReelSEO) and I caught him via my iPhone tonight.

Morgan Freeman Is ALIVE!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S03VJF00mZc[/youtube]

CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax (tee hee)

CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax.

CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax.

CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax.

CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax.

CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax.

iPad Parodies (MadTV & Hitler)

It was absolute torture to be spending 3 hours on my 1-hour commute (snow) and not having the time to parody the iPad. So many thoughts, and no time to make a video.

But I took solace in finding that MidnightBlade created this brilliant parody of Hitler’s response. The Hitler parodies are not new, and have not “jumped the shark” for me yet. If they’re well written, the joke gets funnier like wine ages.

After you watch that, check out the Feb 2007 MadTV skit below that predicted the name about 5 years ago

Of course any tampon/pad gags should note that MadTV hit this in September 2007 (source Washington Post Comic Riffs). Even CNN found the MadTV gag newsworthy. See the video (after enduring a 30-second preroll). “I can hook my iPad to my peach.” So glad CNN alerted me to the fact that #iTampon was hot on Twitter, and that MadTV is making a come-back five years later. The writers and actors of the MadTV skit ask, “are there now women at Apple, or are they so nerdy they don’t menstruate?”

Doesn’t it feel like all these parodies are just helping Apple market? Indeed we’ll soon grow decensitized to the connotation, but we’ll remain dissappointed that the iPad didn’t give us all the things Web entrepreneur Jason Calacanis‘ prank claimed (see Gawker/Valleywag to learn about how his absurdly unbelievable prank claims drifted into real news reports).

YouTube is Hot, But Watch Out for Over the Top

Welcome WVFF Guest Blogger
Jim Louderback

dead-tvSure, you think the TV is dead. But it’s not. The act of lazing about in front of a big screen TV watching, laughing and enjoying video content is going to be even bigger than ever. But here’s the rub. It’ll be less about cable and broadcast, and much more about internet video.

It boils down to this: If you’re not creating video with the big screen in mind, you’re going to miss one of the biggest developments in 2010.

We’ve already seen great success with Revision3‘s content on Roku; the tiny box that streams Netflix, baseball, Amazon, and now us. Along with Twitter, Pandora, Flickr and more all on the big screen.

We at Revision3 were up nearly 15% in the first two weeks that our channel launched – and that was during the traditional down weeks of Thanksgiving.

Next year TV will get smart.

Vizio, the biggest TV vendor in the US, will bring real connectivity to every TV it sells that’s larger than 45 inches. Many other TVs will do the same.

Boxee’s box will ship.

Cable set top boxes will connect to web video.

It’s a brand new outlet and it can’t be ignored.

youtube-tvUnfortunately, YouTube seems to be asleep at the wheel. I asked them recently if they were going to play in over the top, they said they prefer to be browser-based rather than having separate interfaces. Sure, having multiple and separate interfaces can be tough, but their approach is wrong. Consider mobile – websites are terrible on that screen. The same goes for the big screen at 10 feet away.

But, let’s imagine I was led to speculation with my YouTube contacts, perhaps they were being… coy. We could very well find Android or Chrome jumping in and powering TVs by 2011.

We’ll see…

In the mean time, you can do a few things to ensure you don’t miss the boat in 2010.

First, produce and distribute in HD. If and when YouTube is available on the big screen, the better looking videos will win. Quality will always be more important in this world.

Second, think about an alternate channel for over the top. Try hooking up with Xbox, glom onto Roku with Mediafly or Blip.TV.

Most importantly, find ways to get your stuff into that world.

Oh, and keep an eye on Revision3 in early January. We’ll be covering the heck out of the annual Consumer Electronic Show, posting on our site, and on our popular YouTube Channel. We’ll be bringing you the latest over the top devices and provide commentary on how this brave new world of internet video is evolving.

Jim Louderback
Jim’s Web Blog
Revisisons3
Revisisones3’s YouTube Channel
Follow Jim On Twitter

Video & Your Smart Business Marketing Plan

Welcome WVFF Guest Blogger
Larry Kless

New Year 2010 Signpost2009 proved the power of video and social media can change the world.

We experience the Presidential Inauguration with millions of friends on Facebook. We read breaking news stories from citizen journalists on Twitter. We saw live as-it-happens video on YouTube hours before the stories reached our televisions and the standard reports by traditional news agencies were read.

More than any other year 2009 saw the rise of video as one of the most effective communication mediums in world history.

Virtually, every aspect of video is now included in business. From concept, scripting, storyboards, production, editing, encoding, storing, managing, distributing, syndicating, tracking, analyzing, etc… Content producers, media companies, small and medium-sized business all have the same opportunities to build their business and become online video publishers like any major corporation.

2009 also saw a shift in how we do business, from the personal to the virtual, in boardrooms, in our living rooms and especially,  from our mobile devices; which will soon do everything and anything we can imagine.

The stresses of the 2008 economy saw businesses cut their travel budgets, so it was no surprise that after more than 20 years videoconferencing found its resurgence as, “the next big thing” and video became the vehicle for our conversation.

TelePresence became a household word. Powered by Cisco TelePresence Solutions nonstop marketing efforts, IP video chat, WebConferencing, collaboration and live video streaming moved to the forefront as many businesses and media companies looked for ways to connect people and their team members to broaden consumer markets and publishing.

In 2010 I predict the most important area for video marketing and publishing will be the value video brings to the rate of return, ROI. Analytics will be big! It is how we measure and track performance, but it’s not going to be just about numbers, it’s going to be about engagement and reach.

Since “views” is what ultimately drives revenue we will see the emergence and demand for a standardization metric in both the industry and in business. We will also see an increase in social media metrics focused on search, discovery and optimization.

It is no longer enough for companies to deploy video solutions, business will need to engage in the communities where their audiences are through a variety of social networks. Conversation tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube will help marketers extend their reach and promote their brands.

Video is now part of the strategy within the ecosystem of marketing, and not just part of online marketing, but it must be part of everyone’s overall business plan.

Finally, in 2010 we will see more focus on high quality content, storytelling and a Smart Video Business Model (SVBM) will emerge to help foster that growth.

Read Larry’s WebBlog
Website: Online Video Publishing
Larry’s Vator News Channel
On Twitter @ LinkedIn

How to Implement Social Media Despite Agency Limits & Stakeholder Fears

This Content-to-Commerce post revealed some interesting social-media statistics, and prompted me to answer two questions:

  • “Why aren’t digital agencies bringing social-media to clients?”
  • “Why can’t brands seem to overcome their internal inertia?”

I have the somewhat rare experience of having seen social media strategy and tactics in various roles: as a marketer (client), client stakeholder (legal, PR, web), agency and even as a vendor to agencies.

afraid of social media

The agencies will tell you that their marketing and PR clients WANT it, but the marketing client’s attorneys and bureaucracy is preventing it. The marketer may blame delays or failures on the digital or PR agency or more likely internal stakeholders. The reality is that all three (brand team, client stakeholders and partners) need to be aligned, or face months of nonsense for a tactic that may not yet be proven.

Here are some additional excuses and some ways to snuff them:

1) Agencies aren’t profiting on social-media like they do on web development and media buying. This, I believe, is the real reason agencies have been tentative about social media. Solution: give your agency an incentive by allowing them to conduct projects that aren’t specific to web development. Allow fees (project or retainer) to cover social-media strategists and monitoring. Sure it’s free to create many accounts (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) but doing it well requires expertise.

2) My PR agency, AOR and web firm are telling me different things. Solution: Find one agency to lead social media, because it’s not easy to share it. Typically this would be your digital agency, although some are not driving social media as a progressive PR firm. I would not expect much out of an offline agency of record.

3) My internal stakeholders are “questioning it to death.” Solution: This is common, and your agency should help you develop the business case based on what you’re hearing as inevitable internal obstacles (which aren’t usually new, and were used to stop marketers from embracing the web). Attorneys are legitimately worried about legal ramifications, but a well-managed social-media strategy will address those risks and minimize them. Most problems attorneys fear are extremely rare. Public relations leaders are terrified about a negative Wall Street Journal resulting from a social-media error. Again, rare, but there are certainly enough examples to substantiate their fear.

There are two ways to address irrational stakeholder fears: first, make the business case to offset the risk. Second, put the risk in perspective. If you don’t do both, your chances of realizing the benefit of social-media are reduced by 80%.

4) My agency is clueless about Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Solution: Demand expertise, and drop the agency if they can’t respond. Often the client is underwhelmed because his/her account team is not well informed. Sometimes there’s a social-media expert that’s cross accounts. Give your account team a reason to engage that person and learn from him/her.

5) The final excuse may require some self examination. It’s quite possible the marketer is the obstacle. If you haven’t been convinced social-media can drive sales, you’re probably sending your agencies mixed messages. Solution: Tell your agency you believe social-media may be important, but need to be convinced. Give them an opportunity to challenge some of your preconceived notions, like:

  • My target customer doesn’t use social media.
  • I don’t want my brand on the wild-west of YouTube (we said that about the web a decade ago).
  • It’s going to be too difficult to implement — too many internal barriers. The “return on hassle” isn’t there.
  • The ROI isn’t evident.
  • Even if I did something, I’m not sure it would scale enough to impact sales.

These are legitimate concerns, but be open to facts that may convince you otherwise. Keep in mind that some of the highest performing levers of the marketing mix (paid search and websites) faced similar scrutiny when they were new.

Jessica McClure Made CNN. Falcon Heene Made Twitter.

Before I start my rant, let me point to a copy of the YouTube video featuring Falcon “Balloon Boy” Heene and family (as seen on Wifeswap). I suspect you may be seeking that.

In my opinion, today Twitter became CNN (in the same way CNN’s coverage of Jessica McClure put it on the map). In fairness, I became a bit obsessed with the “kid in weather balloon” story when I saw it live via CNN on a lobby television at the hotel where I was speaking… ironically speaking on the topic of real-time search, wisdom of crowds, and changes with search. Alas, the definitive case study for these three topics would surface just an hour after I spoke. I started tweeting with hash-tag #saveballoonboy, and it became one of the “hottest” Twitter trends.

Falcon Heene was thought to be flying inside his dad’s UFO-like weather balloon. CNN showed live helicopter footage of the balloon swirling 25-50 mph, which made this a remarkable news story — especially to those who learned about it before Falcon was recovered.

But CNN was slow with the seemingly obvious fact… As I should have known (from my helium experiments setting a FlipCam to the sky) the weather balloon could not have easily carried a 6-year-old child away… although the parents and authorities must have thought it a possibility. And when the child was MIA, rumors started that he’d fallen off to his death… that witnesses had seen something drop. His brother saw him sail away (in fact he had simply heard Falcon planning to climb into the basket/compartment.

CNN got Jessica McLure right, but left most of us frustrated and demanding more today. Others made it a top-trending keyword today, as we shared what news we had… like a post apocalypse scenario with CD-Radios.

This evening at 5:00 EST, I called my sister (who is a prodcuer at a major network) and asked her what she had… little more than already had been reported (although she had a lot of background already on the family). I begged her to call a neighbor of Heene, and see if she could circumvent the poor communication between rescuers (who clearly knew the balloon was empty) and the news media.

Want to know who broke the story for me? A stranger named Kelley Vinson (KelleySaidThis) using an iPhone police radio app (assuming she wasn’t kidding she wins $50 for the scoop… I promised). Moments later, I called my sister (who works at a major network) and she finally told me her network had announces the child was safe. A YouTube friend sent me a message via Twitter that confirmed CNN was confirming he was safe.

Frankly, the few hours felt exponentially longer than the 58 hours Jessica was in a well. And the coverage was slow, speculative and not fast enough for a just-in-time search-fueled audience.

Today’s lesson? Google, radio, television and other media are not serving us in a crisis or breaking news story. It’s just not fast enough. Clearly we want a credible medium, and I was hungry for sources (since there was plenty of hoax and rumors, or endless reverberations of the previous news).

Folks the field is wide open here. Citizen journalists now have Twitter, and we need ways to credential sources (maybe an earned badge based on previous reliability like eBay). We need real-time news. We need to find a way to help advance the story, like a way that local witnesses can provide input.

Like during the Michael Jackson trial, TMZ scooped the story, but Twitter propogated it.

As I type (and after I shot this video), CNN has excellent coverage… with an interview with the family that’s playing in the background. Wolf Blitzer gets “thumbs down” for asking children yes/no questions, but surprisingly was the first to tell Falcoln’s father that the balloon was recovered with the door shut… nobody had given him that amazingly encouraging piece of information. Still- when we were begging for new facts, the anchors were left with little more than the obvious… and Twitter had more.

Here’s an 8-minute reflective with my kids (5 and 7). About 7 minutes too long. Fly, Falcon, Fly.