Pharrell makes me HAPPY

happy_pharellPharrell’s HAPPY video is the best music video of the 21st century. I know – that’s quite a bold statement. I lived through the birth of the music video, MTV, and of course, Thriller. When I learned of Pharrell’s project, the world’s first 24-hour music video, I was “meh” – until I saw the website for myself.

Amazing.

Forget about the fact that just post-production of a 24-hour final cut is an enormous and costly task; forget about the logistics of finding people (over 200 extras and celebrities) at all hours of the day to shoot; forget about the risk the muscian and studio took on this crazy project.

Just focus on the concept: Here’s this vast uncharted mountain of content. The web site (24hoursofhappy.com) starts you off at your current location’s time, but allows you to scroll back and forth to any other spot in the video. This is your chance to find some gold in that mountain. You can discover a silly dance move that a random extra is doing or find out what a specific celebrity is wearing. It’s the discovery and sharing that makes this so perfect for our social media world: unearth something unique and earn social street-cred, or the “I’m cool because I found it first” syndrome.

Think of all the strange things people have found on Google Earth or Street View. This is another example of a large uncharted mountain of content. People can search every square foot of the Earth for something strange or funny to share.

As it relates to HAPPY, here’s my discover of three well dressed elderly ladies getting their groove on at 11:36 in the morning. I’m sure my friends will love it. At least I really hope so.

Unfriend your best friends to save your friendship.

Image courtesy of Flickr user B Tal.

Here’s an idea my wife suggested: Go through your friend list on Facebook and Twitter. Select the ones you get along with the best (the ones you consider close friends, confidants, etc). Then unfriend them. Stop following them. That’s it. Sound crazy? Why would you do such a thing? Because Facebook and Twitter may have warped our perception of “closeness” of friends. The constant stream of updates from our friends saturate our brain. We experience the daily events of everyone, regardless how close or distant we are, at the same “volume”. Things get worse when mere acquaintances post far more frequently than our best friends. These close relationships get pushed aside to make room for noise of all the other people we “friend”. Why is this? Because unlike our social media outlets, our brains have a finite capacity for simultaneous connections. It’s called the Dunbar Number.

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“I like jazz, but don’t want a trumpet,” and other Facebook advertising woes.

Image courtesy of
Flickr user Ed Yourdon.

Facebook, I really want to spend money on you. Unfortunately your native ad management platform is limited. It is very hard to determine how well those ads will perform without the use of third party tools or vendors. Unlike Google Adwords or Bing, companies (small and large) have approached Facebook advertising with some trepidation.

The problem is two fold:

Facebook advertising = miniature billboards.

Advertising on any social media outlet is akin to billboards you see on a busy highway. Your focus is on avoiding crazy drivers,  listening to music, or chatting with your friend (hands-free of course). By chance something flashy or weird catches your attention. It could be one of those sign twirling guys or a billboard. There’s an even slimmer chance the ad actually relates to you. Now imaging instead of driving, you’re on Facebook or Twitter. You’re more concerned about reading posts from friends or responding to comments on your recently uploaded pictures. Just by chance, an ad about cheap scuba gear (because you’ve “liked scuba”) on the right side catches our attention. Maybe you’ll click, maybe you won’t.

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How technology changes our concept of “free speech”.

Image courtesy of
Flickr user jeshua.nace.

These days, the news is filled with reaction to the anti-Islamic video, leading to violence and tragedy on both sides. While I’m not here to discuss who is “right” or “wrong”, the concept of free speech becomes the center of discussion, at least here in the U.S. What isn’t dicussed as much is how technology and a highly connected world will truly alter our legal interpretation of what is or is not speech protected by the First Amendment.  A disclaimer: I’m no law student. I have no experience in interpreting Constitutional law. But I can totally fake it. Here goes.

As it is currently written and enforced, what is protected is a governmental movement (either by federal or state laws) to suppress the ability to freely express ourselves. For example, if Congress passed a law limiting the distribution of publications that criticize the government, or if your state passed a law to prevent demonstrations in public areas – these would be seen as violating First Amendment rights.  Sounds obvious, however, what isn’t protected is far more interesting. Here are a few examples:

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“Your company sucks!” How to turn negative customer comments into something positive.

One angry customer.

Image courtesy of
Flickr user GregPC

Merely acknowledging negative customer comments about your company on social media can do just as much good as resolving their issue – and far greater good than doing nothing at all.

We’re seeing more companies become comfortable in utilizing social media as a too for customer service. Some simply use their company’s Facebook Wall to respond to posts. Others use third party apps like Get Satisfaction or UserVoice to manage the conversation. It certainly takes guts to add this level of transparency to your company’s operations, which is why I feel more (if not every) company who holds customer service in high regard should have some modest level of social media presence. But many don’t, and the #1 reason from management seems to be “I don’t want customers to write nasty things about us.” Or taken another way, “I’m not going to launch a tool just so everyone can bitch about us.”

I’ll admit that there is a subset of your customer base that will never be happy, regardless how much you try. However, I’ve experienced that most customers are surprised, maybe even delighted, that they simply received a prompt yet brief personalized message from a company saying, “I’m sorry.” This does wonders to a company’s social image and brand. But why?

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