Dropping the f-bomb – spreading the word

Social media has significantly changed the fabric of our society and a recent “slip of the lip” in which the f-bomb was dropped on air by New York news anchor Ernie Anastos provides a great illustration of the power of social media.

In case you hadn’t heard, Ernie coined the phrase, “Keep f#&*ing that chicken” (KFTC) during a live broadcast of local news.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdnXYWSa56w[/youtube]

The video was uploaded to YouTube multiple times and this version has garnered over 2 million views in less than a week.  The new catch phrase “hit” the Urban Dictionary five days later.  You can get it on a T-shirt or a mug -just in time for holiday gift giving. 😉

Within a week of airing, the phrase has officially become part of the American vernacular. My favorite definition:

Expression, 21th century American English

1) An expression to encourage one to continue with an undesirable or menial task.

Steve: I have ton of paperwork to do.

Ernie: Keep f#%&ing that chicken.

Live television has always been fun to watch – because you never know when a slip of the lip may occur. However, Ernie Anastos is not the FIRST television news anchor to drop an f-bomb during a live broadcast.  What makes this “news worthy” is the speed and ease with which this “news” has traveled illustrates the depth and breadth of the impact of social media on our society.

Think about it – if Ernie had uttered that phrase on air even five short years ago – it couldn’t have traveled this fast and this far this easily. Sure, a few Fox news viewers in the local market would have been amused – but the story probably would have ended there.

Think about the difficulty in distributing the video of this “faux paus” even five years ago.  Theoretically, it would have taken a few weeks to reach the likes of Eric Bauman -creator of Ebaum’s World – – one of the first “funny video” sites on the web.   Then, Eric would have uploaded the video to his server and his audience would have viewed it – and it probably would have ended there.  A few thousand views – a few thousand belly laughs- and the phrase would have become an obscure inside joke for a select group.

Fast forward to the “new” world of social media.  A news anchor drops the f-bomb on air and an alert viewer records the slip and uploads the video to YouTube.  Almost immediately, Gawker picks it up.   A day later, the Huffington Post blog “reports” on the slip. The Gothamist calls it an “irresistible catch phrase” and reports that Anastos has not be disciplined for dropping the barnyard based f-bomb.  Two million views on YouTube is just the beginning.  The story is multiplying exponentially online and offline and a catch phrase is being born.

This is the “power” of social media.  Fifteen years ago – television was an all powerful information “gate keeper” as were radio stations and newspapers.  Fifteen years ago – if you weren’t in the NYC area – you would have missed this story.   Fifteen years ago – if you wanted to communicate on a national level – you either had to have a more than a few producers and editors agreeing your message needed to be heard.  If you didn’t have that – you needed to have a LOT of cash to buy air time to distribute your message.

Today – the keys to the information lock have been freely distributed to everyone with internet access.   Got something to say?  Create a video with the web cam built into your laptop.  Then upload it quickly and easily to YouTube – and a couple of hundred of other online video sharing sites while you’re at it.  Tag it and then blog about it and wait to see if it “connects” with people.

The real “magic” is that ANYONE can do this now.  Information distribution is not just the job of geeks and it’s not limited to professional journalists.  Technology has provided the tools so ANYONE can now share information – freely and easily.

There’s something about the KFTC that “connected” with people.  It is naughty (there’s no doubt an FTC fine was levied on the station)- and it’s catchy.   While it’s not telling a customer service story or creating a social media shit storm like Dave Carroll did – it’s still connecting in a powerful way.  The difference between now and then – the traditional information gatekeepers aren’t dictating the path this story is taking – the “everyman” is.

Social Media Lesson: Reach out – Listen – Learn

social media's magic ingredientIn the post –What Michael Jackson can teach business about social media… I shared four valuable social media lessons business owners should learn from the life and death of the King of Pop.

The first lesson was that being first doesn’t mean as much as you probably think it does.   I’ve worked with many clients who drastically over-estimated how long and hard the road is when you’re truly blazing a new trail through the wilderness.  (They don’t call the LEADING edge the BLEEDING edge for no reason!)

The second lesson was the importance of reaching out – listening a learning.

In Creativity is Easier when you have a Partner – David Wright shares an AMAZING story of how reaching out -listening and learning helped him turn losing the only job he ever loved into not only a book but also a business (Collective Inkwell).

There’s a lot of value in the “community” aspect of social media.   There are lessons to be learned via social media if you’re willing to reach out – listen and learn.

There are life lessons to be learned in social media – whether they be lessons from the road courtesy of Betsy Wuebker lessons in self defense from Lori Hoeck,  lessons in the art of possibility from Davina or  lessons in laughter from Lance.  You could live five lifetimes and not accumulate half of the life lessons shared in those just four blogs.

There are POWERFUL business lessons to be learned  as well.  Liz Strauss writes intriguing, instructive posts teaching CEO’s how to correctly “view” social media.  In Could You Be a Chief Executive Social Gardener? she models through words AND actions social media’s real value for brands.

Social Media can show BOTH sides of the story

New business owners can learn from experienced leaders in their field who freely share their expertise via social media.   Tom Volkar shares freely his insights on starting a new business- the RIGHT business for you with posts like Why Rock The Boat?

However, once you’ve chosen your business – you need practical advice as well – from those who have “been there, done that and bought the T-shirt.”   For exmaple, David Airey shares his words of wisdom about his own formula for design pricing.  However, if you’re a designer there’s also a wealth of information from those who are struggling with the process of finding the “right” designer…as Sara Healy does in her post The Still Small Voice Was Right.

Social Media showcases both success and failure

We all love success stories – but sometimes those success stories don’t give us the full picture.  Jason Cohen has written a WONDERFUL article on how most business “advice” is flawed  because it generally focuses exclusively on the “success” side of the coin.  In Business Advice Plagued by Survivor Bias he shares what is possibly the most illustrative word picture of how focusing on the success may actually cause you to miss the most valuable business lessons of all.

The “traditional” media is obsessed with success… to the point where they’ll gloss over the time, energy and failures that go into building a successful business.  However, in the social media arena – most bloggers are more than willing to share their failures as well as their successsed  as Barbara Swafford has done in Bloopers, BooBoos and Ideas That Went Bust.

Social Media may have more in store for us than just valuable lessons

social media saves the worldThere’s a lot to be learned from social media – but Danny Dover makes a case for Social  Media  my be a key to Saving the world. Dover reveals in this post:

Social media has the potential to become the greatest early detection system that the world has ever seen. It is faster, nimbler and has more access to user data than any traditional search engine.

Social media is powered by all of us individually. Because of this, you have the ability to make a positive difference.

When Michael Jackson died, I read somewhere that the server hosting one of the breaking news web sites had at one point 42 hits PER SECOND.   That’s a lot of people seeking information from a single source.  Fortunately, that information “disseminated”  quickly – much to the relief of a server admin I’m sure – but it shows how BIG this world is and how connected we are thanks to social media.

This is why I “cringe” when someone wants to reduce blogging to the mere act of “lead generation” and “lead conversion”.

It’s not that I’m against making money – or even evaluating what marketing tools are “working” and which ones aren’t.  It’s just that trying to put an ROI value on social media is not only premature- but possibly pointless.

As you can see here – there are a lot of GREAT lessons – both life lessons – and business lessons – being shared via social media if you’re willing to reach out – listen and learn.

The Business Value in Being First

business value of being firstThere’s all kind of cachet around “being first”.    In Immutable Laws of Internet Branding – we are told that you absolutely MUST be “first” if you want to win in business and branding.   But is it true?  Is there really that much economic value in being “first”?

(Note: I’m not talking about being UNIQUE in this post, but about being the first to market.)

In What Michael Jackson can teach business about social media I shared that the King of Pop did not create the first music video.  He did however effectively use music videos to market the biggest selling album of all time.

There’s a lot of “history” to be made in being “first” – and today there are all kinds of businesses clamoring to make their mark by being the “first” in their field.

For example, according to the LA Times, the first Digi-Novel  Level 26 is being introduced at this year’s Comic Com. What is a digi-novel?  It’s a book which enables the reader to participate in a “companion experience” online.

First usually needs explaining

There’s an old sales saying that goes, “A confused mind always says no.”   This is one reason why being first doesn’t guarantee success. When you hear about a Digi-Novel – the first question that comes to your mind is probably, “What’s that?” (Answer: In a Digi-Novel,  every 20 pages or so – the reader can “log on” and watch a 3 minute “mini-movie” to supplement the story. In addition to being able to tune in for “mini-movies” – readers can also create online profiles for themselves and interact with each other.)

First can be frustrating.

Being first means you get to discover all the bumps and twists in the road.  When a trail blazer cuts a new path through the forest – they usually emerge covered with cuts and bruises.  Being a trail blazer isn’t easy.  It takes dedication and hard work to carve your own unique path through the forest.  It certainly takes a lot longer than taking the well worn path of least resistance.

Sometimes as a trail blazer, you ‘ll cut your way through the forest only to discover you’ve created the most direct path through the forest to a 200 foot drop dead end off .

First means educating your user.

Not only do you have to familiarize your users with what your product is – you also must teach them how to use it before you can sell it to them.

One of my favorite anecdotes to share illustrating this phenomenon is the story of Google.  In the early days,   when “regular” users were sat down in front of a computer and told to “search” – they would looking pleadingly up at the researchers and  ask, “For what?”  Google’s minimal home page was confusing and overwhelming to most internet users at the time.

However, thanks to the dot com  boom and millions of dollars of venture capital, people quickly learned about this new thing called the internet. In the aftermath of the dot com bust-  not only were more people going “online” but casual internet users finally knew what it meant to “search” thanks in part to the millions of dollars invested in promoting companies that couldn’t make it simply because they were the first online.

When you’re first – there’s a significant amount of user education going on along the way.  You’re not only having to create marketing messages which are compelling and selling, they also must be educational as well.

Being first can mean setting the standard.

You’ve heard of social media – and social media marketing – but EQAL is creating the first “social entertainment” company.

LonelyGirl 15 was an example of a new use of a new medium and the ensuing new type of media production company.  LonelyGirl 15 caused a lot buzz online – most of which happened was when viewers learned the whole thing was “staged”.  In the uproar that followed, the  first”social entertainment company” was launched.

Learn more in this video interview with the creator Miles Beckett….

The only way to take users someplace they never expected to go was by being FIRST. In this case –  being first was the key to success.

In an attempt to imitate the success of LonelyGirl 15,  Naked Communications launched a similar “viral video” campaign on behalf of the Australian fashion designer Witchery. Here’s a link to the video.  It generated a lot of buzz  again – not all of it good.

Adam Broitman labeled it as one of interactive media’s most offensive campaigns.  By the way, if you click over to the article, you’ll notice that Adam references “A website was created that cleverly (?) uses an Apple .ME account:”.  That attempt to deceive is no longer around.  However, the video which was uploaded to YouTube is still there – living on in what may well now be infamy.

Which just goes to show –  you don’t have to be FIRST to get bloody and bruised by misusing social media.

Being first is probably the most difficult path of all to choose when you’re starting a new business.

When geese fly in formation – they frequently change leaders because being the leader of the V formation is so draining.

If you plan on being first, know that you’ll need plenty of support as you take that uncertain – but exhilarating – path to success.