Connecting people and ideas through improvisation

Lace up your gloves for 12 rounds with Vaynerchuk

Jab, Jab, Right Hook“Authentic” is an eye-rollingly overused word, but I still apply it to Gary Vaynerchuk. I first ran into Gary about the time Twitter started, and every time I’ve encountered him since then I’m always curious to hear what he’s going to hold court about. I know I won’t always agree with it, but that’s fine. Gary always calls it like he sees it, and I rather like disagreeing with smart people. It forces me to up my game.

So I took Gary up on his offer to check out a copy of his new book, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World” (JJJRH). It was almost exactly what I expected, which is a good thing.

In person, Gary can both pontificate on grand ideas and back it up with specific examples. JJJRH does the same. It’s a mix of perspective on content and communication, alongside entertaining decomposition of very specific examples. And I mean he has actual screenshots of tweets or posts so you can see what he’s referring to. No vague handwaving here. A lot of social content books don’t get down in the mud and specifics perhaps for fear of not pissing off the companies in question. Gary lacks that fear.

I also enjoy how much improvisation Gary has in his style, which you really appreciate if you see Gary speak in person (and work a crowd). You can see hints of it throughout this book even if he doesn’t call it by that name. Listening, engaging, and playing by the rules of the scene are all here.

His key message is right in the title – balance your engagement and don’t try to make everything a knock-out blow. He’s right, but I rather wish he had lightened up on the boxing analogy a bit. It felt a little overdone by the end, and I hope he doesn’t try to bite my ear off for thinking that. (badum-tish!)

RRJH fits well with Gary’s other two books, but they aren’t prerequisites. If you’ve been doing content and marketing work for a while, read it for some new ideas. If you’re new to this space, read it for some great perspective and background.


Instagram adds video, so what’s next for Vine?

When something gets trendy everybody wants to pile on the bandwagon, and it’s no different in the world of social media.

Instagram, the picture sharing service owned by Facebook, just added the ability to share video in their most recent update. The videos can be up to 15 seconds long, and you create them inside Instagram by recording little snippets of video until you’re happy. It wouldn’t be Instagram if it didn’t have filters, so you can then apply all sorts of goofy effects to your video before you post it.

The way it works feels very similar to Vine, which is the short video sharing service owned by Twitter. The difference there is, um… well, the videos are only six seconds long and there are no filters. But Vine has been gaining momentum the past few months so it came as no big shock that Facebook/Instagram would want to steal some of that action. The people at Vine have made some jokes about the new features and released their own teaser videos hinting at new features.

Check out the clip above to watch me discuss the whole affair (and the new Facebook comment images feature) with the crew at Fox 10 in Phoenix.

Will those features be something useful or just an attempt to re-differentiate themselves from Facebook? Who knows. Video apps are hot right now and there could be a lot more copycatting back and forth before the dust settles.

In the meantime it will be interesting to see how much of my Instagram feed turns from pictures to video, and what all those people do who just like to take pictures of their food. If they all start posting videos of them eating it, it’s going to get disgusting in a hurry.


Twitter launches Vine… but what is it?

Vine logoRecently Twitter launched Vine, an app that allows people to quickly record and share very short videos.

This isn’t the first short-video service to hit the internet, but its tight relationship with Twitter may mean this the one that finally catches on.

How Vine works

It couldn’t get much simpler. You see your camera window on your phone, and just touch your screen to record. Lift your finger and it stops. This allows you to switch perspective or move around to cram as much as possible into your six-second video.

Yes, going off Twitter’s philosophy that shorter is better, six-seconds is all you get. Once you’ve recorded that much video you can share it out to the Vine network (which looks a little like Instagram), or onto Twitter or Facebook. The videos include sound, though it is sometimes off by default depending on where people watch it. It also loops endlessly, which can seem a little strange at first.

You can see how easy (and fun) it is to play with Vine in a video spot I did on a local TV station. Normally the do not get nearly this excited about the things I talk about, but Kristin Anderson made a Vine video live while we talked.

Right now the Vine app is free for the iPhone, but an Android app is coming soon. I also fully expect it to be integrated into the core Twitter app before too long.

How are people using Vine?

Vine started with lots of silly videos of people desks, but things escalated quickly. There are the usual videos of dogs and food, but the format makes it easy to play with things like stop animation. People are also playing with the looping effect, creating eternally playing little scenes and music.

Some companies and brands are using Vine, like NBC News, but these are just early adopters playing around. It’s too early to tell if this will catch on with companies or be a passing fad.

On the other end of the spectrum it didn’t take long for people to start recording porn on Vine. Vine fought back by limiting pornographic search terms, but just like every other image and video sharing site on the internet, porn will always be lurking somewhere.

Most interestingly to me (so far), is the site Vinepeek, which allows you to watch random, streaming Vines from around the world. It’s a weird, hypnotic, addictive site that lets you hop into stranger’s lives for six seconds at a time. Did I mention addictive? Yeah, watch at your own risk.

What’s next for Vine?

Their next steps will be getting clients out for Android, and developing the Vine community. I’d expect that community to start looking increasingly like Instagram as they make it easier to find friends, find new views, and explore. Ultimately the Vine community may end up combining with your Twitter followers if the Vine and Twitter apps combine into one.

What will really be telling is whether Vine keeps their dead simple interface or not. People are already asking for the ability to upload videos from your phone, Instagram-like filters, video time beyond six seconds, and lots more. The features Vine adds (or rejects) at this early stage could go a long way to shaping how many people really use Vine as part of how they share their lives, versus just a cute toy they play with and drop.

Personally, I’m looking forward to some creative people using the format in interesting ways. I like that Vine has it’s own style, and I don’t want it just becoming a mini YouTube. We shall see.

Instagram hits the web with a new look

Social network is all about sharing parts of our lives, and what better way to share than visually? While some people love Twitter and the challenge of cramming wisdom into 140 characters, others vastly prefer to share pictures of the world around them.

That’s part of what has made Instagram such an enormously popular web service, passing Twitter in the number of daily mobile users and (according to Mark Zuckerberg) having more than 100 million users overall. That demand is why Zuckerberg + Facebook purchased Instagram for about $715 million.

Up until now, Instagram has been a mobile-only service. You could see Instagram pictures shared to Facebook or Twitter, but not someone’s entire gallery. That’s now changed with the rollout of Instagram Profiles, which allow you to see someone’s entire Insagram collection. Is it a coincidence it looks a bit like the Facebook cover photo? Doubtful.

If you want to see the profiles in action, check out the above video that I did with Fox 10 here in Phoenix. We look at what some brands are doing on Facebook, and touch on the whole filter/no-filter debate. You can also take peek at my peculiar Instagram page.