Caine’s Arcade: Another Story About the Power Social Media

I first heard about Caine’s Arcade on Tuesday morning when I saw a friend post on Facebook and another on Twitter.  I watched the 10-minute film during lunch and enjoyed the well-made short documentary about a 9-year-old boy in East LA who made an entire arcade out of used auto parts boxes and other materials from his dad’s shop.  Turns out, this has become another great example of the power of social media.

Caine's Arcade

Filmmaker Nirvan Mullic and his crew at Interconnected made the film, apparently last fall.  The movie describes how Nirvan stumbled across Caine’s Arcade one day and asked if he could make a film about it.  Nirvan, one of Caine’s only customers, enjoyed playing the homemade games so much that he organized a flash mob using a Facebook event invitation.  Word spread quickly as the event invitation was picked up by Reddit and eventually the local news affiliates.

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

It wasn’t clear exactly how many people showed up at the flash mob meeting at Caine’s Arcade, but it was certainly enough to make his day (as evidenced by his huge smile and comments during the film’s “outtakes”).

When I first saw the story on Tuesday around lunch time, Caine’s Arcade had about 5,000 likes on Facebook and he was just shy of his scholarship goal of $25,000.  By the time I went to bed, there was still plenty of buzz around the story, so I checked in and noticed that he had more than 15,000 likes.

As of this writing, his college scholarship fund has raised nearly $75,000, his story on Vimeo is quickly approaching a million views, and his Facebook count is near 25,000.

What’s more telling are the overwhelmingly positive comments surrounding Caine’s story:

Hundreds more can be found on the Vimeo page, including people wanting a Caine’s Arcade t-shirt, well wishers, and overall positive vibes.  It’s definitely contagious:  I kinda want my own fun pass.

Happy Wednesday – do something nice for someone today!

Photo and video credit:


An Instagram Tour of Austin

I was recently in Austin, Texas for a conference on marketing and web development for higher education. I snapped lots of photos with my iPhone. Here are a few of my favorites.

Austin Bergstrom Airport

Austin Bergstrom Airport

Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue

Chicken Truck

Austin Shoe Store - Allen Boots

South Congress - Quirky stores, candy shops, and great food

Austin Architecture

Austin Motel

Great food at the Trailer Park & Eatery

Austin Grafitti

Jo's Coffee Shop - South Congress

SRV standing guard over Town Lake

Treasures from South Congress

Live Music on 6th Street

Downtown Austin View

Trails Around Town Lake

Trailer Food Festival


Leaving Austin

7 Facts About Content Sharing on the Web

It’s no secret that the American Marketing Association hosts great events to educate, support, and connect marketing professionals.  I’m continually blown away by the quality of the content I get at each of the events, and this past week was no exception.  [Disclaimer: I’ve been an AMA member since 2008 and currently serve as VP of Membership for 2011-2012]

Thursday’s event featured Kristin Kovner, Senior Director of Marketing, AOL Advertising.  Kristin’s presentation, “Is Content the Fuel of the Web?” included recent findings from a case study done by AOL and Nielsen on internet users’ habits and attitudes on the major social networks.  In a nutshell, she broke down what types of content people share, with whom they share it, and on which social networks this is all taking place.

Here are my top 7 takeaways from Kristin’s data-filled presentation:

  1. Email is not dead.  Despite what some people will tell you, email is still the most popular place that internet users share content.  66% of internet users share content by email, as compared with only 28% on our beloved social networks.
  2. Industry-specific conversations get the most love.  Research showed that 60% of social media posts (mainly Facebook and Twitter) that are industry specific include an explicit brand mention.  Tweets from industry-specific conversations contain a link to some type of content (usually product information) a remarkable 73% of the time (as compared with only 42% of the time for conversations not related to a specific industry).
  3. 99% of people sharing via social networks are sharing via multiple platforms.
  4. Social network sharers are 17% more likely to be femaleexcept on Google+ (which wasn’t included since this study was done in Q1 of 2011).
  5. People tend to share with their close networks of trusted friends – not publicly (despite Facebook’s continued efforts to make privacy settings so confusing you don’t know who you’re sharing with).  This one may be a little harder for power users on Twitter to understand, since they sometimes tend to broadcast everything to everyone.
  6. Only 4% of shared content links back to a company website.  This one is important.  Businesses have to realize that conversations about their brands are happening in places other than their site and most of it never sends consumers to a company URL.
  7. Marketers can capitalize on people’s sharing habits in two ways.  1). Produce branded, sharable content (think videos with your products in them that are easy for people to share – like the Coca-Cola happiness machine campaign); and 2).  Be present with display advertising when the conversations are taking place away from your website (think display ads on YouTube for viral videos not produced by your company/affiliates, but related to your product or industry).

All in all, it was a great presentation – a flurry of numbers, but great information for those of us looking to “engage” consumers where they interact most.  The full report (along with other great research presentations) can be found on the AOL Advertising site.

Does anything above surprise you about how content is shared on the web?

My Blog: A Year in Review

Last week marked my 1-year anniversary of starting my own personal blog.  Since I’ve actually stuck with it and kept somewhat of a regular schedule, I now have a lot to look back on.  Thanks to all of you who have read, commented, and linked to my blog this year.

My Family at Grand Canyon - Sometime in the 80s

When I started my new blog, I set out with only a couple of specific goals:

  1. Write about subjects that interest me, such as marketing, technology, social media, travel, music
  2. Write at least one post per month.

As for the first goal, this one was easy.  I find a lot of interesting things on the web and I like to stay current on the newest social media trends.  I didn’t write much about music (besides recapping the concerts I’ve attended), but maybe I’ll do more with that in the next 12 months.

With 34 posts under my belt, goal number two was easily met.

So what were my favorite posts?

Ty Webb Has Real Klout

My personal favorite (mainly because it includes a strong reference to the movie Caddyshack) was my short blog on Klout, the new service that measures online “influence.”

My most visited post was written about what we can learn from the Chilean miner rescue from a leadership standpoint.

I also enjoyed writing (and re-reading this week) all my posts about my family and travel.  Honorable mention goes to my posts on marketing and related events I’ve attended.

So where will the next year take me?  Who knows.  I just hope you’re able to come along for the ride.

The New Rules for Content

My content is crap… sometimes.  That’s what I learned this morning at the Social Media Breakfast San Diego (#SMBSD).

Local radio and creative professional Chris Cantore teamed up with Ryan Berman, founder and chief creative officer of Fishtank Brand Advertising to give us a no-fluff primer on creating content for the web.  Here’s more of what I learned.

1.  “Find your brand.  And whatever you do, defend it.”  — Ryan Berman.  This is a good one for me to remember.  If it doesn’t support your personal or company brand, why add to the digital clutter by re-posting, re-tweeting, or otherwise giving it time?


3.  Cantore related the new ‘rules’ of social media to his early days in the San Diego radio scene:  “It’s not about you, it’s about connecting with the fans.  Stay authentic and true to your own personal brand.”

4.  Berman highlighted an incredibly successful campaign that his company created for Puma Golf, where players and fans can actually ‘talk’ to the game of golf on the Puma website.  This out-of-the box thinking recently helped Berman and Fishtank win “American Marketer of the Year” (AMY) Award from the local chapter of the American Marketing Association.  Another great example of creating interactive content and a visual identity that speaks to the target consumer and bucks the traditional golf branding and advertising model.

Screen shot from

5.  A Flip cam with great content can be extremely effective for small businesses with little or no video budget.  Create content that resonates with your audience and gives your brand life.  [See my own epic Flip cam production]

6.  Look at other industries who are doing great work with content creation.  For great video integration, check out “digital storytellers” Emota Inc, today’s sponsor and brains behind some incredible visual content.  Other shouts went out to the Foo Fighters, Conan O’brien — and locally to Smashburger, NBC San Diego, and the Fox 5 morning show as good examples.

I enjoyed meeting a few new folks and having the chance to chat with Berman and Cantore, both of whom are completely down-to-earth guys with whom you’d certainly enjoy having a beer and fish taco.  I also enjoyed the fact that the focus was on the content – not the platforms/delivery.

Those were my take-aways – if you were there, what did I miss?

Never Eat Alone: Who Wants to Join Me?

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, or if you’ve been lucky enough to meet me in person <grin>, you know that I definitely value my personal and professional network.  Twitter, for example, has opened doors for me that I couldn’t have imagined.  I continue to meet and converse with so many incredible people that I wouldn’t have otherwise known.  Call me a fan.

So I started thinking this past week about how life always seems to get in the way of keeping up with some people.  Even some of my best friends I don’t see very often and I regret falling out of touch with those who live outside of San Diego.  Facebook has made it too easy to feel connected to others without much (if any) real-life social interaction.

For these reasons, I’m making a concerted effort to reach out and reconnect with my network these days.  I’m also interested in meeting some of the folks I’ve conversed with on Twitter, but haven’t had the privilege of meeting in person yet.  In connection with that, I’d like to have a standing lunch appointment with anyone who would like to join me every Wednesday.  Topics of conversation may include marketing, technology, career moves, music, travel, kids, family, or all the above.

Author's note: actual lunch venue may vary... do they even have these places anymore?

Author Keith Ferrazzi has a book out from a few years back called Never Eat Alone.  The title pretty much sums up the idea for me.

So here’s a link (I’m experimenting with Google calendar appointments) for you to let me know you’d like to join me:

Or you can just reach out on Twitter or leave a comment below to say hello.  I’m hoping this will eventually become a group thing – not with any specific agenda or purpose other than networking.

For now, who’s with me?

Is Twitter a True Social “Network”?

I heard an interesting piece on Marketplace Radio on NPR this week – Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal interviewed Steven Dubner, author of the Freakonomics concept.  During the broadcast, they proposed that Twitter is not a social network.

Essentially, Kai was ribbing Steven for their lack of reciprocity: specifically, @freakonomics has nearly 275,000 followers and, at least until yesterday, they followed not one person.  (As part of the broadcast they announced that they now follow @kairyssdal).  Typically, as Klout CEO Joe Fernandez explained, it’s considered good Twitter etiquette to follow those who follow you – sort of an act of good faith and reciprocity.  (You may remember my recent post on Klout, including what it is, how it’s used and its increasing importance in the online world).

The conversation then turned to those with huge numbers of followers, like Freakonomics, celebrities, or major news outlets.  Fernandez explained that those people are using Twitter as a broadcast medium and will sometimes return the favor of a follow, but they likely aren’t really listening.  How could they really listen to hundreds of thousands of people?  

Personally, I follow nearly 750 people and I find it difficult to sort through some of the information at times.  Increasingly, I’m using lists and have attempted to put most of the people I follow into categories to get more out of Twitter.  Also, I’m a believer in the reciprocity theory, but don’t always follow someone back simply because they follow me.  Normally, I need to see that I’ll get some sort of value from a person’s thoughts before I follow.  (Side note:  I do follow Kai Ryssdal, but he follows only 32 people, so no love there.  Wonder why he was giving Dubner such a hard time for following no one?  Following 32 when you have over 3,000 followers isn’t exactly the model of reciprocity, Kai!).

Near the end of the segment, they introduced a gentleman named Duncan Watts, who has written a research piece about Twitter and the differences in the types of Twitter users (celebrities vs average users), how they interact and communicate, and what types of content they create and curate.  Watts stressed that Twitter is NOT a social network, since the idea of reciprocity isn’t an underlying theme – but rather an informal trend among some users.

I find it interesting that Watts is careful to make the distinction that Twitter isn’t a social network, but it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t fall into the social media category.  Personally, I find that my Twitter followers and those that I follow increasingly are a real network for me.  I’ve met many of them in real life and I continue to get a lot of out sharing information with many of them.  When I have a question, they tend to answer.  I’ve been able to reach out to many of them individually to get clarification, information, or simply ask a quick favor.

To me that’s a valuable network.  What do you think?  Is Twitter a true social network for you?


Crowdsourcing: Teaching Social Media for Business

I’ve recently been asked by a University of San Diego marketing professor to guest lecture on social media for business in her MBA class.  While other institutions dedicate an entire semester to teaching social media, I’ll be working with a little less time than that:  I’ve got one hour.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

I could probably start by showing Erik Qualman’s “Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh),” but I think they may have already seen that.  I could start with some mind-blowing statistics about the growth of social media.  I could “borrow” some great ideas from presentations from notable gurus, ninjas, authors, and experts I’ve seen over the past three years.  I could even dig up some Harvard Business School case studies on social media for business.  I could do a lot of things, but I have only one hour.

So I thought I’d reach out to you, my regular readers and random guests who stumble upon my humble offerings for some help.

Crowdsourcing:  a term that Wikipedia claims came about in 2006.  A term so new that WordPress throws the spell-check flag (am I spelling it right?).  A term that means asking all of you what I should do with my one hour in front of MBA students who perhaps know more about social media than I assume.

So what do you think?  What should I cover in a marketing class with MBA students in one short hour on social media for business?  Who knows, my best responses might even get a mention in class.

I’d like to be able to point to this blog post as an example of building a social network (that has been cultivated online, as well as in person), asking said network for a little help, and receiving tons of thoughtful, engaging and inspiring feedback.  Is that so much to ask?