A Lynda.com Lesson: The value of content to a business is more than its role in marketing

(Via the Hammock.com Idea Email)

Lynda.com, a company started by a woman actually named Lynda (unlike, say, Mavis Beacon) who is now in her 60s, became a $1.5 billion business unicorn by teaching people who are customers of other companies how to use the products and services made and sold by those other companies.

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Direct-to-customer media was the promise of the internet. What happened?

From the current Hammock Idea Email: “As a marketer, you should be focused first and foremost on developing media and content that serve your customers, that add value to your products by helping fulfill the promise made when the customer purchased them. Everything else, all the social media and SEO investment, should be viewed as support for the only media you own and control: the content that connects you directly to your customer.”

(Continue reading: “Idea: Don’t Rein In New Marketing Opportunities
With an Old Marketing Strategy”…

Hey, General Mills Lawyers: Better Eat Your Wheaties

(See update at the end of the post.)

While I typically support efforts to add sanity to our overly-litigious culture that seems to encourage anyone to sue anybody for anything, I don’t think the lawyers at General Mills thought through the type of social media firestorm they would ignite by adding language to the company’s website alerting customers they can’t take legal action against the company if they’ve done things like download a coupon, enter a contest or, if read literally, liked on Facebook one of the company’s products, say, Cheerios or Wheaties or Macaroni Grill or Fruit Loops.

Continue reading Hey, General Mills Lawyers: Better Eat Your Wheaties

My goofy animated GIF went viral

sochi olympic rings gif parodyAt Hammock, we are experimenting with ways in which GIFs and things like Vine can be used as something more than goofy viral fodder. (We’re already convinced on their goofy viral fodder potential.) Personally, I think animated GIFS have great potential as illustrations in how-to posts, as I mentioned in a post recently.

Before getting too far into thinking I know how to use a medium or format based solely on what I’ve seen others do, it’s my belief that I should first “play” with it in a sandbox in ways that help me understand personally how I can bend and flex the format.

Sometimes that means trying to do things that involve understanding “hacks” (in the positive use of the word to mean “creative work arounds”) necessary to get something to work a little more elegantly than on a software program devoted specifically to the format.

Yesterday,  for example, I was doing a quick project that involved me creating a GIF in which I had to use three different software applications: ScreenFlow, Keynote and GIF Brewery. (In the past, I would have needed a third program, iMovie, to accomplish the effect I was seeking, however ScreenFlow has now become a robust video editing tool in addition to being an excellent screen capture tool.)

A few moments into my efforts, I saw a photo on Twitter of the problem that occurred with the snow-flake Olympic Rings effect at the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics.

It just so happened that the GIF I was using in my “sandbox” involved an effect that inspired me to see the missing ring in the way it appears in my GIF above. (The following is for how-to geeks: I was testing if ScreenFlow will capture video in the form of a .mov file that has been embedded in a Keynote slide when you are in the “play” mode. It does.)

Even though the ceremonies would not appear on U.S. TV for several hours, I went a head and posted the GIF on my Tumblr account and forgot about it.

This morning, the GIF has 7.5 K likes and reblogs vs. my typical Tumblr metric: 0.*

Bottomline 1: It’s great to read what others do, but playing around with this stuff yourself is how you learn it.

Bottomline 2: It’s the goofy viral GIF that goes viral.

*Later: I wasn’t exaggerating when I said “zero.” The trend line below displays the typical “activity” on my Tumblr account. Activity refers to reblogs (shares) or likes a post receives on Tumblr. Tumblr is the social medium I use that is even less read than this blog, but I love the platform and am happy that Yahoo! hasn’t ruined it yet by adding that ridiculous Yahoo! bar across the top of it like it has to Flickr.