FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – Vine Gets Freaky


I guess this was to be expected; every emerging Web technology goes through its, uh, wild and irresponsible period.

Witness Twitter’s new video-sharing app, Vine, which allows users to post six-second videos for streaming. Naturally, the service found that most of the first week of its big launch was spent figuring out how to crack down on users posting porn and deal with the ensuing media attention.

Then the app experienced its first major outage within five days of going live.

That being said, I’m not ready to give up on Vine so easily. The service is already spawning third-party apps and extensions that allow users to embed videos into Tumblr feeds or search for cool content. And even in a few short days, users have embraced the medium in creative ways.

As any entrepreneur knows, things can get freaky fast when launching a new product. Here are my three takeaways when it comes to the weirdness that was Vine this week.

1. Give Vine time to grow.

Twitter seemed ridiculous too, at first. And while the micro-blogging site isn’t the right content delivery system for every business, few would question the cultural impact it has had since it first launched. Content platforms – and how people use and interact with them – evolve over time.

2. Vine can be used to make interesting business content.

The beautiful thing about Twitter is how it forces users to focus on their message. Now, this doesn’t work for all content, but you don’t have to be a marketing genius to recognize the potential of a memorable six-second video pitch. Vine will force marketers to be ruthlessly efficient – not to mention extremely creative – in how they deliver their message.

So, what’s your six-second pitch?

3. It’s OK if Vine isn’t for you.

I tend not to be a fan of social overload. A business doesn’t have to be delivering content on every single platform available. Not every business is built for, say, Pinterest, and that’s just fine. Actually, spreading content efforts too thin more often leads to weak or duplicate content.

Rather, it’s a good idea to focus on doing the best job possible on the social networks where you are active, and these should be the ones your customers are using. If video fits into that equation, by all means, start cutting some six-second clips.

Monday Must-Reads

By: iCopywriter Blogger Alex Dalenberg

Happy Monday, friends. Now that you’re adequately caffeinated, it’s time for your weekly serving of brain food. This week’s Web roundup features the usual brew of the best SEO, social media and content conversations, plus the Monopoly guy getting ready to lay off his iron (or maybe the wheelbarrow).

1. Digital Journal asks some good questions about the future of SEO. Hint: Unique content is going to be as important as ever.

2. Even if you’re hiring an outside firm like iCopywriter, it’s worth knowing the nuts and bolts of search engine optimization. The ever-reliable Search Engine Journal has a good breakdown of online SEO resources for beginners.

3. On the social side, Pinterest isn’t just the land of cupcakes and tea cozies (although you can still find a lot of them there). If you’re interested in what the service can do for your company, check out HubSpot’s marketer’s guide as well as SmartBlog’s primer on Pinterest for business.

4. Fast Company has one of my favorite business articles of the week, about Dropbox employees taking a hike. Literally.

5. What do you think about this promotion? Hasbro is sending one of its iconic Monopoly tokens to jail for good, and it’s asking users to pick which game piece will get the boot. The boot, perhaps?


FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – Taiwanese Teen Dies Playing “Diablo 3”

By: iCopywriter Senior Editor, Heather Price-Wright

According to the Australian Associated Press, an 18-year-old man in Taiwan collapsed and died July 15, after playing the online video game “Diablo 3” for 40 consecutive hours. While an autopsy has yet to reveal the exact cause of the man’s death, officials guessed that sitting in the same place and position for so long led to cardiovascular issues that may have killed him.inflatables

The AAP also notes that this was the second videogame-related death in Taiwan this year.

In February, a 23-year-old man died in a Taipei, Taiwan Internet café while playing the online game “League of Legends.” Nine hours later, a waitress noticed him sitting rigidly in his chair, his hands stretched toward the computer, dead. In that case, cardiac arrest was found to be the cause of death.

There’s obviously nothing amusing or worth poking fun at about two young men’s deaths. We’re saddened by their lives that were cut short, and for their families and friends.

But we also can’t help thinking, come on, guys. Sure, we all have a pastime we get a little obsessed with (in this particular office, you might catch us re-watching the entire first season of “Girls” for, oh, the 10th time). But no job, awesome HBO show, sport or videogame is worth losing your life, or even compromising your health, over. So, if you look up and realize you’ve been playing the apparently incredibly addictive “Diablo 3” for the last eight hours, may we offer the following tips?

  • GO OUTSIDE. Seriously. Your body needs vitamin D and there’s none of that in Cheetos.
  • Call a friend. Get lunch or coffee or something. Have a conversation.
  • Have a long chat with a loved one who’s far away. Everyone paces when they talk on the phone, so you’ll get a little exercise in, too.
  • Do the dishes. You know you’ll feel better once they’re done.
  • Make these precious flower lights out of cupcake baking cups.
  • Or, turn a sweater you shrank in the wash into a cardigan.
  • Oops. Get off Pinterest.
  • You know what? Return to step one. Go back outside. Watch the sunset. Take a run. There’s a whole world out there that you don’t want to miss.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – 20 percent of Americans Aren’t Internet Users

By: iCopywriter Senior Editor, Heather Price-Wright

According to a study released April 13 by the Pew Research Center, a rather startling number of Americans – 1 in 5 – do not regularly, and in most cases have never used the Internet. 

The study found that the most common people to fall into this no-Web category were:

  • People who elected to take the survey in Spanish
  • Seniors
  • Adults with an education level lower than a high school diploma
  • People whose household incomes were less than $30,000 annually
  • Disabled people

This data reveals a great deal about the uneven access to the Internet plaguing the less advantaged in this country, an issue everyone from civil rights groups to the federal government has attempted to tackle. In fact, Tech News Daily reported last year that the United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t have a governmental guarantee of universal Internet access for its citizens.

As serious as the issues of net neutrality and free access to the Web are, we can’t help thinking about how much more we’d get done in a day if we were among those who didn’t use the Internet regularly (the Pew study did reveal that many people who don’t use the Internet make the choice because they don’t find the Web “relevant.”)

In our Internet-free fantasy lives, we think we’d:

  • Finally start that salsa/herb/rose garden we’ve always wanted
  • Actually clean out the shoulder-padded 80s blazers from our closets (ditto the jeans we were sure we’d fit back into by this point in our never-ending diets)
  • Exercise every day and definitely go back to hot yoga (which we did once a couple years ago and totally loved, really we did)
  • Cook elaborate meals from Julia Childs’ cookbook, á la “Julia and Julia,” but obviously without the blogging
  • Go on long, rambling walks, just because
  • Dust
  • Read Proust
  • Organize all our old family photos into photo albums, you know, with actual pages? (Bye bye, Smilebox).
  • Make all our Christmas presents by hand, including the wrapping paper
  • Subscribe to tons of magazines because we wouldn’t have Pinterest anymore
  • Actually keep the phonebooks that show up on our front steps every so often…and use them to get in touch with people…on a land line
  • Spend more time with the people we love

So, while we know that in reality, life without the Internet would be arduous and pretty bizarre, we can’t help thinking it might be a little refreshing, too.

What would be your favorite pastime sans Internet? We’re dying to hear!

Have you checked out lately?

3 Ways Pinterest Can Work for Your Small Business

By: iCopywriter

March 20, 2012

Last month, we wrote a blog post introducing (or re-introducing) you to the social media universe’s new darling, Pinterest. Since that initial post, Pinterest has continued to skyrocket, gaining new users and new buzz by the day.

According to a USA Today Money article, Pinterest was third in popularity among social networking sites in the United States, after only Facebook and Twitter, as of last week. That’s an incredible feat, considering that just a couple dozen people founded Pinterest in 2011.

Pinterest is good for more than sharing personal style, recipe, home décor and other visual ideas and inspiration, however. As USA Today notes, the site can also do wonders for your business’ visibility and interactions with potential customers. Here’s how:

  1. Sharing Your Own Material. Carl Christensen, a photographer, told USA Today that, while he was reluctant to use social media to share his artful creations, Pinterest has been the perfect venue for him to connect with potential clients the best way he knows how: through images. By “pinning” his own work on his Pinterest boards, Christensen says he has increased online sales of his work to account for half of his total business.
    Try It Yourself:
    Whether you create art, sell consumer products or offer a helpful service, try pinning your company’s own work on Pinterest. For example, if you design beautiful custom business cards, pin a few samples. Potential customers will take note, re-pin your work and keep your business in mind.
  2. Re-Pin Other Users’ Posts. According to Pinterest, the best way to build up a following on the site is to re-pin images from other Pinterest users’ boards. This creates buzz and draws those users, plus their followers, to your site. The more you draw interested eyes to your business’ Pinterest boards, the more would-be customers you can introduce to your own products or services.
    Try It Yourself:
    Do you own a small market, restaurant, bakery or other food-related business? Consider re-pinning creative recipes you see on other users’ pages. You could even include comments about how to use your products to recreate those recipes, or add beautiful photos of your own edible offerings to the mix.
  3. Link Pinterest to Your Other Social Networking Efforts. According to USA Today, many companies are drawing their Facebook friends and fans to their Pinterest page, thereby making connections with consumers on many platforms at once. For example, Bergdorf Goodman let its Facebook fans finish this sentence: “In the morning I never forget _________.” The retailer then revealed the responses on one pinboard, letting followers see how their answers translated to visual representation.
    Try It Yourself:
    Ask your Facebook followers what they think of (one word, image or phrase) when they think of your company. Then, let them know to check Pinterest to see if their response made it onto the company pinboard, and to check out the other responses, too. This will generate interest on both social networking platforms and help customers feel engaged with your business.

There are plenty of ways businesses can use the magical place that is Pinterest to further their social networking goals; these are just a few. With the creative space provided by a site like Pinterest, the uses are only limited by your imagination.

Have you checked out lately?