Archives for July 2011

Import Your LinkedIn Contacts to Google+

Everyone is so worried about getting their Facebook contacts into Google+. That’s the wrong way to go about Google+.

Given that most of us who are on Google+ are social media power users, chances are we’re looking for another social networking tool that will benefit us professionally. And while we may be Facebook friends with our professional contacts, LinkedIn is the real professional social network. LinkedIn also keeps any contact information like cell phones and websites, so this is going to be valuable anyway.

So, why not instead import your LinkedIn contacts into your Google+ contacts? Here’s an easy way to do it.

    1. Most importantly, you should have a Gmail account. If you don’t, get one. Google+ will delve into your Gmail contacts to see who you interact with the most, and suggest those people for your Circles.
Export your LinkedIn Connections to sync them with your Gmail Contacts.

Export your LinkedIn Connections as a .csv file to import into your Gmail Contacts.

  1. Log in to your LinkedIn account, go to your Connections page, and Export your connections.
  2. Choose any format you’d like, but the .csv (comma separated value) is your best bet. Save this file to your desktop.
  3. Go to your Gmail Contacts window, and select Import from the More Actions menu. Locate your .csv file, and import it.
  4. Google will merge any contacts that already match, saving you some duplicated matches. However, Google isn’t perfect, so you will need to go through and find/merge a lot of your contacts by hand. It may be tedious, but it will be worth it in the end.
  5. As an added bonus, export your Gmail contacts and reimport them into your LinkedIn account. This will then sync up your two networks. And since Gmail is the one email program that most social networks use to “find your friends who are on this network,” having your professional LinkedIn contacts can help you build any new networks you join quickly and without all the fluff and unnecessary crap that Facebook brings with it, like your Farmville and Pirate Clan friends.
  6. Jump back over to Google+ and start adding people to your circles. Start with the ones that Google+ recommends, and then begin searching for the people you want to add to your Circles.

Cancelled Soap Operas Take to the Internet. Is This The End of Broadcast TV?

You thought they were dead, but they were just in a coma. Or it was the evil twin. Or maybe it was a dream sequence, but the two once-dead soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live will find a new life online.

According to a Gizmodo article, the two ABC soaps, which were killed by the network this past spring, are going to be made available online instead. ABC has licensed both shows to Prospect Park, a production company that “promises all the shows will be just as long and just as ‘high quality’ online as they were on TV.”

While Casey Chan, the Gizmodo author, doesn’t “imagine soap opera watchers to be particularly good at using the Internet,” I think it’s a gutsy move, as opposed to moving to a cable network, like USA Network or WGN. I wonder if this could be the beginning of the end of broadcast television as we know it. Will more TV shows start migrating online? Will the “critically acclaimed” (that’s TV talk for “awesome show, sucky ratings”) shows find new life online, while regular TV is left with the same tired old clichéd dreck we’ve watched since 1983?

While I don’t know whether most soapies (soapers?) will have the ability to watch their favorite soaps online, I think this could be a great reason for them to start. And if they were smart, advertisers like Best Buy or Dell and cable companies would take advantage of this opportunity.

For example, Best Buy or Dell should run commercials during these soaps that say “you don’t have to miss your favorite soap. We have a laptop just for you.” Call it the One Life to Live or All My Children package — build it with enough RAM and a big enough processor, easy-to-use wifi, and a browser that comes preloaded with shortcuts to the OLL and AMC streaming sites.

After I heard the news, I was talking with our new intern, Cody (@CAustinMiller), about the possibilities, and we thought of all the possibilities this venture held for Prospect Park.

Production costs are greatly reduced

A typical TV show is shot on giant TV cameras, which are easily $100,000 dollars a pop. But this year’s season finale of House was shot entirely on a Canon 5DmkII digital camera.

One of those cameras (body only) is $2,500. Lenses are several hundred to a few thousand dollars apiece. Similarly, the web series Odd Jobs is shot entirely with a Canon 7d ($1600 + lenses).

Imagine shooting an entire show for a fraction of the cost of a single TV camera. Since very few people are watching an Internet-only TV show on HD plasma TVs, the need for the giant cameras is reduced.

Better video equipment means better story settings and language

If you’ve got these small handheld cameras, imagine shooting some scenes outside, without worrying about a sound stage and all those cables and production crew. A boom mike, digital audio recorder, and a digital camera, and you’re all set.

And you’re no longer bound by studio Standards and Practices people who say you can’t use certain words on television. Want to drop the F-bomb? Fire away. Want the s-word? Let ‘er fly. Online means you can say whatever you want without S&P dropping the hammer on you. (Of course, you have to make sure you don’t offend your audience.)

Advertisers can reach targeted audiences

This is worth a blog post in itself. Imagine these scenarios:

  • To watch the shows, users have an account where they provide some basic demographic information: age, sex, race, location, income, family status, etc. Show producers can go beyond providing basic demographic info to their advertisers — “we think it’s mostly white women between the ages of 25 – 45” — and provide actual counts and percentages.
  • Thanks to today’s web technology, advertisers can deliver specific ads to specific people watching on specific browsers. Send diaper ads to new mothers, life insurance ads to women in their 40s, luxury car ads to people who make a certain amount of money. Go read up on Facebook advertising for more ideas on how this works.
  • Advertisers can offer special coupons and codes during the show. These ads and coupons can even appear in a sidebar in the browser window. These can all be based on the viewer’s demographic information.
  • Marketers can then track click-throughs and follow the visitor’s path all the way through to the contact page or purchase page. They can determine that X number of people ordered our product while they were watching All My Children at 2:37.
  • I just had a EUREKA! idea: Put a shopping cart right in the browser sidebar window. When a small product is advertised on the show — say, the latest Danielle Steel novel — viewers can fill out the shopping cart without ever leaving the viewing window, order the book, and have it shipped, all during the show. It’s the ultimate in impulse purchasing.
  • Product placement is much easier and less expensive for marketers. Since the production company can call the shots without having to involve the network executives, they can sell product placements for a fraction of the cost of TV spots, but make a bigger piece of the pie.

Sell subscriptions to the shows

This is a chance to test the loyalty of the shows’ viewers: sell monthly subscriptions — say $2.99 per month — to viewers for ad-free episodes. Otherwise treat each episode like a regular TV episode: splits in the shows where they usually happen, with 2 – 3 minutes of advertisements. But monthly subscriptions can also offset production costs and help pay for the episode. If enough people opted for the monthly subscription, it may also show advertisers that viewers don’t want ads, which means they have to be more clever in how they reach those viewers: more product placement, sidebar ads, etc. This could also help the production company find new revenue sources as advertisers scramble for a way to reach this now-clearly defined audience demographic.

Crowdsource the writing

Many years ago — and I can’t remember when or what show — viewers got to vote whether a certain character lived or died. They called in, cast their votes, and the story unfolded to the majority’s wishes. Now, imagine having an online poll that allows viewers to vote on a particular story line. Does Trent live or die? Is Ashlyn’s evil twin really Ashlyn? Does Trent marry Ashlyn?

It’s one more method of interaction, and one more way to keep viewers involved and coming back. Maybe they could even shoot two endings to a storyline or episode, and let the viewers vote for which ending that gets shown. As a bonus, let people watch the ending that didn’t get aired after the episode is over. Again, more interactivity, more content for viewers to consume, which keeps them coming back.

I’m really excited to see what sorts of developments will come out of this new deal (not enough to watch soaps, mind you, but still, fairly excited). Prospect Park has said they will begin airing All My Children online starting September 26, after it makes its final TV appearance on Friday, September 23. I’ll be interested to see what kinds of ideas they come up with, and whether the Internet may be a great new frontier for TV shows that can’t survive the picky whims of studio executives who worry more about ratings than actually showing good television.

People Who Predict Failure Don’t Add Value

I’m tired of people who predict the failure of some new tool before it ever even gets off the ground. They’re cowards, doomsayers, and nattering nabobs of negativity. They don’t actually provide any real value, or anything I can use. They’re like the petulant child who automatically says “Nope. Won’t do it. Don’t wanna” to anything her family suggests.

It’s not hard to predict failure. It doesn’t take any courage, special intelligence, industry expertise, or a crystal ball. You’re not going out on a limb by predicting something will fail. You’re not offering an opinion that runs counter to 99% of your industry. Given the number of attempts at anything that fail, and you’re going to be right more often than you’re wrong. That’s why it’s such a cheap win.

Oh sure, you get to look like you knew what you were talking about when it happens. But the odds are in your favor, as with any startup. It’s like predicting the hitting success of any major league ball player. If you predict an out every time he comes up to bat, roughly 7 – 8 times out of 10, you’ll be right. But it doesn’t take a baseball genius to know that a batter is going to miss 75% of the time.

It takes a pessimistic jerk to say, “he’ll fail this time. And this time. And this time too. And — oops, I was wrong about that one. But I got the other 6 times right.”

The real courage doesn’t lie in predicting failure, it lies in showing success. Talk about what this new tool can do, how it can help people, and where you can see using it. Saying where it fails doesn’t take any creativity.

I’ve seen this lately with all of the Google+ users who whine and mewl that it’s going to fail, or that it doesn’t do certain things, or that it isn’t Facebook, or that Google’s past forays into social media have failed.

Blah blah blah.

There’s no courage in finding fault or criticizing. There’s nothing valuable in predicting that something will fail, and then reciting the same tired litany of faults that you read on some other blog post, or drawing the same tired comparisons to Facebook. They complain but they don’t offer solutions.

You want to do something cool? Tell me what’s awesome about it. Tell me the things this does or has the potential to do. Chris Brogan impressed a hell of a lot of people with The Google+50, which became his most trafficked blog post ever. I may not read Chris Brogan that often, but when I do, it’s because he’s telling me something useful, not why something will/should fail.

I think people who spend most of their time criticizing and finding fault aren’t actually contributing anything of value. They aren’t doing anything useful. They’re the failed restaurant chef who became a food critic. The failed musician who became an agent. The failed teacher who became an administrator.

If you want to be useful, if you want to be valuable, contribute to the success of something, don’t complain. Show why something is cool. Better yet, create something cool. But do something that’s worthy of you and your time. I already think you’re awesome, so show me.

Photo credit: ougenweiden (Flickr)