Facebook’s Secret Weapon Unveiled – Ann Handley!

As the excitement is building today about Facebook’s promise to (once again…) transform social networking with a slew of new and sparkly features, the Connection Agent has gone under the interface layer to discover the real secret lurking beneath the impending drama.

It’s Ann Handley.

Facebook has secretly acquired Marketing Profs figurehead and Content Rules co-author Ann Handley, and embedded her within the FB platform. It is the first time a human being has been coded into a social network, though there have been persistent rumors that Twitter’s middleware may contain DNA fragments from Peter Shankman.

Starting on Friday, the status update box on Facebook will now be the iconic question, WWAHD? (What Would Ann Handley Do?). Users are expected to consider carefully how Ann might update, and then type their status accordingly, leading to a uniformly higher-quality of on-line content.

Facebook will also incorporate a context-aware ANNvatar, which will pop up and give advice about what you are reading and writing, delivering critiques as to style, grammar, and re-purposable content. The ANNvatar will speak in Ann’s voice, pulling words and phrases from the Content Rules book, which will now be the official Facebook Help Menu. Users will be able to choose AH levels, from mild snark all the way up to to ultra-Boston-style-insulting.

It is rumored that there will be a C.C. Chapman FB upgrade in the future “for the guys” but this is not yet confirmed. There is also speculation that each FB status will be auto-converted into a QR-code for people who prefer to use a smartphone for each and every form of communication.

The new Ann Handley FB version will be Prodigy and MS-DOS compatible because, after all, that’s what Ann Handley would do.

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Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Clearing Clouds: Recovering from Depression (free e-book)

>> Trend Currents in Social Media

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Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

Taylor Swift and Bracelets. Two Good Causes.

I interrupt the normal flow of my ramblings about marketing to introduce you to two good causes. Both have to do with my son David (the Marine).

Cause Number 1

Yep, he’s crazy like his Dad! Dave is heading back to the States this fall after months of deployment in Spain, and he wants to attend the Marine Ball in November (Virginia Beach) with – well, Taylor Swift! So I said I’d help.

Here’s his invite via Twitter. I figure if he gets about 459 bajillion retweets then Taylor won’t be able to resist saying yes (November 4 does appear to be an open tour date, after all…). And who wouldn’t spend an evening with a handsome and talented Marine??

So, let’s have a little fun and help him out! If you’d like, just cut-and-paste the message below (the bit.ly link is to the tweet shown above):

A U.S. Marine asks:  May we dance, @TaylorSwift13?? bit.ly/MayWeDance @DaveWoodruff1

Cause Number 2

While in Spain, Dave and some of his pals have had the good fortune of working with a visionary Navy guy named Nick Mendoza III, who started a very special company/cause called Bands for Arms (B4A). In short, B4A was created to show support for those in the armed services, and provide tokens of remembrance, by creating custom bracelets made out of actual uniforms (all donated). Since creating the the first one in 2009 in remembrance of a comrade who died, B4A has taken off like a rocket, with much of its growth and grassroots organization being accomplished long-distance via Facebook.

David and some of his pals have not only kept busy creating bracelets, but in some cases are actually modeling as well for the photo shoots (which makes the old man feel a very strange mixture of immense pride and intense jealousy – I mean, what country music star wouldn’t want THAT hunk on her arm at a dance…..ooops, sorry, mixing up our causes here).

My wife and I had the chance to meet Nick in NYC during his recent tour promoting B4A and we’re quite impressed with this young man, his energy and vision. B4A supports many charitable organizations (see below), so if you wish to purchase one of the many hand-made designs it’s all for a good cause. There’s even one design called the Woodruff – yes, it’s my favorite! :>}

You can follow the B4A folks on Twitter at @BandsForArms.

Thanks for any role you can play in today’s “cause marketing” post!

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Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Clearing Clouds: Recovering from Depression (free e-book)

>> Trend Currents in Social Media

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Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

Microsoft Announces Minus, New Social Network for Pharma

While high-profile social networks like Facebook and Google+ have recently made splashy announcements to try to gain the attention of the masses, Microsoft has been quietly, and brilliantly, working on a new social network custom-designed for pharma.

Steve Woodruff, the Pharmaceutical Connection Agent, was given an exclusive sneak peak at the platform, dubbed Minus, which is being launched today to a beta audience of one pharma company, one patient, and 25 lawyers. While detailed screen shots were not yet approved by Regulatory, a mockup of the interface was obtained, showing the sensitivity of Microsoft designers to the constraints of pharmaceutical industry communications. (click to biggify —>)

Steve Ballmer, President of Microsoft, beamed as he read a carefully prepared and vetted statement to members of the press, who were not allowed to ask questions or engage in dialogue during the announcement. “Here at Microsoft, we understand legacy systems, bureaucracy, and the need to consider the past when developing for the future. That’s why we’re the ideal partner for the pharmaceutical industry to create a social platform that will reflect how controlled, one-way, non-interactive communications can occur in this modern world of digital networks. This is what social media is all about – MINUS all that social stuff.

“Now, please view these 17 slides of disclaimers, safety warnings, software contraindications, and approved uses for Minus.”

The announcement was hailed as a great advancement for an industry dogged by difficulties participating in the public, free-wheeling world of social networks. “For years, we’ve struggled with how to communicate with the public in a safe, controlled manner that will keep us out of trouble,” said one VP of Marketing, whose identity could not be revealed due to privacy concerns. “Now, we can get our messages out there on the Twitter and the Facebook by using this Minus thing to…to…say more stuff. You know, join the conversation.”

While it wasn’t yet clear who exactly would participate on the Minus platform, this was viewed as no barrier to adoption. “We’ll just pull a Google+ on everyone and make it limited rollout for everyone in pharma who has a Klout score of 82 and above, or who has a value of 1,000 or more on Empire Avenue,” explained Ballmer. “That ought to get us to critical mass in no time.”

To appeal to its target audience, Microsoft enlisted the avatar of ancient Uncle Sam Wilson as the key figure in its marketing campaign. “Old Sam had just the right look-and-feel that we wanted to accelerate uptake of the platform,” said VP of Minus Biz Dev Sam Wilson IV. “Doesn’t he just exude social control?”

Addressing the thorny issue of user-generated content in a regulated environment, Ballmer scoffed, “UGC is so 2009. We’re looking to the future by hearkening to the past. Remember the good old days of DOS? Guess what computing kernel powers Minus?”

Reporters were encouraged to submit questions via an analog “Suggestion Box,” all of which would be reviewed by an approval committee and selectively answered within 3 weeks via a special Minus application using U.S. Mail.

(please do not tweet or share this link without prior authorization from a qualified lawyer. Any harm that comes from using this blog post in a way that it was not intended must be immediately reported to proper authorities. 9 out of 10 regulators surveyed approved this message)

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Recently on Connection Agent:

5 Reasons Why Twitter Might Soon Be Dispensable

Why Google+ Could Succeed

Build Your Own Opportunity Network (free e-book)

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Announcing the QWERTY Thirty in Social Media!

There has been a proliferation of lists lately circulating in the blogosphere/Twittersphere: 40 Brilliant Women that Must be Followed or You’re Done For. Awesomely Hunky Men in Tech.  99.5 Clowns (still waiting for Gary Vee to publish this one).  You know, arbitrary feel-good lists that allow us to pat people on the back and tell them we think they’re cool. Plus, it’s linkbait.

So I thought this morning I’d make up my own: Awesome People Who Are On This List Because I Said So.

No gender. No reason. Pure, arbitrary choice.

But wait! This should be a community project! We all should have our say-so. Have you come across someone who uses a QWERTY keyboard to express their awesome? Or even their not-too-awesome? Then help create the QUERTY Thirty list:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

…..

30.

Go ahead – create this list by adding your favorite people in the comments. Put ‘em on this stellar list just because you say so! The list closes at 5 pm ET. That’s arbitrary, too.

(what if we end up with 746 names? Simple. We’ll just round it down to 730 to keep things rhyme-y!)

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Book Review: Pick a Title. Any Title.

Bloggers always like to be first getting out a new book review on their blog and through Twitter, in hopes of achieving maximum retweet exposures (MREs).

So, since my friends Jay Baer and Amber Naslund are about to launch their awesome new book The Now Revolution, I thought I’d cheat a little bit to get the very first review out of gate (video below). I like MREs just as much as the next blogger. And, hey, there are efficiencies here – have you ever heard of the Reusable Book Review (RBR)? Yeah – I’m trademarking that.

Tomorrow, return here to very same URL to view my thoughts on Ann Handley and CC Chapman‘s Content Rules. And the day after, Scott Stratten‘s UnMarketing. Because if you don’t send it, I still review it with my patent-pending RBR technology!

(Actually, I do have a couple real video book reviews coming up here on Connection Agent this week – stay tuned!)

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10 Can’t-Miss Predictions for 2011

I don’t usually do year-end prediction posts, but after reading so many enlightening missives from brilliant thinkers, I was hit by a sudden flash of inspiration – a massive and luminous outpouring of the blindingly obvious. So, here goes – my can’t miss social media marketing predictions for 2011.

  1. More people will search for stuff on-line in 2011. It’s been growing every year for quite a while now, and the big surprise is, that this behavior will continue to occur.
  2. Mobile is going to be big. Really big.
  3. E-commerce will explode onto the scene. As people discover that they can buy things on-line, they will do more of it. Books, music, toys, pet food – you name it. Disintermediation is the key word here. Big for 2011.
  4. Apple will introduce flashy new versions of its hardware and software products. And people will buy them. In fact, some people will wait in long lines to buy them – and others won’t.
  5. A lot of people will do a lot of stuff on Facebook, which will have more users in 2011 than it has now in 2010.
  6. Very important people will be profoundly embarrassed by revelations made about them via the Internet.
  7. Market valuations for software vendors will go up and down while fluctuating during the year.
  8. Companies will try to sell stuff using social media, and social media purists will be so upset about it, they’ll whine on Twitter and blogs.
  9. Everyone will hate SxSW’s method of choosing panels by popularity contest, but a million bloggers will beg for votes on Twitter anyway, while saying how much they despise doing so.
  10. People will discover that if you join smartphones with location apps with coupons you can cause a lot of people to make a lot of noise on-line about it, and generate stoopid company valuations.
  11. (Bonus) Content will rule. There may even be a book about it (hey – had to get a plug in there for CC and Ann!)

What about you? What are your profoundly insightful predictions for the exciting year ahead?

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See prior spoofs :>}

Don’t Be That (Social Media) Guy

Just. Don’t.

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Facebook taken over by TSA

In what has been described as a “friendly, sort of” takeover, the social networking site Facebook has been merged into the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The announcement was made in Terminal C of Newark Airport. After reporters and their personal items were screened, they were allowed to line up 12-deep to hear the head of the TSA, John T. Pistol, announce that Mark Zuckerberg had arrived at an “understanding” after several hours of enhanced frisking and being run repeatedly through a high-intensity X-ray machine.

“It was obvious that our attempts to protect the American people were simply not enough. Senior citizens were sometimes boarding planes without being subject to public humiliation, and once a right-wing blogger named Benjamin Jefferson Washington actually boarded a flight in Milwaukee before he showed up on our ‘No Fly’ list.

“Now, with Facebook, we’ll be able to extend our protective arms well beyond the airport, and monitor virtually all Americans in real-time. Except young males from certain Middle Eastern countries, of course – that would be social profiling.”

Changes to the Facebook interfaced were already evident this week, with subtle wording changes (Edit my Profile is now Profile Me) and random pop-up interrogation boxes for those who upload any photos. Also, each Facebook user is required to undergo a hands-on patdown by a TSA employee before changing any user information on their profile. “Instead of a captcha, we’re going to use a gotcha. Way better!” said Pistol.

The most controversial change involved the threat of uploading naked pictures taken in TSA scanners to user profiles. “We’ll have all your full-body X-ray pictures stored and matched to your Facebook profile, and if any user does something wrong, we figure we’ll just randomly expose 1,000 others by changing their profile picture to the bare view for 24 hours. That way, we won’t be profiling any individual or group, while still maintaining a focus on the privates of the individual.”

Asked about the issue  of violations of privacy, Pistol stared blankly ahead for a few moments, then replied, “Why do you think we chose Facebook, anyway?”

Scanner image credit

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See prior spoofs :>}

Zuckerberg announces new Facebook Implants

While all the tech press was drooling over the idea of Facebook email, founder Mark Zuckerberg pulled a fast one with his announcement today of Facebook Implants.

“Email is so last century,” declared Zuckerberg at the standing-room-only press conference. “It requires thought, typing, even hitting a send button. We’re all about going forward, not backward.

“Starting today, with a Facebook Implant, you can upload every vital and trivial factoid about yourself automatically to your timeline, with no effort whatsoever.”

The Implant device, which looks like a pacemaker sporting rabbit ears, is placed subcutaneously in the body and constantly records blood pressure, anger levels, senior moments, caffeine highs, speeding in school zones, jealous thoughts, and gall bladder performance. These are tied to GPS coordinates and an atomic clock buried in a secret location in Colorado, and every bit of information is continuously uploaded as a Facebook status.

“Users kept telling us that they wanted less effort, so we created the ultimate mobile update device. Now all of your friends can be tuned immediately into your every mood shift, without so much as thinking about a keyboard or mouse.”

Asked about potential privacy issues with 24/7 upload of every scrap of personal information, Zuckerberg paused, then replied, “I guess we might want to think about creating a couple hundred more settings for that, now that I think about it. Privacy is very important for us, of course. It’s always the first thing we consider.”

When questioned if all the leaks about a Facebook email service were all a diversion, Zuckerberg gave a lopsided grin and announced, “Nah – we just bought Compuserve. I can give you more details if you just email me at 35821.9567@compuserve.com”

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Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

See prior spoofs :>}

How to Eliminate 68% of Useless Twitter Traffic in One Blog Post

Look – we all know there’s way too much repetitive noise drowning out the useful signal on Twitter.

Let’s slice it in half (+18% bonus!) with one fell swoop:

1. Social media is changing the world! >It sure is.

2. People want to be part of the conversation! >Yes, they do indeed.

3. It’s all about transparency and authenticity! >Good. Let’s do that.

4. Traditional (marketers/media people/grandmas/teens) don’t get it. >OK. So we have work to do.

5. Bacon, chocolate, and coffee are good. Karaoke is fun. Air travel, however, rots. >Check.

6. (fill-in-the-blank) is dead. >Well, if it’s not yet, it will be.

7. Guy Kawasaki is not a virtuous user of Twitter. Yes, he is. >OK, opinions will differ.

8. RT RT RT RT RT RT The Gulf of Mexico is on fire!! >Yes, we know. That news is a few RT cycles old now.

9. My Twitter horoscope today says… >No-one cares.

10. Get more blog traffic with useless Top 10 lists peppered with dubious statistics and lying linkbait >Thanks for that.

See – that was easy! Next time you’re tempted to tweet one of the above, simply link to this post instead and save everybody the trouble. I’ve even made it easy for you (just cut/paste into Twitter): I’m cutting down useless Twitter traffic with http://bit.ly/Eliminate68

;>} What would you add to get us to 73%??

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12 Reasons Why You Clicked on This Link

1. It was a slightly intriguing, but ultimately meaningless title, and the world needs more of that.

2. This could very well have been the next big internet meme – who wants to miss out on that?

3. 11 reasons are insufficient, and 13 is unlucky. But twelve is good.

4. You thought it just might increase your FCIQ (Fast Company Influence Quotient).

5. You’ve been Rick-rolled 736 times, and figured you could move past Gloria Smyznykowski by getting to 737.

6. Somebody you trusted forwarded it to you. So it must be good.

7. It was there. In a tweet. Begging to be clicked. And you gave in.

8. (this reason intentionally left blank)

9. You’d click on ANY link that you think might get you a $15.5M dollar inheritance from Kenya. Alas – you’ll have to buy a lottery ticket.

10. It was on the internet, so it must be true.

11. You are either for or against global warming, and clicking seemed like a good idea for some reason.

12. You don’t take yourself too seriously.

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19 Seconds of Pure Joy

What happens when a 1-year old pup encounters her first serious snow of the season?

Pure joy. For everyone.

(Also see: A Collection of 2009 Fun Links)

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2009 – Links you Might Enjoy (again?)

I have a bookmark folder in my browser called Stuff. It’s where I put interesting, weird, and funny stuff to spice up various posts.

So, here’s a collection of some of that Stuff from the past year. Eleven links – because I’ve had enough Top 10 lists! Enjoy!

Since you’ll need a cup of coffee to browse through all these, we’ll start with 50 Beautifully Delicious Coffee Designs

50 Brilliant and Creative Advertisements for your Inspiration

Worst album covers of all time

YouTube – blast into space, spectacular fall to earth.

The Big Picture from Boston.com – Human Landscapes

The Crisis of Credit visualized (a brilliant animation explaining the financial meltdown)

13 Fantastic and Fun Image Generators

Incredible pictures formed by thousands of soldiers

YouTube – comedian Brian Regan on Airline Stuff

Rain

60 Stunning Satellite photos of earth

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Mystic Speaks

I was quite surprised to discover this week that my dog, Mystic, is actually considered to be quite the successful marketer in her circle of influence. In fact, she has quite a social network, and, as I discovered when I sat down to interview her (between doggie treats and luxurious naps), dogs can teach us a lot about influence and branding.

Me: Mystic, you seem to be pretty popular in the neighborhood after one year. What would you say is the essence of your Personal Brand?

Mystic: Well, for me it’s all about what we call canine benchmarking. It was clear in our walks around town that best practices in the area of impression management meant a head held high, a glossy coat, and turn-key approach to adding value by sniffing backsides. The rest just takes care of itself.

Me: Did you approach this challenge by trying to define your own niche, or did you seek synergistic partnerships with other leading canines?

Mystic: I took a both-and approach. Obviously, when you’re a startup, you’ve got to achieve some sort of critical mass, so I made sure to relieve myself in the sight of some of the bark-leaders in the neighborhood. Eventually, once I had some best-of-breed backers, I had to recontextualize in order to unleash my own brand positioning. Which usually involves lying on my side and drooling.

Me: What metrics do you use to ensure that your brand is top-of-mind, and not mired in the long tail?

Mystic: Just remember two words. No, not “Down, Girl!” Trend Analysis. All the canines in this vertical maximize insights from these data points.

Me: Final question: I’ve been told that you – and perhaps some other influencers in your sub-group – roll around in your own…you know, doo-doo. What’s up with that?

Mystic: Every dog quickly learns about leveraging recurring assets. When the input/output ratio is unbalanced in the supply chain, you have to morph past deliverables into current value-added resources.

Me: In other words, you just harness back-end action items to produce a fresh brand presentation.

Mystic: Exactly. Can I go out and pee now??

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Hitting the Pinnacle of Buzzwords

I freely confess to hating business buzzwords and jargon. Like David Meerman Scott and many others, I find the practice of repeating technical-sounding phrases in an effort to appear knowledgeable to be pompous and counter-productive.

It’s an over-leveraging of verbal resources. Yes, I went there.

Now, at the same time, I love a broad and deep vocabulary. Words like “obfuscation” (which means, if you’re not familiar with it, the use of words to obscure rather than clarify meaning). Obfuscation is a great word that actually nicely describes what buzz-jargon does.

I have found one company (which will remain anonymous) which has managed, over time, to establish a new benchmark in meaningless blather. Every trip to the well of this company’s jargon pool brings forth a new wealth of meaningless bloviation (look it up – another favorite vocabulary word). I thought I’d share just a bit from the latest press release, for your edification and amusement:

____________ today published a strategy pharmaceutical companies can apply to reinvent growth for established drug brands. Addressing the total context of change reshaping the operating environment, the approach shifts the center of gravity in pharmaceutical brand management, focusing on market collaboration and novel linkages to create new health and business value. Available for download through the _________ website, the strategic brief builds on the concept of ‘health ecosystem design’ introduced by _____________ as a new model for competitive strategy, regionalization and employer initiatives, and account-based sales to integrated delivery networks.
_____________ has pioneered a methodology for market strategy defined in 21st-century terms, an approach that enables an evolutionary leap in solutions for growth and competitive advantage. The firm was the first to introduce ‘marketing ecosystems’ as a framework to synthesize strategy, media, content and distribution platforms for in-line products.

Now, I ask you – do you have any CLUE what is being talked about here? Oh, and this company’s tagline now is: A New Grammar for Strategy. Enough said.

Lesson: talk about your business in plain English. Leave obfuscation to the pros….

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David Armano Wins Nobel Prize for “Really Cool Drawings”

(why not celebrate our third birthday with a fresh social media spoof?)

Today, it was announced that globally-recognized artist and hat-wearing aficionado David Armano has been awarded a Nobel Prize for his work in creating “some of the coolest graphics on the planet.”

Full CircleAccording to Hans Blimsted, Swedish Nobel judge of Peace and Social Media Stuff, Armano’s work, while somewhat confusing to the average mind, is full of soft, pastel-y colors and will certainly, over time, contribute to world peace and to the entire re-architecting of business processes across the world.

“Take his use of circles within circles,” said Blimsted, in announcing the award to a hushed audience of twelve Swedish professional curlers, joined in a live stream by countless bloggers and Twitterati around the globe. “Just gazing at those round shapes reminds us that the world is one, we all are one, and by moving toward a social business design in new collaboratories, we can calibrate a new ecosystem of holistic frameworks. Umm…folks, I just read the notes – you make sense of it.

“Plus, he does dots and gently curved arrows. That means peace in any language. Well, most. Actually – what do all those little arrows mean anyway?”

dachis_ecoShocked bloggers reacted with a mix of exuberant exultation and petty jealousy. “I couldn’t be happier for David!” declared Cathleen Rittereiser, just before unlocking the “local” badge on Foursquare. “Of all the circular-thinkers I follow, David has always been the most well-rounded! And if the President can get one for sounding cool, David should get one for looking cool.” On the other hand, Dear Leader of PlaidNation Darry Ohrt sniffed, “The guy doesn’t know colors at all. Pastels-pshaw! When has he ever done anything in plaid? Amateur!”

Rumors that Barack Obama had actually declined his Nobel Prize in favor of Armano were quashed when the President strode out of the White House wearing a cowboy hat and proclaiming that he was at least as cool as Chicago’s Austin’s favorite designer. “Armano didn’t deliver the Olympics for us, but with his circles and my teleprompter, we’re going to run rings around those pesky petty tyrants around the world. Now that’s some hope and change, baby!”

Mr Armano could not be reached for 140 characters of comment, as he was encased in his studio creating the next-generation 550-circle graphic of intergalactic business interoperability.

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Prior StickyFigure spoofs

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Up and Down

What happens when a former hiker takes on some peaks in the White Mountains. The Old Man and the Mountain, on Steve’s Leaves.

SAWMountains

Weather Channel Classic Launched!

WCCThe Weather Channel, after listening to years of strident input from viewers everywhere, has launched a new channel – WCC (Weather Channel Classic) where every description of the weather is 100% accurate.

WCC provides day-old forecasts – called backcasts – to show you, with unerring precision, what the weather was like for the past 24 hours. Or, if you subscribe to WCC Premium Gold Plus, you can go back and find out exactly what the weather was for any date in the past 30 years!

“We’ve had complaints for, oh, just about forever that forecasts simply aren’t accurate enough,” said Joseph Cumulata, Director of Statistical Analysis at The Weather Channel. “‘Chance of rain: 60%. 80% this. 50% that. Blah, blah, blah – just give us the facts!’ they keep telling us. So, with WCC and WCC Premium Gold Plus, we’re going to give you the facts. 100% everything. Because we want to bat a thousand too, sometimes!”

A new crew of weather backcasters has been hired, who will do the usual magic wand waving over colorful maps, but who only require a maximum IQ (and body temperature) of 98.6 to read a teleprompter and get the weather description right. “We’re going to save a ton of money,” declared Charlie Nimbus, director of Programming at The Weather Channel. “We can put up doe-eyed models and half-brained pretty boys who will dazzle with their perfect smiles while giving perfect forecasts…er, backcasts. Everybody wins.”

AltoStratusWCC was soft-launched in beta markets full of older people (Orlando and Phoenix) who tend to be more sensitive to the nuances of weather, and more demanding that weather descriptions be perfect so that they can figure out if they should have ventured outside. “I love WCC!” exalted Bertha Perambulus, who has been watching the channel several hours a day for 3 months now. “The backcasts correspond perfectly with the achiness I felt in my joints during last week’s low pressure, and in my sneak peek of WCC Premium Gold Plus, I was able to see that big rainstorm roll right in that ruined my 40th high school reunion in 1998. I don’t know how I lived without it!

“Plus that cute backcaster, Alto B. Stratus – I can’t take my eyes off of him!”

Assuming a successful uptake of the new Classic Channel, the company is already in discussions with Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann to come on board for a new venture, the Weather Channel Smackdown, where opinions about upcoming weather will be debated in live, free-for-all screaming matches.

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Prior StickyFigure spoofs

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Nutella Newfella

nutellaOn Monday night, for no apparent reason, discussions on Twitter seemed to zero in on some confection that a number of folks are seriously addicted to – Nutella.

Now I admit that I’ve seen this term tossed around before, but the rhapsodic descriptions made me, a Nutella virgin, rather curious about what the rage was all about. So I did what any normal person would do – Google it.

I liked what I saw. Without engagement of one tastebud, I was converted, and determined to become a Nutella Newfella by Wednesday night of this week.

Fellow blogger Sonny Gill also crawled out of the shadows and admitted his gastronomic naivete. So we now have a death-by-Nutella pact, to be completed in two days time.

There may well be other Newfellas (note: that term includes gals!) who need to be indoctrinated into the cult, so let’s see how many Nutella-naive souls can be rousted out of the slumber of tastebud boredom and welcomed into this brave new world of…well, tasty calories, I guess. Tweet your sweet impressions Wednesday night!

If large-scale die-offs of social media “gurus” occur because of this exercise, blame will be spread among Olivier Blanchard, Liz Strauss, Kris Colvin, Amber Naslund, and Valeria Maltoni. And Olivier will be left to calculate the negative ROI…

UPDATE: Here is my sideways (?) video on YouTube showing the taste-test verdict…

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White House nukes LA to get fresh earthquake photos – Obama apologetic

nukeRealizing that the Administration did not have any fresh, updated photos of earthquake disasters, chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel today secretly ordered the destruction of most of Los Angeles by dropping a thermonuclear bomb in order to trigger a massive earthquake.

The city is now a glowing ruin, with casualty estimates in the millions. However, “we got some really great aerial shots, since our entire fleet of F-15′s was deployed with high-speed cameras. A few – well, actually 23 – planes were incinerated in the event, but with live satellite feeds, those who had the nearest-angle shots actually gave their lives for something worthy – great close-ups of an earthquake-inducing mushroom cloud captured via live satellite feed. Awesome!”

quakeThose not instantly killed by the thermonuclear explosion were buried under tons of rubble by the Richter 8.8 quake which followed, leaving a 34-mile valley of destruction coursing across Southern California. Remote cameras had been set up in advance to capture the carnage, and some of the shots “rivalled our best footage of Air Force One circling Lady Liberty!” exalted Emmanuel, clearly pleased that his careful planning had paid off.

Rumors that Hugo Chavez’ latest book was airdropped over the stricken city just before the cataclysmic blast were promptly denied. However, Arlen Specter is said to be re-considering his switch to the Democratic party, because “I’ve already got Three Mile Island hanging over me. Now this? I’m toxic enough already!”

Al Gore immediately chartered a private jet to fly over the area on a mission of mercy, dropping coupons for carbon credits on any surviving victims who may be concerned about the impact of nuclear fallout on climate change. “It was the least I could do,” stated Mr Gore, before jetting off to another celebrity-studded Save the Earth gabfest. Meanwhile, a swarm of ACORN community organizers donned hazmat suits and spread throughout the affected area, restoring polling places and registering the dead for the next election cycle.

obamaReporters were careful not to fault President Obama for the event, as there really had been a great need for better disaster images which was met by the carefully-orchestrated photo op. Nonetheless, the President did apologize, promising a prompt review by a blue-ribbon panel of congressional supporters who will ultimately blame FEMA and former President Bush for the fiasco. Obama is tapping former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin and former Illinois governer Rod Blagojevich to head up re-construction efforts.

The handful of surviving residents of Los Angeles were infuriated by the episode, but ultimately supported the President, realizing that the damage was nothing a few quadrillion dollars of debt couldn’t fix. The Obama plan to nationalize Hollywood will actually continue to move forward, however, with Bank of America being secretly charged to buy the distressed assets of the immolated industry.

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River of Post-Twit Notes Floods Fargo

A veritable yellow-snowstorm of printed 140-character “tweets” dropped from the sky over Fargo, ND yesterday, threatening to overwhelm levees already strained by an ice-clogged river.

fargoposttwit2

The founders of the on-line micro-blogging service Twitter chose Fargo for the unveiling of their new Post-Twit note service, a fusing of old world and new media communications, because “the swollen Red River is the perfect illustration of the massive growth of our Twitterstream – and beside, all the soon-to-be-defunct old media companies were already on the ground to cover the ev [140-character limit exceeded]“

Hundreds of thousands of yellow 3.5 inch square paper notes rained down on the city, each with a 140-character maximum “tweet” printed on it. “It’s the perfect way to introduce all the unwashed masses to Twitter, ” stated Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter.  “A lot of these flyover country folk are still stuck in the old printed paper world, so we figured we’d flood them with micro-messages on Post-it notes, just to get them acclimated to the many advantages of Twittering in a format they’d understand.”

The Post-Twit note initiative came about when Twitter, which has never made any money, applied for federal TARP funds and was granted $150 billion dollars because it was a money-losing operation that was still “very cool!” according to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Twitter quickly bought the bankrupt Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper and decided to merge branding into the new “Post-Twit” format. As a bonus, all former subscribers to the Seattle newspaper will get a free, 140-character summary of the news on a note stuck to their door each day.

Twitter’s bold marketing ploy of blanketing middle America with Post-Twit notes was almost derailed when 3M, the manufacturers of Post-it notes, began unveiling a trademark lawsuit. However, this problem was quickly solved by some creative congressional maneuvering. Using their  $149.95 billion remaining in TARP funds after the newspaper purchase, Twitter submitted its plan to purchase GM. However, Chris Dodd secretly changed “GM” to “3M” in conference negotiations, so instead of an automobile company, Twitter ended up owning all the assets and trademarks of the Post-it note parent company (which will now be renamed “DM”).

Reaction among the Twitterati was decidedly mixed. Guy Kawasaki proclaimed “Holy Kaw!” and immediately launched an Alltop category, while Pete Cashmore of Mashable wondered why they didn’t just drop a bunch of iPhones on the city and be done with it. “Who needs this old technology? With AT&T’s new 4G underwater wi-fi technology, what better opportunity for a co-promotion!” Even former social media user Barack Obama weighed in with some videotaped commentary.

Post-Twit notes gathered out of the floodwaters in Fargo included some gems as, “About to head out to the gym with my new sneakers”, “Haha LOL”, and “Does anyone else have a dead slug on their iPhone screen?” Exhausted residents of Fargo seemed heartened by the attention shown by having multiple airplanes dropping Post-Twit notes all over town, though one polite homeowner indicated that “some help filling sandbags might have been slightly more appropriate under the circumstances. If that’s OK – I mean, we really don’t want to be a bother.”

Twitter next hopes to promote Post-Twittering to Topeka, Kansas, or Dumfries, Iowa, whichever is struck first by a natural or man-made disaster.

Twitter is still in negotiations to purchase old-line communications giant AT&T, which it plans to rename RT&T.

Oh…and Happy April 1st!

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After Hours Friday

Endless Interestingness – an endless collage of images pulled from Flickr. Cool idea. Hat tip: Guy Kawasaki.

The Crisis of Credit visualized. What happened to our financial markets? This simple, entertaining, and informative animation explains the blow up. Well worth a few minutes of your time. Hat tip: David Armano.

The “blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks. Fun pictures of a “real annoyance”.

The Top 25 things you didn’t know about Facebook’s Terms of Service (will only be understood by Facebook users!)

Five in the Morning 011509

Will Twitter change blog designs in 2009? It’s already happening. Some interesting predictions from Rachel Cunliffe at Mashable (but she didn’t include her Twitter handle in the blog post!)

Charmin kicks butt in NYC advertising campaign. Such an obvious idea, yet so smart. From Jonathan Salem Baskin at DimBulb blog.

The Bull lives! Some brand identities are too powerful to let go. Bank of America preserving the Merrill Lynch name and logo. From William Lozito at the NameWire blog.

Speaking of logos, those Brand Flakes for Breakfast guys point us to a graphical depiction of all the United States (state) logos. Wow – what a variety. Some of these are pretty meh, and someone sold a lot of script font to a few western states. To me, the most visually memorable is Mississippi.

Facts Tell but Stories SellJeff Paro gives us a compact list of 20 typical “plots” around which stories can be built. Found on the Small Business Branding site.

And finally, the question on my StickyFigure blog yesterday – Are you Being Pecked to Death?

————- Swing by Friday morning to find out who our next guest-host will be!

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ABC, ESPN Sue Each Other for “Inane Infringement”

The traditional media world erupted into an “intellectual property food fight” today as sports network ESPN sued ABC for apparent infringement of its trade secrets.

Allegedly, a low-level staffer in ABC Sports hacked into the ESPN “dumbotron” sports figure interview teleprompter and made off with ESPN’s proprietary inane-answer algorithm for providing idiotic and vacuous answers for sports stars to use.

“We started hearing ‘our’ answers being given by important sports figures like Eli Manning, Alex Rodriguez, and even Elizabeth Cuthbert” (2005 Division IV-B Women’s Squash champion), according to ESPN President George Bodenheimer. “In fact, just last week, (former coach) Mike Shanahan said his team was going to ‘take it one game at a time,’ and that the season for the Denver Broncos was ‘one game long at this point.’ That ‘one game’ thingie is ours, and so is the phrase, ‘our best offense is a great offense’ which ABC shamelessly ripped off in an interview with (former) Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli last week.”

Chris BermanIn retaliation, ABC Sports counter-sued ESPN, claiming that its pool of shallow and purposeless interview questions was compromised through a devious plot by Chris Berman. “As much as I respect Chris, I just know he fed his fellow professional sportscasters our secret bank of questions such as, ‘How do you feel about winning against your former team today?’ and ‘What was it like out there?’” fumed George Bodenheimer, head of ABC Sports. “When that ditzy blonde chick asked LeBron, ‘Is winning against an inferior/superior opponent like (blank) a great feeling?’ it was a dead giveaway that they’d ripped us off big time.”

ABC lawyer Sam Berkowitz summed up the determination of the network to vanquish its rival by stating, “It’s all or nothing out there right now. We’re going to sue our hearts out and leave it all on the docket. This is our time, this is our courthouse, and we’re going to win it in the trenches. It’s going to be a team effort, and we’re going to take it to the next level.”

Mr. Bodenheimer appeared momentarily stunned in an interview when he was informed that ABC actually owns ESPN, and that he heads up both networks. “Heck, it’s a game of endurance, you know, and the best network is always the one that knows its opponent well. How do I feel about suing myself, and taking down 2 head coaches in the crossfire? Well, we got outplayed and outcoached out there. We’re just going to come back and sue another network next week. And…hey, that teleprompter’s out! Ummm…er…ah…no further comment…”

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Social Media Museum has Bloggers all A-Twitter!

(Austin, TX) Today marks the opening of the long-awaited Social Media Museum (SoMeMe), a new mecca for worldwide networkers to come and gawk at really wOOty stuff that has fed into the historic Soc Med revolution.

conniereece1Curator Connie Reece, resplendent in a new pink-on-pink outfit financed by the Republican National Committee, cut a symbolic pink boa to mark the grand opening. Thousands of bloggers and tweeters attended virtually by watching a video stream from Jay Ehret‘s pate-mounted camera phone.

“This is a dream come true!” gushed Connie, fumbling with her smartphone to try to text message iJustine about the event. Matt Dickman quickly took over that task, with his patented “two-fisted Blackberry” technique, uploading a live HD podcast. “I can’t thank all the contributing bloggers enough, especially CB Whittemore, who picked out the carpet and cleaned the bathrooms, and Director Tom Clifford, who wore that cool beret, played 70′s rock tunes, and directed us while we did the work!”

“Wait ’til everyone sees what we’ve got here! In the Welcome Center, we have a continuous 45-second loop of Guy Kawasaki answering the question, ‘What is a blog?’, just the thing for nOObs stumbling in here with their postage stamps and FAX machines. Plus, we have a ‘Guess that blogger?’ Shel game for those who aren’t yet immersed in our superstar A-list rockstars.”

A continuous feed of Wine Library TV runs in the restrooms, with Gary Vaynerchuk bringing the thunder 24/7 to a captive audience. “And check this out over here!” Connie beamed. “It’s the Ike Pigott Personal Brand Exhibit, where visitors can assemble their own faux personal brand on-line and walk out with a keepsake avatar!”

soc-med-museumSpeaking of personal branding, the kids have not been neglected. In the Dan Schawbel Personal Branding nursery, young ones are schooled in the art of establishing their Generation-whatever brand right from the get-go, while toddler care in the Jibber-Jobber-Jr. room was designed by Jason Alba to help the little ones start planning their careers right away, complete with a complimentary on-line profile.

“And I’m so proud of ‘Shannon’s Slapshooters’, our special chick-blogger room featuring inspirational video-casts by Shannon Paul, Amanda Gravel, Beth Harte, Charissa Cowart, Lucretia Pruitt, and other luminaries of the fairer gender. We tried to get a wax statue of Arianna Huffington in here, but had to settle for the Ann Handley padded bench recliner.”

John Moore’s Brand Autopsy room promises to be a big draw, where John (and other guest bloggers) will dissect the branding and marketing efforts of various hapless organizations as a special hourly feature. In addition, Robert Scoble‘s upcoming trip to Mars to throw a blanket over the formerly-tweeting Phoenix explorer and mount a super-secret Nokia Nscoble camera phone on its robotic arm will be prominently featured, along with a 3-d hologram of the immortal Matt Bacak.

The Ancient History wing will feature such kewl exhibits as Jason Calcanis‘ blog, a life-sized Fail Whale, Mack Collier‘s modem (oh, wait – that’s contemporary), and a stuffed Pownce.

fail-whale-tshirtA final stop for visitors will be the Armano Blogger Wear and Hat shop, where the latest soc med fashions will be prominently displayed on life-sized avatars. A karaoke stage will also be set up in case the Catchup Lady ever visits.

For directions, just consult Douglas Karr‘s BrightKite posts.

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