One Awesome Kickstarter Campaign

by Marian Schembari on April 28, 2012

One of my best friends ever, Thana, launched her first Kickstarter campaign last week. She’s one rockin’ songstress and I’ve heard this girl sing her little heart out since she was ten years old. And now? She’s about to record her first album.

Today, she reached 50% of her funding goal. And I want to help get her the rest of the way there.

Not only would her record be a great gift to the world (I’ve already heard one of her songs, Ghost Hawk, which was written for her late brother, Niki), but she’s compiled some of the most creative, generous gifts for her backers. She’s offering up everything from a private concert to drum lessons with the great Antonio Sanchez. It’s one of the best Kickstarter campaigns I’ve ever seen and it’s clear she’s put her heart and soul into the project.

So do the world a favor! Give a little love to Thana here on Kickstarter. Both she and I would be enormously grateful.



Lessons from KONY 2012 (and a message from Ryan Gosling)

by Marian Schembari on March 20, 2012

I was a little late jumping on the Kony bandwagon. Mostly because a 30-minute YouTube video is my idea of torture, but also because, even if you make your living attempting to understand and abuse social media, it’s surprisingly easy to let things fall through the cracks.

When I finally did sit down to watch the video, I felt a little bit of everything: inspired, judgmental, exhausted, motivated and skeptical.

In case you, like me, live under a rock, “KONY 2012 is an international campaign by Invisible Children, aiming to bring Joseph Kony to justice.”

(Joseph Kony is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and is riling everyone up for his abduction of children to turn them into child soldier and sex slaves.)

The director of the KONY 2012 film, Jason Russell, managed to get 83 million video views (and counting – when I watched on Friday it was at 79 million views).

The purpose of his movie was to get as many people talking about Kony as possible. That one of the biggest problems was that no one knew or cared about the man.

Russell – clearly – succeeded. What he’s done has been nothing short of incredible. While I’m still in shock that so many people sat through a half-hour YouTube video, Russell’s efforts to get as many people sharing the video as possible paid off.

If you go to the KONY 2012 website, he’s made it as easy as possible to share everything about the campaign. My personal favorite part is his attempts to get us contacting “culturemakers” and “policymakers”.

This post isn’t about the campaign though. It’s about controlling social media. Something I think Russell and Invisible Children has done an extraordinary job of doing. By creating a powerful video that was shared by celebrities and everyday folks alike, the KONY video is the most viral video of all time and has been trending on Twitter for well over a week.

On April 20th, the video tells us, we’re supposed to paper the world with images of Kony, further spreading the knowledge of this man’s atrocities.

I’m waiting with bated breath to see if it happens the way the video presents – young and old alike spending the darkest hours of the night covering cities with posters, banners and messages. I can’t lie. It’s a hugely powerful idea – that a video, powered by social media, can incite real-world action. It makes my heart tingle.

Here’s where it gets interesting though… as powerful as this whole idea is, I fear Russell is now getting more than he bargained for.

Just the other day, Russell was arrested for public masturbation.

And thus, #horny2012 was born.

It’s sad. And also a little bit hilarious. Don’t judge me.

Point being, as much as I admire Russell for taking social media by the reigns, I very strongly believe you CANNOT control social. You can nudge something into going viral. You can make a difference. But once it’s gone viral, it’s actually gone. It’s out of your hands.

A Message from Ryan Gosling

For those of you not in New Zealand, this next story is going to seem really, really weird. And yes, I live in a very odd (but enormously endearing) country.

Last week, an Auckland store tweeted that Ryan Gosling (*le sigh*) had just been in their shop.

Now, no one comes to New Zealand. We’ll occasionally get a celebrity here on location or a musician on tour. And when they do come, it’s a The country goes ape-shit. Everyone wants to know what said celebrity thinks about New Zealand. Even Kiwi celebrities – people who have become famous outside of New Zealand like Flight of the Concords, rarely come back and when THEY do it’s like a national freaking holiday.

Point being, Auckland went crazy. One mistaken sighting resulted in #NZGoslingHunt trending across the entire country. People tweeted photos with Gosling superimposed into images of the city. I also read some of the funniest tweets of my life on the fake-locations of the super-sexy-superstar.

It also brought into my life my new favorite blog, Hey Girl, I Love New Zealand, which is a collection of “Hey girl” pictures targeted at weird Kiwi-isms that only 4 million Kiwis (and the people who love them) actually understand. Because, well, why the hell not?

What does this have to do with a Ugandan child-abductor? The fact that nothing and no one can control what ends up going crazy on the Twitters. One simple tweet about Ryan Gosling and for days Auckland women had their panties in actual braids. Not because anyone here necessarily believed he was in Auckland (like I said – no one comes to Auckland), but because everyone wants to be a part of the trend.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a gorgeous, blond, celebrity who looks like Jesus with his shirt off or a Ugandan war lord. Twitter doesn’t give a crap


The Next Step for Bloggers

by Marian Schembari on June 27, 2011

A few months ago one of my favorite bloggers launched an online show where she’d try out different fitness classes in the Orlando area. But she wasn’t just putting on this show herself, she was doing it through a relatively new company called Izon Orlando. A site CEO Will Rodriguez calls his “love affair” with the city.

I’ve been keeping my eye on Izon for a while and when another one of my favorites, J’s Everyday Fashion, started her own show I figured not only was this site changing the Orlando perspective, but giving bloggers a chance to spread their little content creator wings.

So I obviously had to talk to Will. And not only did we chat our faces off for over an hour, but we also discovered we had lived in the same small Connecticut town!

This post is what Will had to say about his baby Izon. And all I gotta say is – this is the future, y’all. The next step for bloggers. Video is not only where it’s at, but well produced, quality shows  can help bloggers lift their profile, show off their skills and make money.

Interview with Will Rodriguez of IzonOrlando

How did you manage to come up with Izon?

My  background is broadcast TV, having worked NBC/Telemundo. I left in 2005 and started Trisolt Video & Web Productions. While we specialized in typical video production – commercials, corporate/ training videos – more and more people came to us looking for web video. It wasn’t my forte, but I started doing research on what it took and why more people were looking. Turns out, Google LOVES video, and the second biggest search engine in the States is YouTube. Learning that sparked an idea in my head to move more into online formats.

When I moved to Orlando a few years later, I was surprised. Everyone wasn’t walking around wearing Micky Mouse ears. The city has it’s own culture; it’s own lifestyle. With help of my wife, I was introduced to a different side of of the city. One day, we saw poster for a scavenger hunt we would have liked to go to, but had missed. That’s when we decided Orlando needed an online events calendar. That calendar morphed into a show on things to do, which morphed into Izon. Turns out, the thing the city really needed was a local video gateway that catered to the Florida market.

And how did you first start working with bloggers?

Our first foray into bloggers was via Daily City, a hugely popular art and culture blog. We started reaching out to popular area bloggers and offered to make a “video version of their blog.”

What’s the process like?

In terms of the creative, it would be extremely foolish of us to tell someone how their show is going to go. The blogger is always the expert. So Meghann of Meals & Miles reaches out to places like Vixen Fitness or Aerial Arts. She chooses the location and coordinates with me for a production crew. Ultimately she controls the content, we control the quality.

Why is video such an important part of having a web presence?

Video helps get the message out. Period. With Izon, we’re helping a city get the message out and in the process are helping bloggers build their brand, their SEO and helps users find similar sites on topics they love.

How are you monetizing Izon? How are bloggers making money?

Our business model goes back to the old TV days. A show would stop and the host would talk about Campbell’s soup or Tetley. In all the research I’ve done, studies say people video ads have more than twice the retention than in television commercials. So Izon uses private placements by integrating a product or brand into show.

For example, in the first episode of J’s Everyday Fashion, we were planning to shoot at Stella Luca. While the location was chosen before filming, we gave the store own the option to be the official location sponsor. Through that sponsorship they got a featured interview in the show, Google ad placement, links back to their site, etc.

We sort of have a cross between old fashioned TV advertising and the new internet banner model. The most effective advertising is putting the message within the show.

(And while most of our video “talent” would do this purely out of love, we do have an revenue share model in place. Meaning they get a cut of the action.)

How have you spread the word about Izon?

Well, we haven’t paid a dime for advertising. All viewership comes from word of mouth, programming and social media. We have a robust Facebook page, modest Twitter following, and the ability to leverage the networks of all of our bloggers. And we we obviously have a YouTube channel, which is primarily for promotional videos to help drive site views.

At the end of the day, we’d love to help Orlando grow. Culturally, spiritually, commercially. It’s such a dynamic city and no one knows how amazing it is. As great as Universal and Disney are for the area, they do cast an awfully long shadow on the area.  Izon is a love affair for us.

How freaking adorable is that? I couldn’t be more obsessed with Izon and I forsee some great things from them. And if you take anything from Will’s interview, do this: VIDEO IS THE FUTURE. And present. Whatevs.

Finally, travel blogger Rachelle is just launching The Road Less Traveled and her promo makes me want to move to Orlando. That, or have my own webshow.


Please (for the love of GOD) stop using the retweet button!

by Marian Schembari on October 25, 2010

About once per week I send out a tweet that looks something like this: “Please, for the love of GOD, stop using the retweet button!” Hence, the name of this post.

I try to explain the person you’re retweeting probably won’t see that you’ve mentioned them. I try to explain that’s half the point of retweeting someone.

No one listens to me. Maybe 140 characters isn’t enough to clarify the importance of writing “RT @username.” Or, what is more likely the case, only twenty or so people actually see that tweet, meaning only two or three of them actually listen up and stop hitting that button.

Don’t ask me why and HootSuite fail to include tweets sent via retweet button in your list of mentions. They just don’t. So until they find a way to include those tweets, stop using the damn button.

To illustrate my point, here’s a little diddy of a video I made this morning. Watch and learn, people:

Sure, it takes a few more seconds, but makes the retweet actually count rather than go to waste. Capiche?

A Few Points to Address

To clarify a few things before you pee yourself:

1. You can change the settings in Hootsuite so it’s an “old-style RT” – meaning once you’ve changed those settings, feel free to use the button.

2. A “twoosh” – or, perfect tweet of 140 characters – will have to be edited. Because the button doesn’t include the person’s username as part of the character-limit, it’s easier to retweet. Still…. Read #3:

3. Yes, it’s easier to use the button. Sometimes I even do it. But the lovely Sree put it this way: “The auto RTs are easier (I used ‘em this weekend on the road), but they have less value.”

4. Before you comment saying, “But you can see the retweets,” watch the effing video. I really don’t want to have to explain to everyone that I know you can see the retweets. This is my job, you know. I do realize how Twitter works. My point is that even though you can see those retweets, it’s in a separate section of Twitter. It takes more time, effort and clicks. Meaning people are less likely to see that you’ve retweeted them. I’ve only looked at that section a few times, and I’m always surprised that someone has retweeted me. My point is that if you want to ensure that someone sees your retweet, don’t use the button.

5. Sure, a retweet is for your followers, not for the original tweeter. It’s not all about ego. Thing is, plenty of people do care that they’re retweet is seen and if you’re wondering why yours isn’t, this may be the reason. If you don’t care if the original tweeter sees your tweet, then just ignore this post altogether.


I made a commercial and it’s awesome

by Marian Schembari on October 7, 2010

Happy Thursday everyone! Just wanted to do a quick update today and show you the very pretty “demo reel” I put together to advertise the new Critique My Profile services. Watch and let me know what you think (make sure you go through to the end though, that’s my favorite part)!


While this week’s sale actually sold out in 24 hours, you can still sign up for a critique. The waiting list fills up fast though, so reserve your spot today!