Social Media

Tech Thursday: OGP

This week, we just have one question: You down with OGP?

Please enjoy this rap about microdata. Need a bit of background? See our previous serious video on microdata.

Lyrics and Rapping: Nicole Ouellette
Video capture and editing: Kassie Strout

Here are the full lyrics:

OGP, how can I say it
Take it like Facebook takes it
An online information system, I’ll explain it
O is for open
G is for graph
P is for protocol like how things work.
Together it’s internet two point oh, let me explain
Facebook invented this so when you share a link
Facebook’s prepared to know just what to think
Like if you have a song and want to say the album name
how long it lasts, and who the artist is
OGP let’s you put it in your code to tell it like it is

Get down with OGP
Facebook knows me
Get down with OGP
LinkedIn knows me
Get down with OGP
Websites know me
Come on come on let me show you what I’m talking about

I’m using OGP like a broader concept
Schema code’s the same idea but still a bit different yet
It’s a markup code that covers a few more things
Like has products and people settings
Have you ever see someone’s recipe in your Pinterest search
With a list of ingredients as part of the written work
Click their pin and you see their blog and all their creds
That’s data being collected and spread.
How does Google know I’m the Nicole Ouellette
that writes the articles on this very concept?
I had to add the markup code all up in my site
so search engines come index it and place nice.
You web types know what I’m getting at?
Think Google has the time to figure where you at?
Then you don’t understand what Moores law’s all about
The internet doubles every 5 years so stand out!
OGP and Schema also means when your friends share
Your website on a social media, the info follows them there
Microdata for social and search is what you gotta know, if your website’s gonna grow

Schema and OGP
Google knows me
Schema and OGP
Bing knows me
Schema and OGP
Yahoo knows me
Schema and OGP
Everybody knows me
Schema and OGP
The Internet knows me
Come on come on let me show you what I’m talking about

When I hear a brother talking metatags or keyword domains
I know his information is old like old school days
Doesn’t know search engines have changed the rules
Since ‘94 we’ve got lots more tools.
Knowing Schema and OGP can get your famous
No room for keyword stuffing SEO B.S.
If you want on-page optimization that plays by the rules
Those ignoring microdata are playing fools.
So whether your peeps are on their phones
Or sitting at their computer all alone
They look for information and OGP and Schema hook them up
And your website is what’s coming up.

Peace. Breaking Even represent. Old school’s cool for rapping but new school’s cool for websites.

Tech Thursday: Microdata 101

As Nicole says, this week we’re going “meta.”

You may have noticed, some links that get shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. look really great, while others…not so much. Why is that?

Microdata, my friends! Microdata is defined as “a WHATWG HTML specification used to nest metadata within existing content on web pages. Search engines, web crawlers, and browsers can extract and process Microdata from a web page and use it to provide a richer browsing experience for users.”

Tools like Open Graph Protocol, Schema, Rich Snippets, and Twitter Cards help you markup data within the content of your website, so when it gets shared by other people on different sites, it’ll still look good. Plus, it makes people and search engines happy. Win-win!

And, stay tuned for next week- we have a pretty exciting video about OGP coming up!

Tech Thursday: Sharing an Event Online

Every now and then, your business might host an event, or maybe participate in a larger event (i.e. Small Business Saturday). There are (at least) three things you should remember when you’re promoting an event using the internet, and that’s what this Tech Thursday is all about!

First, you should build excitement around the event. Give people some time to mentally prepare, and make it fun, exciting, and appealing to a crowd. The 100 Startup website has some great resources (that we reference in the video) for launching an event.

Second, get the word out on social media! Create a Facebook event, make some sort of graphic to share on Instagram, tweet about it, share with local online calendars, post in LinkedIn- anywhere that it would make sense for your event to be broadcast.

Third, make sure people know what they need to know. Where is the event? What time? Should they show up on time, or can they come and go over the span of a few hours? Is it black tie? Does it cost money? People don’t want to go to an event that makes them feel uncomfortable- so share what you can!

Also, we are going to do a musical number in the next week or so. Would you rather see us a) rap about OGP (Open Graph Protocol) or b) sing an original tune, with instruments, called “That’s Beyond the Scope of the Project”? Let us know!

Halloween and Social Media

Why are demons and ghosts always hanging out? Because demons are a ghoul’s best friend. 

Ghastly puns aside, Halloween might be the best holiday out there. Back in 2009, Americans spent nearly 6 billion dollars on Halloween related activities (costumes, candy, parties), and that number has since increased..  Plus, there’s almost no better holiday for social media sharing than Halloween. Here’s a few reasons why:

It’s not really offensive/religious.

Yes, there are some religious groups that don’t celebrate Halloween, but unlike the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza debacle, people don’t get super offended by this holiday. There is not too much in the way of offensiveness that comes of little kids (and adults with kid enthusiasm) dressing up and having fun.  Plus, it’s not a real family or couple-y holiday, it can be enjoyed by everyone from your 5 year old cousin to your 50 year old uncle who lives in your grandmother’s basement. No one has to cook anything and no one has to get stuck next to that Debbie Downer of a relative. It really just boils down to the basics: eat, drink, and be scary.

It’s an excuse for women to dress a little scantily. 

Alright, let’s not beat around the bush here. Our society secretly (and in sometimes not so secretly) likes scantily clad women. And on this one day of the year, every woman can dress a little trashier than she normally would in the name of a costume.

Mean_Girls

Also dudes can dress like women without anyone batting an eye. I can’t think of better fodder on Instagram. #halloweenrules.

People are expecting, and executing, pranks.

Raise your hand if you’ve seen a pranky Youtube video? When do you think most of those get produced? Likely when there is a higher tolerance for weird things happening than normal (there’s a reason why we say “Trick or treat,” after all).

People have devised shenanigans that go beyond t.p.-ing their teacher’s house. This is a great example of a stunt that went viral last year:

These videos are great material for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever. If you’re scheming a clever prank of your own, just keep safety in mind.

There are lots of parties.

Nothing says ‘social media’ like throwing a party. Halloween parties are fun for kiddos and adults alike, and offer a chance for creativity to run rampant with games, costumes, decorations, and food/beverage selections. The hype begins with the invites and builds until the actual event. Everyone has a chance to share costume ideas, or keep it top secret until the party and blow everyone else’s mind. I have been invited to three Halloween parties on Facebook… definitely more than the amount of Fourth of July barbecues or New Year’s Eve parties I was invited to this past year.

If you’re planning on throwing a graveyard smash of your own, social media can be a great planning resource, and a way to get the word out to people. There are so many fun games, like Dizzy Mummy, so there’s no reason to make anyone bob for apples.

Costume ideas all over the place.

If you are game to make your own costume, Pinterest and blogs can show you everything from how to execute realistic fairy wings to 100 costume ideas that cost $5 or less. The DIY zombie makeup tutorials are also gruesome, in the best possible way.  For those who leave their costume creation until the last possible minute, there are plenty of 5 minute costume ideas. So, if you’re uninspired or a procrastinator, get on Pinterest, and you’re guaranteed to have a costume plan in no time. Which gives you more time for gathering candy, in the true spirit of the holiday.

Whether you decide to go solo, as a couple, or in a group, social networks can help generate some ideas. And then, there’s the added fun of sharing the finished product on Facebook or Instagram. One piece of advice (that I learned so you don’t have to): if you have to explain your costume, it probably isn’t very good.

 

We hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!

And we hope everyone gets better treats than Charlie Brown.

And we hope everyone gets better treats than Charlie Brown.

 

 

Ride the Yak: Why YikYak is Possibly My New Favorite App

I’m generally accustomed to being the “in-the-know” person in my circle of peeps (unless we’re talking Twitter or Seinfeld references), but during our recent Boston trip, our friend Matt totally won the “Have you heard about ______?” game. Matt introduced Nicole and I to a little app called Yik Yak. It is AWESOME, and kind of addictive. It follows SnapChat’s model of “leave no trace,” which people seem to find more and more appealing lately.

In hindsight, my brother definitely already tried explaining Yik Yak to me while he was at Bowdoin (college students are the target demographic, and the app is most popular on the East Coast), but, I clearly was only half-listening.

How does Yik Yak work? Yik Yak is more or less the social media love-child of Twitter and Whisper. You can post an update of up to 200 characters, and its completely anonymous. You can’t upload any pictures, so its an all-text app. It also uses your location, so you can only see yaks (“yaks” are to Yik-Yak what tweets are to Twitter) that’ve been sent out within a 5 mile radius. If you’re in a city, there’s a LOT of material coming in throughout the day. If you’re in a more rural area, it’s unfortunately less exciting. Especially when no one else has YikYak.

This is what YikYak looks like from my parents' home in Milbridge.

This is what YikYak looks like from my parents’ home in Milbridge.

As one might imagine, coming back from an introduction to this app in Boston and then traveling back to Trenton/Bar Harbor/Milbridge, Maine was a bit disappointing. We’ve probably seen the same 3 Yaks over the course of the month (most of them from visiting people complaining that no one here uses Yik Yak). I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that this changes in the next month or so, because it’s a great source of mindless amusement.

Seagull_Yak

To interact with others on YikYak, you can upvote, downvote and/or reply to something they’ve written (which also happens anonymously). A neat self-monitoring tool of YikYak is that if a post gets a certain amount of downvotes, it will disappear entirely (so if someone posts something especially inflammatory, other people can downvote it to make it go away). And, as you might imagine, people tend to hide behind the safety of anonymity to say/do some negative things.

The Dark Side:

The intended age for Yik Yak use is 17 and older, but as you can imagine, that doesn’t keep out the younger kids. These kiddos (and the college students, I’d guess) are using it for cyberbullying purposes, and apparently bomb threats. Despite being an anonymous post, there are ways to trace it back to a certain phone when the content is a clear threat to others.

Instead of knocking the app itself, or using our energy to forbid kids to use social media, doesn’t it make more sense to educate them about respecting each other? Just because you CAN be mean to someone (with no consequences) doesn’t mean you should. And there’s really no age limit on that philosophy.

 

Sad, but true.

Sad, but true.

 

 

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Video Editing

During my first month at Breaking Even, I was introduced to video editing in iMovie. Okay, “re-introduced” is probably a better word- I’d dabbled in iMovie  back in 2002, when the state received a grant for public schools to get Macs for 7th graders. So in 7th & 8th grade, we all learned how to do some basic film editing (Ken Burns was basically my hero). There are some significant differences between the type of video editing I do for Breaking Even and the editing I did as a 12 year old, the most notable being that now, I have to edit myself.

VideoCam

Seeing yourself on camera can be unsettling at first. While you’re editing, you have to learn to detach from being hyper-focused on what you look/sound like. Otherwise, you’re going to be super distracted and it’ll take you a week to edit 10 minutes of material, assuming you can even bring yourself to complete the task. Being on camera and learning how to edit video footage were both out of my comfort zone six months ago, but I’ve grown accustomed to it, and have learned a thing  (or five along the way:

1. The camera is your friend. 

At least, that’s what I try to remind myself. There’s something about seeing that little red light flick “On” and suddenly, my mind goes blank. I’ve always had a “deer in the headlights” response to stressful situations. As it turns out, performance anxiety happens to the best of us, no matter how experienced we are with public speaking or performing stand-up in front of a live audience. It happens to amateurs like myself, and there are a ton of recommended ways to cope with it. For me, having a set time for filming helps the anxiety: I know when it’s going to happen, and can mentally brace myself for it. If you have anxiety about public speaking, you aren’t alone, and this article offers 10 tips for handling it.

2. The best material is unscripted.

The first time I showed up on camera for a Tech Thursday video, I had written out my 20-30 second blurb (I think it was about re-sizing photos before uploading them to a website), and basically recited it verbatim for the camera. It wasn’t terrible, but to be honest, when I was editing later, I actually got bored. It was like watching a drone. Eventually, over the course of filming, the script became unnecessary, and Nicole and I more or less learned how to get in the zone with ad-libbing. Not only did this make the actual filming process fun, it was more fun to edit (and hopefully, watch).

Scripts are fine, and in some cases, necessary. Then again, there are times when something unplanned happens, you roll with it, and hey, it’s even better than the original! (This totally happens in Hollywood. And life in general). You can also just go in with a general plan of attack, and see what happens. Which reminds me of a joke told to me by a wise 4 year old: How do ducks learn to fly? They wing it!

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 3.16.23 PM

3. We’re our own worst critics. 

After you overcome the anxiety of performance anxiety and learning what to say, you have to watch yourself saying it. Multiple times.

The first time I watched a video of myself, I thought Wait, why is my face shaped so weird? Does my voice really sound like that? Is that a lisp? I had no idea my skin tone was so uneven…My hair is stupid. And so on.

But guess what? Fixating on the way I perceived myself on film wasn’t getting the video edited. It only wasted time. More than I’d care to admit. And hey, that’s kind of saying something about life in general, right? Instead of being disappointed that one of my eyebrows is higher up than the other, my energy would have been better spent editing the quality of the video itself.

4. Show, Don’t Tell (Round 29,823,409)

Yeah, yeah, we’ve discussed this idea hundreds of times, but hear me out (again): often, if it seems like there’s part of the video where we’re just talking or explaining something, I’ll usually insert a relevant screenshot that highlights or complements what we’re discussing. If we’re talking about a specific website, boom, in goes a screenshot of that website. If we’re explaining the process of researching a hashtag, we might usescreenshots that show each step, so that viewers can see it rather than just watch us talk at them about it. Every now and then, a funny (yet not completely random) image works wonders. It breaks up the visual content of the video, and the people watching are better able to understand the tutorials we’re giving.

5. There’s always room for improvement.

After I’ve put a video out into the universe (aka YouTube), I sometimes think, “Wait, I’ve made a huge mistake. I should have done X, Y, and Z oh no what was I thinking?!” But, as Nicole has said to me several times, if we wait until something is ABSOLUTELY perfect before we share it with others, nothing would ever get done. And that’s really not great for a business. As long as you put the effort in and gave it your best shot, you can’t keep obsessing about what you might have done differently. Hindsight is 20/20, and all that jazz.

Along those lines, there’s more than one right way to edit a video. For instance, I might make the executive decision to cut out 30 seconds of footage, while Nicole might’ve chosen to keep that 30 seconds and cut out 15 seconds in one place and another 15 somewhere else. That doesn’t mean either of us are wrong, it’s just artistic differences.

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