Wow- I haven’t updated my personal blog in a LONG time, which sometimes bothers me considering I constantly preach about blogging, maintaining your “brand” and what you love doing by being consistent. I guess that’s what my Twitter feed is for these days.
Stan "The Man" Lee on set of What's Trending
So… what has been going on?
I’ve been busy launching What’s Trending sponsored by AT&T, a daily blog and weekly live show I host and EP along with Damon Berger through our company Disrupt Group. Unlike other productions I’ve been a part of, this one has very much been like starting my own business– dealing with everything from office upkeep to overseeing our great employees. It’s something I’ve never really done, but it makes me have even more respect for all my friends and those I look up to who are incredible entrepreneurs.
Since launching, the traffic and social engagement around What’s Trending has continued to grow with some great wins. Our interview with Lupe Fiasco during the live show where he says, “Obama is the biggest terrorist in America”, created a tidal wave of attention. Everyone picked it up from Billboard.com, ETonline, EOnline, MTV.com and beyond. Bill O’reilly even invited Fiasco on for a followup interview– or in O’Reilly’s case a confrontation. With every mention of the story, there was our video.
Another fun win was when Bieber himself tweeted and Facebook’d our Innovator segment, showcasing Adam Braun and his non-profit Pencils of Promise. It’s fun to see our content getting noticed and move beyond the tech or social media bubble, which is why our team works as hard as we do.
On set with Chris Sacca and Lisa Bettany
I’ve learned a lot in the process of creating this show and blog from scratch. I remind myself and the team constantly about our goal to not just report news, but make news. It’s definitely a balance though that the entire industry is trying to figure out. We all know that writing about something when it’s hot or trending will drive external traffic to a site, it’s not rocket science. But, the true value of a product, brand, publication long term will always come from being truly original and authentic. Finding that angle or nugget as we like to call it is essential. For us, we try to filter the news and stories through the lens of social media and the digital perspective. What’s the social data that we can find around this story or can we get an exclusive interview with someone who is part of this trend. I like to say we’re the talk show for the Facebook generation (some geeks say that we should upgrade that to Google+ now, but you get the gist). But in the end no matter how digitally evolved a show or organization is, something that is sharable needs to create an emotion of some sort or that aha moment. I like to go back to what my friend and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh reminds himself of when he tweets- does this inspire, connect, entertain or educate?
Our live show has allowed us to do that by having some incredible guests giving their insights on the big trending stories. We’ve had the opportunity to have influencers and celebs in studio including Chris Hardwick, Drew Carey, Greg Grunberg, Zachary Levi, Jason Pollock, Stan Lee, Lisa Kudrow, iJustine, Alex Albrecht, Talib Kweli, Paul Feig, Kevin Smith, Tony Hsieh, Josh Malina, Kevin Pereira, Lisa Bettany and many more.
Over Skype, we’re also able to bring people into our “Real Time Conversation” who happen to be at source of these stories- from 17-year old Devon Hicks who started #ItsOkToSayGay, to BitCoin expect Jeff Garzik who discussed the future of money and DC Comics legend, Jim Lee.
Shout out to Column Five who produces our incredible weekly info graphic animated videos that have been picked up by Washington Post and Mashable among other sites.
We’ve also been able to use our beautiful space and studio in Hollywood for events like Mashable’s Social Media Day in July. I really hope that it continues to be a creative environment for mixers and incubator meetups where the tech and entertainment communities can socialize and learn from each other. We’re also working to possibly start inviting audience members and friends on set during the live show too. Our green room has already become a meeting place for friends and industry folk on Tuesdays who stop by to watch the show. (If you ever want to stop by, just let me know!)
So that’s what I’ve been coordinating every day since we launched our blog April 17th. Read the latest piece by Steve Rosenbaum about “What’s Trending” on Huffington Post.
Oh yeah, and one more thing. I have a really fun show called, Partners Project, that we’ve been maintaining weekly with the help of my other awesome producer, Christian Bretz. We describe it as the “inside the actors studio for YouTube stars”. Thanks to a sponsorship with Lynda.com we’re continuing to grow and tell the stories of more inspiring content creators who are making a living on YouTube and owning their audience. This week, we’ll be the official video producers of Vidcon, which I like to say is like Comicon for YouTubers.
We’re all working hard to create– and maintain– unique and original digital experiences that make people understand more about those stories or personalities they might see pop up quickly in their feed, that are a burgeoning part of their online life. The next big challenge is how we can grow those conversations offline and on as many screens as we can.
There goes my long rant for today. Hopefully, I can start doing these more consistently (maybe even vlogging a bit again) so it doesn’t feel like one long venting to an old friend.