I'm B.L. Ochman, and I've been helping blue chip companies incorporate new media into their marketing mix since 1996.

I'm an accomplished and expert digital strategist, certified YouTube Channel Creator, president of whatsnextonline.com and publisher of What's Next Blog.

I'm CEO of Maximum-Plus.com Live-streaming event production & all things Google+, serving leading brands, associations and agencies.

I contribute to Ad Age Digital Next, Social Media Today and others. On Twitter, I'm @whatsnext. Find me on Google+

I'm also co-founder of the pet lovers' site and blog, Pawfun.com - where you can use favorite photos of your pets to create and send free Pawfun photo e-cards.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Uber Hands Out Breathalyzer Cards You Can Lick to See If You’re Too Drunk to Drive

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Alibi Bar in Russia teamed up with UBER to distribute breathalyzer cards that let you know if you are too drunk to drive- or should arrange for a ride home.

Alibi Bar hands out the cards, fitted with saliva alcohol test strips. After drinking, patrons can peel off the testing strip, lick it and wait for the result. If it turns yellow, it’s safe to drive. But it if turns green, it is time to summon an Uber driver.

There are several portable alcohol breath testers available, including iPhone apps, a wearable one and one you add to your keychain. Several brands and agencies have experimented with point-of-sale stunts aimed at discouraging drunk driving and other alcohol-related dangers. This one is the most clever marketing devices we’ve seen so far.

The project was created by Red Pepper Creative, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

The tests are pretty accurate, but as Gabriel Beltrone observed in Adweek: “Then again, anyone who needs to drool on a piece of paper to see how responsibly they’ve been drinking should probably just take the cab anyway.”

HT/Karma Martell

BL Ochman | August 27, 2016 | Permanent Link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

This WhizKid may be the coolest kid on the Internet

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By B.L. Ochman

This soon-to-be-famous 11 year-old WhizKid creates videos. His name is Aiden. He lives in Canada. He adds new videos to his three YouTube channels every Saturday. This kid rocks!

His top video, “How to make Slime” has had 2.4 million+ views.

His WizKid Science channel is part of the JuniorTube Originals, where he’s joined by “top independent creators of kids’ videos, famous on YouTube, Vimeo, Vine and Facebook.”

His Fame is Spreading

This month, JuniorTube (not affiliated with YouTube) partnered with an inaugural group of creators of videos made for kids two to 12 years-old. Aiden is one of a select bunch featured in the launch JuniorTube Originals, an ad-free, subscription-based service for families, featuring videos by and for kids ages two to 12.

Here’s what Aiden says about himself on his WhizKids Science Channel:

“I started making videos when I was 8 and am now 11 years old. I love making videos because they are fun and I’m saving money for college. I have a younger brother and a new baby sister! She hasn’t been in a video yet but maybe one day she’ll be doing experiments with us too.”

His other WhizKid Science videos include:

He also has WizKid Math “for math hacks and all things math” and WizKid Play “for challenges, taste tests, games, and toys!”

He’s on Twitter and Instagram too

And he’s also got a CafePress swag page where you can buy WhizKid Science t-shirts, book bags, iPad cases and lunch bags.

So, hey, what were you doing when you were 11 years old?

BL Ochman | August 26, 2016 | Permanent Link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

5 Ways to Stop Your Blog Readers From Clicking Away

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By Anthony Fisher

User engagement is what separates a great blog from one that is mediocre. In fact, usability is even more important than Google results.

Getting to the top of Google’s search results is useless unless your visitors stay around long enough to take in what’s on your site. The longer visitors stick around, the more likely they are to buy your services.

  1. Make it Readable

    Choose your font carefully. Font size and color have a massive effect on readability.
    Many websites use small pale gray fonts on a white background. Lack of font/background contrast is a usability #Fail that creates another hoop for readers to jump through. Small type also means that every line has far more than the optimum 60 characters.

  2. Ditch the Ads

    Ads might make you a few dollars a month, but until you have at least 1,000 unique visitors a month, they are just an added distraction. And they make your page slower to load – especially on mobile.

    If you think people are going to click on those annoying Infolink in-text ads, you must be crazy. Forget anything that says it uses a CPM model – Anything that only pays cents per thousand views is harming your reputation and contributing nothing to your bank balance.

  3. Make it Fast

    Every plugin you add to WordPress slows down your site. Check your site’s speed on GTMetrix.com before you add any plugin, switch to any new theme and with every change you make.. That’s the only way you can be sure of finding the problem.
    Nonetheless, WordPress is not optimized for SEO and you need good infrastructure if your want your blog to do well. Neil Patel’s guide to setting up a blog is a good start to research the necessary SEO and monetization plugins.

    You also need a caching plugin. This will store your images and other data-intensive components and reduce the time taken for your site to load. Many cache plugins allow some free usage. The best example is W3 Total Cache.

  4. Read More…

BL Ochman | | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What you should know about RCN unreliable service & connectivity

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By B.L. Ochman

RCN needs to get its act together

I’ve had three different RCN service people in my house in the last 10 days. Unfortunately, I still have unreliable RCN connectivity in my internet and TV reception, which, frankly, suck.

The boxes and wires have been replaced. I’m paying for high speed Internet at 330 mbps. That means I should have lightening-fast Internet speed. And I do – except that it cuts out for a few seconds at a time at least 5 times in every 30 minutes.

Since I create videos for Beyond Social Media Show and for a variety of clients, this is a serious problem.

Dear RCN: The Internet is a utility. It has to work, reliably, all the time. Your website says “RCN is optimized to deliver streaming video.”
Except when it doesn’t.

Examples of RCN Connectivity Issues

Here’s a one-minute video segment demonstrating the RCN connectivity issue tonight. Notice how fuzzy my video is in the first few seconds.

Beyond Social Media Show 153: Take a look at the video from this episode. My sound and/or image cut out 5 times in 30 minutes.

Beyond Social Media Show 154 : you can see my image fuzz up and hear my sound cut out at least 10 times in 30 minutes.

Clearly, at this point, the boxes and wires in my apartment are not the issue. The issue apparenly is in the building wiring – and nobody at RCN wants to deal with getting that fixed.

Has RCN offered to deduct this period of terrible service from my next bill? No way! They clearly expect me to pay for service that isn’t working.


BL Ochman | August 21, 2016 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Coleman F. Sweeney, the “World’s Biggest Asshole” Teaches An Important Lesson

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Coleman F. Sweeney is an asshole. In fact, he’s the “World’s Biggest Asshole.” He also the star of a brilliant and daring video for Donate Life America.

It’s a good bet that nine out of 10 companies would never have the guts to approve the ad.

Coleman Sweeney’s the guy who puts truck nuts and tacky bumperstickers on his pickup. He honks at little old ladies with walkers who are trying to cross the street. He shoots paintballs to dogs who poop in his yard. He rubs everyone the wrong way. Intentionally.

And then he drops dead and we learn that he has willed his organs for transplants. And he stops being an asshole. He actually becomes a hero.


Suddenly, we learn that this “asshole’s” liver is now allowing Stan, a nice father, to be around for his wife and kids. His heart is allowing a teacher named Miranda to teach for 25 more years. And his tendons allowed a wounded warrior, Sgt. Donahue, to walk again.

Coleman Sweeney Video Goes Viral

The video has been shared 1.5 million times in the past two weeks, so it may be making its point.

The Donate Life message is important because currently 120,000 men, women and children waiting for a organ donation, and roughly 8,000 of those people, about 22 per day, die each year because they won’t receive the organs they need in time. By signing up, a millennial could save as many as 50 lives.

I’m personally familiar with the need for organ transplants. The video was originally sent to me by a dear friend who received a lung transplant five years ago. And my late sister-in-law came very close to death while waiting for a liver transplant.

Aimed at Millennial Men

According to Adweek, The Martin Agency designed the video’s crude language and humor to appeal to millennial men. The goal is to encourage them to sign up for organ donation.

Andrew Liptak at The Verge points out that “at the very least, it’s a welcome reprieve from the sort of Sarah McLachlan-esque ads with sappy music that aim to shame viewers into taking action.”

In my opinion, this is one of the best message campaigns ever. Would you have approved its strategy?

BL Ochman | August 18, 2016 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

5 business lessons from Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump’s social media methods

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By B.L. Ochman @whatsnext

As social media becomes the real-time battleground of the 2016 elections, candidates’ social media use has many lessons for business.

The NY Times called 2008 “The Year of the Political Blogger” But 2004 was the year that political bloggers first had an impact on the Presidential elections. That was the year that political bloggers were first being credentialed to cover the Democratic and Republican conventions

Billions Being Spent on Social Media

Today, social media, including live blogging from the Convention floors by bloggers and mainstream media of all persuasions, is the norm. In 2016, the election is unthinkable without running commentary on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram et al.

Businesses Have Much to Learn From Political Social Media Use

Businesses can learn a lot from the way political candidates use social media tools and tactics. Companies also should note that the campaigns are willing to spend lavishly to create impact.

As Social Times has noted, “If we are to believe the figures estimated by Borrell Associates, politicians will be allocating over 9 percent of media budget towards digital and social media — this comes to an estimated $1 billion.” And I think that estimate is very low.

Marketing Lessons From the Presidential Candidates

  • Don’t avoid controversy. It won’t go away if you ignore it. The Presidential candidates know controversy can sell ideas as well as products. Left alone, controversy can escalate. Best to acknowledge it, and move forward.
  • Monitor social media religiously Hillary and Trump can’t afford to miss a mention, a joke, a controversy, a challenge, a meme, or a compliment that appears about them in social media whether it’s in the middle of the night, or on a weekend. Neither can your businesses. Because online, 15 minutes can be like a dog year.
  • Don’t just tell people what you want them to hear. You’ve got to tell people what they want to know. Donald Trump is obnoxious and patently offensive as well as totally bananas, but he’s telling his fans what they want to know.
  • Business also has to tell people what they want to know. People want facts, but they also want to know how your product or services will make them feel and help them succeed. Candidates play to those wants and needs.

  • Have a sense of humor Unless you’re Trump. He’s humorless. But Hillary has a sense of humor, especially about herself these days. Humor sells. Amusing content is shared by friends and family. Don’t be afraid of humor.
  • Earned Media is worth infinitely more than paid media. Earned media comes from engaging content, provided consistently over time. Speak in a human voice and people will relate. It doesn’t matter whether they agree with you or not, especially if you believe Trump’s theory that “all publicity is good.”

Trumpolini Can’t Stop Tweeting

Donald Trump has no brain-to-fingers boundaries and has earned billions in media coverage with his bellicose and often irrational Tweets. The NY Times estimates that Trumpolini has earned $2 BILLION in free media!

He doesn’t care if he tells the truth or not, and he doesn’t care what you think of him.


His bombastic approach is to belittle, berate and try to beat up his rivals. His often bizarre accusations use the same third-grade level language for which he’s now famous.

He “appears haunted by multiple personality disorders,” conservative David Brooks wrote last week in the New York Times.

Nonetheless, “Trump is absolutely dominating social this election cycle and it’s not even close,” said Brandon Silverman, CrowdTangle chief executive.

“It’s a way to skip the media and go directly to his audience,” he said. Yet dominating the conversation doesn’t necessarily translate into votes.


Hillary Clinton Concentrates on Conversions to Action

Hillary Clinton is no slouch on social media either. Teddy Goff, who was Obama’s 2008 digital mastermind, is at the helm of Clinton’s efforts in this campaign. But, Goff told USA today, succeeding in 2016 is far more challenging.

Clinton is concentrating her content machine on converting her traffic into actions like voter registration and email list building. She’s tried sounding like a cool millennial, while stumping for the young vote that Trump doesn’t appear to care about.

As more Republicans and Democrats alike question Trump’s ability to govern, and wonder about his mental health, Hillary is apt to keep gaining those conversions she seeks.

BL Ochman | August 2, 2016 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook Live Coverage of Shootings Changes News Forever

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By B.L. Ochman

Sure, what you see on Facebook Live is often a lot of bland talk. But this week, a Facebook Live video of the police murder of Philando Castile changed journalism forever.

Diamond ReynoldsHours after it was posted, Facebook took down the Facebook Live video of 32 year-old Castile’s murder posted by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds.

An hour later, they put it back up, with a warning about its graphic content. It has since been viewed over 5.5 million times.

News reporting will never be the same.

The issue of whether the videos should be removed is both complex and thorny. My vote is that they should stay.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, told the Los Angeles Times “I wanted everyone in the world to know that no matter how much the police tamper with evidence, how much they stick together … I wanted to put it on Facebook and go viral so that the people could see,” And we did.

Mark Zuckerberg made a statement on his Facebook page: “While I hope we never have to see another video like Diamond’s, it reminds us why coming together to build a more open and connected world is so important — and how far we still have to go,” he said.

Standards for the new reality

This is today’s new reality. If Facebook really wants to dominate the news, this is the way it’s going to happen.

Facebook issued its Live video standards on July 8. In it, they note that the platform is evolving as they try to grasp its significance.

“One of the most sensitive situations involves people sharing violent or graphic images of events taking place in the real world. In those situations, context and degree are everything. For instance, if a person witnessed a shooting, and used Facebook Live to raise awareness or find the shooter, we would allow it. However, if someone shared the same video to mock the victim or celebrate the shooting, we would remove the video.

Live video on Facebook is a new and growing format. We’ve learned a lot over the past few months, and will continue to make improvements to this experience wherever we can.”

But the line is a blurry one, and requires human intervention. It can’t be left to an algorithm.

Facebook Live made a difference

When shots rang out in Dallas, Michael Bautista risked his life, as did several other people, to broadcast on Facebook Live and take questions from their Facebook followers. Mark Zuckerberg was one of the more than four million people who watched one of Bautista’s Live videos.

It’s Facebook’s huge audience that made the Facebook Live videos so important this week. There was no doubting what we were seeing. There was no news anchor between us and the scene. We were there.

And collectively, our hearts were broken. Because we saw their four year-old child witness her father’s death. And we heard her tell her mother “I’m right here with you. Be strong,” she and her handcuffed mother were in back of the police car taking them both to the police station.

Because he was black

In the wake of the murder by Minnesota police, Democratic Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said in no uncertain terms on Thursday afternoon that Philando Castile ended up dead — at least in part — because he was black.

“Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver and the passengers, were white?” said Dayton (D). “I don’t think it would have. So I’m forced to confront, and I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront, that this kind of racism exists.”

“Nobody should be shot and killed in Minnesota … for a tail light being out of function,” the governor said. “Nobody should be shot and killed while seated still in their car. I’m heartbroken.”

Would he have been so quick to say that if the video hadn’t been broadcast on Facebook Live?

I seriously doubt it.

BL Ochman | July 9, 2016 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sir Patrick Stewart’s sings country classics for charity

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Yes, that Patrick Stewart!

What does it take to get world news-weary donors to open their wallets these days? Can charities dare to be funny, offbeat or even odd and still spur generosity? Hell yes!

Patrick-Stewart-Cowboy_classicsSir Patrick Stewart will have you rolling on the floor laughing as his alter-ego, Cowboy Pat, sings country classics in hilarious videos and on a country album that sold out in a flash. Stewart is a well-known philanthropist and relief advocate. But who knew he could yodel?!

The proceeds of those sales go directly to further the important work of the International Rescue Committee, an international refugee charity focused on aiding displaced families in Europe, the Middle East, and more.

After all, it’s hard to make jokes about starving children or abused puppies and the other horrors of modern life. Who hasn’t rushed to change the channel when Sarah McLachlan’s maudlin appeal for the ASPCA comes on.

On the sold-out album’s website, a video shows Stewart singing country classics including “Rawide,” “Buttons and Bows,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” “Ghost Riders In The Sky,” and “Whoopie Ti Yi Yo.” An infomercial-sounding intro voice over introduces Cowboy Pat as one of “England’s premiere cowboy singers” now bringing, “his music stateside in this amazing collection.”ie Yo

And amazing it is. YeeHaw!

BL Ochman | July 8, 2016 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

First Impressions: new YouTube Director App for DIY Ads

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YouTube Director: video (ad) production tools for small business

YouTube has launched YouTube Director, a new, free suite of DIY video ad production tools for small business. But guess what? It’s not as easy to use as it they make it sound!

This week, YouTube’s official blog announced the YouTube Director suite of products. They call it a set of “tools to help business owners get started with creating video ads on a budget.” Weirdly, it’s released for iPhone first, not Android. After all, Google owns YouTube.

First Impressions:

(1) YouTube says you can script, shoot and edit a Director video in 20 minutes or less.

Balderdash! I know more than a little about making videos, since I make them for clients. So I tried Director and made the video below. I was willing to look as awful as I do in the video because I wanted to demonstrate the tool as I think most novices would be using it.

Here’s an example from The Dog Cafe, which I highly doubt was lit, shot and edited by the owners or in 20 minutes. Ditto Barbershop Club’s video.

(2) You can use YouTube Director to make videos that are not ads.

You can use the app to make a video and then add it to your YouTube channel. You can edit it in YouTube editor, or download the MP4 and edit in iMovie, etc. From there, you can use the YouTube link to add it to your blog, website or any social media platform.

(2) YouTube will shoot a video for you if you spend $150 on advertising!

That’s pretty amazing! The details don’t say a word about how the video producer gets paid. I am guessing (and hoping for the sake of the filmmakers) that YouTube/Google pays them.

After all, this is about selling advertising.

(3) Making professional looking/sounding videos actually is not as easy as YouTube makes it sound.

YouTube says “With the free YouTube Director for business app (available for iPhone in the U.S. and Canada) anyone can create a video ad for their business quickly and easily—right from their phone. No editing experience required. Well, not exactly.

Not so easy!

If you’ve used Snapchat or other phone apps to make videos, Director will feel familiar. The difference is that it offers instructions and prompts on what to say and include.

However: while the app provides lots of instructions, templates, music and editing tools, you need to know more than a little about lighting and sound if you want the video to look good.

Making good videos takes practice. Lots and lots of practice. And time. And let’s not forget the most important – and most overlooked aspect of amateur videos – good lighting and sound.

Take a look at Blab videos, or Facebook Live videos – or YouTube videos – and you’ll see lots of bad lighting, hear lousy sound, and endure much pointless rambling. The difference here is that you are prompted “Keep it short!” if you go over the suggested number of seconds for each segment.



The iOS app includes a number of templates, three styles of music and editing tools and is free to use. You can’t add your own music, or add lower thirds or captions within the app.

YouTube says you can edit with the swipe of a finger – but that’ll drive you nuts when you try it.

When you’re done, you can easily upload the video to your YouTube channel by just hitting “upload.” I uploaded it, edited it in YouTube and added captions and links. I did not see any way to do that in the app.

By all means, give Director a try. After all, it’s free to use, and it’s fun.

Professional results in 20 minutes? Not happening.

BL Ochman | June 18, 2016 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

7 Key Customer Service Guidelines Brands Need Now

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By B.L. Ochman

Nothing else matters if your customer service sucks

Listen-to-customerToday, any customer with access to the Internet can use social media to cause an unresponsive company pain and a direct hit to its bottom line.

Love us or hate us, but don’t ignore us.

Successful customer complaints abound, from Dave Carroll’s 209 United Breaks Guitars – viewed close to 16 million times – to Comcast, to Delta, to scores of others that went viral.

Yes, the customer can be wrong, but most customers who get to the point of making online complaints have a point. And a following.

Here’s what smart companies need to do:

1. Monitor social media mentions of the brand 24/7.

2. Respond within 3 hours to complaints in social media (Internet time is like dog years: one hour is like 7 in Internet time!).

3. APOLOGIZE and say you’ll work to solve the problem.

4. Speak in a human voice (not corporate speak) in the platform where the complaint was posted. If it’s on Twitter, respond on Twitter; on Facebook, respond there, etc.

5. Do not say, “You’re the only person who ever complained about this,” because that just pisses off the wronged customer. By the time most people take to social media, the company’s representatives have already treated them poorly.

6. Do not try to take the conversation offline to email (as almost every big company does) because you think that’ll make it less public. It won’t. (Ok, to go to direct messages to get account numbers, phone numbers, other personal info, but then go back to public to resolve.)

An angry consumer will just post your offline responses in social media if they aren’t satisfied.

7. Over-deliver on the solution. Send a coupon, send flowers, but send something that makes the person feel better.

Your goal is to have the complainer say “I just got amazing help and service from XYZ Company.”

The bottom line: Customers matter. Treat us like you know that. Make sure that someone who has the power to solve the problem is the one who responds, apologizes and then over-delivers on the solution so the customer walks away happy.

B.L. Ochman is a uniquely experienced digital pioneer who has been helping blue chip brands incorporate social media into their marketing strategy since 1996. She co-hosts and produces the award-winning Beyond Social Media Show podcast and contributes to AdAge DigitalNext. On Twitter, she’s @whatsnext.

BL Ochman | June 5, 2016 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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