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

I'm a multi-media content creator, live-stream event and podcast producer, journalist, ghost writer, social strategist and producer of socially shareable videos.

Let's talk about how I can help you.

I co-host and produce the award-winning weekly Beyond Social Media Show

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

Thursday, July 19, 2018

B.L. Ochman: Why Facebook Apps & Quizzes Are a Privacy Nightmare

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By B.L. Ochman

What 25 million people gave to “Most Used Words” Quiz Creator

If you’re one of the more than 25 million people who took the “Most Used Words” quiz on Facebook, here’s what Paul Bischoff of Comparitech says you gave away about yourself and your friends to Vonvon.me, creator of the app:

  • Name, profile picture, age, sex, birthday, and other public info
  • Entire friend list
  • Everything you’ve ever posted on your timeline
  • All of your photos and photos you’re tagged in
  • Your education history
  • Hometown and current city
  • Everything you’ve ever liked on Facebook
  • IP address
  • Info about the device you’re using including browser and language
  • Perhaps worst of all, your friends are not notified when you use a Facebook app or quiz and provide access to their information.

    Important: Watch my interview with Bischoff to learn the three things you need to change in your privacy settings before you use another Facebook app or take a quiz.

Depending on the requirements of the app or quiz creator, you sometimes can remove all permissions except your public profile and Facebook timeline posts, and still use the app or play the quiz. However, as Bischoff points out, “most people that play probably won’t bother.”

Facebook Quiz Dangers

Like so many of the quizes and apps that are shared on Facebook, the “Most Used Words” app is free, quick and kinda fun. The problem: instead of using it within Facebook (who already knows everything about your entire life), you use the quiz and apps on third party sites that collect and can store the information about you and all of your friends on their servers. Those servers could be anywhere in the world, even in countries that have very lax privacy laws.

What do they do with your information? Facebook prohibits them from selling your data, but how is that rule enforced? There’s no way to know.

Changes you need to make

The good news: you can change your privacy settings, and the information you share with apps, and Bischoff tells you how to do that in this interview. Or you can resist the urge to use the next Facebook app or play the next quiz that comes around.

Please Note: I first published this post in 2015, but I’m running it again as a public service.

BL Ochman | March 6, 2018 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

PLEASE SHARE – GapingVoid Cartoonist Hugh Macleod Needs a New Kidney #KidneyForHugh

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My friend Hugh MacLeod – otherwise known as the brilliant cartoonist at GapingVoid – needs a new kidney. He’s a good man and he has a young family. #KidneyForHugh

If you are Type O, you could be a match. Information is online here

BL Ochman | March 5, 2018 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

B.L. Ochman: Pepsi Co CEO Says Quieter, Less Messy Lady-Friendly Doritos Are Coming Soon. Wait! What?!

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To relieve women of dreadful messy, noisy snack foods, Pepsi Co, parent company of Doritos, plans to introduce Lady-Friendly Doritos. The new chips will be quieter and less messy. Wait! What?!

The new sexist snacks certainly are a change of pace from Doritos racy 2012 Super Bowl ad. But then again, we live in strange times.

Sexist Lady Friendly Doritos Will Make Less Noise

Lady-friendly Doritos will be smaller and they’ll “make less of a crunch noise.” While they’ll surely cost as much as manly Doritos, they’ll come in a packet “specifically designed to fit inside a handbag,” PepsiCo C.E.O. Indra Nooyi told Freakonomics Radio.

Nooyi says Lady-Friendly Doritos and similar products that are in the works are based on research showing that men and women eat chips differently.

Women Would Love To…But They Don’t

“As you watch a lot of the young guys eat the chips, they love their Doritos, and they lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth, because they don’t want to lose that taste of the flavor, and the broken chips in the bottom. … Women I think would love to do the same, but they don’t. They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.”

Lady chips will be joining Bic For Her, Schick’s razor with boobs, #beerforher.


BL Ochman | February 5, 2018 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Power of the #MeToo Movement

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By B.L. Ochman @whatsnext

The #MeToo movement began with a Tweet by Alyssa Milano on October 15.

It got 67,033 Replies, 24,594 Retweets and 51,697 likes within days.

And as NY Post writer Alexis Benveniste noted

That was Retweeted 58,000 times and got 155,000 likes, including mine.

A lot has been written, posted and Tweeted this week about Harvey Weinstein and the prevalence of sexual assault in not only the movie industry, but all industries.

Every Woman I Know Has a Story to Tell

I don’t know a woman who doesn’t have a story to tell, including me. They’re stories about how we didn’t tell anyone for fear of harming our careers, of being accused of doing something to bring it on, or, worst of all, of not being believed.

Some people said that just saying “Me Too” wouldn’t change anything. But as Sophie Gilbert noted in The Atlantic, the hashtag succeeded in showing the magnitude of the problem.

It takes a lot to tell these stories publicly, and there have been some very notable ones told this week.

Will anything change?

Is Bill Cosby in jail? Will Harvey Weinstein go to jail? Will the statutes of limitation change?

Maybe, if women – and men – keep speaking up and speaking out, we’ll force change. That’s a big maybe. But it’s a start.

As Sophie Gilbert says “The power of #MeToo, though, is that it takes something that women had long kept quiet about and transforms it into a movement. Unlike many kinds of social-media activism, it isn’t a call to action or the beginning of a campaign, culminating in a series of protests and speeches and events. It’s simply an attempt to get people to understand the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in society.”


BL Ochman | October 19, 2017 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

“Calling Bullshit”: The Perfect College Course for Our Times

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By B.L. Ochman @whatsnext

Taking a course that includes the word “bullshit” in its title is many a student’s dream. Now University of Washington professors Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West are making it a reality. Their 10-week seminar, temptingly named “Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data” begins in March.

The synopsis of “Calling Bullshit” is listed succinctly as “Our world is saturated with bullshit. Learn to detect and defuse it.” You can access the syllabus, readings and recordings of lectures online.

The professors say “We will be astonished if these skills do not turn out to be among the most useful and most broadly applicable of those that you acquire during the course of your college education.” Each of the “Calling Bullshit” lectures, says the syllabus, “will explore one specific facet of bullshit.”

In the age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” this course promises you will be able to “provide your crystals-and-homeopathy aunt or casually racist uncle with an accessible and persuasive explanation of why a claim is bullshit.”

The “Calling Bullshit” course covers “The art, science, and moral imperative of calling bullshit.” Among the course lectures are:
– Introduction to bullshit
– Spotting bullshit
– The natural ecology of bullshit
– Predatory publishing and scientific misconduct
– The ethics of calling bullshit.
– Fake news
– Refuting bullshit


BL Ochman | September 13, 2017 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

9/11 … one most important memory

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By B.L. Ochman @whatsnext

I lost my memory of the time between when the first tower fell on Sept 11, 2001 and when a first responder helped me and my dog get to a hospital. The 9/11 events I do remember come up less often now, mostly in bad dreams, or with the prolonged sound of sirens. Or certain sounds the wind makes.

But those are not the most important memories of the day.

I lived three blocks south and we were evacuated to Battery Park. I’ll never forget the smells, the smoke, the screams, the jumpers. But then it goes blank for a few hours and has never come back.

One most important memory

What I remember most of all about 9/11 – and will never forget – is people helping each other. Street vendors handed out water. One hotdog vendor gave out ice cream. I fed it to Sam, my Labrador Retriever, who hadn’t had breakfast before we started running. Somebody handed us towels.

People picked up others who fell when we ran. Strangers shared water, gave their jackets to people whose shirts were torn. People whose phone still had signals let other people make calls and send messages to family.

People were kind on 9/11. Because people, inherently, are kind.

I can’t explain the hate that has surfaced in so many corners since that day. What damn difference does it make what religion one practices? Or the color of one’s skin? People have been killing each other over these issues for millennia. How could a anyone want to fight over things like that? Time doesn’t seem to teach the lessons we need most of all.

Yet, I believe that most people – given the chance – are inherently good. Some lose their way, apparently. But in the end, love will trump evil and hate. That’s the memory I hope we can all keep in mind.


BL Ochman | September 11, 2017 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

President Barack Obama’s Dreamers Statement

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I miss civility, kindness, intelligence and love in our President. I am sad beyond words at what America is becoming under the new administration. Here, more eloquently than I could ever say it, are excerpts President Barack Obama’s Dreamers statement in response to Trump’s heinous DACA announcement.

“Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.”


BL Ochman | September 5, 2017 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NASA Seeks Guardian of the Galaxy. 9 Year-Old Applies

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By B.L. Ochman @whatsnext

NASA is looking for a Planetary Protection Officer to protect the planet from potential alien contamination. The U.S. government’s official employment site posted the job ad. U.S. citizens and nationals have until August 14 to apply. One of the applicants is a 9 year-old self-appointed Guardian of the Galaxy.

The job comes pays between $124,406 to $187,000 per year—and security clearance is listed as “secret.” The role involves stopping astronauts and robots from getting contaminated with any organic and biological material during space travel. “Candidates must have “broad engineering expertise,” and should be an expert in planetary protection,” according to the ad.

9 year-old Guardian of the Galaxy applies

Nine year-old Jack Davis, self-appointed Guardian of the Galaxy, applied for the job. NASA sent him a seriously, and sent a wonderful response.

“At NASA, we love to teach kids about space and inspire them to be the next generation of explorers,” NASA’s Planetary Science Director Jim Green said. “Think of it as a gravity assist — a boost that may positively and forever change a person’s course in life, and our footprint in the universe.”

He also received a phone call from NASA’s Planetary Research Director, Jonathan Rall at NASA Headquarters in Washington, to congratulate him on his interest in the position.

What an extraordinary way to encourage a young man’s dreams!

BL Ochman | August 7, 2017 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

You Will Never Be Asked to Pay for Legitimate News Coverage

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By B.L. Ochman @whatsnext

Paid Placements: Yes. Misrepresentation: No!

Beware of companies that misrepresent their paid placements as news. You will never be asked to pay for legitimate news coverage.

I had a most exciting email this morning. It said “I’m reaching out to you because one of our producers came across Funwalkers, and thought that it would be a great fit for our show, NewsWatch. If you’ve never caught an episode, we are a 30-minute consumer review show that airs in over 200 markets and 95 million US households on The AMC Network.”

What the email – and the website – didn’t say: this would be a paid placement, aka advertisement, to the tune of $15K.

There’s nothing wrong with paid placements. And I am not saying that they don’t work for many companies. We see paid placements every day on videos, TV shows, movies, in games and even in ads.

Funwalkers License Plates is my startup company that makes funny license plates for walkers and rollators. I aim to encourage seniors to make more use of their walkers by reducing the stigma associated with their use.

The company is coming along, and has already gotten some press coverage, with more coming up in major media.

The TV “opportunity” wasn’t real!

So the idea of being featured on a TV show with a national audience was something that put me over the moon. Until I Googled NewsWatch. Turns out, coverage on NewsWatch would cost several thousand dollars!

Then I wrote to the producer and asked if there was a production cost. He said “yes.”

I replied:
I’ll listen to what you have to say. But be aware that Funwalkers is a startup with no advertising budget. ..”

He wrote back:
“I feel it would be a waste of both of our times.” And cancelled the call.

On Reddit, I found a post asking “Has anyone been contacted by “News Watch TV” – are they legit?”

The consensus: No. “Real news exposure doesn’t cost you. My products have been on a few local news shows (we do safety and work with kids so there is general appeal) and they have never asked for money.”

Companies That Do Paid Placements Right

Captivate Media which makes videos for lobby and elevator media screens, is a legitimate company that provides paid content and does not deceive. It explains clearly on their homepage that they produce paid content. And, hey, it’s fun to get a quick bit of news while on an elevator!

In-flight Media provides content for seatbacks on airlines in flight. Their homepage clearly leads to a pricing category and they describe themselves as provider of advertising. We’ve all watched those. Some of them are quite engaging.

There are scores of companies that create “embedded content” for films, TV, games and even ads. It’s no accident, for example, that a character reaches for Smirnoff, or Pepsi, or that he or she drives a particular car. There are millions of dollars worth of product placements every year, and they’ve expanded with the decline of traditional advertising.

You Could Get Sued for Undisclosed Paid Placements

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rather muddled rules about paid product placements, but they demand that paid placements be identified.

Google will flag your site as a spam site if you don’t use No Follow links in your paid posts. You will not be happy when that happens! I learned that one the hard way.

Amazon will sue you if you buy fake product reviews and post them on their site. They’ve sued more than 1,000 defendants since 2015 according to Marketing Land.

Tread carefully with paid placements. Learn the facts before you get out your credit card.

BL Ochman | July 31, 2017 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cool Tool – New! Facebook 20 Percent Grid Rule Checker for Advertisers

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The new Facebook Grid Tool shows you whether images in your ad contain more than 20 percent text. More text violates Facebook’s 20 percent grid rule. Ads that do that are rejected by Facebook – or worse.

Worse than rejected?

What’s worse than having an ad rejected that you worked hard to create? The ad will run, but with hardly any delivery.

To use the Grid Rule Checker, you place your image within the grid. Text is allowed to appear in a maximum of five boxes on the grid. If the picture/banner has text in six or more boxes, Facebook will reject it because it violates the 20 percent text rule.

Facebook has additional image requirements for ads, including:

  • No before/after images
  • No images of a person in pain and/or distressed
  • No false functionality (such as a play button in the center of an image, encouraging viewers to think the ad is a video so they will click on it)

BL Ochman | July 6, 2017 | Permanent Link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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