Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Social Media Sure Is Delicious

I don't in any way pretend to be a social media expert. Sure, I'm an active user of Facebook and Twitter, I have a blog, and now I've even started checking in everywhere on Foursquare. And sure, some people I work with think I'm an expert. But if there's one thing I've learned when it comes to social media, it's that nobody knows anything (to borrow the phrase from William Goldman), and we're all making it up as we go along. So I'll let other people label themselves as social media gurus, experts, ninjas, or whatever word they're using these days. Me, an expert? I'm not ready for that kind of label just yet.

That all said, I really do enjoy social networking. Sure, like most people, I've reconnected with old friends and learned more about coworkers, and I've spent too much time doing so, but I've also made some new friends, enhanced my enjoyment of events and conferences, and hell, I'll admit it: earlier this summer I even dated someone I met on Twitter. Yes, I've had my doubts, but now that I'm fully in the weeds, I'm the kind of guy who actually gets in debates about the right and wrong way to use the sites, I think people who aren't on Facebook or Twitter are missing out, and I find myself getting all riled up when I find articles about social media that I agree with (like this one and this one, for example).

All this is a preamble for telling you I may have reached a zenith in my social media "career." You see, Ben & Jerry's has been traveling around Boston this summer giving out free ice cream at concerts, beaches, malls, museums, office buildings, and other places. The promotion has been driven (no pun intended) largely by social media sites like Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook, with the idea being that they'll announce on those sites where the ice cream truck is going next. By extension, if you want the truck to stop by where you are, you just have to tweet your heart out — and getting your friends to do the same wouldn't hurt.

You can probably tell where this story is going.

A few weeks ago, I started tweeting that I wanted the truck to come to my workplace. And surprise, surprise — to cut the story short — on Tuesday it did! Now, I can't take full credit for getting this done ... aw hell, if there's one other thing I know about social media, it's that everyone's a self-promoter, so why not me? Yes, I was the ringleader who got Ben & Jerry's to come to my office and drop off a ton of Cookie Dough, Cherry Garcia, and Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream cups. (Seriously, a ton. We will likely be eating ice cream till Christmas.) I sent messages back and forth with the @BenJerrysTruck handle, last week I enlisted a bunch of people across the company to tweet in support of this very important cause, and voila: it totally worked. Ben & Jerry's heard us, responded, and made good on its promise. (They must have known we like to eat.)

This, my friends, is the power of social media. Provide a great customer experience, engage with people on the sites, mobilize and empower your fans to spread the word about you, and amazing things can happen. Oh, and have fun with it. That's the really important part. Ben & Jerry's made hundreds of my coworkers happy on Tuesday, and made the folks who were out of the office jealous. Lots of people posted comments and photos on Facebook and Twitter, thus telling even more people about how much they love Ben & Jerry's. And it all happened because I posted a few tweets and got some of my friends excited about the prospect of free ice cream. (Or so I'd like to believe.)

As one of my coworkers said to me, "I don't understand everything about social media, but it sure is delicious!" I'm no expert, but I'd have to agree with that statement.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Something's Fishy

When you go see a movie like Piranha 3D, you don't go expecting it to be good. You go hoping it'll be so bad that it's awesome fun, that the filmmakers and the audience will be in on the joke just as much as you are, and that you won't regret the past two hours when the lights go up. (You know, like The Expendables or Snakes on a Plane.) Unfortunately, Piranha 3D is just bad. (Keep your "I told you so"s to yourself, please.) It's not funny, it's not silly enough, it's misogynistic, sexist, gratuitous, ridiculous (not in a good way), and it features some truly bad special effects and lots of unnecessary 3D. So despite a cast that includes Oscar nominee Elizabeth Shue, Gossip Girl star Jessica Szohr, Adam Scott, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd (whose over-the-top performance gets the best laughs, of course), and Marcellus Wallace himself, Ving Rhames, Piranha 3D is DOA, and that's why it's only getting a D from me.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Woman in Search of a Word

You might think that after seeing a movie called Eat Pray Love, that I'd want to do one of the above. Or, that maybe I'd want to hop online and plan a trip to Italy, India, or Bali. But that would imply that said movie was any good, and portrayed the activities of the title and showed the places where they're undertaken in attractive, tourist-friendly ways. Unfortunately, EPL is not the kind of movie that would inspire such a reaction.

In EPL, which is based on the best-selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, Julia Roberts stars as a heartbroken woman who learns to love herself by, yes, eating her way through Italy, praying in India, and finding romance in Bali. Or at least that's what the end result is supposed to be. Truthfully, I didn't find the character to be very different at the end than she was at the beginning, and that's largely because the film never really allows Liz to be alone and find herself. Everywhere she travels, she almost instantly finds another American, or someone with excellent English-speaking skills, who she can hang out with. Also, we're meant to feel sorry for Liz, but really, there's not much for us to be sorry about. And that makes her journey less than compelling. When, at the film's conclusion, she supposedly realizes how much she's learned, and she ends up with Javier Bardem (sorry, spoiler alert), I just didn't believe that she was a different person who wouldn't fall back into the same pattern again.

Which is not to say that EPL is a bad or less than entertaining film. Indeed, it's hard not to enjoy a film where Julia Roberts looks like she's enjoying herself. And despite the premise of EPL, I wouldn't exactly call it a girly movie (kudos to director and co-writer Ryan Murphy for that). More importantly, the film boasts a good performance by the always reliable Richard Jenkins, as a man Liz meets in India. But I went to this movie expecting to walk out hungry, like I did after Julie & Julia, and was sorry there was not more eating or food on screen. I expected to have my heart filled with hope and joy at the end. And I expected more from the story — and from Murphy, creator of Glee. I really wanted to enjoy EPL more, but when this too-long movie was over, I felt let down. So I'm only going to give EPL a B–.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Boys Are Back

The first five minutes of The Expendables tell you everything you need to know about the movie: A group of mercenaries bust up a kidnapping aboard an ocean vessel not by killing the pirates, but by destroying them. The mercenaries' firepower is just too robust for the pirates' bodies, and the kidnappers explode in blood and guts. The audience erupts in cheers and applause, and we're off and running. (Actually, at the screening I was at, people were cheering from the second Sylvester Stallone's name first appeared on screen.) Awwwww yeah!

Yes, The Expendables is that kind of movie. It is to action flicks what the Oceans series was to heist films: That is to say, it boasts an all-star cast (Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crewes, Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, etc.) and it's great fun. But whereas the Oceans films were big on style, The Expendables is big on, well, size. There's a ton of explosions, a ton of action, a ton of muscle and testosterone. The plot's nothing to get excited about — really, it's just an excuse to get these guys all together blowin' sh!t up — and neither is the screenplay. But if you go to the theater simply expecting a good time, then you won't be disappointed. Nearly every member of the cast gets his image tweaked (including the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who joins with Bruce Willis for a quick cameo), people get beaten up and blown away in increasingly more amusing ways, and 110 minutes later, you walk away with a big smile on your face.

Dismiss it as a big, loud summer action film if you will, but don't deny that The Expendables is one of the more enjoyable movies of the season so far. I'm giving it a B+.


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Shoulda Shot A-Rod

The Other Guys is the movie Dinner for Schmucks wanted to be. That is to say, it's a funny pairing of two guys in a high-concept big-screen summer comedy. Oh, and did I mention it's funny? Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg star as Allen and Terry, two desk clerks for the NYPD, who get the chance to be heroes when the conventional hero-types die and Allen and Terry uncover something sketchy involving a Bernie Madoff–like financial executive. Directed by Ferrell's longtime collaborator Adam McKay (Step Brothers), The Other Guys is a bit too long, doesn't always do right by Wahlberg, and it loses steam about two-thirds of the way in. But it starts funny and ends funny, Eva Mendes is good, and I laughed a great deal more than I did at the aforementioned Schmucks. So I'm giving The Other Guys a B, and I'm saying go see it.