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Weird Al's Digital Masterclass - A Case Study on "Mandatory Fun"


This July, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Mandatory Fun” became the first comedy album since 1963 to reach number 1 on the Billboard 200. It’s a momentous achievement for any artist, but how he pulled it off is even more impressive. Using some original content, smart partnerships and a Q&A on an unlikely source, Weird Al was able to consolidate his scattered base and get old fans interested in his work again, even as he gained new ones

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Staying relevant over a 30-year music career is no easy task, and the rise of Internet culture posed unique challenges to Weird Al’s parody-heavy style. In fact, the challenges were so great that many speculated he would not be able to stand out in a digital culture awash in YouTube parodies of every big musical hit. What was largely overlooked in these arguments was Weird Al’s influence on parody culture, and when Al decided to release eight videos from his album, he found that many sites were willing to fund and distribute videos from someone who’s viewed as an industry pioneer. This grew Weird Al’s reach while giving credibility to these sites, and helped to maintain enthusiasm throughout the campaign.

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The music video for “Tacky,” Weird Al’s first single and a parody of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” was distributed by the podcast and video entertainment network The Nerdist. Featuring cameos by well-known comedians including Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Aisha Tyler and Kristen Schaal, the one-take video got people talking and widened the song parody’s appeal, and the addition of modern comedians showed that Weird Al was more than just a “legacy” act. The presence of other comedians also increased the range of conversations about the video, as evidenced by the following meme making it to the front page of Reddit the next day.

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Building on the momentum of “Tacky,” Weird Al released “Word Crimes” the next day on his personal Vevo account. The song, a parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” also made it to the front page of Reddit. Not wanting momentum from these two songs to slow, he took part in a Reddit AMA later that day to talk about his new album, which helped sustain interest over the remaining six days.

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His candor with fans struck a chord, and the following releases of “Foil” (a parody of Lorde’s “Royals,” distributed by CollegeHumor) and “Handy” (a parody of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” distributed by Yahoo!) also made it to the front page of Reddit.

Following four days of parodies, Weird Al released videos for his original songs, which benefitted from residual interest and additional distribution from sites such as Funny or Die and Popcrush. But the campaign saved the best for last with “Mission Statement,” a pastiche of Crosby, Stills, & Nash that skewers corporate-speak. This piece was notably successful because it was distributed within a native ad on the Wall Street Journal’s website, reaching a part of his audience that may have been unreceptive to his work at the start of the campaign but were willing to give him a try because of his current relevance. Yankovic then connected with them using a message they can relate to in a style that they recognize. 

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Getting positive reaction from the Wall Street Journal and Reddit in the same digital marketing campaign is no easy task. We all know how hard it is to make the WSJ audience crack a smile, but it is equally hard to crack the front page of Reddit during a digital marketing campaign. Reddit users tend to have an anti-corporate view and are against the idea of giving free advertising to companies (some Redditors even pointed this out in threads about Weird Al’s videos). The fact that Yankovic’s videos achieved the front page repeatedly is a testament to the video’s virality as well as their ability to connect with the audience, and Weird Al would not have succeeded without his unique distribution.

Over the course of his eight day album promotion, all of Weird Al’s videos were accessible from his website no matter where they premiered, making it a great source of referral traffic to his partners (who received royalties from each view), and driving cross traffic between sites. Yankovic may have been forced into this route because his record company chose not to fund the videos, but in the end the model worked to his advantage. While other artists such as Beyoncé kept with traditional wisdom and consolidated her brand, Weird Al exploded his across the digital landscape, leveraging the “link economy” to benefit his publishers while mitigating production costs. Looking back, it’s a great example of bucking tradition and sticking to what you do best (in Al’s case, connecting people around a common, if a little silly, idea), and the campaign is already proving to be one of the most successful of the year. All in all it’s pretty surprising, especially when you consider that this is the man who gave us “I Want A New Duck.”

Keep being weird, Al. 

Social News Roundup | July 30, 2014


1. Facebook Is Forcing Users to Use Messenger App

Facebook Messenger App

Users will soon be required to use Facebook’s Messenger app in order to chat directly with their Facebook friends on mobile devices. Read more… 

2. LinkedIn’s Mobile App Gets a New Profile Look

LinkedIn Mobile App

LinkedIn revamped its mobile app by displaying more relevant information on user’s profiles based on how much time users have to use the app. Read more… 

3. Facebook Shuts Down Gifts Service

Facebook Gifts

Facebook is retiring its Gifts service and refocusing their efforts on helping businesses and developers drive sales on the web, mobile and directly on Facebook. Read more…  

4. Instagram Releases New Messaging App, Bolt, for iOS and Android

Bolt Instagram

Instagram has unveiled Bolt – a “one-tap” messaging app for iOS and Android that allows users to send their friends a photo or video that disappears once it’s been read. For now, Bolt is only available in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. Read more… 

5. eMarketer Poll: Email More Effective Than Social Media, SEO and Content Marketing


In a report by Gigaom, 56% of respondents said that email was their most effective digital strategy for customer retention. 37% of the respondents cited social media, and 32% rated content marketing as the most effective. Read more… 

6. Vocalist Emeli Sande Asks Fans on Social Media for Help on Her Next Song

Emeli Sande

To find inspiration for her next song, Emeli Sande is turning to her fans on social media. Read more… 

7. OK Cupid Admits to Manipulating Its Social Network for Social Experiments

Online Dating

OK Cupid admits to manipulating customer data to see how users of its dating service would react to one another. Read more…  

Social News Roundup | July 25, 2014


1. Infographic On What, Where, and Why People Post On Social Media

SocialMedia Posting

On social networks, users love to share photos and opinions, and the majority of users share content to support causes that they care about. 66% of total social media sharing is from the Facebook iPhone app, and posting daily activity updates on Twitter is the most popular activity on the social network. Read more…

2. Foursquare Debuts a New Logo and App

Foursquare Rebrand

Foursquare is rebranding and will move away from “checking in” towards a more “personalized local search.” Part of Foursquare’s rebranding includes a new logo and redesigning its mobile app. Read more…

3. LinkedIn Launches Direct Sponsored Updates

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn takes a big step in monetizing their feed by launching direct sponsored updates, which allows advertisers to test, tailor and target messages. Read more…

4. Instagram Leaks a Snapchat Rival?

Instagram Bolt

Instagram prematurely leaks Bolt, a “one tap photo messaging app.” Read more…

5. Southwest Airlines asks a father and his kids to de-board.

Southwest Tweet

Due to a tweet by the father, a Southwest boarding agent asked him and his kids to de-board the plane until the tweet was deleted. Read more…

Social News Roundup | July 23, 2014


1. Pinterest Ranks High In Customer Satisfaction


When it comes to user satisfaction, Pinterest ranks as the top social media site. Read more…

2. Twitter Is Making Improvements to Direct Messages

Twitter Mobile2

Twitter plans to update its iPhone and Android app by allowing users to access their entire direct message history on mobile. Read more… 

3. Social Campaign Promotes Boys Wearing Pink

Boys Wear Pink

A new social campaign is working to show support for boys who wear pink to promote acceptance and individual expression. Read more… 

4. Facebook Rolls Out “Save” Feature

FB Save Feature

Over the next few days, Facebook will unveil a new save feature for all users via the Web, iOS and Android. Saved items are listed by category, and users can swipe right on each item to share it or move it to an archived list. Read more… 

5. 55% of Couples Used a Hashtag During Their Wedding


More than half of newlyweds (55%) used a hashtag during their wedding, and 28% updated their Facebook status within hours of tying the knot. Read more…

6. LinkedIn Acquires B2B Marketing Platform Bizo for $175 million  

LinkedIn Bizo

LinkedIn has acquired Bizo, a marketing platform that helps B2B marketers increase their reach across the web. Read more… 

7. mCouple Keeps Track of Your Loved One’s Smartphone Activity 


The mobile app mCouple gives users access to their significant others’ location, Facebook and text messages, photos, videos, Skype activity and even voice conversations. Mutual consent is a requirement for downloading the app onto another person’s phone. Read more…






Social News Roundup | July 18, 2014


1. Twitter Tells Marketers to Focus On Everyday Moments

Everyday Moments

Major events such as the World Cup provide great ways for brands to connect with consumers, but once those events are over, consumers have since moved on. For other content opportunities, marketers should focus on “Everyday Moments” to spark daily conversation and engage users with the right message. Read more… 

2. Facebook Tests Buy Button

FB Buy Button

Facebook is testing a new feature where people on desktop or mobile can click a “Buy” button on ads and page posts. Users can purchase a product directly from a business without having to leave the social networking site. Read more… 

3. Twitter Shuts Down APIs That Allow People To See the Number of Active Twitter Users


Twitter has shut down multiple developers for accessing its API to report the size of their user base. Read more… 

4. Facebook Offers Free Wi-Fi to High School Students 


As part of a pilot program, Facebook is offering free Wi-Fi to high school students. Read more… 

5. There’s a Movement by Vine Users to Call Out Trolls

Vine Trolls

People who stir up trouble and irritate others across the web are labeled trolls, and victims of trolling on Vine are striking back. Viners aren’t afraid to ask the Vine community to report users and will go so far as to call out trolls in their very own videos. Read more…

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Social News Roundup | July 16, 2014


1. Twitter Releases Improved Dashboard Data

Twitter Dashboard

The new and improved Twitter analytics dashboard now includes detailed data on the performance of organic tweets. Read more…

2. LinkedIn Acquires Newsle, A Google Alerts Style Network

LinkedIn Newsle

LinkedIn has acquired a service called Newsle that allows users to import their Facebook and LinkedIn contacts and receive alerts whenever a friend or contact is mentioned on the web. Read more…

3. Political Facebook Pages Go Against the Trend of Slashed Facebook Organic Reach

Political Facebook Pages

Although many Facebook pages have seen their organic reach decline in recent months, political pages from both sides of the political spectrum have seen success. Read more…  

4. Study: LinkedIn Enables Brands to Connect With a Premium Audience

LinkedIn Consumers

According to the 2014 Trends and Benchmarks Report from the Content Marketing Institute, LinkedIn members are willing to pay more and have more purchasing power, are heavily influenced by their professional networks and would be more interested in a product if it was shared by someone in their network. Read more…

5. Google Drops All Real-Name Restrictions for Google+ and Approves All Pending Requests


Google has finally dropped the real-name restriction on their social network. Now anyone can choose to use a pseudonym on Google+. Read more… 

6. Adidas Scores Big In Sales and Social Media During The World Cup


During the World Cup, Adidas experienced significant jersey sales growth and celebrated the social media success and sales of the brazuca, the official FIFA World Cup ball. Read more…

Social News Roundup | July 11, 2014


1. The New Social Networking App Sobrr Erases Everything After 24 Hours


To encourage users to go out and live in the moment, photos and comments that are posted on the new social networking app Sobrr will expire after 24 hours. Read more… 

2. LinkedIn Replaces Contacts iOS App With Connected

LinkedIn Connected

To help strengthen professional relationships, LinkedIn replaced its Contacts app with Connected. Read more… 

3. Desktop App Ads to Allow Direct Sales of Virtual Goods On Facebook

FB App Ads2

Facebook announced an update that allows game developers to sell virtual goods through ads in Facebook’s News Feed or right-hand column ads. Read more…

4. BBC Is Launching a Facebook News Station in Thailand to Circumvent Military Censorship

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To overcome uncertainties around its news service in Thailand, the BBC is launching a Facebook news station that will feature Thai, regional and international news. Read more… 

5. Facebook Is Testing a New Recommendations Feature For Video Content

FB Video Recommendation Feature

Facebook is testing a new recommendations feature to help users find videos they may be interested in watching. Read more… 

6. You Can Now Embed Vine Videos On Tumblr


Tumblr now allows users to embed Vine videos on their Tumblr blog. Read more… 

7. Connect With Your Audience To Make Your Mark As a Photographer Online

Mobile Picture

To improve your social following as a photographer online, connect with your audience by storytelling, sharing photos as quickly as possible and finding creative ways to showcase your work. Read more… 

8. Vimeo’s New Platform Cameo Aims to Help the Discovery of Indie Musicians


A new update from the video-making app Cameo focuses on promoting artist discovery. Read more…

Social News Roundup | July 9, 2014


1. LinkedIn Is Gaining Two New Members Every Second, Every Day 

LinkedIn Mobile

Some fascinating facts about LinkedIn:

  • LinkedIn adds two new members every second of every day.

  • 1.5 million users look for jobs on the site every day through mobile devices.

  • By the end of 2014, more than 50% of LinkedIn users will be mobile users.

Read more…

2. Facebook is Testing Redesigned Events Pages

Facebook Events Pages

Facebook is testing a new events page feature called “Events for You,” which includes recommendations for public events that are based on information users have shared on Facebook. Read more…

3. Interesting Twitter Data Visualizing the World Cup Shootouts

Penalty Shoot Out

When there are penalty shootouts during the World Cup games, Twitter activity dramatically drops. Read more…

4. Brazil’s Defeat to Germany at the World Cup is the Most Tweeted Sporting Event Ever

Twitter World Cup Stat

Germany defeated Brazil 7-1 in the World Cup semi-final match, and in the process generated 35.6 million tweets. The match breaks the previous record of 16.4 million tweets posted during the Brazil-Chile match. Read more…

5. Facebook Wants Advertisers to Install Conversion Pixels

Facebook Conversion Pixel

Facebook wants advertisers to install conversion pixels, which would enable users to measure outcomes such as click-throughs and purchases. Read more…

6. UK Warns Social Media Users About False Allegations Against Politician and Celebrities

Celebrity Social Media

Social media users in the UK were warned about posting false allegations against public figures, as doing so can prejudice prosecutions and expose them to defamation proceedings. Read more…

Social News Roundup | July 2, 2014


1. Facebook Experimented With Emotional Posts On Timeline with 700,000 Users

Facebook Emotional Posts

Facebook conducted a psychological experiment manipulating people’s news feeds and found that people who saw fewer positive posts on their feed wrote more negative posts, and people who saw fewer negative posts became more positive themselves. Read more…

2. Twitter Rolls Out Mobile App Install Ads

Twitter Mobile

Twitter is releasing mobile app install ads worldwide, which allow users to directly install advertised apps onto their smartphone. Brands can also target their ads based on Twitter data that includes interest, tailored audiences and gender. Read more…

3. New Platform Allows Users to Create Ads for Their Favorite Brands


Tongal gives people the opportunity to create ad campaigns for their favorite brands by allowing users to pitch a tweet-length idea and paying them if their pitch gets selected. Read more… 

4. Brazil- Chile World Cup Game Is the Most Tweeted Sporting Event Ever

Brazil Chile World Cup 3

The Brazil vs. Chile match was the most tweeted real-time event ever with 16.4 million tweets sent during the match. Read more… 

5. Misconfigured Mobile Sites Are Losing Traffic

Mobile Sites

A recent report by BrightEdge found that one in four mobile sites are losing traffic due to configuration errors, and 62 percent of organic searches show different results depending on whether the search was performed on a desktop or smartphone. Read more…

6. “Buy Now” buttons start appearing in Tweets – Welcome to T-Commerce

Buy Now Twitter

“Buy Now” buttons may be coming soon to Twitter. Products shared from the shopping app Fancy include a “Buy Now” button in the tweet. Read more… 

7. Facebook’s Special Ad In India Harnesses the “Missed Call” Behavior

Facebook India

To appeal to advertisers who want to target customers in emerging markets, Facebook is testing an ad built around the “missed call” behavior in India. Now, when a person in India sees an ad on Facebook, they can place a “missed call” by clicking the ad on a mobile device and receive access to content such as music and celebrity messages when their call is returned. Read more…

Social News Roundup | June 25, 2014

1.Facebook Slowly Moving to Real Time Stream

Facebook vs Twitter

Facebook plans to compete with Twitter’s real time stream and convince users that Facebook is the dominant social channel to discuss current events. Facebook’s VP of Media Partnerships believes Facebook has an advantage over Twitter in the battle due to its audience size and real identity. Read more…  

2. Twitter Testing Threaded Commentary to Retweets

Retweets Commentary

Twitter is testing a new feature called “Retweet with Comment”, which allows users to add their own commentary to a retweet. Read more…

3. Gallup Poll: Most Consumers Not Influenced By Social Media

Gallup Poll

According to a recent Gallup poll, social media had little influence on consumers’ purchasing behavior. Read more…  

4. Facebook Alters News Feed Ranking For Uploaded Videos (Not Links)

Twitter News Feed

Facebook is changing the way it ranks videos uploaded from users and pages by focusing on whether the videos were watched and for how long. This improvement does not apply to links to videos, only videos uploaded directly from individuals and pages. Read more…  

5. Lawyers Allowed to Search Social Media Profiles Before Selection and During Trial


The American Bar Association has ruled that lawyers are allowed to search the social media profiles of potential jurors during the selection process. This change could allow lawyers to select jury members that will be more sympathetic to their client. Read more…

6. Google Is Watching to See If You Have Kids (For Advertising)

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Google has added a “parental status” tab to its AdWords dashboard, allowing advertisers to target that demographic subset. Read more…

7. Forrester Study: Teens Do Love Facebook After All


A Forrester research study has revealed that teens use Facebook more than any other mobile app. Read more…

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