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happyjoel – jstrauss

Happyjoel on the CBS Evening News

Cross-posted from the Snowball Factory blog

Last week, our friend (and first client) Joel Moss Levinson, aka Happyjoel, appeared in a CBS Evening News with Katie Couric segment called Cashing In on YouTube (watch it below). For Joel, this follows an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a profile in the New York Times, and (our personal favorite) being named an AccessHollywood.com Rising Star. As you can see in the clip below, the majority of this coverage has been driven by the novelty of Joel’s success. He’s a guy who subsists entirely by making amusing music videos for products for which he has no personal affinity — what news producer wouldn’t love this story?!

Watch CBS Videos Online

For us though, the real story isn’t the wackiness of Joel’s success but rather how he has achieved it. Of course, having the ability to come up with witty lyrics about how awesome watermelons are and the time and energy to scour the interwebs for brands looking to crowd-source their marketing are necessary, but they’re not sufficient. Michael Buckley, the other online video personality covered in the CBS News segment, told the NY Times β€œI was spending 40 hours a week on YouTube for over a year before I made a dime.” Like Michael, Joel does a lot more than just what you see on screen. Arguably, making the videos is the easy part (at least for someone like Joel) — the real challenge has been building and cultivating the loyal fan-base (or as Joel calls it, his “contest voting army”) that has made him such a newsworthy phenomenon.

As of this writing, Joel has:

Each of these relationship channels has different strengths and weaknesses, and we have achieved a good measure of success using them in concert through best practices and a substantial time commitment. But, the system is far from perfect. In addition to the redundant work required to build and maintain relationships through all these various channels, it is very difficult to identify and de-duplicate the individuals across them, and it is basically impossible to have a cohesive view of what is going on in your fan universe.

While 800 lbs brands like Britney Spears or 50 Cent have enough clout to ask their fans to sign up for new services, the rest of us need to find effective ways to reach our potential fans where they already live online. YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, and other popular social media services provide access to their huge existing audiences, but the relationships you build through them have to be on their terms. We’ve learned from experience in the trenches with clients like Joel and Handsome Donkey, and we’re hard at work on a solution that gives independent online media brands the best of both worlds: access to existing social media audiences with greater control over the fan relationships it generates. So, stay tuned!

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Happyjoel on the Tonight Show!!!

This is fricken’ unreal!

Steve Carell is either genuinely amused or a very polite man. And, I swear Jay has a kind of “WTF is this world coming to?” expression on his face at the end. But, who wouldn’t really? πŸ˜‰

As usual, Joel’s first-hand account is worth a read.

P.S. Joel now has an official Wikipedia entry (after repeatedly trying to write his own, only to have it taken down by the Wikipedians)! ROTFL!!!

All is right with the universe.

I woke up this morning to find out several pieces of important news. First, the Large Hadron collider was switched on and didn’t destroy the earth (yet). So, that’s good.

And in other news, my friend Joel WON $100,000 FOR WRITING A SONG ABOUT A KLONDIKE BAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happyjoel Wins $100k Klondike Contest!!!!

This news cut through my hangover (from ruining Andrew πŸ˜€ ) like a hot knife through butter. Not only am I unbelievably proud of Joel for succeeding at his lifelong dreams of becoming a professional contest winner (even with his raging coke problem, $100k should hold him over for a while — well, after taxes…hrm, maybe not), but I also feel a little bit of pride in whatever small help my mercilous shilling to my social network may have contributed to this mighty achievement.

(And yes mom, that last parenthetical was a joke. Joel doesn’t have a cocaine problem. He’s just a sex addict. However, his primary interest is sex with marine mammals.)

Joel also happens to be the first client of my new company (more on that soon). And even though I said before we’d do the work for free, we might have to start charging a little bit now πŸ˜‰ .

Way to go Joel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The best cause on the Interwebs. Ever. Really!

Lonely Arctic PenguinΒ Β Β Β Β Β Β 

Lonely Arctic Penguin, originally uploaded by happyjoelmoss.

Holy schnikes! My boy Happy Joel has made it to the finals of the What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar Contest!!! That means he has a 1/4 shot of winning $100k!!!!!! (Arguably, he should have better odds since it’s ostensibly a merit-based contest, and his video is definitely the awesomest.)

This is exciting to me on a number of levels. First of all, Joel has been a friend of mine since he moved out to LA about 5 years ago, and we share a mutual best friend (hi, Devra πŸ˜€ ). He’s someone who I truly admire for having the unabashed courage (and/or stupidity) to blindly pursue his goal of making a living amusing others. And, he’s the only person I can ever imagine even attempting the full-time occupation of professional contest winner, let alone succeeding at it (for more back-story, check out his blog). So, I want to see him succeed on that level as well, because I have a dream of a future in which “Professional Contest Winner” is a choice in the drop-down menu for the “Occupation” field on forms. I also have a (psuedo-)professional interest in seeing Joel succeed. I’ll post more on this in the near future, but I’ve been working with Joel over the last month or so on how to use the off-the-shelf tools the web has to offer (e.g. WordPress, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, etc) to build and cultivate a fanbase to unleash at times like this. So, having him win something like this means I can actually start charging him for my pearls of wisdom πŸ˜‰ . And finally, his shit really is pretty damned awesome. But, don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.

Here’s how to vote:

  1. Go to http://klondikecontest.com/finalist.aspx
  2. Register (or sign-in, if by some miracle you’ve already registered). Yes, registration is a pain in the ass and the ad agency behind this is a bunch of morons for requiring it, but we don’t have any control over that. Plus, you could win $25k from Klondike just for voting and Joel will totally make it worth your while if he wins.
  3. Watch happyjoel’s video, and rate it 5 bars (Klondike Bars, get it?). Also, leaving positive comments for Joel’s video (note that they don’t appear in realtime and must pass an editorial review before being posted, tools!) and/or rating other videos lower than Joel’s can’t hurt.
  4. (Optional) If you happen to know any of the Lonely Island guys, who will be judging the final outcome of the contest, put in a good word for Joel. (I’m looking at you, Hurwitz.)

And, please blog, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, or [insert social media nonsense of your choice] this to help spread the word.

P.S. The photo up top pretty much says everything you need to know about Joel: it was taken on a cruise to the Arctic (the same one on which he filmed the Polar Bear bits of the Klondike video), which he won in a Nature Valley Granola Bar contest, and he purchased and schlepped a giant penguin suit all the way up there just to stage a photo of him as the only penguin in the Arctic. I mean, how can you not love this guy?! (He also just pulled a similarly Ludacris stunt on his recent trip to Australia.)

Must. Blog. More.

I’m mostly writing this post just to get back in the act of blogging. If for no other reason than I’m working on some stuff that requires me to remember how to blog. It’s never a good sign when you’re updating your blogging software more than you’re writing posts, which has been the case for meΒ of late.

Since I declared my return to the Interwebs nearly a month ago, I’ve found my todo list may have been a bit ambitious for someone whose mind was still readjusting from a 3.5 month sabbatical. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a bunch of stuff: updated my resume and interviewed with a bunch of companies in both LA and SF; reconnected with many friends and former colleagues in Hollywood and Silicon Valley; web2.0-ized my friend Happy Joel’s online presence (seriously, go check him out — he’s fricken’ hilarious!); helped my buddy Tom with some of his attempts to break into Hollywood; went on an awesome river float near Sacramento and a party at the Playboy Mansion *in the same (really costly/painful) weekend*; started research (i.e. ordered a bunch of books and read 1.5 of them) for one of the screenplays I’ve been wanting to write; and cultivated a mustache that invariably shocks everyone who already knew me and must really creep-out anyone who has recently met me (pictures forthcoming…maybe). What I haven’t done is pretty much all the stuff I ended my last post saying I would do: digging out from a backlog of email/FB messages; uploading what’s now 1 year of travel photos to Flickr (yes, Mom that includes Croatia too πŸ˜› ); and writing those blog posts about what I was up to when I was MIA (I really do have some great tips on Buenos Aires…if I can remember them anymore). I’ve also added new backlogs, like so many open browser tabs that my MacBook is chugging away like a fat kid and its battery life is down to 2 hrs from 4 (it’s getting to the point that I’m seriously considering trying Sam‘s PushPopURLΒ — but, I’d see that as an admission of defeat πŸ˜‰ ).

But, it’s all good in the ‘hood. Over the last month, I’ve come a long way in figuring out what I’d like to try next careerwise. Going through the whole interview process, even with companies that turned out not to be the best fit, was an exercise I found very helpful in defining my criteria for an exciting and compelling next job. So, the bad news is my todo list has gotten seriously longer. But, the good news is I’m more psyched than ever to tackle it πŸ˜€ .

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