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How a Social Media Nerd Proposes to his Girlfriend

29 Jun

On January 29, 2011 I proposed to my girlfriend Ashley overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco and invited all of my friends (and the internet) to watch as I did it. I love my fiancé Ashley. I also love the internet and social media. So, naturally, when it came time for me to propose to my girlfriend I decided to combine the two, and who doesn’t love hearing about (I think) creative ways of proposing? Here’s how it went down.
One week before the planned date my accomplice Lucas and I performed a reconnaissance mission to the planned location Hendrik Point on the Sausalito side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was warm and sunny making for a picture perfect sunset across the Pacific’s horizon. Unfortunately, this weather would not remain through the week and would be replaced by cold rain and blustery wind. We tested the internet connection of our mobile hotspot and planned out each step I would take including the exact spot where I would drop the knee. After coming up with a few alternative scenarios just in case, we left, not to return for one week for go time.
That week, Lucas and I would meet after work and begin working on the specifics of the plan. First, we needed a platform where all the elements would live and where I could point everyone to go during the day. For that, we used a basic Tumblrtheme with a few custom modifications thanks to Lucas. I titled the site “Project:Proposal” and we began adding features.

Layout of the Tumblr site we created

At the top of the page we added a custom Google map that would be constantly updating our location throughout the day as we drove around San Francisco. Below that was a window for a slideshow of pictures that would automatically be updated as I took pictures using the Smug Mug iPhone app. Underneath the slideshow was a space for me to update the blog with status updates and/or videos. And finally, there was an embedded Ustream window which would be broadcasting the proposal live from the location in San Francisco. Once the day arrived I would use Hootsuite to schedule Twitter and Facebook posts throughout the day pointing everyone to the Tumblr page, which would also have an introduction video of me explaining the proposal plan.
You might be thinking to yourself “how did you insure that she wouldn’t get tipped off from her friends who had seen your status updates?”. This proved to be a challenge that almost became a deal breaker for the entire plan. Lucas and I brainstormed several different ways of getting ‘phone control’ as we called it. Ideas ranged from tricking her into forgetting it somewhere to straight up stealing it. We made an attempt the night before to cut off all the power to the place where she lived in hopes that her battery would be dead without enough time to charge it. This failed horribly and ended up just cutting the power to the rest of the house where she lived. We decided to take a drastic measure that Lucas brilliantly came up with. Knowing that Ashley’s mom was the account holder for her cell phone service, I called her and told her to call AT&T and temporarily ‘disable’ Ashley’s phone AND set a new password different than the main account password so Ashley wouldn’t be able to re-enable her phone.
The day finally arrived and I woke up to a HeyTell message from Ashley explaining that her phone wasn’t working. Excellent. With status updates locked and loaded, an iPad 3G tracking our location, and my iPhone ready to snap pictures, we left for San Francisco. Oh and I had the ring too. As I kept Ashley distracted window shopping and eating lunch, I anxiously looked at my watch as the time approached for the first status update to launch. Within five minutes of the first status going out I got a text message wishing me luck on my proposal. “Great” I thought, “I didn’t account for this”. Now I couldn’t let Ashley use my phone at the risk of someone sending me another text message or phone call. This wasn’t that easy because she constantly was asking for my phone in order to try and figure out the issue with her phone service. Using coded messages, Lucas kept me updated with the status of everything throughout the day. Things were, considering all the elements involved, going smoothly.
The time approached for us to cross the bridge and head up to ‘the spot’. I was sick to my stomach because I was so nervous. I told her I knew of this “cool spot” where you could see the whole city. After crossing the bridge and driving up the hill, I parked the car and, ever so carefully, hid the ring in my coat pocket. Unlike the week before when the weather was warm and calm, today was drizzly, windy, and cold. It took some convincing on my part to persuade Ashley to actually get out of the car into the blustery elements.

Ashley had no idea she would be engaged within 5 minutes

We walked up to the spot and out of the corner of my eye I could see Lucas and his girlfriend Amy in their positions quietly and inconspicuously following us with a video camera live streaming the whole thing (Lucas wore a hat and Amy wore a wig to guarantee Ashley wouldn’t notice them. I have dedicated friends). I carefully guided her along my predetermined route keeping her attention away from Lucas and Amy and then I had one last picture taken of us to be uploaded to the site.

We continued walking and landed on my mark. I told Ashley I had something to show her and brought out my phone and played a slideshow of pictures from our 1 year anniversary. After the slideshow was finished I turned Ashley towards me said my sweet nothings to her, reached into my pocket, got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. As you can see in the video, she was very, very, surprised and excited. And so was I, so much so, I forgot to put the ring actually on her finger and she asked me “aren’t you supposed to put the ring on?” and I responded “I don’t know, I’ve never done this before!”. After getting the ring on her finger and sharing some hugs and kisses I pointed over to where Lucas and Amy were positioned and they came out and handed Ashley roses and me a bottle of champagne.
Project:Proposal was a success and Ashley and I were officially engaged to be married! Once everyone watching was sure she, had in fact said ‘yes’, text messages started pouring in with congratulations and well-wishes (and also a few shout-out requests for the camera as it was still broadcasting live). I was excited everything went so smoothly AND she said yes! So excited, I shook up the champagne bottle and completely didn’t take into consideration the wind and exploded the champagne directly into a headwind all over myself and my new bride-to-be. It was a newbish move, but we had a good laugh (and so did everyone still watching live). That day, five months ago today, Ashley said “yes”, and one month from today, Ashley will say “I do”, and I cant wait.

Watch the recorded proposal video here

Project : Proposal

29 Jan

Today I am proposing to my lovely girlfriend Ashley! I’m not only proposing, but I am including friends and family who can’t be there in on the fun. I love Ashley, technology, and social media so I have decided to blend all of those things together into my marriage proposal. My friend Lucas and I created a makeshift website that will serve as the portal in which others can share in the experience.

On the site you will see:

– Video of me explaining the project

– Map of our location throughout the day

– Automatically uploaded pictures from my iPhone throughout the day

– Live stream of the actual proposal (approximately happening at 5 PM)

Go to the Project : Proposal site here and enjoy being part of my proposal!

Facebook Facts

31 Oct

I recently watched the movie The Social Network, based on the founding story of the website behemoth, Facebook. I found this story to be incredibly fascinating for many reasons. More than anything, thinking about the facts and figures about what Facebook has accomplished, including founder Mark Zuckerberg, in such a short period of time. In order to try and process some of the interesting information I decided to create a makeshift infographic. Take a look at it and take in just how huge Facebook is.

Click to enlarge and zoom

Oh, all of this started in a dorm room, by a Sophomore, with nothing more than an idea, computer, and an internet connection, all of which has lead to three billionaires under 30.Get inspired.

 

References:

1 http://mashable.com/2010/10/19/internet-2-billion/

2 http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics

3 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/7963608/Facebook-now-worth-33-billion.html

4 http://www.forbes.com/profile/mark-zuckerberg

http://www.forbes.com/profile/dustin-moskovitz

http://www.forbes.com/profile/eduardo-saverin

Documenting Our History Through Social Media

21 Oct

I wrote a blog post for the company I work for on the future of social media. I adapted the topic from one of my earlier posts and focused it more on business. Click on the link below and give it a read.

Documenting our History through Social Media

The Effect of Social Media on Business

7 Oct

I recently wrote about my reasons why I really enjoy Twitter and how I think it can be a great tool for people to use. One of the reasons I mentioned was that Twitter (or social media in general) holds companies accountable. Although briefly explained in my previous post, I wanted to write about it more thoroughly. Social media can effect business by having a substantial positive and negative effect on the perception of the organization as well as creating actual results that can lead to greater profitability in some cases.

First, I will start with the negative effects social media can have on business. I recently read a BBC article talking about how organizations are handling this new social media trend towards business. I think the opening sentence deserves to be repeated here:

“Once upon a time companies could afford to be rude. Unhappy customers would grumble to a few friends, withdraw their custom, but there was little else they could do.”

However, today, in a world of followers, friends, views, and fans, a company that behaves this way is likely to suffer serious repercussions that can seriously effect the business in negative ways. More and more customer service is becoming key to an organizations success. Look at Zappos. That is a company with customer service at its very core, which, because of that, was sold to Amazon for over $1 billion dollars in 2009. In this BBC article, the author describes the story of Dave Carrol whose expensive Taylor guitar had gotten broken by handlers at United Airlines. After “nine months of complaining” to United and receiving no compensation Mr. Carrol decided to take out his aggression online and make a music video and post it on YouTube. Within months the video received over 1 million views and now has over 9 million views! Think about how incredible this is. I bet more people have seen his video on YouTube bashing United Airlines than people have seen the company’s own commercials on TV.

Side note: In a brilliant move, Bob Taylor himself (from Taylor guitars) decided to use the attention from this video and make a video of his own to not only offer Mr. Carrol a sympathetic apology and state his support of him, he also gave helpful tips on how to travel with a guitar and tell everyone about their guitar repair service! Genius! Not only were they sincere and supportive of their customer they suggested helpful advice and reminded people of their services offered. Brilliantly executed.

What makes social media such a great environment for business is people’s recommendations; good or bad. For the most part, when the people who I follow on Twitter and am friends with on Facebook have opinions or recommendations about products or services, I listen, and so do their other followers and friends. That’s powerful. If my friend on Twitter tweets about horrible customer service they have received from somewhere I am sure to listen and second-guess giving that place my business. The flip side is true too. If my friend tweets about how great a place was, I will often make sure I make an effort to experience it for myself. This can be for any kind of business, from restaurants to specific products or services. This form of marketing is far more effective and concentrated than almost any other form.

Second, social media can also have a tremendous positive impact on businesses. The more people who talk positively about a product or service the more ‘viral’ it becomes and the more people listen and act on those recommendations. That is what every business that engages in social media hopes to accomplish with their efforts: going viral. Not only does this lead to potentially new business, it also opens a door for communication and customer relationships to be formed which are vital. Learning more about your customer is never a bad thing. I recently tweeted about how much I enjoyed using Chipotle’s iPhone app and within 10 minutes I got a reply from the official Chipotle twitter account agreeing with me and not trying to sell me anything. I was already excited about Chipotle before receiving that, but because they took the time and effort to say a simple comment made me even more excited about the company overall. So simple. I have heard and read about other amazing stories of companies using social media to connect with their customers in meaningful ways that have either fixed present issues or reinforced that customer’s appreciation for that company.

Lastly, social media for companies can lead to substantial results, other than positive comments. I have read several articles detailing how various organizations are creatively using social media to connect with customers in a way that had never existed before. Not only are there meaningful relationships being formed between business and customer, but also real substantial results are becoming of social media in business. Social media is no longer just something teenagers do to talk to their friends. Social media is where the people are, and where the people are is where businesses need to be. Facebook alone has over 500 million active users, not to mention the 120+ million users using Twitter, or the millions of users using other social media channels. Businesses wouldn’t second-guess having a website today even though plenty did when the web first came around.

This may seem like a “no duh” to some, but I have talked to and read about many business professionals in the business world who are completely ignorant to the importance of social media for their firm. However, it would be difficult to make the argument that social media could be a form of sustainable competitive advantage, but there is no doubt that there lies many opportunities to be had for businesses to take advantage of this new form of communication and connection.

Interesting Findings:

Businesses Using Social Media Well

Dell Computers Making $1 million Using Social Media

Why Social Media is Worth Your Time

Any other stories of businesses using social media effectively? Share in the comments.

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