About Officially Plugged In

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Every idea has a beginning and this site started when I began experiencing problems with fake and poser profiles online.

About Officially Plugged In

I was helping a couple of film producers with their online movie sites and social networks. One of the projects they were working on involved actor Sean Patrick Flanery (Powder, Young Indiana Jones). Sean wanted to get online with his own website and social network profiles, so I offered to help him. During the course of getting everything set up for Sean, plus letting friends and fans know where to find him, I came across several fake profiles. These people were pretending to be Sean, not just running a fan page, but also made it appear to be the ‘real’ him. I didn’t think too much about it at the time, until we started getting messages from people questioning us about whether Sean’s social profiles were actually him… the real deal. Even though we had links to his official site, there were still non-believers.

I can understand their concerns. By being so active with social networks, I was aware of people trying to get celebrities to prove they are the ‘real’ person they claimed to be. Several social profiles had popped up trying to verify celebrities, in which they would request a photo of the celebrity holding up a sign to show where their social profile is located. However, this brought along accusations of people using a graphics program like Photoshop to doctor the photos to appear authentic. Things appeared to be hopeless and celebrities seemed to be getting irritated by having to prove themselves repeatedly to various celebrity “protector” profiles. Can you imagine someone asking you repeatedly if you are the real person, you claim to be, and asking you for proof?

Celebrities have to understand the motivation behind these “protector” profiles existing in the first place. Some celebrities feel flattered that someone would pretend to be them. It’s one thing for a fan to set up a support site for a celebrity, but it’s a different thing to actually pretend to be someone they aren’t. It’s a form of identity theft. Envision a teen, coming across a profile that claims to be a celebrity. The teen is excited and sends a message to what they ‘think’ is the real celebrity. However, looming behind this profile is a foul-minded middle-aged man for instance. He gains the trust of this teen and tries to meet. I’m sure your imagination could conjure up what could happen in the end. No one would want to be associated with a bad story that mars his or her name in that way.

It’s a problem that is abundant on many social networks including MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. including forums and chat rooms.

With this in mind, I figured video would make sense with helping to lay people’s doubts to rest about Sean. At least they could see and hear him state where to find him online. Sean agreed and created a humorous video while also holding up a sign that had his website address and MySpace account details. The response from friends and fans were positive. There were still people that sent messages and asked if he was the ‘real’ person before looking at the video, but at least Sean could refer them to the video to ease their uncertainties.

With the positive results of the creation of Sean’s video, I wondered why more people in the public eye didn’t do this for their friends and fans too. So, I decided to create a central site to display videos like Sean’s video. Officially Plugged In is the first original site online to do this… since 2007. I highlight people and celebrities in various industries by showcasing them with an intro video telling who they are, what they do and where to officially find them online. I also allow them to ‘plug’ a project they are working on. Then I include a mini text internet related interview and official links.

I’ve improved things and learned how to work some video software so that the logo and the person’s website address can be posted throughout the whole video with credits at the end. Now we don’t need people to hold up signs. They only need to mention their official site or spot online in the video. I’ll gather the info for their other social network profiles and post them with icons as well. I do encourage them to also link to their social profiles from the main page of their websites so fans can easily find them and confirm they are going to the ‘official’ ones. When making an intro video, no hats should be worn and there should be good lighting. If there is any question about the validity of a person or celebrity, contact will be made with the appropriate people to verify them.

People have responded positively to the cause behind Officially Plugged In, which is to keep friends safe from online fake / poser profiles.

Now nearly 50 people support the idea of the website by having their intro videos and info showcased. My friend actor/producer Paul J. Alessi is showcased with a video and has been one of the site’s biggest supporters.

I’ve also started an “who’s listed” area that makes it easier to look up people based on their occupations or who’s on what social network. For example, you can click the tag that says ‘Twitter’ and see all of the people on Officially Plugged In that are on Twitter.

Officially Plugged In is also found on some social networks, where some of the videos are uploaded to.

For those people that don’t want to have a website or anything, I also have a sister site called Officially UNplugged where an intro video can be showcased with the person stating they are not online and to ignore the fake/poser profiles set up as them.

Campaigns

I decided to test a different angle by running a couple of campaigns. Instead of going straight to the source and asking if someone would wants to be showcased, I am going to the fans. I wanted to see and show how much fans would like to see their favorite celebrity showcased.

Within the last month, I started campaigns to get actor Robert Downey Jr. (Ironman) and actor Tom Felton signed the petition (Harry Potter) showcased. Each started within a couple of weeks of each other. I have more campaigns planned to launch soon. I set up a MySpace and Twitter account as well as a landing page for each with instructions for fans. I linked the campaign to a petition and provided banners for fans to help promote. There are lots of friends on the myspace accounts and lots of people following on the twitter accounts. So far, over 200 fans have for Robert Downey Jr. and over 60 have signed the petition for Tom Felton. About 10% of fans are signing the petition with even more helping to spread the word. Note that not everyone likes to sign petitions, but they like to help in other ways by leaving comments or telling friends. I’m thankful for everyone that has helped!

Services

I’ve also created some services that go along with these two sites. Since not everyone is online with an official website, I can help him or her set up a social network or website. I also provide maintenance and management through Profile Minders and Fan Finders to help a person be established online. I also provide consultation and online promotion. All found through: http://www.studiomatrix.com

Pass this information onto people you think could use it. They can contact me, Wendy Shepherd, at wendy [at] studiomatrix.com