Jennifer Van Grove is a “social media consultant.” It’s a title/job description that’s been adopted by so many denizens of the Web 2.0 World that its meaning is nearly lost (at least to me). So, Jennifer was kind enough to explain:
“I help companies use social media/new media/web tools etc to connect with their customer communities online. Essentially I provide companies with web strategies focused on community building – this could be consulting on anything from a blog to a full custom community/social network.”
If her ability to build an online community around herself is any indication, she’s good at her job.
In a fantastic blend of self-promotion and entertainment, Jennifer will provide the inspiration for an online series with a premise that’s a slightly fictionalized version of her own life. Jenn2.0 is a lighthearted, dramatic comedy about a web-savvy twentysomething living in So Cal, trying to build a virtual cult of personality and “find balance between her online personas and her ever-present reality.” Sounds like The Guild, except for people who read Mashable and Chris Brogan instead of play World of Warcraft.
With the help of executive producer Rob Lewis, writer Darren Elwood, San Diego-based NAS Productions (they produced the now defunct Viral on Veoh), and a budget that’s “over $5,000,” in two weeks Jenn and company will begin shooting the pilot episode for Jenn2.0. If all goes well, the show will find a home, that new home will find a sponsor (or viceversa), and the creators will go to work on Season 1.
Until then – and in a fantastic blend of marketing and new media how-to – you can watch Making Jenn2.0. In the same vein as Mojo Pages’ 30 Days to Launch, it’s a behind-the-scenes documentary that takes all the rough edges normally polished away by producers and puts them online so others have an opportunity to learn from the experience.
I’m surprised this is news. I don’t understand why this practice isn’t as ubiquitous as the tilte/job description “social media consultant.” Sure, there are lots of online series whose creators blog about the process, but very few of them include video. The majority of online shows could benefit from a multimedia experience documenting how the show came to be. It’s low cost and great for promotion, but also has the ability to attract a demo that’s completely different than the one you’re targeting with your actual show. If I end up not liking Jenn2.0, I sill might get some benefit from seeing how it’s made.
Over e-mail, Jenn explained how the show came to be, what to expect, and tells me whether or not being “real life” social matters in social media:
Tilzy.TV: What’s Jenn2.0 going to be about
Jennifer Van Grove: Jenn2.0, the actual web series, is about a social media savvy gal (much like me) who lives her life in the social media spotlight. She’s a Social Media Strategist trying to make a name for herself with her vlog – Jenn2.0. Jenn’s the always optimistic type who lives and dies by her social network, and she’s stays connected via her sidekick and lifesaver – her iPhone.
Tilzy.TV: So what’s Making Jenn2.0?
Jennifer: Our team has been documenting almost every step of the process of making the show Jenn2.0 with the idea of having a documentary-style site with information, footage etc on what it takes to produce and launch a web series. We decided going into this endeavor that, succeed or fail, we really wanted to put ourselves out there and take everyone behind-the-scenes of adventures.
Tilzy.TV: Is there actually going to be a show or just the Making? People try to play little tricks like that on the internet soooooo often it’s hard to tell.
Jennifer: It’s a real show. I promise!
Tilzy.TV: What gave you the idea for both shows?
Jennifer: Actually, I really had little to do with the idea for Jenn2.0. Rob Lewis called me, who I only knew through the local web circuit, and basically pitched the idea for a reality web series that centered around me. I’m pretty involved in the San Diego web/tech space and Rob thought it would be interesting to make a show that was a mix of reality and fiction, but centered around me and my web/mobile lifestyle.
The show has transitioned into something entirely fictional with actors, but the character of Jenn is still very much a real representation of me. Some of the plot elements are even based on real experiences in my life. The “making of” site and footage was all Rob’s idea. We all wanted to find a way to be relevant and still unique, and Rob really believed that documenting the process was a good way of setting ourselves apart from other web series.
Tilzy.TV: So Making Jenn2.0 is just a straight up behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Jenn2.0?
Jennifer: It’s meant to be a documentary. Ideally, Jenn2.0 will get picked up and we’ll all have a super awesome and successful web series. If that happens then we’d love for aspiring new media types to reference the making of site for information on how we did it, what we did right, and where we made some mistakes.
Tilzy.TV: These shows have gotta be good for your brand, eh?
Jennifer: That’s the idea! The fictional Jenn is trying to making a name for herself and she uses her vlog Jenn2.0 as a do-it-yourself personal brand development utility. In real-life, I’m always making it a point to connect with people online and off, and I’ve found that putting myself out there as much as possible has been really great for my own personal brand.
Tilzy.TV: Do you need to be real life social to make it in social media?
Jennifer: Social is a learned skill, at least it was for me (I was anti-social in Junior High School and a big nerd throughout High School and College). I think it’s imperative to be a good communicator in order to make it in social media and stand out. If you can communicate, the rest you can learn from all of those thought leaders already making a living from their social media business endeavors.
When it comes to IRL situations, social is still something I’m learning. Whatever fears I may have, I usually just suck it up and just say hi to people I don’t know, which almost always leads to interesting conversations and connections. The more involved I am in the San Diego web/tech community the more people already know who I am before meeting in person, which makes introductions and conversations a whole lot easier.
Watch faux Jennifer and in real life Jennifer build their brands at MakingJenn20.com.