Earlier this week when Jay-Z launched his new lifestyle site at LifeAndTimes.com, GigaOM Video site editor Ryan Lawler was magically transformed into a temporary celebrity. How did it happen? Ryan has a Tumblr at LifeAndTimes.org and, as you can imagine, the striking similarities between the two domains caused some confusion for Jay-Z fans.
Following the launch of Jay-Z’s site, we received a tip that said that the site was being powered by Tumblr and we posted about it. LifeAndTimes.com was down at the time of the posting so our writer was unable to check the site out for herself, but comments from some of our readers revealed that Jay-Z’s site was not actually powered by Tumblr. Digging around to verify commenter claims I discovered that there was, in fact, a Life And Times Tumblr site, but it was Ryan’s rather than Jay-Z’s. I also noticed that on his Tumblr at LifeAndTimes.org Ryan had written, “Was wondering why people started following my Tumblr. Turns out, they think I’m Jay-Z,” and had linked back to our original post. He also created an illustration of himself next to Jay-Z with the caption, “This is not that”, for anyone who was confused.
I thought the whole thing was hilarious. I don’t know Ryan personally, but as a big fan of GigaOM’s Video site, NewTeeVee, I read his posts on a daily basis. I decided to reach out to Ryan to ask him about his Jay-Z experience. Ryan told me via email, “A bunch of people started following my Tumblr out of the blue a few days ago, and they were people that I didn’t seem to have any connection to. Normally, you know, when I get a follow it’s from one of my Twitter followers, or a friend of a friend or whatever. Then I saw the ST post about Jay-Z’s new lifestyle mag online linked by Anthony DeRosa and suddenly everything made sense.”
Ryan told me that he did a Google search for ‘Life and Times’ and noticed that his site was coming up ahead of Jay-Z’s in the search rankings, so he assumed that the extra follows came from people who were Googling, dropping in and insta-following him. “I was just surprised because anyone who actually looked at my site should instantly recognize, based on the description, content, etc. that I’m just some silly white dude who likes corgis way too much and not ‘The Greatest Rapper Alive’.”
I asked Ryan how many extra followers he got as a result of the similarities between the domains (and possibly our Jay-Z Tumblr snafu, which was posted just before the onslaught of new followers). He told me, “Not a whole lot—maybe a couple dozen, and it seems like most dropped off my follower list not long after they started following me. But it all happened in just a couple of hours, so it was pretty noticeable.”
Now the whole ordeal is over and Ryan is back to his old self, but he’ll always have the memories. He says, “I’m a HUGE Jay-Z fan. I was extremely honored to be mistaken for him, even if just briefly and by a pretty small group of people. But mainly, I just found the whole thing pretty hilarious.”
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.