Archive for May, 2010


Hilarious video, serious marketing lessons

I wanted to show you this awesome music video because it’s creative, hilarious and it also reinforces a theme I’ve been writing about over several months …

Toyota paid big bucks to produce this YouTube video. It’s not meant for TV. It’s meant for the viral web … and viral it went. Point one: The big guns are pouring on to the social web. And they will dominate.

This video is about a minivan. But it is a ton of fun.  Doesn’t it just make you forget all those annoying little Toyota brake problems? Point two: To cut through the clutter, you have to be entertaining. In fact, the pressure to be entertaining is going to intensify for all of us if we want to cut through the clutter. The actual car is secondary in this piece.  In fact, not a single product feature is even mentioned.

Point three: Small businesses are not necessarily going to be squeezed out of the social web, but the expectations for quality content are going to be high.  Get ready.

Final point: Content is king baby.  Yeah, you have to develop relationships but you get there through content. Send your kids to journalism school. Seriously. The future for writers is bright.

By the way, my buddy Ike Pigott turned me on to this little video gem. We’ve never met but we’re going to see Rush in concert together in September. Viva La Twitter.  Rock on.

What do you think about this trend?  What would you say if your ad agency came to you and suggested spending $500,000 on a two-minute video that actually makes fun of your product?  How does this build an emotional connection to mini-vans?  To Toyota?

A Twitter success story: Search leads to new market discovery

Fara Hain grabbed my attention in a big way. In a recent comment on {grow} she mentioned that Twitter had led her to discover a new market for her company’s product. REALLY? I asked her tell us more and here she goes:

To some, Twitter is surely the Paris Hilton of new media, a place popular only because of its own popularity, fascinating because it’s so clearly pointless. And I admit my initial impression of Twitter was similar. But it didn’t take too long to make me a believer because I saw first-hand how Twitter helped our company create an entirely new line of business.

While working at Gizmoz (now digime), I was pulled into the world of Twitter by two friends who were early adopters.  They encouraged me to try it out and I started by “listening” through a daily search for Gizmoz on the Twitter search box. I thought it would be interesting to see what, if anything, people were saying about us. I collated responses into a spreadsheet to see if I could find a theme or locate emerging influencers.

I found that there was a group of people using my site in a completely different way than I had expected. Gizmoz is a B2C 3D animation company which had launched a web-based tool for teens to create greetings and videos using 3D avatars. On Twitter, our tool was being discussed with hashtags like #edtech.

It turns out we were being discussed on the podium at a major education conference!  To my surprise, teachers had been using Gizmoz in the classroom as an interactive tool for students to create presentations (science classes, social studies, even a kindergarten class!). We were blown away.

By making some simple changes to our product, and asking teachers for their direct feedback, we were able to make Gizmoz more classroom-friendly. We added avatars like Albert Einstein and other historical figures and we started to be more aggressive about hiding public posts which featured less appropriate content.

In our new marketing effort, we actively targeted teachers – who are, in fact, major viral influencers – one teacher influencing 30 students is a marketer’s dream! In this example, teacher in Australia embeds a Gizmoz example in his blog post.

It’s doubtful that I would have ever discovered this amazing new market for our products without Twitter. So while the occasional, “I’m drinking coffee” tweet may be annoying, I now know there’s deep value in there if you know how to look for it.

Fara Hain tweets on Marketing and Financial Media for her company Seeking Alpha

Proof that good writing matters : )

It’s Friday and as we say around here, “Man does not live by blog alone” and when I saw this pic I laughed out loud and thought I would share it with you.

Too bad crayons don’t come with spell-check.

This came off of a Trendhunter photo gallery of the world’s worst parenting photos. Here are a few more …

A simple strategy to increase your influence on Twitter

“How do I increase my influence on Twitter?”

A business colleague asked me this question and I figured if it was on his mind, it might be on yours too.  While it remains to be seen if I have actual influence anywhere, I have undoubtedly created substantial, tangible business benefits through Twitter and the social web.  So here’s my strategy. It’s very simple and I think it could probably work for anybody.

1) Build targeted connections. Most people will tell you the number of followers you have doesn’t matter. They’re wrong.   If you put time into Twitter but nobody is there to listen and respond, it’s a waste of time, right?  Plus, you need a critical mass of at least 300-400 followers before Twitter becomes interesting and fun. And if it’s not fun you’re not going to do it.

The more relevant, targeted connections you have, the more likely somebody is going to relate to you.  It’s like a big dating game. You don’t want to be just stuck with just Bachelor Number 1 do you? That’s the one who collects pipe cleaners and lives with his mother.  Fill your tribe with lots and lots of eligible business connections.  How do you find these lovely folks? There are lots of ways but here are four to get you going!

  • Blogging and Twitter fit like a hand in a glove. Of course the people who come to read your blog are interested in you, so they are natural Twitter followers. Nearly all of my Twitter connections come through my blog. I think. Who really knows?
  • Explore lists. Do a search on Listorious for people and subjects that are related to your business interests. Or look for lists created by people in your industry or even <gasp> your competitors. Follow those people please.
  • Take part in Twitter chats related to your business interests.
  • Twellow is the “yellow pages” of Twitter and you can find many great folks by industry, interest and geographic location
  • Twitter search. Search for keywords related to your business interests. Those people showing up probably share your interests. Follow them too.

2) Provide meaningful content. The key to turning a faceless follower into a real business relationship is by providing compelling content that means something to them. Like this …

  • Linking to your blog is an obvious source of content
  • Use bit.ly or another URL shortener to send along interesting content that you stumble across
  • RT others. No shame in sharing wonderful content discovered by others.
  • Link to comments you create on LinkedIn, Facebook and other platforms.
  • Provide human content. Tell a little about yourself along the way. That’s interesting too. To a point.

3) Provide authentic helpfulness. I find many of the social media axioms to be dumb (“it’s all about the conversation” … gag me) but here is one that is very useful: Think of the social web as a dinner party. If somebody only talks about themselves, their business and how great they are, you’re going to want to get away fast!  But if a person shows genuine interest in you, offers help without regard to their own personal benefit, you will like that person and connect with them.

This is the area where most people fail on the social web because you can’t fake authenticity. People will sniff you out pretty quickly. Here are some ways to demonstrate true helpfulness to others:

  • People throw questions out there all the time. Answer them or refer them to somebody who can.
  • Build your own tribe. Reach out to the real people on Twitter, don’t just kiss the ass of the A-List bloggers. Are those folks really going to deliver business benefits to you?  Doubtful unless you are another A-List blogger. Just the way it is.
  • Read people’s profiles. Visit their websites, read their blogs and comment. You can almost always find something in common with them and this shows you are genuinely interested. And you should be!
  • Nothing says I love you like a re-tweet now and then.
  • Some people hate the whole #FollowFriday thing. That’s because they’re jaded. How can you not like the fact that somebody is providing a recommendation for you? If somebody does a #FF for me, they are automatically on my radar screen. It’s an honor.

I could literally fill many blogposts with ideas about this strategy but I know you hate long blog posts so I’ll shut up. If you look at any business success story on Twitter, I guarantee it follows this pattern. Work it!

What are your thoughts on this little “success formula?”  I love learning from your comments!

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