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?

Is the social web heading for a meltdown?

Consider …

When the financial system collapsed, the national spotlight turned to banking practices and regulations.

When drunk drivers could slip through the system and get  back in cars to injure or kill innocent people, a national movement was created.

And when the safety procedures on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig failed, plans for offshore drilling came to a grinding halt under the glare of public alarm.

All it takes is one crisis, one crime, one whopper of an oil slick, to change public perceptions forever.  What does this have to do with marketing?

Here is the first prediction I’ve ever made on this blog: In the near future, we will have a social media crisis that will turn enough negative attention to the social web to arouse public alarm to the point of a backlash and perhaps even legislation. It will be our very own oil slick.

Specifically, I believe there will be a crime or tragedy that shines a spotlight on the incredible flaws and dangers inherent in the social web. Perhaps it will be a Foursquare stalking crime.    Maybe new research will emerge that demonstrates the shocking effects when teens live their lives through text messaging.  Perhaps a significant database or privacy fail.  A Twitter-delivered virus?  Or perhaps it will be a financial scam that dupes the elderly … the fastest-growing population on Facebook.

There have already been several documented cases of social-media-related robbery. One U.K. woman was recently burglarized after posting that she would be attending a music festival.

We can look to recent events in South Korea as a precursor to what might happen in the Western World.  A 28-year-old South Korean died from his video game addiction. The man literally killed himself through exhaustion-induced heart failure by not stopping game play long enough to sleep or eat. So the South Korean government is responding with legislated curfews on video games. The gaming industry has an oil slick.

Facebook is teetering on the edge of a privacy disaster. The social network has come under fire for a series of recent changes to its policies that have limited what users can keep private, as well as embarrassing technical glitches that exposed personal data.  And yes, privacy advocates have called on regulators to intervene.

So far, the benefits of the social web have outstripped potential dangers. But when will the line be crossed?

What’s your opinion on this?

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The Great Content Marketing Experiment

Here’s a chance for you to participate in a live social media experiment and receive an interesting piece of free research at the same time.

Our friend John Bottom, a regular contributor to the {grow} community, is giving a talk at the IDM B2B Conference in London. To demonstrate the viral power of great content, he’s conducting an experiment over the next 24 hours (May 18-19) that involves YOU!

In preparation for this event, John asked 150 senior marketers attending the conference: “What is the single biggest benefit of social media to your brand – and what is the single biggest obstacle to achieving it?”

He compiled the answers in a snappy little eBook you can download for free by clicking HERE.

In fact, downloading the eBook is the whole point of the experiment.  John wants to achieve 1,000 downloads in a single day.  It’s free, fun, and there is no obligation whatsoever. So please, go ahead and do it.  I’ll wait. : )


A link that is possibly even more interesting is this one – – which provides live blog coverage of the experiment throughout the day (May 19 in case you’re a little behind in your blog reading!)

By the way, I really liked the content in this little eBook.  One participant said social media is a chance to demonstrate brand humanity (isn’t that a great term?). Sounds like a potential blog post for somebody.

Thanks for stopping by today and helping John out.  Oh yes, it would also be great if you could click the little green tweet button at the top of this blog post and ask your tribe to participate too.

Disclosure: I have no commercial or financial stake in this demonstration. I am simply helping out a friend I met through Twitter with an experiment I believe in.

Update: Results of the Great Content Marketing Experiment from John Bottom ->

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

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