When a parody goes viral: a marketing strategy

Forget infomercials- or paid media. Here’s a story where a serious attempt at selling a product was a third less successful than the parody.

Cami-secret is the brand name of a piece of cloth that attaches to bra straps to cover cleavage. The 2 minute video is perfect for over-night TV spots at $10 ea.

The video is professionally produced- and they did the right thing- posting the spot to youtube

as of today - it has 1.8 million views.

However, a guy with a little bit of video know how hit the jackpot when he redubbed the VO - with a lot of obscenities- calling the product a “Boob Apron”

His video has 3x the views-

I ran across it on Facebook- watching it had me laughing so hard that tears came to my eyes.

Do you have a product that’s prone to jokes? Would you, should you, embrace your products less than serious side? Are three times the views worth it?

Many businesses take themselves way too seriously. I wonder if Cami Secret sales bumped after this parody was launched?


Facebook’s value isn’t as an ad platform

Facebook stock is being hammered. Wall Street and even Facebook itself, doesn’t understand the value of the business. It’s not an ad platform- it’s a social site, a private party. When advertisers stop thinking they have the right to interject themselves in everything, they may start having some real success. The key for businesses on Facebook is to be invited to the party. The secret to that is better market research- and that’s where Facebook is the holy grail of consumer data. We know who your friends are, where they are, what they are doing- all from the aimless chatter.

Facebook needs to monetize data, not users.

Reading in the New York Times:

For its stock price to go up, Facebook has to convince Wall Street analysts and investors that the personal data its 955 million users share about themselves can be better used to make money. Despite the fact that Facebook has information about a user’s friends, habits and photos, advertisers are not convinced that Facebook ads are more effective than online ads appearing elsewhere.

So far, its revenue comes largely from advertising and from proceeds of virtual games that people pay to play on the Facebook platform. On both counts, Facebook has struggled, as the company reported slower sales in its earnings report in late July. Its users are increasingly logging in to their accounts on mobile devices, where Facebook has only recently — and cautiously — started selling advertisements.

via Facebook Shares Hit New Low as a Lockup Period Ends - NYTimes.com.

Facebook has to be careful about intruding with ads in the limited screen environment. With customers facing data caps on mobile devices, the only way advertising will be welcome is if those advertisers subsidize their data plans, or offer real services or additional value in return for their interruption. If you need a case study of an internet behemoth failing because they refused to respect their users and community, just study the fall of AOL.

While advertisers still believe they should have the right to engage for supporting “free content” they have to realize that now, more than ever, you can only earn that right by offering a premium service in return. Look what the iPod did to CD sales, or what online music services have now done to the iTunes store. Is it becoming clear?

Facebook is social media- stop trying to turn it into commercial media.

"Power to the local dreamer"- create your own opportunity

The word “viral” is a term that gets used a lot these days. People want their content to “go viral”. But “going viral” and creating something that will make your target audience engage with your brand are two different things. If you watched the video above, you’ve heard all you need to know about how to grow your brand the right way; by caring passionately about your audience and giving them everything you have to offer, every time, and expecting nothing in return but their trust.

Twenty One Pilots is a duo from Columbus, Ohio. They have under 14,000 likes on their Facebook page. They also only have close to 3,500 followers* on Twitter. These numbers aren’t small, but they aren’t the huge numbers to really be considered “viral”. So how did they manage to get the attention of some of the hottest national record companies and sign a deal?

They did things right.

How so? First, they teamed up with the right people to generate buzz. The most important connection was with Mark C. Eshleman at Reel Bear Media, a Columbus-based video production company. The team started off with a hit - the first video that they released on their Youtube page was a live live cover of Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts”, which gained thousands of views within days of being posted. The original song was at the top of the charts at the time, so the band was able to generate a huge amount of exposure with their timely video post. They were able to catch people’s attention at the right time, and more importantly they gained a large Youtube audience from the start.

While they had a fan base before, they now had a bigger audience - the internet.

Twenty One Pilots - Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn

Twenty One Pilots - Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn. Image from twentyonepilots.com

When it came time to promote their album Regional At Best, the group created a web series (which bears the same name) that lead up to a rock star performance of the first track from the CD - Guns for Hands, which gained thousands of views within a short period of time. The fans responded; when the band played their next big performance at The Newport in Columbus, Ohio a few months later, it’s no surprised that the show was completely sold out. This was the first time the venue had ever sold out with a local act. According to the above video, that night was the most important night in the history of the band up to that point. So how do you follow up a sold out stellar performance like this? With not one but four videos, of course. Record companies started to notice the band, and were able to track the number of views generated from the show. Almost every video gained over 30k views in a matter of a few months. It gave Twenty One Pilots more than enough leverage to be in the position to choose between a handful of record labels. They eventually chose Fueled by Ramen, which is the home to such bands as Paramore, Gym Class Heroes, and Panic! At The Disco. And how did they announce the news? With a video, of course.

While Twenty One Pilots is far from being a viral Youtube sensation like bands such as Ok Go, the band’s awareness of the benefits of online video content was a huge factor in their ability to gain exposure. Beyond Youtube, the band was successful in creating an engaging brand. Not just through the occasional tweet or Facebook status update - they let you into their world. They reward their fans’ loyalty with intimate videos and exclusive news. They create a ever-growing relationship with their fans. Every brand needs to do this in order to be successful - does your brand accomplish this? Maybe then you’ll be able to say “It wasn’t always like this.” before diving into a crowd of 2000 of your screaming fans.

*These numbers have been growing since this post was first written.

Social-Media Monitoring- the new and improved clipping service

“Everything old is new again” is the first thing that comes to mind when reading this story from Ad Age about Coca-Cola hiring an agency to do “social media monitoring.”

Coca-Cola North America has selected 360i to handle social-media monitoring for all of its brands.

The agency, owned by Dentsu Holdings USA, will be responsible for formulating a consistent way of keeping track of what consumers are saying across Twitter, Facebook and other channels. It will then report back to the company to yield insights into how to improve or tweak marketing, and determine consumer sentiment about specific products. Billion-dollar brands such as Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, Minute Maid, Powerade, Vitaminwater and Dasani will be monitored.

“Coca-Cola North America is excited to scale our efforts in the social-listening space,” said Linda Cronin, Coca-Cola’s Integrated Communications Director. “While we have been conducting social listening for the past few years, we decided that now is the right time to step up our investment in the space.”

Coca-Cola North America launched the “listening review” earlier this year with the goal of identifying a consistent format for monitoring social media. “By consolidating our listening efforts through 360i we are able to ensure quality and consistency across our entire portfolio of brands,” Ms. Cronin said. “Social listening provides another important source of information so that we can best understand our consumers and their interests.”

via Coke Taps 360i to Handle Social-Media Monitoring | News - Advertising Age.

Back before the internet and Google, large companies would pay media clipping services to literally cut out articles from publications that referenced their company or products. Stay-at-home moms would get paid to take the scissors to daily papers, trade magazines, general interest magazines and organize the articles and send them to some poor person in PR who would dutifully fill out reports of monthly mentions and summarize the months media coverage.

Those days are gone, and now, the stay-at-home mom is a content creator, mommy blogger, and is actually creating the content and monetizing it with ads and even sponsorships. Walmart even has their own cadre of Mom-bloggers with their Mom’s know how site (in beta) pimping and reviewing the products that they sell in their stores.

Which brings us to question the whole concept of “social media monitoring”- social media isn’t something you delegate if you truly understand it. Social media is supposed to be an ongoing, 2 way conversation about your products and services with the people who use/consume them. Outsourcing this service is like disconnecting your ears from your mouth- and pretending to be in a conversation.

While huge brands like Coca-Cola obviously have a opportunity to become major players in the social media arena, the real question is what do they plan to do with all this information gleaned from their “monitoring” and how fast can they react?

Granted many large brands have made large stumbles in the social media space, of late, the epic #FAILs of Netflix come to mind, but the real key to social media is how do you want to engage not monitor.

As someone who monitors the moves of marketers in the social media space, this is just another example of a brand not understanding the social media space and how to integrate it into their corporate culture.

Becoming an expert just got easier

An esteemed college president once told me- you want credibility, write a book about what you know.

And, I’ve been doing that, online in the form of a blog, sharing our company ideas and ideals freely with everyone. It’s why you’re here- because Google sent you to solve your problem. Some of you become customers, some of you hire me to speak at your conference, and we hope we engage your brain and mine your inner marketing mojo with our posts.

But, it’s still not as powerful as saying “I wrote the book on that.”

With the iPad and the Kindle and the slew of imitators we’re about to see filling every nook and cranny (sorry Barnes and Noble) publishing has forever changed. No longer do we have to have an agent, sell the book to a publisher, go through the process and give birth to a book a few years later- only to see it on the discount table a year later. No, we can become a publisher by taking our manuscript, converting it to a digital book format, buying an ISBN number and having an EIN number (so the Fed can get their cut) and deploying it to the various digital bookstores online.

And while it’s awful hard to sign a digital edition on your book tour, the reality is- you wrote the book to provide valuable info - and be compensated for your knowledge, not to become a rock star signing books. However, it’s now expected that authors- at least of business books and guru books - that you also become a public speaker. It’s not as easy as it looks- you can actually hire speaking coaches who will teach you how to present like a pro, getting your audience to laugh and cry at the right times. You’ll learn how to use props, audience participation, slide decks and your body language to knock them dead- all because you penned “the book” on what ever your audience is interested in.

Just be warned- the speaking circuit can get old especially if you only have one book in you. Make sure you LOVE your subject, or be prepared to do a sequel.

The real marketing challenge these days is how to get enough people interested in your book and willing to pay hard earned cash for it. Some successful gurus have given away their books to build credibility- or at least the short version of it. Others work social media like crazy to build their credibility. Some will exchange speaker fees for book sales- I’ll speak, as long as you buy 500 copies of my book.

Twitter is a particularly great tool for authors to build relationships with their readers, as is Facebook. Build a fan/follow base through either of those social networks and you have an easy way to announce your next book- after the first one knocks them dead. Speaking of Twitter and marketing your first book- by making advance copies available to thought leaders in your field who already have a huge following- you may find a quick way to get a good start on marketing your first book.

Look for a book from The Next Wave before too long- “How to be an expert easily in a digital world and sell more stuff” (or something like that).

In the meantime, go forth and publish.

Tweet to connect: building relationships through active listening

Advertising has always about telling your message. Maybe that’s why John Wanamaker famously said “I know half my budget is wasted, I just don’t know which half”- and he was almost half right. Instead of telling your story- listen to what customers say about your brand and make new stories. Take this story about a hotel guest who tweeted about his stay at a hotel- and their follow up and it’s results (read the whole post to get the whole story):

So a tweet, a few emails, and all of a sudden I have a hotel in Boston that feels very much “mine”. Why would I stay somewhere else when I know the people, and feel like they’re genuinely happy when I come back again?

It’s not about the discount - I’d happily pay their going rate to stay there, just for the experience. But it is about the personal connections I’ve made with people, the feeling of being a valued customer, and the sense that I’m dealing with a business that really cares about the people that support it.

via Why It’s Not About the Tools Again | Altitude Branding | Brand Elevation through Social Media.

There is a another old adage: People do business with people they know. Establishing connections, building a network, are part of building those business relationships. Twitter is just one more tool in the social media toolbox. How many tools is your brand using?