finding value in your shiny objects

Social Beyond Singular Campaigns

Social currency for a brand can grow in two ways: slow and steady or slingshot

The slow and steady growth is more likely sustainable, but as most campaign metrics (and marketing metrics) utilize a traditional purchase funnel, slow and steady efforts often fail to hit key "awareness" benchmarks.

Slingshot tactics are far more gimmick-heavy and generally reach scale quickly, but they generally go dark a couple of weeks later.  These are campaigns in every sense of the word.  Give out a few free Macbook Pros on Twitter and watch your follower counts soar.  Give away seven free iPhones and watch your brand become a trending topic.  Create that incredibly creative Facebook application or visualization of the conversation, and hold up your scaled short-term engagement as your success.

But is Slingshot-value real social value?  It this where most brand will play in the space?

Probably.  As dirty as it sounds, Slingshot Marketing is going to be much of what we see in social over the coming few months.  The strategic vision, budgets and dedication to doing social right just aren't yet there.  Yet.  But with the inclusion of some basic marketing know-how, your slingshot shiny objects can be of value.

Here are a few basic principles:

  • Build ongoing social support into all activation budgets.  If you can't perform customer support triage, it will be very difficult to inspire a new consumer perspective towards the brand.  This doesn't need to be expensive, but it does require some training and strategic setup. 
  • Build for an ups and downs, not starts and stops.  Your brand doesn't need to be inspiring new conversation everyday, but it does need to be present, real, relevant and responsive to the conversation 365 days a year.
  • Slingshot Marketing/shiny objects should speak to your core brand value.  Don't give away an iPhone when you are selling a low-tech pair of socks.  Connect your shiny objects to the brand value prop.  Make your promotions speak to your messaging.
  • Invest in personalities and relationships.  Always have a twitter account available for following, and a brand page on Facebook where people who engage with the application can gather for current engagements and future activation.
  • Level set with key stakeholders that this is a shiny object, not a full social strategy. 
  • Setup your measurement, learning process and KPIs in advance. 
  • Listen to the conversation.  You just may find a few advocates and opportunities.
  • Setup a follow up lessons-learned session before you start.
  • Always bring ideas for a more strategic plan as a next step.  Neither you, nor your clients will find continued success in gimmicks in place of real marketing.

Social and the Superbowl, finding the synergy

99904243_c62c3e6cdf_b A few weeks ago an experienced agency veteran told me that "We are all snakeoil salesman".  He was suggested that our discipline is that of selling refreshment by broadcasting that message, even in the absence of a product that actually refreshes.

I beg to disagree.

I could not market snakeoil as anything other than an ironic accessory for hipsters.  Because the media world I live in is not one of broadcast messaging (for the most part).  I live in a world of conversation.  Broadcast messaging has it's place, but in my world, conversations cannot be bought or sold.

Conversations cannot be generated or seeded, they cannot be created by a brand or media property with white space alone.  Conversations can only be inspired, participated in and fostered.  You cannot force me to talk.  You're welcome to join my table.  But if you would like me to share your message, you're going to have to earn my advocacy (for the most part).

There is no 30 second spot equivalent in social media.  There is no easy mass appeal solutions.  There is no superbowl for social media.

Your microsite may have become a Facebook application, your widget may now be an iPhone app, but without cultivating a meaningful presence or relationship, without tying your efforts to a campaign and your campaign to a brand and your brand to a relationship, what have you accomplished?

This weekend, millions of us will watch brands gamble millions of dollars on fantastically overproduced commercials interrupted by what is often a less than exciting football game.  We will sit glued to the screen as Coca Cola releases their newest expression of excitement, Doritos shows off yet another prosumer inspired vision and beer companies attempt to make us laugh by (a) creating comically awkward social situations or (b) utilize animals as actors in non-traditional settings (hilarious, that one always gets me).  We will see 3 million dollar creative gambles.  And as always, most will fall short of their promise, leaving only a few memorable spots that may be discussed in the weeks ahead.

But for mass reach, there is nothing like the Superbowl.

Your 30 second spot in the superbowl is only as meaningful as

(a) it is remarkable and

(b) your follow through you offer the day after.

Would your company, client or brand be better served by investing $3 million on mass eyeballs or $3 million in sustainable relationships, in better customer service, in truly remarkable social responsibility?  And if you are investing in the former, don't you owe it to yourself to invest equally in the latter?

If you need to drive awareness with everyone, make a big splash.  Go for broacast TV (and online video).

But if you want to drive your business in the long term, think beyond the splash.  Earn your marketing.

Because social isn't free, and while it may be intuitive, it sure isn't easy to get going.  Nobody can market snakeoil in this social world.  And no, there is no social Superbowl, no way to buy millions of eyeballs for millions of dollars.

Don't substitute shortcuts for marketing. Use them only when appropriate. 

Don't just broadcast, kickstart and converse.

redefining innovation : 2009

1163936688_835fc98975_b Innovation.  We all use the word.  But what does it mean?

About 18 months ago, I asked this question, and got quite a few fantastic answers.  This year, I would like to broaden our apparatus, asking this question on LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook and on this blog. 

The goal of this project is as follows:
To create a crowdsourced definition of innovation.

And in the interest of keeping this interesting, all answers will be published in my first ebook: Innovation in 2009.

To participate please do one of the following:

  • Submit your one line definition of innovation in the comments below.
    • Innovation is...
    • Innovation means...
  • Tweet your definition of innovation and include the hashtag #Novate

Please feel free to share this project on your own blogs as well as through any other relevant social channels. 

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...Special thanks to all of the bloggers below for participating in our first project.

Greg Verdino, NESTA, Brent Edwards, C.C. Chapman, Mike Arauz, Catherine McQuaid, Ryan Karpeles, karl long, Joseph Jaffe, Valeria Maltoni, Doug Meacham, Matt Dickman, Scott Monty, Ed Roberts, Paul Soldera, Cam Beck, Jason Peck, CK, Miko Coffey, Will Humphrey, Anthony GohKevin Lelland, Anthony Kuhn,  and Steve Woodruff

Looking forward to working together once again!

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Future Visions: Hulu

Hulu's been out for a while.  And while I was at first skeptical, I now regularly enjoy their offering.

But what's next for Hulu? 

  • Will their growth be in a broader library or in added functionality?
  • Will new platforms like Tivo or downloadable content drive increased value?

They've got us watching.  They occasionally have us interacting.  But is this really all they could, or should be doing to grow their business?

  • Isn't there a massive ad opportunity in a Hulu desktop utility with a program guide?
  • Wouldn't a distribution partnership with Microsoft delivering free ad supported downloads drive real equity for a next gen Zune?
  • Wouldn't a section containing all of their advertiser spots, fully embeddable, drive added value to advertisers?  Allowing them to utilize Hulu to launch "viral" video campaigns?

Sure, you need to the content to drive the eyeballs.  But please Hulu, don't forget about breaking the technology mold.  You did it once.  The market will demand that you do it again.  Or someone else will.

the innovation "tradition"

InnovationsThe tradition upon which America was founded was one of change, of overthrowing tradition, of reinventing the norm.


Nothing is written in stone.

The tradition of innovation, of change, is one of constant evolution.

There are no rules. There are best practices at current.  But there are no rules written in stone.

The first movers, the early adopters and the revolutionaries face the challenge of putting their necks out on the line.  Some will be crowned as visionaries.  Others will be dismissed as crazies.

Never say no just because of convention.  The tradition of the web is one of breaking with convention.

Don't close your doors to opportunity just because it hasn't been done. 

Think rationally, think strategically, and act accordingly.

Embrace the tradition of breaking with tradition.

Inspired by Mack Collier's post over at Marketing Profs.

photo credit here

EA : when getting it wrong = getting it right

Image representing Electronic Arts as depicted...

Image via CrunchBase

Anyone who has ever played a video game is familiar with the art of the glitch. It's as much a part of the gaming culture as mustachioed plumbers with an intense hatred of turtles.

Gamers practically expect to occasionally walk through walls, see through corners of buildings or walk on air.  These glitches aren't created on purpose, but with all the depth in today's games, it's understandable when something occasionally slip through the cracks.

Such was the case in Electronic Arts' Tiger Woods game.  A "glitch" known as "The Jesus Shot" was "discovered", allowing players to walk on water.  In a game that prided itself on realism, this glitch seemed both entertaining and a bit out of place.  A "fan" posted a video to this effect on You Tube, generating quite a bit of buzz.

So what does EA do about this buzz?  They used the buzz momentum for some great free publicity, creating the spot below (video below/after the jump).  Well Done.

Here's to hoping that this was an honest play, and not a seeded campaign.  For more conversation on the EA Jesus Shot campaign, check out the discussions linked here.  Really check them out.  I would estimate that nearly all the buzz was positive (with the only concern being the corporate usage of a religious icon in marketing).  Well Done!

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the battle over dvr in the clouds > why it matters


Image by obieta via Flickr

Call it nDVR.  Call it VOD.  Call it on-demand streaming.  Call it ad skipping.  Call it TIVO, SlingBox, or ORB.  Call it place-shifting, copyright infringement or distribution democratization.

The outcome is the same.

The present is changing.  The past has changed.  Now is too late, but Tomorrow may be to soon.  The key to success in today's market is adaptive innovation, planned flexibility that protects today's revenue streams while laying the foundations of tomorrow's solutions.

Broadcast Networks and Content Owners will by and large continue to cling to what is known, familiar and therefor immediately advertiser friendly.  They will fight change for the upheaval and turmoil it will cause the industry, for the massive investment and effort required of both manpower and resources (not to mention infrastructural costs) towards deploying a new model.

But a new model will emerge.  And fighting the future will not keep it from coming.  I tried.  I took the batteries out of my watch.  But the day ended.  And tomorrow came.

The battle over nDVRs will continue.  And it should.  This court battle matters.  It sets a strong precedent for future technologies... which will in turn demand new models.

The Mainstream Media outlets and Cable Providers are smart.  They are battling to protect their current revenues.  But most importantly, while they are battling to protect their wallets today, they are innovating, fostering tomorrow's future all the while.  Hulu is out and is (to my mind) a success.  TheWB relaunches in weeks.  But this is only the beginning. 

The entire concept of change is still in it's infancy.  And I for one, am looking forward to quite a ride.

McCain's Video Game - Smart or Sad?

I try to comment on politics on this blog.  Personally, (odd as this may sound) I believe that both of our candidates are viable and acceptable leaders.

While both candidates have activated their social network advocates, and Obama has proven the success of the microtranscation at scale, McCain has brought a new layer of interactivity into the equation... a video game.

There is no way to say "I am not all that old" like bringing back a popular 25 year old video game - space invaders - and inserting brand messages after each level is completed.  And it's on Facebook!  That's got to make it hip, cool and oh so two point oh.

Check out the game below/after the jump.

Is this wise?  Will this net him meaningful interactivity?  Is this integration serious and meaningful to the channel?  Is it novel enough to the audience to net him success?

Will political messaging in gaming be a trend we see grow over the coming years?  Will the next presidential election see dynamic, or even static advertising or marketing in video games?