October 28, 2006
Viral & Organic Thoughts
There was a surprisingly good turnout for the viral and word-of-mouth marketing panel on the last day of Digital Hollywood’s stream of sessions. The slot was directly across from the Adult Panel and the first day the sun decided to grace us with its presence since we arrived in LA, warm enough to walk around without a jacket.
The bulk of the panel came from a Hollywood background, repping large companies, either in-house or on the agency side, i.e., entertainment properties, music industry, TV shows or personalities. Web 2.0 is not really represented here except for client eSnips, largely chosen for their significant growth to nearly a million users in seven months without an advertising or marketing push. (and I might add, without relying on blogs to spread the love, even though a few have mentioned them)
How do you walk a client through a ‘viral’ process? So much depends on the existing brand (if there is one and if so, what does it mean today?) versus no brand recognition at all.
In the discussion was Jon Bradley of Deep Focus, Clarke De Pastino of Streetwise Concepts and Culture, Yael Elish of eSnips, Jack MacLeoud from New Media Concepts, and Mathieu Nouzareth of BOONTY with Radar Research’s Marissa Gluck moderating.
One example raised was partnering with large customer-base sites, i.e, MySpace. One company sets up a destination site (more of a blog than anything else) for a musical group, which was entirely user-generated and submitted content from users, including video and other digital-rich content. One suggests that MySpace is not a place to meet friends at all; what it has become is a powerful Internet marketing tool.
Partnering with a large site like this, extends the concept of what they are doing. In some cases, you may want to entice new users or in this case, viewers of a new film or in other cases, you may just want to create awareness even if it is negative, drawing attention to something unique. Once you positively engage users in your brand, they will not only participate but spread the news about their experience.
On word-of-mouth marketing, you want to create ownership among customers in the brand, so they ‘want’ to tell everyone about the product or service – online and offline.
Clearly, it is both, depending on why you sign up. Someone told me last night that 80% of the MySpace user-base is over the age of 40, which I have a hard time believing. Are these registered users and if so, how many are still active users – above the age 40 and why are they there?
I have a sense of what teenagers and youth are doing online – on MySpace and many other social media sharing sites, but what are people in the 40-65 age group doing on OnSpace - regularly? Regularly is the key.
Re: online tracking, the “Jon Bradley, (the brand-er) does not think that it is easy to really measure online activity. Says Jack MacLeoud of New Media Concepts, a company dedicated to tracking as their business model, “we are able to measure the volume of discussion that is taking place and consumer sentiment about a brand. He also says that they can map the progression of the discussion as it spreads across the Internet, as well as track the reach of the discussion.
Yael talks about an ongoing viral campaign from day one, that is not centered around a campaign or project. “We don’t have to invest in the content,” says Yael, “because our users are doing it for us…and we can measure it across a number of different angles. It needs to be extremely cost effective to bring users in.”
The panel talks about the importance of transparency and authenticity. I find this ongoing transparency conversation amusing. It is the same conversation that started several years ago and it continues to be an integral message in every panel, every conference, every hallway discussion. I’m not saying that it is not an important message, but has there been so much un-authenticity for so long, that now, we are jaded and so hungry for the truth.
Jon Bradley is extremely cynical about blogs and blogging communities. I think it largely depends on the product or service and while many blogs are very fragmented, they are yet another forum to get the conversation started and your news out in a way that can profilerate that much faster than traditional venues. So it does matter but it shouldn’t be the defining strategy alone.
Word-of-mouth campaigns need to work hand-in-hand with PR programs. Who communicates that message and maintains these relationships? Who ensures transparency and consistency?
It really comes down to truly understanding your community and paying attention to users during the launch and every step of the way after you’re live. The better you can understand your audience, the better you can decide the flavor of your message – meaning, bring the conversation to their level, so they feel part of the process, part of the brand.
Yael told me the other day of a few fabulous marketing ideas two of their users suggested and guess what, we’re listening. Aspects of what they have suggested could be incorporated into our overall marketing and PR program. They are representative of what the rest of eSnips users would find interesting and it simply makes sense. Listen, listen, listen, keep the dialogue as open as possible in order to better relate to them, engage them and keep them passionate and fired up.
What I was most surprised by is how heavily Hollywood focused the representation was and secondly, how far removed they were from the Web 2.0 world. It was shocking how different the worlds, language and understanding was in the context of a viral conversation.......
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