Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Why Would You Hire a Social Media Strategy Company That Isn’t Social?

December 2, 2011 2 comments

The answer is you wouldn’t.

Yesterday I received a spam email from “Paul” at “Social Brand Online” in my Linkedin inbox.  Here’s the text in it’s mass-produced, cut-and-paste glory: Read more…


Evolution of a Viral Video in 14 Stages (Cartoon)

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Here’s the evolution of the average viral video in 14 stages…

Cartoon: The Evolution of a Viral Video in 14 Stages by @DerekDeVries


Too Legit to Quit QR Codes (Don’t do it Just to do it)

May 10, 2011 Leave a comment

[This post is featured at Grand Rapids Social Diary as a guest editorial for May 24, 2011!]

Hammer ... err ... QR Code Time!

QR or “Quick Response” codes have been around Asia since 1994, and a few years ago they finally started to pop up in the US.  There was a brief period a couple of years ago where they were a fad (a way for the tech savvy to show off).

Sadly, just like the ascot or Hammer Pants, that time has passed.  If you want to use QR codes now, you’ll want to have a very specific, well-defined strategy that makes use of their unique properties.

Here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself: Read more…

OK Go has a new Video: Cue the Marketers Drawing the Wrong Conclusions About its Popularity

November 16, 2010 1 comment

Every time OK Go releases another “viral” video, a new crop of marketers sets to work reverse-engineering it and trying to identify the magical keys to producing the same type of success for breakfast pastries or real estate services.  This phenomena happens with alarming regularity, and I’ve already commented on it (Be Careful of Broad Strokes).  It’s the wrong approach, and it’s the reason there are so many “also-ran” campaigns (like Orbitz attempt to repeat Old Spice’s success).

The idea of “viral videos” and trying to understand works of art and culture that the masses embrace highlights the problem I have with marketing as a discipline.

My beef with marketers is that they’re all about doing anything to avoid the real work of engaging people one-to-one and instead trying to game the system.  Marketing has its place (and always will), but in the era of social media it’s on the decline because it doesn’t suit the medium (which grew, in part, out of a rejection of the advertising-saturated, over-marketed traditional media).

Videos don’t go viral; ideas do.

If you don’t have an idea worth sharing, you can’t have a viral video (or a viral anything).  Marketers ignore the videos OK Go has produced that haven’t been wildly-popular.  “Here it Goes Again” notched nearly 54 million views, but “Do What You Want”? – 2.6 million.  “WTF”? – 808k.  Even “Last Leaf” has only hit 215k views this far.

OK Go produces music for themselves and their core fans – so they’re not worried about pleasing everyone.  That’s what gives them the intangible and invaluable quality of AUTHENTICITY.

OK Go Pink EP

OK Go Pink EP


I should disclose that I feel a certain overprotective obligation to OK Go; I’ve been a fan since I blundered up to their merch table at a show in Ann Arbor and asked to buy both of their three-song EPs by mispronouncing the band name as “Ock-go” as a result of their logo smashing the words together.

They hooked me by choosing an obscure B-side (“Kiss me, Son of God”) from They Might be Giants “Lincoln” album to play as a cover tribute when opening for TMBG at that first show.  Since then, I’ve seen them spontaneously break out into an a Capella Les Miserables performance, invite the entire audience up on stage to dance with them, and publish a kampy boy-band dance video.

In the space between those performances, they kept me hooked by staying in contact with me online and hitting the pavement (I was at a Tenacious D show in Grand Rapids and Tim Nordwind, bassist for OK Go, handed me a flyer for an after-show performance at a local bar).

The success OK Go has experienced is primarily because they’ve rejected the traditional marketing dogma:

  • They labored for years creating interpersonal relationships with fans centered on their unique, catchy alt-pop and the performance art that goes along with it.  The creativity in their videos is the same creativity they bring to live shows (fortunately now they have more resources with which to express themselves).  Their videos are spread so quickly because their rabid fan base forms a strong platform of TRUSTED NETWORKS who share them.
  • They left EMI Records because the company (among other things) refused to allow their videos to be posted to YouTube so that they could be embedded anywhere (ie easily-shared).  The company thought it was more important to drive traffic to the band website. (Sound familiar?)
  • When their album “Oh No” was released, part of the promotional campaign included a racing video game where players retrieve kidnapped members of the bands amid references to lingonberries (a nod to Sweden where the band had recorded the album).  They’re not afraid of aiming small with the audience.  They don’t want ALL the ears to hear their music – they want the RIGHT ONES.

Here’s a perfect metaphor for where marketers usually get things wrong:

The Rube Goldberg-esque video for “This Too Shall Pass” STARTED with the idea for the video, and the sponsorship by State Farm Insurance came after the idea (as a means of realizing the idea).

If you START with the advertisement or the money and try to add the idea after – you’re bound to fail.

It’s the same with creating an audience for anything; you have to do the hard work of earning trust one-on-one before you can expect financial returns from that trust.  Since when is anything “worth doing” easy?

Web 2.0 Abundance + Perpetual Beta + Creativity = Business Opportunities

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Web storage and bandwidth are cheap.  The tools for creating a dynamic online presence are easier than ever to use.  Updating a Facebook profile or website takes seconds and can be done from virtually anywhere using a smartphone.  Everything is disposable – so it’s no big deal to create a web presence specifically for a purpose that has a short shelf life and then move on.

That means you can leap on opportunities to expand your business (whatever it is) as quickly as they arise.

The Website for Custom Artprize Pedestals by Doug Vandergalien

That occurred to me as I ran across a site for custom pedestals crafted by specifically for Artprize by Doug Vandergalien.  I don’t know Doug, and I don’t know how long the site has been in operation, but it’s likely something that popped up very quickly and in response to the demand created by Grand Rapids “Artprize” competition.

It’s the same principle behind food vendors with carts; where a restaurant is bound to its geographic location to find demand (and must be proactive in how it selects that spot) – mobile vendors can go directly to the demand (reacting to where the demand congregates).

Can your organization, whatever it may be, be built in a way that can nimbly respond to new opportunities as quickly as they present themselves?  If you manufacture boats, can you retool to manufacture wind turbines?

If so – you can get your message out there more readily than ever.  In the ruthless meritocracy that the Internet-driven economy has become, a good product and simple message are all you need to reach your audience – and at very little expense.

Another Artprize anecdote:  I’ve befriended a couple of really talented Grand Rapidians – Derek Maxfield and Randy Finch of Ice Sculptures, Ltd. One can’t help but love their work and their ethos – so my better half and I offered to help them promote their Artprize entry – a sculpture titled “Frozen in Motion.”  A meeting over dinner, a few emails, and I was able to build a site for them ( in a few hours (and for less than $50):


The Case for Investing in the Mobile Web Continues to Build

August 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Students Accessing the Web

Too many resources are sucked up by the process of designing and re-designing our websites.  We’re wasting valuable time poring over navigation, color palettes and spiffy Flash animation.

None of those aesthetic flourishes matter for a great many of the people who actually visit the site, because they do it through aggregators or on mobile devices:

How Shows Up on a Blackberry Curve

How Shows Up on a Blackberry Curve

PRSA Tactics had a brief (“Survey: Blacks, Hispanics are Most Active on Mobile web” by Kyra Auffermann) in the “Diversity Dimensions” section that cited Pew Research Center numbers that reinforce the case for everyone (but especially higher ed institutions given the dramatic increase in minority enrollment during this economic downturn) to do more to invest in making information and services available to the mobile web.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Among the findings (which continue to show that mobile phones are the primary connection of minorities to the web):

  • Rate of Cell Phone Ownership:
    • African Americans & English-Speaking Hispanics: 87%
    • Whites: 80%
  • Rate of Wireless Internet Use:
    • African Americans & English-Speaking Hispanics: 46%/51%
    • Whites: 33%

The days of establishing a hub and forcing people to make a pilgimage to it are in the past.  The new dynamic is reaching people where they are, on their terms.  Increasingly that is on social networking platforms, and increasingly that is mobile.

A Matter of Taste: Millennials and MP3s

May 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Jonathan Berger (professors at Stanford) tests his students aural sensibilities by polling them about which forms of audio they like the best.  The surprising result is that, to the disdain of audiophiles everywhere, they increasingly prefer the tinny, crispy sound produced by compressed music formats like MP3.

Why?  – It’s what they’ve been raised on.

A Matter of Taste: Millennials and MP3s

Appreciators of virtually anything (cinema, music, food) hearken back to the familiar.  It’s a very primal component of the human condition.

Consider: if Millennials prefer their audio crispy, in spite of the fact that every audio tech could rant for four hours straight about all of the deficiencies in the MP3 format, what else might they prefer because of what they’ve been raised on?

  • Might that explain their lack of concern about protecting their personal privacy and leaping into social networking sites with a reckless abandon that sometimes compromises their job prospects?
  • Might that explain their disdain for copyright laws?
  • Might that explain their relative disinterest in the traditional media?

To really engage people, you need to embrace the philosophy that the ways they communicate aren’t right or wrong – they’re a matter of taste.  The sooner you can reframe your thinking, the healthier your relations with those who don’t fit into your generational category will be (or any other demographic feature).  That’s especially important at a time where we have the most diversity in the age of the working population in the history of our species.