January 27, 2008
It never fails. Every year, the Hail Mary of marketers is the Super Bowl. And this year is no exception, as we continue to see the price for a 30-second spot on national television eclipse Donald Trump's annual hairspray budget. (For the record it's $2.7 million for an ad).
In recent years, we've seen more interactivity built into the ad process, with Doritos' contest for a consumer-generated ad being the most notorious. This year, we're seeing some interesting angles as well.
Some of my favorite commercials during the Super Bowl have always been from Anheuser-Busch. Whether it was the once-funny "True" series (aka Wassup) or the very touching Clydesdales' tribute to September 11, 2001, Budweiser has rarely disappointed during the big game.
A-B actually has a channel on YouTube where they're previewing a number of their ads - you can see where some of them are going, but you'll have to tune into the game (or any Web site the day after) to see if you predicted the story line. You can check them out in the badge below.
But here's where it gets moderately interesting: there's a mobile promotion running simultaneously. Over the next two weeks, visitors to BudBowl.com, BudLight.com and Budweiser.com will be invited to participate in an interactive program during Super Bowl where they can rate the Super Bowl ads.
Following each of the commercials, you'll receive a text message to your cell phone prompting you to reply with a rating
Following the final ad, you'll receive a final text message with a code that allows you to unlock the secret 11th spot available via your video-enabled cell phone or on BudBowl.com
Anyone who views the secret spot will be invited to send a customized message to their friends inviting them to view the secret spot
As far as as contest goes, that's pretty cool. But more than that, Budweiser is going even further in terms of distributed content:
All of the ads will be available for download to PDAs, phones and iPods on Budbowl.com
For the first time, they include a widget that allows you to post your favorite ads on your own site - blog, MySpace page, Facebook profile, etc.
A couple of years ago, I found a site that made about 85 of those hilarious Real Men of Genius radio spots available as mp3s. I grabbed them, but later found the site was the victim of a classic cease-and-desist order from the Anheuser-Busch lawyers. Understandable from a rights-management standpoint, but when you think about branding and free content distribution platform, it was a shortsighted move.
So it goes almost without saying that I'm impressed with what they've managed to put together for Super Bowl XLII. Let's hope that the Patriots manage to pull off a perfect season and make the game something to remember.
January 25, 2008
It's funny. Just yesterday, I got notified by two separate people - one of whom is my colleague Greg Verdino - about an article that criticizes the theory behind Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. One directed me to the Wall Street Journal'sThe Informed Reader post called "The Cast Against Marketing to 'Influencers'" while the other referred to the recent Fast Company article Is The Tipping Point Toast?
Gladwell's theory (echoed by Ed Kelly and Jon Berry in The Influentials) held that trends are influenced by a select few; word of mouth marketing efforts typically focus on those. But the articles mention that social networks are too complex to function like that, and that the influencer theory is kaput.
The reason it caught my attention is because both articles cite the research of Columbia University research scientist Duncan Watts. This is the same research I actually wrote about 8 months ago, in post called The Accidental Influentials. The concept was that ideas or trends can spread like a forest fire, and that it doesn't matter who applies the match - it's the conditions of the forest that make a difference.
There are two points I'll raise in connection with this. In Social Media, Timing Is Everything The first thing that struck me is that I hit upon this back in May of 2007. But the mainstream media is only getting to it now. Why? The topic is clearly in a field I'm interested in, so that might be one factor as to why I covered it early. The other is that I had initially heard about the study on a podcast. Given that new media is still struggling for recognition as a legitimate and viable channel, I'm not surprised it didn't make headlines then.
Watts is Wrong As someone who works in the field of conversational/word-of-mouth/social media marketing, it should come as no surprise that I think Watts isn't quite correct when he claims that influentials aren't necessarily influential. I think that his research was flawed in that it only focused on email and a virtual setting, whereas now we have a variety of communications methodologies that account for the rapid spread of ideas: IM, video chat, and social networks of all kinds, to name a few. I won't go so far as to say he's 100% wrong - but then again, I don't think that Gladwell was 100% right either.
At crayon, we consult and advise on a variety of conversational marketing strategies that incorporate an element of influencer outreach (or "blogger outreach," as many call it). With the proper amount of time and attention dedicated to research, and using tools like Technorati and Alexa, it's fairly easy to determine who the major influencers are in any given segment. Where it gets difficult is figuring out how to interact with them. You need to know how each one communicates, in which social networks they participate, and on and on.
My Alternate Theory - The Boy Scout Analogy I propose that a hybrid theory - Watts' and Gladwell's theories combined - makes more sense. We can agree that there will always be influencers, whether you call them A-listers, celebrities, or whatever. People will always look to these leaders and high profile individuals for cues.
At the same time, I think Watts is onto something when he uses the forest fire analogy. Yes, the conditions have to be right for an idea to spread. But he claims "any old match will do" to get it started. I don't think so. Someone might have wet matches or might not know how to strike one properly. It's the combination of finding the right conditions (social networks, communities, etc.) and applying the match (friends, members, followers, commenters, in those socnets & communities).
Once you've got the proper combination of communities and influencers and you understand the intricacies and nuances of how they work together, then you'll have the recipe for success.
As part of their training, the Boy Scouts have to learn how to make fires how to adhere to fire safety. Their official motto is "be prepared." I think the same should be said for marketers consider conversational marketing.
I know there are lots of folks who are getting fed up with Facebook and all of the unwanted notifications, applications, etc. that are coming through. Will it stand the test of time? If it does, here's what Facebook will look like in 40 years.
This was just too funny to pass up. Enjoy some Friday Fun.
January 17, 2008
One of the most challenging things about social media, Web 2.0, or whatever you want to call this digital revolution in which we live, is keeping track of all of the tools, tips, and resources at our disposal.
How much of your social media strategy is actually dependent upon these tools?
Put another way, Jeremiah Owyang warns, stop fondling the hammer and focus on the house. I couldn't agree more. All too often, I've seen clients - at least those that are savvy enough to already be following the social media space - become fixated on a tool or a tactic. They come to us ready to execute a project centered around one particular site or tool. As Todd Defren so succinctly puts it, Beware the GMOOT ("Get me one of those!" - coined by Scott Donaton).
What's important is to step back and have them clarify (for themselves just as much as for us) what it is they're trying to accomplish. Once we understand the goal, we can draft the proper strategy. Then and only then is it reasonable to look for tools.
Now don't get me wrong - there are times when it's perfectly okay to come up with a new & innovative way to use a tool you're already using. But I'd argue that at that point, you've already outlined your goals and developed a strong stategy (You do have a strategy, don't you??).
But without the proper framing in place - the strategy & goals - you're going to have a house that simply won't stand; or at least one that won't fit together properly. What's more, if all of your solutions are tailored around technology and tools and not around a good solid plan, what's left for you if these providers suddenly shutter their doors in 2008?
January 15, 2008
There's no doubt that newspapers are in a fight for their lives. What will the newspaper industry look like 5 or even 10 years from now? It's tough to say for certain, but it will almost definitely involve less paper and more online presence.
What stood out to me is that a number of these trends are not relegated solely to the newspaper industry. I think much of what they've mentioned is also relevant to marketing executives across many sectors of the business world.
Information continues to explode and hyper-disperse at an alarming pace. Just last night, a client was opining that he just doesn't have the resources to put staff in every channel of communication that his customers use; it's too fractured.
Certainly the ultimate challenge for every marketing executive will not be how to participate in the myriad of new media channels (although that will be one ongoing concern), but rather which ones are the best to deploy resources against.
It would be foolhardy of me to make any channel predictions at this point, so I'll keep my judgment to trends that transcend any fads or sites that are currently in favor.
Be flexible; people are becoming used to consuming information and entertainment when and where they like. The more options you provide, the more likely you'll be able to keep their attention.
Be unique; even if you're only serving a small audience or customer base, you'll have a dedicated following that can grow into a cadre of brand ambassadors.
Provide valuebeyond your own offering to promote loyalty. If you don't happen to have that truly unique product, consumers can get information or a me-too product from the next guy. Take a risk. Offer something that perhaps doesn't promote your product or service directly, but gives an unexpected additional value to your customer.
Do you have other lessons or trends to share? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I thought I just did this last year, but in deference to Todd Defren (get it?) who tagged me, I'll participate in the 8 Things You (Probably) Don't Know About Me meme. It's the least I can do to give something back to the community that's been so kind to me - that is, unless you feel this is akin to torture...
The rules are simple: link to your tagger and post the rules; list 8 random facts about yourself; tag 8 people at the end of your post; let them know they've been tagged.
January 1, 2008
Words are difficult at a time like this. Yesterday, I wrote a post that was difficult for me. I asked for help, very directly, and I was amazed and honored and the outpouring of support that came from it.
First, here's my response on video:
But I think there's more to be said here.
First, it's clear to me that you only get out of social media what you put into it. I have always participated in my communities because I've genuinely wanted to be there, or because I've been interested in those around me. My world is improved simply by learning about and from a variety of individuals that I meet. I don't look for anything else out of the people I get to know. But I guess friendship has its privileges, for people whom I have befriended, followed, and met over the past year were the majority of the contributors to my fund.
But it's the other group - people that I've not met, or who are following me on Twitter and with whom I've either rarely or never corresponded - that made me realize the power of social media. This was a subject of a recent Managing the Gray - Friends vs. friends. It concerned real life (capital 'F') friends vs. associates (lowercase 'f''). I found out that through social media, both groups were there for me when I needed them. Wow. I just never expected that.
When I mentioned It's A Wonderful Life in the video, I really felt like George Bailey, the respected and kind-hearted man who was down on his luck when his community turned out to help him. He always did for others, without the expectation of anything in return. And when he was universally supported by the town, his brother said,
"A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town."
That's what I feel like tonight. And I can only humbly say thank you to everyone who has stepped forward.
The Consequences I know I'm going to be catching hell over this. I already am, by Uwe Hook and to a lesser extent, Doug Haslam. This isn't in my nature, and I wasn't simply looking for bling. This was a true need.
That said, I'm open to criticism or comments. Was this defensible? Probably. Would it qualify as a potential experiment for a brand? Mmm, maybe. If I was structuring it as a true conversational marketing project to get the attention of a brand, I probably would have done it differently. Uwe called me out on that, with good reason, I think.
The challenge now, is how to prove my worth to my community. I know, they'll say that I already have, simply by being who I am and doing what I do. But again, I'm not one to ask for things or to simply accept a hand-out. I need to do something. Whether it's to share photos, take a video of my neighbor borrowing the snowplow, or whatever (I kind of like Doug's suggestion). I'll be thinking about it, but I'd certainly appreciate your input as well.
And I'll sign off now with another quote from the movie, this time from the angel Clarence:
Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.
At Ford, Scott heads up the social media function and holds the title Global Digital &
Multimedia Communications Manager. He is a strategic advisor on all social media activities across the company, from blogger
relations to marketing support, customer service to internal communications and more, as social media is being integrated into many
facets of Ford business.
Prior to joining Ford, Scott served as Consigliere for crayon
and spent a number of years with PJA Advertising + Marketing, a
boutique BtoB agency specializing in health sciences & high tech.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Scott is an active blogger and podcaster. He writes about the intersection of
advertising, marketing and PR at ScottMonty.com and
also writes The Baker Street Blog and cohosts I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, two literary undertakings. Scott
has been featured in hundreds of news and business publications in print and on the web, in nearly dozens of books, and on a variety of
mainstream media, including NBC, NPR, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. Scott is a recognized thought leader in the social media industry and
frequently speaks at industry events.
Scott received his Master's in Medical Science from Boston University's School of Medicine concurrently with his MBA from BU's
Graduate School of Management. He lives in the greater Detroit area with his wife and two young sons, golfs all too infrequently, and
has a hidden talent for voice over work.
Scott speaks on social media at events, seminars and conferences around the world. His topic generally focuses on corporate use of social media, becoming an online spokesperson, and specifically on the progress that Ford has made in the recent past. If you're interested in booking Scott to speak at your event, please click here to submit a speaking request for Ford-related purposes or email me at speaking [AT] this site's URL (if you know what I mean) to send a general email request.. Scott's bio and headshot can be found in the "About Scott" tab above.
I'm Scott. I'm the global head of social media for Ford Motor Company. This is my personal blog, where I share my perspectives on business, technology, communications, marketing and the vast changes in the industry that impact leadership. This blog contains my personal views. My bio is available here and my headshots can be found here.