Validation is the crack

Ben Parr really nails this one. Any consumer-focused product or service needs to keep this in mind.

Why do you post photos on Facebook? Why do you tweet? Why do you check out your Klout score, even though you claim you never check it? The answer is simple: we get an emotional high every time somebody likes, retweets or comments on the things we post. 

We always want another hit. Validation is the crack, Internet is the crack pipe and Facebook & Twitter are the dealers. 

The holy grail of social advertising is not to sell, but to entertain

I must admit to somewhat loathing the barrage of Top 10 lists that populate the interwebs this time of year. But the end of the year does undeniably provide a good canvas for reflection and perspective on what worked on the web, what didn’t and what may be on the cusp of having a big impact in the coming new year.

To say that social advertising or ‘social ads’ were a big deal in 2010 is an understatement to the point where it is almost becoming redundant to give it a special ad label. The goal of almost all advertising today is to get people to interact, engage and share your brand messaging. But just how big is social advertising? Like most things, it all depends on context. Without thinking I bet most folks who read this blog could probably guess which social ad campaign was the biggest in 2010. I don’t smell like him, I don’t look like him and I’ve never bought the product, but I certainly saw plenty of Old Spice guy Isaiah Mustafa this year. To the tune of 68 million+ viral video views, Old Spice was the social advertising king of 2010.

But for all of the online traction that Old Spice received with their inventive video response YouTube campaign, I was somewhat surprised to learn how significantly the top social ad campaign was dwarfed in comparison to video game and movie trailers. When you factor in ‘Entertainment’, the top social ad campaign barely makes the Top 10 of 2010 Viral Ad Views according to AdAge:

1. Twilight Saga: Eclipse – 220 million views (movie)

2. The Karate Kid – 170 million views (movie)

3. Step Up 3D – 138 million views (movie)

4. Toy Story 3 – 129 million views (movie)

5. Call Of Duty: Black Ops – 110 million views (video game)

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: 109 million views (movie)

7. Alice in Wonderland: 86 million views (movie)

8. Halo: Reach – 74 million views (video game)

9. Iron Man 2 – 73 million views (movie)

10. Old Spice: Responses – 68 million views (social ad)

As consumers continue to gain more power and control over what messages they are exposed to, it is increasingly paramount for marketers to challenge the very definitions of what is considered advertising. Ultimately this means marketing must continue to bleed further into the realm of entertainment because if consumers don’t find your marketing engaging and compelling, if they don’t *want* to watch, they will tune your messaging out.

The Old Spice campaign was brilliant because it was a great mix of cultural, economic and creative energy that resulted in a unique and entertaining concept that challenged our assumptions of what an advertising campaign was. As we embark on a new year, it will be interesting to see which social advertising campaigns in 2011 are most able to transcend the traditional walls of advertising, and entertain us.

Ford paves road with Social, drives message home with Traditional

Social media is growing up. No longer just viewed as an augment or value-add initiative, more and more brands are starting to lead with their social strategy.

The new Ford Fiesta 2011 campaign is the latest example of a big brand seeding and engaging online through social media prior to unleashing a follow-on traditional media campaign.

The campaign is a “paradigm shift” for Ford, since it’s the first time the automaker has marketed a new car using social media, and then followed up with traditional media, said VanDyke. The strategy was to establish brand awareness prior to entering the U.S. small car market. In the first 18 months, Ford sold 750,000 Fiesta 2011 units in Europe and Asia. In the U.S., however, Ford doesn’t have a small car presence. Hence, a social media campaign, dubbed “Fiesta Movement,” which kicked off last year to fuel the necessary hype, VanDyke said.

Not only is the digital/social-first mantra becoming more prevalent, but it is also bringing more focus and greater emphasis on gaining earned-media traction from traditional campaign efforts.

An idea that doesn’t generate more content isn’t a very good idea.

via Brandweek

The ‘Coke Side of Life’ is full of digital and social media

845665-media_httpwwwjamescogancomimagescocagif_qeJwIewEHHflpAFThe ‘Coke Side of Life‘ is full of digital and social media…

Clyde Tuggle, SVP of corporate affairs and productivity at Coke, noted “mass media is declining in importance,” when introducing the new department in a memo to staff, which the beverage manufacturer shared with PRWeek.Our future success depends on our continued ability to connect people to our brands and our Company all around the world, one person at a time,” Tuggle wrote. “Our new office of digital communications and social media will help us become even more comfortable and effective in these new spaces.”

via Coca-Cola launches office of digital and social media

Twitter IDs are the New Domain Names

Bill Sweetman from Yummy Names beat me to the blogging punch (not hard to do these days given my lack of posting!) and wrote a great post on a topic I had been thinking about for some time – the growing importance of claiming your Twitter ID. As Twitter continues its ascent into the consumer mainstream, and businesses continue to flock to the medium to engage with their customers and clients, your Twitter ID is fast-becoming a vital extension of your brand and persona.

Even if you don’t understand Twitter or don’t think it has a role to play in your company’s marketing efforts today, I strongly urge you to still secure your Twitter ID now. …I predict that over the next few years, millions of dollars will be spent by companies buying, selling, and fighting over Twitter IDs. I have already seen a number of nasty legal spats develop, and I have personally brokered the sale of several Twitter IDs already. And this is only the very beginning… If you are Acme Furniture, you should make sure you get your hands on @acmefurniture right away. Since there is no fee to register a Twitter ID, you have no excuse not to do this. Simply head on over to and sign up for a free account. Don’t be the person who in a year or two is having to explain to their company President why you didn’t secure the company name as a Twitter ID. Take two minutes and do it today.

Bill also astutely mentions that if you fail to use your account for 6 months, Twitter will suspend it. While Twitter IDs are a use-it-or-lose-it scenario (not the case with domain names), at this time Twitter seems happy to keep your account active with very minimal usage ie, one tweet every few months should suffice. So if you were sitting on the fence about using Twitter, don’t wait until you’re done strategizing how to leverage this new social media juggernaut to grab your Twitter ID – do it now! via Canadian Marketing Association

Top Kindergarten Prospect?

I really enjoyed watching this video about Marquise Walker, a young basketball phenom and his father. Not only is the kid quite a special talent, but the story behind the story is equally if not more fascinating than what this kid can do with a basketball at such a young age. The father is using YouTube and a carefully crafted marketing strategy (that started when Marquise was 2!) to get his son national exposure and a genuine shot at a career in basketball.

UGV gets a bad rap

User-generated video (UGV) gets a bad rap. Here are three reasons why user-generated video is king…845654-media_httpwwwjamescogancomimagesugvjpg_ytDEEivsxAbpAmo

#1 – UGV: Many people continue to make broad-sweeping generalizations about user-generated videos as though they are all equal. That’s a big mistake because UGV is the deepest and widest bucket of online video content, and it also garners the most attention. UGV cuts across every demographic line, has many tiers of varying production values and quality, and hits on every topic or category imaginable. While many big-brand advertisers don’t want their brands next to all UGV, I believe many big-brand advertisers want their brands next to some of it. That is a technology problem, and like all technology problems, nobody should sweat them because eventually they always get solved.

In fact, as UGV continues to evolve and mature, more of it will begin to look a lot more like semi-professional and professional video content. While talent is not universal, it is incredibly widespread, and as the tools to create high-quality video continue to proliferate, get better and cheaper, the volume of ‘better quality’ UGV will continue to rise.

#2 – Attention, attention, attention: UGV tallied 22 billion views in 2007, up 70% over 2006. Where there is mass attention, there inevitably are ways to monetize it. If urinals can have ads, so too will some of the lowest forms of UGV. Technology and time will solve this. Similar to blog content, which when it first began to gather momentum had the same knock against it. In the early days of blogging, many pundits thought nobody would make money from it because advertisers wouldn’t want their ads next to some random person’s diatribes. Technology solved that problem and will do so for UGV. Ironically, it’s unscripted video blogging that scares mainstream media execs more than any other form of online video. Why? Because people love watching it, and mainstream media can’t do it.

#3 – 3rd Party advertising blinders: If you’re constantly thinking about 3rd-party advertising when it comes to monetizing online video, you are not seeing the big picture, or the future of online video. As an addendum to point #2, attention can and will always be monetizable and YouTube as well as many other online video distributors will eventually make a good portion of revenues indirectly from the attention that UGV garners. This revenue won’t come from serving 3rd-party ads. Gotta think outside the box a little, but soon you will begin to see some very interesting monetization strategies play out in the online video space that have absolutely nothing to do with serving 3rd-party ads.

It’s far too easy to get caught in the moment of ‘now’ when it comes to online video. These are early days still. What seems difficult to monetize today, may be the cash cow of tomorrow. Stay tuned, and don’t get caught in the echo chamber when it comes to UGV.

image cred abbyladybug

Tastes great, more filling – Miller ‘gets’ blogging

Miller Brewing Company started blogging in July 2007 on a blog called ‘Brew Blog’. My first reaction when I read about this was ‘just another corporate blog’. 95% of the time, I’d probably be right in that assumption. But in this case, Miller did something different and I believe we are going to be seeing more and more companies follow their lead. Instead of blogging about all things Miller, they started a beer industry blog that covers everything, including their competitors and their products. And if you think they just slam their competition all day, think again. Their coverage is industry-wide and their reportage tone comes across as unbiased, and if there is bias, at least you know where it is coming from.

Brew Blog is the brainchild of Paul Pendergrass and Pete Marino, communications consultants for Miller who wanted the brewer to have more influence over what’s covered in the industry. In 2006, they recruited Mr. Arndorfer from Advertising Age and told him to cover the sector like a beat reporter would.

Miller has now become a publisher and they are filling up their industry niche with meaningful content. Miller is using the blog platform to enhance brand awareness in a much more powerful way than just an extension of their PR messaging. Cheers to Miller for thinking outside the corporate blog box. And hey, if you really get good at being a publisher, your competition will come to you…

The blog has enough influence that a staffer at a PR agency for Anheuser pitched a story to Mr. Arndorfer (Brew Blog) about Budweiser’s Superbowl ads. A representative for Tecate, a Mexican beer, inquired about running an ad on the site.

via WSJ

Facebook fatique – more friction needed?

It seems the ‘issue du jour’ in webland these days is ‘Facebook Fatigue’. I’ve never really used Facebook, so I’m by no means an authority on this. But it seems to me that based on what I do know of Facebook the major problem it faces is a lack of friction.

What do I mean by friction? Dating sites are a really good example of this. Why are most dating sites not that good for dating? Because they don’t have enough ‘friction’ built into it. Dating sites are a great example of this because in most cases women get hounded by men on these sites, and often times those are men she would never give the time of day to if she could control it. But dating sites typically don’t value a woman’s attention nearly as much as it should, and therefore attractive women get bombarded by friend requests, IM, winks etc. from guys they don’t want to date. We need friction in life. It takes courage and confidence to strike up conversation with an attractive lady in a bar, but it takes no courage or confidence to hound that lady through a web app. There is a natural, built-in friction/barrier to real-life social behaviour and dating, but if that friction isn’t somehow integrated into the web service, sooner or later people will get overwhelmed and hence burnout ensues.

It seems to me that Facebook has reaped the benefits of low-friction in the form of rapid growth, but if they don’t find ways to integrate more friction into their service soon, people could begin dropping it quickly. A really good example of a dating site that intimately understands the importance of barriers and friction, is