Site moved to www.rohitbhargava.com, redirecting in 1 second...

175 posts categorized "Word of Mouth Marketing"

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2012 Edition: 15 Marketing and Business Trends That Matter

Let me tell you a little secret.  I look forward to putting together an annual trend report the same way that some people look forward to having Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. I realize that may sound a bit strange, but ever since I did my first trend recap last year I was hooked.  This year, the process of collecting the trends took all year.  I have a folder on my desk labelled "Trends 2012" and throughout the year I would rip out articles from magazines or printout webpages to save. Last November I started actually writing my trend presentation and finally released it on Slideshare yesterday. 

 
A few things surprised me about the trends this year. Here are a few of the most unexpected things:
  1. Only 2 out of 15 trends are based on innovative technology (Trends #10 and #13). Given the prominence of technology in our lives and more and more digital tools, I expected that more of the trends for 2012 would be based entirely on technology innovation. That ended up not being the case as most of the trends focused more on either behaviours or the use of sites and technology that already exist and don't really require much innovation in order to keep growing.
  2. Creativity and design are more important than ever. While it would have been too obvious to point this out as a trend on its own, many of the trends that were included in the presentation were highly dependent on encouraging more creativity and delivering great design. Measuring Life, for example, has taken off in part thanks to great product and interface designs. Pointillist Filmmaking or Social Artivism are clearly based on creativity and design. Even Retail Theater, Tagging Reality and Charitable Engagement are all trends that require creative thinking and  strong ability to use design to engage people.
  3. People actively seek opportunities to participate, collaborate or experience something. Doing something together came up as a big motivator for many of the trends this year, as Social Loneliness led people to look for more opportunities to have great experiences or be part of something worthwhile. Pointillist Filmmaking, Civic Engagement 2.0 and Retail Theater are all examples where people are seeking the chance to participate in something. Charitable Engagement ChangeSourcing and Co-Curation are other trends where people offer their time and passions to collaborate together on something.

Let me know what you think about these trends with a comment here or on Facebook, or feel free to send me an email at influentialmarketing@gmail.com.  Next week I'll be starting my trend folder to gather stories for 2013 ...

If you would like to get a downloadable version of this presentation, you can find it on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/rohitmarketingauthor.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

What Steve Jobs Really Gave Us

IMB_SteveJobs100511 A few weeks ago I was asked an interesting question about what inspires me.  As I thought about my answer, I realized that for me it isn't a person but rather an action that I find most inspirational.  The people around the world who have an idea and decide to do something about it deserve to be celebrated. Entrepreneurship itself is the thing that I find most inspirational. 

Last night as I was watching all the media coverage honoring Steve Jobs and his life, it got me thinking that perhaps his biggest impact on the world wasn't just the products that he helped create, but rather in showing the world just how much people can achieve when they are inspired. Inspiration itself can be like that - a lightning rod that takes an army of smart people and helps them create something real. To me, his power to inspire came down to three things:

  1. Passion - By all reports of the people who worked with him, he lived and breathed the products that his company would work on. He would call engineers in the middle of the night, stress over a font or color choice and sometimes micromanage those small details. Still because of that passion and desire to be involved in the day to day work - not only could he make the products better, but he knew the products so well that when it came time to introduce them on stage to the world he wouldn't need to rely on bullet points prepared for him by product specialists. 
  2. Purpose - With every new product release, you got the sense that Apple was focused on changing the world in some new way. The ecosystem that each of the products allowed, from new operating systems to iTunes to the billion dollar market for Apps were all poised to make a big impact on how each of us experiences the world. This was the higher purpose behind Apple, and you could see it through the products they released. 
  3. Simplicity - When asked by biographers about what made Apple so powerful, one thing Steve Jobs always pointed to was the fact that Apple had always been a company which made less than 10 products. This extreme focus on simplicity carried through in his conversations with employees and how he would present products to the public. Simplicity can inspire because you strip away everything that is unimportant. What you are left with is a big idea which can move people. 

No doubt there will be countless books, articles and stories written about Steve Jobs and his impact over the coming years. For me, the biggest lesson I learned from watching and reading about Steve Jobs is the power of inspiration and how it can lead people to change the world. 

More posts about Apple on this blog:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Facebook, Cauliflower And How Liking Anything Just Became Important Again

IMB_disgustingcauliflower I actively hate cauliflower. In marketing terms, you could call me a brand dectractor ... as I am generally pretty vocal about my dislike of the sweat-sock-smelling-mush-flavored vegetable. Hate is often extreme like that, and most of us believe passionately in what we dislike. What we "like" on the other hand, has been getting devalued for some time. Five years ago, I might have described my likes with a similar passion. Now I might click a "like" button just to download a free PDF, or get a coupon for a free drink. Facebook made the "Like" button a price of admission, and in doing so, they started the trend towards devaluing the idea of liking anything.

Facebook-buttons1 Last week at the f8 Developers Conference, they announced a fix that will not only change how you use Facebook - it will also change the way that we generally perceive the value of liking something as well. As Mark Zuckerberg described in his keynote, "you don't have to LIKE a book - you can just READ a book. You don't have to LIKE a movie, you can just WATCH a movie."  Over the coming weeks, Facebook will launch a standard set of buttons for "watching, reading and listening" - as well as using their Open Graph to let developers create buttons of their own (follow link for source of the mock graphic list of potential Facebook buttons at right). As the AllThingsD blog from the Wall Street Journal notes, this will likely lead to an "oversharing explosion" as people can get over the barrier of not wanting to broadcast an implied endorsement for something that they may just be consuming but not really "liking." 

More importantly, I think this will help us all return to the importance that we have assigned for centuries to the idea of actually liking something. Now I don't have to like something as a cost of entry, so I'm free to only declare my like for those things that I truly feel that way about. Likeability always mattered - but with Facebook's latest update it can finally return to the importance it once had.

By rethinking the Like button, Facebook has finally made liking anything as important as it used to be. 

Author's Note: I had a special connection to this topic as I'm working on a book with a working title of Likeonomics. It is not a book about Facebook, it is about the value and importance of likeability to marketing, communications and personal success. Though I am not finished writing it yet, you can bet this story and Facebook's mixed history with the "Like" button will be an important story in the book ...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Toyota Venza Reminds Us Of The Dangers Of Evangelism

If there is one universal truth that almost no one in the world of technology or social media has figured out, it might be this: everyone hates evangelists. No matter what they are "evangelizing" - the world view anyone who claims this title for themselves usually has is that the product, service or idea that they have to share with the world is one that everyone should adopt. Evangelists don't see the world as it is - they see it as a place that would be better if only more people agreed with them.

That kind of one-sided thinking is dangerous, whether for joining Facebook, adopting a religion, buying an iPad or anything else. I found an unlikely reminder of this several days ago through a brilliant ad for the Toyota Venza which pits an active middle aged couple against their teenage social media obsessed daughter. As they go out into the world and enjoy their lives, their daughter laments about how "anti-social" they are and calls their 19 friends on Facebook "so sad." Check it out:



How many times might any "social media enthuasiast" find ourselves in exactly that same position? In the ad, the daughter (played perfectly by Allyn Rachel - @allynrachel on Twitter) is an evangelist for a technology that her parents are managing to do just fine without. For me, the ad stood out as a rare reminder that there is a hidden cost to our growing culture of evangelists. As marketers work to build "brand ambassadors" and ordinary customers find pleasure (and sometimes revenue) in becoming the unofficial voices for brands - there will be a coming backlash against those who are overly evangelical.

So instead of so much dueling evangelism, what if each of us just focused on ourselves instead of "converting" others to our point of view?   In an ideal world, people should always feel free to share their passion about the things they love ... as long as we all don't have to agree on what those things are.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What The Royal Wedding Can Teach You About Insignificance

IMB_RoyalWedding If you believe most global media, in less than 24 hours we will all witness one of the landmark historical moments of the past century: the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The importance of this wedding goes far beyond engaging those with an extended case of royal fever, though. Photographers are angling for the perfect career-making shot. Fashion designers are enjoying the spotlight as they get interviewed about the glamour of the event. Everyone, it seems, wants their own piece of the global hysteria around the wedding.

Over at the Harvard Business Review website, writer Rosabeth Moss Kanter made a convincing argument for the business value of the wedding and "Why CEOs Should Watch The Royal Wedding." One interesting effect of this attention on so many levels is that it has demonstrated a value in the little things which so often go unnoticed. For a brief moment, while the Royal Wedding captures the attention of the world ... the insignificant will take center stage. Who designed Prince Wiliam's cufflinks? What will the royal horses be fed? How long is the red carpet?

Each of these alone are completely trivial questions but in the context of a frenzy of excitement, they add dimension to an event that everyone can be part of. You may not camp out for days outside Westminster Abbey to secure a good vantage point for the wedding, but you can surely enjoy a bit of the trivia and perhaps even share it with your social network.

The Royal Wedding is reminding us that insignificance can be a form of social currency. When you know the secret of Prince William's cufflinks (whatever it may be), you are likely to share it wth others. And this effect is not just confined to the Royal Wedding either. The thing about insignificance and trivialities is that we often cannot help sharing them with others.

The brands who do a good job of sharing these types of stories (from the meaningful to the insignificant) are the ones who can more effectively arm their most passionate customers and believers with intesting ideas and content to share.

In other words, insignificance matters.

Monday, February 28, 2011

6 Marketing Lessons From A Hollywood Movie Producer

IMB_TellToWin_PeterGuber The morning after the Academy Awards celebrated everything about movies, the one underappreciated ingredient that every winning film had was a champion that helped that film to get made. Usually that person is the producer, who could easily be described as as a cheerleader with vision. The producer is the one who needs to believe in a film and be willing to put their reputation on the line to help it get made. Peter Guber is one of the most well known producers in Hollywood and the former Head of Sony Pictures. The first time I met Peter Guber was over breakfast in Beverly Hills. The legendary producer of iconic films like Gorillas in the Mist and Rainman shared with me the philosophy that carried him to success during his unusually long career in Hollywood (a place notorious for encouraging short-lived careers). It was one of the most enlightening conversations I've had, and it was not because of filmmaking but rather because of Peter's belief that the power of storytelling is the secret at the heart of his success.

Peter has spent his lifetime actually becoming a master marketer, which is why I am thrilled that his first book called Tell To Win is coming out tomorrow. He was kind enough to share an advance copy, and here are just a few of the marketing lessons that I took from spending a short hour talking with him and having the chance to read his book (which I will review in my Influential Marketing Book List for March):

IMB_TellToWin_Contact Arouse Your Listener's Curiosity. One of my favourite science fiction movies is the film Contact with Jodie Foster. It turns out the first moment when Carl Sagan sold the movie rights to that book happened before he even wrote it. At a backyard lunch session, he described the vision for a story where an alien race made contact with humans and sent a message with instructions on how to build something that might enable more direct contact. The story of what would be built, and who would get to take the one seat it contained was the story of Contact - but the way Sagan sold the idea was by planting the seed of the story and asking Peter whether he would want to know what happened next. Of course he would, as we all would - and the movie was sold on the spot and made into an award winning film.

IMB_TellToWin_Rosenblatt Make Your Customer The Hero. In 2005, entrepreneur Richard Rosenblatt sold his company Intermix Media, the parent of MySpace.com, to Rupert Murdoch and News Corp for $580 million. It was one of the largest deals at the time for an online media company, and speaking to students at UCLA, Rosenblatt shared that he had made the sale in just 20 minutes. How did he do it? When he talked to Murdoch, he had done a masterful job of painting him as the hero of the story. He shared how Murdoch had been forward thinking in every other aspect of media except for the Internet and that he was overdue for making a big statement on the web. Buying Intermix could be that statement, and at the close of the meeting Rosenblatt shared an almost impossible prediction: "One year from today you will be on the cover of WIRED magazine." One year later, Murdoch was indeed on the cover and sent an autographed copy to Rosenblatt.

IMB_TellToWin_MichaelJackson Know Where The Drama Is. Iconic music legend Michael Jackson may well have been one of the greatest entertainers who ever lived, but in 1991 when Peter described meeting him - he had only one thing on his mind ... getting into movies and television. His philosophy that he shared with Peter that day was all about drama, and he brought it to life by showing Peter the massive glass terrarium in his home where he kept a huge snake. He placed a mouse inside and talked about how he needed to feed "Muscles" live mice because the snake enjoyed the game of catching the mouse. "What will happen next?" Michael asked. The drama was in watching the game unfold and understanding that dramatic tension as much as the power of his music or the fluidity of his dance moves made Michael Jackson the amazing performer that he was.

Visualize Your Data. There was a time back in the 70s where directors and stars for films were chosen based solely on relationships and very unscientific guesswork about who was available at a particular time. When Peter started his career, he created something that he called his "board of directors." It was literally a board that he put on the wall of his office which mapped out every recognized director, what types of films they had made, what their current project was, and when they would be available. It wasn't long before stories of this corkboard covered in pushpins and rope became a legend around Hollywood and movie execs as well as stars like Sidney Portier stopped into Peter's office to take a look. More than any other aspect of his career, Peter credits this board and his dedication to visualizing the hearsay-style data that existed around Hollywood into his "board of directors" with helping him to accelerate his career within Hollywood.

IMB_TellToWin_PatRiley Imagine The World You Want. When Pat Riley, the legendary coach of the LA Lakers in the 1980s was coaching the Miami Heat in the 2006 Championship Game, he gave his players some rather odd instructions. Game six out of seven was at home in Miami, and the Heat had the chance to win the championship outright with a win in that sixth game. Going to seven games meant they would have to travel to Dallas, which historically meant that winning would be much tougher. So Riley told his players to pack for just one day. Not two or three, but only one change and one uniform, because the Heat would be champions after that sixth game - and it worked.

IMB_TellToWin_DavidCopperfield Prove Your Sincerity. David Copperfield is the most recognized magician in modern history, and also one of the most highly paid and frequently seen celebrities in Las Vegas. His mastery of magic is clear - but as Peter shares in Tell To Win, it was his ability to tell stories in a sincere way that really allowed him to connect with his audience. In one particular show, he shared the story of his grandfather and his personal quest to connect with him but inability to do it because his grandfather never understood him or the draw of magic. As he shared this personal frustration with the audience, they connect with him and his story on a human level. It wasn't about the magic alone. After the show, what most audience members talked about apart from floating cars and other amazing tricks, would be the way that Copperfield was able to bring everyone watching into the show with his personal story.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Small Business Saturday: Amex's Smartest Marketing Effort Yet

IMB_SmallBizSaturday_Amex This morning as most Americans will wake up after the busiest "Black Friday" shopping day of the year, a weekend of buying and saving is likely to continue as people start to catch up on buying things they need and things they don't. This year, however, Black Friday will be followed by the newly named "Small Business Saturday." Heavily promoted by American Express* along with thousands of partnering small businesses, this is an integrated effort to get more Americans to choose to shop at smaller establishment on one day. Aside from being exactly the kind of promotion anyone should love to see from a big company like American Express, there are a few other points that make this a marketing effort that could easily be one of the most inspired from a company who has some of the best marketing and communications of any brand in any industry. Here are a few things I love about this concept (and lessons you can take away from it):

  1. Put your money where your marketing is. Instead of just promoting this day as a feel good moment in time, Amex is also offering a $25 statement credit to anyone who registers for the promotion and then shops at a participating small business. In addition to the emotional incentive of helping a small business in your area, this credit demonstrates that Amex is willing to put some real money behind helping small businesses and giving back to those which use and accept American Express.
  2. Integrate your promotion. Though I heard about Small Business Saturday quite some time ago, I also saw TV ads for it, full page print ads, Facebook advertising and heard about it on the radio. Of course, this is advice that any marketer would love to follow if they had the same budget as Amex has to spend on all these channels - but taking this type of integrated approach really helps to cement the idea in the minds of Americans and make sure as many people as possible know about Small Business Saturday.
  3. Create a social hub. All the materials and information for Small Business Saturday exist on a Facebook page that gained well over a million fans in less than three weeks. From this page, you can not only learn about and register for the effort - but also download signs and banners for your business to use online or in real life to show that you are participating, and also get access to extended tools and information to help your small business (such as the Open Forum website which I am also a contributor to). In another effort to put their money behind this promotion, Amex also offered free Facebook advertising credits for small businesses as well.
  4. Stand for something bigger. Perhaps the most important lesson from not only Small Business Saturday, but also all of Amex's efforts to connect with and support small businesses is that it allows a brand that could be just another credit card company using Vikings in TV ads to try and sell their latest credit card to stand for something bigger. Amex is the champion of small businesses, and small businesses are the "backbone of the US economy" (as the often repeated cliche in business goes).
  5. Demonstrate real results. While Small Business Saturday is just happening today, the last piece that will complete this promotion will be Amex reporting back to the country and media on the impact that the entire effort made on the US economy. How many dollars people spent with small businesses, how many times their statement credit offer was redeemed, and how many small businesses participated. With this last piece of the puzzle, this campaign could turn out to not only be among the finest that Amex has ever done - but also be converted into a marketing case study that business school students will study in the future.

* American Express is a client of Ogilvy, my employer, and I have worked on marketing campaigns for Amex in the past as well as contribute to their Open Forum website. I did not work on the Small Business Saturday program, however, and this post was not solicited or paid for in any way.

Monday, November 01, 2010

How Political Advertising Is Killing Marketing (And How To Fight Back)

Political advertising ought to be stopped. It's the only really dishonest kind of advertising that's left.
                - David Ogilvy

IMB_Politician If marketing were a person, political advertising would be its cancer. I work in marketing and have never worked on a political campaign, so despite my choice to live in Washington DC - my perspective is not one of a political insider. Instead, I am a marketer and voting American who sees with increasing frequency TV spots, radio ads, print advertising and online banners designed to instill fear, spread lies and intentionally confuse people. To some degree, the "Rally to Restore Sanity" this past weekend in DC was inspired by this advertising.

Yet this is not a partisan problem limited to one side or the other. The central problem with political advertising in the US is that it is has become more important to fabricate a list of negative things that your opponent stands for instead of having to stand for something yourself. Instead of electing people based on their ideas and qualifications, this advertising tries to motivate us to vote for someone based on a fear that the other guy (or girl) might win.

Aside from the politics of it, though, as marketers we need to care about this because it is destroying the credibility of our profession. When people see advertising as manipulating them with half-truths, this perception extends far beyond politics. The next time you are trying to promote a product or service, you have to do it to the same cynical public that has become wary of marketing messages due in large part to unethical and misleading forms of marketing such as political advertising.

Though this may seem like a big problem, I believe the solution is actually quite simple. Political advertising should have to follow the same parameters as any other kind of marketing. Coke cannot create and run a marketing campaign solely talking about the 12 ways that Pepsi could kill you, steal your school's funding and pull the plug on your sick grandma. Why is this acceptable in political advertising?

Right now, there are vague rules around "misrepresentation" - but most competent communicators can find a source for just about any statement. The rule needs to be stronger. After the election tomorrow, we need new legislation that makes it illegal for political ads to talk about opponents instead of themselves. These so-called "attack ads" are at the heart of the problem.

If you want to run a marketing message on behalf of a candidate for public office, it should be about what he or she stands for and what they will do if elected. When more of this marketing focuses on positive messages instead of negative, then we all win. As marketers and business people with products and services to promote, we all need to stand up and lead this call - because it is in our best interests as well. Not just as professionals, but as citizens.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Life And Marketing Lessons From LIVESTRONG CEO Doug Ulman

IMB_Livestrong_DougUlman Every day too many people hear the three worst words in the English language: "you have cancer." That was one of the many insights that emerged in my talk with Doug Ulman on the stage last night at BlogWorld as we talked about the fight against cancer, his personal battle as a three time cancer survivor and how social tools have helped LIVESTRONG to become one of the most social media savvy organizations in the world of healthcare and perhaps in any industry. With nearly a million followers on Twitter, Doug himself was recently described in a Fast Company piece as the "most savvy healthcare leader in social media" - a description he shrugs off because it has never been a goal for him to achieve that sort of niche notoriety.

The discussion we had, though, was telling of not only his personal philosophy but an enlightened way of thinking about openness and authenticity within an organization that more and more businesses will be looking to for inspiration. Some people know LIVESTRONG from the association with its founder Lance Armstrong. Others know it from the ever present yellow wristbands that many at the event were wearing to remember people in their own lives who had fought against cancer. As we opened the session, I asked people to stand if they were a survivor of cancer, or had a loved one who had fought cancer or if they had someone who had lost the fight against cancer. By the end of it, everyone was standing.

IMB_Livestrong_BlogWorldKeynote After our session, several people came to me and shared that this was one of those topics that went beyond social media and at a conference like BlogWorld where it is easy to focus just on very tactical things like building an audience for your blog or how to rank higher on Google or how to earn more money from writing ... the bigger picture can be forgotten. Doug's story, for me and many others, helped to bring back that perspective to the event. You can watch our full talk on UStream below - but here are a few highlights that I will take away as advice for how to better use social media to spread an idea, and more importantly, how to be a better person.

  1. Be Compassionate. It has become easy not to really care about anything. You can follow advice blindly, do what you are supposed to do and forget about the all important quality of compassion. Yet this compassion is such an important piece of how we connect with one another. It means that you are not only listening to someone, but you actually care about their experience and what they are sharing with you. For Doug, this compassion is a necessity, because some of the people he interacts with may very well be going through the worst experience of their lives. The real question is, how compassionate are you on a daily basis with things that may seem much more ordinary? Compassion stands out. It makes you memorable, and it makes your conversations more meaningful.
  2. Try Out Your Dumb Ideas. There was a marketing idea that Nike shares with LIVESTRONG which nearly everyone who heard it hated. It was half baked, relied on a behaviour from people that there was no reasonable basis to expect would happen, and seemed even to visionary leaders like Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, to be a complete waste of time. That idea was to create 5000 yellow bracelets with the words "LIVESTRONG" and the Nike swoosh on them and sell them for $1 each. Then, elite athletes started wearing these bracelets, others wanted them, and the idea went viral. Now the LIVESTRONG yellow bracelet is as recognizable as any iconic cause related symbol all across the world. If LIVESTRONG had killed that idea based on feedback, they would have missed a game changing opportunity. Sometimes you need to let dumb ideas be tried, because they just might work.
  3. Channel Instead Of Shutting Down. Every day around the world someone wants to create something to help promote the mission of LIVESTRONG. With a brand to manage, though, the challenge is how to take all of this well meaning energy and make sure that it is being used in an efficient way without damaging the core things that the brand stands for. Doug and his team spend a lot of time identifying people around the world as LIVESTRONG leaders and giving them the tools to work in their local communities to promote the mission of LIVESTRONG, while staying connected to the core organization. This focus on channeling all the energy towards a common goal rather than shutting people out pays off with happy, engaged and motivated leaders and advocates around the world.
  4. Use Social Media To Focus On The Real World. Social media can feel like a very virtual and intangible world where people give each other digital high-fives and just do things like chatting, poking, friending and following. One of the biggest things you can see if you look at the content and experiences on LIVESTRONG is that social media is a key way that their organization helps people to connect with one another IN REAL LIFE. They organize events and biking tours, they host runs and local fundraisers. All of this activity can be coordinated online through social media, and content that is generated may live on social media - but the end goal is to get people to connect in real life and get to know one another and build the community.

If you do want to see the full video of our session, you can check out the live video on UStream or watch it below. Also, from the stage we announced the second year of the #beatcancer program - an online effort to raise money for cancer research to be donated to multiple organizations (including LIVESTRONG). To participate, just include the hashtag #beatcancer in a tweet and 5 cents will be donated by one of our corporate partners to cancer research. Last year this effort set a Guiness Book of World Records mark with over 200,000 tweets in 24 hours - and this we want to top that mark. Please participate and add your voice to the global fight against cancer by tweeting #beatcancer!

Monday, September 20, 2010

How A Portuguese Singer Got 20 Million Views On YouTube

IMB_AnaFree2 Ana Free is a singer and songwriter from Portugal who started her career with a simple idea. For the past three years she has been recording herself in locations ranging from her bedroom to regional concert stages singing cover versions of popular songs and her own original compositions accompanied by just her guitar and posting those videos on YouTube. Alone, that doesn't seem like anything countless other singers might have tried to do, right?

The difference is that this collection of simple videos on YouTube has gathered more than 20 million views and brought this relatively unknown singer fans from around the world - including more than 20,000 on Facebook. She was recently featured in a music video from the band Hands On Approach and self released her own album last year on CD Baby.

In a world where the music industry seems to face a new struggle almost every month and many in the music industry fear that the next generation of consumers are growing up with a perception that music is something that they should not have to pay for - what could Ana Free teach us about marketing, engagement and the potential future for up and coming musicians around the world? Here are a few lessons:
  1. Share your beginnings. One of the most powerful things about Ana's story is that you can see the whole history of it on YouTube. All of her videos (including her first video) are available on her channel and watching them gives you the sense that you are seeing a talented musician mature with each video - and offers a personal connection to her story because you get to see it evolve.
  2. Be authentic. A common theme in her videos is the authenticity with which they are recorded. She sings to her cat, shows outtakes from recording sessions and sometimes forgets the words to songs. All of these pieces are captured on video and give the viewer a sense that they are seeing some real and unscripted - a welcome change to all the overly produced and narcissistically perfected music videos available online today.
  3. Use a common language. By starting with doing cover songs that people would recognize, Ana uses the common language of popular songs to introduce herself and her style to her audience. While she does have original songs, if she only had those, her views and audience would likely be far smaller. Singing songs from other artists is a simple way to reduce the barriers that may exist for people to engage with her music.
  4. Find complimentary partners. At several points, Ana partners with other musicians who themselves have large and active YouTube audiences like Maria Zouroudis. These duets allow her to engage another audience outside of her own and introduce herself to music fans who will likely enjoy her music as well because it is a similar style to the other musicians who she partners with.
  5. Ask for help from your community. When Ana finally released her own album, all the videos in her channel used tagging and links to drive viewers of any video to listen to her music and get a copy of it. She also posted a video asking for help in promoting the album and spreading the world. By integrating this promotion with all her existing videos and directly asking for help, she is engaging the community which has supported her over 3 years and asks them to take the next step by talking about her new album and recommending it to others.