Site moved to, redirecting in 1 second...

156 posts categorized "Consumer Generated Media"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Surprisingly Simple Secret of Social Advertising

IMB_LaserTargetingThere is a military technique described by the acronym LTD which you should know about. It stands for Laser Targeting Designators and it is basically a laser light source which is used to designate a target. In other words, by "lasing targets" - you put a marker on something so that when you shoot at it, you are more likely to hit it. Marketing people are fond of using military terms like campaigns, targets and hits to describe what we do. For all of our militaristic language, however, most of us don't actually do a good job of paying attention to what elements of military strategy might actually help us to influence people to change behaviour, belief or buying patterns.

IMB_NYAMAEventLTD is that kind of idea - and it might just offer the real secret to succeeding with social advertising. Earlier this week I had the chance to take part in an impromptu panel discussion hosted by the New York chapter of the AMA and moderated by the effervescent Gemma Craven from the Social@Ogilvy team all about effective social media strategy. Jon Lombardo, one of the social media leads at General Electric, shared a philosophy that a growing number of smart and savvy corporate social media teams are using. It has four very straightforward (though not easy!) steps:
  1. Focus on creating valuable and engaging content. 
  2. Reduce lead time and create a lot of it. 
  3. Create an "early warning system" metric to identify content that your audience appreciates. 
  4. Double down on that content by purchasing social advertising to promote it.

Creating lots of content is the first step - and finding what works early is the social advertising equivalent of lasing the target. Then when you buy the social advertising to scale that content, you already know it is likely to work. In order to do it, you need to understand the difference between what I often describe as something going "microviral" versus something going "macroviral."

Microviral means you have a lot of views, sharing, commenting or some other form of engagement in a very short period of time. The volume doesn't matter at this stage - all that matters is the speed. If ten people like something within 30 seconds of your posting it, you have a sign of something going microviral. The numbers may vary depending on the size of your audience, but speed here is everything.

Macroviral is that point where you add scale to generate high volume of engagement. The most important thing to remember for this is that most things don't jump from going microviral to going macroviral without help. This is where social advertising comes in. When you have good content that people like, use your advertising to boost it and get more people to see and share it.

In a nutshell, this is the technique that GE has been employing to promote what is working. I have seen similar philosophies to content sharing and promotion being used by more than half a dozen of the world's largest brands that we work with as well. Not everything should be about "going viral" or creating short lived stunts. However, if your goal is to deliver your message at scale and reach exponentially more people with it - then remember the difference between going microviral and macroviral and create great content that is worth sharing and promoting.

Photo Credit: Rachel Caggiano on Instagram

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Best And Worst Of London 2012 Olympic Marketing Roundup

NOTE - To see a full visual roundup of the best and worst marketing, visit my London 2012 Olympic Marketing - Best & Worst Pinterest Board.


IMB_savethesecretAs the world turn its attention to the Games in London today, I'll have to indulge my Olympic passion from afar this time around.  I've been a lover of the Olympics since I was in college in Atlanta during the games in 1996.  They were a big reason I moved to Australia in 1998 and I was in Beijing in 2008 helping manage the Lenovo Voices of the Olympic Games program where we had 100 Olympic athletes blogging their experience in a pre-Twitter world.  So yes, I'm an enthusiast.  

This time around, I am going to share my passion for Olympic marketing with a platform that I haven't yet used all that much - Pinterest.  As I spent the last week looking at some of the most interesting marketing efforts from around the world - I saw everything from P&G's emotional "best job in the world" video to British Airway's unexpected campaign to encourage Britons NOT to fly.  One of the best early stories, to me, was the #savethesecret campaign launched to encourage people not to share the details about the Opening Ceremonies so people will still be surprised in watching it - a worthy challenge that I accept (and so you won't find any spoilers in this blog post).

Throughout the Games, great marketing stories will continue to emerge ... and so I plan to collect and share them through my Pinterest board - London 2012 Olympic Marketing - Best & Worst.  Over the next three weeks, if you see any great marketing examples, I would love to see you share them there as well. In the meantime, let's all get ready for the international spectacle of the Olympics ... there really isn't anything else like it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

12 Big Trends Transforming The World Of Retail Right Now

Last week I had the chance to deliver a keynote presentation at a merchandising event put on for some of the largest retailers in the US by the trade association  I shared some trends built upon consumer behaviour and incorporating some startups that are getting a lot of attention right now.  I don't share many of my presentations as they are often custom created specifically for events that I participate in, but this is one of the few that I can open up to a public audience.  So below you can see the full presentation embedded from Slideshare (and you can visit my Facebook page to download the PDF).  I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Problem With Curiosity

Curiosity isn't just for cats or cartoon monkeys. In fact, it may be one of the most powerful marketing forces that exists in the world today (and one I even wrote a guide for using several years ago).  Thanks to a combination of our natural human urges and what constitutes a "breaking story" in today's media environment - curiosity has been taking on a whole new significance lately.

Today, for example, the two LEADING media stories that people can't stop sharing, tweeting and talking about both peak our curiosity through their irresistable uselessness:

Pandas On A Slide:

San Diego Sets Off All Their Fireworks Simultaneously:

Both of these reminded me of a moment last year when I took a screen grab of the homepage of Yahoo. The lead story featured a headline of just three words: "Squirrel Dodges Lamborghini." At the time I tweeted about it, and dared people not to click the link. Few people were able to resist - just to see what the video would show them.

This drive to "see what happens" has always been a natural human behaviour. The ancient Roman thinker Cicero talked about curiosity as a "passion for learning" - and the noted Harvard psychologist Robert White in the 1960s wrote a groundbreaking paper about this human need to learn, calling it our "urge towards competence." For thousands of years, curiosity has been associated with learning and intellect. The best scientists were always curious about the world around them, for example. But curiosity means something else today.

Curiosity has shifted from a need to learn into a need for simulation. The phrase "for curiosity's sake" is just one example of how we think about curiosity today. In 2009 a veteran journalist named Charles P. Pierce wrote a brilliantly satirical book called "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became A virtue In The Land of the Free" all about the glorification of ignorance in our culture. 

Just wanting to "see what happens" has led to voyeuristic shows about misbehaving housewives, 450 pound "biggest losers" and anyone's silliest home videos memorializing their stupidity in exchange for cash payouts. The annual "tradition" for the 4th of July includes the idiotically American spectacle of a hot dog eating contest. No wonder we love the pandas. But there's a lesson in this as well. Curiosity will continue to have a hold on why people watch certain content and share it with others. In a world where there are more ways ot waste time than ever before, this new form of curiosity is likely here to stay.

The optimistic hope in this is that maybe over time we'll learn that "just seeing what happens" may actually become a legitimate form of learning as well. After all, you never know when you might need to dodge a Lamborghini for yourself ... 

Friday, June 29, 2012

"Somebody I Used To Know" & The Co-Created Future Of Musical Storytelling

IMB_Gotye_SomebodyIusedToKnowThe moment in 1981 when MTV officially launched its music channel by airing The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star" was a big moment in the history of music. While it may not have been the first moment when videos were merged with music, it was certainly one of the most powerful. All of a sudden you could not only experience a song and how it made you feel, you could also SEE an interpretation of what the songwriter actually meant.

At first this shift worried many music fans. After all, if you watched a video interpretation of a song, how could you really have the chance to interpret the song for yourself? As social media has grown over the past ten years, we have reached a point where an artist's interpretation of a song is only one possible alternative that fans of their music experience.

Through remakes, covers and mashup-style remixes ... individual content creators are all adding their own colors to the experience of a song as it is today. Perhaps no song illustrates this more powerfully than the "long tail" of interpretation that has accompanied Gotye's #1 chart topping single "Somebody That I Used To Know."

Looking at the evolution of the many different explorations of that song may offer a hint into the new impact that co-creation will likely have on how any of us experience music today and into the near future. To see what I mean, check out this series of embedded YouTube videos that all feature different takes on Gotye's song ... in descending order of YouTube views. 

As I watched them, my experience of the song itself started to evolve ... as it has for many others that I have seen covers and new versions for.  As this type of creation becomes easier (and more talented people start to do it), I wonder how much will this impact the experience any one of us have with the music we listen to?  

Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra) -
Official video (262 Million+ Views)

Walk off the Earth - "Somebody I Used To Know" Cover
(122 Million+ Views)

GLEE - Full Performance of "Somebody That I Used To Know"
(16 Million+ Views)

The Key Of Awesome - WOTE Parody - Somebody That I Used To Know
(1.4 Million+ Views)

Mia Sings - "Somebody That I used to know!" - Gotye
(93,000+ Views)

Friday, May 04, 2012

5 Marketing Lessons From Uber (The World's Best Travel App)

IMB_Uber1Several weeks ago I was standing on a street corner in New York. (This is not the sentence I thought I'd start this post with, but go with me ...) After unsuccessfully trying to hail a cab, I decided to try out an app I had heard about called Uber. I had heard it was useful for those kinds of situations. From the moment of signup - a process which took way less time than I expected, to the actual act of immediately booking a car and heading happily on my way to LaGuardia Airport just 15 minutes later - the experience transformed my NY trip. Experience itself is getting lots of great media attention for solving a big problem in the taxicab experience - but what was particularly interesting for me, of course, was the marketing lessons their successful experience can offer. Here are five big lessons you can learn from Uber:

  1. Simplify mobile signups. I hardly ever sign up for any kind of service on my phone, because typing on a touch screen is such a pain. Unfortunately, when signing up for Uber, I was literally standing on a street corner and had no choice. The app seemed to be designed for exactly that. They only captured the most important and basic details, and let me take a photo of my credit card to scan in the number (instead of having to type it). Every app and signup process should do this one simple thing.
  2. IMB_Uber3Add fun to necessary waiting. After I requested a pickup, the app confirmed that I had a driver ... but it didn't stop there. As I was waiting, the app showed a Google map image of where I was and where my car was. Then I could track my car's progress in real time as it drove to meet me. Sure I was checking email and Twitter while waiting, but it was actually fun (yes fun!) to watch that car coming closer and closer until it arrived exactly as the map predicted. No empty hoping that every next car would be mine. The entire experience was stress free.
  3. Give people useful data they didn't ask for. After my trip, I received an email with my final total cost for the trip and a receipt. This was what I expected. What I didn't expect was that they also told me exactly how long my journey had taken, how many miles we traveled (which is how they calculate the fare) and what the average speed was that whole time. I definitely didn't need that information, but somehow I was still glad to have it.
  4. Make rating a two way street. When your journey finishes, you have the chance to rate your driver - which is nice. What you don't expect is that your driver also has a chance to rate you. So now karma has a real rating system, and it penalizes you for being an a-hole to your driver, if you happen to be that kind of person. That's how the world should work, and people should get rewarded or penalized for how they treat other people, so I love this. Not to mention that it finally gives drivers some way to be part of that rating conversation as well.
  5. Don't apologize for excluding some people. The app has been criticized for its focus on urban city dwellers and price point that makes it about 50% more expensive than taxis, if not more. But this criticism also means that they have a clear picture of who their target audience is ... a consumer who doesn't mind paying more for the reliability and comfort of a clean black sedan that shows up exactly when you expect it.

All of these together make Uber probably my favourite new app ... and marketing story to offer lessons to each of us no matter what we are trying to promote.


Thursday, March 01, 2012

How MindValley Is Building the Next TED (Only More Useful)

IMB_TEDRobotThis morning I watched an amazing TED video of flying robots that can operate autonomously and collaborate with each other at the same time. It is exciting technology ... just the kind of thing you would expect to come out of a TED event. As I write this, the video (and its big finish where the robots play a song together) is rapidly going viral online, and I have to admit I love watching things like this. The only problem is, I'm not sure what I can do with this mind blowing example except to share it with friends. It is great to get me thinking about the world, but not immediately easy to apply to my daily life. 

IMB_VishenLakhianiEarlier today on stage at the Underground Online Seminar 8, Vishen Lakhiani had a collaborative idea of his own to unveil. In a conference room filled with over 500 online entrepreneurs - many of whom have made their entire fortunes selling advice online - his announcement was unexpected, to say the least. As Co-Founder and CEO of a company named MindValley that publishes personal growth products, Vishen fit right in with the group of internet business owners packed into the crowded Crystal City hotel ballroom just a few minutes outside Washington DC. 

His company MindValley has a bold mission to help help people achieve their dreams through offering them the tools and resources to inspire them to get there. The products the company has launched are among the most popular and best selling in the personal development space. The company has won multiple awards as an amazing place to work, takes their entire 75 person staff on an annual retreat to an exotic island, and works with speakers and visionaries in many different industries.


When Vishen took the stage, he talked about a common problem that any online entrepreneur will recognize - that great ideas are quickly and shamelessly stolen and copied. For MindValley, that meant that everything from copywriting to the design templates were being ripped off by their competitors and used to get results for themselves. Instead of getting angry, or speed dialing his lawyers (as other entrepreneurs might do), Vishen and his team embraced the copycats. And then they made a big promise.

Starting today, MindValley will be one of the first companies to be completely devoted to sharing everything about their business in an open source model. This means every template, every meeting, every spreadsheet about how they run their business will be shared online. The website just went live about 8 hours ago, and the site is filled with videos, written articles, advice and tips. The site promises a treasure chest of information on everything from hiring and retaining great people to effective branding. 

Why would they release all this material for free? Unlike many others, the motivation isn't what I often call "karmic kickback" - a term that describes people who only do something for the expectation of some future return of positive karma. Instead, it is part of a bigger world view that Vishen and his entire team share.  He often speaks about "why happiness is the new productivity." The more you learn about MindValley, the most this announcement feels like the perfect fit for their mission of touching 500 million lives through their content by the year 2050.

In the months to come, it will be interesting to see how MindValley Insights evolves. For now, I highly recommend bookmarking the site and returning often to consume the great content there. It will help you hire better people to create a stronger business and find more happiness and fulfillment. Not to mention we'll need all the free advice and insights we can get just in case those autonomous collaborating robots finally figure out the nuclear launch codes ... 


Monday, January 23, 2012

Honda Masters The Art of Marketing Timing

IMB_CRV_LeapList1Every year at the start of the new year there is something that most of us do without realizing it. It is related to making new year's resolutions, but it is more about sequencing your long term goals into the order in which you want to achieve them. One example might be saying to yourself, "I want to be married and then have a kid before I turn 35." Life is full of these little promises. So full, in fact, that often we make them to ourselves without even thinking. It raises an interesting marketing question as well.

What would it take to get a customer to reevaluate the life sequence they have already set for themselves?

It becomes a particularly important question when you consider a brand selling a product that is all about fitting into the right stage in life. A product, for example, like a car. When you consider when people buy new cars, it is very much about life's stages. Graduating from college, landing a new job, getting married or having a kid. Each of these life changes can often be triggers to consider buying a new car.

IMB_CRV_LeapList3Honda's new campaign for the CRV may have found one way to solve that challenge. With their Honda LeapList campaign, they encourage consumers to go online and make their own lists of what they want to accomplish before they turn 30, or what they want to do before they get married. It is a brilliant way not only to encourage people to dream and perhaps even act on their longstanding dream to travel the world, but also to encourage them to think about how getting a new car might fit into that sequence. The underlying message is a perfect one for their consumers: why wait? You can do all the things you want to do, and you can do them on your own time. But maybe you should just think about buying that car right now instead of waiting.

Sure it's clearly a marketing message - but what they perfectly prove is something that any marketers would do well to remember. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do to sell your product is help your customers to imagine exactly when they should buy it.

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  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

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Can Coke Start A Trend To Make Inspiration A Form Of Co-Creation?

What if you could join your favourite band in studio to record their next single? For many, this is just a moment to dream of - but last month Coca-Cola partnered with the rock band Maroon 5 to do exactly that in a social experiment to create a new song in 24 hours. Fans could watch a live stream of the band working on a new song in the studio and contribute to the brainstorming process in real time via a Twitter screen that was broadcast live to the band. Check out the recap video below:

The end result was a single called "Is There Anybody Out There?" that is available for a free download from Coke. Aside from being an amazingly creative campaign idea, this could spark more brands to consider a new form of co-creation where consumers are invited not to create content themselves, but to be the spark for professionals to create content. In a sense, this is no different than real life where artists often take their inspiration from their fans.

Though Coke's efforts have cause some to raise valid criticism about whether the campaign can be considered all that successful since the views and audience seems small by Coke standards, sometimes the most forward thinking ideas aren't the ones which go viral right away. To me, the real power of this campaign is that it imagines a world where brands can help connect people with the artists they love in a way that empowers them to contribute to what the artists are creating.

Inspiration as a form of co-creation is not just a great marketing concept, but one which offers musicians and even filmmakers a new way to engage their audience on a deeper level and also get better ideas and inspiration to make their work better.  The only downside is that it leaves a lot of people to thank from the Grammy/Oscars stage ...