It’s Going Viral People!

viral-marketing

When I first started researching for this blog post I found a couple articles outside of the reading. The author of one of those articles said: “I admit it, the term viral marketing is offensive”. I just don’t think that’s true at all and it’s kinda silly to think so nowadays. It’s because nowadays everyone is already aware of what viral videos and campaigns do and what they were designed to do.

I’m a visual learner so here’s a video and a pretty good info-graphic about how to go about viral marketing.


viral-marketing-cheat-sheet-sm

Source KISSmetrics

Because the real point of a viral campaign is to market your product, gain awareness, and ultimately increase revenue. There’s even been a bit of viral marketing done right here within the RTVF walls. We’ve all seen the extremely popular video Gangnam Style by Psy. A Korean pop star that now has over 900,000,000 views on YouTube.


But maybe you havent seen the video done by North Texas Television to promote their late night talk show. I think it’s extremely cool. The producers saw the success of the original and decided to make their own in attempts that it will go viral, to gain more viewers. Now this video isn’t in the millions of views, but it’s nearing 2,000 and that is something to be proud of.

When my group presented we talked about viral marketing and one of the most successful viral campaigns is the “Will It Blend” videos by Blendtec. We posed the question in class of why we thought it was viral and we came up with shock value. Who would ever expect someone to blend a $600.00 iPad? But it’s because of that shock value that has gained awareness to the brand. I’m sure if I was in the buying a blender market I’d go out for a Blendtec.

One of my absolute favorite viral videos and video series are the Ken Block Gymkhana videos. If you’re asking yourself, “what in the world is gymkhana and how do I pronounce that?”. Well one thing at a time. Check this out.

What was originally meant as just a cool infomercial for gear heads like myself turned into a  hugely viral video with almost 40 million views. It’s because of this video, that MILLIONS of people now know his name and support him in his current racing series. So not only does it bring in revenue for DC Shoes but the World Rallycross Championship also has a lot more publicity because of these videos.

This last one is simply because I’m a car guy. If you found the first Gymkhana video interesting, here is his latest where he drifts through the streets of San Francisco.

A Look at Viral Marketing

Viral marketing has always fascinated me. When executed effectively, viral marketing generates positive word-of-mouth about an upcoming product and can make ultimately purchasing the product, whether it be a film or a pair of sneakers, that much more exciting.

Curtis Silver’s article Organized Chaos: Viral Marketing, Meet Social Media begins by citing the success of cult show Mystery Science Theater 3000 and BMW’s The Hire – a collection of short films featuring Clive Owen driving awesomely in a BMW – as an example of pre-YouTube viral marketing, but there are plenty of other great examples of viral marketing campaigns. Take for instance Microsoft’s search engine Bing’s campaign to promote rapper Jay Z’s upcoming autobiography, Decoded. Check out this cool video detailing their approach to the project.

Clearly, this was an ambitious project, but telling by the end of the video, both Jay Z and Bing benefited greatly from this endeavor. This viral marketing campaign got fans and others excited about a product that normally a movie trailer or a billboard ad just couldn’t do. Allowing the audience to become involved with your product creates the feeling that they are a part of something in history, that they are connected to this one moment in time with others all around the world. That’s an incredible emotion to invoke in a person, and for Jay Z and Bing, it paid off. Oh, and just keep in mind what this huge project spanning multiple continents and potentially costing a hefty wad of dough to pull off was all for: A BOOK! Wow, I didn’t even know people read anymore…

So we’ve established that viral marketing can be a grossly beneficial tool to create buzz about a product, but just like other forms of advertising, like the online crowd-funding site Kickstarter, it is not for everyone. Just because it worked for one person does not mean it will work for you. Take, for example, the recently released video game Hitman: Absolution. Absolution is the latest installment in the long-running Hitman franchise in which you play an assassin-for-hire, and publisher Square Enix wanted to capitalize on its release by, wait for it, creating an app that lets you place death threats on your Facebook friends! Yes, that’s exactly what I just wrote. Let it sink in. Video game website Rock, Paper, Shotgun was able to document the horribly insulting site before it was quickly taken down by the publishers. In the app, you can create a contract in which the game’s protagonist will seek out your friend, based on bullying remarks like “her small tits”, and kill them. Then, the app creates a video and sends it to your friend!

This is not what I wanted to wake up to!

This is not what I wanted to wake up to!

A great viral marketing campaign can create an event that gets people out of their chairs and creates positive promotion for a product, but a horrible campaign can put a black eye on its reputation just as quickly, even if the product is of high quality. This becomes even more evident with the advent of social media such as YouTube and Twitter. With the touch of a button, one little message, one little app about killing your friends, can be sent across the globe, through a number of channels, instantly.

Viral marketing is a scary and risky proposition: letting your baby that you’ve worked so hard on into the wild and watch how the masses react. It’s risky because at some point, it’s in the peoples’ hands, and all you can do is sit back and watch. But it can also be incredibly effective in the end, creating anticipation for something hopefully worthy of the hype.

Social Media is the Anti-Hero in the Story of Fandoms

            Social media is the reason fandoms are alive and thriving in a world that may have completely forgotten about them. Snail mail and newsletters just were not up to snuff with the rest of society, which had switched gears to a faster way of communicating. People not only couldn’t leave the house without their cell phones but e-mail engaged the thoughts of the entire world, becoming a popular medium for individuals, businesses, and institutions but also for fandoms. Technology and Web 2.0 saved fandoms from extinction and, according to Jon Accarrino in his article “How Social Media Revolutionized ‘Fandom’ Forever”,  “Social media has changed fandom forever”.

 

But with the shift of celebrities going from just a celebrity to becoming their own “community manager”, fandoms can be a little trickier to maintain and control. Being a celebrity in this new digital age has its benefits and repercussions.

 

In class, we talked about how celebrities on various social media platforms can be trampled over simply for tweeting about their opinion on a film they were or were not a part of or because their fans suddenly realized just how anti-feminist their writing was for a massively popular science fiction series like Doctor Who. Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s new show runner and an acclaimed screenwriter underwent some flack from fans who appreciated his work but didn’t appreciate the way he wrote his female characters. Instead of taking stock in his fans comments, however, Moffat retaliated with arguments that backfired in the only way digital communication could – he didn’t mean to say this-or-that that way. After fans challenged him to more and more debates, eventually, Moffat closed his Twitter account completely.

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What can one learn from this? Can you blame social media on the demise of the reputation of one celebrity? Or do you blame the fans for sticking out their necks and proclaiming their opinions simply because their faces and voices couldn’t be heard, just read? In class, we’ve also discussed how people find it easier to blast others with heir opinions and start fights online than it is to speak about issues in real life. But, even if social media gives fans a way to communicate easier and others the ability to share their opinions safely, how safe is it for celebrities? Minorities?

 

Social media utilized by a celebrity can go an alternative way: a representative employed by the celebrity acts as the head of the communication online. For example, when actor Dominic Monaghan first came on to the Twitter-sphere, a personal assistant or publicist was the first to tweet a message about how she/he would tweet regularly about Monaghan’s life and career. If Monaghan had time to tweet himself, he would end the tweet with his initials “DM”.

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While I don’t see any fault in this manner of using Twitter both for fans and to establish a presence online to publicize a celebrity, I can see why many fans might disagree with the method. Fans, now satisfied by real tweets from celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian, were longing for the same relationship with a popular actor such as LOST star, Dominic Monaghan. In their eyes, if a personal assistant was the middleman, there was no relationship at all.

 

Do you agree with the fans? Would you feel cheated out of a fandom if a celebrity never tweeted what he/she would actually say? Are social media platforms appropriate for fandoms where people’s love and attention can be flipped at the tweet of an opposing opinion? I say onward with web 2.0 in fandom communities! Just like Accarrino said, “Mass communication with a niche community, or even the entire planet, is now direct, easy and instant” making my daily dose of news about my favorite celebrities faster and easier. Who wouldn’t want that?

Social Networking Around the Globe

When thinking about popular social networking sites Facebook and Twitter easily come to my mind. Facebook started in the US in 2004. It later made the option to change the language when users sign in to Spanish and eventually added many different languages as seen here:

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Instead of making a separate site for users in different countries the have adapted their site to be instantly by a simple click of a mouse. This also allows users from different countries to be friends. I have friends in South America that are avid Facebook users that I am able to be friends with and interact with even though our Facebooks are set to different languages.  Linkedin and Twitter also have multiple language options.

“In September 2006, 7% of Facebook’s 10 million active users were outside the USA. Today, 60% of its 63 million active users are.”

While Facebook is growing globally, according to bit.ly/MgaUHi the fourth most common social networking site is VK a Russian network. After I looked at vk.com, it appears to be similar to Facebook. It is the largest European social networking site and contains more than 100 million users.

For me, it is easy to assume the fact that these sites are popular globally because it is easy to change the site’s language setting.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2008-02-10-social-networking-global_N.htm

Social networking sites are a common way to stay connected to users around the world but some countries have adapted their own way of stay present with web 2.0. In Africa citizens use cell phones more than they use computers. These phones do not look like the typical smart phone that is easily found here but they are used for many purposes that keep them safe and connect. The online banking on their phone has allowed areas of Africa to become much safer and less of a danger for being robbed.

Is there anything in web 2.0 in America that helps you feel safer?

Also in Africa schools are getting computers for classrooms. It is a part of a program that has a goal to let a child use their own computer to increase literacy and to increase their ability to keep up with advances of technology. However, some people see this program as controversial. It is argued that many of the schools have greater needs than the need to have access to computer programs. Some schools do not have simple necessities such as running water or bathroom. It is also disliked due to the lack of knowledge from the teacher to use the computers themselves. If a computer breaks of malfunctions there is often no help available to fix it.

Can you think of other problems that could be associated with this program? Do you think these problems are not great enough to stop the program? Are you for or against the program?

Web 2.0 has increased our ability for to be able o communicate with others all over the world. It also serves as a way to protect and improve our way of living. While some advances seem hard to organize than others there are many examples of successful networks.

Everyone is a Fan

Whether or not you think you are a fan everyone is a fan of something. When I first heard the word fandom I immediately thought of the people who dress up in costumes and parade around fan conventions. When we started to talk about fandom in class I realized that fandom is a very broad word and can range from just liking a TV show to actually dressing up and participating in conventions. I for one am a huge sports fan especially the Green Bay Packers. Not only am I involved in the games when they are on TV but I also own shirts and other items that represent the team which is my way of showing I am a fan.

From the reading by Jon Accarrino It talked about how social media has made fandom more of a big deal and easier to become a fan of something. Before social media was a big deal or even invented fans used fan clubs as a way to “connect” with their favorite stars. Ranging from inside details to upcoming events and movies to getting a free prize. Now with social media especially twitter, stars are starting to engage with their fan base and react and response to what they are saying to them. Instead of having to wait for the updates to come via mail for fan clubs these updates come within seconds and are easy to respond back to. It is amazing that one simple tweet or facebook post has the possibility of reaching millions of people around the world. I think that is  what makes social media so great is how interactive it is and how easy it is to feel connected to people who are famous.

Fans don’t just want to like something they also want to be engaged with it . The best way for fans to show how much they love something especially on video is through YouTube. Believe it or not the girl we now know as the Overly Attached Girlfriend started out by posting a fan video to Justin Bieber which can be seen below.

When most people post videos to YouTube about a certain celebrity they are of course hoping to get some feedback or maybe attention from the celebrity themselves. Justin Bieber posted the fan video with many excited young teens to grace the screen of YouTube to show JB exactly how big of a fan they were.  The girl in the video might not have gotten Justin’s feedback (correct me if I am wrong) but she did gain followers herself and is now all over the internet.  I remember when I was in middle school me and my friend put together a fan video to win tickets to a bands concert. Even though we did not win the contest it was cool to know that they would be watching the videos to pick the winner and I was showing how big of a fan I was and how much I supported them.

One of the cool things about social media connecting with TV shows is through live tweeting. Most shows have hashtags on the bottom corner of the screen in which you can tweet your thoughts throughout the show. With the hashtag you can then look up the timeline of everyone that is also tweeting. Celebritys have also taken to the twitter world by live tweeting during the time their show is on air. This is a quick picture of the guys of Ghost Adventures tweeting about their live tweeting during the show. This gives fans the opportunity to involve in conversation with them and also get little quick facts that maybe the show did not tell you.

I know I take to twitter when my favorite shows are on TV mostly because I like to see if others have the same thoughts I do or to see what their opinions are. Have you ever live tweeted a TV show, sports event or even the debate?

Many people may not want to admit that they are a fan of a particular subject or thing but I must know for the people who are brave enough to share with me what you are a fan of?

And if you are a fan of something what do you do to show that you are a fan?

Obama 08’/Kony 2012: The Need for New Mediations in New Mass Mediums

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/24/obama-youtube-milestone-online-videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc

The Internet is replacing past mediums (books, magazines, radio, television, etc.) as the main way information or data is distributed.  Benefiting from the speed and scope “Web 2.0” has to offer, society can now know about cultural events and movements around the globe within minutes. Learning of the tragic plight of Ugandan children being enslaved by Joseph Kony and his horrible Christian sect (the Lords Resistance Army) is important and knowledge of a political figure in an election such as president Obamas 2008 campaign is obviously important and possible through the internet.  Although the Internet has made this facet of modern society more accessible, it brings a new set of ethical questions to the table and a re-evaluation of how we judge media is necessary in the face of such serious change.

It would be hard to argue that President Obama was elected simply from his Internet campaign and not the American people’s ability to judge and perceive two (or more) men comparing themselves on many stages.  But although the race might have still been close if McCain ran a good web campaign, that is assuming the rest of Obama’s campaign was below standards for modern politics, when in reality it was all a part of the same movement. 

In Claire Miller’s article the mayor of San Francisco says, “There will be a lot of collateral damage coming to grips with the fact that we’re in a reality TV series, ‘Politics 24/7,’” Mr. Newsom said.  This demonstrates that although this is a great new way to spread knowledge of a person or idea, it is also a way for the idea to distort and furthermore be “TV”.  It is important that the political discussions take place and thanks to the Internet, they will, but it is also important that the Internet is not used to fool people because they aren’t treating it with the same skepticism one uses towards a television commercial.  Most things are still a constructed advertisement, or in other words, a well-planned and thought-out manipulation.

In Claire Suddath’s article on how the Invisible Children’s most recent movement “Kony 2012” was the fastest growing viral video.  If you were on the Internet during this period, you saw your fair share of (mostly kids) re-posting/sharking the video link.  While it is beautiful to see such compassion possible in a 1st world culture and seeing that American kids care about these international travesties is very comforting, it is disturbing that the emotion that’s displayed and fueling the movement is not empowering enough for the majority of promoters to do their own research on the issue.  Whether it is the celebrities that promote the issue heavily, or the teen that would feel guilty to not “share” the link, both are flocking and this behavior is likely to occur more and more due to the kind of gullibility that’s possible via a new “magical” medium. 

The story of American involvement against Joseph Kony goes far back before the viral videos were seen, and it was in the sending of just less than 200 special troops by President Obama that this was established.  The Lord’s Resistance Army was soon fleeing into seclusion and by the time the charity’s video was circulating, Joseph Kony was less of a threat than the violent/genocidal governments of the area.  Invisible Children, having a horrible charity rating, is and has been a debated charity for some time, not to mention within a few months of the videos release, the director/star was recorded on cellphones in the streets of Los Angeles, high on drugs and touching himself while screaming obscenities, butt-naked.  Within minutes TMZ and other similar entities were circulating this video in an ironically similar way the Kony video was spread.

In conclusion, while it is beautifully beneficial to have the internet and computers as a faster more efficient way to communicate and function, it is also worrying because the speed in which things are produced and digested are not yet “natural”.  The mechanisms responsible for establishing the new and necessary perception of the Internet and its various data are still forming in our collective-conscience (or social norms, if you will).

Nothing Beats a Good Pure Peer Promotion

My group presented during the “Advertising, Branding, & Viral Marketing” week and while reading Goodman’s article “Peer Promotions and False Advertising Law” I came to the conclusion that I don’t think anything beats a really solid pure peer promotion. I mean, come on. How cool would it be to have developed or be working for a company that has a product that people are that excited to talk about and promote on their own? Goodman defines a pure peer promotion as “… a spontaneous celebration, or denigration, or a brand produced by parties unrelated to, and not in competition with, the brand owner.” Plus, the Coke/Mentos example was just so full of joy it’s next to impossible to watch it with a straight face. Confession: I watched it 3 times in a row.

Goodman described two other types of peer promotion in the article.

FAKE PEER

Fake peer is about as terrible as pure peer is awesome. At least in this example:

It reminds me of the uncanny valley theory. It’s just too… not real.

450px-Mori_Uncanny_Valley.svg

Have you fallen for any better-produced fake peer promotions?

MIXED PEER

Goodman defines Mixed peer promotions as “… mixed with sponsorship when a brand owner solicits or adopts a pure peer promotion for its own publicity purposes” and describes them in two different categories, manifest sponsor involvement and hidden sponsor involvement.

1. Manifest Sponsor Involvement

As an unknown film student, it’s really easy for me to view mixed peer promotional opportunities as a win/win for companies and participants. Publicity and brand-awareness for companies and the potential for project recognition and prizes for participants.

A University of North Texas team was a finalist in this year’s Doritos Crash The Super Bowl contest:

https://apps.facebook.com/crashthesuperbowl/?page=watch&video=1154

2. Hidden Sponsor Involvement

I’m a huge fan of transparency, so this type of promotion rubs me the wrong way a little bit. The example listed in the text was the blog “Walmarting Across America.” Basically, a family didn’t explicitly state that they were getting compensated for a blog they were writing about the store.

wal-marting_across_america

Have you ever made a pure peer promotion? What do you think is the most effective?