Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/27/11

Steering WheelInfluencers
Chris Brogan dives into the true definition of an Influencer – and no, it has nothing to do with your Klout score or the price of your Empire Avenue stock. Be sure to read through the comments for even more points of view.

8 Ways to Maximize Your YouTube Marketing Results
Rick Brooks from Flyte New Media shares 8 great tips for getting the most out of your video production and distribution efforts when posting to Youtube. Each tip is packed full of great information that even seasoned YouTuber’s can benefit from.

Could Social Media Flub Cost You $4.3 Million?
David F. Carr highlights some jaw-dropping dollar figures from a recent Applied Research survey (sponsored by Symantec) that revealed potentially negative and more costly consequences of bringing your brand to the social space.

Number of Corporate Social Media Accounts On Rise: Risk of “Social Media Help Desk”
Altimeter‘s Jeremiah Owyang shares some interesting stats on the number of social media accounts that larger brands are maintaining, along with some helpful advice for Social Media Strategists to help prevent their roles from turning into “the ever reactive sanitation role of social media helpdesk.”

15 Google+ Sites & Services for Power Users
As companies sit and patiently wait for the launch of Google+ features for brands, active users of the service with their personal accounts might like Amy-May Elliot‘s list of Google+-related websites and services compiled in this post on Mashable.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 03/28/11

Phil Collins Rolling Stones Cover7 Social Media Lessons From Phil Collins
Marjorie Clayman guest posts on Jay Baer‘s Convince and Convert blog with this entertaining post that draws parallels between Phil Collins‘ career and social media best practices.

Do You Need a Social Media Detox?
Creating a balance between social media responsibilities at work and personal time can be a tricky task, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. GigaOm‘s Om Malik shares this fun info-graphic from Column Five Media that might help determine if you’re in need of a Social Media Detox.

15 Services to Manage Your Social Media Activity
If my previous pick found you in the need of a detox – but quitting cold-turkey isn’t in the cards – then perhaps one of these social media management tools can ease the flow of the information fire hose.

With +1, Google Search Goes Truly Social — As Do Google Ads
Google launched its anticipated “response” to Facebook’s Like button in the form of its new “+1″ button which will appear in Google search results and later as a standalone button that can be added to individual websites. Get the full rundown via this TechCrunch post from MG Siegler.

Our Choice: The Funniest April Fools’ Jokes
Seeing that this work week ends on April Fool’s Day, it’s only fitting that I top off the picks with Mashable‘s selection of online pranks from the likes of Google, YouTube, LinkedIn and ThinkGeek.

Jennifer Aniston Goes Viral with ‘Smart’ Sex Tape

What do you get when you throw a gorgeous actress into a room with adorable puppies, a cute lip-synching kid, dancing babies and double rainbows and then give it a title that makes people stop in their tracks and do a double-take? A viral video that’s the talk of the Internet this week, with 4.7 million views and counting on YouTube, that’s what.

SmartWater hit a home run with spokeswoman Jennifer Aniston’s cleverly-titled “sex tape” spoof, a nearly three-minute ad that showcases the key elements that make viral videos spread like wildfire. The premise goes something like this: Aniston, coached by a team of “three lovely Internet boys” attempts to make an advertisement for the bottled water go viral – or, as she says, “apparently, um, turns into a virus.”

Dancing babies seem like a good option, until they start grinding on one another, prompting Aniston to ask, “Where’s the mommy?” She then apologizes to one fan, an unsuspecting victim of her crotch kick, explaining, “Apparently, that’s worth about 100,000 hits.” The former Friends star even pokes fun at herself with a parrot, which instead of saying “I love SmartWater” squawks, “Rachel, I love your hair.”

The video ends with Aniston asking, “Is it hot in here?” and shocking her Internet gurus by tossing her hair in slow motion before sexily sipping SmartWater, even letting a few droplets fall onto her chest. When asked what she thinks of the “sex tape” title, she says, “I love it!”

And apparently we all do, as the explosive number of views indicates, bringing the video to official viral video distinction.

But beyond gimmicks and clichés, what really makes a video become an Internet sensation? Here’s why we think SmartWater struck (liquid) gold with this one:

  • They took a chance: As we all know, you can’t make something go viral. If it’s good enough it just happens. But you never know until you try.
  • They thought outside the “bottle:” Ever thought there would be a viral video about water? The folks at SmartWater knew they’d have to step it up and think creatively to get people talking.
  • They lightened up: By teaming up with current viral stars and even poking some fun at herself and her own brand, both Aniston and SmartWater come across as refreshing (pun intended) in the video.
  • They kept a few key things in mind: It’s what every ad should be – simple, fun, memorable and appealing to the eyes. And the call to action? After watching Aniton’s slow-motion hair-tossing sequence, I’m betting more than a few folks will be reaching for that water to cool off.

What do you think – do you like the video? Is it worthy of its viral video status?

Social Media Lessons from Bieber Fever

Justin BieberUnless you’re living under a rock, you’ve likely heard of Justin Bieber, the latest singing sensation that has teens and preteens around the world screaming and sobbing just for a quick, but memorable, glimpse of his dashing smile and famous hair. Last Sunday afternoon, I took my seven (going on 17)-year old daughter to see the new Justin Bieber movie “Never Say Never,” which came in second place at the box office.  As I sat there watching this surprisingly inspiring movie, I noticed my little girl get a twinkle in her eye and I began to understand the intriguing phenomenon known as “Bieber Fever.”

Later that evening, I tuned into the Grammy Awards and watched this young talent share the stage with well-known singer Usher and new-comer Jaden Smith. Though he didn’t win, he did get an amazing outpouring of support on Twitter – leading to his name being a trending topic, yet again.  Some of us love him, while others are tired of his constant media attention. Two things we can all agree on is that he’s captured the mind share of teens and tweens everywhere, and he could certainly teach us all a thing or two about the power of social marketing.

For anyone outside of his core demographic, it may be tough to understand just how this young boy has gained such popularity in a relatively short period of time.  Is it simply luck?  Some say it has something to do with his celebrity backings, from influential artists like Usher.  Or, could it be the impressionable age of his audience or his constant and hectic schedule of personal appearances and performances.

I think the real answer here is that this kid is “ahead of his time” and is an absolute marketing whiz!  When Justin was discovered by talent agent Scooter Braun in 2008, he had five videos on YouTube, with the most popular one generating an impressive 70,000 views—all of this with just the direction of his mother, who video taped all of his performances, including his first appearance at a local singing competition. By sharing his YouTube videos with friends and family (who in turn shared these videos with their networks and so on) and through some honest to goodness hard work, Justin’s celebrity status sky-rocketed and his music career took off. In a matter of a year, girls everywhere were screaming his name.

Bieber Fever

So how did he do it? Justin’s favorite and most-effective social media tool has been Twitter. He was one of the earliest artists to start using Twitter to reach and build his fan base and now just roughly three years later, he’s got 7.2 million dedicated followers hanging on his every word.  He uses Twitter to promote his music, videos, personal appearances and boost ticket and album sales.  A quick glance at his Twitter page and you will notice that he responds to each fan and retweets their messages, further proving to his fan base that he truly is “listening.” In addition to promoting his own videos, movie and other tour news, Justin also wisely takes the time to engage with other celebrities (with huge followings) while promoting his appearances on shows like Ellen and Lopez Tonight.

As a result of his hard work and creative social marketing tactics, the Biebster has the world’s most viewed YouTube video, has over 21 million fans on Facebook and is holding strong on AdAge’s list of Top 10 Twitter “Trending Topics” list with other important world figures and topics such as Egypt’s revolution, the Superbowl and fellow break-through artist Lady Gaga. His Twitter statistics are pretty impressive as well, with his readers’ reach at 146,362,484 and 118% of his tweets being Re-Tweeted.

So, what is next for this marketing sensation and what can we learn from him?

Listen and Engage With Your Audience.

He continuously taps into social media to obtain feedback from his fans and gain more insight into his target audience, their wants and needs.  He “listens” and “engages” with his audience just like any master marketer.

Understand Your Target Audience.

He takes the time to understand his fans and he is always pushing the envelope, trying new ways to promote himself. Because of all of this, he gains the hearts and minds of his fans and thousands of new Twitter followers each week and continues to gain on Britney Spears.

Get Creative and Give Back.

Justin is well-known for offering free concert tickets and pulling off surprise visits to fans, such as his recent Valentine’s Day visit to Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA

After the visit, Justin tweeted: “Just finished seeing some amazing kids who couldn’t get to see #NSN3D …so we surprised them and brought the movie to them.” Bieber ended the tweet with the hashtag #makeachange.

All in all, Justin Bieber and “Bieber Fever” is a classic example of putting social media to work for you in the ultra-competitive music industry. However, the lesson here goes far beyond the entertainment world.  Justin’s use of social media throughout his rise to stardom can be translated to almost any industry or small business.  Maybe all of us can’t reap as much reward from social media as Justin has, but we can definitely try by learning from his best practices. Justin was just ahead of his time in this area — but then again, having great hair can’t hurt either.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun and 915thebeat.com

Four Loko Divorces Social Media

Four Loko – aka Black-Out-In-A-Can – aka Liquid Cocaine – is causing quite a splash nationwide. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s the alcoholic energy drink – already been banned in Michigan, California, Washington, Utah, and now Massachusetts – the most recent state to jump on the “anti Four Loko” bandwagon. For the economical price of $2.50, college students (its target audience) can buy a twenty-four ounce can that is equivalent to four beers, a red bull and a shot of espresso. Four Loko is owned by Chicago-based manufacturer Phusion Projects – founded in 2005 by three Ohio State University friends who were looking for an alternative to Red Bull and vodka. In fact, Four Loko is blamed for causing severe alcohol poisoning for nine students at a college party in Central Washington University—one female student nearly died*. Now, the Food and Drug Administration is getting involved by issuing a warning to all manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages that they need to either pull product – or prove their products are safe.

However, the real buzz involves the egregious PR blunder by Phusion Projects issuing a press release regarding being unfairly blamed for the Central Washington University incident. The company clearly states that they have “taken a unique position and made a conscious effort to reject the social media marketing tactics that other companies embrace – including many of our competitors. There is no company-sponsored “Four Loko” Facebook page or YouTube channel.”

BrandChannel didn’t buy this statement. The brand guru resource launched an investigation into Phusion Projects bold statement and after some sleuth work— revealed some interesting social media marketing campaigns involving Phusion Projects. The article uncovers how the brand tried scrubbing its former marketing messaging on Fourdrinks.com and then points to a former “Four Shots” gallery screenshot (below) where drinkers were asked to show their “happy-face” by uploading photos with Four Loko. When questioned, the manufacturer blamed its interns for the creation of such highly professional sites.

The article continues to find more contradictions in Phusion Projects statement—finding several dedicated Facebook pages— while not technically “company sponsored,” some were issued by paid marketing representatives (aka college students) of the manufacturer. Some of these pages have since mysteriously vanished.

As much as Phusion Projects would like us to believe it has consciously distanced itself from social media and marketing to minors (hmm, bright colored cans in a variety of fruity flavors), it’s clear from BrandChannel’s thorough research that the company was involved in an orchestrated “viral” campaign. In fact, on YouTube a general keyword search returns over 5,000 results—many of them showcasing people chugging or shotgunning the drink. Four Loko music videos are incredibly popular– one by Gwop Gang has racked up over 1 million views.

In a digital age where businesses are desperately trying catch social media marketing fever, yearning to connect with their consumers through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube—Phusion Projects found success; however, this brand’s apparent social media denial—perhaps an attempt to clean its image—is perplexing. Maybe to help counteract its negative perception, it’s time for the brand to create its own “official” Facebook page and YouTube channel. The power of social media could be valuable to Phusion Projects. It could allow them to take accountability for their out-of-control, harmful product and help prove they uphold responsible business practices.

So fellow social media hounds– what do you think about Phusion Projects social media marketing decisions? What could they have done better? Do you think there’s anything left to salvage from the Four Loko brand? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

* Source: The Daily Record, 10/26/2010