I have seen the future of advertising! It’s interesting and interactive, and at least for the moment it’s free. Welcome to the rapidly evolving world of social media for business.
Two excellent examples of such “ads” are by Blendtec, a commercial blender manufacturer (B2B), and by T-Mobile, a cell service provider (B2C). You might not even recognize these as ads and that’s the point; they’re part product demo, part entertainment.
Possibly borrowing the idea from Saturday Night Live (recall the Super Bass-O-Matic ?76), George Write, Blendtec?s Director of Marketing, created a kitschy video series, Will It Blend?. He convinced his CEO, Tom Dickson, to wear a white lab coat while blending a variety of wacky items on camera. We’re talking about glowsticks, Bic lighters, golf balls (can you say ?slice?), and lots more.
Soon, YouTube viewers were watching, laughing, sharing with friends, and making their own suggestions about items to blend. The company responded to popular demand and, although as an Apple fan it’s painful to watch, they even blended an iPhone.
If that sounds like a waste of $500, I say au contraire. The iPhone blending has been viewed 7 million times, to say nothing of the dozens of other videos. Blendtec ultimately launched www.willitblend.com which became more popular (by far) than their primary website.
Blending these odd items made a strong impression; that must be one strong blade and an amazing motor. But here’s the bottom line: The company’s sales have skyrocketed, reportedly quintupling. That’s the power of social media done right, in the B2B space no less.
My other favorite example illustrating the future of advertising is the ?T-Mobile Dance? video available on YouTube. The company recruited hundreds of participants to meet up at Liverpool Street Train Station on January 15, 2009. At 11:00 AM, an energetic music mix begins blaring from speakers typically droning on about arrivals and departures. One person starts to dance, then five, then hundreds.
No doubt this involved hours of practice as people from one end of the station to other dance in unison. In two minutes it’s over and the crowd disperses. In a pre-social-media world, it wouldn?t have been worth doing.
However, 15 million views on YouTube is a game changer, especially since it is often forwarded friend-to-friend with a hearty endorsement. My bet is that not a single person stopped watching before the end. What advertiser wouldn?t trade their soul for that degree of focus and engagement?
Watch the video carefully and you’ll notice almost four-dozen product placement shots? happy people talking on their cell phones, snapping photos, and shooting videos. Notice how perfectly the experience aligns with T-Mobile?s slogan, ?Life?s for Sharing?. Notice how T-Mobile has fostered participation by encouraging people to orchestrate their own events and post videos on their ?Life?s for Sharing? channel.
Perhaps it’s time for your business to experiment with this form of social media advertising?. If so, start by asking how you can create value for your target audience, how you can get them to opt in?, and how you can motivate them to share your message with their friends. If you’re on the right path, you won?t be creating a traditional ad campaign.