This little fella became an instant favorite because fans were able to interact by taking him to their own destinations. There's just something cheeky and highly enjoyable about taking a photo of a garden gnome standing in front of an epic vista.
Image courtesy of Flickr, CoryGurman.
Trying to gain attention in the tech industry can be daunting. If you don’t make a booming first impression or raise millions in your first VC round, you could be destined for obscurity.
In order to stand out from the crowd, some startups adopt mascots for their products. However, a mascot’s success all depends on the public’s reaction. (See Microsoft Word’s Clippy or the Pets.com hand puppet for examples of what not to do.)
The trick is to make your product lovable enough that the public embraces whichever mascot you’ve chosen. URL shortener Bit.ly’s pufferfish is a great example. The company introduced a clever mascot to make the brand more three-dimensional.
Here’s a few mascots that caught our eye. Know any that we overlooked? Let us know in the comments.
Gilad de Vries is vice president, brands and agencies at Outbrain. Before joining Outbrain he served as VP of Digital Media and Principal at Carmel Ventures, one of Israel’s top venture capital firms.
Lately, it’s impossible to open a newsletter, check Google alerts, or visit any news sites without reading something on the benefits of content marketing. It seems as though the entire marketing industry is out to convince the world that this is the wave of the future. While that may be true, there is a real shortage of practical, how-to advice for brands that want to dip their toes in the content marketing pool.
Yes, advances in technology and the rise of social media as a marketing channel have eliminated the need for traditional modes of distribution. But at the end of the day, creating great content and getting it in front of the right audience still demands creativity and skill.
Luckily, there are already a handful of companies who have really nailed down the art of content marketing, and their efforts serve as great examples. Here’s a closer look at some of the do’s and don’ts from content marketing’s greatest hits.
1. Don’t Skimp on Design
This may seem obvious, but if you want to be taken seriously by consumers, it’s important to make your content visually compelling. The folks at the General Electric Company have this down. There, issues of innovation and environment have been brought to life with the thoughtful design of their Ecomagination site. Sure, it’s the quality of the content that will keep your visitors coming back, but don’t underestimate the power of a slick, eye-catching site. Using a 16:9 ratio predispositions viewers to think of your site as premium, as does using high-quality images that take up the entire frame. In general the ratio of text to images has slowly been shifting in favor of the latter, with no more than five to six paragraphs of text per page. Magazine-quality content and photography from sale site, Mr. Porter, adheres to this rule nicely.
2. Do Make it Multimedia
This goes hand in hand with investing in design. Varying the type of content you use is essential to providing an engaging, well-rounded user experience that sucks people in and keeps them clicking for more. Fashion maven, Tory Burch, combines videos, slideshows, photos, and even playlists on her blog, which draws nearly 200,000 unique visitors per month.
3. Don’t Go for the Hard Sell
Although the ultimate purpose of all marketing is to drive sales, content marketing employs a more nuanced, indirect approach. The focus is on educating, entertaining, and delivering value to the consumer, rather than giving a hard pitch for your products or services. For a great example of this, look no further than Unilever’s The Adrenalist. The site’s content includes news and information on adventure, extreme sports, gear, and travel. It basically provides adrenaline junkies and adventurers with a place to convene online. Visitors will see plenty of Bear Grylls, former host of Man vs. Wild, but Degree for Men only makes a handful of appearances.
4. Do Strike a Balance
That balance should be between content that is professional and content that is generated by users. Now, there’s no doubt that enlisting professionals is key to any good content strategy, but incorporating the consumer voice is equally important. Both Kraft and General Mills have done a commendable job of getting readers involved by soliciting user recipes for their respective sites, KraftRecipes.com and Tablespoon.com. Productivity app maker, Evernote, also blends professional with community content through user-submitted tips and tricks on their blog.
5. Don’t Leave Any Dead Ends
When it comes to content marketing, the old adage about “leave ‘em wanting more” most definitely does not apply. The best time to engage your audience is when they’re already in content consumption mode, which is why every page on your site should offer plenty of links to further content. L’Oreal, which many folks don’t realize is behind beauty how-to site Makeup.com, is a master at this. A recent article on sunscreen featured links to videos, a “tip of the day” and trending stories along the left-hand navigation, as well as suggestions for further reading.
6. Do Make Sharing Easy
If you create great content, there’s a good chance that you’ll garner some fans along the way, which is why it’s so important to give them mechanisms to share that content with their friends. Check out a great example from the marketing automation experts at Marketo. Their blog puts Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +1 buttons on posts to encourage sharing. Another “Like” button and a Disqus link at the bottom of the post further enable readers to spread content beyond the bounds of the site, creating a ripple effect of influence.
7. Don’t Forget About Offline
A solid offline strategy can be one of the keys to bringing your online content to life, engaging your audience, and attracting new eyeballs. Red Bull has become an inimitable force in the field of content marketing and has blended online and offline marketing to become synonymous with extreme sports. In addition to a hugely popular website and magazine, Red Bull organizes sporting events from freestyle motocross, to extreme downhill sledding, to chariot racing. These offline events allow it to own the agenda, while engaging with their community in a very natural way.
This May, Mashable will be be exploring the future of digital marketing at our signature conference, Mashable Connect. See below for all of the details.”
Our annual destination conference, Mashable Connect, brings our community together for three days to connect offline in an intimate setting at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World®. Registration is now open.
Held in a unique location away from everyday distractions, Mashable Connect is a rare and valuable opportunity to be surrounded by digital leaders across industries. You’ll spend time with Mashable’s passionate and influential community, hear from top speakers who will provide insight into the the technologies and trends that are shaping the next era of digital innovation, and get to spend time with the Mashable team.
To keep Mashable Connect as intimate as possible, only a limited amount of tickets are available.
A Look Back at Last Year’s Mashable Connect
1. Mashable Connect Race Powered by Gowalla
Team members check in to a race location at Magic Kingdom during the Mashable Connect Race powered by Gowalla.
A limited number of sponsor opportunities are available for Mashable Connect. This is an excellent opportunity to get in front of Mashable’s passionate and influential audience. Contact email@example.com for opportunities.
“Going viral” is a distinct phenomenon particular to today’s Internet culture. But if you think about it, viral movements have been around forever. How else do you explain those horrifying motivational posters from a decade ago, or Britney Spears, or Furbies? Ick.
An incredibly powerful sub-category of viral content on the web is video. And everyone from Aziz Ansari to Apple to Allen’s Apricot Farm is trying to produce the next viral hit. Why? It’s all about eyeballs. And yours have probably seen a viral video in the past month, past day or even the past few hours.
The guys at creative agency Seedwell specialize in imagining, producing and distributing viral video. Partners Peter Furia, Beau Lewis and David Fine represent the heads of strategy, business and production, respectively.
But don’t you dare call Seedwell an advertising agency; this team values creativity over commercials. Its goal is to communicate brand messages via viral means, which means turning traditional advertising on its pretty little head.
The lads at Seedwell also produce for a separate YouTube channel, called Pantless Knights, which features mini-docu-series and music videos about pop culture and digital humor. Their newest channel, American Hipster, profiles the trendiest people in the country and gets behind the mustaches and vintage scarves.
Mashable spoke to Seedwell to discover just what constitutes a viral video. What is today’s viral audience looking for? Is there a formula for going viral? Read on to learn how this team builds views, targets tastemakers and caters to the modern web audience.
Q&A With the Partners at Seedwell
Is there something all viral videos have in common?
Lewis: This conversation begins with a speed bump, the lack of a universal definition for what constitutes a “viral video” (kind of like “hipster” — more on that later). Perhaps we can use this opportunity to propose one?
We’ve heard “viral video” used to represent: a threshold of views, a rate of growth, a threshold of sharing, and occasionally an aesthetic. What if we thought about “viral criteria” the same way our teachers did: relative to the class?
In most classes, 95% is an “A.” By that metric, getting 10,000 views on YouTube earns a video as viral “A.” This is a bit of a surprise to many who think about “viral” as being in the millions, but it should make you feel better about the video of your cat that hasn’t gotten 1 million views yet (the 99.8th percentile).
There is also precedent for defining a “viral video” relative to the class in Unruly Media’s viral video chart, which ranks the top videos in terms of sharing. To make the top 100 list, you have to rack up about 8,500 shares in 24 hours. This is closer to the 99.9th repeated percentile than the 95th (and there is a big snowball at the top), so let’s do napkin math and relax that to about 1,000 shares.
For the sake of pushing the conversation forward, let’s assume the definition of a “viral video” is an impressive performance of views, sharing and growth curve relative to the top 5% of the class (10,000+ views, 1,000+ shares in 24 hours). Let’s also ignore the videos that simply paid for their views. Most “viral videos” that achieve along these lines do have some things in common: theme, structure and tastemakers.
Structure: There’s a compelling case for a progression that starts by surprising the viewer, avoids interjecting much advertising, and takes the viewer on an emotional roller coaster. Viewers’ screen time may be going up, but attention span appears to be going down, which means that the video needs to repeatedly earn the viewer throughout its duration.
Tastemakers: Almost all viral videos get their legs after being discovered by tastemakers and digital influencers. These are celebrities with built-in audiences the size of cable channels. Kevin Alloca gives a good TED talk on the subject, and the Kony 2012 video was perhaps the best example of engineering it to date.
How would you define today’s “viral audience?” Or is it a general audience because viral is so universally appealing?
“The key is making a video that elicits a strong enough emotion or reaction from a group of people that they feel compelled to share it with others.”
Furia: We don’t believe there is a “viral” audience. Certainly, younger tech-savvy people have a greater propensity for sharing content online, but videos can go viral within the general population, as well as within any number of niche audiences.
The key is making a video that elicits a strong enough emotion or reaction from a group of people that they feel compelled to share it with others. In some cases, that might be something universally appealing, like a laughing baby. In others, that might be a music video about an Apple product that touches on things only Apple users understand. In the latter case, the potential sharing population is smaller than that of the laughing baby, but it’s also a community that is so passionate about the subject matter, that they’ll share the video far and wide.
What are people clicking on most these days?
Furia: There are a handful of triggers that motivate people to click on videos these days. The biggest ones are probably video thumbnail, video title, relevancy and curation.
A provocative thumbnail and/or title will drive lots of clicks, especially if they seem relevant to viewers. It’s not always the case, but you’ll often notice way more views for “lower quality” videos that pertain to a major news event, pop culture trend or hot topic than for “higher quality” videos that are more timeless. Videos that capitalize on these “tentpole events” (like national holidays or major news events) can capture the public eye. The home run, though, is when you can create a video that is both high quality and relevant — this video stands out from the rest, and is something we always strive for.
Curation is also hugely important. People are much more likely to click a video that gets shared with them by a friend or a blogger whose opinion they trust. In many cases, the biggest YouTube celebrities, Twitter celebrities and bloggers have the power to make a video viral simply by posting it to their massive audiences. These people are the tastemakers of the digital world.
There is also a mob mentality around already popular videos — the thinking goes, “Wow, if 100,000 people have watched this in the last two days, it must be relevant and worth watching.”
Oh yeah, and it will always be the case that sex sells. A thumbnail with a close-up on a sexy body party — whether it’s a pair of boobs or a guy’s sculpted abs — will always get clicks.
Lewis: It’s also worth noting that there’s an interesting trend in the world of YouTube where clicks are becoming less important. The model is moving more towards channels, subscriptions, playlists and a “lean back” experience. Assuming the trend continues, this means platforms will favor fewer different video clicks in favor of a longer watching time-per-click.
What are people sharing most these days? Is there a difference between a video that’s clickable and shareable?
Furia: There are two very separate decision points for a viewer: the moment of choosing whether to click on a video, and then the moment where they decide whether to share it.
Most people will just watch a video and then click away or close it. If they decide to share a video, it usually is because they either a) altruistically want to share the enjoyment of that video with others, or b) selfishly want to be seen sharing or critiquing that video. The former is usually accompanied by an enthusiastic statement, like “OMG, this is awesome!” While the latter is usually accompanied by an understated or critical post, like “Is this what the internet has come to?”
It’s amazing how many people will post videos that they dislike. This often reinforces the phrase “any press is good press.”
You emphatically state that Seedwell is “not an ad agency.” Why is that?
“The reason we get up in the morning is to create videos that make people smile, not to sell chips or body wash … We’re extremely paranoid that the moment we forget that will be the moment we make videos nobody wants to watch or share.”
Lewis: The reason we get up in the morning is to create videos that make people smile, not to sell chips or body wash (both of which we do use). We’re extremely paranoid that the moment we forget that will be the moment we make videos nobody wants to watch or share. That is when we lose relevance — both to viewers and (ironically) to advertisers.
So, we think of ourselves as a “creative studio” rather than an “ad agency.” Ad agencies have historically paid for distribution with creative as an add-on. We believe in paying for creative and earning the distribution.
As much as we enjoy watching Mad Men, the world has changed. It’s frowned on to drink old fashioned’s before 10 a.m., and there is no such thing as a guaranteed audience. People only watch what they want to watch, advertisements included.
It used to be enough to think about the message that your target consumer wanted. Now you have to earn their attention before you can even deliver a message. So, even if we’re building a business that relies on advertising, we better be thinking about creating content that engages the viewer first.
You launched the YouTube channel American Hipster recently, and we love it! Where did the idea come from?
Fine: I came up with the idea for a documentary series called American Hipster about 4.5 years ago with a close friend from college, Abby Weintraub. The idea was to explore the word “hipster,” and all the contention surrounding it, by profiling the people whose passions became the trends that have been co-opted by the “hipster,” whatever that word means.
The original idea was based on two assumptions: 1) that there are interesting people doing interesting things that, while widely considered to be “hipster,” lack the pretention and “F-you” attitude we all associate with hipsters, and 2) that people will watch a show called American Hipster because at their core, both words are highly charged and contentious.
Furia: Once we decided to develop a full YouTube channel around this American hipster theme, we renamed the documentary series American Hipster Presents (to emphasize the show’s focus on our interview subjects). And [we] developed the other two more tongue-in-cheek, pop culture-focused shows, Hipster Grandmas and Max Movie Reviews. At a high level, the channel is just a fun way to explore today’s youth culture.
Many people think the whole hipster thing is over, but the fact that the term is still so contentious makes us think there’s substance to explore. We also suspect there’s new humor to enjoy as hipsterism’s influence expands further into the mainstream and crosses generations.
Where do all your ideas come from?
“We’ve all known each other since we were 12, so we’re not precious about our ideas when we’re collaborating on creative. We admit readily when an idea is bad. Or great. Or just OK.”
Fine: Creative is what we do best. We’ve all known each other since we were 12, so we’re not precious about our ideas when we’re collaborating on creative. We admit readily when an idea is bad. Or great. Or just OK. There’s no love lost, or time for that matter.
That said, we spend a lot of time working through a creative process that involves whiteboards, blindfolds, walking meetings and sometimes tumblers and trust falls.
Furia: I think the best ideas are born from moments when our subconscious thoughts can breathe (i.e. when we’re not trying too hard to think), like in the shower or during a commute, but we’ve found that the best concepts are developed through collaboration. I think we have a special collaborative chemistry there; every single good concept has come about because one of us had a kernel of an idea and then others iterated on it.
What kind of people participate in your videos (both actors and behind the scenes)? How do you determine whether those characters/creative minds will appeal to a viral audience?
Lewis: Our videos began with just us and our friends, both in front of and behind the camera. We like that tradition and continue it. Making viral videos requires taking a lot of creative risks, which is something that you are better at doing in the company of people you trust.
As we’ve grown and realized the limitations of our on-screen talent (there are only so many dance moves we know), it has required us making more friends. That is a good thing, too. Many of our new friends are technically very skilled or highly magnetic in front of a camera.
Do you simply create the video and hope it goes viral? Or do you take steps to ensure its “virality?” Share some tips!
Furia: There is absolutely an element of uncertainty in the world of viral video. You can never know for sure whether something will catch fire and spread.
That said, there are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances of going viral. Here are our tips.
Start with a catchy concept. The content is the single most important element to a video being shared virally. Your content should be fresh or relevant, or both. The online video world rewards the new, the unexpected and the relevant. It’s a world where content goes stale in a matter of days and trends become old news quickly. If you’re tackling a topic that’s no longer new, you’d better be offering a fresh or creative perspective on it.
Alternatively, you can go for the quirky or sensational. People will share a video showing a physical or mental feat that’s objectively impressive (like a toddler soccer phenom or StarCraft II keystroke freak), or something that’s just hilarious, weird or unexpected (like the Nyan Cat or Randall’s animal voiceover).
Additionally, it can be helpful to identify your core audience and make sure you’re speaking their language. Something that’s too general can get lost in the noise, while something that’s very specific can ignite the passions of a niche community who sees your video as uniquely personal, and who will be thrilled to share it with other like-minded people.
Optimize the content for online audiences. While there are a handful of exceptions, most videos that go viral are shorter in length and convey what the video is about in the first 15-30 seconds. As people become increasingly busy, and as more and more content competes for their attention, they’re developing shorter attention spans and less patience. They want to know right away that a) they’ll be glad they watched the video when it’s done, and b) it’s not going to burn up too many minutes of their busy day.
Making the content easily searchable and identifiable, via its video thumbnail and its title, description and keywords is also very helpful.
Additionally, people are less likely to share a video with overbearing packaging, branding or calls-to-action. Minutes-long opening credits or overt advertising can often be a turn-off for viewers.
Get your content in the hands of relevant press outlets and tastemakers. The world of online video has become increasingly saturated, and it’s harder than ever to break through the noise, even if you have a catchy concept and a video that’s optimized for online audiences.
Getting your video shared by digital influencers with large and engaged audiences is essential. While some bloggers and web celebrities get annoyed by “cold emails” and self-promoting, many more of them are interested in being among the first people to post a hot video, especially if it speaks to their specific interests.
Identify the tastemakers with large audiences for whom your content is relevant, and share the link with them, along with some context for why they should check it out. They’ll always read your emails or tweets, but they’ll often only reply if they’re interested in posting it.
The type of outlet is also important. We’ve found that posts by traditional media outlets (like newspapers or magazines and their corresponding websites) with massive audiences can actually have a smaller impact on video views than posts by dedicated blogs and YouTube or Twitter celebrities with smaller audiences. This is because the latter often use more sharing-friendly publishing platforms, and their audiences are more tech-savvy and familiar with online video sharing.
In other words, a write-up in Mashable with a video embedded, or a tweet from Ashton Kutcher with a video link can be an order of magnitude better for virality than a write-up in The New York Times.
Lastly, you can pay for promotion. There are now a number of platforms on which you can advertise a video, such as YouTube Promoted Videos or Facebook Ads, and those tools can help drive the same initial momentum that a press feature would.
Between the rise in location-based social networks, like Foursquare, and the mobile market’s meteoric growth, a new marketing avenue has opened up. Location-based marketing is a nascent frontier, and marketers are clamoring to take advantage of it.
Already, about 30% of smartphone owners access social networks via their mobile browser, and that figure will continue to grow, according to an infographic by Microsoft Tag. So, if your marketing plans include location-based networks, below are five ways to get started.
1. Push Notification Integration
One of the big reasons people don’t use location-based apps like Foursquare or SCVNGR is simply because they forget. Integrating push notifications into a location-based app is a great and simple fix.
Marketers often use these notifications to highlight activity, specials, announcements, and to further promote the app as well as the business. Allowing users to alter these notifications is an important way to give your audience some power. That ensures your messaging makes it to their phone without being a burden.
2. Loyalty Programs
Giving rewards to loyal customers for continuing to check in via a location-based networks is a great option. Arby’s marketing team did this on Foursquare by offering special reserved seating to their Foursquare mayors at 30 restaurants and 50% off on purchases. Ideas like these drive competition and increase use, which leads to greater exposure for the business being marketed on these networks.
Geofencing has been around for some time, but it’s increasingly becoming incorporated in more location-based networks. For those who aren’t familiar, geofencing is a virtual boundary set around a location, like a store. One way marketers are using geofencing on location-based networks is by sending messages to users who’ve opted in to a particular service.
Lets use Starbucks as an example. If a person crosses a Starbucks geofence, they will receive a message from their location-based app highlighting an offer, coupon, or just a reminder to stop by. This is similar to the idea of a push notification, except it’s only triggered by a person who comes into a geofence around a specific location. This messaging is more relevant to a user and more effective for a company.
4. Mixed Media
Apps like GetGlue and Foursquare both give you the ability to check in and incorporate other media. For instance, GetGlue allows a user to check in and share a favorite book, song or TV show. Optimize your content and forge partnerships with companies like GetGlue as a way to extend your reach among users that are more likely to view your content if recommended by their friends.
5. Better Content
As the king of the location-based space, Foursquare helps set the tone for innovation in this industry. Recently at South by Southwest, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley spoke about the future of location-based apps and how the company’s focus is shifting from checking in to other features that their audience uses more and that will help the company become more mainstream.
For instance, Foursquare’s “explore” feature is fairly new and allows a user to discover food, nightlife, shops, and more based on broad categories. It aggregates suggestions based on your checkin history as well as information available on the network about a location. This is why any content you add to Foursquare and similar sites should be optimized.
Every year, for the last ten years, someone has proclaimed that the press release is dying. While the rumors of its demise are exaggerated, they are not totally unfounded. That’s because the press release is, in fact, being eclipsed by digital alternatives that are more flexible, more interesting, and more relevant.
In 2010, when Google made a major announcement not by press release but by blog post, we reached what seemed like a milestone. Five years earlier, a company of Google’s stature would have issued a statement on a newswire. Now, a Google executive was crafting a more thoughtful narrative that the company published on its official blog.
This shift in medium and message represents a new era in corporate communications. News now needs to be conveyed in an empathetic tone and delivered in a user-friendly format.
What’s so encouraging about this trend is that it isn’t exclusive to corporate behemoths. To the contrary, smaller companies can leverage blog-centric communications with great success. Here are four examples of those that do it well.
Zillow, the real estate company, has a great blog where it bypasses the typical corporate press release. Instead, it opts for more conversational posts like: “Whether you’re driving around a neighborhood checking home values on your smartphone, using an iPad to draw a search around that dream neighborhood while waiting at the airport, or doing some serious house hunting on your computer at home, there are multiple ways to home search and shop with Zillow.”
Similarly, new hires are introduced by their respective manager in a first-person post.
The Lesson: Keep it human. Your stakeholders, and your customers, prefer it that way.
Those searching Patagonia’s website for a press release will look in vain. Instead, media folks are invited to join the Patagonia PR Facebook group. This group is dedicated to keeping journalists, writers, editors, and other media informed about Patagonia and its outdoor clothing products. While a social network isn’t technically a blog, it works. In fact, Patagonia also operates a robust blog.
The Lesson: Passion, even edginess, does not get in the way of your message. Passion actually shows personality, and that there’s a real person behind your press shop.
When the British smoothie-maker Innocent announced new juice blends earlier this year, it did so via press release and blog post. The difference between the two versions speaks volumes.
Here’s the press release: “We’ve been so pleased with how popular the juice has been that we got back in to the kitchen and have made some delicious juice blends, which we think everyone will enjoy just as much.”
Here’s the blog post: “You can choose from our delicious apple and raspberry recipe or totally tasty tropical (sorry), depending on whether you need to be transported to a dappled orchard or a desert island.”
The formatting differences between the two are even more glaring. The press release lacks any social sharing buttons. Its claim to fame: it’s downloadable as a PDF. The blog post features the colorful new bottles and video created for the occasion. There’s also a promise to reward the most interesting comments with a free case of the new blends.
The Lesson: Entertaining consumers is as important as informing them.
When ServInt, a web host, announced a new line of servers from their Flex brand, the press release followed the tried-and-trite formula. “ServInt, a pioneering provider of managed cloud hosting for enterprises worldwide, today introduced its new line of fully managed, dedicated servers under the Flex brand.”
Then things got interesting on their blog, ServInt Source, which ran three posts about Flex. First, ServInt’s sales director touted the servers’ “power and options.” A week later, its vice president of marketing connected the new machines to the company’s new brand identity. Finally, the COO placed these changes in the context of industry-wide developments.
What’s significant about this approach is how it turns a single announcement into multiple opportunities. With press releases this continuity is difficult. A blog, however, is perfect for ongoing updates.
The Lesson: Make it personal. Comments from soldiers in the trenches are more memorable than a few quotes from a chief executive.
Oprah may have retired from her daytime talk show nearly a year ago, but she’s hardly out of sight from her fan base. In fact, her latest series airing on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network is perhaps one of the most advanced shows in the social space right now, as she connects with her home and live audience in almost unprecedented ways.
Oprah’s Lifeclass — which is currently in its second season, airing on Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. CT — features various motivational speakers and guests who aim to help viewers overcome challenges. Last season recapped lessons, revelations and aha moments over the past 25 years on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
But this isn’t your typical Oprah show. She is incorporating social media and interactivity into every episode across various platforms, from Facebook and Twitter to Skype and Instagram. For example, Oprah encourages viewers at home and in the audience to live tweet responses to the topics mentioned on the show and then discusses them in real-time with her guests.
“We have a team backstage that monitors the tweets that come in, and we push out some for Oprah to see and discuss live on the show,” a spokesperson for the OWN Network told Mashable backstage at a live taping. “We tell the audience and everyone at home to use their phones and interact with the show as it airs, and people couldn’t be more excited to do so.”
During most episodes, Oprah is positioned in front of several TV screens that display the tweets. Backstage is a room dedicated to what the show calls “Skypeville,” where fans can be Skyped in to the live show and interact with Oprah.
During last week’s episode — which was filmed live at Radio City Music Hall in New York City as part of a multi-city tour — several viewers were Skyped in from Australia and London to parts of the U.S. to discuss some of their biggest fears.
“It allows Oprah to truly interact with her audience in new ways, and makes her feel that much closer to her audience — and they feel the same way,” says the spokesperson. “It creates for a much deeper on-air discussion, too.”
Oprah’s Lifeclass also incorporates Facebook polls into the show and offers real-time results. Those viewers tuning in online are awarded with a behind-the-scenes look at what happens during commercial breaks. In essence, the camera never stops rolling, and only those watching online are privy to that footage. Fans can also post comments on the site and interact with others watching the show.
To make the experience even more personal, Oprah snail-mailed journals to her fans so that they could take notes during episodes.
Apart from the show, Oprah is extremely active on social media, especially Twitter. “Every tweet she sends is hers — the marketing team isn’t allowed to go anywhere near her Twitter account,” says the spokesperson.
Although Oprah’s Lifeclass doesn’t have too much formal marketing, it relies mostly on word-of-mouth marketing. It invites a traveling blogger corp. to its live shows to tweet during each episode and feature behind-the-scenes commentary.
As OWN aims to boost viewership of the show and its network, its buzz on social networking sites is thriving. The Oprah team says in the last week alone there were 414,780 mentions on Facebook and 3,026 answers posted to the Lifeclass wall on Oprah.com, along with over 29,000 views to the wall. Meanwhile, the web cast brought in nearly 2.6 million viewer minutes from 149 countries.
What do you think of Oprah’s use of social media to interact with viewers in real-time? Should other shows be taking a similar approach? Let us know in the comments.
TBG analyzed more than 7.6 billion Facebook ad impressions from its client base during December, January and February. Here are the top and bottom 10 states for CTR, according to TBG’s data:
While the click-through data is powerful information for online marketers, TBG CEO Simon Mansell cautions that it’s not the be-all end-all for advertisements.
What people do after they click on ads, for example, is among a host of other factors that determine an ad’s ultimate success.
“It’s like any data — useful to know but you shouldn’t look at it in isolation,” Mansell told Mashable in an interview.
And where does Facebook earn the most money off the ads it hosts? Not surprisingly, South Dakota — the state with the highest click-through rate — has the highest cost per thousand impressions (CPM), at 190% the national average.
Vermont — where people click on ads with the least frequency — has the lowest, at 53% the national average.
Here are TBG’s top and bottom 10 states for CPM:
There are obvious parallels between the states that have the highest CTRs and CPMs. But Mansell says, the lists aren’t more proportional as a result of variables in the Facebook ad-bidding process. Facebook charges on a cost-by-click basis. Advertisers who gain more clicks are allowed to buy ads for discounted rates.
What’s most interesting about these data to you? Let us know in the comments.
It’s a beard! It’s a plane! It’s Brian Wilson’s beard on a plane!
A Virgin America aircraft that began regularly scheduled flights on Tuesday has a painted-on homage to the San Francisco Giants closer’s bushy beard. And there’s a social media tie-in too; travelers who spot the plane — dubbed Fly Bye Baby — then tweet a photo to @VirginAmerica with the hashtag #FlyTheBeard will qualify for a chance to win free airline tickets.
The Airbus Airbus A320 also features a Giants logo emblazoned toward the rear of the plane, the result of a multiyear marketing partnership between the Major League Baseball club and Virgin America.
In keeping with the promotion’s social media theme, Wilson’s beard long had its own Twitter account, @BeardOfBrian.
Check out the video above to see the bearded airliner in action.
Do you think this is a cool promotional idea or not? Let us know in the comments.
You might not be willing to fork over a monthly subscription fee to read some of your favorite news sites, but would you answer a survey question?
That’s what Google and a handful of well-known online publishers are aiming to find out. On Thursday, the tech giant unveiled “Google Consumer Surveys,” which allows publishers to glean a little more revenue from their content by serving up short surveys to readers. These surveys function like paywalls: When a reader lands on an article page, he or she will have to answer a question or three to view the full text of the article (see it in action here). For every response sent to Google, publishers get $0.05.
The program has launched with around 20 online publishers, including Pandora, AdWeek, the New York Daily News and the Texas Tribune.
And what happens to those survey responses? They’re collected by Google and sold to businesses seeking low-cost market research. Responses targeting the general U.S. population cost businesses $0.10 per response, with a minimum order of $100, according to Google’s pricing page. Questions that are more finely targeted, either by demographic, region or through screening questions, cost $0.50 per response. Lucky Brand Jeans and King Arthur Flour are already clients.
To finish reading an article, you may have to answer survey questions like this one.
What do you think of Google Consumer Surveys? Do you think it’s a good alternative to paywalls for publishers and readers? Or would you automatically skip any articles that required you to answer questions?
We have seen some amazing animals-plus-iPads footage in the past, but this fresh clip offers the biggest thrill yet. “Biggest” not just in terms of cute, but also in terms of bulk, because the clip features an adorable tech-loving pachyderm named Peter.
Peter seems more than at home with the new Samsung Galaxy Note‘s touchscreen interface (shunning apples for bananas at one point, we note) and handy with a few of the apps too. Is that an elephant he’s trying to draw at 0:40?
Hit up the video above for a dose of charming viral marketing. Whether this gets the desired “bigger is better” message across is yet to be seen, but it will certainly create huge smiles.