If there's nothing new under the sun, and those who fail history are doomed to repeat it are any indication of the success of achieving viral status in social media marketing, it would probably be safe to assume that no one brand has produced anything ground-breaking. One small step for business, perhaps, but one achy shamble towards viral success.
The social media sphere and more was explored during Tuesday's annual TechCon event held at Chicago's IIT campus, located at 3250 S. State Street. The event was hosted by Meeting Professionals International, a premier global association community for meeting and event professionals. Marketing engagement agency UnMarketing founder and president Scott Stratten was the keynote speaker and brought the house down with humor (inappropriate Twitter handles that somehow made it through 12 levels of management); ugly truths (irate customers will snitch to major news outlets in as short as 15 minutes), and in-your-face advice about the delusion of going viral.
Nobody's shrinking violet, Stratten is vocal and quite animated, and has a strategic finger on the pulse of where brands small or large should lend their focus.
"About 12 years ago, classical marketing was just hypocritical. It was people marketing the way they hated to be marketed to. Looking at better ways to do the same thing. Junk mail? Marketers just looked to do it better. I realized there's got to be a place in this world where people can buy things from people they know, like and trust. My job focused on that world, to position people who help you with content or being an authority."
UnMarketing's standards and don't say 'viral'
Brands should carefully frame their target audience before even considering pitching, according to Scott, who seemingly likens the use of the term 'viral' to calling Polaner All Fruit 'jelly.' At this juncture business owners, sit back and let uncle Scott kick some realistic ballistics on marketing strategy and how we're not as clever as we think we are.
What are UnMarketing's standard(s) for successful viral status?
The word viral hurts my soul sometimes. People say, "We're going to create a viral video, or create viral content. Don't say that. Viral is the result. Even the term 'viral' is subjective.
If your video has 12 views, it's not viral. If eight of them are you refreshing the video to get the views up, it's not viral. Even if a video has a million views, is it viral? You don't know. You don't have enough information. If it spreads beyond the original people you send it to, that's just the beginning of something going viral.
The focus of your business should be 'What's your content and who do you want to reach with it?' What is your viral? Is it your 50 target people in your market? Is it the 20 corporations you've got? You don't need a video to go 'Gangnam Style.' You only need about 20 quality people to watch that video or read that blog post of your target market. You don't need commenting and posting, when it's only your clients that matter. We've got to be careful in our expectations of viral where quantity does not equal quality. Instead, create content that works for the audience intended.
Only then will you get the conversions you're looking for.
Circle of content life breakdown
In sharing online content and videos, there are three cicles:
- The first circle is your family, Facebook friends, fans, employees, etc. You can just reach your hand out and they're always there.
- The second is your family's connections, friends and fans (your connections' first circle, one circle removed from you.)
- The third circle: Unreachable to you originally. The first circle always shares content for the content itself.
What method of marketing (trade show, display advertising, etc.) do you feel marketers should invest less time and dollars?
You have to get to a point where you look where all your dollars are going. It's not how you're investing but why are you investing in something? Do I advise companies to spend a lot of money on mobile apps? Possibly, if it's something they'll need. Should a business buy a wicked trade show booth? If that works for their audience, sure.
Businesses tread in dangerous territory in focusing on the best swag for their trade show booth. Then it boils down to whose giving away the best free crap?
I was at a tradeshow at the McCormick Place years ago and a bunch of people were walking around with these walking sticks. They were so excited. They were like, "Woo-hoo! These are some wicked walking sticks!" So I would put my hand over the logo and asked them, "Whose this stick from?" They would pause, then say, "I don't know! But it's a wicked walking stick!" This was from a packaging company, which has nothing to do with walking sticks, but just wasted a lot of money for a good prop.
What all this boils down to is a lot of businesses suffer from lack of focus, or the "Squirrel!" effect: You're just spending a lot of time jumping around doing a hundred things all at once, but you're not doing any of them well. A lot of businesses would fare better if they could do a few things great.
What is UnMarketing's approach to damage control? How would UnMarketing have marketed Oreos during the Super Bowl?
First, we must realize that tragedies or disasters are not tragedies or disasters. They're usually not these epic end-all events. Just because Oreos has someone with Photoshop who knows how to put a shadow on a cookie doesn't mean that Oreos sold a billion more cookies. It was a coup for Super Bowl advertising in the social media bubble. It's a bubble. A small, small world that no one could care less about at the end of the day.
Even though Burger King's Twitter account just got hacked, no one will not want a Whopper because of it. Nobody's going to want a Whopper next week and think, "Wait a second! Didn't their Twitter account just get hacked? I will not have a Whopper! It will not make my day today!" That was Burger King's first time trending on Twitter in three years.
With the KitchenAid incident, I can't help them because they did everything right. What could you do? It was a rogue tweet that was sent, whereas Burger King got hacked. KitchenAid deleted it. They apologized. They owned up to it. I couldn't even charge you a dollar to advise them to do anything better because they did it perfectly. Same thing with FedEx's swift response to the rogue delivery guy incident.
Companies need three things in getting through mishaps: be quick, accountable and sincere. Then about 99% of things will just go away, 80% if you don't even do that. It's almost like a ledger: the exposure of your screw-up which could bring you more business because of the awareness outweigh the potential of customers you lost because of it? That's where your scale goes back and forth."
How is UnMarketing preparing for social media 'gurus' claims of "2013 being the year of video marketing"?
I got an e-mail last year, just like in 1998 as well as in 2002 and 2011 and 2012 saying that video e-mail marketing is going to be the next big thing. In true Louis C.K. fashion, "everything is new and it's all old."
[Congratulations.] You've just learned the new technology of sending me a link to a video in your e-mail. Video is not new. The whole six-second video on Vine is not going to fix your business. The 12-second TV concept was interesting when it first came out, but who has time for that now? I've got maybe six seconds, but I don't have 12.
Tool, but in a good way
Wrapping up, Scott advises what we all should consider common sense in online marketing strategies:
Google+ Hangouts, Skype video chats, etc. are all tools and they've all been out for a while. If MasterCraft came out with a new hammer, I'd still stink at building stuff. That's just how it is.
If you were to give me a new set of tools, I'd still be horrible at building stuff. None of it will make me any better. If you stink in video marketing, you'll only stink at a higher resolution. It's not going to get any better.
Work towards getting better at your content, and only then will the tools enhance what your audience will consume. Don't let yourself be the one who dictates your content. Just because you like video doesn't mean your audience will.
We hear statistics every day, "Over a trillion hours of video are streamed every day." It's still the least consumed in a content business method.
I'd rather you have a video transcribed into a blog post and then have an audio, as opposed to only having a video - forcing everyone down that route. With data, you're talking to a Canadian whose on a roaming data plan. I'm not about to stream $27,000 worth of MBs because your video has a 27-second intro. No, thank you."
UnMarketing "Harlem Shake" video request duly scrapped. Oh, well.
Keep up with a great deal of online marketing stuff you're probably not even doing anyway by visiting www.unmarketing.com. Keep the party going by visiting the event's Twitter hashtag: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23mpitechcon. Event professionals looking for industry events or chapters to join can visit www.mpiweb.org for more information.