August 10, 2012

Marketing Alert: Fundamental Market Shift (stop ignoring user content)

It’s unimaginable, seriously confounding how the Carly Rae Jepson song has generated so much interest.  It’s a cute catchy song.  And yes, Justin Beiber started it.  However, that does not account for what’s happened.  The meme-ability of the song relies on the fact it is not deep content.  It’s really actually quite simple.  The ability for it to be easily picked up and transformed – and that someone didn’t get stupid about preventing copies is the real deal.  When you spend a ton of time trying to prevent copying, you actually drive people AWAY FROM not CLOSER TO your content.

The whole meme concept is a mass capturing people’s attention in the stream economy with microcontent … according to social guru Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee).  But it’s actually more than that.  It’s not just sharing it.  It’s making it your own and then sharing it.

To whit let’s just review a few of the more notable entries in the content transformation game for Carly’s song…

Music: Justin Beiber and team has 47mm views.  Katy Perry and friends are in on the game with another 3mm.  (what would happen if Lady Gaga did one, I can only imagine).  Sports teams: The US Swim team’s adorable version has 3mm – in a week.  It didn’t blow up the charts like Harvard Baseball‘s version with 15mm views, which landed them on Good Morning America with this version from SMU Women’s Rowing (which got left in the dust with .875mm).  What’s equally amazing is the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders – less than million for them.  It misses the mark – it’s simply not as engaging as the other versions.   The military:  Here’s the US Marine Corps take with nearly a million views.  Actual spoofs:  the Barack Obama dubbed version has 22mm views. Let’s not leave out the 3mm+ viewers of Call Me Gaybe.  This very odd Wassabi version has 18mm.  Of course, let us not forget Cookie Monster – not kidding.  It’s beyond cute.

But what this does is extend the 191mm who have seen the original video.  It has nearly 50% as much viewership in its consumer produced forms as the original.  Read that again please.  It has nearly 50% as much viewership in its consumer-produced forms as the original. That is the most fundamental shift in content.  Give it away and watch it reproduce like little energizer bunnies that keep going and going…

Simply put, you can’t seek to create this kind of content.  You need to ALLOW it to happen.  That means open public access.  It means keeping the attorneys from talking you out of it.  Allow people to have fun with your content and you create engagement.  And that in turn creates virality.  It’s not the other way.  It will be sad when this song heads in that direction, and it inevitably will.  It will jump the shark when it starts showing up in commercials as a spoof – and it is not likely to be funny then, just sad and artificial.  (Marketers, don’t let your agency talk you into it.  Don’t recommend it.  Don’t even go there.  It will be inorganic.)

Now back to your regularly scheduled marketing programs.  -c-