The Other Side of The New Marketing Coin

A complementary pair: the Dragon (yang) symbolizes the changes that act on us, the Phoenix (yin), responsiveness to recognize change as opportunity.

Marketers increasingly appreciate that traditional marketing that pushes out promotional content, hoping it gets noticed is generating diminishing returns.

In our changing technological demographic, and psychographic landscape, companies are allocating more budget to Content Marketing and Social Media. Still, the expectations for them are relatively low.

Why the disconnect? Marketers used to push marketing measured by conversion rates and ROI, switching to a pull strategy that cedes more control to consumers is a fundamental paradigm shift.

The fact is: whether or not we acknowledge it, today’s consumers are more empowered.

However, rather than look at this as a problem, let’s take a look at the flip side – the opportunity side of the coin.

Explosive  Opportunities for Reach, Impact and Influence

Content Marketing takes the dragon by the horns, generating content that has the opportunity to have explosive reach, impact and influence.

If you create the conditions for your brand to reach key social influencers in a way that is personal, relevant and laden with value, it can go viral, increasing brand equity exponentially.

To drive home the sheer magnitude of the opportunity, let’s take a look at some of the entertainment brands who have launched their careers on viral content.

Viral Idol

Like Justin Bieber, who was discovered in 2008 on YouTube and got his first single released in 2009, and othr stars who got their start on, . Colbie Caillat saw MySpace as an opportunity to launch a brand that the traditional media didn’t know quite what to do with.

Caillat auditioned for American Idol but was rejected at the pre-audition stage and never got to sing for the judges. After her second  audition, at she sang her own original song, “Bubbly,” she realized that she needed to take another path.

Expressing gratitude at the judges’ decision, she said “I was shy. I was nervous. I didn’t look the greatest. I wasn’t ready for it yet. I was glad, when I auditioned, that they said no.”

MySpace Blastoff

The 21-year-old Caillat (pronounced “kah-LAY”) recorded a demo of “Bubbly” in September, 2006, which landed on the social networking site she began to put up her videos on MySpace, where she had been talking with friends for a year or so:

“I never really understood the whole thing, thought it was really weird. Then one of my good friends said people make music pages on MySpace where other people can hear your music. He created the page and uploaded my song and showed me how to use it, and one day I started getting friends on there, started getting responses to the music.

That’s when I started seeing where things could go, but I didn’t know I was going to get a career out of it. I just thought it was a good place to hear other people’s input on my music, if they liked it or not.”

The music was posted in September. Dozens of friends grew into hundreds, then thousands. In October, soon after Caillat passed the 6,000-friend mark, Rolling Stone hailed her as one of the music scene’s most promising unsigned artists and noted that the singer “may not stay unsigned for long.”

She became the No. 1 unsigned artist on MySpace for four successive months, garnering 16 million plays and signing up increasing numbers of friends – more than 166,000.

Caillat was signed with Universal in March, and her debut album was released July 17, 2007: Within hours of its release, “Coco” debuted at No. 1 on iTunes, an online store that is among the top five music retailers in the country. With sales of 51,000 albums, “Coco” opened at No. 5 on Billboard’s Top Albums chart.

Caillat’s Musical Background: She did have a good musical background. Her father, Ken Caillat, a record producer, was best known for producing and engineering Fleetwood Mac’s gigantic “Rumours” and “Tusk” albums in the late ’70s.

Her father, however, was not the force behind her success. Caillat was just 15 when she started working with producer Mikal Blue, singing songs he wrote as runway music for St. John Knits fashion shows. While working at the front desk of a Malibu tanning salon she begain, in her spare time, writing songs with singer-songwriter pal Jason Reeves. At age 18, Caillat began voice lessons, and at 20, started taking guitar lessons and writing songs, teaming with Reeves, a singer-songwriter from Iowa City, while continuing to work with Blue, who produced “Coco.” Blue, who recorded on the Immergent label, has his own recording studio, Revolver Recordings, and has worked with such bands as Five for Fighting and Augustana.

Filling an Unmet Need

Caillat’s viral rise illustrates her relevance in a crowded market.  At a time of when mass produced music, she filled a need for something genuine, personal and creative. She writes:

Mikal is a very pop-oriented guy and Jason is very folk, and I have the whole R&B side. And maybe if we were all just individuals, it would be too much of one thing. But since we all blend into our style of music in every song, it’s something really special, and I think that’s why so many people can relate to it.

According to The Washington Post:

Caillat has the laid-back vibe of island boy Jack Johnson and the natural glow of Jessica Biel, though she seems more comfortable with the first comparison than with the second.

New Marketing Lessons

Do you still have low expectations for Social Media?

With more than 800 million active users on Facebook according to Facebook’s statistics, and Twitter just recently passing the 300 million mark according to independent watchers,  Social Media is here to stay with millions engaging daily on social media sites.

In fact, according to NMIncites’ report, Social Networks and Blogs Provide Excellent Research Platform, the value of the time consumers spend online and on social networks and blogs just continues to grow:

  • Social networks and blogs reach nearly 80% of active U.S. Internet users and represent the majority of Americans’ time online.
  • 60% of people who use three or more digital means of research for product purchases learned about a specific brand or retailer from a social networking site.
  • 48% of these consumers responded to a retailer’s offer posted on Facebook or Twitter.

As the old saying goes, “Go where the people are,” and the people are online.  Having made this point, we will continue to examine best practices in successful Social Media use by brands in articles to come.

Snap! principle of Social Media Marketing 

Recognize change as opportunity.