Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 19

Yes, this one's for real.

Alexa finally updated today, so I thought that we'd all suffered enough, so I'm going to go ahead and post the updated rankings for everyone now, and we'll start again as normal next week.

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,074 (LW - 1)(+385)
2 - Gaping Void - 17,497 (LW - 2)(-382)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 18,390 (LW - 4)(-195)
4 - Creating Passionate Users - 20,879 (LW - 3)(-3,098)
5 - Marketing Shift - 45,885 (LW - 5)(+230)
6 - HorsePigCow - 53,115 (LW - 6)(-1,464)
7 - Church of the Customer - 59,947 (LW - 9)(+15,474)
8 - Coolzor - 65,296 (LW - 7)(-12,627)
9 - Daily Fix - 67,407 (LW - 22)(+169,621)
10 - The Viral Garden - 71,855 (LW - 8)(-6,559)
11 - What's Next - 86,890 (LW - 10)(-8,408)
12 - Brand Autopsy - 92,460 (LW - 12)(-3,930)
13 - Emergence Marketing - 96,443 (LW - 11)(-12,104)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 110,019 (LW - 14)(-2,090)
15 - Logic + Emotion - 112,563 (LW - 17)(+49,667)
16 - Diva Marketing - 120,728 (LW - 13)(-13,496)
17 - New School of Network Marketing - 122,893 (LW - 16)(+17,911)
18 - Experience Curve - 147,951 (LW - 24)(+109,451)
19 - Marketing Nirvana - 161,257 (LW - UR)
20 - Marketallica - 171,194 (LW - 19)(+35,045)
21 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 184,054 (LW - 15)(-53,849)
22 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 198,642 (LW- 18)(+4,709)
23 - What's Your Brand Mantra? - 249,880 (LW - 20)(-36,797)
24 - Brains on Fire - 258,775 (LW - UR)
25 - Movie Marketing Madness - 259,637 (LW - 23)(-17,900)

First, I wanted to offer a bit of a disclaimer. Remember that these averages haven't been updated in over a month, so there's no shortage of huge moves in both directions. The biggest moves in the Top 10 go to Church of the Customer, that bounded up to #7, and as predicted, Daily Fix rocketed up 13 spots to splash down at #9. Outside the Top 10, Logic + Emotion and Experience Curve both had huge moves.

2 new entries in the Top 25, that will both be very familiar to The Viral Community. Brains on Fire touches down at #24, and Mario's Marketing Nirvana makes one of the biggest debuts ever, coming in at #19. The 'Missed it by THAT much' award goes to Studio UES.

As always, next update is next Monday...hopefully.

The power of one, the power of us

This is why Church of the Customer is probably my favorite blog. They not only blog about amazing examples of community-empowerment, they bring me similar stories from other bloggers. Today's example comes from Community Guy. Jake told a great story from BrickFest 2006(a conference for LEGO enthusiasts.), during the conference, an Asian woman told the story of how the region was 'underserved' as far as LEGO's community-building efforts were concerned. She said she approached the local LEGO office about ways that her and other customer evangelists for LEGO could work with them in community-building efforts. The office did nothing. That's right, a woman approached the COMPANY and offered to work WITH them to promote their company for FREE, and they send her home.

The amazing part of the story? The woman, who was speaking in front of over 500 people, including the company's CEO, wasn't complaining about the treatment she received, she was asking the audience to give her advice on how she could CONVINCE her local office to change their minds, and work WITH their customer evangelists!

The CEO's response? "I'm actually going to be in Singapore next week. Would you be able to join me when I meet with that office so we can work it out?".

Love it! The reason why this will be such a great move is that by having this customer evangelist with the CEO when he visits the Singapore office, it sends the VERY clear message to that office that you must embrace and LISTEN to your community-members that are WANTING to promote your company. If she's important enough to be with the CEO, she's important enough to listen to. Again, when the community is doing your job for you, you do EVERYTHING you can to make their job as easy as possible. Sometimes it takes a gentle clubbing over the head to get through to some people ;)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I have met the enemy, and he is us

I have been fighting the urge to comment on the latest A-Lister dustup. I told David that his latest series of excellent posts were the tipping point, and that I had to comment. But then I found the post below that I left on BMA back in February, the last time this 'debate' ignited, and I realized that I couldn't top my first effort. Some of the numbers are outdated, but the idea I was trying to express is just as true today as it was 6 months ago:

When I left this post last month, I did so because I thought the whole 'A-Lister' dust up was a temporary by-product of boredom, and that we'd all rant/laugh/ramble about the subject for a few days, realize it's all very silly, and get back to talking about much more important things.

Alas, I was dead wrong.

Instead, the 'debate' over the blogosphere's version of a class system has only intensified. Now it seems some have determined that the key to blogging nirvana, which of course is 3,000 links and 10,000 visitors a day, is being held by the gatekeepers known as the 'A-Listers'. All blogging goodness is in the hands of a select few bloggers on the mountaintop.

Right idea, wrong gatekeepers. The gatekeepers aren't A-Listers like Doc Searls and Steve Hall, they are the anonymous IPs that read your blog. They are the people that come, look around, and either decide that your blog sucks, or that it kicks ass, and then they tell ten friends.

Last week everyone was excited about Dave Sifry's update on the state of the blogosphere. We all got excited when we heard that there is a new blog created every second of every day. But think about that for a minute....if there are that many new blogs each and every day, how many new blog READERS are there? New readers that not only have no idea who the so-called 'A-Listers' are, they could give a damned less. Every day. If you're a Z-Lister, they have no idea, and again, could care less. They just care about what they read on your blog that they just found for the first time. What they read that first time could decide if there will ever be a second time.

See our job isn't to impress Steve Hall and Doc Searls the A-Listers, our job is to impress Steve Hall and Doc Searls the BLOG READERS. When we start worrying about getting the attention of a few bloggers that we perceive as being important, we risk losing the attention of our blog readers. And if we've lost that, we have nothing.

BMA will have been live for 5 months on the 16th. We currently have 58 links, and to the people that subscribe to the 'A-Lister' view of the blog world, that means we aren't very important. On the other hand, traffic levels have never been higher than right now, we averaged 806 visitors a day last week, and at the rate traffic is increasing, we're on pace to touch 25,000 visitors for the month. Good thing we aren't paying attention to the people that think that a blog's worth is defined by its number of links, but instead to the visitors that come here every day, and hopefully enjoy what they see.

Because that's the key. We have to stop this worrying about who is linking to me, and who won't. The time we spend bitching about how 'unfair' it is that the haves are supposedly holding back the have-nots, is time lost that we COULD have spent producing great content on our blogs, and contributing to the community. Stop worrying about why Scoble never reads your blog, and worry about giving the gal that's reading your blog RIGHT NOW a reason to come back.

Because your readers are the REAL A-listers. Treat them as such, or they'll happily leave your ass to bitch about why no one comments on your blog, and your pet theory that it's somehow gotta be Guy Kawasaki's fault.

"Music fans and musicians belong to each other."

More smartitude from the Bandwidth Music and Technology Conference, this time from Thomas Dolby(via Online Fandom):
Music fans and musicians belong to each other. The role and the obligation of the intermediary is to empower that relationship to happen more easily and more effectively without the wastage that’s sent the industry down the toilet in the last few years. Labels want to push their own brand, but the fans don’t care about that. Kids want to feel they’re being brought closer to the music and the musicians that they admire. All you, as intermediaries, should be doing is facilitating that relationship.

In other words, strengthen the community that's occurring naturally between an artist, and their fans. Exactly.

Final word on SoaP

I have yet to see a blogger that said s/he went to this movie, criticize the film, or its promotion.

On the flipside, of the bloggers that are criticizing the film and/or its promotion, none of them have stated that they attended, or planned on attending the film. Many of them stated that they thought it was a 'bad product'.

I definitely think there are some conclusions to be drawn here.

Monday, August 28, 2006

SoaP sucks, and I need to admit it.... least that's what my namesake thinks.

Mack Simpson today fired off this missive at bloggers who promoted the film:
I don’t want to discuss the movie or its performance as much as I’d like to write a few words about the bloggers who talked it up. Specifically, the bloggers who sang the movie’s praises simply because they saw the Studio’s blogger-outreach as one of the Seven Signs of the Collapse of Marketing As We Know It™ (and, lo, they rejoiced in it). And specifically-specifically, their reaction after things didn’t turn out so well.

A B-movie opening at 15.3 million and #1 at the Box-Office is a BAD thing?

Apparently so.

Mack adds more:
Instead of saying, “o.k., our thesis didn’t pan out; what does this mean,” what we saw was the marketing bloggers begin to spin– spin how the opening day box office returns were actually a rousing success. Mack Collier (the other Mack, thank you very much) over at The Viral Garden actually tried to show– using statistics only an Enron accountant could love, and only after taking some time to blast the mainstream media for “turning” on the movie– how Snakes on a Plane performed better at the box office than Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest.

Excuse me?

Never said that SoaP was a 'rousing success'. I was pointing out that when the MSM gets gaa-gaa about Pirates ticket sales, they forget that the film had equally massive costs.

Then Mack just gets silly by trying to say that bloggers will say this:
“But Mack (yeah, the ad guy again), the momentum will build and it will do even better next weekend.” Oh yeah?

Again, I've never seen one blogger even HINT at SoaP having a better SECOND weekend. I think you're just trying to justify a rant at this point, Mack.

Finally Mack closes with this:
Or, for god’s sake, if your only purpose it to perpetuate and participate in the blogger circle jerk of hype without offering up anything from the other side of the coin, put a freaking disclaimer up on your site somewhere so you don’t unduly influence a poor junior brand manager into doing something that will cost her her job when it goes south.

Heh. Speaking of disclaimers, anyone notice how the bloggers that are slamming SoaP are the ones that waited until AFTER the movie opened and AFTER MSM said it was a 'disappointment' to say so? I think what happened here is that some bloggers decided early on that 'this movie is going to suck, why are people talking about it?!?', and when the MSM told them they were right, they felt 'vindicated' enough to finally post an 'I told you so!' post. Sorry, but in order to 'tell us so', you gotta say something BEFORE the fact. If you're slamming this movie simply because it irked you to see a movie being hyped that you never wanted to see, then you need to put such a disclaimer up on your blog.

But again, Mack thinks this promotion 'went badly'.

A B-movie opened #1 at the box-office, mainly due to free publicity from bloggers, and is now at around 22 million.

And this is a sign of things that 'went badly'?

Give me strength. Was this promotion perfect? Nope, and I've mentioned instances where I thought New Line missed the boat. But they did at least try. And in trying, they got some things right, and made some mistakes. And they are also well ahead of the other studios in using social media and embracing their community of fans to help them promote their future releases.

Again, I can't see how any of that can be seen as anything other than a good thing. But maybe I am seeing what I want to see. Then again, I have to wonder if those that are saying that a B-movie having 22 million after 2 weeks is a 'bad' thing, aren't seeing what they want to see themselves.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Fun with Google

I just noticed that I got a visitor referral from someone doing a Google search for the term "why companies should blog".

Love it!

But I decided to go and check the actual Google results for the term 'why companies should blog', and discovered that this post I left back in May is the #1 Google result for the term 'why companies should blog'.

Google-juice.....another reason why companies should blog ;)

Blogroll 2.0

This is LONG overdue, but I've added around 30 blogs to my blogroll. I promise I am going to stay on top of this from now on.

The Viral Community puts The Viral Garden in the Top 100

Siddiq (Change is Good), Lee (The Nimble Canvas), Jordan (Tell Ten Friends), and Marianne (Resonance Partnership Blog), are the latest 4 members of The Viral Community to add The Viral Garden as one of their favorite blogs. And they, along with everyone else, have helped put The Viral Garden in the Top 100 Most Popular Blogs, according to Technorati. Thanks again to everyone!

I've got 3 slots left in my favorite blogs, so the offer still stands, if you'll add The Viral Garden to your favorites, I'll add your blog, and also link to your blog as I did above for Siddiq, Lee, Jordan and Marianne! Just click on the logo below to add The Viral Garden to your favorities! Thanks guys!

UPDATE: Thanks to Ken at Recognize Design for adding me to his favorites!

NOTHER UPDATE: Thanks to Mike (Much Ado About Marketing) and David (Logic + Emotion) for adding me as well!

SWIFTY UPDATE: And Swifty too!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Thanks to Tamera (3i), Kevin (Seattle Duck), and Nick(Strategic Design) for also adding me!

SUNDAY UPDATE: Thanks to Harry (Marketing Headhunter), Miles(Inner Tee), Brett(Circle Six), and John (Sparkplug 9) for adding me! Thanks guys!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

'100 CDs For 100 Bloggers' featured in The Washington Post

Today Marc Fisher wrote a great article on the fall of Tower Records in The Washington Post, and also mentioned '100 CDs For 100 Bloggers':
Music blogs are coming up with ever more creative ways to replace the record store clerk--Mack Collier's 100 CDs for 100 Bloggers idea is an encouraging sign that music blogs may yet prove to be supportive of the recording artists

Thanks Marc! The buzz generated over SoaP shows that this type of promotion, one where you reward fans for activities that they are already engaging in, is a home-run waiting to happen. Companies are starting to scramble and try to find ways that they can appeal to fans using the same forms of social media that they are. But the best examples will find a way to utilize the natural flow of the community, instead of trying to re-route them in a direction they aren't wanting to travel.

'100 CDs For 100 Bloggers' not only utilizes the natural communication channels of the artist's community of fans, it gives that community the incentive to promote the artist to others outside the community. And as I keep saying, the first label to run with this idea is going to have a blockbuster on their hands.

And it seems that The Donnas have a new CD coming out soon. Hmmmm.....

Pic via Flickr user Rocco Kasby

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Nettwerk's CEO fires another salvo at the RIAA

Terry's at it again.

Speaking at the Bandwidth Music and Technology Conference last weekend, Nettwerk CEO Terry McBride again took the RIAA to task for their practice of pursuing litigation against their own customers, and asked for the RIAA to stop this behavior.
"[The major labels] are using fear as a tactic [to] push these kids away from these P2P systems. You can't use fear to change these behaviors - it just isn't effective. These lawsuits have hurt my artists. We need to stop these lawsuits."

But here is the money quote:
"you should never tell the consumer how to consume your music. You should make it available wherever they want. I don't want to dictate how people buy our music."

Amen. You don't try to re-route the flow of the community, you accept their momentum, and find ways to empower them to more easily engage in the activities that they are already enjoying. This is precisely what New Line did with SoaP, and the future of marketing rests in this very simple concept.

One of the key takeaways from my talk with Nettwerk's Marketing Director Erin Kinghorn back in January, was her claim that within the next few years, we would begin to see the cultures at music labels shift toward a philosophy of empowering artists, and their fans. If that happens, it will be because the industry has followed her boss' lead.

Sounds like a plan to me.

Marketing works. Smart marketing works even better.

I'm pretty much done with SoaP, but did want to touch on something I've seen from some bloggers.

Jackie said this in her Snakes on a Plane: 5 Lessons For Marketers post:
Embracing citizen marketers reduces risk. Launching a new product is betting against huge odds: Over 80 percent of all new products fail. New Line reduced its risk by listening to fans who wanted more snakes, gore and f-bombs. Making $15 million in one weekend is disappointing how? (Silly media.) If New Line hadn't listened to fans and released a PG-13 film called "Pacific Air Flight 121," chances are no one would have talked about it, and it would have been just another low-brow Hollywood movie.

But today, Seth pops up with this:
I knew all about SOAP and had no desire whatsoever to go. I'm just not ready to sit in a theatre with a bunch of people afraid of airplanes.

I'm afraid we come back to something that marketers have been struggling with for a really long time--the best way to succeed is to have a really great product.

And another marketing truth is that you can't be all things to all people. SoaP wasn't aimed at Seth's demo, so it comes as no suprise that he never considered seeing it. Marianne and Tom didn't care for the 'buzz' around SoaP either. Course I bet they weren't the target demo either.

Teenagers and young adults, especially young males, seems like a much more likely target market for a movie about snakes on a plane, doesn't it? As luck would have it, teenagers and young adults who are social-media savvy, is the exact group that New Line reached out to, to help them promote SoaP. As the buzz grew, more and more bloggers jumped on board in support of New Line's brilliant move to empower their community.

New Line understood who SoaP's target market was, and they empowered them to market for them. That's why they reached out to Brian Finkelstein, and not Seth Godin. Brian's age group might enjoy SoaP, while Seth's probably wouldn't.

The bottom line is that Snakes on a Plane will very likely have completely covered its production and marketing costs by the time it goes to DVD. Any money made from that point on will more or less be pure profit. This happened because New Line empowered the people that SoaP would appeal to, and didn't waste their time trying to change the opinions of people like Seth, who were never interested in the product.

Some may call that 'bad' marketing, but I'm not one of them.

PS: Thanks again to those of you that have recently added The Viral Garden as one of your favorite blogs. Karl (Experience Curve), Dave (All Things Branding and Marketing), Anna (The Engaging Brand), and Lisa (Simple Essentials) have all added me in the last day. As a result, The Viral Garden is now just 3 favorites short of breaking into the Top 100 Most Favorited Blogs! If you want to help put TVG over the top, the deal again is, if you'll add TVG to your favorites, I will return the favor, and also link to your blog, as I just did for Karl, Dave, Anna, and Lisa! All you have to do is click on the logo below! Thanks guys!

UPDATE: Add my man Ryan (Adcouver) to the list! We are down to 2!

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 18

Here's the standings for Week 18, and these will be updated again next Monday.

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,459 (LW - 1)(+39)
2 - Gaping Void - 17,115 (LW - 2)(-21)
3 - Creating Passionate Users - 17,781 (LW - 3)(+262)
4 - Duct Tape Marketing - 18,195 (LW - 4)(+3)
5 - Marketing Shift - 46,115 (LW - 5)(+221)
6 - HorsePigCow - 51,651 (LW - 6)(+148)
7 - Coolzor - 52,669 (LW - 7)(+531)
8 - The Viral Garden - 65,296 (LW - 8)(+1,197)
9 - Church of the Customer - 75,421 (LW - 9)(+2,467)
10 - What's Next - 78,482 (LW - 10)(+107)
11 - Emergence Marketing - 84,339 (LW - 11)(+295)
12 - Brand Autopsy - 88,530 (LW - 12)(+1,478)
13 - Diva Marketing - 107,232 (LW - 13)(+1,203)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 107,929 (LW - 14)(-374)
15 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 130,205 (LW - 15)(-4,321)
16 - New School of Network Marketing - 140,804 (LW - 16)(+4,427)
17 - Logic + Emotion - 162,230 (LW - 17)(+1,310)
18 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 203,351 (LW- 18)(-2,126)
19 - Marketallica - 206,239 (LW - 19)(+5,995)
20 - What's Your Brand Mantra? - 213,083 (LW - 20)(-3,032)
21 - Marketing Headhunter - 233,304 (LW - 21)(-9,359)
22 - Daily Fix - 237,028 (LW - 22)
23 - Movie Marketing Madness - 241,737 (LW - 23)(+8,454)
24 - Experience Curve - 257,402 (LW - 24)(+11,529)
25 - WonderBranding - 262,884 (LW - 25)(-2,021)

Yep, Alexa hosed us again. We are now going on almost 4 weeks since Alexa has updated their 3-month averages. We'll keep our fingers crossed and hopefully Alexa will get their act together by next Monday.

As always, next update is next Monday...hopefully.

The Viral Garden cracks Technorati's Top 10,000

The Viral Garden won't be 5 months old until next Sunday, but it's already crossed over the 10,000 mark, according to Technorati's link-counter.

In the past, I've said that I don't think that Technorati is the end-all/be-all of determining a blog's worth/popularity that some think, and I still feel that way. But I will admit that it does my ego good to see TVG rise as quickly as it has.

But lately I've been paying more attention to how the traffic and number of feed subscribers and links grow here. The reason why is because I think the growth of TVG validates the power of the community.

What are the ways the we often hear for growing a blog quickly? Links from A-Listers? Being a 'known' celebrity/writer/marketer before you start?

I was thinking earlier and I could remember a grand total of 2 links from the so-called 'A-Lister' bloggers. Doc linked to me once, and called me 'MaRk'. Hugh linked to one of my posts, and didn't mention me or the blog's name.

And I definitely don't count in the 'known celebrity/writer/marketer' category.

So how has The Viral Garden grown so quickly? Simple, it's because of you guys. The reason why I get so excited about community-marketing, about the benefits of marketers embracing, empowering, and joining their communities, is because The Viral Garden proves that these ideas work. The vibrant and supportive community of friends I have here is why this blog has gone from 1 visitor a day back in late March(Hi!), to one of the top 10,000 blogs that Technorati tracks.

And the truly exciting thing is, there's so many other blogs embracing their communities. Karl does it. So does David, CK, Chris, Ann, Mario and so many other bloggers. And I love how the communities intersect. How one of my readers will discover Paul's blog because I linked to him, then he links here and one of his readers finds my blog. The communities overlap and grow stronger, until it's difficult to see the line between one blog's community and the other's.

So if I could offer any advice to anyone that's wanting to start blogging, PLEASE respect the community. Forget trying to catch lightning in a bottle with a magical link from some A-Lister that's never heard of you. Go out and make friends and connections with other bloggers. Join the blogging community, so you can grow your own. The community will give you far more than you could ever give back.

Case in point, I want to thank Lyle, Spike (Brains on Fire), Asi (No Man's Blog), Scott, WitchitaRutherford(Witchita's Blog), Matthew (Caffeine Marketing), Clyde (Pro-Hip-Hop Marketing), and JD (Musical Ramblings), for being the latest friends to add me to their Technorati Favorites. Lyle and Scott, if either of you have a blog, let me know and I will link to you as well. The Viral Community has now pushed The Viral Garden to the edge of Technorati's Top 100 Favorited blogs. Right now I need just 7 more people to favorite The Viral Garden to crack the Top 100. So if you haven't already, please favorite me by clicking the logo below, and I'll return the favor, as well as link to your blog. Hey a 2-for-1 deal, can't beat that ;)

Can you spot the box-office winner/disappointment?

Amusing to see the MSM's 180 on SoaP. Friday they couldn't say enough about the movie, and most sources were saying it was the 'film of the summer'. Today it's a total disappointment.

Again, opening on top of the box-office didn't seem that bad to me. Of course I wanted it to open around double that so it could break-even on the first weekend, but that didn't happen. But I had a feeling that the 15.3 million opening wasn't as bad as the media was saying.

The production budget for SoaP has been set at anywhere from 30-36 million, depending on what source you go by. The marketing budget is another 2-10 million, again depending on what source you go by. That gets us to a cost of 32-46 million, with an opening gate of 15.3 million.

So that means that SoaP covered 33-48% of its cost on opening weekend.

I decided to pit that against what the MSM considers the blockbuster hit of the summer, Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest. The numbers for Pirates floated as well, with production being anywhere from 225-250 million, and promotional being anywhere from 100-150 million. This site quoted the total production and promotional budget for the film at 400 million.

So that means that Pirates production and marketing budget was anywhere from 325-400 million. With an opening weekend take of $135, 634,554, Pirates covered 34-42% of its cost on opening weekend.

Those numbers look pretty similar to me, in fact it looks as if SoaP did slightly better.

As Joe said, in defining how much 'success' SoaP has, the questions to ask are:
* How much did it cost to make?
* How much did it cost to market?
* How much did it earn?

Did SoaP knock the cover off the ball on opening weekend? No. Was it a dud? As the above numbers suggest, it not only wasn't, on a percentage basis it was on par with, or above, the movie that's considered the 'summer blockbuster'.

BONUS: Jackie's '5 Lessons for Marketers' from SoaP.

UPDATE: Thanks to Ken at Ad Age for picking up on this post.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Snakes on a Plane projected to top box-office with $15 million

Bloomberg is projecting that SoaP will top the box-office during its opening weekend with a take of just over 15 million. As expected, the media backlash has begun. Reuters stated that Soap 'failed to charm', and added "So much for the Internet hype.".

Again, I figured the MSM was going to take their shots at this movie if they had the chance. This was a story that originated on the internet, was created by the internet, and MSM had to sit at the kiddie table for this one. They didn't care for that, and if the opportunity presented itself to take potshots at 'internet hype', I figured they wouldn't miss the chance.

Apparently, a bad B-movie being pushed to the top of the box-office on opening weekend, is a sign that 'internet hype' doesn't work.

BTW, a Google-Juice update shows there are now a staggering 48 million search results for "Snakes on a Plane". Wow.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Random ramblings

Joe Jaffe was kind enough to briefly mention me and the Top 25 Marketing Blogs in episode #44 of Across the Sound(And Joe, your Alexa ranking is for ALL websites and blogs combined). I honestly should have caught this earlier, but I didn't. I'll simply offer the 'I'm on dial-up' excuse. Which basically means that I cannot listen to podcasts, well I could, but it would mean basically doing nothing but downloading for 30-60 minutes at a time. It's funny because I was trading emails with a blogger a few days ago, and I can't remember what we were talking about, but for some reason I mentioned that I was on dial-up, and he apologized for emailing me so much! I mean it's slow but not so slow that I can't get email from ANY of you, just so you know!

And whenever I mention that I'm on dial-up someone always says 'I can't believe you post that much', but since I'm using this blog primarily to get a job, I feel I need to post as much as possible. If I weren't in the job market, I would probably post about 2-3 times a week, at the most. Actually, perhaps my strategy for growing this blog is probably a bit of a disconnect, since I post more in an effort to grow traffic, but then I go totally 'grassroots' when trying to grow readership, in that I spent a lot of time on other blogs. I could give a damn less about their Technorati score or whatnot, I'm just interested in making friends and learning from other smart bloggers. I never wanted to go the 'just link to A-Listers' route, because I'm more interested in community, not some A-Lister who has no idea who I am, or why he should care(or who calls me MaRk). And it all works out in the end, since I've had some of the TRUE A-Listers go out of their way to help me, such as Ben and Jackie, Joe, Laura Ries, and of course Ann.

(Starting to see where the title of this post comes in, eh?)

Oh BTW, this is something I have been thinking/wondering about for a while now, but you guys DO know that if you want to leave a comment DISAGREEING with me, that's cool, right? I've noticed that while I love all the comments you guys leave, very rarely does anyone actually disagree with me. And I'd love to think that's because I am a genius with minty-fresh breath, I bet that's not always the case. So if you guys have a different opinion, PLEASE share. I'm here to learn from you guys as much as anything, so if you think I'm wrong, you need to call me on it, so we can discuss it. Personally I *love* it when someone disagrees with me, because that challenges me to re-examine my idea and look at it in a new way. And your different opinion may cause another reader or commenter to re-examine THEIR idea, and who knows where we could take this. Again, this is your space as much as mine, so feel free, to grab the 'microphone' and let your voice be heard!

Something else, I have finally caved and started using Bloglines to read blogs. As I've said before, I prefer to physically go to the blogs and read the posts AND comments, but I've found so many great blogs lately that there's simply too many to keep up with, and this will let me keep an eye on my favorites. Asi and I were discussing this on his blog recently, and I said I had about 20 or so blogs that I read every day. I added all of these to my Bloglines, and it was actually almost 60. Here is my list, and basically what I told myself a long time ago, was that if anyone was nice enough to comment regularly here, I was going to read their blog daily. That's how I came across most of that list, so it's mostly frequent commenters and friends. So if you are nosey and want to see who I am reading every day, there it is. Of course I read probably another 100 or so, but not daily as I will this group.

Oh yes and in closing, let me once again shill myself and beg you to please add me to your Technorati Favorites, if you haven't already. Thanks to my sis, and Anne for adding me, and I've added you both as well. As of right now I am just 15 more members short of cracking the Top 100, so if you haven't added me yet to your Technorati Favorites, please take a few seconds to do so by clicking on the logo below, and I will return the gesture. Thanks guys!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Early SoaP reviews are in

On both Technorati, and in the media. 'Junk, but good junk' was the review I heard on CNBC. The guy seemed to be saying that if you know not to take it seriously, that you'll have a good time with it. He described the showing he went to as 'a party'.

I think this short review says it all: "Yes, it's dumb. Incredibly dumb. It's also a hell of a lot of fun if you just turn your brain off and watch.".

Here's another comment:"Now I'm reading the reviews from last night with mad envy. Multiple standing ovations? In the middle of the movie?!"

And of course, the review we've all been waiting for, from Brian at Snakes on a Blog. As he said, the comments say it all, everyone loved it.

Again, this has become a meme. It's become the cool thing to see this movie, right now. Without these months of build-up, this movie bombs because everyone takes it seriously. But New Line steps in, lets the community runs with it, and the community is smart enough to make a party out of it.

UPDATE: CK adds an opening night review.

Nother UPDATE: Chris adds that SoaP director Dave Ellis stopped by Snakes on a Blog to personally thank all the fans for making the movie a phenomenon. Again, brilliant. And I have no idea why more companies don't do this because it took Ellis all of probably 30 seconds to leave that one comment, but read for yourself how much goodwill he got back from the fans.

PS: I've dropped anonymous comments. I simply got sick of deleting spam from anonymous jackasses. So let me know if anyone has any problems trying to leave comments, you shouldn't from what I can tell, but as we all know, what I can tell ain't much.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New Line to give bloggers Treos at tonight's SoaP premiere

In yet another in a series of smart marketing moves, New Line will set up select bloggers at tonight's Hollywood premiere of Snakes on a Plane with a Treo SmartPhone. The Treo, which is briefly featured in the film, will allow bloggers to live-blog before during and after the showing, giving bloggers the chance to get instant reviews of the film on the net.

Again, a brilliant move for 2 reasons:

1 - Bloggers are, for obvious reasons, the most likely group to give the film a positive review, so New Line just made it incredibly easy for them to do so while they are AT the theater, when their excitement over the film will be at its peak.

2 - The nationwide premiere is tomorrow, so this means that bloggers will get even MORE buzz for this movie up tonight and tomorrow on their blogs, which only further fuels the fire right at the last minute for New Line.

Again, genius.

BTW wanting a Google Juice update? There are now over 18 million Google results for "Snakes on a Plane".

Breaking News: Chris is smart

So here we are days away from the opening of SoaP. As I posted yesterday, CNBC, at least, has gotten on board and they are talking about how if SoaP is a success, it could change the way movies are marketed from this point forward. And they are right, if SoaP knocks the cover off the ball, it will definitely give studios plenty of reason to closely examine how New Line succeeded in embracing and empowering bloggers and internet users to market for them. They will no doubt want to see if they can implement similar empowerment tactics in marketing their own films from this point forward.

Which is what makes Chris' latest move so brilliant. Chris has added an 'editorial calendar' to Movie Marketing Madness.
I've added a wiki-based editorial calendar that I'll be updating and using to show people what movie's and other topics I'm planning on writing about.

My hope for this is that it will help studios and others in contacting me when they see I have something of interest to them coming up. You know, just like a real publication uses an ed cal. So if you're reading this blog and see that I've got something that touches on a movie you're producing or a topic you can provide information on or would like to weigh in on that's going it's dependent on you to contact me.

Great idea. Chris just made it painfully easy for studios to contact him so they can put accurate and helpful marketing information about their projects, in the hands of the internet's most influential movie marketing blogger.

Here's hoping studios are equally smart, and take full advantage of this opportunity that Chris has given them.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

CNBC gives nice report on Snakes on a Plane

I gotta admit, I'm impressed. CNBC's On the Money just gave a quick recap of the marketing for Snakes on a Plane. The suprising thing was that they actually got most of their facts right, they credited bloggers with driving the buzz for SoaP, mentioned that New Line added scenes based on blogger input (They even showed SoaP's infamous 'I've had it with these muthaf*ckin' snakes on this muthaf*ckin' plane!' scene). They also talked to both Brian Finkelstein (Snakes on a Blog), and Forrester's Peter Kim (of Being Peter Kim fame).

They spelled it all out, said that all the buzz New Line was getting from bloggers was basically free, and came because they embraced how bloggers were promoting the film. They added that if SoaP is a big hit, that it could definitely change how movies are marketed from now on.

BTW the report mentioned that there were 12 million Google references to SoaP. They were wrong, it's actually 16 million now.

Bonus: Brian has an excellent explanation for how bloggers were able to create buzz for SoaP:
There were two things that made Snakes on a Plane (and specifically this website) a success. The first was its ‘viral’ nature. Everything having to do with SoaP was catchy, and people were interested in sharing it. Every reporter asks me if this is something that can be reproduced in the future by new movies, and I always tell them that it can’t be. Something is ‘viral’ when it’s organically entertaining. That cannot be manufactured, it can only be found. A few people have asked to hire me to create another “Snakes on a Plane” wave of attention for their project, and I’ve given them the same basic answer: what they want to recreate cannot be recreated....This concept is something that’s new for Hollywood. Even New Line, I’ve heard, was initially conflicted over how to approach the creation of quasi-original content by fans. Studios in the past have threatened Harry Potter fans, Star Wars fans and Transformers fans with lawsuits over fan-generated content. But this is, perhaps, the wave of the future and it’s something they’re going to have to learn how to deal with. It would be interesting to try to grab onto this concept as it’s cresting.

Zactly. What works for this movie may or may not work for the next one. But what WILL work for EVERY movie is embracing, empowering, and joining the community of fans for that film.

THAT is the big take-away for studios from the phenomenon that has become SoaP. Let's hope they figure it out.

Viral Community News

The 'Rookie' Edition

If this is your first time here, Viral Community News is my way of highlighting blogs and blog posts that I've come across lately that I wanted to share with the Garden's readers. But this edition is going to be a bit different because this will be the first time I've linked to all of the blogs I have listed here.

People always ask me 'How do you find all these cool blogs?'. Simple, I look for them. I realized months ago that there are a ton of great blogs out that aren't getting much attention, for whatever reason. Normally it's simply a matter of their just starting out and not having a chance to build their community yet. I was once in the same spot with both BMA and here, so I like to do what I can to give these guys a 'jumpstart', and draw some extra attention to them.

Here's some cool marketing and branding and word-of-mouth and viral marketing blogs and posts I found recently(and...and...and):
Finally, thanks to Ron(Ron if you have a blog, let me know and I'll add it to my favorites), Stefan, and Douglas for adding me to their Technorati Favorites. If you want to know why I'm trying to get everyone to favorite me, you can read this, and if you'd like to help, just click on the logo below and that's it! Thanks guys!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

You want my company to start blogging? How do I make money off that?

From my comment to Roy Young's post on Daily Fix about whether CMOs should be blogging:
Do I think that the same person/title in every organization should be blogging? No. Do I think every organization should encourage their employees to blog? Yes.

The problem is, when a company is presented with blogging, their first question usually is 'yes, but how do you MAKE MONEY off that?'. Until you can quantify the process and show CEOs a figure on a balance sheet that says 'last quarter we had X number of dollars in increased sales for every blog post', then most companies don't see the need for blogging.

That's not how blogging works. It works by letting companies and their customers BETTER UNDERSTAND each other. Blogging can also change a company's entire culture. Just the other day I ran across a blogger from Sweden who was 'outted' as a blogger by a member of the company's marketing department. Since that time, the entire marketing department has started turning to her to teach them about blogging and social media, and now they are trying to get the company's CEO to start blogging. A few days ago no one in the company was publically blogging, now the entire marketing department is getting into this space.

The point is, as Hugh MacLeod once said, that blogging makes things happen indirectly. Start blogging and you start talking to your customers. They start talking back. You start to better understand them, they start to better understand you. They realize that you are listening to them, you realize that they just want to be heard. Their expectations of you begin to change to meet your limitations, your processes begin to change to better meet their wants and needs.

End result? Sales increase. Costs go down. Customer satisfaction and service goes up. All this happens indirectly.

The Catch-22 is that companies truly can't see the benefits of blogging until they start, and many don't want to start until they KNOW they can make money off it.

Again, this is why I said yesterday that the stimulus for companies to embrace blogging has to come from the inside, not from the outside. Sure, in a few years every company may understand exactly why they need to blog, but for now, unless there are bloggers working for a company and passionately spreading the word internally, then they have no clue other than to ask the 'How do we make money off that?' question.

Snakes on Daily Fix!

Today both Mario and I give our takes on the marketing of Snakes on a Plane on Da Fix. Mario made an interesting point that while this movie is getting pub from bloggers, that he highly doubts the 'there are 50 million blogs' claim from Technorati recently. I tend to agree that there are likely far less than 50 million blogs, but at the same time, bloggers are extremely passionate about ideas that they get behind.

So I think it's conceivable that this movie could make anywhere from $5-50 million this weekend. I'm hoping for at least $30 million, so the story next week can be that SoaP broke-even in its opening weekend.

So here's my question to the Viral Community: If SoaP earns at least $30 million this weekend and breaks even, how will this story be reported in the mainstream media next week?

A - As a sign that Sam Jackson is now a bonafide Hollywood superstar, and can even pull a clunker like SoaP

B - As a sign that America is wanting more camp and 'B-Movie goodness' from summer box-office offerings.

C - As a sign that embracing and empowering your community in your marketing efforts really works.

Obviously I'm hoping for 'C', but I also realize that MSM isn't too pleased about the fact that the buzz for this movie didn't start with them, it started online. And I hope that New Line, at least, adopts community-empowerment as a marketing strategy from now on in promoting their movies, and continues to try to improve and refine their efforts.

PS: I have been meaning to mention this for like 3 weeks, but besides Mario joining Daily Fix (about 3 weeks ago), Alain Thyes from FutureLab has as well. A great lineup just got better!

Update: Chris adds in the comments "It's going to be "B." MSM will never (at least not yet) write a story about how actually powerful the online community is unless they can put a kid in a flannel shirt and over-sized earphones on the cover.".

Monday, August 14, 2006

You can't outsmart the community

Tara be sayin' this:
No amount of money, pressure, cleverness, 'viralness', advertising, MySpace pandering, p.r., community building, or 'story' telling, etc. can save a crappy product. People don't give a flying snake.

But but but....that doesn't apply to Snakes on a Plane, does it? SoaP is going to be a crappy movie. I know it. You know it. Sam knows it.

But we're all going to see it anyway.

So at this point either Tara is right (which means we are all idiots for paying good money for what we know will be a bad movie), or Tara's wrong.

Or perhaps there's a Door #3. Maybe Tara is right, but we aren't going to see a crappy movie.

When New Line decided to embrace the buzz that bloggers were generating for SoaP, the movie went from being New Line's crappy B-movie, to our crappy B-movie. And it became our event. It became our excuse to have a party. To dress up in costumes and engage in audience participation a la Rocky Horror Picture Show. It became our meme that's going offline.

New Line's reaction to bloggers 'promoting' SoaP is the antithesis to Coke's reaction over the Mentos geyser videos. Where Coke 'didn't approve' of their customers playing with Coke, New Line saw the jokes that bloggers were making via mashup trailers and posters as being 'promotion' for SoaP. And when they embraced what the internet was doing in 'promoting' SoaP, a shift took place, and then perception became reality, and bloggers started promoting SoaP for real.

If you don't like your community's reaction to your product, do NOT tell them to change their actions, give them a reason to do so.

That's what New Line did. And that's why a very bad movie will likely break even after its first weekend.

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 17

Here's the standings for Week 17, and these will be updated again next Monday.

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,459 (LW - 1)(+39)
2 - Gaping Void - 17,115 (LW - 2)(-21)
3 - Creating Passionate Users - 17,781 (LW - 3)(+262)
4 - Duct Tape Marketing - 18,195 (LW - 4)(+3)
5 - Marketing Shift - 46,115 (LW - 5)(+221)
6 - HorsePigCow - 51,651 (LW - 6)(+148)
7 - Coolzor - 52,669 (LW - 7)(+531)
8 - The Viral Garden - 65,296 (LW - 8)(+1,197)
9 - Church of the Customer - 75,421 (LW - 9)(+2,467)
10 - What's Next - 78,482 (LW - 10)(+107)
11 - Emergence Marketing - 84,339 (LW - 11)(+295)
12 - Brand Autopsy - 88,530 (LW - 12)(+1,478)
13 - Diva Marketing - 107,232 (LW - 13)(+1,203)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 107,929 (LW - 14)(-374)
15 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 130,205 (LW - 15)(-4,321)
16 - New School of Network Marketing - 140,804 (LW - 16)(+4,427)
17 - Logic + Emotion - 162,230 (LW - 17)(+1,310)
18 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 203,351 (LW- 18)(-2,126)
19 - Marketallica - 206,239 (LW - 19)(+5,995)
20 - What's Your Brand Mantra? - 213,083 (LW - 20)(-3,032)
21 - Marketing Headhunter - 233,304 (LW - 21)(-9,359)
22 - Daily Fix - 237,028 (LW - 22)
23 - Movie Marketing Madness - 241,737 (LW - 23)(+8,454)
24 - Experience Curve - 257,402 (LW - 24)(+11,529)
25 - WonderBranding - 262,884 (LW - 25)(-2,021)

Yep, Alexa hosed us again. We are now going on almost 3 weeks since Alexa has updated their 3-month averages. I started to re-do this countdown based on weekly averages just for this week, but I realized that in the end, that would probably cause more confusion than anything else. We'll keep our fingers crossed and hopefully Alexa will get their act together by next Monday.

As always, next update is next Monday...hopefully.

Brands and commodities, 2 simple rules

From Brands Create Customers:

Brands and commodities: two rules

1. Brand: The shortest distance between customer and company.
2. Commodity: The shortest distance between customer and price.


1. When the brand is strong, customer and company are one
2. When commodity is strong, company and customer are done.


If you’re in it for the money, your customers will be in it for the price.

Bingo! The company and customer's motivations move together, the more focused on profits the company is, the more focused on getting the 'best deal' the customer is.

On the flipside, the more customer-oriented the company is, the more brand-loyal the customer will be.

Check out Brands Create Customers, a great read!

Inside/Out trumps Outside/In

Cathy had a secret. A secret that she was hoping to remain hidden, but one of her co-workers found out about it recently, and the cat was out of the bag.

She'd been outted. Now everyone knew that Cathy was a blogger.

And what Cathy is finding at her job, is that many of her co-workers are wanting to hear all they can about blogging and social media.
In the morning I had a meeting with our Communications Director (who actually started out at my position – Internet/Web Manager). We were suppose to discuss branding strategies but ended up discussing the Internet as a whole and most of all blogging and social media. He too realized very quickly that this is something very close to my heart....So it looks like things are slowly starting to move in the right direction. Or at least people are starting to think in new directions, which is very good. I guess I’m making my name heard and spread too, but that’s another story…

And this is how we'll see companies successfully embrace social-media, from the inside/out. Yes I know I am biased due to my looking for a job myself, but one of the smartest things companies can do is hire people that understand social media, and are passionate about the positive changes that this space can afford companies in embracing, joining, and empowering their communities. The excitement from passionate people is infectious, and just as Cathy is changing the culture at her company from the inside-out, other social media advocates will have the same affect on their employers. Again, if you aren't involved in this space, it is VERY hard to understand why you should be. Explain to a business that isn't blogging why they should start, and see how many seconds it is before you hear 'Yes but how do you MAKE MONEY from blogging????'.

Change happens more effectively when the stimulus comes from within, not from a need to 'keep up with the Joneses'.

BTW thanks to Cathy, CK, Mario, Monica, 'Spikey', Gavin, and Eric for all adding me to their Technorati Favorites this weekend. If you'd like to help me reach the Top 100 (and get more exposure which will help in my job search), click on the logo below to add me. As always, I will add everyone to my favorites as well! Thanks guys!

SoaP buzz building as premiere nears

9 days ago, Jack blogged that the buzz for SoaP didn't seem to be as high as he would have expected, and cited that there were 'only' 11 million references for SoaP when he googled the term. Now that number is over 14 million.

However, while the traffic to Snakes on a Blog is up slightly, but it's nothing spectacular, yet.

Bonus link: Chris' MMM column on Snakes on a Plane is up.

Extra Bonus Link: SnakePlay, the 'Unofficial Audience Participation Wiki'. My favorite:
__When:__ Whenever you see the guy that played Fat Albert. (In orange shirt)
__What:__ Shout (in Fat Albert Voice) "HEY! HEY! HEY! It's Snakes on a Plane!"

Sunday, August 13, 2006

New Line's 'buzz-building' promotion for SoaP lacks bite

It just breaks your heart.

New Line has the great idea to create a promotion which was built around fans of SoaP winning prizes for building buzz on the internet for the film. It was timed perfectly to start 6 weeks before the premiere of the film. A great way to build buzz for the movie, and have it peak just as the movie opens.

But as is often the case, a great idea is sabotaged by shoddy execution.

Here's the link to their 'The #1 Fan Sweepstakes' promotion. The idea is, you have people vote for you as the 'best fan', up to once a day, and the person with the most votes by...whatever date the contest ends on, wins.

Now I'm sure that New Line is hoping that bloggers will post on their blogs, and message boards, and in chat rooms telling everyone to go back to the SoaP site and vote for them. So if sparking interest with social media was their aim, why didn't they tie the promotion into using blogs, podcasts, and videos?

To me, it makes much more sense to award weekly winners for 'Best Blog Post', 'Best Podcast', and 'Best Video', and let fans submit their posts/podcasts/videos, and then let visitors to the site rate each submission. That way you reward your fans for actions they are already engaging in. Community-empowerment anyone? Then the first 5 weekly winners could face off during the final week for all the marbles. I believe Chris blogged about Thank You For Not Smoking doing a very similar promotion a few months ago.

Again, 'The #1 Fan Sweepstakes' is a great concept, that doesn't have the execution necessary to make it a winner.

Quote of the day

Samuel L. Jackson on why SoaP won't be pre-screened:
"Snakes are biting people — and they're biting them right on screen. There's nothing to review. It's not 'Snakes on the Waterfront.' You don't have snakes going, 'I coulda been a constrictor.' No. Hell no. It's 'Snakes on a Plane.'".

Snakes in the Garden!

That's right! Sam and his friends will take over The Viral Garden this week as the most anticipated (at least to bloggers) movie of the summer is set to premiere nationwide this Friday. I'll still be covering other news and topics, but the majority of the coverage this week will be reserved for any and all promotional efforts involving SoaP.

To set it off, Ryan snaked me on Friday, and got Sam to call me and tell me to bring my 'fancy hairdon't'(WTF?) and go see Snakes on a Plane.

Ok FINE....Sam told 'MaRk' to go see the movie....damned I hate that guy.

This promotion, which is similar to the one for Ring 2, lets a friend send you a message from Samuel L Jackson where Sam calls you by name (except for me), and mentions other facts about you like your hobby, job, car, and tells you to go see SoaP on August 18th. The message can be sent by either email or you can have Sam call your friend's cell phone. VariTalk, who created the campaign for New Line, said that Sam made over 100,000 calls in the first 24 hours, in fact demand was so great that it crashed the system. Jackie adds that over a MILLION calls were placed in the first week.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Snakes in the community

Two interesting marketing tidbits from Snakes on a Plane, as the movie draws ever closer to its long-awaited premiere next Friday. The first, of course, comes from Movie Marketing Madness. Cafepress has partnered with New Line to reach out to fan of SoaP to upload their own SoaP images so they can be added to t-shirts, mugs, whatever, creating their own merchandise that can be sold through CafePress. From their site:
Creating a unique program in the true ‘citizen’ spirit of Snakes on a Plane, New Line and CafePress have partnered to permit fans of the movie to become official licensees of Snakes on a Plane merchandise. This interactive promotion allows our network of over 2.5 million members to unleash their creativity to transform Snakes on a Plane artwork and ideas into unique gifts and share in the revenue stream. This completely unique approach to fan licensing, has never previously been embraced by any motion picture studio.

As Chris states, this is a great example of New Line empowering their community to help promote SoaP. Although the one question I have is, why wasn't this started a few weeks ago? Still, better late than never.

And again on MMM, Chris left a post detailing several other promotional tidbits involving SoaP. I left a comment asking if New Line was actively encouraging the 'dress-up parties' that were rumored to be taking place when the movie opens. Months ago, we learned that many of these parties, where viewers would come dressed in costume as characters from the movie would be taking place. I thought this was an excellent idea, and a great way to make going to the movie more of an event, and a wonderful way to build community buzz around the movie.

Apparently, New Line doesn't agree. Chris forwarded my comment to Alex at First Showing.Net. Alex's site has a great 'blueprint' detailing 'How to Throw Your Own Damn Snakes on a Plane Midnight Party!'. Alex contacted me and let me know that he's been in touch with New Line about helping him promote this idea, but that so far, New Line has been pretty cold to the idea, telling him that 'they can’t really help us out'.

That's really a shame, and I get that these 'midnight parties' aren't in line with a 'corporate' marketing plan, but what about SoaP has been? Wasn't that the point, that New Line was letting the community handle the marketing and promotion for this film? Why get cold feet at the altar and try to squelch the momentum that brought them to this point?

Extra: Jack says as the premiere draws closer, that the promotion for the movie seems to be taking on a more 'conventional' feel, and he fears that buzz in the blogosphere is slipping.

Pic via Flickr user Ted Drake

Taking '100 CDs For 100 Bloggers' to The Donnas

Or their fans anyway.

Just for the hell of it, I decided to post on The Donnas message board at Atlantic Records and tell them the deal with '100 CDs For 100 Bloggers' and see what they thought of it. As you can see, most think it's a great idea, with one noticable exception. (On a totally unrelated note, Chris I hope you read this before you write-up your MMM column on SoaP, because apparently the buzz over this movie did NOT come from bloggers. Whew glad we avoided that slip-up.).

But I do think it's interesting to note the comments, and you can almost tell just from the responses, the posters that understand how the blogosphere works, and those that don't. I think back to this time last year, when I had no clue. I hate to say that I bought into every media stereotype, and honestly thought it was nothing more than teenagers bitching about their ex boy/girlfriends. Now I kick myself for waiting so long to join this space. If you aren't a blogger, you really have no idea 'what the deal' is, or why you should care.

Which likely explains why so many companies are in no hurry to target bloggers in their promotions.

BTW I contacted The Donnas through MySpace, and sent an email to their manager asking for an interview and comments on my '100 CDs For 100 Bloggers' idea. No response from either. Guess I got no pull like JD does ;)

Pic of The Donnas via Flickr user Aileen5

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

MySpace hits 100 million users

100 million seems to be a popular figure involving social-media sites lately. Last month YouTube announced they are serving up over 100 million videos a day, now MySpace has just topped the 100 million user mark.

This should give a nice media bump to the site that many think may be losing its 'coolness' factor, and ceding the role as 'the' hot social-media site to YouTube. In November of last year, MySpace had 40 million users. Five months later, in April of this year, they were up to 75 million users, adding 7 million per month. In the 4 months since April, MySpace has added another 25 million users, as the rate per month has fallen to 6.25 million a month.

Still, these figures are very impressive, and MySpace's deal to sign on Google as their official search engine will help. However, if MySpace continues to grow at their current rate, they will boast 150 million users by next April. An interesting question is, in 8 months, is it more likely that MySpace will have 150 million users, or less than they do today?

I vote the latter, the only thing harder than getting to the mountaintop (and staying relevant and hip with the kids), is staying there.

Pic via Foo Fighter's MySpace page

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Marketing without fingerprints

Church of the Customer did an amazing podcast interview with Maker's Mark CEO Bill Samuels Jr. on his concept of 'Marketing without fingerprints'. Samuels' idea of marketing is that he doesn't want to push messages on his community, he wants to give his community the incentive to come back to Maker's Mark and do most of their marketing for them.

His marketing thought processes are widely based on his father's idea of respecting the customer with regards to marketing. Don't push something on them that they don't want, give them a reason to come to you.

"The communications strategy is right to the essence of what we now know as 'buzz marketing'. And that is we shall not invade the air-space of other people, until we are invited in.", explained Samuels. Samuels wanted to talk to his community, but he wanted to give the community a reason to START that interaction, because he didn't want to push a conversation on the community that they didn't want. And he understood that if the community starts the conversation, they will be more likely to spread that dialog.

This level of community-empowerment served Maker's Mark extremely well when their initial 'A-Team' plan to get mainstream exposure worked so well that demand quickly outstripped supply. Thanks to a well-placed article in the Wall-Street Journal, the Kentucky distillery saw its customer base go from being centered in the Bluegrass state, to nationwide, almost overnight. Suddenly, distribution wasn't meeting demand, so Maker's Mark had to lean on their community of evangelists to help them. MM reached out to their existing evangelists in the community and encouraged them to network with other community members so that they could find supplies of Maker's Mark, and if they couldn't, even mail bottles to other community members, which Samuels said they 'probably wouldn't go to jail for'.

As a result, this served to grow and expand their network of empowered community members to a nationwide scale. Samuels knew he could stay in constant contact with his Kentucky base of evangelists, but wanted a way to keep his community across the country inspired to continue to market for them. So MM then created an ambassador program for evangelists where the ambassadors would promise to continue to spread the MM message to other community members, and they would also encourage bars to start carrying the Maker's Mark brand. In return, the name of each ambassador would be featured on a barrell of the whiskey, which takes 6 years to ferment. Maker's Mark took an activity that these evangelists were already engaging in (spreading WOM about Maker's Mark), and in return, gave them a sense of ownership in the brand, and personalized their input into the product. This goes to the heart of the concept of empowering your community.

The best part of this story? Samuels began his 'marketing plan' to give the community a reason to evangelize his brand in 1980. Just an amazing example of the power of embracing, empowering, and joining your community. Be sure to hear Samuels' story for yourself.

Pic via Flickr user naokomc

Monday, August 07, 2006

Blogosphere is 100 times bigger than it was 3 years ago

David Sifry has FINALLY come out with his latest 'State of the Blogosphere' update. Here's the quick highlights:
* Technorati is now tracking over 50 Million Blogs.
* The Blogosphere is over 100 times bigger than it was just 3 years ago.
* Today, the blogosphere is doubling in size every 200 days, or about once every 6 and a half months.
* From January 2004 until July 2006, the number of blogs that Technorati tracks has continued to double every 5-7 months.
* About 175,000 new weblogs were created each day, which means that on average, there are more than 2 blogs created each second of each day.
* About 8% of new blogs get past Technorati's filters, even if it is only for a few hours or days.
* About 70% of the pings Technorati receives are from known spam sources, but we drop them before we have to send out a spider to go and index the splog.
* Total posting volume of the blogosphere continues to rise, showing about 1.6 Million postings per day, or about 18.6 posts per second.
* This is about double the volume of about a year ago.
* The most prevalent times for English-language posting is between the hours of 10AM and 2PM Pacific time, with an additional spike at around 5PM Pacific time

My key takeaways: Most posting for English-language blogs happens from 12pm-4pm CST. I would have thought it would be from 8am-12pm or so.

Blogs are being created at a much faster rate than just a year ago. If I recall, there were about 75,000 new blogs a day when I started posting on BMA last fall. Since the blogosphere continuing to double in size is the 'money' stat, the exponential growth in daily blog creation tends to get lost in the shuffle.

If the blogosphere continues this pace, there will be 100 million blogs by next February. Wow. Click the link above to get the full report, as always, it's great reading.

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 16

Here's the standings for Week 16, and these will be updated again next Monday.

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,459 (LW - 1)(+39)
2 - Gaping Void - 17,115 (LW - 2)(-21)
3 - Creating Passionate Users - 17,781 (LW - 3)(+262)
4 - Duct Tape Marketing - 18,195 (LW - 4)(+3)
5 - Marketing Shift - 46,115 (LW - 5)(+221)
6 - HorsePigCow - 51,651 (LW - 6)(+148)
7 - Coolzor - 52,669 (LW - 7)(+531)
8 - The Viral Garden - 65,296 (LW - 8)(+1,197)
9 - Church of the Customer - 75,421 (LW - 9)(+2,467)
10 - What's Next - 78,482 (LW - 10)(+107)
11 - Emergence Marketing - 84,339 (LW - 11)(+295)
12 - Brand Autopsy - 88,530 (LW - 12)(+1,478)
13 - Diva Marketing - 107,232 (LW - 13)(+1,203)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 107,929 (LW - 14)(-374)
15 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 130,205 (LW - 15)(-4,321)
16 - New School of Network Marketing - 140,804 (LW - 16)(+4,427)
17 - Logic + Emotion - 162,230 (LW - 17)(+1,310)
18 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 203,351 (LW- 18)(-2,126)
19 - Marketallica - 206,239 (LW - 19)(+5,995)
20 - What's Your Brand Mantra? - 213,083 (LW - 20)(-3,032)
21 - Marketing Headhunter - 233,304 (LW - 21)(-9,359)
22 - Daily Fix - 237,028 (LW - 22)
23 - Movie Marketing Madness - 241,737 (LW - 23)(+8,454)
24 - Experience Curve - 257,402 (LW - 24)(+11,529)
25 - WonderBranding - 262,884 (LW - 25)(-2,021)

Unfortunately, these rankings are the same as last week, since Alexa has now gone 11 days without updating their 3-month averages. Yeah I don't like it much either. One thing I did want to mention is that Daily Fix continues to set a torrid pace. If Alexa had updated, DF would have probably jumped to the Top 15. So don't be shocked if Daily Fix cracks the Top 10 for the next list, assuming Alexa wakes up between now and then.

As a result of this being a Top 25 re-run, I wanted to focus on some of the blogs that have been surging lately. These are the guys that may make a run at the Top 25 in the coming weeks.

Marketing Nirvana - 295,782
Brains on Fire - 324,574
Decker Marketing - 335,511
Studio UES - 370,767
Ageless Marketing - 404,570
The Brand Builder Blog - 415,599
Spare Change - 454,092

As always, next update is next Monday. Hopefully we'll actually have something to update then.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Viral Garden is one of the Top 11 Word of Mouth blogs

Well as I told Sean, this just made my day! Sean runs an excellent word-of-mouth blog called Buzz Canuck, and he's come out with his list of The Top 11 Word of Mouth Blogs, and was gracious enough to include The Viral Garden in the mix! Thanks a ton Sean! And the list has plenty of familiar faces from The Viral Garden's Top 25, with seven current members making Sean's list.

A great honor, and the best part of the deal for me? I just discovered another great marketing blog! Check out Buzz Canuck, another great Canadian marketing blog. You Canadians sure know your marketing, I can think of a couple of others that are pretty good too!

Thanks again Sean, a great honor!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Mentos unveils geyser contest on YouTube

Mentos continues to prove how clued-in they are to their community, and how internet users are interacting with social media.

I've already blogged about how Coke tried to control the community-based buzz they received over the geyser videos, while Mentos embraced it. When Coke finally woke up and decided that all these people enjoying their product was a GOOD thing, they then created 'The Coke Show' and wanted people to start playing with their product on THEIR site.

Sorry guys, that's not the way it works. When your customers are enjoying your product, you do NOT try to stop that or control HOW they are enjoying your product. You embrace them, and if they are building positive buzz for your product, you do WHATEVER you can to make it as easy as possible for them to pass that buzz onto other other community members.

So while Coke tried to tell their community that it was ok to play with their product, as long as they did it on their new site so they could 'oversee' them, Mentos announced that they would create a contest to award prizes to the best geyser video. Genius. Whereas Coke tried to alter/control the behavior of their community, Mentos embraced their's and announced that they would award them for doing what they were already doing for free.

Then Mentos made yet ANOTHER smart move, and announced they will be hosting the contest on YouTube. Excellent. While Coke wants you to come to THEIR site so THEY can control what you are doing, Mentos has gone to their community and told them that they will reward them with prizes for doing what they are already doing anyway, and using the space that they are already the most familiar with.

Make it as easy as possible for your community to spread their positive buzz. Mentos still gets it, and Coke is still scratching their heads.

Thanks to Jackie for the tip about this.

BTW, on a completely unrelated note, thanks to everyone that has added me to their Technorati Favorites! I've added everyone that added me, to my favorites as well. I think I need about 30 more bloggers to favorite me to crack the Top 100. So if you'd like to help out, just click on the logo below!