Is User Generated Content the New Campaign Standard?

terminateyourselfTwo recent movie promotional campaigns do a great job combining the storyline, user photos and content (not to mention the ability to share that content easily on networks like Facebook).  They’re fun, easy to use and engage the user in more than just an online impression.  Has this become the new standard for interactive marketing?

First, the site Terminate Yourself ( promotes the new Terminator Salvation coming out on May 21.  The site allows you to upload a picture (or take one via webcam on the spot, which I think is the best part) and then customize the “damage” to yield a photo.  Simple, effective, and potentially viral.  What is intriguing is a lack of big corporate sponsorship, unlike the Star Trek Counterpart.

Star Trek’s marketing team partners with Cheez-It to deliver Trek Yourself (  While more feature rich, it can take time to load and process making it slightly more cumbersome.  After uploading a picture, you select a character, a soundbite (custom text allowed, which is pretty slick), and a background, and you’ve got a moving, living image you can embed anywhere.  I’d say this site is much more robust than the first example, but both are good at accomplishing promotional goals and leveraging user generated content to drive results.

As an agency, we’ve done work on these campaigns in the past (most recently for client Nationwide on the Sanjaya-ize Me site).  They can be fun, effective ways of engaging people online and can have at least a good shot of creating viral success.  I think the Simpsons site is still the best example out there though.  What do you think?  Have any other good examples that get the concept right? (For those reading via feed, please click through to see the example).

Create Your Own

Facebook is the Gateway Drug of Social Media

FacebookaddictionNew joiners to Facebook go through phases – understanding privacy, etiquette and addiction.  But what happens when they settle down?  The functionality of Facebook is a “lite” version of many other social technologies many have come to know.

Facebook is growing strong, recently passing the 175 million members mark.  I’ve seen many folks go from skeptic to addict in recent months.  My parents are on Facebook.  My neighbors are on Facebook.  My high school class is now mostly on Facebook when 6 months ago it was the exception.  My CEO, clients and colleagues are on Facebook.  Campers from summers in the late 80s and early 90s when I was a camp counselor are on Facebook.  Facebook dominates dinner conversation with friends, and Facebook regularly freaks out my wife when people she talks to know what I am up to.

Take a look at what people are doing in Facebook after they get through the initial connection streak:

  • The “25 things about me” meme is one of a dozen different types of viral “notes” going around.  Isn’t this a form of blogging?  I doubt many would claim the “Blogger” title though.
  • Over time, more people seem to use status updates more.  I don’t have any scientific data to back this up, but I’ve noticed people slowly adopting using the status update for a funny anecdote, what’s for dinner, a victory potty training moment.  The status update has many similarities to Twitter.
  • More people are posting and sharing links, photos, and other content.  Enter (arguably) easy to use versions of, Flickr and Friendfeed.

acpromFor these reasons I think Facebook is an easy “gateway” for those who don’t use those other tools day to day and are building their communities – and it may even encourage more adoption of Twitter, Friendfeed and other tools down the road (especially with their integration to your News feed).  All of these features add up to introducing core social media technology functions to the average Joe – who also happens to own a scanner and is sharing pictures of me from my senior prom.  (The mullet was all business in front, party in the back, I swear).

Did Facebook introduce you or people you know to social media?  How’s it going so far?

Photo credit (above): escapetowisconsin via Flickr

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Power of Social Media: Support for Caroline

carolineCaroline Stitcher is home. Details of her disappearance from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening are still being determined, but she is with her family which is all that counts.

Given that outcome, I thought it would be helpful to highlight the power of social media.  I am both amazed and humbled by the outpouring of support on Twitter and other channels, and wanted to capture it here.  If anyone is still doubting the compelling viral nature of the technology, this should help convince them that it’s here to stay.

Starting on Facebook

On Saturday morning, Doug, a colleague from work, posted the following note in Facebook:

My god daughter has been missing now since yesterday afternoon. She went running by herself after school. Her friends saw her leave and she has not returned. We are all very frightened, as you can imagine. Please pray for her and her family. If you have friends at church who pray for people in trouble, please let them know about Caroline.

Several folks from work commented, and later in the day Doug posted that he was leaving Cleveland for Chicago with two of his sons to help with the search.  He also shared a link to the Chicago Sun Times article with the story (which has continued to be updated with the latest information). What transpired after that is nothing short of remarkable.

Outpouring of Twitter Support

Angela Moore, Jon Anhold, Chris Boggs (all folks who have worked with Doug) and I all started to share an article  from the Chicago Sun Times on Twitter and Facebook, outlining Caroline’s disappearance and information to reach the Deerfield, IL police department.  I reached out to several Chicago based contacts on Twitter, and the retweeting began.  David Armano [blog] added a hashtag #Caroline to be able to track on, and was kind enough to respond to his network asking for people to retweet as much as possible.  Some other notes:

  • Several others began appealing to those with large constituencies on Twitter to help in the retweet effort.  Amber Naslund [blog],  Chris Brogan [blog], Mack Collier [blog], Jessica Smith [blog] and Julia Roy [blog] were among the many to respond and share with their networks.
  • MCHammer, Kevin Pollak, Soleil Moon Frye and Wil Wheaton were among the celebrities that responded.
  • Several groups conversing on Twitter at the time also shared the news, including #typeamoms.
  • Services like HelpFindMyChild and the TrueCrimeReport picked up the news.
  • By 8:30PM ET, #Caroline hit #1 on twitter trends.
  • The Sun Times article showed up on Digg and started to get some momentum.
  • A Facebook group named, “Help Find Caroline Stitcher” approached 3000 members by late evening.
  • All in all I’m sure thousands were reached – I’m working on digging up a report on number of mentions and the likely reach of the viral effect and will share it when it’s ready.

At the end of the day on Saturday, the good news broke that Caroline had returned home via a text message Doug sent me.  A few minutes later Chicago Breaking News confirmed the details, and another round of “good news” retweets went out.

The Power of Social Media and Thank You

Take a look at for #Caroline and drop back a few pages to what transpired during the wave of the evening spike.  The support really speaks for itself.  Here’s to a speedy recovery, Caroline – there’s no harm in that happening as fast as the news spread.

A very sincere thank you to the broad Twitter community for helping out and responding with your thoughts and retweets.  Not this time, but I will not be surprised if community through social media tools one day is directly responsible for solving another situation like this one.  In terms of my involvement, I’d like to think friends at work would take a moment to do the same if the situation were reversed.


Doug has shared another note on Facebook at 1:30am Sunday morning which I figured I would post here too:

Caroline is alive and we have her now
We are all unbelievably relieved and happy. Caroline is alive and with her loved ones now. No details have been sorted out, yet. As you can imagine, there are lots of people caring for her and it will be a while before the complete their work.

I also wanted to recognize several other Twitter MVPs who helped spread the word with fervor last night.  Liz Strauss [blog] was already aware of Caroline’s situation and had engaged her network before I had contacted her.  Dave Kerpen [blog] made several appeals to parents – as a father of three boys perhaps that was part of my motivation to help Doug.  Senia Maymin [blog] also did a terrific job of asking celebrities and others with large networks to retweet the information.  Thanks again everyone.

Photo credit: Deerfield, IL Police Dept

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

How has Social Media Helped You?

This morning while doing a demo of Twitter I asked the question, “How has social media helped you in an unexpected way?”  Industry knowledge? Building relationships? Free hat? Catching an unreal bacon recipe?  Thanks much to a responsive group of followers, I received many responses – some deep, some funny, some insightful, all valuable to once again show the immediate response and community value of Twitter.  Thanks to everyone who replied – as promised, here are their insights and Twitter IDs.  (I’m at @adamcohen).

mattceni@mattceni @adamcohen – user validated data has helped me cut through the noise to find whats relevant and good.

aapjerockdt@aapjerockdt @adamcohen boost downloads of an open source app we made to 1000 downloads in 48 hours: [url removed – love the twitter feedback but not trying to promote biz]

patrick_grady@Patrick_Grady @adamcohen Wow. Lots of ways. 1 – exposure to info I wouldn’t have seen. 2 – met peeps with great synergy and things to share / learn.
@Patrick_Grady @adamcohen tech support… idea bouncing… more.

starrgazr@StarrGazr @adamcohen How has SocNets Helped? It’s all about the people you meet which is even better to meet F2F. I can’t even begin to list the ways.
@StarrGazr @adamcohen How about the loan of a camera when mine died days before covering Obama’s camp NH Primary night from someone who …
@StarrGazr @adamcohen …I had never met before in person.
@StarrGazr @adamcohen Of the offer of a power generator from another person during the ice storm and an offer to help pick it up from CT?
@StarrGazr @adamcohen Or perhaps being published all over the world through exposure in SocNets?
@StarrGazr @adamcohen Or perhaps just being able to have an amazing year covering the primaries and being able to attend the inauguration.
@StarrGazr @adamcohen Or being a guest in a church and the home of a minister in the United Kingdom while traveling out there.

4spoken@4Spoken@adamcohen It has allowed me to take a fairly small niche, and connect with people I would have never been able to connect with otherwise

jordansalvit@jordansalvit @adamcohen SM has taught me a lot about businesses and fields I am not involved in. It also keeps me better connected with those that I am.

tippyz@tippyz @adamcohen Social media/net has increased my knowledge of people I already knew, well beyond what I expected –> stronger relationships.  [Great one Dan]

rsomers@rsomers @adamcohen for me benefit is creation of new & expansion of existing offline relationships. Twitter esp b/c time cost of interaction is low

barbarakb@BarbaraKB @adamcohen Social sites forcing OpenID transparency thus easier to make & trust online friends. W/this trust, grow business. 🙂

boggles@boggles @adamcohen the biggest surprise for me was how Facebook has grown into a free version of long-lost friend-finder. High school memories!

marc_meyer@Marc_Meyer @adamcohen I now have an instant knowledge base that I can tap via SM which opens up sometimes a better way to do what I do-  [I agree – much to learn from these folks]

stuartcfoster@Stuartcfoster @adamcohen I got a sweet hook up on a hat at the TD Banknorth garden courtesy of the tag team of @mbrinkerhoff and @michele_moore 🙂

hereitcomes@HereItComes @adamcohen How about the loan of a camera when mine died days before covering Obama’s camp NH Primary night from… [URL removed]

barndance@barndance @adamcohen My own involvement helped me help Lindblad Expeditions jump-start on Twitter. And that’s great for eco-minded tweeps & them!

nhscooch@nhscooch @adamcohen All I can say is that is where I found the Bacon Explosion – TY twitter and @adamcohen [just don’t come after me for cholesterol medication]

chadnorthrup@ChadNorthrup @adamcohen I love having an extended network to banter with during sporting events. It made last year’s Sox playoff games even more fun.  [Couldn’t agree more, especially with Red Sox games.]

shonali@Shonali @adamcohen Making unanticipated connections that have helped me personally and professionally. And give me courage.

beverlycornell@beverlycornell @adamcohen got to meet you. Actually, I have a few interesting stories. 😉

For me, much of my surprise in social media is the general willingness of people to help – this demo is no exception.   How has social media helped you in an unexpected way?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Slideshare: The Future of Social Networks

Charlene Li, one of the authors of Groundswell, pulled together a very thoughtful presentation on the future of social networks.  She continues to be a visionary in the social networking space.  I’ve been using LinkedIn for nearly 5 years, and Facebook for 2 – envisioning these applications and predictions coming true are not as far fetched as they may seem.  What do you think?


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

A Quick Snapshot of Old vs. New Media

In late October, I got a first hand glimpse into how the web is taking on traditional newspapers.  While in Dallas for Forrester’s Consumer Forum, I was grateful to be invited to drop in at the offices of the Dallas Morning News to talk about how retailers are using Facebook.

A Somber Scene

At first glance, the floor where most of the reporters sit is very much like the stereotypical movie sets.  I expected Perry White (Jackie Cooper, in my head, anyways) to come screaming out of his office at any moment.  The major differences:  PCs everywhere instead of typewriters, and most of the desks were empty.  I visited them on a Monday – the prior Friday they had been through a series of layoffs, and the mood was somber.  As the paper takes on challenges brought on by Web 2.0 and the shift of advertising online, ironically a blog solely for former employeers of the paper cropped up and has some very passionate people engaged. 

Challenges for Traditional Newspapers

Three major challenges for the paper are apparent.  First, the cost of advertising.  Simply put, ads cost a lot less and are far more measurable online.  This directly competes with ad revenue for the paper, and was a deciding factor in the recent Chapter 11 filing at the holding company that owns the Chicago Tribune and LA Times.

The second challenge is the proliferation of other media sources.  I heard the phrases “reading blogs” and “did you see the blog post” several times.  The lines between traditional media and new media are blurring and anyone who can publish a story could conceivably trump a reporter at a paper.  Clearly reporters are paying attention.  The lines are blurring between official reporters and passionate folks who like to write.

A third challenge for newspapers is really understanding the digital channel.  I’ve seen recent discussion on Twitter with Bryan Person and Aaron Strout around how newspapers don’t understand search engine optimization (SEO).  Both have pointed out examples of articles in Boston papers where the authors failed to include links in the online version of the story to either personal blogs or corporate web sites.  “Sharing the link love” is a key piece of making the digital channel successful and accessible through search. 

Understanding a Slice of New Media

The main purpose of my visit was to discuss my agency’s recent study on retailers using Facebook.  Several big name retailers, including J.C. Penney, are in the Dallas area, and the retail reporter for DMN was trying to get a better understanding of Facebook and other tools.  I spent a couple of hours with her explaining how Facebook works and gave her a demo of Twitter (thanks to many connections there for helping out).  It was clearly an eye opening experience for her, and we reviewed what several local-based retailers were doing with Facebook fan pages.  The net result, including much of her hard work looking at viral marketing, interviewing a variety of sources and adding insight to what the companies are doing, is this well-written piece published Tuesday called, “Retailers find Facebook friends in hopes of finding sales.”  No doubt the folks who are reporters are talented in their research and writing – she did an excellent job tying in the recent viral successes of J.C. Penney and Victoria Secret’s Pink brand to our discussion on retailers using Facebook pages.

Clearly the Dallas Morning News is getting the digital channel – the page where my article lives had (as of my last view) advertisements for Ford, and Netflix.  The article also had the ability to share via social bookmarking sites and allowed comments.  Unfortunately the article had no link here or to our agency’s site,  But 2 out of 3 ain’t bad right?

In the end this was a real world microcosm example of how the old media industry needs to adapt in order to thrive.  Thanks again DMN for including me in the article and I hope we both continue to learn from the experience.

Photo via

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

What Does Your Blog Say About You?

There are lots of posts out there about personal branding and the significance in one’s career – plenty of great advice to be found.  While having an account on Facebook, Twitter and other networks and platforms is important for building a social media presence, a blog is one element of a personal brand – an outpost of sorts – that is completely personal in its representation.  Even a business focused blog is defined by the content (and to some extent the layout and look/feel). 

Similarly, there are lots of personality tests and web-based tools to help measure how effective writing can be.  I’m not sure many of them are too helpful yet, but two tools that have popped up recently in conversations are Gender Analyzer and Typealyzer.  Each can provide some insight as to writing style, although since they are automated I’ll take their feedback with a grain of salt.  Gender Analyzer says there is a 100% probability that my blog is authored by a male.  Well, they got it right.  But what does that mean?  Is my writing style alienating or offending half of my potential readership?  Not sure it would influence my writing style but I’d like to understand if gender of content is important to you.  What do you think?

Typealyzer has more insight to offer.  Rosetta colleague Paul Ferris wrote about Typealyzer recently, as did Doc Searls.  The warning at the top of Typealyzer’s page says, “writing style on a blog may have little or nothing to do with a person’s self-percieved personality.”  That’s true, but I found the site useful in understanding how I write.

My blog’s Typealyzer result:

INTJ – The Scientists
The long-range thinking and individualistic type. They are especially good at looking at almost anything and figuring out a way of improving it – often with a highly creative and imaginative touch. They are intellectually curious and daring, but might be pshysically [sic] hesitant to try new things.

The Scientists enjoy theoretical work that allows them to use their strong minds and bold creativity. Since they tend to be so abstract and theoretical in their communication they often have a problem communcating their visions to other people and need to learn patience and use concrete examples. Since they are extremely good at concentrating they often have no trouble working alone.

The site also provided a map of my brain activity while I write:

I think they hit a lot about me right on.  I don’t typically use my blog “spiritually” or wear much emotion on my sleeeves here.  I try to provide insight or share thoughts and learnings that don’t fit in 140 characters on Twitter, and tend to think a lot before I write or publish.  Maybe I think too much.

What does your blog say about you?  If you don’t have one, that says something too – why?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]