Whether we’re looking a pictures of hunters and bison in the caves of Lascaux, or getting an inside peek at the lives of the folks at Sterling Cooper via Twitter, one thing has been a constant: Compelling content draws attention. The Washington Post just released their list of the Top Viral Videos of 2008. Put aside for a moment any issues regarding the term viral – and oh, I’ve got issues. As do people like Mike Arauz and Faris Yakob. But whatever you want to call them, these videos were shared, spread and enjoyed. Their list contains a lot of good stuff, including Tom Cruise going all Scientology on us; Will.I.Am singing “Yes We Can”; and some very literal music videos.
The constant here is that these videos entertain first and foremost. They aren’t contrived for the purpose of selling us stuff (noted exception – the mobile phone meets popcorn meme, courtesy of Cardo, bluetooth headset maker). The focus is on telling a story, or building upon an existing one.
Now, is this a surefire way to generate big sales? Truthfully, I think the jury is still out on that. But it’s certainly a strong way to build a brand. Another ad is not going to get consumers to stop and consider your product, you need to start building a relationship. How do you do that? By creating something more interesting than a 2-for-1 coupon or add a freshness date to your product.
Let your customers get to know you (let your employees have blogs and Twitter accounts), and just as importantly, get to know your customers (follow their Twitter accounts and post comments on their blogs).
This is the time to start developing these relationships, there is no benefit to starting ‘when times are good’ or when you have a new product, dive in, create a story, add to the conversation.