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Social media gone wild

Yesterday marked the second time in a span of 7 days that a Shel has been in Toronto. Not that I’m complaining mind you, it’s been a wonderful week of social media connections and conversations. Last night Shel Israel was in town to speak with 50 of us social media types at the inaugural Third Tuesday hosted by Joseph Thornley & crew of Thornley Fallis Communications. As comments and posts can attest to, the night was a resounding success and an amazing example of how conversations (okay, Naked Conversations) are changing the world. Shel is exactly what his business card says – a Nice Guy. And a fantastic, bright, engaging speaker. Dave Forde & Joe have uploaded photos from the evening to Flickr so far, but I saw a lot of flashes going off last night so I hope to see more pics soon!

The conversation is happening, you can either embrace it or get buried by it.

On that note, Shel Holtz passed around the mike at our recent gaggle of geeks in Toronto to find out what social media meant to the 20 of us at the dinner. Some clips are in the latest edition of FIR, and the full file is available here. It’s quite interesting to hear the different takes from a variety of marketing, advertising, and technology professionals… everyone has their own perspective, yet the common theme is conversations.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make CaseCamp tonight, which at last count had 100 people signed up on the Wiki… too much social and still deadlines looming… There’s always a next time though!

[photo credit: scienceduck on Flickr]

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Weird Al and AOL need a mash up

Poor Weird Al. His video “White & Nerdy” was leaked to YouTube before it had a chance to premiere on AOL, and now AOL has decided not to go ahead with the launch. Al posted on his blog his disappointment in not having the wider exposure AOL would have afforded him, and his fans lept to his defence in the comments and lamented the fact that they wouldn’t have the chance to see it on the portal & support Al.

Not a good PR situation for AOL all in all, as Al decided to post it for free on his MySpace page, he’s getting tons of press, and the video is enormously popular (and quite hilarious).

So what they need is a mash up. Pure and simple.

AOL made a mistake in backing away from the video because it leaked onto YouTube, and thereby walking away from Al’s community of fans, when a good strategy would have been (and still could be) to mash it up. Engage the community. Give them something exclusive. Ask them to create something themselves. Initiate and take it in stride.

Why doesn’t AOL mash up an exclusive re-mix of the Weird Al and Chamillionaire videos and post that instead?

Or ask users to submit their best mix?

The pre-release of the video actually affords AOL a chance to get into the social media space proactively and bring the community something additional of value. Unexpected? Yes. But not insurmountable if you’re thinking 2.0.

[Web 2.0-ized logo via Alex P - h/t ProPR.ca]

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Your brand here

A new niche social networking site with a twist has launched and it should be on the radar of marketers everywhere. The site, Zebo, is all about our, or our clients, brands. What’s hot, what’s not, what people want, what people own, what the trends are, what sucks, and on top of it friends give each other advice on shopping and you can ultimately purchase a product.

I highly suggest adding this site to the social media monitoring mix, consumer persona research, and exploring the potentials it offers on the e-commerce side (US brands only at this point but with plans to expand at a later date – Canadians take note). The site is already attracting attention amongst the media with a write up in the NYTimes, and if there is one truth about teenagers is that they love to shop. It will be interesting to see if it takes off from the niche and becomes a staple for sharing trends and tips & how the ROI on the ecom side measures up to traditional online storefronts.

h/t – Three Minds

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Google and GM get innovative and integrated

In an on-going series of moves between the auto giant and the search giant, Google and GM in the U.S. have teamed up to showcase that Google delivers interactivity with the launch of the new Saturn campaign in partnership with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Via CNet:

Visitors to a variety of Web sites in six cities around the country that are home to 22 Saturn dealerships will see what look like typical banner ads for Aura, a new Saturn midsize sedan. Clicking on an ad will produce a view of the earth that zooms in on the dealership nearest to the computer user.

The doors to the virtual dealership fly open, revealing the general manager, who introduces a brief commercial about Aura. After the spot ends, the general manager returns, standing next to an Aura and offering choices that include spinning the car 360 degrees, inspecting its engine, printing a map with directions to the dealership and visiting the Web sites of Saturn or the dealer.

The project is intended to stimulate demand for Aura test-drives with a twist: The dealerships will deliver the cars to the homes of consumers. The theme of the project is “Take the 250,000-mile test drive.”

I love that this campaign embraces the dealership walk-around experience and showcases the features and warmth of the Saturn brand without overkill or irrelevance to what I as a potentially purchaser would be interested in. And of course, delivering the car to your door? Priceless.

[photo credit: Elsie esq. on Flickr]

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Does social media = online media?

In an article on ClickZ today about building great brands, Tessa Wegert conflates social media (i.e. blogs, social networking sites, etc.) with online media buying. Something here doesn’t sit right with me. Is social, conversational, media in the same relm as banner ads, email, search, etc.? Is it a commodity that can be bought and sold within traditional media departments? The purpose of social media is to engage in a conversation & share things you are passionate about with the world – is that something that can be achieved with an I.O.?

I’m not convinced it could or should. It’s an art and one that is best suited to a partnership between marketing strategists, PR, tech, and media folk… and it’s not “online media” except in the loosest sense in my opinion. What do you think?

[photo credit: The Department on Flickr]

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