5 Lessons for Old Marketers After @Applebees #SpiritedChef

If you haven’t heard of the #SpiritedChef campaign from Applebee’s, click here to learn more.

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Applebee’s launched the Spirited Chef social campaign during their holiday menu.  It’s a brilliant social media play, and I think “old marketers” can learn something from it.

Old is just a state of mind.

Applebee's Spirited Chef Video - Minecraft Box Mask

They hired 19-time world champion flair bartender Christian Delpech to help them make the best video ever by their fans.   Their growing online community was invited to tweet suggested tricks, stunts, costumes, and pretty much anything else they’d like to see this amazing performer do, using the #SpiritedChef hashtag.

After a couple weeks, the #SpiritedChef hashtag has gotten millions and millions of impressions on Twitter and Facebook.  Many suggestions were made and the film crew headed out to Las Vegas to film the video the fans wrote.

Here it is the original video:

Here is the sequel:

I became fascinated as I watched the social media strategy unfold under the brilliant guidance of Jill McFarlandJonathon Brewer and the BTC Revolutions team (Applebee’s digital agency).

Here are five thoughts for “old marketers” that might need a little nudging into the new era.

 

1) Fear Will Lead to Failure

Our world is changing so fast.  If you want to keep up, you have to do things that are unknown and unproven.  Risk is part of leadership and leadership in a changing world is the only way to survive as a brand (just ask Circuit City).

Besides that, people are weird.  If you want to relate to people, sometimes you have to be a little weird too.

One of the things that Applebee’s does exceedingly well is keep an open mind and interact with their customers in a personal manner, no matter what sort of online sub-culture they belong too.

There’s a very large group of men that enjoy My Little Ponies.  They’re called Bronies. By some estimates, there are about a million of these gentlemen out there.

The Chili’s restaurant group decided they wanted to engage with their Brony customers and designed a Chili’s My Little Pony.  They then tweeted it out asking what were the Bronies’ favorite things to eat at Chili’s.  The responses got ugly and Chili’s quickly retreated and deleted the tweet.

Now nobody was happy.

Chili's Tweet about Bronies - My Little Ponies - MLP Bronies

Later on, Applebee’s had a customer ask if the Spirited Chef liked ponies and they engaged in their typical personal fashion.  The Brony tweet made it into the above video.

The community of Bronies responded and 12,000+ views came from blog posts on My Little Ponies related sites.  One group in Manhattan even went so far as to throw a party at the local Applebee’s to thank them for not being afraid of the topic like Chili’s was.

This is just one interesting example of success due to “brand bravery”.  When you watch the video, you see all sorts of other sub-cultures involved from Minecraft and unicorns to Corey Pieper and One Direction fans.

Lesson learned:   Don’t be afraid to engage with your customers on their turf, even if their turf involves a little pony. 

 

2) Keep Things Simple & Specific

Applebee’s tweeted many times about this project and I noticed that some types of tweets got more responses than others.  More people (20 people in top tweet vs 3 people in bottom one) added suggestions after the call to action made a specific ask (second tweet below).

People don’t really care about much, so don’t ask for much thought unless you have a huge payoff.  Keep it simple.  Keep it specific.

Lesson learned:   It’s okay to vary your posts and get more specific if you’re not getting the volume of responses you want. 

 

3) Transparency Builds Trust & Ownership

To add a level of transparency, the group was streaming live video from behind the scenes during production.  Not only did this combat the usual “camera trick” conspiracy theorists, but it made the hundreds of people watching the live broadcast feel more involved.  They got a chance to see instant replays, as well as interact with the Applebee’s brand on Twitter.

Feel free to watch the recording of the production:

Luckily we didn’t make too many mistakes, but even if we did, we’d probably get a lot of leniency from a world that appreciates honesty and transparency.

Lesson learned:   You build trust and ownership from customers when you open up and share the process. 

 

4) The Future is Social

TV commercials don’t usually translate well to social media and YouTube because they are one-way messages in a two-way social media world.  People expect to be engaged and entertained in social channels and if you do it right you’ll get tons of exposure through earned media and the subscription base you’ll build.

Keep pushing traditional broadcast commercials on your YouTube channel and you’ll keep getting the same poor results.  After switching styles, Applebee’s saw subscriptions rise by 20% in the first month of the #SpiritedChef campaign.

As long as they keep creating social video content, they’ll have those fans for years to come.  No advertising dollars needed.

More about that in this article.

 

5) Social Networks Aren’t Transferable

Despite having 5,000,000 fans on Facebook and 250,000 followers on Twitter, this video by Applebee’s only got 100,000 views in the first week.  Why’s that?

Each network has it’s own flavor and quirks.  On Facebook people statistically don’t like to leave the ecosystem when they’re browsing.  They may watch the video, but won’t generally click to the native YouTube page to comment or give a thumbs up.

This can get frustrating.

Why then do tons of YouTube video channels have thousands of comments?  It’s because they’ve built a YouTube specific community that waits for their videos, that comments on their videos, that shares their videos with others in the YouTube ecosystem.

Lesson learned:   In order to consistently get lots of views on YouTube videos without a huge advertising budget, you need to build a community of people that watch videos.  That takes time, and it takes consistently great videos that make people want more.

Applebee’s is finally on their way.

Think like them night,

Aaron @Biebert

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Boston Marathon Tribute Video – All I Can Do

I saw the graphic photos and the footage of the bomb going off at the Boston Marathon and it shook me too.

Boston Marathon Bomb Victims

I had friends running that race.

Yet, here I was in Milwaukee.  Powerless.

I couldn’t clear blast debris.  I couldn’t carry victims to safety.  The Red Cross didn’t need blood.  I couldn’t chase down the cowards who bombed the race.

 

So I did all I could do.

 

I’m a video guy.  I made a video, so that nobody would forget the heroes and victims…so nobody would minimize what just happened.

http://youtu.be/XhAs–3VPOY

Nobody is powerless to help.  We must all do what we can.  Blog, tweet, share, pray, encourage.  Whatever we can.  We must.

Have a safe night,

Aaron @Biebert

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Your Stuff is Really Ugly

I work with a lot of small businesses.  I own a small business.  My friends are fellow 8pm Warriors too.

I see a lot of stuff.

Unfortunately, your stuff is really ugly.

I know, I know I know.  It sounds mean.  That’s why I was too nervous to tell you directly.  I feel bad.  If you found this article on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin, your friends probably feel the same way.  Everyone (including me) is afraid to tell you, so they nominated me to be the bad guy this time.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • The visual elements on your website look old and worn out.
  • Your logo looks like it was designed on Microsoft Paint 10 years ago.
  • The fonts you’re using say more than the words you’re using.
  • Your videos look like a 13 year-old made them with a webcam and iMovie.
  • Your background music is cheesy.
  • Your clever designs aren’t clever.
  • Your photos are dark and grainy.

Your stuff is really ugly.

It used to be endearing….a right of passage for new entrepreneurs. “Just design it yourself,” they’d smile and say.  I was an enabler, nodding in agreement while adding:

“Entrepreneurs can’t afford great design.  Creative people are too expensive for small businesses!”

However, that is poor advice in an online world dominated by Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and other visual media sites.  I’m embarrassed to share your site. I don’t want to buy from you because I mistake your ugly stuff for a lack of competence.

Good design is achievable for the average small business now. All you need to look good is put an ad or two in Craigslist, use countless crowd-source design websites, rely on templates, find hungry design students willing to intern, or look up tons of design companies that are slow right now.

Your stuff doesn’t have to be so ugly.

With so much ugly stuff out there, it is a crying shame that there are so many creative 8pm Warriors unemployed or underemployed.  I see them everywhere I look…I get resumes upon resumes.  We had to take our career page down. I feel bad.

For you.

This is your chance to look like a million bucks without spending it.

There is no excuse for ugly stuff.  It hurts my eyes.  It hurts your reputation.  It hurts your business.

Get a decent designer tonight,

Aaron @Biebert

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Halftime in one 8pm Warrior’s Life

So, I’ve been lying to people for years about my age. I didn’t think anyone would follow a 27 year-old CEO.

Today I turned 30. Hopefully I’m old enough now.

I made this video last night. It gets a bit personal, but I figure over the past year we’ve gotten pretty personal with each other in the comments here so I wanted to share it with you even though I’m a bit nervous…

So, there it is. I’m assuming I’ve got until 60 with the way I’m pushing my body, so this is halftime.

If you’d like to help me reach my goal, visit my project here. The goal is to bring fresh water to 50 families in Africa. If you want to make a difference with your life, please consider joining me with a donation and/or sharing this post.

Every little bit helps.

I only get one life. It’s “go time” for me if I’m going to reach my goal. Thanks for all your help and support.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Curious why I’m doing this and where the money goes? Watch this video:

YouTube Changes to Integrate with Google+, Twitter & Facebook Videos

YouTube is more than cute animal videos, funny stuff, and stupid stunts. It grew up today.

Ignore at your own risk.

Any 8pm Warrior trying to get their message out or sell a remarkable service should be using YouTube.  Video cameras are built into nearly every smart phone and nothing captures the personality of a business like video.  Nothing.

I’m sharing from experience as a producer of several online shows and video productions that were created to build community and sell a product in a social savvy way.  Video changes the game.

Here’s why YouTube matters:

  • YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world (think SEO)
  • It is the largest video-based social network
  • Google+ is now integrated even closer with YouTube for additional community building (more on the way)
  • YouTube is simple to use and even offers a free video editing feature
  • Video is perfect for the Attention Era

YouTube made widespread changes to their channel formats today and I think it changes everything.  In the past it was millions of chaotic channels with long lists of video uploads that were hard to understand or group together.  Email subscription was the best way to keep up.  It was barely social.

That all changed today.

In what was probably the biggest upgrade since Google bought YouTube, channels can be restructured to display videos in the form of a series, much like a television network groups their shows together for DVR or On Demand.  It even tracks which episodes you’ve already watched in a series.

Each YouTube account also has a news feed feature, much like other social networks. To make it more social, the new YouTube is even more integrated with Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.  This makes it much easier for interested viewers to subscribe and interact with brands or personalities that they enjoy.  It keeps each channel fresh, even when no new videos are posted.

It’s a lot more like TV now.  It’s how it should be.

I really like it.

Channels Using the New YouTube Channel Upgrade

You can see screenshots of the new upgrades below:

New YouTube Channel Design

 

 

New YouTube News Feed with Google+ Integration

 

 

If you have any questions about the new YouTube upgrade, feel free to post the questions below, on the 8pm Warriors Facebook discussion forum, or on twitter @Biebert. I’ll do my best to answer or point you in the right direction.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Why Arianna Huffington was TED Wrong

Interesting message I got today:

“I saw this on TED http://bit.ly/gs5Byd thought it might interest you @8pmWarrior would like to hear your comments on it” – @SocialCharlie

I definitely have some comments on it, but first, here’s the video Charlie mentioned:

http://su.pr/1cZnQW

If you don’t have 5 minutes to watch it, I will paraphrase it for you:

  1. When she was already successful, Arianna Huffington (the Huffington Post Arianna) fainted from exhaustion, fell down, and broke some bones in her face.
  2. She met with doctors, scientists, and others to discover that the key to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is…getting enough sleep (contrast this with our current Warrior of the Week:  Jordan Zimmerman’s position).
  3. She is starting a new feminist revolution by telling women to literally “sleep their way to the top” and sleep deprivation is  a “virility symbol” for men.
  4. Sleeping will save the world.

Interesting.

Arianna, you’ve done some amazing things in your life, and you were an 8pm Warrior.  For that, I used to have a lot of respect for you.

However, I respectfully think it is ludicrous to tell those 8pm Warriors at the TED event that sleeping is the key to a more inspired life and I’d like to see Jordan Zimmerman give a TED talk to share the other side.  I’m assuming that one of the reasons you were wildly successful is the same reason that you fainted from exhaustion.

You were giving it your all.

One of the reasons that 8pm Warriors work late (and often sleep less) is because we want to; because we are inspired.  We’re busy.

  • We’re busy writing, reading, or watching TED videos.
  • We’re busy planning.
  • We’re busy making our dreams come true.

I believe that a person can sleep when they die or sleep when they’re satisfied.  Arianna, it sounds like your dreams have already come true.  Time to let others chase theirs.

Have an inspired night!

Aaron@Biebert

The end of vlogs like Wine Library TV, Ask a Ninja, and Rocket Boom?

Not the end, but I have serious concerns for the rising popularity of video blogs (vlogs) after the ruling handed down today by the FCC.  It allows Internet service providers to charge customers based on the amount of bandwidth they use (raise prices for some, lower them for others).

This will change behavior, guaranteed.

Will everyone immediately cancel their subscriptions to Wine Library TV?  Nope, but you can bet that some will cut back on video (YouTube, etc.) and audio (podcasts, etc.) instead of paying higher fees.  Verizon already charges based on usage for their mi-fi, and AT&T changed their iPhone plan as well.  What happened?

People cut back on video usage.

So what does this mean if you’re an 8pm Warrior looking to start your own vlog or podcast? You’ll want to get going on it…like today.  People will stick with their favorites (they’re addicted), but may not “invest” in finding new vlogs once they have to pay for it.

On the flipside, for traditional blogs, we could see the rise in readership as broadband prices go down for those using less bandwidth, thereby making it accessible to more people.

Either way, this could be huge.

Stay tuned.

Aaron@Biebert

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Will you cut back once prices go up?  Then now’s the time to enjoy sort of a vlogging “Fat Tuesday” before prices go up.  These are some of my personal favorites from today:

Wine Library TV

http://tv.winelibrary.com/2010/12/20/loire-valley-cabernet-franc-tasting-episode-961/

Ask a Ninja

http://www.askaninja.com/video/5168813-ask-a-ninja-12-21-10

Rocket Boom

http://www.rocketboom.com/top-10-tech/