“If at first you succeed, try, try again.”
I have been having a lot of fun catching up with my feeds the last few days. In case you missed it, a BusinessWeek article in early August (which included a quote from my blog buddy Kevin Dugan) took a look at viral video and asked, Is Viral Viable?
You may remember a viral video that made the rounds last year that showed two mad scientists making geysers with rolls of Mentos and liters of Diet Coke. The video was wildly popular with more than five million downloads. Not surprisingly, neither Mentos or Coke had anything to do with the video.
However, Mentos embraced the viral video and added to its momentum by providing Eepybird with Mentos for their experiments and sponsoring “Make Your Own Mentos Geyser” competitions. Mentos sales were up nearly 20 percent in 2006, which was the biggest increase in the company's history.
I don't know how much of the increase can be attributed to the viral campaign, but I do like the metric – real, demonstrable business results for an essentially low-cost. Or in measurement parlance, what we call a positive outcome. Katie Paine would be proud.
So, back to my opening statement. “If at first you succeed, try, try again.”
Mentos decided to strike out on its own this summer, hiring an intern named Trevor from the University of Cincinnati. The idea was that from nine to five, Monday through Friday, Trevor would take requests to perform work visitors to the Website.
They put together a multi-layered campaign that included a campaign homepage where you could schedule Trevor to perform some work or just watch him perform for others live, a blog, a Facebook page, a MySpace page and an xBox game.
I personally love these kinds of campaigns and use them for my clients. They take the best of the social networks and combine them into a coherent campaign. I guess it appeals to the organizational freak in me.
The problem is, how do you measure such campaigns?
For Mentos, the Summer Intern program was a hit. According to Cakke, a blog that tracks domain sales and statistics, mentosintern.com generated 30,000 Google hits in its first three weeks, making it the fastest-growing site on the web. In measurement parlance, we would call this a positive output. However, Mentos didn't have “hits” as its goal.
Success for this was not going to be hits on a Web site,” says Paul Bichler, creative director at Mentos' agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty. “Success for this is how well we can integrate the idea of Mentos into pop culture.”
This is a lofty goal, but how in the world does one measure pop culture? I think the original metric of sales was more relevant and immediate. How did the Summer Intern program affect sales? I would love to know and I think the client would too.
Which brings me to a final point, which is that a good campaign has goals that measure outcomes, not outputs. In the end, a successful campaign has nothing to do with how many “friends” you have on Facebook, or how many “followers” on Twitter, but rather on how many of these are converted to a more positive attitude about your product or service that leads to a behavioral change – namely, that they buy the product or contribute to the cause.
Until social media campaigns incorporate these goals, they are just so much more thin air.
If you are interested in looking at other recent viral campaigns, BusinessWeek put together a few to review and that allows the viewer to vote them as cool or lame.