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Blogs, YouTube, break.com, Flickr, Facebook – can I control the message?!

Patricia and I just completed four online marketing workshops to four very different and distinct groups from Illinois at the Illinois Tourism Annual Conference, and from across Canada at the Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC) annual conference.  Our first leg of the race last week was two presentations to members of the Illinois Tourism members in Springfield, Illinois. 

We had a great mix of travel industry suppliers, destination marketing professionals, hotels and attractions and we took the opportunity to dive into discussing new technologies for marketing tourism, and whether or not to participate in the game.

It is quite apparent that the internet has changed the way we market to consumers, but it was quite funny to see the reaction of the participants when we pulled up live YouTube results for brands such as the Chicago Botanic Gardens, where we found a video montage of a sweet man and his wife (i presume!) touring the gardens to a romantic melody, obviously not posted by the Botanic Garden staff (need I say more?)  Who would have thought that our customers would be producing their own commercials for our brand experiences?  The point is, this is exactly what they are doing! 

A great example of using a channel like YouTube came from our next round of workshops for the Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC) Conference held this year in Halifax, Canada.  We again explored the social media space live during the workshop (never really knowing what might be pulled as a relevant result and always making sure we warn the audience!)  We again searched Youtube.com – this time for the Days Inn brand of hotels,  and what we found was a perfect example of embracing and participating in the online conversations and experiences that your audience is engaging in through their research process.

The top YouTube.com result for a search for “Days Inn” is a hysterical “Days Inn Rap” which was “produced” it seems by an unknown boy, a buddy, and a video camera sitting in a car. (warning – this video is not suitable for all audiences but it will give you a good laugh!) 

This rap has been viewed 1,175 times since posted!  Instead of reacting negatively to the popularity of the video, Days Inn had also posted already produced brand commercials of which also appeared within the popular rap posts results.  This offered viewers the option to receive the brand message with the rap, and leveraged the distribution of the “un-canned” rap produced by a boy in a car.  The commercials were viewed over 4,000 times! 

So the message here is – you can’t control your brand messages and conversations happening through channels like YouTube, Break.com, Facebook, My Space and the thousands of other Blogs and social media networks that are an active part of the consumer time research process today.  These channels all drive your brands “online buzz” and marketers don’t have all of the control any longer.

Today we have gone beyond the website and consumers are now interacting and connecting with each other online instead of simply reacting to advertising messages, searching and viewing websites.  The brand reputation has become something generated by the marketing message AND by consumer interaction and testimonial. 

[tags]social media marketing, youtube, facebook, myspace, flickr, days inn, online marketing workshops, new media[/tags]

 

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