Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vertical Integration at Uncharted, Part II

Used under the fair use doctrine for commentary purposes.

Today is opposite day apparently. And, I hope, not too much of a blinding flash of the obvious.

Last time I broached this subject, I advocated making sure that there is evidence of our ancillary sites, from the Uncharted Institute to Facebook to whatever, on Uncharted. Today, I’m saying that while that effort is great, making sure we’re taking advantage of our ancillary sites without looking at them as traffic drains but as overall traffic to our brand.

Here’s the rub: We've got to walk away from the idea that everything Uncharted is going to be focused on the Uncharted site or ancillary sites where all of the traffic "counts" in our favor. We've got to go where the people are, and like it or not, the people right now are on Facebook, YouTube and other sites, not necessarily on Uncharted. Web 1.0 was the era of the homepage. Web 2.0 started to break that up. With social media – what I'm calling Web 3.0 – the web has fragmented, with people getting what information they want where they want it, not necessarily where it originated.

Clay Shirky in his book “Here Comes Everybody,” puts it this way, comparing newspapers to the web: The newspaper model is that if you're a person who likes crossword puzzles and word jumbles, what you're going to get offered when the crossword or jumble is done is news from Uruguay or Pakistan or the local sports scores. The web model is that if a person likes videos – Uncharted videos – what we offer them is additional high quality videos. Maybe we provide links back to our site so they can come read stories and view photos. But we don't force them to do it. We let them discover – and participate in – Uncharted as they want to. We get engaged Explorers, and we can take video view count, or participants in our Flickr photo pools, to the followers we have on Facebook and Twitter, to folks like Campsaver and say, wow, the videos we put up on YouTube are really popular.

I think it's a misnomer to say that traffic to an Uncharted channel on YouTube (or to a Facebook page, or a Flickr photo stream or what have you) helps only YouTube, Facebook or Flickr.

But we don’t do this blindly. It’s all part of a strategy to build our brand. The intent of putting our content, our brand, our name, et cetera, wherever we can provide content is to extend invitation after invitation to get them to come to the site and hang out and have fun with us. We do this kind of thing with every intention of having these viewers come to our site, but in every way that lets them think it's their idea to visit Uncharted and come hang out and have fun.

I see it as having advertising on cable channels. If we can use YouTube effectively, we've got advertising there that, yeah, helps YouTube with their traffic numbers, but also gets our name out on a channel where lots of people are hanging out, watching videos and getting curious about what we're doing.

I look at my blog as an example. Before I was on Facebook or Twitter, I'd get so-so traffic (read really bad, since I'm not a popular blogger). However, since I have posted stuff (links, posts, videos, teasers) et cetera, on Facebook and Twitter, my traffic us up more than twice than what it was a year ago. Maybe the people who come in through these other venues don't all stay for long, but some do.

Here are some examples of what I mean. They're kinda crude videos in some ways, but they're apparently very effective.

Saddleback Leather is a small bag-making company that is taking full advantage of small-scale viral marketing, using what skills they have and what audience they’re building to help sell their product. They have customers posting their own product reviews, such as this, online:

This was a user-submitted video that saddleback leather turned into a YouTube commercial:

Here are the videos on his site. Watch the "crocodile attacks bag" video:

These YouTube videos aren’t linked to his site, other than having a URL in the video description. But still, they’re generating interest in his products. That YouTube benefits from the video views is immaterial, because Saddleback Leather Company benefits as well by getting their name and their products out there, in testimonials done by customers, unsolicited, but with links back to the company’s site.

We can do such “attractions” as well, by posting YouTube videos to our own channel, embedding them on our site, and encouraging our explorers to do so as well. This adds an extra way for Explorers to contribute and to have them help us build the brand. And it puts our name out where the people are already.

 Used under the fair use doctrine for commentary purposes.

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