Buckle Up

As I write this, I am fresh off of a much-needed vacation in the Rockies. It was great to spend a couple of days with my family, and at the same time, have some “digital down-time”. I did not check-in to a single campground using Foursquare, so sadly I am not on the road to becoming the major of a campground anytime soon! Nor did I access Twitter or Facebook multiple times a day. In fact, I even went a couple of days without checking e-mail. *Gasp!*

In reducing my digital intake, my vacation allowed for some time to reflect on the digital and social media madness that seems to have encapsulated my life – both the positive and the negative aspects.

There’s no doubt that my life has changed as a result of social media. Thanks in particular to Twitter, I have formed a variety of new friendships, with great people whom I otherwise likely would never have connected with. From a learning standpoint, my RSS feed is jam packed with amazing articles that are abundantly rich in information about the changing business landscape. It seems that innovation, particularly in terms of new products and services, and changing business practices, is now happening at breakneck speeds. Mass collaboration, conversations and connectivity are changing everything. I have an open mind, and am excited about the future. I sense that, as a result, my career will evolve in a manner I never thought possible a few years ago.

At the same time, I wonder what the true costs of our increased connectivity are? More and more often, we seem to hear about people needing to go through a “digital detox”. A few years ago, people debated whether they should bring Blackberries with them on vacation, devices that made them accessible to employers and clients 24/7.  Now, look at the plethora of ways in which people are connected to the Internet – there are more channels that need to be disconnected. With cars (see the MyFord Touch) and appliances becoming Internet enabled, will it even be possible to escape digital life in the future, short of going on a back-country adventure into the middle of nowhere?

I wonder if a new profession is going to evolve? Digital Life Manager? Digital Therapist?

I still think I need to work on balancing my online connectivity with time I need to spend off-line. This last week reminded me of that.

However, using a human lifespan analogy and starting from when the Internet truly became accessible to the public, the Internet is really only just emerging from it’s teenage years. What kind of ingenuity and collaboration are we going to see over the next decade? What businesses will arise?

Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride. But don’t forget, it’s OK to step out and take a breather along the way. Sanity is a good thing.

Observations on the Old Spice Campaign

Old Spice’s “Old Spice Man” campaign may just be a precursor of advertising and brand engagement efforts we can expect to see in coming years. The campaign, orchestrated by Wieden+Kennedy, started off with a TV commercial in the winter which garnered attention from notable bloggers and celebrities, and received numerous views on YouTube.

On Tuesday, the Old Spice Man became a social media sensation, with videos uploaded to YouTube featuring the character responding to people’s comments and questions from Twitter, Facebook and other Internet sources. A few of the videos were filmed in advance, featuring Old Spice Man’s responses to comments on the original commercial, however the majority were filmed on the fly – sometimes within thirty minutes of someone submitting a comment or question.

Approximately 180 videos were created over two days. At last count, Old Spice’s Twitter following had increased to over 70,000, and most of the videos were downloaded over 100,000 times. There were also a couple of hundred news articles on the initiative, and no doubt numerous mentions in other media. It has been an amazing viral marketing campaign.

There are many things worth mentioning about this effort, here are a few that come to mind:

  • Mass and digital media can work beautifully together. Old Spice firmly established the character in the TV spot, there was already a strong degree of familiarity prior to the social media blitz.
  • Blogger and celebrity outreach planted some of the seeds for the viral nature of this campaign. It was smart to create videos mentioning influential bloggers and celebrities who were already fans of the TV spot – no doubt they became bigger fans, and again let their networks know about it.
  • The videos were FUNNY and ADDICTIVE. Viewers, myself included, were compelled spread the word, sharing with their friends and followers.
  • Old Spice Man is a very likable character, one that people are easily able to gain an affinity for.
  • A handsome guy with sex appeal. Women have an influence in 80% of all purchasing decisions, including men’s grooming products. Many men aspire to be like him. Enough said.

I’m curious to see what Old Spice’s next steps will be, given the large following that has been garnered. How are they going to continue to engage the social media community they have built?

Another question on ponder, do people like the Old Spice brand or just the campaign itself?

I’m also interested in the processes and metrics that are in place to evaluate success. Will there be a sales lift? A measured increase in brand affinity?

Lots of questions asked, and some valuable insights already gained. What are your thoughts?

TED Talks: How the Internet Enables Intimacy

An interesting Ted Talk by Stefana Broadbent on how the Internet facilitates deeper relationships by enabling people to connect and communicate with friends and loved ones.