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What do the Olympics Inspire in You?

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scott-in-kayak3I love the Olympics! Where else do you get to see whitewater kayaking and team handball – two really good sports to watch that get almost no commercial coverage. In addition to a full schedule of drama and the action, you get to see real emotion – the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

It is an advantage of working out of my home office that I get to watch the day-time coverage, though the eight channels of the NBC/Universal family hold back on showing the headline sports such as gymnastics until prime time. Fortunately Twitter #Olympics gives the play-by-play and there is live video streaming if you want to be really distracted.

What do the Olympics have to do with viral videos and social networking, and what do they have to do with you and your organization? How is it that "lolcat" videos can attract millions of YouTube views while your carefully crafted video/blog/Facebook page can’t get more than a few hundred?


 What the Olympics and effective marketing programs do is to effectively play on our emotions. Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing.com explains this very well in an article that he recently wrote for Fast Company titled “Why No One Will Watch Your Crappy Corporate ‘Viral’ Video, and How To Fix It” .

I have had a few viral successes and some that failed at launch, nothing is assured in social networking. What gets you into the viral marketing game, Stratten says “it has to do one thing: evoke strong emotion. Key word there is ‘strong’. If someone lightly laughs at something, or is slightly inspired, that doesn’t make them jump to the ‘share’ button. It has to be the level of awesome. Awesomely funny, upsetting, uplifting, offensive, whatever the emotion is—it has to hit it hard.”

What was the last thing that you forwarded to friends/family, or re-pinned your Pinterest collection? Did it touch your heart, make you laugh, or get you angry?

A great example is the P&G “Best Job” film made for the London games. It has drawn 5.8 million viewers and tugs at the heart in a wonderful way that ties in with the Mom-centric TV advertising that P&G has been showing during the games. You don’t see P&G promoted until the last five seconds.

One of my recent clients put together a series of four “viral” videos that pulled in 200-1,300 viewers each. A project that I wasn’t involved in, the production values were high, the marketing team that created it was proud, but the results weren’t there. Watching them, the videos are more an inside story, humorous for the team that was directly involved, but of minimal interest to their customer base and of almost no interest to the rest of the world.

This lesson is true for all advertising – it is about the customer, it is about provoking an emotional response that leads them in your direction.

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Scott is co-owner of Wave's End Services, LLC, a Colorado-based provider of Web, IT Consulting, photography, video, and training services.