I talk with a lot of companies and pay attention to hundreds of different firms both in the Internet space and throughout the businessosphere and am always surprised at how few of either group really understand how to leverage the benefits of modern media and popular social networking sites and their technologies to promote the firm.
That’s why I was pleased to see that today both eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) and Nikon are offering up textbook examples of utilizing third party Web sites for their own benefit in a way that’s inoffensive, valuable, and, heck, kinda cool.
Let me explain what they’ve both done, and why it’s even more surprising that Nikon’s one of the two companies I’m highlighting…
I’m a big fan of eBay and have been for many years. I’m a casual seller (I’ve sold about 100 items or so, with good results) and buyer (bought about 200, I think) and have long admired how the company has grown and expanded into the premier online customer-pricing auction site. Other companies, even huge firms like Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) have tried to break into the auction space, but eBay’s still the proverbial 800 pound gorilla.
Big companies have a way of getting staid and boring, however, and a quick glance at eBay’s rather boring eBay Chatter weblog demonstrates that even when they are trying for cutting edge, they can’t quite break out of that old “Web 1.0″ / basic HTML world.
They’re not along in this big business miasma, of course. I know lots of big companies (like Amazon itself) that have forgotten how to innovate because they’re so worried about structure, back-ends and whether the tactic might adversely affect the long-range models and other such MBA jazz.
That’s why it’s darn cool to see eBay’s “Bev” write an entry this morning for eBay Chatter that beautifully demonstrates how to utilize the popular YouTube site to advertise an upcoming workshop.
They aren’t making a video of the specific workshop video available, they’re instead making available a pleasant few minute video of the two co-hosts of this particular video simply talking about what they’ll be covering in the actual workshop. Here’s the video:
That’s pretty straightforward and simple, isn’t it. They’re just sitting in a conference room talking to a camera. They’re not even particularly vivacious or exciting and, amusingly, the video is a bit busted as it’s 4:50 but only about the first 75 seconds have content. Easily fixed, of course.
You might not see it as innovative, but I think it’s a darn smart way to utilize online video to cheaply promote an upcoming workshop that will help eBay sellers be more effective at selling.
Even more surprising than this smart use of online video for promotional purposes is a campaign that Nikon just launched for its upcoming D80 digital SLR camera. First off, two important disclosures: 1. I have a D80 on order (as I write about in Which digital camera should I buy?) and am a big fan of Nikon camera gear, and 2. In my Google book I actually single Nikon out as being an example of how not to utilize new media.
Why did I highlight Nikon in that manner? Because they have a mailing list you can join and instead of them sending out useful and interesting content (think “How I took this shot” essays from major photographers) that would cause their newsletter to have high passaround value and gain them thousands of photo aficionado subscribers, the newsletter is instead simply a monthly graphic-only advert for whatever promotional campaign they’re running. It’s just a waste.
That’s why I’m just so darn impressed with their Stunning Nikon project.
Here’s what Nikon’s team did: they scoured popular photo gallery site Flickr for photographers that were using the Nikon D100 (I have one of those too, but they didn’t find me, alas!) and sent them a free D80 DSLR camera.
Each photographer was encouraged to just take pictures with the D80 and send Nikon their best resultant photographs. The end result? Stunning Nikon:
That’s not just smart, that’s bloody brilliant. My hat’s off to Nikon and its marketing team for what is perhaps the very best example of how a large company can gain advantage through smart utilization of social media, Web 2.0, and similarly popular social sites.
Think about these two examples and ask yourself what your company is doing to leverage the popularity and visibility of the online world with your own marketing efforts…
Credit to CrunchGear for its amusing note about the Nikon campaign too.