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>> Social networking, online video, and brand promotion

Thu, Jul 31st 9:40am 2008: Web Development

Over the last couple of weeks I've been watching an interesting project unfold as Samsung run a promotion here in Australia called "Samsung People". The promotion has been carefully designed to use the power of social networking to increase awareness of their brand and particularly of a new product, the MX10 video camera. I'm not involved in running the project in any way but I am involved as a contestant, so I've been able to see a bit of what happens behind the scenes as they put all the pieces in place and it certainly makes an interesting case study of how companies are starting to use social networking for marketing purposes. This particular promotion has several stages, each designed to encourage people to use their own social networks to get others involved and therefore exposed to the brand. The basic premise is to promote the Samsung MX10 video camera, which uses a memory card instead of video tapes or hard disk and is designed to be very simple to operate. Samsung wanted to spread the message that this camera is ideal for people wanting a basic camera to post video diaries, put video online on sites such as YouTube, and generally communicate with their friends and family. So they hired a promotions company who equipped a number of staff with the MX10 and sent them out into the streets of Sydney to talk to random people and ask them the question "where is your mind?", recording the interviews and posting them on a special "Samsung People" website that they set up for the project. They also invited people to enter a competition by answering the "where is your mind?" question online at the Samsung People site. The next stage was selecting ten finalists from the people who entered the competition, and this is where the social networking effect really kicks in. They gave each of those ten finalists an MX10 camera and video editing software, with instructions that they have to keep a video diary until the end of the competition period at the end of August. The rules state that finalists are only allowed to use the camera and software supplied by Samsung, and the video diaries must be hosted on the Samsung People website. Finalists were each given a username / password so they can log in and upload new diary entries whenever they want to. During this stage of the competition the public can view the video diaries and vote for the finalist they think should win. This obviously means that it's in the contestants own self interest to promote the competition as much as they can, and reach out using their social networks (both in the real world and also online using sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn) to get as many people voting for them as possible. This turns the contestants (and, to some extent, their first and second degree friends who will want to help their friend out of loyalty) into active promoters of the competition. Each contestant's vested interest in winning the competition becomes their motivation for promoting it, and, in turn, promoting the company behind it. Very, very clever. Of course, *I* have a vested interest because I'm one of the ten finalists! The grand prize is quite significant (a trip for two to Tokyo, New York, and London) and I'd love to win it, but quite apart from that I'm fascinated by the way the competition has been engineered to maximise exposure for Samsung. There are some serious technical problems with the way they have implemented the diary system itself, but as a concept it's very interesting and probably a good indicator of the sorts of promotions we'll see more of in future as companies start to gain some understanding of what web 2.0 and social networking actually means. So please vote for me! I'll send you a postcard from London if I win ;-) Oh yeah, and you can find the competition site at www.samsungpeople.com.au.

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