April 13, 2010

Chris Crocker: Social Marketer of the Year


According to Wikipedia, Chris Crocker is an American Internet celebrity and self-described "edutainer." His work consists mainly of short-form self-directed "monologues about life" shot in his grandparents' home.

If he was a Madison Avenue marketer (which is debatable one way or the other), he would probably have a buzzword-filled quote that would make all the trades while he sat on a panel at one of the dozens of social media conferences there are today.


(Click on art for Media Orchard link.)

At last count Crocker's videos have received around 50 million plays on MySpace, and his vlog channel on YouTube is the 18th most viewed of all time in all categories, with about 160 million views. However, there are those who continue to ask when his 15 minutes are over?

Some keep thinking that social media marketing's 15 minutes are almost over. There are plenty of far left and right wing opinions flying at the moment. Some archaic viewpoints foretell social media as a fad that will soon wane. However, ignoring the omnipotent impact that Social Media has on the internet over the last 4 years is comparable to bailing water from a sinking boat and telling one rescue boat you'll wait for a bigger one. At least for now, Social Media is effective and here to stay. If you have not built or are not personally or professionally getting social, writing a blog, or learning about mobile, you may as well let the rescue boats pass by and continue bailing water.

Almost all of Crocker's work has been attributed to his being an openly gay and effeminate Southern adolescent in a "small-minded town" in the Bible Belt where his sexual orientation and outspokenness are a subtext... rarely addressed directly and never completely accepted. Crocker's actions on MySpace prove that it is a lasting medium. "Smack that" out of the park. The proof is not only financial, just looking at the declining ad response rates and budgets as of late should evoke your attention. The fact that people are not responding or listening to traditional advertising tactics at the rate they did 4 years ago should motivated us for educating and re-strategizing.


(Please click on photos for Chris's videos.)

The Tennessee-based Crocker, a stage name, keeps his identity and exact location private because according to him, and as seen in the public comments to his work, there are safety concerns and threats in response to his YouTube and MySpace vlogs and profile. Traditional marketers and even media companies not yet firmly embedded in the space are the loudest ones threaten how dangerous social media is. Even Facebook, which has seen its growth zoom to 90 million members from 24 million a little over a year ago and is now the world's largest social network is being called a flash in the pan.

Isn't that what marketing is all about? Unless entertaining or spot on to solve one's immediate need or problem, merely running a banner and stale TV ads only keeps people and campaign results under cover.


(Please click on photos for Chris's videos.)

He has produced dozens of videos; Crocker gained international fame from his viral video tearfully defending Britney Spears's "lackluster MTV comeback" with over four million views in two days. Do you agree with him? Forgive me, but it doesn't really matter. Customers continue to prove drive and be in charge of their media, engagements, and develop a real relationship. Examine the declining CTR's display ads are facing, dwindling budgets, or the dismal stock market. And after wiping a tear examine either's current condition and that should justify evolving a marketing strategy.

Crocker's detractors and critics have accused him of narcissism, melodramatics, histrionics, and using Spears' personal shortcomings to bolster his own fame. Goodness, thank goodness marketing tactics today could never be comparable. Or how about all the noble political advertising about to hit the hair-waves this fall? You can disagree with either each candidate's policies but their official social, net and e-mail based remarks significantly more coherent than the crap you see being delivered in all other traditional media. TV is by far the least credible source of objective information. Online, the views put forth from each party and each party's candidate possess some degree of backup. Disagree? That's fine. But after you read them you can at least understand their POV is more than just a sound-byte.

It reminds me of John L. Mariotti rationale why his company will ever use social media. As President and CEO of The Enterprise Group, his well-written thought-piece, Ten Reasons I Won't Use Social Media Sites on why businesses aren't ready to drink the Kool-aid on social media sites on SmallBusinessTrends.com makes a peculiarly bewildering statement that "Real business people realize that this social networking trend is superficial. True relationships may originate in email or other similar venues, but must become personal and not electronic to be of meaningful value."


(Please click on photo for Small Business Trends article.)

John, in an open question format, can you really state with all honesty that TV, still the dominant force in all media and often referred to as, "a vast wasteland" reflects a quality environment watched by the highly educated consumers? Hummmm... to me that is flat-out denial. Really oblivious business people may realize this is only a trend.

Crocker is accused of insincerely acting in his "Leave Britney Alone," although has insisted that it was a genuine "blog from the heart." The stacking evidence is crashing on us to become more active and social. As marketers and business professionals, we can no longer ignore the marketing revolution occurring right before our eyes. Check out this social media piece on SlideShare. There is nothing insincere about it.

Adhering to age-old methods are fine to keep everyone feeling safe and secure that their brand names are being....uhhh... seen? Why or how did the decline of the banner happen? One could say overuse of display ads has led to saturation and desensitization as to cause the near flat-line response rate and diminishing ad budgets as of late. Too much of a good thing? Perhaps, because it's easy to explain, easy to grasp, easy to build and buy, and hmmm....now it's no longer easy to sell. The future really will be more about consolidating technology platforms, efficiency of time, keeping it real, and building real relationships. Business and marketing professionals must embrace how people want to be spoken to, treated, and heard. Shifting the internet industry's thinking and trying new tactics is doable for some and threatening to others. Yet the internet is still only a teenager and hopefully not as defiant.


(Please click on photos for Chris's videos.)

Seth Green's lampooning of the Chris Crocker video is one example of a time-honored marketing principle; being a "fast follower." He has since distanced himself from it, but there is no question it gained him an enormous amount of publicity. Disney certainly thought so. Let the other guy test their marketing budget away until they go broke or find something that works. Once they hit gold, copy-cat your way to profits. Nobless oblige is for landed gentry. Not for brand whose shareholders don't care how you meet quarterly dividends.

Here are some insightful thought-pieces that illuminate the same principles of personality so well used by Crocker that uniquely fit their own brand's personality as Chris's does his. They provide "how to" insights and are worth reading and taking notes from:

Great HOWS:

1. 50 Ways Marketers Can Use Social Media to Improve Their Marketing

2. "Building a Community with Social Media and Web 2.0 - A Cisco Product Launch Case Study":

3. 12 Essential Tips

4. Revenge of the Nerds, A Smarter Social Strategy

5. Pewter's Internet Activities Report

6. How to use social media tools to achieve Web 20 optimization


(Please click on photos for Chris's videos.)

Great WHY's:

1. Why You Should Care About Social Media

2. Don't LOL, Social Ads Rev-Up Revenue

3. Social Media: Back to Basics for Cash Bonanza

SMM is an engaging and entertaining media format. Shy of being voted funniest super bowl ad, SMM is effective. Try it and you'll see. This strategist is neck deep in SMM and mobile now. No looking back to display-only campaigns for me. However, I do look forward to the day Chris Crocker does appear on a panel. I'll follow his example and get all dolled up for the occasion!


Shea Park is President and Founder of Ad-Spark and has served the internet advertising industry since 1996. Shea Park is a life-long entrepreneur, with 20 years of business management experience, a 12 year veteran of internet marketing, and writer. Ad-Spark.com specializes in customer acquisition and retention strategies, internet marketing and training. She can be reached at Shea@ad-spark.com.

MACVIDEONY Creative Work

Hey Google, Save the Curbs

Next-Gen Mobile Carrier: Magee

Sarah Fay in wwwLand, Parts 1 thru 3.

Alan Chapell Goes Public on Privacy, Parts 1-3.

800 lb Gorilla Fandango Makes Noise at App Planet

Agency Rich Media Lovers Boogie as Palm Gets "Flash-y"

Churchill @ the Mobile UpFront

Google's Buzz Gets Stoned @ the WMC

Don't Go Into the Bathroom!