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Monday, October 19, 2009

The Six Mantras for Internet

This article is edited version of article produced at PFC. I am producing it without any permission. For original and detail version, click this:

This desire to keep things “exclusive” on the Internet beats me especially when it comes to a movie promo. The whole idea of promoting is to ensure as many people see it. There’s a false sense that their promos are so exclusive, the stars so saleable that people will start streaming into any site that is created. Here are the mantras of Internet and making your website popular:

1. The Internet is NOT a Private Property:

e-Commerce website was built was quite slick and much ahead of it’s time, featuring a downloadable software. Like every fantastic tool we had built ahead of time for the company, but no one had a clue hardly any usage of this website tool. After launch of the website, there was a certain spike in the number of customers using downloadable software. The initial adopters of the tool were so amazed they started talking about it on the various website, chats, message boards and forums. Then download links of the software started appearing on these forums, much to the disdain of company. They did not want this. They wanted the software to be downloaded ONLY from their site. They started demanding all such links be removed from the sites. They were forceful. They got what they wanted. And within a few weeks the number of hits on their site fell sharply. In short they had crushed themselves the chain reaction building towards promoting their very own product.

Why was the software not allowed to be downloaded from anywhere else on the internet? Nobody could have done anything with it except build the component they wanted to and press the order button which would inturn order the component at the client via the internet. Nothing else could be done with it actually and the tool was trademarked, so no competitor could even copy, modify and use it.

The problem lay in thought. Not in the product. The internet is a place to spread it out rather than have a place with tall fences around it. This is a major problem, Shifting the thought and understanding of the internet and how it can be used for gains. As soon as one understands that the Internet is a public arena and cannot be treated as a private property, the quicker, major companies have noticed the gains that follow. The shift in their understanding brings in a drastic change in action plans & strategies.

Everyone wants a “chain reaction”, “a buzz” for their product. That will never happen until your basic understanding of the internet shifts from “I own it” to “It is free for everyone to use”. Companies hesitate to allow their products for everyone to use with thinking "It is MINE", Ofcourse it is. But to get people to use your product, you can’t lock down the various promotions, news, items, materials etc. and treat EVEN THOSE as your private property online. You have to let these out and loosen them free on the Internet.

2. It is NOT “All for One” BUT “One for All” :

Each of these companies in Bollywood wants all Internet surfers to come to them (All for one). Unless and until you are a Google or MSN or Yahoo, you can’t expect (and it is almost criminal to think thus), that the world will come to your website to watch what you have to offer (All for One). The Internet is much more sophisticated and effortless for people to follow this line of thought.

Rather the flow of the product, information has to flow from inside out – to everyone out there on the Internet. The Internet is other words should be visualized as the “infinite”. Every web-surfer has developed and sunk into their own ways and methods of surfing the Internet and visiting the sites they want to. If in this environment you introduce the process of “forcing them” to come your site for the information you want to provide, rather than making it freely available at the sites of their convenience, you will lose them before you can say KaBoom. Every blog, site or community group has it’s hardcore fan base. Your “All for One” policy is a direct negative action to make them come to your site. in direct touch or even be able to identify their core audience.

It doesn’t work. Not in terms of hits. Which you “may” get, but in terms of actually being able to identify and forecast how your film’s sales via the Internet audience will be. Tragically statistics will never be discussed by your web developers and Flow and spread your information out. Restricting it only will result in barring your very probable targeted consumers.

3- Your website will never work like Instant Coffee:

Be ready with your website much before Product or event expected to release. Every company wanted the website to attract maximum visitors online, so everyone would come to know about his product/movie or event. Your website will get dismal hits and have no impact on the finacial profit however beautiful, flashy and truckloads of money you pour into it – if you are going live within less than a substantial time before release date of your product/ event.

How will you get web surfers to visit your site?
Perhaps by advertising, perhaps by putting banners on other websites, perhaps sending a media kit to the media to talk about it – Notice what has happened here – your focus has instantly shifted from your movie to promoting your website. Bad idea again!

Do you know that the maximum of movie website DO NOT have more than a 1000 total visitors! And even an average blogger worth his salt writing a few times a week gets a 1000 visitors within a few hours each day! And above all the blogger didn’t spend a dime to create his site!!!

It takes 3 – 5 weeks for a search engine crawlers to search and get your site on their radar. The crawls become less and less the less frequently your website is updated. The crawls become negligible once your movie has released and now you are not doing ANYTHING on the website.

Go to Google or Yahoo or any search engine of your preference. Type in the name of the movie. Click Enter.

Now watch the results. On what darn page of the search results does your website show up? And which are the sites which come up before you, specially those which get listed on pages one and two.

What does this mean? Even the search engines do not consider your website important rather they prefer those sites which have more material, more content, much more updates about YOUR movie.

So what does this mean? Where did we go wrong? Well, it means you are not aware or were not told by those building your website that you build your hits- you attract new people to your site primarily through search engines – for free! And that will never happen in a few weeks.

The internet should not be treated like Instant coffee – snap – you make it. snap. you have it. It’s a ridiculous misconception. The one question though nobody asks at such web site discussion meetings is HOW? How will people on the internet become AWARE of the website? Is it realistically possible to get a million or half a million people to come visit and interact instantly? A safe answer is no. Unless you are Digged a thousand times or someone has Stumbled Upon your site a few hundred times. (refer Digg, Stumble Upon on the Internet)…

4- The Fanboys are your best friends. If not, let your product/event R.I.P. :

A few years ago, a blogger in the USA mentioned something about a movie which was about to start production. It was a funny blog. A couple of other bloggers and websites picked it up. Then a few more bloggers picked that story up from those sites. It started a chain reaction. A few websites started a contest ‘What is the story of this movie?’. A few bloggers started a comic strip. A few sites even started contests like the Funniest comment on the movie for the week.

Over a million sites and blogs were talking about the movie. And the producers had not yet spent a single dime on the marketing!!! A year later the movie released. One million fanboys converged to watch the movie in its opening weekend. Some found it real good B grade stuff. Some found it bad. Almost all agreed it wasn’t a classic, yet it was a real fun to go and watch it.

The movie was Snakes on a Plane. And it was successful purely because of the fanboys.
Which means the producers actually snipped the pipeline which was supplying them with customers and more potential ticket buyers. But at the end of it all, it was found that the hits on the producers’ created website was less than 3% of the fan’s site. few blogs being built by those who follow his work and who diligently are collecting every piece of information available online to plug it into their website. There is a lack of punch. But just a little bit of grease can set the wheels rolling. These are your messengers who will spread the word about your movie. These are the people who have websites or discussion boards or blogs, which are in turn visited by a few hundred to a million visitors each day. This is your dream. Connect with your fans. Identify your markets. Connect with them and inturn you will connect with each of the fans who visit those sites and over and over…

5. Your Website Developer is NOT your Web Strategy Advisor:

Your website developing company IS NOT the expert on planning your internet promotion strategy and neither is your marketing team who handles the traditional forms of marketing for your movie. There are many people I know (many on a personal level) working as CEOs, VPs, Brand Strategists, Marketing managers… that are so easily confused over this, having a quite common misconception that – the company building the website, for their brand or product, is the go-to-guy for receiving expertise on Internet promotions and marketing. web developer’s expertise lies in building the best website for you that suits your needs and demands. The developer should not, under any circumstance be handling the critical and foundational responsibility of building the internet marketing strategy. Website Development and Website Strategy are two entirely different things.

A developer builds a hundred odd websites a year. He is and should not be concerned over the success or failure of the website built (unless there is a technical coding angle to it). Whereas an Internet Marketing Specialist follows and track thousands of websites every single week, keeping tabs on new products and brands launched, the strategies behind them, their impact, trends, hits, demographics, identifying the core audience for each site amongst a million other data points.they can convince you to build a site with a million features even if at times there is be no need for all those features!
Your Internet strategy needs to be laid down BEFORE the shooting of the movie has even begun. NOT three weeks before the movie’s release. What Bollywood has not yet got a grip on is that the Internet can be a much cheaper form of creating a buzz for their movies in contrast to the costs for promotion on television and radio. The difference is, it requires time and a few people. And the time begins when the movie is being made, not after it is ready for release.

And that strategical plan is built for you by Internet Marketing Experts or Consultants, not the company that builds your website. Approach a Web Marketing guru much before you decide who will build your website. Not Vice versa.

6. It is not HOW MANY hits, but WHO hit YOU:

And that is the question you should ask yourself and your web team when they produce statistics of the number of hits of your new product’s website or images or stills or blogs. Does this number (of hits) means many people will come to your event or more product will be sold for sure? Does this mean you now have a sure base of X number of customers from online who will go for product/ event.

If your panel says yes, fire them immediately. Just mention “Thank You” behind the check you send me for giving you this valuable advise. What does it all mean?

It is not about the number of hits. But who! Your target – the concentrated base that will read about your movie, event or product and put money in it. The focus is to find your target audience wherever they may be for the movie you would like to promote to. Rather than play a lottery game on portals or sites which offer a high but diluted target, find where your concentrated base is. Those are the sites to go for.

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