Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Spoof this!

Granted, I watch too much T.V., which is why I derive a lot of marketing inspiration from television programs, for better or worse. I happen to be a big fan of the Discovery Channel, and I particularly like the shows Dirty Jobs, It Takes a Thief, MythBusters, and generally anything narrated by Mike Rowe. Last night, I watched a Discovery show consisting entirely of viewer-created videos called You Spoof Discovery (also hosted by mikerowe!). What I liked about this special is that Discovery could poke fun at itself (as the ads state, "Discovery Channel discovered its sense of humor"). The shows are the Discovery's bread-and-butter, but it still allowed viewers a forum for having some fun with them. There's also a message board where viewers can chat about the spoofs. Even the individual fan sites like this Dirty Jobs one, for example, allow viewers to get involved by talking to the host, posting programming ideas, and reacting to episodes through their discussion boards. Discovery leads off the discussion board with this statement:

"Discovery Channel is a huge fan of message boards — it's not only your chance to talk to us and each other, but it's also our chance to communicate with you and to hear your ideas."
This is a good example of open-source marketing in practice. Here, Discovery lets viewers have a say in the product (the shows), facilitates community-building (letting viewers talk to each other in a company-sponsored forum), and builds relationships between viewers and the talent (mikerowe! - Did I mention I was a fan?).

Librarians can learn a thing or two from this example. Our profession is rife with stereotypes and misperceptions. Why not make fun of them and get patrons in on the act? Rather than try to ignore or get huffy about the things in our profession that are irritating, let's engage those nuisances through our patron communities and open discussions.

Update: I wrote a post on the KnowThis.com Marketing Blog today on the topic of social media and marketing that fits with this discussion. I propose some ways in which marketers can interact with customers in these venues. You may also be interested in the free social media PR templates I mention offered by Shift Communcations. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how, when, and why we librarians should use social media marketing.

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