Thursday, June 2, 2011

Flash Mobs and Other Corporate Rituals

     Question: What do you get when you mix break dancers, drummers, a Broadway show tune and a bewildered crowd?  

     Answer: You get a snazzy taste of the big apple and some instant street cred for a major financial corporation. Check out this YouTube video:

     As you probably noticed, the sponsor is Wells Fargo. The company has its own YouTube channel. The video you just saw is less than two months old and it's already been viewed1,455,019 times. I'm not sure that counts as going viral. But nearly one and a-half million people have seen it. And when they see it they see "Wells Fargo". It's a nice trick when you get that many people to your site where they see the invitation below:

Welcome to the Wells Fargo YouTube channel  
Here, you can learn a bit about our history, browse recent TV commercials, watch informative product videos or view highlights from our recent events.

Also, be sure to check out our blogs, covering everything from student loans to environmental sustainability:

Or ask us your questions by following us on Twitter:

     There are lots of other videos from Wells Fargo on YouTube. And a lot of them are in Spanish. That's a blog for another day. The main point is that people who watch the videos are engaged. Here are a couple of random comments.

"Hundreds wondered where their trashcans went...."

"That was terrific and enjoyed every minute of it. Those young people were outstanding and congratulate you on this video."

"Who cares who paid for it, it's pretty cool to see a group get together and put on a free show in the middle of the street like that.
Looked like everyone there watching enjoyed it, and isn't that what it's all about?"

     Oh sure, there are negative comments too. Some people don't like Wells Fargo. Or they don't think this performance qualifies as a true "Flash Mob". But so what? As I said, the video is engaging people and they're generally associating Wells Fargo with a fun, feel-good event.

     I know a lot of PR professionals don't believe in social media. There is confusing and conflicting data on how effective social media is as a communications tool. I'm not certain how good it is or might become. But even if SM is just a fad it can still be good great exposure for your company and/or clients. And what if it's not a fad? What if this really IS the big communication/marketing platform for the next 10-20 years? Companies that miss the boat may have that sinking feeling for a long time to come.
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