Tuesday, April 19, 2011

O'Brien, Farrell Social Media Genius

Little hazy when I saw it last night, but once again, Conan O'Brien struck social media gold. The concept of encouraging viewers to send in videos when errors are found with the show encourages fantastic buy-in and fan conversion. Having Will Farrell send one in saying the latest mistake was Conan's beard, and that he was showing up May 2 to shave it off on the show sparks a whole new campaign. The Team CoCo twitter feed gets it started today with competing hash tags - #shavethebeard or #savethebeard.

O'Brien's foray into social media may have been a legal accident - NBC's lawyers didn't plug the social media loophole in ins settlement agreement - but Conan is a savvy entertainer and he has figured out the way to go direct it the fans and make a television show into an interactive event. NBC might own some of his classic pre-social media characters and routines - and to be honest, some of the attempts to recreate the characters have been lame - but his continuing run into things like stump the chump video emails, the use of Slash's mugshot for the literal "/" in website addresses,and the week-long world's largest Angry Birds game set to name a few have been perfect.

The takeaway for athletes: look around your department and find the similar character type events. Interaction with mascots, setting up similar video submission contests (Tennessee did a great one here surrounding former men's hoops coach Bruce Pearl), going with games like SCVNGR. The key here is to transcend the screen and interact beyond the old school. We have had great success in this way with CoverItLive blogs, and it has resulted in considerable increase in overall website traffic for the athletic department - measurable ROI over last year and continuing to grow.

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