Saturday, February 3, 2007

Just Some Silly Kids in Costumes. Right? Part 2

Everyday, thousands of videos, ranging from corporate training initiatives to Hollywood film trailers to dogs wearing outfits while knitting with grandmothers, are posted online. For the most part, that is the end of their journey. Their creators have made it to the show, but they have no real intent of going anywhere beyond where the couple of emails to friends might take it.

With BEARvsCOLT, our goals were very different, and several strategic initiatives were made to build a diverse audience, encourage them to help spread the word, and keep them returning for more.

We chose to utilize many popular web-based tools and applications, as well as some we created on our own. No one piece of the puzzle held all of the answers, but each worked together to bring more attention to the project, allow visitors to engage in different ways, and extend their experience throughout the week and across many sites.

The site itself is simple. It’s a player that allows us to post a new video every day. The videos are the main attraction, and a commitment has been made to keeping them unbiased. After all, the site poses a direct question and allows visitors to vote for their “side”. In just 5 days, more than 70,000 votes have been cast. It is this voting feature that has truly brought fans back time and again to support their team and help determine the winner of the final episode. The single most surprising aspect of this entire project has been the consistency of the voting. Each team has taken significant leads, but for the most part, it has been a dead heat. As I write, Colt leads by a score of 36,540 to 36,539. Unbelievable.

Rather than keeping the content exclusive to, we chose to publish it on YouTube and MySpace. Fans were asked to “friend” their favorite character (BEAR or COLT) on MySpace, which not only allowed us to open two-way dialogue with our audience (and let them know when their team was falling behind), but also allowed them an easy, comfortable forum for spreading the word and pointing more people our direction. Also, Bear and Colt were able to update and alert their “Friends” when they needed help with voting, share photos they had taken in between videos, or announce when a new video adventure had been posted online. Hearing the backstory, as well as the genuine angst straight from the characters, riled fans to the point of sending messages to the rival character to tell them what they really thought.

As the presence increased on blogs and as MySpace “Friends” reached into the thousands, an innovative widget was created that allowed fans to embed a real-time scoreboard on their site to track the exact score between Bear and Colt. Even better—people vote directly from that widget and register a vote just like if they were at Feel free to cast your own absentee ballot:

Voting will continue until kickoff, at which time we'll be able to finish the edit of the final episode and announce the real winner to the world. Next time, I'll let you know who won, and some of the specific places where we have people talking about these silly kids in costumes.

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