User Generated Beverages – What Can we learn from DewMocracy?

In December I attended the reception* for the Mountain Dew Dewmocracy event, and learned how Mountain Dew was using its fans to help pick a new flavor (or several new flavors) of the beverage. Personally, I love the idea of asking your customers what they want from a product and giving it to them. It is often the way products are made, but in this day of mass market and focus group watering down of the message, I liked that Dew went out to their fans and actually made them work for the product they want – that should ensure good adoption when the release the soda later this year.

The intent from the start was to activate Mountain Dew’s most rabid fans, the people that live the “Mountain Dew lifestyle” all the time, and get them to participate in creating the flavor, color, name, and creative for this drink. Mountain Dew took a flavor sample truck to 17 markets and found fans in those areas to test the 7 sample flavors, make video posts and document their experiences, and invite their friends. 50 fanatics from this process got home tasting kits, invited their friends and documented the experience on an included Flip video camera. Once they got that input, Mountain Dew created their own social network of 4000 core fans, and got them involved teaching them how the flavors were designed, picking the color of the drinks, the names of the drinks and even creating test graphic treatments and advertisements for the drinks, some of which you can see at http://12seconds.tv/campaign/dewmocracy.

Ultimately, it comes down to sales, so in April when the product hits the shelves, the 3 flavor ‘teams’ will get their friends to vote for their favorite, which becomes part of the line with a launch on Labor Day in 2010. The fans will design the launch campaign as well.
While this won’t be the first Social Media Community Designed beverage (that honor seems to go to Vitamin Water Connect), Dew’s effort did more to involve more fans, and had voting or fan participation at every stage, up until the launch.

This campaign has so many good marketing elements to it, so here are some lessons for your future marketing. (There are probably more elements I’m missing.)
Brand Loyalty: Showing fans you care and asking them to tell you the next product generates interest – especially among your most rabid fans.
Social Sharing: Use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and 12 Seconds.TV and more got fans voting and promoting the entire effort.
Word of Mouth: The name contest required votes and followers on Twitter (see http://twitter.com/509Cyclone for an example). Many of these accounts got 500 or more followers in just a few days. These people had to make a little effort to vote, and share with their friends. And the accounts interacted back with their fans.
User Generated Content: The 12 Seconds TV effort generated a number of very clever spots watched by hundreds or thousands of people.
PR: I’m writing about a soda I don’t even drink (since I’m decaffeinated.) They have a good story to tell the press.

Ultimately, though, we’ll see how many sales rack up with the 3 test flavors, and whether “everyone gets a trophy” (they release all 3) or whether they keep one for launch on Labor Day.  I’m Interested in knowing how this ends. What else can we learn from efforts like this?

*Disclaimer: I was invited to the reception by Porter Novelli and Pepsico friends, but received no compensation for this blog post (other than a few hors d’oeuvres and some Mountain Dew samples at the reception.)
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Why You should Follow Drew Carey on Twitter

The Livestrong wristband
Image via Wikipedia

If you haven’t seen Drew Olanoff and Drew Carey on CNN, – watch it now.

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 05: (L-R) Models Rachel...
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If you don’t have time to watch, here’s the short version:

  • Go to Twitter.
  • Follow DrewFromTV – Drew Carey of The Price Is Right, Whose Line is it Anyway, The Drew Carey Show, etc.
  • Drew Carey will donate $1 because you followed him. Ultimately he’s promised LiveStrong Foundation up to 1 Million Dollars – $1 for each Twitter Follower.

Just follow the guy, help reach a $1 Million donation. More info at http://www.milliondollardrew.com . If you don’t even have a Twitter account, this is a reason to get one.

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Support the New York Twestival

TwestivalAmbassador

I’m proud to announce that I’ve been asked to be an “ambassador” for the New York Twestival. I’m hoping to see you at the Twestival on Saturday, September 12th, at Brooklyn Bowl. Tickets are still only $20 for a limited time.

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Image via Wikipedia

BUT, What’s a “Twestival” you ask?

From the Global Twestival Site:

A Twestival or Twitter-Festival is a global series of events organized by volunteers around the world under short timescales, which bring people offline for a great cause.  Twestival is run 100% by volunteers and independently from any not-for-profit; although the organizing teams do work closely to outline an achievable and measurable fundraising target.  Twestival also sets out to identify key skills of volunteers and match these with the needs of the cause; particularly communications strategy, tech integration and social media training.  Twestival Local takes place in cities around the world : 10-13 September 2009.

The first Global Twestival raised money for Charity:Water.

In New York, Twestival will benefit CampInteractive, a local non-profit that empowers at-risk, inner-city youth through the inspiration of the outdoors and the creative power of technology. In otherwords, they take kids, teach them to use digital tools, take them on outdoor adventures and let the chronicle the events. Then the kids come back and create slide shows, videos, and other media. See their Sailing Adventure for an example. Seems like a great way to teach new skills and digital literacy, as well as story telling, as well as getting kids outdoors and away from home for the summer. I can’t wait to meet the CampInteractive people and learn more, as I show off my incredibly bad bowling skillz at Twestival on September 12th. Hey, I’m taking one for the team by bowling, so you can show up and support the cause!

See you there?

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Podcamp Philly – my Sessions on Twitter and Old and New Media

I am really enjoying Podcamp Philly this year. Besides getting a chance to reconnect with Whitney Hoffman of LD Podcast, Mark and Jennifer from the culinary media network, Chris Penn from the Financial Aid Podcast, Mark Blevis, Matthew Ebel, (and a host of others that are now mad at me for not calling them out directly.)

In my session on “Twitter: Are we all just drinking the Kool Aid?” we explored the strawman notion that Twitter, even with about 2MM users, is only an early adopter tool that isn’t really worth the time people and brands are investing in it. Through discussion (with a very Twitter-heavy crowd) we helped several non-twitter users discover the potential value they’d find using Twitter. We heard stories of people finding answers, getting brand feedback, and we even had 2 people who had courted, and gotten engaged over Twitter.

In my discussion on “What Old Media can teach New Media” (which I usually run with Dean Landsman like we did at Social Media Camp NY), I had a great question and insight – As we discussed how one media tends not to replace the next one, but to cause it to change (as TV did to radio), someone asked about Enterprise 2.0. He noted that he’s trying to get people to adopt some of the new Enterprise 2.0 tech, but that they’re not replacing, say, Email, as the way people share information. We discussed how companies like Lotus added SameTime and MS has enterprise IM because of this. We discussed a few ways about how to get people to understand this “one doesn’t replace the other” situation and how to introduce things slowly and get adoption.

Finally, from Twitter: @KaraLaFleur: @howardgr talking about how web teams are the unrecognized rockstsrs if ad firms – & how that needs to change based on how pol use media.

Yes, we discussed how, if you’re going to talk Social Media with Advertisers, you have to know how they buy traditional media, because you may be teaching them a new paradigm (“ROI=Return on Influence vs. Reach and Frequency buy, for example). Speak to them in their language, and help them understand.

The event was well run, and the crowd was good as well. Thanks, Philly.

My article on Twitter at INC Startup Blog

Start Up: A Twitter Success Story (How to Use Twitter as a Marketing Strategy)

Chances are, if you’re not an early adopter type, you may not have heard of Twitter, the online community that is a kind of instant-messaging social network. Users send updates of up to 140 character (about 2 sentences) out to their followers–people who choose to receive their messages–and read the messages of those they follow.

Read the rest at INC’s Startup Blog.