Custom Digital Marketing, Social & Interactive Media Consulting

106 & hack'd

Back in mid-February 2013 (i know, try to remember back that far), on the heels of the (very public) hackings of the Burger King and Jeep Twitter feeds, Viacom siblings MTV and BET appeared to be the next corporate Twitter profile victims.
To recap:

Burger King's Twitter feed touted the sale of the fast food chain to rival McDonald's, complete with a McDonald's avatar and header image. While under the control of the hackers, BK's feed included obscenities, racial epithets and drug-use references.

Similarly, Jeep's Twitter feed touted the sale of the Chrysler division to Cadillac. Much like the BK/McD fiasco, Jeep's feed included vulgar tweets and references to drug use while under the hacker's control.
However, all was not lost for Burger King - their Twitter account gained over 30,000 followers while being run by the hackers.

It's likely that stat, combined with the publicity generated by such public hacks, that prompted MTV and BET to give it a whirl.

They decided to fake-hack each other.

They gave it all the appearances of the previous hacks, switching avatar images, changing names and bios to reflect being "hacked" while peppering the Twitter feeds with unusual/out of character tweets (often promoting something from the "hacking" network).

MTV and BET mocked those who "fell for it" by retweeting them.

But something didn't smell right to members of the Twittersphere.

The "hacker" tweets were merely friendly digs at the "hackee" … and both MTV and BET are members of the Viacom family.

Turns out, it was all a joke (using quite a broad definition of the word "joke"). It was a PR stunt cooked up by the social media teams of MTV and BET.

Folks were not amused.

For example:


Others joined in, ripping MTV and BET for such a "lame" stunt, for a weak attempt to "stay relevant" and essentially asking to be hacked (for real) by using a fake hack as a publicity stunt.

Never one to let a comedic opportunity pass him by, Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, threw his hat in the ring, running a story about the BK hack (that it gained followers) and the MTV/BET PR stunt. To skewer the practice, in turn mocking his own parent company (Comedy Central is also a member of the Viacom family), Colbert faked his Twitter feed (@StephenatHome) being hacked by fellow Viacom property VH1 Classic.


The entire bit served to highlight the absurdity of the stunt, and how ridiculous MTV and BET looked for doing it.

The take-away lesson here - Be Authentic.

Trying to 'pull a fast one' or 'get one over' on people is frowned upon in Internetland. Usually that is reserved just for those that vigorously try to hide the fact that something is fake. BET and MTV fessed up to the stunt after just a couple of hours, and they were still taken to task for faking their hack. In trying to be 'cool and edgy' by manufacturing their relevance with a Twitter hack, MTV and BET only showed how out of touch they are, how much they don't 'get it.'


Hunger Gaming for iMedia Gangnam Style

This may be over-simplifying things a bit, but there seems to be two opposing yet effective schools of thought when it comes to iMedia, in particular utilization of social media:

  • The ‘Gangnam Style’ school of thought, generally referred to as viral marketing. The idea being to catch lighting in a bottle, have your content ‘go viral’ and ride that attention as long as you can, using it as a springboard to launch further efforts

With The Hunger Games (THG) approach, there is (obviously) a greater amount of control. Under the THG approach, organizations take an active role in shaping the conversation and the arena where the conversation takes place. When an organization is active in the process, the odds that positive results will be realized, and be measureable, are greatly increased.

Another part of the THG approach is planning – extensive planning. Determining and analyzing your audience, defining the overall objective of the strategy as well as specific goals you hope to attain, planning your content in some form of an editorial calendar, determining what (and how) you are going to measure and track to determine what works vs. what doesn’t – all are things that have to be considered and accounted for under the THG approach. The upside being that going in with clear goals, defined objectives, a content schedule and a plan to track and measure success/ROI, you can structure the conversation in such a way to increase the odds of success. In short, as the saying goes – if you fail to plan, plan to fail.

The drawback to the THG school of thought is that it is resource-intensive. Going through the process of planning, implementing, measuring, tweaking and executing your social plan takes time – time you have to be willing to spend to make sure you do your social plan effectively. As I have always said, iMedia used ineffectively and incorrectly can be just as damaging as not using it at all, so be sure to invest the necessary time to effectively execute the THG approach.

Aside from the time investment, to successfully execute the THG approach, it takes (to borrow a line from Liam Neeson’s character in Taken), “a very particular set of skills.” A deep knowledge and understanding of the social space – the platforms involved, how to effectively leverage each tool to maximize the benefits – is critical to giving your execution of the THG approach the best odds of success.

Even executing the THG approach, with all the planning and scheduling and crafting, there is one catch – you cannot control 100% of what goes on in the social space. The nature of iMedia and social media is right there in their names – it’s interactive and social. But playing that active role, having plans in place for executing your social efforts, even having crisis management protocol in place is essential. Going into the social space prepared, having a clear plan and clear vision for what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it, exponentially increases your odds of positive results and greater ROI.

On the flip side, there is the ‘Gangnam Style’ (GS) school of thought. Often talked about in terms of getting something to go “viral,” the idea is to catch lightning in a bottle, create a piece of content that is instantly spreadable and sticky – people are apt to share it and people remember it. Much like the song Gangnam Style from Korean artist PSY, following the GS school of thought means implementing content that is catchy, people want to share it, and it crosses cultural/socio-economic/geographic borders (appeals to and can be appreciated by a wide and varied audience).

The upside to the GS school of thought is that it’s the social space itself that essentially does the marketing and promotion for you. It is the members of the online community that share your content and link to it, spreading it around and expanding your content’s reach. If your content happens to find itself at the intersection of “spreadability” and “stickiness,” at the corner of pop culture and the societal zeitgeist, you’ve hit the Internet jackpot – views, hits, visits, links, mentions and retweets will come in fast and furious, possibly alongside main stream media mentions. The buzz and excitement that is generated around you and your thing is something that cannot be bought, and you can ride that wave to limitless possibilities. If (and that is a big if) you can catch the lighting, the recognition/awareness factor is exponential.

The drawback is it is extremely hard to pull off. It is nearly impossible to know the mix of ingredients that will make a successful GS school of thought strategy. As much as some social media ‘gurus’ like to tell you there is a universal formula for the GS school of thought strategy, there really isn’t. You can examine content that has gone viral, pick up some common elements, get a rough outline of GS suggestions, but that is likely about as close as you can get. Try too hard, plugging your content into a viral formula, trying to create that lighting in the bottle instead of catching it, and the social space will see right through your fabrication efforts.

The best GS-based strategies are no strategies at all. They happen organically, they happen naturally. You put your content out there and set it free. Whether it goes “gangnam” or not is up to your target clientele, the audience and the social community as a whole.

The Hunger Games style vs. Gangnam Style – the choice is yours. Meticulously plan, measure, schedule and construct each piece of your strategy or do something a little bit off-the-wall and wait to see what happens. Mix them both or do nothing at all for that matter. No matter what, the power and reach of social and iMedia must be leveraged in some way, shape or form so as to not get left behind in the race for more customers and ultimately more revenue. But, it must be done properly or you may end up doing more harm than good.


All-Star iMedia Integration

I wanted to highlight some excellent iMedia integration from SPEED and and their coverage of the 2011 Sprint All-Star Race. SPEED has their on-air personalities tweeting and interacting with fans, a Facebook contest, and photo updates. has the Miss Sprint Cup trio interacting with fans on RaceBuddy. Nice incorporation of Facebook and Twitter chat, integration with streaming video - great use of the technology to enhance the race coverage.

The SPEED Social Tracker

RaceBuddy on


The Value of iMedia

Here are a few hard stats -- in an easy-to-digest video format -- demonstrating the value behind iMedia and what it can do for you.

These come to us courtesy of our friends at Socialnomics

(if the embedded videos don’t happen to work, click on the title to go to YouTube and watch)

Social Media Revolution 2 (refresh)

Social Media ROI : Socialnomics

Like what you see? Contact us today at The iMedia Playbook and have one of our iMedia coaches help you develop your personalized playbook today!

Opening Up The Playbook - iMedia Isn't Just for Sports

If you have been following The iMedia Playbook from the very beginning, you know it started out as a master’s capstone project, outlining how sports franchises can effectively utilize interactive media.

I as explored the realm of interactive media more, it became obvious to me that every business, organization and brand has a use for this stuff. Being an avid sports fan, I focused on sports for my project, but this is a viable idea and an urgent need for anyone trying to market themselves in this day and age.

So, as the title suggests, I am opening up the playbook, expanding my focus to ... well ... everything and everyone. Any organization -- from the mom-and-pop corner store to the multinational corporation, from the non-profit charity to the sports franchise -- can utilize interactive media to grow their fan base and their business.

So, while the site may still be decked out in sports decor, and our title may still be playbook, our reach and our focus goes far beyond the playing field. Think of it like SportClips -- while the name and the decor may be sports-centric, we do way more than that and we cater to anyone and everyone.

Every organization can benefit from an interactive media playbook. Contact us today and let one of our coaches draw up a custom playbook for you.

Welcome to newly expanded and more comprehensive The iMedia Playbook.

Rookie Season, Rookie Mistake: Launching The iMedia Playbook

In travel, theme parks and restaurants, it’s called a “soft open” or “soft launch.” You open the doors to the public without formally announcing the opening. It’s a disaster-check of sorts; a chance to work out all the kinks and potential problems before the formal launch or opening later.

That is the approach I took when it came to launch this new venture, The iMedia Playbook. Not officially open for business, I approached a single client just to give my ideas a test drive -- to see how they fly out in the real world.

Since I knew the coach, I approached the softball program at the local university. In hindsight, probably not the most ideal choice as a test client for TiMP’s soft launch, but I did learn a valuable lesson:

Pick a client that actually needs what you are offering
Since my client of choice, a university softball team, is part of a larger athletics department, many of the ideas and strategies I was bringing to the table were already being handled in house.

Yet, all was not lost. Since I was unable to ramp up much of what I intended TiMP to offer, my soft launch exercise became one of observation. I became a scout, taking notes on everything I could, learning as much as possible by watching how the university athletic department utilized interactive media platforms. Use of streaming video, social media, blogs, images and standard video were all pieces of a larger media, marketing and exposure strategy.

I did also use the opportunity to tinker with a few projects on my own. I travelled to an away game in the area to take photographs and record audio for what became three slideshows, complete with a soundtrack. I assembled a trio of Flash pieces for possible use in a fundraising campaign for a new softball complex. I took the opportunity to attend home games, observing how the streaming video feed of the game was coupled with play-by-play for those watching on their computers. I followed the Twitter account and friended the Facebook page to see how those platforms were utilized as part of the overall strategy.

All in all, it was still a successful soft launch. Although I was not able to ‘test out all the features’ The iMedia Playbook had to offer with this inaugural client, the information I gathered watching the ideas and theories in action was extremely valuable. The scouting report I compiled watching the university athletics department leverage the interactive media technologies will serve as a valuable resource for the future of The iMedia Playbook.

OT -- As an added bonus, the softball team won the conference championship for the first time, earning a berth in the NCAA tournament. This only added to the comprehensiveness of the scouting report, getting to see how the interactive media technologies were utilized during a championship run. Plus, I’ll admit, it’s exciting to follow a team during a championship season -- I am still a sports fan after all.