September 10-13, 2006  |  Lake Las Vegas, Nevada
Published: November 10, 2006
Podcast: Social Media & UGC

The Upstream Group's president and Cymfony's Jim Nail discuss strategies for involving users in marketing without sacrificing the brand.

According to the latest numbers from Nielsen//NetRatings, the audience for social networking sites grew to 68.8 million as of April 2006. That's a one-year jump of 47 percent from 46.8 million in April 2005. Now that social networking and video-sharing websites have gained mass audiences, advertising spending in this arena has skyrocketed. The opportunity is not just limited to banner advertising on MySpace or creating a brand profile on Facebook.

For example, the power of consumer creativity was reflected in the recent hit viral video of two men creating geysers with Diet Coke and Mentos (when combined, they spark a liquid explosion). Despite the popularity, Coke representatives told The Wall Street Journal that it was "entertaining," but didn't "fit with the brand personality."

As a result, Coke presented its websites, and, as brand destinations where consumers could showcase their creativity. Visitors to took part in "The Coke Show," monthly challenges to test their creativity.

Coke invited users to submit short videos, but they were not limited to creating ads or odes to the brand. Instead, Coke asked for 45-second video expressions of "the essence of you." Visitors would rate submissions and a group of professional filmmakers judged the top 10.

"We give the structure, we try to give the guidance, but we're looking for consumers to fill it with content that's relevant to them rather than us talking to them," said representative Andras Kallos.

This iMedia Brand Summit session addressed the following:

  • How can brands participate in this highly engaging environment without disrupting the user experience?
  • How can brands be assured that the user-generated content they are associated with is clean and relevant to their brand's values?

Note: Our podcast theme was written by Derek K. Miller. Visit him online at

Special Note: This presentation included a PowerPoint slideshow that is available at the iMedia Brand Summit, September 10-13, 2006 presentation archive. Download it here.


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Speaker(s): Doug Weaver, President of Upstream Group; Jim Nail, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Cymfony, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA)

Format: 49:57, 45.7 MB, MP3