State of Florida misses the ‘social’ mark in new video promotion


Good effort…  but the execution is off the mark.

Like every tourist destination in the world, the State of Florida is looking for new ways to attract visitors during tough economic times. They engaged  Spark – a Tampa agency to help them build a ‘social video campaign’ to spread the word and ‘Share a little sunshine.’

The promotion began with the above video which is basically a call to action to all Floridians to help boost tourist trade – an integral part of the Florida economy. So far so good.  {Unfortunately the campaign got off to a bumpy start as many YouTube posts complained that the poster board concept (which goes back to  Bob Dylan’s 1965 Subterranean Homesick Blues Video video) was ‘stolen’ from a very touching YouTube video entitled Mark by Ben – a plea by a Florida boy to help find work for his father.}

A website and promotional campaign was created to encourage keen Floridians to pass along the good word. The website includes one of three commercials – ‘Romance’, ‘family’, ‘friends’ that participants are encouraged to forward with the promise of a chance to win valuable prizes with each new email sent.

 The State missed a huge opportunity here. Offering a prize for emailing these videos to friends and family is a good idea but I don’t think it’s enough. Sure it’s easy to do and sweepstakes and contests will always guarantee a certain amount of interaction. I just don’t believe that the recipients, if they actually watch the commercials, will care. If someone sent me an email with a tourist commercial from their town I may start watching it, but it better be really good, or have a compelling message or story. These videos were obviously created on a very tight budget and certainly don’t reinforce all of the beautiful stereotypes of the Sunshine State. These stereotypes,  (Eiffel Tower, Venetian Canals, Manhattan Skyline, etc.) are one of the main reasons people choose travel destinations. Yes, reminding people of important social hooks (friends, family and romance) is interesting but there is limited direct connection to Florida other than the fact that someone from the state may (or may not) have forwarded it to you.

There is a place for high quality video and a place for lower-budget video. The problem is that the lower quality video better have something else going for it or it won’t get noticed.

A better option would have been to create or purchase a lot of excellent quality b-roll video and encourage Floridians to create their own tourist videos using as much of the supplied high quality b-roll video as they wanted. The uptake might have been more limited but the viral potential for these videos would have been a hundred times greater – as would the impact.

A contest to forward commercials is not a social marketing campaign, it’s a contest – that’s it. Give people the incentives (the contest and the ‘Help support your state’ video) AND give them the tools to create compelling videos with themselves in the video – now you have the potential for some exponential growth in both viewership and impact.

Some videos would be great – especially if you give the people excellent source material to insert in the videos and some would be pretty bad. But even the bad ones would be good because they would have real people in them and these people would want to forward these videos on to their friends and family and their family and friends would want to watch them and forward them on to other people.

Unfortunately, this campaign results in the worst of both worlds – lower budget commercials with limited social uptake.

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