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Microsoft Goes Viral with the Help of Brickfish – Part Two

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This is the second part of a three-part series about Microsoft and Brickfish teaming up to get the "I’m a PC" campaign all across the Internet. The first part was about the actual campaign and how the two are working together. This part is an interview with Brickfish CEO/President/Co-founder Nichole Goodyear. It mainly focuses on the viral mapping of Brickfish, but it also briefly touches the “I'm a PC” campaign. The next part will be an interview will be with Microsoft's Group Marketing Manager for Digital Marketing (what a mouthful), focusing on this specific campaign, and the probable campaigns in the future, as well as what Microsoft is doing to recapture the college market.

What is your name and position within Brickfish? What exactly does your position entail? Tell us a little about yourself.

Nichole Goodyear, Brickfish president/CEO and co-founder. As CEO and President, I oversee all facets of the company including product management, campaign services, creative services, engineering and daily operations. As the company co-founder, Brickfish represents my seventh career startup. Before Brickfish, I co-founded Pacific Fusion Technologies, Inc., a technology leader that created Web-based portals which interfaced with payroll companies and banking systems for such renowned companies as Disney, Hughes, and several multi-billion dollar financial institutions. I love building a company as much as I like to build and lead teams. When I am out on the road on behalf of the company, they motivate me to give 150% because of their hard work and dedication to our clients and members. There is something energizing and exciting about the thrill of building something from nothing, with a team of people that care so much about what they are working toward.

As the co-founder of Brickfish, can you explain to us how exactly you guys came up with the idea of the site? What sort of thing(s) inspired you to come up with this idea? What do you think is the future of your company?

Speaking as one of the co-founders of the company, the event that inspired the creation of the company was the appearance of social networks online, combined with the loss of effectiveness of traditional advertising and online advertising methods. We could see that there were new opportunities to arm consumers with an easy way to mobilize on the Web and influence their peers regarding their favorite brands. We know that brands have to reach consumers; the inspiration was to take all of the above ingredients and create a recipe for success with Brickfish.

One of our hopes for the future is for brands and advertisers to move past industry resistance and let go of old modes of media advertising solutions. These methods are not as effective as social media however, some still have difficulty letting go and trusting the new media (and their customers).

This seems to be a common occurrence all around the Internet. Various sites, blogs, and online magazines (like Blogcritics) seem to be left out due to the fact that companies are hesitant to move to the new medium. Do you see that changing in the near future? What is the catalyst you see for this change?

The advertising landscape has already begun to change. We attribute this change to a couple of things; advertisers understanding that their consumers are living online and Big Brands using online advertising successfully, which influences other brands to incorporate social media advertising into their marketing mix.

Tell us something about viral marketing. How does it work? What do you think the future advertising and viral marketing is?

Viral marketing is the spreading, or sharing, of content created across the Internet.
Viral marketing works best when the focus is on creating an ongoing dialogue with consumers. It encourages consumers to share content with their peers and enables brand evangelists to easily get the word out to others about their favorite brands. Consumers are more likely to participate with content that has been virally shared with them from their trusted friends.

Viral marketing allows a brand to communicate and connect with their audience in a way that develops strong, long-lasting relationships. We predict more and more brands will be looking to utilize viral marketing in the future. It is time for them to go where their consumers want them to be: the social Web.

How exactly does your service work? How do you monitor the viralness of all of the submissions? How do you make sure that all viewings and all postings of a specific entry count towards the creator?

We invite consumers to participate with a brand campaign by creating personalized User Generated Content (UGC) around a specific brand and their message. Once a participant creates the UGC, they can then share it with their peers, who can in turn share it, vote on it, review it, or just view it.

Our ViralMap technology allows brands to see where this branded UGC has landed, who saw it, which sites the content has spread to and how many people have interacted with the content by viewing, reviewing, or voting.

In addition to the ViralMapTM, we have integrated with the Google Map API to create GeoView, which displays real-time geographic positioning of consumer engagement within brand campaigns. This feature gives the brand a geographic representation of where the most interactions are occurring. This feature can be used to build integrated marketing campaigns that target brand consumers both online and offline.

We have proprietary tracking in place to guarantee the creator receives all points or scoring associated with the viewing and posting of their content.

On my first post in the series there were some comments that showed some backlash from the community (which he did by spamming my posting). How does Brickfish respond to allegations that they encourage the spamming of user submissions? What are you guys doing to keep users from spamming boards and chat-groups?

We do not, nor have we ever, encouraged any spamming of user submissions. Brickfish Terms of Use expressly prohibit spamming by our members, and we act on any concerns brought to us in a swift manner.

Tell me a little about the "I'm a PC" campaign that both you and Microsoft are working on.

We are thrilled to be working with Microsoft to help add additional social media elements to their “I’m a PC” campaign. Microsoft is asking consumers to share a little bit about their own individuality within the Microsoft community. Consumers can tell the world “I’m a PC” and showcase it through photos, video, and blogs. The entries so far have been a lot of fun to look at!

Share with us some interesting submissions (please link to them if you can) that have been submitted so far for the "I'm a PC" campaign. What do you like about them?

This is one of our favorites. We love the way she used art to embody self-expression. Her whole look is very fresh, creative, and fun!

Tell me about a memorable campaign you guys have had before. What are some of your favorite submissions from the past (please link to them if you can)?

This past summer, we worked with Coach on their "Design a Coach Tote" campaign, which asked participants to create a unique tote incorporating the Coach logo. We had over 3,200 entries and 6 million+ engagements (creations, reviews, views and votes) during the campaign. We were able to secure great blog coverage, which helped contribute to such a high number of participants and engagements. Here are some of our favorite entries: Juicy Tote and Plumage.

You seem to like the more artistic takes on contests, both with the Coach and the Microsoft entries. Does this mean that the "artsy" entries are more likely to win or does this just mean that there is a far larger submission of more artsy entries?

Those entries are just a personal preference and do not reflect the thoughts of the brands. Ultimately, the brand will choose its winners. The criteria for selecting a winning entry vary from brand to brand.

We have a very large creative community and encourage our audience to express their creativity, whether it be using our entry editor, or creating something from scratch.
This question is aimed for those interested in entering the "I'm a PC" contest, or for any of your other contests.

What exactly, in your experience, makes an entry a good candidate? What makes an entry a winner? Is there a winning-style or a winning method of distribution?

I think that question would be best answered by the brands we work with as they are the ones who choose the winners. In most cases, brands are looking for an entry that captivates and embodies their brand. They are looking for someone who does exactly what the campaign asks of them, in a creative and unique way.

Would you like to tell us about anything that has not yet been covered?

John Kernan, my co-founder and I, conceived Brickfish three years ago at Starbucks. We often refer to Starbucks as our first office as we met there many times, taking the concept from a blank piece of paper to what you see today. It has been really exciting to watch Brickfish grow and flourish over the years. It has been even more gratifying to see consumers interacting with their peers and influencing the way brands engage with their consumers. We have a talented team that has spent the better part of three years studying social media – what motivates consumer behavior and how to facilitate a conversation between consumers and brands Social Media is constantly evolving and brands must evolve too…Brickfish gives brands the opportunity to connect with their consumers where they are living—on the social Web.

Please click here to see part one and check back in the near future to read part three.

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About Robert M. Barga