Originally posted to on the Terralever blog October 22, 2010:
Tonight This past Friday, at 8:15pm Pacific Standard Time, the micro-video blogging site 12seconds.tv closes it’s doors forever. Current members are advised to export their videos quickly, or lose them forever. The badges, comments, favorites, bumps, and views stats are not included in the export – they will be lost. As for the people, connections and new friends found in the process of posting, viewing and sharing 12 second videos – hopefully you’ve connected on other platforms, or they too will be lost.
12seconds.tv was a micro-video blogging site where 12ers shared and engaged with one another around short video clips that were 12 seconds long, exactly. 12seconds used gamification tactics, such as badging and daily challenges to encourage frequent use. They developed a variety of additional features to attract businesses, including 12omercials.
Why didn’t 12seconds.tv catch on? From a user perspective, 12 seconds was simply too short of a time, even for micro-video. Read a 140-character tweet aloud, and it will take you roughly 12 seconds. In spite of the benefits of such brevity, it’s challenging to execute in one take. On Twitter, you can edit text in the field. In video, running long requires you to rerecord, a process that can become frustrating, particularly for the novice or the slightly verbose.
Businesses who avoided the platform probably cited such reasons as it being too soon to know if 12seconds would catch on, too few users, and poor video quality. You could make a valid case for each of these, but too often, such reasons are a symptom of bigger issues – an unfamiliarity with social media, an unwillingness to understand it and aversion to experimentation. There are benefits and risks associated with engaging customers and users in open communication.
A handful of brands were bold enough to experiment with 12seconds, among them:
- M&Ms Racing – Leveraging NASCAR and Kyle Busch fans, the M&Ms Racing 12 Seconds Cup featured a series of mini-competitions, wherein participants responded to each challenge with a 12seconds video.
- Mountain Dew – As part of their larger DEWmocracy campaign, which allowed DEW drinkers to drive the development of three new flavors, Mountain Dew invited fans to create the advertising spots for the new DEWs.
- Adidas – In partnership with the Chelsea Football Club, Adidas sponsored the Chelsea’s 12th Man contest, offering U.S. fans the chance to win a spot on the team, albeit on the bench, during a U.S appearance.
The benefits of getting involved early
It would be easy to construe the news of 12seconds.tv closing as evidence of the risks of investing in a social media channel too early, but I’d advise against that. There are significant advantages to being an early adopter on emerging platforms.
- Gain first mover attention – In a space that is constantly evolving, there’s plenty of room to creatively implement new ideas. If you’re the first one to test something, or you’re the first to try it in a way that is remarkably different than predecessors, you’ll grab the attenion of leading digital media outlets and influencers. If you wait too long to get involved, or if your ideas aren’t unique, you become the copy cat, and there’s nothing pressworthy about that.
- Become the benchmark – Back when Twitter was still pretty niche, Frank Eliason started listening for and responding directly to complaints about Comcast. As @comcastcares, delivered execptional customer service. It wasn’t a flashy campaign. Frank was being helpful. Two years later, it’s still one of the best known and most cited examples for how to do social media listening and response the right way.
- Master the learning curve – Each new platform comes with certain learnings. How are users behaving and engaging with the platform? What are the features? Is there a specific nomenclature and culture that pervades the community? How can businesses get involved? The answers to each of these questions differ considerably by each platform, but if you’re connected and engaged, you’ll start to recognize similarities. Learning to recognize engagement patterns, and feature-based exceptions, are key to leveraging any social media channel.
- Establish yourself as a thought leader – The early adopters of any product or technology often become the people who teach everyone who follows. Experiementing with an emerging social media platform, and sharing that knowledge with others will significantly, and positivitly impact your influence, garnering attention for you and the brand you represent.
Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about your customers. If the people you seek to connect with are playing in a particular social media channel, you should probably give some serious thought to rolling up your pant legs and getting your feet wet.
*If you’d like to leave a comment, please feel free to do so here and/or on the original post on the Terralever blog.