I thought I'd write a follow up for my last post entitled Oprah, Skype and the Book Club:
I did have a chance to watch the taped version of this ‘premiere' use of Skype for Oprah's Book Club with author Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awaking Your Life’s Purpose
If you haven't read my last post, it was not a review about the book, but (since this is a marketing related blog) more an examination about the marketing behind the event. I am still fascinated by this campaign, it is a rather impressive idea. And, though I don't often have clients with the budget of Harpo Products (Oprah's multimedia production company), I do like to watch how they are doing this and conceptualize how I can create scaled down versions for appropriate clients.
For clarification of #4 on the last post: They do use pre-selected “Skyper” (viewers with a video camera on their computer, who talk via Skype) and do mention Skype a great deal. Though Oprah confesses she had never heard of Skype before, she acknowledges how cool it is to be able to have people (sitting in their homes) talk with her on videocams. She had people from across the U.S. and a woman based in Germany call in on Skype. She also used 'emails' and the ‘phone' to talk with other individuals across the globe.
Now, to be fair, other marketers have already started using Skype for group meetings. Last year, Ed Dale (located in Australia) of StomperNet did a series of Skype calls with members, across the globe, in StomperSimple. And I am sure there were others, before him. But Oprah's group has done it on a grander scale:
Obviously, this new example is a high profile (meaning: high budget) campaign – more like an interactive live Internet TV-style show – it was stated that 500,000 people watched the live version of this, and, as of the other day, 1.5 million have downloaded the pre-recorded version (either from Oprah.com or iTunes).
Yet, as ready as the Harpo team was for this experiment, there were still complications. Though, to their credit, the group is taking ownership and finding ways to resolve them. It seems, many viewers didn't get to actually watch it live. So, they are responding by asking people to show up early to the next “class” and emphasizing this is a new media that they are exploring. They wrote, in a reminder email (about access to the next installment): “If you're willing to partner with us in exploring this new frontier, we'll see you in class on Monday!”
They also remind people they can download each class, afterwards, if they can't get on the live call. I like that they are being proactive for the next class. Also, I like the availability of the downloads, I know I am not going to spend my Monday night watching the live version. I'd rather watch it on my own terms, which reiterates my constant reminder to my clients that the need to make their webinars or even newsletters available in a variety of ways. That's why I love blogs: You can post links (without HTML knowledge) to pre-recorded webinars, archive past newsletters, and more… This way, a month from now someone new can find it and utilize the info. So, you don't need a budget like Oprah has to achieve a lot of these results (though you may have a smaller audience, you can still make a big impact).
As a marketing tool, I think this combination of Virtual Classroom and Skype accessed students is a great experiment to witness – I am sure many people will follow on what they are creating. I know I am already brainstorming ideas.
And, yes, as a viewer, I am also enjoying it. It is self-help oriented, but is ‘bigger' than ones-self. And it is not limiting, like The Secret has been accused of being. (The Secret seemed to leave out the step about taking action, and they focused too much on material gain.) Though I have not read Tolle's book, this workshop, based on the book, isn't like that, it seems to be more about “awareness” and getting past our individual ‘egos' – Now, I am sure, as with all things in life, there is not a lot of new content in this book, just a ‘re-visiting' of it, but maybe it is a re-visiting in a way that more of the main-stream can understand and take action on it! So bravo to Oprah and Eckhart for doing this.
The other thing that I liked, from a viewer's point, was that they make it clear that Eckhart is not trying to be a guru or a prophet. He is just a guy who took his ideas and wrote them in a way that he hopes can help others. Yes, he is making money off of it, but his intent seems genuine after watching the first installment. Let me know (by posting below), if you disagree.
Though, I have to say, I downloaded the video recording and there is a weird glitch that happens when I watch it on my computer: On occasion, for no apparent reason, the recording will jump back to a section I have already listened to, not to the beginning, but an earlier section. It seems to always take me back to one of 3 sections. I found it quite amusing though, because it was always interesting stuff that I might not have listened to sharply enough the first time (since I listened to it in the background, as I worked). So, I would laugh at myself and re-listen more focused, the second time. And, when it happened a 3rd time, I could also just use the forward option, to go back to ‘the future' space where I had last heard new content.
Like everything on the web, there were glitches, but overall the campaign (and for me, the content, as well) was worth following along.
Let me know your thoughts on either the marketing campaign, the content, or even my use of this example on this blog, by posting below.