What is the value of social media silliness?

There is a lot of buzz about Twitter these days. As a credit union marketer with an over-active fascination with social media, I have seen firsthand how Twitter connects people to people in a constant stream of conversation. I find it a great way to network and stay connected to a group of professional peers and friends.

Like all new things though, everyone is looking for the marketing angle. Ad agencies and corporate marketers are trying to figure out how to tap into this advertising-free community.

Enter the master of social media silliness

An amazing example of a thriving sponsored community has emerged in the last month on Twitter built by the original Internet superstar, ZeFrank.

Here is some background on ZeFrank from Wikipedia.

In 2001, Frank created an online birthday invitation and sent it to seventeen of his closest friends. Forwarded wildly, the invitation soon generated millions of hits and over 100 gigabytes of daily web traffic to Frank's personal Website. The site grew to include interactive group projects, short films, animations, and video games, many Flash-based, including children's educational videos featuring handy tips such as "Don't vacuum your face."
Frank won a 2002 Webby Award for Best Personal Website. In 2005, Frank was featured in Time Magazine's "50 Coolest Websites." Frank debuted onstage at the Gel conference in 2003, and later spoke at the TED Conference in 2004 and 2005.
On March 17, 2006, Frank launched a daily video blog known simply as The Show With Zefrank. Each tightly edited three-to-five-minute episode combined Daily Show-style commentary on world events with songs, observations and occasional games or challenges for his viewers to participate in. The Show quickly became the most popular portion of his site and helped to increase Frank's visibility in the blogosphere while also attracting the interest of those in the "old media" of film and television. Frank signed with the United Talent Agency of Beverly Hills, California for representation. The show ended on March 17, 2007 as planned, exactly one year after its start.
Transient

Since turning the lights out on the The Show a year ago, ZeFrank has been lying low until he surfaced on Twitter with this tweet. Fast forward less than one month and ZeFrank has activated an army of thousands of followers who are actively engaged in the most elaborate social media experiment that I have ever witnessed. It's called Color Wars 2008 and it is shear social media brilliance. Everything about it is user-generated and it is building in scope and craziness every day. Here is a user-generated theme song by a Rhett and Link (another couple of Internet geniuses) to get you started.

Dozens of teams have formed and are engaged in daily competitions. Here's some links to get you up to speed.

In the Broom Game, ZeFrank asked people to submit a video of themselves holding a broom and spinning around 30 times. In less than 6 hours, 30,000 votes were registered.

Other games include Ro-Sham-bo, Nerd Rap Battle, Thursday Bingo Challenge, and the current challenge, Young Me, Now Me build on the lunacy.

Spend some time on the Color Wars 2008 site. You will be wildly entertained or completely baffled. Also notice that it is being underwritten by a number of sponsors including Jet Blue.

I will leave you with this question,

"Is it be possible for a credit union or a group of credit unions to connect and engage this deeply with a group of like-minded people?"

I hope so.

I must admit that I live for this weird Internet stuff and that I might be overly optimistic that the square-pegs that are credit unions can fit into these silly social media circles.

There continues to be such fear and a lack of acceptance of the possibilities that social media presents for credit unions. I know that the Color Wars 2008 example is way too radical for the conservative credit union industry, but I will continue to dare to dream.

I apologize in advance for wasting your next hour!

Tim

P.S. Do you think the sponsors of Color Wars 2008 analyzed the ROI to death before jumping onboard? I doubt it.