In my post regarding the misconception that great web video is made by production companies with "nothing to lose," Dustin Staiger, a creative director in Tulsa, made a comment that is worth saying here again:
Creating a series of online videos is building an audience. You start with virtually nothing, but build it brick-by-brick. This is creating an asset for your business (something business owners/leaders appreciate)."
Some of the savvier companies are producing media on the web and television understanding that this split exists.
When T-Mobile is pitching to consumers/renters on broadcast TV, they create mini dramedies with suburban neighbors that we can instantly recognize. Characters are extrapolated from common commedia_dell'arte archetypes (just as situation comedies have been doing for ever). The writing, acting, and direction are flawless working towards those two laugh lines. ... but the viewer doesn't own the product anymore than she owns the programming that surrounds the spot. She's in for the short term.
The viewer does their part of the dance by registering the unique selling proposition (faves are free!), laughing at the punch line and putting the information in the back recess of their brain never to be thought of again unless walking past a T-Mobile Store. And that's a maybe. Case closed.
The Web User
When T-Mobile is talking to viewers/owners on the web, the company creates larger than life "event" videos. We don't see moms, dads, backyards, barbeques or everyday life as we know it.
We see the diverse masses (photogenic ones and some not so), we hear the Beatles (OMG!), we see camera work that makes us go "whoosh." The video makes us feel something - it's good to be alive - just as Where the Hell is Matt? did. Most of all - there's not one mention of a product benefit. The main theme is always a feeling summed up by, "We're human. Aren't we grand!"
Knowing that net trollers act as owners and are always trying to increase their value, T-Mobile is counting on the next part of the dance.
The Psychology of Owning
The average web user doesn't share the every day TV commercial with its selling propositions and lens focused on normal life - there is nothing to be gained. On the social web, users share other people's content (let's call it OPC) when they think their own value will be enhanced - they claim ownership of the ad/content with the act of sharing it.
The amazing success of Twitter is built on this paradigm. OK, before you start sending the hate email - I know there are hundreds of self-less twitter folk who, "just want to help."
If you're being honest - a big reason to tweet is to constantly chant to your tribe, "I am worth following." Sharing content that makes us "feel" shows the world that you are human/special/worth knowing. At the same time, sharing OPC is a very effective (and easy) way to increase Twitter followers. Ask @nicholaspatten who tweets out a dozen OPC links a day - (admittedly his twittered links are usually exquisite). His follower count is up to 22,000+.
When you share ownership of someone's else's content - you're enhancing yourself - with very little effort - you are building the value of what you own - your reputation.
Here's proof that there are many web watchers leveraging OPC: Monday's T-Mobile web viral video above was instantly piped out by thousands of twitterers. See how they were hoping to enhance their own brand here.
Next time you see a video you want to share - tell me why it's different from what you see on TV and why you tweeted it out.