Social Media

Social Media Killed the MTV (Star)?

I am 25 (ok, 26 in a couple weeks) – and finally, I feel old.

I just found out that MTV is likely canceling Total Request Live. As Lauren Gitlin points out in her Rolling Stone article, TRL is almost the last bastion of music programming on MTV. I, like many others, have long been wondering what happened to my MTV. Where did the music go? I remember when MTV used to be good, when I used to come home from school and turn it on for hours. I grew up with MTV. And when reality TV was born with The Real World, I remember watching religiously; it was new, unique. Puck and Pedro they were the original reality TV stars, way before Nick, Jessica and Paris.

So TRL viewership is down. What happened? Tom Anderson, one of the co-founders of MySpace, says, “I think we have replaced MTV. MySpace is more convenient. You can search for things, while MTV is just delivering things to you… That’s why TV viewership is dropping among the MySpace generation.”

I think Mr. Anderson is absolutely right, but needs to widen his scope just a bit. I’m not sure that it’s only MySpace that has replaced MTV, but social media, and even more broadly, technology as a whole has caused its downfall.

Videos: Not Just for TV

Video ipod. Need I say more?

What? You don’t have one? Ok, neither do I. But my point – music videos aren’t made to be shown only on MTV. They can be downloaded through iTunes and other similar applications. Many artists show music videos on their websites. Then, there is the monster known as YouTube.

Reality TV? Forget it. YouTube = YOUR 15 Minutes of Fame

I have already come to terms with the fact that I will NEVER be the next American Idol or Nashville Star. But those of you out there thinking I will never be on TV for singing a hit song – think again. There’s still hope for me!

Melissa Lamb, a Wharton marketing undergrad, was the star of a lip-sync video to a song sung by Leah Kauffman, a Temple junior. Their song is a parody of a Saturday Night Live song. The video has been viewed almost 1 million times on YouTube and the song has been played on radio stations. These ladies used Revver, YouTube, MySpace, blogs, and even eBay to get their “product” out there, and in the end, they have gotten fan mail from troops overseas, articles written about them in The Philadelphia Inquirer, and several appearances on MSNBC.

Social Media & Search

Mr. Anderson is right – MTV delivers what someone at the station wants to deliver. With search, you can have whatever you want delivered right to you, instantaneously. Partner search and social media and the possibilities for what you can find are incredible.

Do you know the story of the N64kids? Eight years ago, a family makes a Christmas morning video (how many thousands of families do this every year?). Eight years later, the boy in the video posts it to his website and one other site. From there, someone copies it to YouTube and it takes off. Four million views later, the video makes it onto VH1 and Jay Leno. Then, the rights to the video are bought by BMW (probably for less than what it would cost them to make a traditional commercial), and the family’s home video becomes one of the most recognizable holiday commercials of the 2006 season (YES!). Lucky for the Kuzma family, people are out there on the Internet looking for funny/cute Christmas videos. I’m sure it paid off nicely.

Interestingly, what happens with a great commercial? It ends up on the Internet. Terry Tate: Office Linebacker, a series of Reebok commercials, have been posted to YouTube and other sites. People are still searching for this commercial and it still gets hundreds of views, years after it aired.

Looking Forward: Business & Social Media

BMW’s use of a YouTube video has definitely opened the door to a whole new world of possibilities for advertising. Social media has the potential to influence traditional media in new ways.

Companies can also get more creative and strategic in how they use social media to their advantage. One recent use of social media by a company that stood out to me was Ross-Simons’ “Proposal Gone Wrong” Video Contest. Instead of simply having videos uploaded to the Proposal Gone Wrong site, the videos must first be loaded to YouTube with the tags “proposal gone wrong” and “diamond” and then the YouTube URL is submitted to the contest. While they probably could have used some more keyword research to help them out (searching for “diamond” on YouTube doesn’t bring up any of the contest videos), I applaud their ability to think out of the box and embrace social media.

In the end, MTV as a television-only music video provider is probably getting outdated. For companies like MTV to be able to compete and provide for their demographic (which is now the MySpace generation), they are going to have to embrace social media and find ways to make it work for them. Netflix needed to find a way to hold on to its customers – so they are now offering free movie and TV viewing over the Internet to subscribers. There are plenty of businesses that can learn from Netflix’s ability to adapt to the changing market environment and consumer.

And while I may be getting older, I’ll still be keeping on top of technology. Hopefully, MTV and other companies I grew up with can keep up.